Kog'Maw Build Guide by dbug87
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Hey, real quick...
I am working on reformatting this to be a little easier on the reader. Give me about a week and it should be all shiny and new and pretty.
A word from the author/summoner
I never used to play ranged characters until I picked up Kog Maw. Lane Sin and Jungle Udyr were my mains, and I loved them. Lee Sin can keep your buddies alive and generally wreck face, and Udyr is the king of the jungle. THEN they nerfed the jungle and now everyone can jungle, takes away the "badass factor" from Udyr a little bit. Lee Sin just got old, I've been playing him forever. Kog Maw is free this week and I decided "why not?"
Well, the rest is history. He's my new favorite. I noticed that just about every guide everywhere is sort of building him to not really use his dynamic and potential very well. I keep getting comments on how I'm playing the best Kog they've ever had to face, and someone requested I build a guide here on this site, so here I am.
Introduction- Kog Maw's dynamic Vs. The way he's usually built
What other guides are telling you to do:
Seems like everyone likes to leave the void ooze alone in favor for the caustic spittle, and that's cool, they're both great skills. I don't really agree. Also, there's a lot of guides out there saying to go with the very typical, very predictable, very safe "default" AD build, phantom dancer, infinity, last whisper, zerks greaves, bloodthirster, and I even saw one suggest guardian angel.
Guardian angel? On Kog Maw? Really? A lot of his power happens after he dies. Why would you want to keep yourself from dying?
They tend to play him as a hard offensive AD carry, very aggressive, very based on speed and crit. It's just not the most viable way to play him. I've tried it, and there are better options.
What this guide will teach you:
Kog Maw is better played as a soft AD backline. I assume Kog Maw is always talking about eating and chewing because that's what he's good at. He's the champ in the back that everyone forgot to pay attention to, meanwhile their life is cascading onto the floor of summoners rift and the enemy has quickly realized that they're not very invincible. Your carries and casters clean up, and that's game. Team fights are not fun for anyone playing against a proper Kog Maw.
Sure, you can try and blast the **** out of people with Kog, and you can even be successful with it. I had a pretty legit score when I tried it. But the fact is, once you hit ranked games, your team dynamic is a lot more important than your individual glory score, and Kog fills other roles a whole lot better than he fills the ranged main damage dealer role.
You need to understand that decimating the middle early on can make or break a game. Also, your carries need to get fed. Kog Maw is not the best carry in the game, if you even want to call him a carry. The massive kill score is gonna be better used on someone like, say, Tryndamere or GangPlank. You can work the enemy down and call in your buddies, trust me, it's gold better spent.
YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE OF BREAKING THE INITIAL TEAM FIGHT.
You are in charge of dropping stragglers. That's why you've got artillery.
Other than that, your job is to slow down the enemies from afar with your ooze, rain artillery to break down their life, and auto attack to drop their defense and resists. Kog Maw, with his W and with madreds, is a good canditate to focus the tank and remove him from the equation. Leave the squishies alone unless you're slowing them. Your firepower is best used on whoever has the most life. If you're taking out squishies, you're hurting your team. Leave those for the carries.
What is the general idea behind Kog Maw?
Easy. If you're playing him as a damage dealer, you're missing out on a lot of fun.
Kog Maw is simple- He's there to completely screw up the enemy's team dynamic, cause paranoia, steal key creep kills, drop stragglers, turn over team fights, and generally be a complete pain in the ***.
Its so easy to fall into a glory gamer rut with Kog Maw. He has the potential to give you a really great kill score. He has crazy damage output. He can tear down a tank and laugh about it. It is REALLY easy to want to play Kog Maw like a glory AD carry. I totally understand why he's treated like a Carry and played like a Carry.
KOG MAW IS NOT A CARRY
Take two seconds and look at his dynamic and you'll see what I mean. If you play him for glory, you're really hurting your team dynamic and actually nerfing your team's damage potential. Other carries can do a lot more than you. HELP THEM, not yourself. You'll see a lot more wins if you play sort of from the side lines.
