Graves Build Guide by juiceyninja

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author juiceyninja

Malcolm Graves, the Outlaw. An In-depth guide

juiceyninja Last updated on August 28, 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

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Okay, so before we get started. First I want to take some time to introduce myself and address what I will be covering in this guide.

Hi my name is Justin, my summoner name is “juiceyninja”, I have been playing League of Legends for about a year and a half now. I have played well over 1500 games! So I have seen a lot of different types of game play techniques and methods. Though this guide is intended for intermediate to advanced players, I will be clearly outlining some of the basic things about the game.

In this guide I will be showing you how to play the League of Legends character “Graves”. He is a strong AD Carry with high amounts of burst while also having one of the strongest defenses among Ad Carries. We will be looking at Graves strengths, weaknesses, poke, sustain and how to play him in the bot lane.


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Learning the Language

In League of Legends there are lots of sentences and words that are abbreviated into acronyms or the first 3 or 4 letters of the word. Here Is a list of some of the most commonly used ones throughout League of Legends. (Knowing these can save a lot of time when communicating with team mates) Note there are lots of other acronym’s, these are just the most common ones.

  • LoL – League of Legends
  • BOT – Bottom Lane
  • MID – Middle Lane
  • TOP – Top lane
  • B or Back – Recall
  • MIA or MIS– Missing in Action (people say this when one of their lane opponents is missing)
  • INC – Incoming (Used to communicate that an opponent is coming for you or to a lane E.g. “INC Bot”)
  • Care – Be careful (This can be used in lots of situations, but generally it is used to warn someone that there are lots of people MIA and they might be in danger where they are.)
  • CS – Creep Score (how many minion kills you have)
  • AD – Attack Damage
  • AP – Ability Power
  • ULT – Ultimate (your champions R ability).
  • DPS – Damage Per Second
  • CC – Crowd Control (Slows, stuns, silences and disables)

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Malcolm Graves, the Outlaw

Graves is a ranged AD carry, adept at chasing opponents and bursting down their HP. His abilities allow him to deal massive damage at a close range and also catch enemies off guard with his ult’s long range and damage.Graves should be played in the bot lane with a support. Early game you should focus on building items with lots of attack damage, this will give your Buckshot and auto attacks more damage (BF Sword and Doran's blade for example).

Always try to trade hits with the enemy AD carry, your passive “True Grit” will allow you to come out with more HP than your opponent.

Use your buckshot to deal massive amounts of damage to the enemy close range, or to poke them from a far.

As an AD carry, your primary focus should be on getting fed. This can be achieved by getting lots of kills, and lots of CS. Always try and keep ahead of the enemy AD’s CS, as this will allow you to win your lane and possibly win the game.

In team fights always place your Smokescreen down and use your Quickdraw to position yourself in the fight. When taking a tower or objective, make sure you always use your Quickdraw’s attack speed buff.

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Malcolm Graves was born in the back of a Bilgewater tavern and left there with a bottle of spiked milk. He survived a childhood in the pirate-run slums using every dirty trick in the book. Intent on building a new life for himself, he stowed away on the first ship to the mainland he could sneak aboard. However, the grim realities of the world forced him to eke out an unsavory living in the underground of various city-states, jumping the border whenever things got too hot. At a particularly high-stakes game of cards, he found himself seated opposite Twisted Fate. They both flipped four aces on the final hand. It was the first time either conman had met his equal. The two formed an alliance, swindling marks at the tables and scrapping back-to-back in the alleys afterward. Together, they ran the streets – stacking chips, decks, and charges. Unfortunately Graves made the mistake of hustling a hefty sum from Dr. Aregor Priggs, a high-ranking Zaunite official and businessman. When Priggs discovered how he'd been played, he became obsessed with revenge. He learned about Twisted Fate's all-consuming desire to control magic and he promptly offered him a trade: serve Graves up in exchange for enrollment in a procedure which would grant his wish. Twisted Fate took the deal – both he and Graves knew the stakes of their arrangement, but the offer was too good. Once acquired, Priggs had Graves taken to a special location built to hold men whose crimes – or more precisely their punishments – were meant to stay off the books. Graves endured years of captivity at the hands of Zaun's most unscrupulous wardens before he managed to escape. One of his fellow detainees introduced him to an eccentric gunsmith who modified a shotgun exactly to his specifications. After he paid a visit to Priggs, Graves joined the League of Legends with two targets in his sights: Twisted Fate and payback.

