Graves Build Guide by Nusaik

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Nusaik

Graves - Shotgun in Your Face

Nusaik Last updated on December 17, 2012
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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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Welcome to this Graves guide. Graves is my favorite AD carry at the moment and I've played him succesfully a lot (in ranked and normals). He is one of the strongest AD carries (in my opinion). He has a lot of burst, DPS and even some CC. If you know how to play him well, you can definately become a huge threat and carry games.

In this guide I will discuss Graves' abilities, runes, masteries, summoner spells, laning and more. This will be a guide for botlane AD carry Graves, which is his most viable role.

Please rate and comment on this guide and tell me how I can improve it. Some constructive criticism can help me improve this guide.

Note - read before voting please!

If you're going to vote, please comment and make sure you've read the relevant parts of the guide first. Please don't downvote just because you don't like X item, or X rune. I explain every choice in my guide and give many alternatives. If you don't like something, comment and I will reply and consider changing it.

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Change log

This guide is now updated for the preseason 3 patch.

Changed the guide layout.

Added the Matchups chapter.

Replaced Frozen Mallet with Last Whisper in the main item build. It's probably better if you can stay safe.

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Pros and Cons

Below are some pros and cons to give you an idea of Graves' strengths and weaknesses. These don't cover everything but they might help you decide if Graves is the champion for you.


High burst and sustained damage.
Safe with Quickdraw.
Very tanky with True Grit.
Can carry hard.
Easy to learn, but hard to master.


Short range auto-attacks.
You will get focussed.
Needs gold to be effective.
A bad early-game can shut him down.
Quickdraw can be hard to use over thicker walls.

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I will now explain my rune choices. My rune choices aren't that original, but some explanations are in order here. You can also find some other rune options here.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think these give more damage mid- and late-game than AD marks. Graves is 99.99% physical damage, so armor is your enemy. 15 armor pen means more damage to all champions and targets with armor. It might be a little more difficult to last-hit when taking armor pen instead of AD, but it's worth it if you can farm well anyway. Please correct me if I'm wrong on anything in this section.

Other options:
for more early-game power and easier farming.

You will most likely be fighting another AD carry in you lane. These seals and your passive will mitigate a big part of their damage, which can help you win fights or survive ganks.

Other options: not much.

Later in the game, you will start taking more magic damage. Once you start facing the enemy mid or other mages, you need more MR to survive. These glyphs will outscale flat MR glyphs after level 9.

Other options:
when laning against a poke support (like Sona or Lulu).

The best choice in any situation I think. They will give you more early-game power, making it easier to last-hit and trade. Your abilities (Q and R) scale very well with AD.

Other options:
may be good, haven't tested them.

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For Graves, I use basic 21-9-0 AD carry masteries, taking everything physical damage related in offense. This gives me the maximum damage potential while getting a little bit of survivability from the defense tree. These are pretty standard masteries fos AD carries. There are other interesting choices like 17-13-0, with the really strong Block mastery, or 21-6-3 for more mana regen.

For improved Ignite, which should be on cooldown in most important fights.
For more DPS. Also speeds up your attack animation, making last-hitting easier. Sorcery is a good alternative mastery.
Pretty obvious choice I think.
A must-have.
The more damage, the better.
More early AD.
Works very well with crit items like Infinity Edge or Phantom Dancer.
Mainly late-game, this will mean a pretty big increase in DPS.
Increases your damage mainly against low armor targets. Stacks well with armor pen from other masteries and runes.
To win close fights and increase your damage further.

108 health at level 18 isn't bad. It gives you some extra tankiness to get out of sticky situations.
You'll mainly take physical damage from the enemy AD carry early-game.
Good 1-pointer. The first point gives 2 MR while other points give 1.5 MR. Helps against nasty poke supports.
More early health so you can go more agressive in lane.

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Even after the preseason 3 patch, I think this build is still generally the best one. It obviously focusses on damage, while offering protection with Guardian Angel. It is a pretty standard build but variations are possible. I will discuss other good items at the bottom of this chapter.

