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Maokai Build Guide by IcyAuron

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League of Legends Build Guide Author IcyAuron

His Bark's Bigger Than His Bite (3s/TT)

IcyAuron Last updated on Yesterday

Team 1

Ability Sequence

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



Offense: 4


Defense: 23


Utility: 3

Threats to Maokai with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Nidalee You counter her high mobility and have a strong burst. I wouldn't go in on her alone, as she'll win, but you shut her down pretty hard in team fights, and especially in ganks.
Renekton You have much shorter CDs than him, which is where both of your powers lie. Unless he has his ult and a sunfire cape, this means that you benefit more from extended battles than he does.
Lissandra Unless she has very nice Glacial Paths, she's a pretty easy target.
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Welcome to my second build. This time, the incredible tank, Maokai (I Am Oak). First thing's first, Maokai is most effective in the lane, with a partner, specificially one who casts many spells. I do not believe in Maokai's purpose being a jungler, although he can definitely fit that role. As with my Anivia builds, I'm not intending to make a tried and true, ultimate, competitive build. I'm a pretty casual LoL player, as far as League players go. I play somewhere between tanky AP and a pure tank. I've played Maokai since season 2, and tried numerous builds with him. One final note, it's important to realize that Maokai's main job is not to take the feed, but to protect the team, and get them fed whenever possible. I've tried playing him as a pure tank, but he falls off late game, and I don't find it to be worth it. Without a taunt, Maokai's difficult to be played as a pure tank. The good news is that he hurts pretty bad for someone so tanky (although, less tanky now in Season 3). I appreciate constructive criticism, however, don't waste your time commenting if all you're going to do is complain about how I'm not following the meta, or something equally pointless.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Maokai's a very unique, tanky AP champ. He gets incredibly tanky for how strong he is, although, he definitely doesn't have carry damage potential. He's more about CC, providing both offensive and defensive opportunities for your team. He shouldn't just be chosen as a tank, he needs the right type of team in order to excel. As a tanky AP champ, Maokai's gotten nerfed pretty hard in the transition from season 2 to season 3. Not only does he not benefit from magic pen, but since armor/magic pen got buffed, it's harder for him to tank as effectively. Regardless, Maokai's still a contender.

One of the best harrassing abilities in the game: Sapling Toss (also acts as built-in wards, is excellent for zoning, and can be thrown further than their max range if you toss them onto terrain/walls)
Very durable, boasting the highest natural armor in the game (tied with Poppy), and various methods of staying alive
Very strong for a tanky AP champ (can't blow squishies up anymore, but all of the other changes are a buff)
His W, Twisted Advance, can counter Flash (less often with the range reduction, but still), and set his team up for some easy kills
Excellent CC
Excellent pusher, especially against caster minions ( Sapling Toss)
Unreasonably good ganking potential, which almost always result in a kill with the right team, and proper timing
Pretty fast with this build, which makes his jobs easier, and harder to ignore
Can get most enemies off of your teammates with moderate ease
Can easily interrupt quite a few skills (especially channeled ones, ex. Katarina's Death Lotus, Nunu's Absolute Zero, Fiddlesticks' Drain, Master Yi's Meditate, etc.) (via his Q, Arcane Smash)
Decently flexible, can get damage or tankiness depending on what he needs (high AP ratios, high natural armor, healing passive. He's rewarded for being strong and tanky, not just one)
Excels at chasing, especially with Ghost and Exhaust
Good pick for jungle or duo bot

No scaling MR
No level 6 power spike
Cannot demand focus like other tanks, such as Rammus and Shen
Mana hungry at all points of the game
Almost no physical damage: weak, realatively slow basic attacks

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As previously mentioned, I tend to play Maokai tanky AP. I think that he fails to live up to his full potential as a pure mage or pure tank. A pure mage sacrificing much needed defense for a melee initiator, and a pure tank without a taunt is fairly easily ignored, plus you miss out on his high AP ratios on his spells. I take mostly defensive runes. As a tank, your main goal is to protect the team. Once (or rather, if) you have a full build, you want the turrets to tickle. You should be able to tank them without many minions, and allow your team to crush the towers without having to worry about taking damage. Maokai is tied (with Poppy) for having the highest natural armor of any champ in League of Legends. Between this fact, and his passive, he's set up to be one hell of a tank. For his runes, I recommend getting as much defense as possible, while getting just the right amount (I mean it, these quints can easily mean the difference between a kill/assist) of extra movement speed (MS) on the side. You wanna be able to catch the target with your W, Twisted Advance, which can lead to some truly EPIC ensnares. If you do, your team has a golden opportunity to eat the victim alive.