''They got a saying in the locker: ain't got nothin' but time to plan.''-Graves

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Abilities (Passive)

Graves has a diverse set of abilities that allow him to easily chase down kills, or retreat when being chased by the enemy. Lets take a look at them now.

True Grit (Passive)
Graves gains 1 / 2 / 3 bonus armour and magic resistance every second he remains in combat. This bonus stacks up to 10 times. Graves is considered in combat if he has dealt or received damage in the last 3 seconds.Wow! How amazing is that! This passive is debatably one of the best passives in the game! This scales at lvls 1 ? And ?. That’s 30 extra armour and magic resist at level ?! (keep in mind you must be in combat for 10 seconds to gain the effect). This passive will make you harder to poke, harder to kill and just all around tankier. Utilize this by auto attacking things as much as you can. Graves is an exceptional duellist because of this ability. You can recognize when True Grit is active, as graves will have a yellow ring around his feet.
  • Try to trade hits with opponents when you have 10 stacks.
  • Use this wisely. Don’t assume you can 1v1 anybody just because of this passive. You are still an easy kill for some oponents.
  • Always try to keep this on 10 stacks by hitting minions or enemy champions.

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Abilities (Q)

(Active): Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing physical damage to all enemies in their path. Enemies at close range can be hit by multiple projectiles, but each bullet beyond the first will deal only 35% damage.
Range: 750
Cost: 60 / 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 mana
Cooldown: 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 seconds
Physical Damage: 60 / 95 / 130 / 165 / 200 (+0.8 per bonus attack damage)

At first glance this ability looks pretty good! It is on a fairly low cooldown, doesn’t cost too much mana and has a good amount of physical damage. But this ability has so much more to offer than you may first think. First of all, the range is amazing! 750 range can out poke almost any other AD carry. Secondly, if you hit someone with multiple projectiles you get a bonus 35% damage! This can give a possible 340 damage at rank 5! And that’s not even including bonus AD. I believe this is graves strongest ability (excluding his ult of course), as it can be used to hit multiple enemies at a time, is great for poking, and it does a lot of burst damage!
  • Try to hit enemies with multiple bullets, this greatly increases damage.
  • This has greater range than your auto attack, so it can be used to poke opponents from a distance while not putting yourself in danger, use this technique if you are zoned.
  • In team fights try to make this hit as many opponents as possible, as it will do great amounts of damage to the enemy team.
  • You can clear out almost entire minion waves with a rank 5 buckshot, use this to push lanes or farm, when your opponent is out of lane.

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Abilities (W)

(Active): Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area, dealing magic damage upon landing and creating a cloud of smoke for 4 seconds. Enemies inside the smoke cloud will be slowed and will have their vision reduced by about 625 range; everything else will look like it is in the Fog of War.
Range: 700
Area of effect radius: 500
Cost: 70 / 75 / 80 / 85 / 90 mana
Cooldown: 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 seconds
Magic Damage: 60 / 110 / 160 / 210 / 260 (+0.6 per ability power)
Slow: 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 %

One of the most under-estimated abilities in this game!!! It has a decent slow, good damage and best of all, it shortens enemies vision! This allows you to easily chase down enemies, run away from enemies, slow and deny vision when a jungler is ganking and also can be used to poke your opponent or as part of your burst combo. It has so many more uses but I won’t list them all here. The cooldown is fair considering what the ability does, and the mana is also rather fair for what it does. Overall this ability is very useful and you should always be finding opportunities to use it!The lower picture to the right shows what it looks like to be inside an enemy graves smokescreen, very scary stuff when you can’t see how many enemies are coming for you!
(This is almost like a mini nocturne ult!)
  • Always use this when dueling an oponent, it denies them vision, Limits their escape choices and does a nice amount of damage.
  • Throw this down on your opponents when a jungler is coming to gank, denying them vision and slowing them should be enough for you to get at least 1 kill from a gank.
  • When you are chasing an opponent, throw this in their path to slow them
  • When being chased, throw this down behind you to delay enemies.
  • Use this in every teamfight, it should keep enemies fire off you.