-He has amazing range. To me, this tells me that I need to stay out of the front lines.
-He has a REALLY long range slow. To me, this means I'm supposed to be keeping people away from me.
-His ult is based on range. Your ult usually suggests what you should be doing late game. Kog's ult tells me I need to stay back and rain death on team fights.
-He has very little life. This means I'm not supposed to be tanking hits. Further suggestion that he's supposed to stay back.
-He has a passive which makes him move faster and explode after death. This also suggests that he's supposed to stay back. Why would it have a move speed bonus if they figured you'd be dying close to the enemy? It suggests that by the time the break down your team and get to you in the back lines, they should be weak. This is meant to finish the job.
So if he's meant to stay in the back, that means he obviously isn't a carry. I mean, he CAN be. But wouldn't your rather your ACTUAL carries benefit from your ability to shave off enemy life from afar while they're in there doing THEIR job? Give THEM the kills? Snowball your carry into being completely unstoppable?
To me, Kog Maw is support DPS. Really effective, really high support DPS.
Caustic Spittle VS Void Ooze
Anyone who has half a brain uses spittle, bro.
This is where my guide is a little different. Caustic spittle has a passive attack speed bonus, which is great. The damage output is nice, and it lowers resists and armor. It really seems like the whole package, and if you're playing Kog Maw to do massive damage and work as an AD carry, this is your best option. If you're a glory gamer, you shouldn't be looking at my guide anyway, since my Kog Maw plays more of a back line role. I'm going for wins, not kill score.
Good thing I have WHOLE brain then, bro.
Void Ooze has a 60% slow on max level, great range, great damage, and is somewhat of an AOE slow. Also, it ignores barriers- that is, you can force it through walls or bushes. Also, it's a skillshot. You don't need a target to cast it. This makes it nice for scouting bushes, makes it relatively unpredictable, and allows you to hit a line of enemies. Caustic spittle can only hit one enemy, and with Malady and your other defense lowering items, you're already getting the bonuses that caustic offers from elsewhere- Yeah, they stack, but I'd rather have a ranged heavy-damage dealing AOE-ish slow than tank defense and resistance lowering potential. Lowered defenses don't mean anything if you can't catch the enemy. Also, Caustic doesn't fit into your mid strategy nearly as well as ooze. You'll see why later.
Ooze gets a 70% bonus from AP and a .5 per bonus on AD, hence the void staff. That 40% magic penetration will make your artillery hit a little harder and really help you against enemies that decide that resistances are a good idea. The extra damage from your AD items is nice, too. Some people say there are better items to throw in there than a void staff, I've seen people use trinity force... The problem with this is that it requires you to get in there and auto attack, and late game (around the time you'd get trinity), you're gonna be relying on your artillery and ooze for most of your damage. Your W is going to do plenty of damage without the extra boost from trinity. Trinity only helps your W. Void staff helps your Q, E, and R.
All in all, I really think ooze is a better option, especially the way I play Kog.
Le OmGzOrZ Kog Maw has NO ESCAPEZ!
I see this.... SO... freaking often in everyone else's guide.
Yes. Yes the **** he does.
If you play "I'm gonna charge in and wreck face with Kog because he is teh 1337 AD carry", then no, you have no escape, because you're maxing out caustic, you're getting in way too close, your ooze has very little slowing effect at the level 1 you probably have it at, and you deserve everything that comes to you.
Kog Maw plays from the BACK LINES. Why else would he have the range that he does? You're squishy and have no escape because you're playing him out of his element. Argument concluded.
Now... if you play THIS guide, and you're raining hell from the back lines, and you see Joe-I'm-Freakin-Cocky start charging down the lane at you, you pop your ooze, roll it over his face, and start ducking back. You should hit them at the very end of the ooze, if they got closer than that before you popped it, then you need to learn the range of your ooze better.
