Maokai Build Guide by Be4stM0d3
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
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.
Since TheOddOne Let Out The Secret...
I've been jungling Maokai since just before DreamHack, but until recently Maokai was considered to be no more than an "ok laner" and only known to few as a super strong jungler. But of course TheOddOne caught on to the secret and bust it wide open at MLG, winning in every game he played Maokai. And with the new jungle he has an even larger advantage over other junglers because he can hit level 4 before anybody else except maybe Shaco. So here's my guide to jungle Maokai.
For Those New to Maokai (Basics)
Maokai has been a good hero for a long time (since his first and only buff, he was pretty bad on release) and people are starting to understand why. He's a lot like old Nunu in that he ganks hard and transitions very well because he is a support tank with an incredible team fight presence. Let's talk abilities.
Sap Magic (passive) - A built in heal that scales very well into late game because it heals for a percentage of maximum health. Sustains him well in jungle early game and in team fights late game, great passive.
Arcane Smash (Q) - Incredible utility skill. Helps you farm quickly, helps you catch enemies, helps you escape enemies, helps peel enemies off your carry... Yeah this thing does everything, all on a six second cooldown (without CDR).
Twisted Advance (W) - You gank and initiate with this and because it follows the target it will work 100% of the time. When jungling it also helps shortcut into camps if you follow up your Sapling Toss with this.
Sapling Toss (E) - It's a 35 second ward that explodes 460 damage when maxed out. Yep.
Vengeful Maelstrom (R) - A low cooldown sustained AoE spell that prevents a percentage of enemy damage dealt to your team, and then fires it right back at them. An awesome ability as is, but it's the low cooldown that makes this ability shine.
EWQ is your bread and butter combo because it ensures that both ticks of sapling damage hit and they are CC'd down for approximately 2 seconds, plenty of time to burst down the target.
Use R to siege towers (offensively or defensively) and objectives (dragon, Baron), to take control of clustered team fights, and even to pick off a weakened fleeing enemy since the range is actually quite generous.
Smite is an essential part of your role as a Jungler. It allows you to speed up your jungling and secure key map objectives (buffs, dragon, Baron) throughout the game.
Flash is STILL one of the best summoner spells in the game. It's an escape if you get caught (though you shouldn't allow yourself to get caught) and its an extra 400 range on Twisted Advance and Arcane Smash, too strong.
Exhaust is a good replacement for flash if you feel you are very on top of your positioning, as it is an extra CC that can make your ganks even more brutal.
greater mark of desolation and Greater Mark of Attack Speed are both very strong. Armor Pen lets your attacks hit harder which can also increase your ganking strength and Attack Speed makes it easier to fit in spell casts in between your attacks and maybe get in that extra attack you need for the successful gank, whichever you prefer.
Greater Seal of Armor are the optimal choice.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist are the optimal choice, although I've had some success in certain games (against teams with little to no magic damage) with 3 Greater Glyph of Ability Power and 6 Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power for much stronger ganks.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power are the optimal choice.
Two routes stand out among the many that Maokai can follow and the one you pick will depend on what you want to do early game.
Most gold/xp efficient route - Wolf Start
Drop two saplings at wolves starting at 1:04, then throw the third one when wolves spawn. Then get a small leash on blue to clear. Then go wraiths, wolves, red, wraiths, and then either go twins, wolves, or gank. You hit level 4 after your second wraith camp clear so you have plenty of options.
Fastest level 4 - Wraith Start
Drop two saplings at wraiths starting at 1:04, then throw the third one when wraiths spawn. Then get to blue as fast as you can and have your team leash blue. Then go wolves, wraiths, red, twins. You should by level 4 by approximately 3:30, faster than most other junglers right now.
Ganking with Maokai is highly rewarding. He has all the right tools for the job: A point-click gap-closer root that follows any who try to escape, a short range knock-up/slow, and little saplings that deal ridiculous damage and grants sight of anyone trying to hide in bushes.
The way you gank top/bot and the way you gank mid differ quite a bit, so I'll walk you through it.
Top/Bot - Ganking these two lanes tends to be very easy for Maokai because they are longer than mid, therefore they are further away from turret coverage when farming. These lanes have bushes that are usually used to juke the jungler when he attempts to gank, but with Maokai's saplings he is 100% unjukable if they overextend even the slightest bit. When you make your presence known naturally they will attempt to retreat; at this point you can either wait for them to enter the brush or you can preemptively toss a sapling to lead them out of brush. Soon after, with guaranteed sight of the enemy, you should be able to root them and then knock them back towards your allies. This usually results in a kill, except MAYBE against a high sustain hero like Soraka.
Mid - For a successful gank on mid they have to either need to burn Flash, have tier 2 boots, have a mid laner with a reliable CC, or they have to be more overextended than in other lanes because its the shortest lane and no matter what direction you come from there are always multiple escape routes. Good mid players tend to play very cautiously as far as position in lane is concerned, so timing and positioning is everything because successful ganks on mid are also the most rewarding. The reason for this is because a team with low burst is less likely to be able to finish the other team with sustained damage and thus there will be more time to neutralize the carry.
As the jungler, it is your prerogative to ward the key areas on the map.
Priority 1: Dragon and Baron
Place a ward slightly to the left of Dragon entrance, this gives vision of both Purple's blue buff entrance and their other river entrance.
Early game you can use Vision Ward to counter their wards on Dragon (early game only unless you don't pick up Oracle's Elixir)
After 15 minutes have passed (when Baron spawns) start warding the area in front of his entrance as well.
Priority 2: The Gank Bushes
These are the areas along the edges of the jungle from which ganks are often set up. They can't gank you if you know they're coming.