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Abilities (E)

(Active): Graves dashes forward, gaining an attack speed boost for 4 seconds. Using auto attacks on enemy units, but not structures, lowers the cooldown of Quickdraw by 1 second each auto attack.
Cost: 50 mana
Range: 425
Cooldown: 22 / 20 / 18 / 16 / 14 seconds
Attack Speed: 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 %

Amazing! This ability is almost like flash, but on a lower cooldown and it gives an attack speed bonus! Quickdraw is able to quickly get graves into or out of a fight. It can be used to chase down enemies, or escape from enemies that are chasing you! There are lots of walls that can you can jump over with this ability, you should use your ability to jump over walls as much as possible! The attack speed buff is also amazing! 80% attack speed at rank 5 makes you good at punishing enemies, taking towers and taking objectives (baron/dragon/red buff). Combined with a flash, Graves is able to move great distances that most champions could not even dream of! Use this ability wisely, as it could be the difference between wining or losing a team fight.
  • Use this ability to position yourself in a teamfight, it will also give you a nice attack speed buff.
  • Escape from enemies over small walls when possible.
  • This can jump over the back wall of baron and dragon, use that to your advantage when possible
  • Use this all the time when duelling (1v1), the attack speed makes a huge difference on the outcome of the fight.
  • This makes you a master at destroying towers, always use it when attacking an enemies tower.
  • Always use this before flash when running from an enemy.

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Abilities (R)

Collateral Damage
(Active): Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing heavy physical damage to the first champion it hits (also damages non-champion enemies whilst in flight). After hitting a champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes dealing physical damage in a cone behind the target.
Cost: 100 mana
Range: 1000
Cone Range: 800
Cooldown: 100 / 90 / 80 seconds
Initial Physical Damage: 250 / 350 / 450 (+1.4 per bonus attack damage)
Explosion Physical Damage: 140 / 250 / 360 (+1.2 per bonus attack damage)

This ability is one of my favourites in the game! It has massive range, massive damage, and it can hit an entire enemy team if used correctly! This is useful in so many situations! It can be used to farm huge minion waves, damage entire teams, kill enemies on low HP at a far range and steal dragon/baron. This spell scales well throughout the whole game, it is useful in every fight you have! If you’re not using this in every team fight then you probably should switch to another hero, because this right here is graves biggest burst spell!
  • Use this ability at the start of every team fight, try to hit all 5 enemies
  • In combination with your “E” you can cover a massive range, always use this to your advantage.
  • Don’t forget to kill enemies trying to get away with low HP, with this ability!
  • If you are doing a game deciding backdoor, don’t be afraid to use this on minions as it will clear the entire wave immediately! (except for the tank minion or super minions)

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Pros / Cons

Lets take a look at the pros and cons of Graves. (yes he does actually have cons :P)

  • Can win most 1v1’s because of his passive and high damage abilities.
  • Can jump over small walls with his “E”
  • High burst damage from his abilities
  • He can deny people vision with his “W”
  • Able to easily push lanes and take towers
  • Massive ult range
  • Can boost his attack speed rather high
  • Great poke from his abilities
  • Slow movement speed
  • His burst dies off late game (his auto attacks start to hurt more than his abilities)
  • Can be killed pretty easily if caught with passive down
  • Small auto attack range
  • Easily out poked by opponents with greater range (E.G Caitlyn/Ezreal)

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Summoners Rift

Ah Summoners Rift! The most commonly used map on LoL. Lets take a look at Graves and his positioning on Summoners Rift!
Being an AD Carry, you should start Graves in the bot lane (sometimes mid, but that’s a different meta!). Stay in bot lane until around 20 minutes (depending on how the game is going this varies), If your opponents tower falls before then, you can go help Mid lane to kill their opponent or take their tower. Try to always have a ward on dragon, as this helps your team a great amount. I know you are probably thinking “I’m the AD carry, I’m not buying wards!” But think of it this way, you spending 75 gold can deny the enemy team of almost 1000 gold, and that 1000 gold might just win them the game. After 20 minutes you should mostly stay with your team in mid lane. But remember to hold other lanes and try not to let your teams turrets fall. As the AD carry, you should try to be with your team every time they are taking an objective (Tower, dragon, baron), Note that if this puts one of your towers in danger, you may want to stay with it to defend it.