Acceptable Marks
Greater Mark of Armor: Even though Maokai has the highest natural armor in the game (tied with Poppy), extra armor can't hurt. Especially since as the tank, you're goal is to try and take all of the damage that you can. This makes doing that easier. These're my favorite marks in the game, and since you don't need magic pen, you can safely get these.
Greater Mark of Scaling Magic Resist: These're fairly weak, but they help with Maokai's lack of natural scaling MR, and when combined with Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist, they stack up pretty well.

Acceptable Seals
Greater Seal of Scaling Armor: I've been trying these out, and I think that I prefer them on Maokai. He has naturally high armor, and I have armor in numerous other places in my build. This sacrifices a little early game defense for some more tankiness later on.
Greater Seal of Armor: I wouldn't take these, especially if you take Greater Mark of Armor. The scaling seals match the flats at level 6, which doesn't take long to achieve, then become three times stronger by the end of the game. When combined with Maokai's naturally amazing armor, I can't recommend these.

Acceptable Glyphs
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Just flat out the best glpyhs in the game, especially for a tank, and even moreso for a jungler. I recommend these for literally every 3s champ besides melee ADCs ( Yasuo, for example needs early stats).
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: You could use these to counteract Maokai's low base MR, but I don't recommend it.

Acceptable Quints
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: These're extremely strong and underrated, especially on TT. MS is crucial on this map. I even take these on Anivia, they're that good.
Greater Quintessence of Armor: If all you really care about is being an unstoppable wall, these would work, I suppose. They're powerful and give you more tank stats, but you already have a lot of natural armor from other sources.
Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist: Help with Maokai's low base MR, as well as being a better tank, but I vastly prefer the MS.

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Maokai's masteries're also easy to describe. He's a tank: build heavily in the Defense tree.

Sorcery : CDR is crucial on Maokai, so this is pretty obvious.

Enchanted Armor : A nice bonus to your tankiness. Certainly better than anything else at this rank.

Tough Skin : When jungling, this makes more sense than Block .

Veteran Scars : Health. Simple.

Bladed Armor : This goes a lot further than it sounds, especially against Vilemaw. The large monsters at every camp have been given more HP, so this even helps at the basic camps.

Oppression : I really like this for Maokai, since he gets into the fight by ensnaring someone, thus taking reduced damage right off the bat. You'll get to use this most of the time that you're fighting as Maokai.

Juggernaut : More health!

Hardiness : A nice extra start to your defense, along with...

Resistance : Also a nice, extra start to your defenses!

Swiftness : Decently powerful for a single point. Lets you feel a little more like an unstoppable brick wall.

Evasive : Doesn't help with all magic damage, but 4% for one mastery point is a lot. Combined with Oppression , Resistance , and Legendary Guardian , you're boasting some pretty substantial magic damage reduction right off the bat.

Legendary Guardian :Ok, so the name and picture're misleading, but this is still pretty awesome. This has so many uses. It has an obvious passive bonus of giving you more defense, but it has a more subtle, active use. If you watch your stats, you can detect ganks before they happen. This is good stuff.

Tenacious : It allows you to get up into the front lines without wasting as much idle time being stunned, slowed, etc. Also, it gives you some form of tenacity before you get MFSB.

Fleet of Foot : This is easily my favorite mastery of the season. Everyone should have access to MS if they want it. Also, this makes you even faster, allowing you to be a better tank. MS, like CDR (both of which Maokai benefits heavily from), are useful for both offense and defense.

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The basic mindset with Maokai is that you're a tank with the capacity to deal damage. You shouldn't be a pure tank, but you should also be very durable. It's a lot easier than it sounds. Basically, all of your items should bolster your defense. Even your items for damage should still include some form(s) of defense.