Start 1:

Start 2:

Start 3:

Boots of Speed are still a generally good starting choice. There are other options though. A Doran's Blade works well if you have a support with at least some sutain. It will increase your damage and survivability. A Long Sword can also be good, since it actually builds into something.

b.f. sword
These items offer a lot of AD, giving you huge burst damage. You will also get sustain through lifesteal. Some AS will keep your DPS up and give you the extra movement speed.

Full build:

A generally good end-game build for AD carries. It focusses on stats that scale with each other. It will give you probably the highest DPS on the team and also good burst with the AD. The core of this build is Infinity Edge, which is probably still the strongest AD carry item. It boosts the stats of all your other damage items.

Item explanations

Berserker's Greaves
The obvious choice for most AD carries. In certain situations you could take other boots, but generally these are best.

Doran's Blade
These give you a variety of very useful stats. Some extra AD for easier trading and last-hitting, some lifesteal for a little sustain and some health for more survivability. I usually take 1-3 of these early. More than 3 is really too much though.

shurelya's reverie
shurelya's reverie
A must-have support item. The stats on it are good (mainly the health and CDR), but the main reason to buy this item is the active. It gives all nearby allies 40% extra movement speed for 3 seconds. This allows you to engage, chase and flee with ease.

Infinity Edge
Often the best choice for a first big AD item. This will give you the biggest increase in damage and will make other AD/AS/crit items more gold-efficient (thanks to the 150% critical damage passive). This item does what Deathcap does for mages and should always be built on AD carries. In certain situations, you might want to start with a different items like The Bloodthirster or a Zeal.

Phantom Dancer
Another pretty much required item for AD carries. You can take more advantage of your 150% crit damage with the crit chance and AS from this item.

The Bloodthirster
A little more situational, but a great item. It gives a huge amount of AD and lifesteal when fully stacked. It will help you sustain and turns you into a great duelist. I usually take this as my third item, but there are other options if you don't need the lifesteal.

Guardian Angel
Now that your damage is high enough, you need something to keep you safe, because you will get focussed in fights. Guardian Angel has always been one of my main choices and it's popularity is rising. The armor and MR, combined with your passive, make you incredibly tanky for an AD carry. The best thing about this item is the passive though, giving you a second chance after death.

Enchantment: Alacrity
Graves doesn't benefit much from other enchantments. With the extra movement speed you get, you will be able to position yourself more easily and kite bruisers. Enchantment: Homeguard is a good option if you're either pushing the enemy base or if your base is being pushed, so you can get back to the important fights more quickly.

Last Whisper
Very strong late-game. Check if your enemies have a decent amount of armor. This item is usually a good choice if they have a decent amount of armor. The more armor enemies have, the more effective the armor pen is. 40% armor pen against 100 armor means they lose 40 armor. Against 200 armor they lose 80 armor.

Other good items

The Black Cleaver
Another way to counter armor. This works better than Last Whisper against enemies with lower armor, since it is a flat reduction. It got nerfed a bit, but it's still very strong.

Great if you're getting CC-locked too much. This item is like a mix between Mercury's Treads and Phantom Dancer. The downside is that it doesn't give any crit chance.

Statikk Shiv
An alternative to Phantom Dancer. This will give you more early-game damage, but less late-game damage. It's also great for splitpushing.

Frozen Mallet
I don't get this on other AD carries but I think it works great for Graves. The reason for this is his passive. You will have about 100-180 armor and MR with GA and your passive. With some extra health, you will be incredibly hard to kill, while still dealing tons of damage.

Banshee's Veil
A good defensive item for an AD carry. The most important thing is the spellshield. It works great against teams with certain, very strong abilities you want to block. The MR and health provide some survivability and Graves benifits well from the extra mana.

Mercurial Scimitar
An upgrade for Quicksilver Sash. A good alternitive to Cleanse. It's amazing against teams with a lot of CC and can safe your life in scary situations.

Sword of the Divine
Possibly a good item. I think this would work well if you're behind. The active will give you a temporary advantage and might get you a kill if your opponent doesn't expect it.

Executioner's Calling
I suppose this could be good if the enemy team has a lot of healing.

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Graves' main source of damage are usually his auto-attacks, but you can't ignore his abilities. They can deal a great amount of burst damage to an entire team. His abilities can be very decisive in fights when used well. I will first talk about each ability individually.

