Maokai Build Guide by TheFuzzyOne
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.
My Thoughts -
Maokai is a very strong jungler with great ganks potential when played right. I am not pro player by any means, but I feel more than comfortable enough to create this guide as I have more jungle games played with Maokai than any other champion. I have seen first hand his speed in the jungle, his ability to support his team during fights, and most importantly his effectiveness when ganking. Maokai is a strong tank with a superb inisiate into team fights and as well he can protect his AD Carr and absorb damage for the rest of the team. Maokai does not have the highest damage output,but his utility more than makes up for this.
His Lore -
The twisting magical energies unleashed by mages during the Rune Wars caused an incredible amount of devastation to the natural world. The League was established to control the use of this magic by confining it to the Fields of Justice. By limiting its use to there, they thought that they could prevent it from doing further harm to the environment. It seemed that they were successful until Maokai came into being. During a League match on The Twisted Treeline, Maokai, an ancient oak that stood above the upper jungle, spontaneously roared to life. Ripped from the natural balance by arcane forces, his sentience was forged in chaos. Before the Adjudicators of the League could step in and suppress him, he slew all six champions participating in the match. The scholars of the Arcanum Majoris took a keen interest in him, as they were eager to discover the secrets of his animation.
Maokai was furious, however. He abhorred the existence that was thrust upon him; he felt it was a corruption of nature. He learned to communicate with people in hopes of finding a way to be returned to his former, true state. Seizing the opportunity, the League offered a trade. They would research a way to revert him so long as he agreed to fight in the League of Legends. Maokai was indifferent to verdicts rendered by the League, but he was eager to punish summoners for their wanton use of magic. He agreed to the terms under one condition: once they learned how to turn him back, they would never animate another tree again. He wears a lantern on the Fields of Justice to set him apart from the other trees, and as a warning to the animals that would do him harm.
''I will use this power until I am free of it.''
I do play Maokai more than your average bear -
Greater Mark of Attack Speed
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Mark of Attack Speed - I take these to speed up my autoattack while giving me a easier time in the jungle. I tend to focus more on auto attacks to clear each camp while jungling after dropping my 1st one or two spells. When you focus more on the auto attacks you have two advantage the fact that you conserve mana and you can more easily focus on the map and which lanes need help.
Greater Seal of Armor - I feel these runes are rather self explanatory you are in the jungle you will be hit by the mobs and this will make you take less damage. When you take less damage in the jungle your ganks have a much higher rate of success without potential casualties.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist - I grab these because they allow to to stack more of one stat in the beginning. I can focus my early purchases on armor because when combined with Mercury's Treads you have enough MR to carry you threw for a while.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power - These are for your early game jungle with this 15 AP you cans drop saplings at wraiths allowing you to clear them 1st before blue and be lvl 3 faster than almost any other jungle.
Hardiness - 3/3 = As before when jungling mobs will attack you with physical attacks there for having armor will make your jungling easier by taking less damage. Furthermore any extra armor will only serve to help you as the tank in team fights later.
Tough Skin - 2/2 = As you are jungling making the mobs hit you for less will always help as well it is a prerequisite for Bladed Armor which is a must for most junglers.
Durability - 4/4 = The extra health hear just makes life a little easier especially late game when you are acting as the teams initiate into team fights.
Indomitable - 2/2 = Still along the lines of the Hardiness and Tough Skin you are just trying to decrease your incoming damage by as much as you can.
Veteran's Scars - 1/1 = This extra health is very beneficial especially early game because we haven't started any health runes or items.
Bladed Armor - 1/1 = This is a must for almost every jungler Maokai has a lot of AOE abilities so when you combine them with Bladed Armor you can clear the jungle quite quickly.
Initiator - 3/3 = The movement buff here will make moving from camp to camp and between lanes for ganking faster which is key with any jungler. You do not have a set location that you can stay and farm, and you are the most mobile member of your team so an extra movement speed you can gain will serve you well.