NOW they have to walk over a track of slowing ooze, take damage, and you can rain artillery on them while they're trying to catch you and STILL get away.
Kog Maw has an escape if you don't play him like a glory gamer schmuck. He's also not squishy and doesn't have to worry about sustainability if you aren't constantly going "Look how hard I can hit morgana's binding with my face". Stay out of the action and use your range, the way Kog is MEANT to be played (based on obvious dynamic... or at least what I THOUGHT was obvious dynamic) and you'll fnd yourself rarely taking hits and staying alive.
Summoner Spells- But you aren't running ignite or exhaust?
Because it just doesn't fit my play style. Exhaust? I already have a slow. Ignite? As soon as someone sees you run ignite, if they're worth anything, they're going to back out of a fight a lot earlier and make a lot less mistakes with you. People know what ignite does, it's not like it's a new skill.
People see you run clarity, and they're like "what the hell is this moron doing?" and that's the last time they think of it until you use it to juke them (see below in the early game section).
Teleport is critical for really plowing a lane. You need to be able to recall and get RIGHT back into the lane while they're still stuck at their fountain.
Other skills just don't sem viable to me. You're a back line character, you don't need to rely on offensive summoner spells because you are NOT MEANT TO BE THE M.V.P. DAMAGE DEALER.
Farming- Pushing the lane early only hurts YOU in the end.
You should always strive to keep the lane balanced in the middle of the river. This allows you to spend a lot more time focusing on harassing and starving your opponent. By level 10, I'm usually at least 3 levels ahead of their mid.
What the hell does that mean? English, Hammer!
Basically, push aggressively until the minions are meeting in the middle of the river, or at least close to there. Maybe a LITTLE edged over to the enemy side. The whole math behind minions is that they meet in the middle, and they kill eachother just in time for a new wave to come up. If you maintain that balance, they'll stay in the middle. Essentially, let the minions farm eachother down, and just land the last hit when they're about to die. Don't attack them otherwise.
This does three important things for you.
1.) The enemy probably wont catch on right away, and will push right into you if you want them to. It will keep the fight on your side of the river, which gives you more retreat potential.
2.) If you don't want them to push, you can harass them. When you're waiting for minions to work eachother down, you should be poking the enemy to keep them backed away from the farm. This will make sure their level and income stays lower than yours. This is the art of harassing.
3.) This will conserve mana and keep your kill count high and your death count low. This is lane control. You're using less abilities on minions, just an occasional auto attack. If they are agressively farming to get through to you, they're burning their mana. Your pool is still full. They're also paying more attention to their farm than they are to you. Makes them easier to harass, and a first hit usually decides a 1v1 fight. If they start beating on you, guess what- you're on your side of the river where you belong. Head back to your tower. This positioning also makes you harder to gank.
What if my minions push through?
Occasionally, you'll overpower their wave and your minions will push through. It happens. Either that or a passing jungler will wipe out a wave (bad manners) and it'll screw up your balance. It just makes the enemy have to farm more aggressively to get back to you. Go back to your tower and wait for the enemy to get to about the middle of the river, engage them, and work on restoring the lane balance. If you push with your minions, you're over-extended, prone to ganking, and they have a lot more retreat potential than you. it's a bad place to be.
So you have 3 jobs. 1.) Maintain balance to maximize gold/xp income for you and minimize it for them, 2.) watch for ganks and watch your other lanes to see if they need help. Call your MIA's, even for other lanes. 3.) Go for kills only when you KNOW you have got it in the bag. Other than that, you only worry about harassing.
Early Game- Bet you thought I was gonna back off :P
Grab your armor and your wards. Yeah, yeah, health potions, whatever. Save it. I don't particularly care about meta. March your happy little frog legs down the middle lane, and type in /joke. Let this be a tradition for your Kog. As if to say "I got the mid, get some."