Ability explanations

True Grit
Graves' passive. It's not something that you would notice in-game, but it's actually very strong. It can give you up to 10/20/30 (depending on your level) extra armor and MR. In lane, try to keep this passive up as much as possible by attacking something when it's about to run out. When it's stacked, you can more easily win trades with the enemy. It also makes you just a bit more tanky than other AD carries in teamfights.

Graves' main damage ability. It shoot three bullets in a cone. Enemies can be hit by one or more bullets, but take reduced damage from additional hits. With this ability you can poke in lane and do high AoE damage in fights. Try to use it from as close as possible (without taking too much risk of course), so you can get the maximum amount of damage.

Smoke Screen
A very good form of CC. Graves shoots a smoke bomb towards a target area, creating a smoke cloud for 4 seconds. Enemies inside the cloud can't see outside of it and vice-versa. It also has a decent slow attached to it. This abilty is actually one of the stronger CCs in the game. It can cause a lot of confusion in teamfights, allowing your team to get off some free damage. It can also safe yourself or teammates from enemies with targetted abilities (they need vision to use them).

A quick, short dash. It also increases Graves' attack speed. Auto-attacks reduce the cooldown of this ability by 1 second. This can be used in many ways. It mainly functions as an escape, but it can also be used to get in range for Buckshot and auto-attacks. The DPS increase is not bad either. Be careful when using it offensively, it might be better to safe it for escaping. In fights, you can dash in, attack a little to reduce the cooldown, and then dash out again if needed.

Collateral Damage
Graves' ultimate. It's a line skillshot that explodes when hitting an enemy champion, or at the end of it's range. This creates a cone-shaped explosion dealing damage to enemies inside of it. It also deals damage to one target at the initial hit. It's a great teamfight ability because of the high AoE damage. You can use it from a distance at the enemy team. It's best to hit someone with the initial projectile, as this deals high damage. Always try to hit as many enemies as possible (obviously).

Ability sequence

> > >
I max my abilities in the with prioty order R-Q-E-W, taking one point in Q, W and E at level 1-3. Take your ultimate whenever available, as always. Your Q should always be maxed first, it scales well and does the most damage. After that, you can choose between W or E. I think maxing E second and W third is best. Lowering you E cooldown is really useful and the AS bonus goes up 10% each rank. W is useful with only 1 rank in it. The slow and cooldown aren't that important.


For a quick burst combo, dash in with E, then follow up with Q and W and a few auto-attacks. You can then use your ult to possibly finish off your target or you can just walk away. This is your main combo in lane. Try to time it with your support. When running away, use your W in front of your enemies, so that they have to run through the entire area affected. Then dash away (preferably over a wall) with E.

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Summoner Spells

My choice

Even though Graves already has a built-in flash/dash, there's nothing better than 2 flashes. Flash is the strongest summoner spell because it gives you the ability to escape from a lot of sticky situations. Especially on an AD carry, the mobility of Flash is really important because you will have to position yourself perfectly.

Better than Heal when used first. It also counters the heals enemy supports might have. Graves can be played very aggresively in lane and Ignite helps you get the kill on someone that would otherwise escape.

Other viable choices

It's pretty good if you want to be more safe, but once you're screwed, you're screwed. Heal won't safe you if you get caught ( Flash might), it will just delay your death by one millisecond.

Great against teams with a lot of CC for obvious reasons. It will keep you safer than Heal in some games.

Similar to Heal. I haven't really tested it yet, but it might be good. It doesn't get affected by healing-reduction so it's pretty good against Ignite.

Always a great spell, also on AD carries. Allows you to split push and get back in lane quickly. A good Teleport can turn fights around quickly.

More mobility! I haven't tried it on Graves yet, but it might work well. Try it and tell me what you think.

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Below I will talk about general playstyle. You need to know what your goal should be in every part of the game, and how to play.


