Build Guide by Kaezir Darius
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.
This build focuses on Maokai's two strongest assets. His health and his spells. When laning with Maokai, it is recommended you start with a DPS. This allows you to harrass your opponent while they are taking damage from your lane partner as a constant rate.
---WARNING--- Maokai starts with extremely low speed, don't charge if you don't have a a lane partner with you till you get boots.
Buy the Meki Pendant and two Health Potions first. Head to your lane. Before you step into the grass, up your Sapling Toss and throw it into either grass. Once thrown, if there are champions in the grass, it will show you their location and will usually take about a 6th of their health. Out of reaction, the champions will move back a few steps and give you a chance to advance. Depending on how it goes from there, whether the enemy turret hugs till the minions arrive or go after you, don't move to far forward. Once minions have reached lane, don't focus to much on melee attacking them, save that for the minions. Just harrass them with sapling toss over and over. upon level 2, get Twisted Advance for a Snare ability. Since it won't do to much damage, save it for when the enemy charges at you so you can run, just focus on Sapling Toss. Once you hit level 3, take Arcane Smash for a decent poke attack even though it's short on range. Continue leveling up Sapling Toss till level 6 and grab your Ultimate. Keep in mind that this has a really short base cooldown but that doesn't mean use it every chance you get. Save for a fight that has more than one enemy champion in it. Especially if they match/outmatch you in numbers.
Maokai isn't that strong midgame. With this build, he's only meant to tank, harrass opponents, and slow down the enemy. Don't try and solo fight champions with Maokai till you get Rod of Ages. Once you get Frozen Heart, your Ultimate should have around an 11 second cooldown which makes it even more so useful. ALWAYS stick with your team. By now you should be racking up the assists or lucky kills with your Sapling Toss.
Now you should be well off. But you should still be careful as Maokai still won't be the best despite how much health he has. His damage may still be very well lacking.
Possible Item Substitutions
Now if you're facing a team with lots of AP, you definetely want to change up your build a bit. Instead of Frozen Heart, I'd reccomend Force of Nature and instead of Sunfire Cape get Guardian Angel. Guardian Angel is usually necessary for a tank like Maokai against AP due to most people who go AP Mage are Nukes which lessens Maokai's harrassment capabilities to a minimum. If it's not your thing, end with Banshee's Veil instead of Guardian Angel.
I have to say that of most champions, Maokai's abilities are pretty weak in damage output even when stringed all together. This is mainly because all of his abilities are relatively equal in damage. Sapling Toss, being the strongest and most effective.
Sapling Toss can be used to scout grass for enemy ganks. It is a great farmer for minions due to it causing damage on impact plus the explosion after. I know with this build it can take out minions with just one cast excluding Cannon Minions and Super Minions of course. The Saplings Maokai throws last about 25 seconds and won't move until an enemy is spotted. Keep in mind that once they chase the enemy, they'll blow up the second they come in contact with any enemy, including minions. So take into account where your enemy may run before throwing it. It's pretty fast early game.
It has a short range but it's decent for poking early game. If anything is up close to you upon cast, it will knock them back a small bit giving you about .1-.3 seconds to run or do whatever you need to. Don't try and use it late game to harrass enemies, it usually doesn't end well.
An amazing ability that deals little damage but usually leads to great openings. When casted on an enemy, Maokai turns into an invulnerable cloud, charges to the enemy, and snares them for a short bit. This can be used to chase or run. For instance, if you need to close a gap between you and an enemy, pick a minion if the champion is out of range to get closer. The same can be said for running away as Maokai doesn't really have to stop to cast it.
A beautifu move.. especially in team fights. All allies inside take 20% less damage, but not from turrets. You can choose when to detonate it. Doesn't deal that much damage for an ulti, but if you're letting yourself take the hits, once fully charged with absorbed energy from the hits, you can deal a decent portion of damage to the enemies. This ability continually drains mana though, use it carefully.
Clarity is a must for Maokai seeing as he practically runs off of mana. Even with Meki Pendant, Maokai can run out of mana fast, especially with poor use of Sapling Toss. Now Ignite is necessary considering the damage Maokai puts out isn't that great. It will could add the extra damage you need to score the kill.
In my opinion, the Marks and the Quintessense's can entirely change early game with Maokai. If you build with Magic Penetration, your beautiful Sapling Toss can dish out the damage in portions but isn't to helpful if the enemy bursts on you. If you go Armor penetration on both of those rune types, then you have a better chance at utilizing Maokai's ability to stay on the field for a decent amount of time.
Usually I use flat percentage runes but the cooldowns are an exception for me. Maokai is a must late game and that extra cool down you get is godly once you hit level 18.