I actually have his /joke set to Z in my key bindings. I toot my horn after every kill, because it pisses enemies off and makes them play a lot less smart, and raises morale for my team. Psychology is a wonderful thing in competition.
Ward both bushes
You need the lane awareness. You need to know ahead of time if someone is coming to gank you. You're ranged, you've got tricks up your sleeve, forget potions. They're not that great, and I'm sure you'll get over the separation anxiety. If you ever go back to gear up and you have some extra gold, get more. 75 gold is not a lot to spend if you figure that it will reduce your death count drastically. Mid is all about map awareness and pure plowing potential.
Now... your strategy for mid is very simple and effective. This is where you start to see why I do what I do with my build, skills, and runes.
YOU NEED THEM TO THINK YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE LANE.
Kog usually isn't mid. Most people play him in a lane. So if you go mid, one of two things is going through the enemy's mind. Either A.) This guy is ******ed for playing Kog in the middle, I'm gonna smoke his ***. Or B.) This guy must be really damn good with Kog Maw.
You need them to think you suck. They need to be aggressive as hell with you, that's what's going to kill them. So when they enter the lane, play shy. Take some hits, make them get cocky. Purposely tank some skillshots, really make them think they're winning. You should do NO damage to them until you're level 2. Make them plow you all the way back to the tower. I mean REALLY sell the idea that you're a garbage Kog Maw. Trust me, it'll change the game for you.
Play off of the tower at this point and get them low. When they go back, you go back. This is where you switch things up. You should be about level 3 now, you should have your ooze on level 2, your arcane on level 1, and you should have your sword and armor by now. Head back to your tower.
You need to provoke the enemy into chasing you. Run away. Make them think you're still getting pub stomped. Turn around, launch ooze at them to slow their escape, proc your W, and lay into them. You should half their life by the time they can get away. You'll start gaining ground in the lane and they'll start playing a little more defensively.
Everyone underestimates the range of your ooze.
Use that fact to your advantage, that thing has a hell of a rage and does some very nice damage. Every time you slow them, trigger your W and throw a few hits in. You'll find yourself gaining ground like crazy. The enemy will even overcompensate once they figure out that you're outranging them and basically hand you the lane.
Around now, you should be level 5, and you should have the lane pushed just about to their tower. You should have around 700 gold in the bank.
DO NOT break down that tower just yet. You shouldn't drop that tower until around level 8, because it will score you some free kills.
Once you hit 6: What does an enemy do when they're losing the lane? They retreat back to their tower for a second. Artillery extends beyond the range of towers. If you can land them, you can either kill them or force them to abandon the tower, or if they're REALLY stupid, they'll give up their defensive position and come out and try and attack you. It can only go three ways, and none of them end well for your middle opponent.
Also, enemies DO watch your mana bar. They'll hang behind that tower until they see you run out of mana, it has happened to me MANY times. That's why we run clarity. Kog is super mana hungry, enemies who are worth anything know this. They'll wait for that golden opportunity, and suddenly you have mana again, and their weekend just got wrecked. They come out from their cozy little tower and get a face full of hurt instead of the easy kill they were counting on. It probably wouldnt hurt you to burn your mana on purpose, start to recall, make it look like you're burnt out, and bait them out again. Pop clarity and fire for effect.
By level 8 you should be plowing the lane, the enemy should be crying, and you should have both towers knocked out by 11 minutes.
Problem champs: What to do in a pinch
The main champ I seem to have issues with when I build Kog this way is Lux, because if she hits you with anything, she hits you with everything. Poor lil Kog Maw isn't meant to tank all that damage. The fix I've found for this is whenever your stuff is on cooldown, literally randomly click around the lane like you're having a seizure. It's very hard to skillshot a completely unpredictable movement pattern, and her chain starts with a skillshot.
That will knock out half of her potential straight away. Then it's just a matter of out-leveling her and just hang in there until 6. Once your ult is up, you out range everyone.
