Graves Build Guide by indoorBeanie

League of Legends Build Guide Author indoorBeanie

Graves, Close and Personal.

indoorBeanie Last updated on May 21, 2016
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Team 1

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Natural Talent
Bounty Hunter
Battering Blows
Piercing Thoughts

Ferocity: 12

Dangerous Game

Cunning: 18

Tough Skin
Runic Armor
Veteran's Scars
Legendary Guardian

Resolve: 0

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A little info on me, I'm a recently promoted Gold summoner in NA. I've played league starting S5, eventually working my way to be a marksman main. Out of all marksman Graves has stuck with me as my go-to, for multiple roles since his rework. I've racked up 250K+ mastery on the outlaw and figured I'd share my knowledge.

Graves is my favorite champion for two reasons; his play style is very aggressive and close quarters, and his kit fits his character and personality perfectly. Back during the Bildgewater event in Season 5, Graves' identity was solidified as this unkillable brawler with his trusty gun. The rework did this identity justice with the shotgun shell mechanics, close range explosive burst, and true grit beefiness.

I'll expand on this guide as I go.

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Pros / Cons

Why pick Graves?

  • Very mobile
  • Solid build paths
  • Beef with True Grit
  • Surprising burst damage
  • Pick flexibility
  • Poor range
  • Block-able auto attacks
  • Falls of late game

Graves is a solid pick because of his flexibility and damage; he can preform well in multiple roles (notably jungle and top) while being a primary or secondary AD Carry. With his Quickdraw cooldown mechanic he is very mobile while fighting, being able to reposition every few auto attacks. He can build a variety of items with strong synergies with his kit. Because of his True Grit passive, he can play as an AD off-tank as well. My favorite aspect is his burst potential, his full combo can annihilate squishy targets.

But he does have negative aspects, mainly in the form of his range. Against other marksman, he will get poked out of lane before he can retaliate. The other side of this coin is that he can kite and duel melee's quite well (hence he is a solid top pick). The fact his autos can be blocked as well make for strong counter play; by maneuvering creep waves and letting tanky teamates bodyblock, Graves can have a very hard time landing damage on targets. He is weak before fights breakout; without his True Grit, he will go down quite easily (for the most part), making him a strong target to focus. Lastly, he falls in the late game if he cannot reach his targets and burst them down. If he doesn't kill his target in three shells and Q, he will go down to the likes of late game marksman like Caitlyn, Vayne, Jhin, Tristana, to name a few.

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Of all the champions in league, I feel Graves' kit matches his character to a T. Other than his passive, his kit is very simple to pick up. But, as with any champ, knowing the opportune time to use each ability can win or lose games.

Passive - New Destiny

The most unique part of Graves is his passive, New Destiny. A wall of text, it basically turns Graves autos into a scaling shotgun that shoots multiple pellets in a cone, where pellets stop at the first thing they hit, and he can only have two shells before having to take time to reload. The core highlight of his rework (and arguably a test for Jhin's passive) mastering this passive is the key to doing well with Graves. I talk more on it below.

Q - End of the Line

An insanely high damage ability, it's both Graves' wave clear tool and burst ability. The awkward T shape makes it easy to dodge in lane, and all the damage is focused on its second hit which happens after hitting a wall or a short duration. Always be looking for terrain when fighting to get the instant second hit so the opponent can't just sidestep. When using it to burst someone, both hits of End Of The Line and an auto will make for an easy Thunderlord's Decree proc. Low health enemies can be caught off guard if you catch them near a wall, so always be watching.

W - Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen is more of a defensive ability. Denying vision and slowing for a brief duration can help save Graves' and his allies. Mostly effective in bot lane, throwing this down make a trade favorable by preventing several AAs from the enemy marksman. I've found it's best to save this in all in fights for two reasons: it's part of your escape plan, and it's also a long range damaging ability. Despite not doing a lot of damage, it's good range can kill very low hp opponents that are just out of Graves' reach, which makes for funny, but effective plays (with Thunderlord's Decree ). It's also his ganking tool, allowing simple but effective setups to pushed up lanes.

