Build Guide by Galfureye
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.
Hello guys and welcome to my Maokai guide! I've loved this champion since he was released and he's insanely fun and viable. He has great CC strong team fight presence, scouting, and massive AoE damage! He can be played as a full tank and it can be viable, however I just think there are much better champions for that such as Rammus, and Shen. If you build Maokai full tank you are missing out on all the crazy damage he can deal! I build him as a bulky AP caster with the addition of Trinity Force which is actually an amazing item for Maokai, just try it out yourself and you'll see the wonders it can pull. Let's begin the guide!
Pros and Cons
Pros!-Wonderful team fight presence
-Can scout with saplings
-Amazing CC, knock up, a slow, and a 2 second root
-Can counter jungle quite well
-One of the best laners in the game hands down
-He's a freakin TREE!
-Snare can get you killed if you root into a bunch of people
-Saplings can be easily dodged or out run
-Very, very mana hungry early on
-His cooldowns are somewhat long
-If silenced then he can't turn off his ult leading to mana starvation
-Silence in general can make him useless
Learning Maokai's Abilities
Sap Magic- (Innate): Each time a spell is cast near Maokai he draws energy from it, gaining a charge of Magical Sap. When he has 5 charges his next melee attack energizes Maokai, healing him for 7% of his maximum health.
This is a pretty sweet passive and keeps you alive in your lane, it is also insane in teamfights because you will be healing yourself on every attack making you unkillable!
Arcane Smash- (Active): Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks up enemies really close to him for a brief moment and sends an arcane shockwave forward, damaging and slowing his enemies for 2 seconds.
This is an ok ability early game and it really shines late game in team fights. The ability to deal massive AoE damage, slow and knockup is just crazy. You can interrupt all kinds of ults with this spell.
Twisted Advance- (Active): Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to a target enemy. Once Maokai reaches it, the target takes magic damage and is rooted in place.
This is one of those abilities people are gonna just hate like sanguine pool, it's probably the best move in the game for getting early game kills, and you can lock tower divers in place! It's also one of the best initiators as people cannot attack you during the snare travel. Thing of it like a mini Malphite ult that snares and only affects one person.
Sapling Toss- (Active): Maokai hurls a sapling, dealing magic damage on impact. The sapling becomes implanted in the ground, warding a nearby area for 35 seconds. When enemies approach, the sapling will chase for up to 2.5 seconds and explodes in an arcane blast that deals more magic damage enemies.
This is Maokai's signature move, everyone remembers it and it has tons of uses. You can scout, harass, farm, jungle, steal baron. There's so much possibilities.
Vengeful Maelstrom- (Toggle): 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.
This is the reason Maokai has one of the strongest team fight presences in the game. It's like the opposite of Vlad's ult, but has much shorter cooldown and it's a toggle. It makes a huge difference in fights, try it out yourself, do a team fight without this, then with it, you will notice a huge impact.
My skill order is pretty standard for most Maokais I max sapling first for farming and harass, followed by root for extra duration, and then arcane smash last because it's not all that important and the knock-up is still just as good. Of course level your ultimate whenever.
The runes I use may seem a little odd at first but I'm sure you will understand after I explain.
These runes are pretty standard for Maokai as there really the only ones that benefit him, spell penetration is great and stacks with your sorcerers shoes for around 30 magic penetration.
There are many different seals you can take but I find overall mana regen fits best and help out your lane survivability significantly, the mana regen is great to help out with spamming your skills more and with the amount of mana you will have you will be in good shape. If you feel the need for more survivability then get health per level or something of that nature.
This is where it starts to get interesting, while there are many glyphs you can take I have found with much experimenting that these have the biggest impact on my game play especially early game. Maokai is one of the most mana hungry champions in the game and it's important he starts with a lot of it. These glyphs total around 110 extra mana! That's almost half of a sapphire crystal, it makes a huge difference, trust me.
These are really the only quints you should consider, they provide great early game survivability and keep you alive. The only possible other quints you could take are magic penetration but they are not recommended.