The early-game is all about farming for AD carries. Play it safe if you don't feel confident. Just let the enemies push and only take last-hits. If you have a good support, try to work together. There are basically three types of supports:
  • Sustain supports. They keep the lane safe by healing you or granting sustain in a different way. They usually make the lane passive. You should try to farm as much as possible and not waste too much mana on poking, when playing with, or against them.
  • Poke supports. They constantly try to zone the enemy by poking them from a distance. Try to help zone your opponents when playing with them. When playing against them, it's best to have a sustain support and keep the brush warded so the enemies don't have a safe place to poke from.
  • Burst supports. They play passively until there's an opportunity. They then use most of their abilities quickly to burst down an opponent with the help of their AD carry. Pay close attention to everyone's position and react as quickly as possible when you see them attack.
Know what your support can do. Graves works best with burst support, since he has a lot of burst damage and can follow up on an initiation with Quickdraw.


After a few turrets have been destroyed, more people start roaming. You can choose between roaming yourself or farming. It's best to roam if you think you might get kills or Dragon. Stay safe when farming. Ask your support to place wards and don't overextend, or you will get killed. If your team needs you, help them out as much as possible. Find places to farm and protect turrets. Some fights may occur. Position yourself well and hit who you can. Your team should protect you, but this doesn't mean you're always safe.


Move with your team. The main objectives now are pushing turrets and taking down Dragon and Baron. 5v5 teamfights will occur most likely. Again, positioning is the key to victory. Your abilities can do a great amount of damage to the entire enemy team. Use Quickdraw and Flash for better positioning and Smoke Screen to cause confusion. Obviously, you should focus the squishies, but if you can't hit anything else safely, you should attack other enemies. Don't run after the enemy AD carry foolishly while your team gets killed. Try to stay alive for as long as possible while dealing damage, because you are the main source of damage for your team.

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In this chapter I will discuss Graves' matchups with enemies and allies. Knowing counters is essential if you want to do well. If you're getting counterpicked, you're gonna have a bad time. This chapter is split up in 3 sections:

  • Graves is good against (supports, AD carries or other champions).
  • Graves is bad against (supports, AD carries or other champions).
  • Graves is good with (support laning partner).

Graves is good against

Soraka (support)
Graves is a burst AD carry, and burst counters sustain. Soraka can heal every once in a while but that doesn't help if you can kill her (or her teammate) in one combo. This can be done if you're teamed up with a burst support. Try to poke a bit and then go for the kill when her heal is on cooldown.

Sona (support)
Similar to Soraka, but with less heals and less tankiness. An easy target for a combo. After level 6 she can get scary though. Her ult can stop your combo instantly and lock you in place. Try to attack her when you know her ult is on cooldown. You can burst her down instantly with the help of your support.

Caitlyn (AD carry)
Caitlyn is always a very annoying AD carry early-game. She has very long range and poke with her Q. Graves is actually pretty good against her though I think. You can dodge her skillshots with your Quickdraw and counter-attack. Graves certainly outscales Caitlyn late-game so try to play it safe early.

Graves is bad against

Kog'Maw (AD carry)
I'm not sure why, but Kog'Maw seems to be very strong against Graves. Especially when combined with a support Nunu. He can just turn on his W and zone you with his range. Kog'Maw is the strongest late-game AD carry, so he needs to be shut down early, which is difficult to do.

Graves is good with

Graves-Leona is an infamous combo of death. The amount of burst and CC they have together is insane. At level 6 you can pretty much one-shot anyone if Leona hits her abilities. Graves can follow up on Leona by dashing in easily and dealing damage while enemies get CCd.

Another great burst combo. If the Blitzcrank is good and can land his Rocket Grab, you can get fed many kills. You don't have to do much, it just depends on how good the Blitzcrank is. Just use your normal burst combo when he grabs someone.

Her tornado and shield + AD bonus can set you up for a quick burst onto the enemy AD carry. The shield will block some damage you might take in return. If things don't go as planned, she has many defensive abilities that can help you escape.

Before level 6, Sona can zone enemies decently to help you gain a farm advantage. After level 6, you can pull off great combos with her ultimate, bursting someone down instantly.

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Graves is a very strong AD carry and fun to play. There's a lot more to it than just right-clicking. He is pretty easy to learn so it's a good first AD carry to play. He is fun to play and rewarding when played well. Master things like farming and positioning and you can carry games.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this guide useful. Please comments and vote if you read it. It helps me improve.