E - Quickdraw

Probably the strongest ability on Graves, this is his engage, disengage, DPS and off-tank ability all in one. I love this ability; it rewards him for getting in the enemies face by giving you another shell for his passive and a stack of True Grit. In an extended fight, always try to be constantly AA enemies, as the cooldown reduction mechanic of this ability depends on landing pellets on champs. Graves can become unkillable if he can get four stacks of True Grit in those mid to late game team fights, when each stack is giving 30 armor and magic resist. If ever fighting Graves and he feels incredibly tanky, it's because of this. Deny him a timer reset for 5 seconds and he will go down easier. Managing True Grit is also the key to fast and healthy jungle clear, as jungle camps refresh his True Grit timer.

R - Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage is Graves' long range execute, burst combo finisher, and hidden escape tool. If ever low hp enemies survive an engage and get out of range, pop them with this. Remember that it pushes Graves backward in the same fashion as Caitlyn's 90 Caliber Net; you can use this to also reposition or go over small walls when Quickdraw is unavailable. If you can, burn this before flash when escaping. Callateral Damage can make for some clutch moments and Dragon steals; you can E over the dragon pit wall, throw out the Q, then R towards Dragon to push you back over the wall to safety.

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New Destiny

Besides Jhin, Graves is the only other champion with a reload auto-attack mechanic. To be able to play Graves effectively, one has to master his unique rhythm when attacking.


His two chamber shotgun makes for an awkward feeling when trying to kite or duel. Once you double tap with both shells, it's best to keep moving while graves reloads. It takes practice, but Graves can really stick to opponents when kiting since his AA animation is very short. When trading early, back off once your shells are gone.

In Their Face

In general, the closer Graves is the better when attacking. Graves' AAs fire in a cone, shooting 4 pellets, 6 on critical strikes. The more pellets that hit, the more damage that will be done. Being in the opponents face is best way to get the most damage. This is more important in the early game than late game, as the first pellet that hits only does a fraction of his total AD at the start of the game.

Quickdraw Resets

Learning to play with the Quickdraw attack timer reset is essential. In the early game, it can compensate for the lack of attack speed, and giving you a third shot before reloading. The optimal pattern would be AA -> AA -> E -> AA; three auto attacks before reloading. Be smart when going for an AA reset; quickdraw is also your escape. Always keep an eye on the cooldown, as it drops 0.5s for each pellet you connect with a champ (another reason to stay in their face).

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Bot Lane

My favorite lane with Graves, and also his hardest, is the bot lane. Since his arguably massive nerf to his passive New Destiny he fell out of touch in the bot lane. He has a very hard time against the range lane bullies like Caitlyn and Jhin and gets harrassed out of lane easy by poke supports like Karma and Vel'Koz. So why pick him bot anymore? For the snowball potential.

Early/Mid Carry

Graves can take a lead in bot lane incredibly far. Kills are almost guaranteed if Youmuu's is finished and he has the right support. He can burst down the squishy hyper-carries before they can get their needed items. His early burst potential is incredible once he has a dirk finished.

The Level 2

Always, always try to hit level 2 before then enemy duo. Graves' level 2 advantage is immense, more so when taking Thunderlord's Decree . Go in hard (better if support is on the same page), burn Quickdraw to close the gap and use End of the Line. They enemy will either have to burn summoners or eat a massive chunk of damage, guaranteeing lane advantage for the next few levels. (This is a tip for bot lane in general, not only Graves, he does it well due to is mobility). Using the level 2 advantage is crucial against counter lanes (like Caitlyn or Ezreal) to make it into the mid game.

First Back

Back as soon as you can afford a Serrated Dirk, and if possible, Boots of Speed. Both give you the kill pressure needed going into level 5 and higher. Early boots make up for Graves' lack of range when looking to kill. If you can't afford a Dirk, buy as many Long Swords as possible.

DPS Transition

When playing bot, to have success in the mid/late game, you have to transition into a DPS AA focused play style from the burst focus of the early game. Once Phantom Dancer is completed Graves has the attack speed and mobility to lay down damage in team fights. Infinity Edge skyrockets Graves' damage output, which in turn also gives Graves more mobility with his Quickdraw cooldown mechanic. The Bloodthirster and Death's Dance Keep Graves healthy in team fights, and The Black Cleaver and Lord Dominik's Regards lets Graves deal with the armor tanks.