Here's how I view what makes to buy on a champion:
Assassins/Marksmen: Only care about damage. One item for defense is all you can afford.
Offense: The Bloodthirster, Last Whisper, Infinity Edge
Defense: Banshee's Veil, Guardian Angel, Mercurial Scimitar

Mage: Every item should include damage. You should still build defense, but even your defensive items should grant damage. Offensive items can be glass, and defensive items are tanky AP's offensive items.
Offense: Rabadon's Deathcap, Blackfire Torch
Defense: Abyssal Scepter, Zhonya's Hourglass, Moonflair Spellblade

Tanky AP/Fighters: Your offensive items should give you defense in most situations. Your defensive items are pure tank items.
Offense: Iceborn Gauntlet, Abyssal Scepter, Moonflair Spellblade, Sunfire Cape, Ravenous Hydra, The Black Cleaver
Defense: Randuin's Omen, Spirit Visage, Frozen Heart

Tanks/Tank Supports: You only care about defense. The most offense you get is the DPS from Sunfire Cape's passive.
Offense: Sunfire Cape, Zz'Rot Portal, Righteous Glory
Defense: Frozen Heart, Thornmail, Locket of the Iron Solari

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Your standard, offensive combo is Sapling Toss on top of your victim, Twisted Advance the same person before the sapling lands on them, forcing them to take the first hit of the sapling. Once you arrive at the enemy, run slightly past them, and Arcane Smash them back to your team, which usually allows for the sapling to explode on them.

230 AP (base AP in Rod of Ages build)
Q: 342 = 250 + 92
W: 19.9% = 13% + 6.9%
E: 590 = 212 + 378 = 120 + 92, 240 + 138
R: 515 = 200 + 200 + 115
1447 (932 without ult) + 19.9% of target's max HP combo
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(796 >vs. 4000 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(696.5 vs. 3500 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(597 >vs. 3000 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(497.5 vs. 2500 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(398 >vs. 2000 HP)

0 AP (a pure tank, or only using base stats)
Q: 250
W: 13%
E: 360 = 120 + 240
R: 400 = 200 + 200
1010 (610 without ult) + 13% of target's max HP combo
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(520 vs. 4000 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(455 vs. 3500 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(390 vs. 3000 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(325 vs. 2500 HP)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>(260 vs. 2000 HP)

Maokai actually used to be stronger against squishies, as his W used to have an 80% AP ratio, but overall, he's definitely stronger now.

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Jungle Path

Start with wolves for the Thornmail-esque Smite bonus. This helps tanks more than Gift of Heavy Hands. Move onto wraiths next for the heal. Finish with golems, then think about ganking. If lanes aren't in a good spot to gank, get ready to capture an altar. A good strategy is to hit recall while standing on the altar, waiting for the first two lights of the circle to light up prior to hitting B.

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Terms and Shorthand

OP/OP'd: Overpowered
AD: Attack Damage
AP: Ability Power
MS: Movement Speed
MR: Magic Resist
CDs: Cooldowns
CDR: Cooldown Reduction
AoE: Area of Effect
SS: Summoner Spell
HP: Hit points; health, life
MP: Magic points; mana

RoA: Rod of Ages
TotG/Tear: Tear of the Goddess
AAS: Archangel's Staff
Deathcap: Rabadon's Deathcap
Rylai's: Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Warmog's: Warmog's Armor
Unholy: Athene's Unholy Grail
Blackfire: Blackfire Torch
Witchcap: Wooglet's Witchcap
Abyssal: Abyssal Scepter
Overlord's: Overlord's Bloodmail
Iceborn: Iceborn Gauntlet
Runic: Runic Bulwark
Torment: Liandry's Torment
MFSB: Moonflair Spellblade

TT: Twisted Treeline
SR: Summoner's Rift
3s: 3vs3; Twisted Treeline
5s: 5vs5; Summoner's Rift
Old 3s: TT prior to the total remodel on 10-25-12.
New 3s: The current TT, with Vilemaw, new items, etc.
"Glass": Little to no defense. Mages can probably kill you in one or two bursts.

IMO: In my opinion
ATM: At the moment

If there's anything I missed, please let me know.

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Maokai is an incredible, versatile tank. He becomes incredibly difficult to kill late game, while making it very easy for your team to devour enemies thanks to his Twisted Advance. For such a durable tank, he also hurts quite a bit. While he could never carry, that isn't his job. He gets good without stealing the feed, but instead, provides it for his team.

I frequently update my guides, so expect periodic changes.

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