This is only a very brief guide on positioning and objectives on this map, I don’t want to go too deep into this, as it will not all fit on the one page and strays from the purpose of this guide!

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Items - Riot Recommended

Lets take a look at what Items you should be building when you are playing graves.

First of all, lets review Riot’s recommended items for Graves:

Now these aren’t actually all that bad… They’re actually pretty close to what I usually build. The Doran’s blade start can be a really good choice against some lane partners, followed by Berserkers Greaves allows you to 1v1 opponents pretty well. After these first 2 items though, the build starts to slip. Zeal is an essential item on graves, but I feel that building it too early can be counter-productive… If you were to instead invest that money in a damage item such as a BF Sword, you would have much higher DPS and your abilities would do a lot more damage.

Trinity force is a very strong item on some Champions, but I don’t believe Graves is one of those Champions. Although it does benefit him a lot, I believe that this slot can be filled by another cheaper item that will give him more damage and make him more effective in his role as a carry.

Infinity Edge is an essential item on all AD carries, it gives an extra 50% damage to your critical strikes, has 80 Attack Damage and it gives 25% critical strike chance.All builds for AD carries should incorporate this item, but I feel this one does it a little too late. Building this item earlier in the game gives great damage and if you get a critical strike, your opponents will not know what hit them!

Last Whisper is a very strong item, 40% armour penetration is extremely useful in most situations. The attack damage is also nice. 90% of the time I build this item, but there are some situations when you don’t need it, and you can build another strong item in its place. For example if the enemy team is not stacking armor, then there is really no point in this item. Unless they have over 80 armour, The armour penetration is outweighed by flat attack damage.

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Explaining the Build

At the start of a game, you should almost always buy Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion. The health potions really help you to sustain longer in lane than a Doran’s Blade does, and the boots help you to get away from ganks and opponents quickly. They are also considered a “safer” pick than a Doran’s Blade. I only take Doran’s Blade if I have a support that can heal me lots (Soraka) and I feel that I need the extra damage. When you go back to shop, you should have enough money to buy your Berserker’s Greaves, or maybe even a BF sword. Try to rush the BF sword out as fast as you can, as it gives great amounts of damage to your auto attacks and Buckshot.

If you are having a hard time in lane, you should consider buying a Doran's Blade or two early game, this will give you an early game advantage over your opponent.

Berserker’s Greaves:
Great item for all AD carries, 25% attack speed is quite strong and will allow you to easily take down towers or duel opponents
Infinity Edge:
A pretty straight forward item on AD carries, it gives extra crit damage, extra crit chance and flat Attack Damage, this item is essential and cannot be forgotten!
Phantom Dancer:
Another generic pick for AD Carries, it gives crit chance, attack speed and best of all; movement speed! This item will make you a better duellist and you will start to do lots of DPS.
The Blood Thirster:
One of the best items in the game! It offers up to 100 AD and 20% Lifesteal. The stats of the item without stacks are already awesome, farming the stacks just make it even better! Combined with the items so far, this will make your auto attacks and crits deal “tons of damage” (phreak reference) and you will be able to heal all of your HP in seconds. This is another essential item to Graves.
Last Whisper:
A really great item! 40% Armour Penetration and 40 AD, this is really the icing on the cake for this build. Combined with the “Weapon Expertise” mastery, you will hit through 50% of your opponents armour! This is great against tanky opponents or anyone stacking armour! Although this item is great, it is not 100% required. If the enemy team mostly has low armour (less than 110) I would recommend building a Black Cleaver instead, as it will pierce through more armour than a Last Whisper would.
[Guardian Angel:
At this point you should have more than enough damage to dominate any enemy in a duel, so building more damage is kind of useless! Finishing on this item will make you even more tanky and will give you a second chance if you happen to make a mistake and get yourself killed.

This item is possibly one of the best defensive items in the game, and it goes extremely well with Graves passive! You will probably end up with almost as much armour as your teams tank (when your passive is up). The magic resist it gives is also amazing, it will stop you from being bursted down by the enemy AP carry and make them think twice before trying to fight you. This item is great in all situations, but a Quicksilver Sash is debatably a better item on an AD carry. I would build Quicksilver Sash instead of this item if the enemy team has a lot of CC and your tank isn’t able to keep them away from you.