Graves has clear synergies with supports, notably supports with hard cc and sustain. The ability to let Graves' land his Q and keeping Graves healthy when eating damage is vital to win lane.

I think Alistar is Graves best support in bot. Not only does he bring sustain in the form of Triumphant Roar and Relic Shield, he has the best hard CC for Graves to work with. Alistar can let Graves use Quickdraw for securing kills rather than engaging by Headbutting people into Graves. At level 6, the tower dive potential can keep the snowball rolling into dominate games.

Blitzcrank's ability to reposition enemies near walls ensures Graves can land a full End of the Line combo. Blitcrank also has the best level 6 kill advantage with Graves since the silence from Static Field keeps opponents stuck near graves while having massive peel.

The less mobile version of Alistar, Taric gives Graves the hard CC and sustain needed to win lane, on top of the tower dive potential in his ultimate Cosmic Radiance to keep the ball rolling into mid game.

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Youmuu's Ghostblade is one of Graves' best items. The armor penetration and cooldown reduction helps Graves blast his opponents. In addition, the active gives Graves that early dueling potential before he's built attack speed, as well as chase potential to make up for his lack of range. Best for BURST and DPS.

Death's Dance is the item Graves gets for those extended fights when he can stack his True Grit (which is often). It's passive Gives graves a chance to sustain past 15% of all damage he takes, in combination with 75 AD and cooldown reduction to boot. Best for OFF-TANK and DPS.

Phantom Dancer is the go-to attack speed item for Graves. The movement passive improves Graves' teamfight potential by letting him get to his targets. In addition, in combination with Death's Dance, gives Graves strong 1v1 potential from taking 12% reduced damage from his target. Best for OFF-TANK and DPS.

Maw of Malmortius, the signature burst protection item. It gives Graves safety when fighting heavy AP compositions, as well as increasing his burst potential. The lifegrip passive synergizes well with Death's Dance and Phantom Dancer. Best for BURST and OFF-TANK.

Sterak's Gage is the other burst protection item, best built against assassins. Although in 6.9 they removed the double shield effect from stacking Sterak's and Maw, they both still trigger their secondary effects (lifesteal/spellvamp on Maw, bonus AD on Sterak's). She be built only when needing burst protection item.

The Bloodthirster is Graves' other option for sustain. Bloodthirster is a better pick than Death's Dance when facing less burst, as it gives much more healing. Since S6 is filled will assassins and burst damage, Death's Dance will likely be the better grab. If the play-style needed is AA focused, go this instead of Death's Dance. Best for OFF-TANK and DPS.

Infinity Edge is a win-more item on Graves. Skyrockets Graves' damage when paired with Phantom Dancer. Downside is that it's expensive, and requires significant time to build. Alleviates his late-game woes. Best for DPS.

Essence Reaver is another option when building crit on Graves. Since the nerf to his base auto scaling, I wouldn't recommend building it until after finishing Infinity Edge. The main reason to ever build this item is for CDR. Other items usually benefit Graves more. Only for DPS.

Rapid Firecannon is Graves' second best attack speed option from the marksman items. It's almost always better to build Phantom Dancer first, but when stacking crit this item gives Graves a little extra umph to his autos. Only for DPS.

Mercurial Scimitar is strictly a defensive item; its main job is to sustain past heavy AP comps. Since the removal of combat debuf cleansing (like Zed ulti), it's best kept as a fifth or sixth item. Best for OFF-TANK and DPS.

Lord Dominik's Regards is the tank busting item for any AD champion. Whenever you are facing strong defensive comps, it's often best to get this as early as possible, even as a third item. Best for DPS.

The Black Cleaver gives Graves armor shred, beef, and cooldown reduction, all usefull stats on Graves, and a decent fourth or fifth item. Best for BURST and OFF-TANK.

Duskblade of Draktharr is not optimal for all games. It gives a stronger guarantee of killing Graves' targets with his combo. The movement speed is also nice. Only for BURST.