Enlightenment - 1/3 = I take this mainly as a filler so I can unlock Juggernaut . The alternative to this would be Siege Commander which is nearly useless and the cool down reduction will be much better in the long run.
Honor Guard - 3/3 = Again still trying to decrease the amount of damage you will invariably take by as much as you can.
Juggernaut - 1/1 = This will allow for a %health increase which will scale off of your health items making you much more tanky. This mastery also grants you a 10% reduction to crowd control effects which when combined with Mercury's Treads makes you very difficult to immobilize.
Summoner's Insight - 1/1 = The reduced cool down on your Flash is always helpful. You can use this ability both offensively to chase people down in combination with you Twisted Advance or defensively to flash over a wall and escape.
Expanded Mind - 3/3 = Maokai is kind of a mana ***** esspecially post level six when you have Vengeful Maelstrom and it will constantly drain your mana while it is activated.
Swiftness - 3/3 = as with Initiator you want to build as much movement speed as possible so you can keep as much farm up as possible while still ganking regularly.
Runic Affinity - 1/1 = this is very beneficial in the early game for you the 20% increased duration will just mean more mana more slows and more damage for you.
Flash - Always take flash it has the capability of being used offensively to chase down a kill or initiate a team fight especially when combined with Twisted Advance. It can also be used defensively to avoid a burst spell like Lux Finales Funkeln or to run away by say flashing over a wall.
Smite - You are jungling this will make your early game easier and late game it is your job to make sure you secure the last shot on Baron Nashor and Dragon for you team.
Sap Magic - Each time a spell is cast near Maokai, he gains a charge of Sap Magic. When he has 5 charges, his next autoattack will heal him for 7% of his maximum health
Explanation - This will help to give you some early jungle sustain as well as proc very frequently during team fights.
Arcane Smash - Maokai smashes the ground and sends an arcane shockwave forward, damaging and slowing his enemies for 2 seconds. Enemies close to Maokai are knocked back briefly.
Explanation - This ability grants good early jungle damage and will also great great ganks. The idea is to combo this ability with Twisted Advance by warping onto lane with a root then knocking back your enemy and slowing him at the same time.
Twisted Advance - Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to a target enemy and becoming untargetable while traveling. Once Maokai reaches the target, it takes magic damage and is rooted in place.
Explanation - Use this to initiate your ganks and to initiate your team fights late game. This ability can also be used to great effect late game to help protect your carries.
Sapling Toss - Maokai hurls a sapling to a target area, dealing magic damage on impact. The sapling becomes implanted in the ground, warding a nearby area for up to 35 seconds. After a 1 second delay after landing, the sapling will seek out nearby enemies. When an enemy approaches, the sapling will chase for up to 2.5 seconds and explode in an arcane blast that deals magic damage to enemies.
Explanation - These are great for clearing your jungle early game and for some added damage during your ganks. However when you are not building AP their damage tends to fall off late game and this becomes more of a utility spell using them as wards.
Vengeful Maelstrom - Maokai creates a great vortex of natural energy on a nearby area reducing non-tower damage done to allied champions in the area by 20%. Maokai can prolong the effect as long as he has mana to spend on it. When the effect ends, Maokai unleashes the absorbed energy to deal damage to enemies within the vortex.
Explanation - This is sort of an under valued Ulti when used correctly it can in essence grant your team 20% more life. For the best use try and use it in choke points where it is difficult for the other team to move the fight out of its AoE.
Level 1 - Always take your Sapling Toss first you need this ability to start with the wraiths and have the most efficient jungle possible.
Level 2 - Take your Arcane Smash second for the AoE damage for a fast jungle as well as the knock back and slow for your level 3/4 gank.
Level 3 - Take your Arcane Smash third for the AoE damage for a fast jungle as well as the knock back and slow for your level 3/4 gank.
Level 4 - Take your Twisted Advance forth for your ganking.