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Situational Items

These are items that you may want to consider building depending the enemy team and how the game is going.

Mercury's Treads:
These boots are my favourite in the game, they give a good amount of magic resist and they reduce the duration of CC on you. A great choice if the enemy team is AP heavy or has lots of CC. (Replace your Berserkers Greaves)
Wriggle's Lantern:
Wriggles Lantern is a really strong item, you get a free ward, Armour, AD, Life Steal and an awesome passive that helps with taking jungle objectives/Dragon and Baron. Build this when the enemy team is AD heavy or if the enemy AD carry is giving you a hard time. (Replace your Blood Thirster or Guardian Angel with this)
Frozen Mallet:
A great tanky item that can be used to catch up to almost any enemy. I don’t personally like this item too much on graves, but some people do. Build this when your are able to run away from you without a struggle. (Replace your Guardian Angel
Quicksilver Sash:
This item is debatably one of the best items in the game for AD carries, you will see a lot of pro players with it. The magic resist is great, but the active is what really makes this item amazing. It can save you in clutch situations and possibly lead to you winning a team fight / game for your team. I don’t include this in the main build as it is quite hard to use for lower ELO players and isn’t necessary at low ELO’s. Grab this item if you know how to use it and the enemy has a long CC that they can use on you. (Replace Guardian Angel)
Maw of Malmortius:
This item is extremely useful against AP heavy teams. It has great amounts of damage, nice magic resist, it grants a 400 magic damage shield at 30% hp. And it raises your AD by 1 for every 2.5% HP you are missing. Build this item if the enemy team is AP heavy or if you don’t feel that you need a Guardian Angel to stay alive. (Replace Guardian Angel)
This item is usually built on tanks and I wouldn’t recommend buying it unless the enemy team is AD heavy. If they are AD heavy, then this item is great! Its passive is amazing and 100 Armor will stop you feeling a lot of damage from AD sources. (Replace your Guardian Angel or Last Whisper)

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3 x Greater Quintessence of Strength

9 x Greater Mark of Strength

9 x Greater Seal of Resilience

9 x Greater Glyph of Warding

This rune set up will make it easier to last hit minions, make you tankier and will make your abilities do more damage.The quints are a pretty standard choice for AD carries, They make it easier to last hit, make your auto attacks strong and they make your abilities hurt more.

The Marks are also a pretty standard choice for AD carries, they have the same benefits as the quintessences I would recommend taking Armour Penetration reds over these if you are good at last hitting. As they will scale better into the late game.

The Seals will help you to win your lane as your opponent wont be able to hurt you as much with their auto attacks. It also makes you tankier and hard to kill which is helpful all game.

The glyphs give a nice level 1 magic resistance and make you rather tanky in combination with your passive and Seals.

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These masteries will allow you to dominate your opponent. The 21 points in the offense tree focuses on giving you more AD, Armour penetration and making your attacks hurt more. The 9 points in defence make you harder to kill and less attractive to be focused by the enemy team. You can put 9 points in to utility if you want mana regen or movement speed, but I think the 9 points in defence greatly outweigh having extra mana / utility.

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Ability Sequence

> > >

Graves strongest early game ability is Buckshot, his Quickdraw is also great for getting Attack Speed, but the damage of the Buckshot greatly outweighs the Attack Speed bonus of his Quickdraw. Smokescreen is a great utility, and should be maxed last. Sometimes getting Smokescreen to level 2 can be helpful early game, but I don’t recommend it. So you should first max your Q by level 9, followed by your E at level 13 and then your W last by level 18. You should level up your Ult at every opportunity (Levels 6, 11, 16)

Why not get Smokescreen at level 3?
I don't feel that it is necessary to have this at level 3, I prefer the extra damage over the utility at this point in the game. an exception to this would be if you think you can get an early kill with it, or if your jungler is coming to gank.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

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You should now have a very in depth knowledge on how to play AD graves in the bot lane.

I hope my guide has helped you and that you enjoy playing Graves in the League of Legends.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me a message! I will take the time to reply to each one!