...Everyone but tristana. (Yes, Kog's range is better... but tristana's range is just about as good, with an additional distance-closing jump. She CAN and WILL outrange you.)
Fact: She outranges you. Even with your artillery. The only question is whether or not she knows how to pull it off. She has to jump in to close some distance and land a few shots before you know what's going on. Good thing she's so damn squishy. I lost to Tristana a few times before I figured one key thing out- She may outrange you, but you out-damage her. The only way she's going to kill you with her range is if you run from her. If you turn your *** around and plow directly at her, slow her and pop your W, you'll kill her every time, and eventually she'll wise up and knock her sneaky ninja uber range **** off.
Shunpo/ult is a *****. Wards are your friend. You have no way to cancel her ult (no interrupts), so tread carefully. The only way to keep her off of you is to know where she is. Katarina usually isn't middle anyway, but if she is, be careful and play off of your tower. A whole lot less aggression and a lot of map awareness will keep you alive.
Psh. revealing wards ($125). Done deal. Stick to the sides of the lanes to avoid boxes and mushrooms. Don't take common routes through the jungle. Don't get out of the range of your wards. If teemo chases you, ooze him and get away til it wears off. You're the chaser, not the chasee. If you take teemo head on, he usually runs ignite and his poison. It's very deceiving damage and not worth it. Try not to directly engage him until you have your ult. Shaco is squishy, has no DOT, and isn't nearly as much of a problem. Treat twitch like teemo.
Never take on a DOT or On-Hit character with less than half health. They're deceiving as hell.
Don't chase singed, dont run from Tryndamere unless he's CC'd, Stay out of ahri or rammus's taunt range, keep in mind ahri can close distance on you FAST. Basically it's all common sense. Sit back at your tower, watch them, figure out what they're doing that's beating you, and use your head. Know what champ can do and can't do. Know what shuts them down. For instance, if you knock out fiddle, vlad, or mundo's life leech or healing effects, they're toast. If you CC singed, he's done. Thornmail shuts down Yi and Jax. Get it? It aint hard.
Mid game- Oh... laning phase is over? But I was having fun... :(
This is where you stop worrying about killing people and start worrying about screwing up the enemy's team dynamic with CC and pure paranoia. Kog's attacks can come out of anywhere, and this will keep the enemy wondering where you are.
This is where you go into "fire for effect" mode. Go stock up on wards, reveal most of the enemy's key areas on their side of the river (jungle areas, the areas right behind their towers, etc) and go hide in the bushes near where you expect a team fight to break out.
Watch them get organized, and then start raining artillery, and watch their whole planned dynamic go to ****. Run back towards your team, you're now bait. When you're just in front of your team with the enemy on your back, ooze backwards to slow and damage as many as you can, let your team get in front of you, pop your W, and start hammering the tank. Throw more ooze whenever it comes off of cooldown. If you have your spittle, pop it on the tank. You want him to take as much damage as you can get on him. be sure to pop clarity if you see your casters get low on mana. If YOU are low on mana, wait for one of your casters to get low as well, and auto attack until then. You need it to be an effective use of clarity, don't blow it. That thing has crazy cooldown.
Eventually, with the tank hurt badly, they'll go to retreat, usually splitting up. This is why you have boots of swiftness and wards. Look for the lowest ones and follow them, artillery their path, slow them, whatever it takes. Pick off the injured. If you get killed, you're probably taking them with you. Teleport back to the front lines once you respawn. See why we keep teleport? Death is part of Kog's dynamic.
Losing team fights- If Kog Maw doesn't get his way, he gets angry.
When Kog Maw gets angry, people die.
Sit way back if you see a team fight go south and pop artillery off from a safe bush. Work them down without being seen. Do as much damage as you can do until it looks like your team is going to completely lose the fight and it looks like you're about to take some deaths.
All of them should be low, plow in from nowhere, tank as many hits as you can, get your slow off, attack the **** out of people, become a distraction.