Level 5 to 18 - Follow the skill order in the guide at level 10 I prefer to start leveling my Twisted Advance over your Sapling Toss because at this stage of the game you are moving into team fights and the increased duration on your CC will be more beneficial then the minimal extra damage from the Sapling Toss
Core Build -
Mercury's Treads - These will be the best boots for your late game roll of team tank / initiator. Several guides recommend getting Boots of Mobility however I see these as a short term gain long term loss. They may get you some early ganks however it will only hurt you late game because you do not gain the movement speed in team fights and you will lose the magic resist and tenacity.
Philosopher's Stone - This should ALWAYS been your first major purchase. The health regen, mana regen, and the gold per 10 are too good to ignore.
Heart of Gold - This should ALWAYS be your second major purchase. The Health on it and gold per 10 are amazing. The gold per 10 is so beneficial on junglers because honestly you are going to waste time while jungling. You will either be waiting in a bush for a good chance to gank or running between camps. The gold generation during this 'idle' time helps you to not fall as far behind.
Shurelya's Reverie - The stats on this item are not bad and it is a great item to build your Philosopher's Stone into. The activated ability on this will also allow for a great gap closer to initiate team fights as well as a disengage while running away.
Frozen Heart - This is arguably to best item you can buy for its cost in the game. Lets put it this way you are the tank, you are the teams initiate, and you will be in melee range of the majority of the enemy team. When you have this item as Maokai the majority of the enemy team will be affected by its aura.
Situation Items -
Banshee's Veil - This is a good item to build for any tank especially if there is a lot of magic damage coming from the other team. This is also especially useful if you need to avoid one spell in particular like say a Karthus Requiem
Rylai's Crystal Scepter - If your team is already quite tanky and you are looking to try and get a little more damage this is one of the best items you can go the AP plus the slow is a great combination.
Abyssal Scepter - This along with most of the aura items are very good in certain situations depending on your own team make up and the enemy team composition. This is a great item to get if the enemy team is stacking a lot of magic resist to try and negate your AP Carry.
Aegis of the Legion - This I put as in this category solely because the aura doesn't stack so in other words if no one else on your team IE your support has gotten this ALWAYS do.
Locket of the Iron Solari - This is a good item if you are with a very squishy team and you need to give them all a little bit more sustain for team fights. When you combine the activated ability of Locket of the Iron Solari with your Vengeful Maelstrom you can negate a large portion of damage from the enemy team.
Zeke's Herald - If you have a high AD team this is an excellent item to get.
Creeping / Jungling
Best Jungle Route-
At this point I am sure your eyes are bleeding just about as much as mine. To keep you from losing too much blood and reading more of this infinite wall of text I have made a video to explain the jungle route and as well to explain how / which skills to use when ganking.
Why should you ward? -
Sight Ward and Vision Ward are single handed the best investment you can make when playing league of legends. They do cost 75 gold but so when when they get you or your team a kill thats 300+ gold. If they keep your own team mates from being ganked that is 300+ gold you keep away from the enemy team.
I can not stress enough ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS buy wards if you go back buy your items and have 200 gold left BUY SOME WARDS.
Ward Placement -
Each of those black dots is a ward that should be up for 99.9999999999999999999999% of the game or as close to it as possible. Guess what junglers you are the most mobile person on your team and it will be up to you to place a large portion of those wards!
Things to Remember -
You are the teams initiate with your Flash Twisted Advance and Shurelya's Reverie and because you can only place your Vengeful Maelstrom once per team fight it is your job to make sure you start the fight in a location that is preferable to your team.
Make sure you initiate onto a good champion their AD or AP carry would be the most preferable. If you initiate onto the wrong champion and waste all your initial CC on say the tank it could go VERY VERY VERY bad for you.
After you initiate the fight and use up all your CC for the 1st rotation make SURE you protect your AD carry. They will be the ones with the best sustain for the fight and area also the most vulnerable. With your Twisted Advance and your Arcane Smash you can do a fairly good job at protecting him or her.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this guide and I give my apologies for any grammatical mistakes along the way.