LET them kill you and grenade the whole crowd. You'll either reverse the tables or at least make them re-think pushing any further. If they break up, don't worry about who is the lowest. You want to chase the person throwing the most damage. Make them easier for your team to remove from the fight. You aren't going for kills, you're going for wins.
Early game lane failure top or bottom- There's only one way to do it.
Drop the middle lane as long as they aren't AT your tower. They aren't gonna break your tower in the time it takes you to go help a lane real quick early game, they just don't have the power to do it. They might damage it, sure, but they aren't taking it.
If they ARE going to take it, then don't abandon your lane. Duh. Mid is more important than top or bottom. This section is only if mid is held pretty well and another lane is just getting gang raped.
Like I said... There is only one way to do this.
Teleport to a supporting minion in the failing lane, and type in /joke. Toot that horn. Kog Maw is on the scene, have no fear. If you don't do this, you've failed with Kog Maw completely. Uninstall.
Slow them, pop your W, beat their skull in while they try and run. If you have your ult, artillery the bijeezus out of them if they get too far away. Screw with them behind their tower for a bit just because its so sadistically entertaining. Go back to mid.
Oh... you wanted to jungle? Poor you...
If you're really tearing the middle apart, so much that they have to go back and you're still good to lane for a while, feel free to dip into the jungle and screw up their jungler while your opponent is back at his fountain. Gotta be doing something productive, right? You don't even have to kill him, just screw up his jungling times, steal creeps, last hit his blue or red with your artillery, whatever you gotta do. Makes for a severely nerfed jungler by the team fight phase.
If you really want to be a raging ****, you can wait by their blue early game (skip buying altogether or you won't make it up there in time) and get first blood with one of your buddies off of their jungler. Just communicate in th lobby before the game, plan it, take ONE person up there with you- you'll both have to skip buying.
Pop your slow, start attacking, they wont have time to get away. If your buddy is ranged, even better. If your buddy is ranged and has ignite- Best possible scenario.
Easy first blood. Keep in mind you should get an ASSIST off of this, not a kill. Don't steal your carry's gold.
Steal Baron? Smite? I don't need no stinking smite...
Enemy is going for Baron? Oh. That's cool. If you have it warded, wait for him to get dangerously low and artillery him. Watch everyone cry. Oh.... and at that point it's a good idea to get out. Like now. Hit a bush and recall.
You can do this to their red and blue, too. Keep them warded, if they go for them, last hit them.
Alternate builds- Uh... guys... this isn't working.
These are only for situations where you're just getting shredded. Other than that, try and hang in there with the provided build above.
Against a hard AP mid
Well, my build doesn't have any magic resist, and AP guys are squishy. I'd sub out the last whisper for a hexdrinker. Yeah, the resist isn't that great, but you get a built in spell shield. You can do banshees veil if you want instead. I prefer hexdrinker to banshees veil. Banshees veil will stop a spell every few minutes. Say that spell does DOT- veil doesn't stop that (such as with teemo). Hexdrinker gives you a 300 point shield. It'll keep teemo or anyone with ignite from slow-roasting you.
Against a hard AD mid
Ashe's arrows are doing a little too much damage? Swap out last whisper for a frozen mallet. It gives defense, mana, cooldown, and slows their attacks. Obviously you'd start with a glacial shroud.
I wouldn't swap out much more than that...
Pros / Cons
-Fun to play
-****s all over most mids
-Funny as hell /joke, use it whenever you've successfully pulled something shady.
-Great gank potential
-Great for blasting stragglers after a team fight
-Can turn a team fight around
-Pretty much permanently squishy unless you sacrifice a lot of killing potential
-If you become predictable, you die.
-Relies heavily on team taking the brunt of the damage in a team fight
-If he gets focused, he's done.
-Delay on ult is difficult to figure out at first
-Requires a LOT of multi-tasking to play to max potential