There are many mastery paths you can take but I think the suit that suits this build best is going down defense and offense. With 21 in defense you can survive longer in team fights and dish out your insane damage, and with the 9 in offense you get some AP, CDR, and magic penetration. You can also go down utility tree instead of offense if you like for more exp.
Best Summoner Spells
Ghost-This is an amazing summoner spell for Maokai as he can use this to catch up and snare an enemy, or run away. Also because his speed is lacking and he will need this extra boost.
Ignite- I use this summoner spell because it's great for getting early game kills and a fed Maokai is actually pretty devastating, it also counters Vladimir, Dr.Mundo, and Warwick.
Possible Summoner Spells
Flash- This can be used over ghost if you like it better, but I almost always prefer long term speed over short distance. You already have a good initiate anyways with your W so you don't need this in my opinion.
Clarity- If you don't know how to conserve your mana early game then take this but I don't really like this summoner spell as it becomes and waste late game and you should have plenty of mana and regen with your runes, and items.
Exhaust- Some prefer this over ignite but you already have a slow and snare so there not really gonna get anywhere, you are better off with extra damage. This is better in late game though so take it if you want to.
Starting ItemsFor Maokai I almost always start with a sapphire crystal and a potion of each. This will give you close to 600 mana and you will easily be able to spam your spells in quick succession for kills.
My core consists of Rod of Ages, Sheen, and Sorcerer's Shoes. Rushing Rod of Ages is the most important thing as Maokai. It gives you health, mana, and AP along with bonus over time. You are in good shape if you get this item between the 15-20 minute mark. Next I go for Sheen. This item may seem weird at first, but try it you'll find great results. It gives mana AP and bonus attack damage on a spell. Used in conjunction with your Twisted Advance you can deal crazy damage. Lastly in my core I get some sort of boots, I like Sorcerer's the best because magic penetration is just wonderful, however you can take an alternative route and get mercury treads then skipping a tenacity item. It's all up to you.
Against Caster Heavy TeamsIf you are against many casters it is best you work on a Banshee's Veil, then after that sell your Sorcery Shoes and buy Mercury Treads instead. If there are at least 3 heavy AP casters then I recommend getting Force of Nature in place of your Randuins.
Against AD Heavy TeamsIf you are against AD heavy teams, then keep your Sorcerer's Shoes, and buy a glacial shroud, followed by moonflair spellblade if they have a lot of slows and stuns (Xin Zhao, Olaf, Ashe, Caitlyn) this item gives great AP and 25% reduced CC effects. After you got this finish your frozen heart, and then buy a Randuin's after Trinity Force or before. Randuin's is amazing on Maokai against heavy AD teams, you can Twsited Advance and then pop it for amazing results.
Why Trinity Force?
Many people may be asking, why Trinity Force? This probably seems like one of the craziest items your could ever get on Maokai, but I'll explain why it's so good. First off, the 150% extra damage on an ability goes amazingly great with your initiation spell and it puts out a lot of early damage. Second, this provides health and mana, 2 stats that are amazing on Maokai, in addition you get a chance to slow on Phage which when paired with your Q, and W is insane, chasing people will be a breeze. Lastly it has the attack speed Maokai needs to regen his health with passive that should always be up in large team fights, and speed that he is so lacking in. With this speed he can easily enter team fights and trash them up real good. There is really nothing to hate about this item!
At the start of the game quickly buy a sapphire crystal, and one of each potion. Go to the enemy wraiths and hide in the bush between baron and lizard (or dragon and lizard) At around 1:06 start throwing saplings into wraiths, throw at least 3 then rush in and kill them all when they spawn. Enjoy your extra experience and possible counter jungle and head back to your lane. Start last hitting and harass a little with your sapling, however don't toss too much before level 3 because they aren't that great until rank 2. Use them to last hit and harass once you hit level 3. Once you hit level five you can probably get a kill with your partner. Your massive E damage plus your root and slow/knock-up sets up a lot of good damage. Once you get 1300 gold, port back and buy a catalyst plus boots. Lane more until you have enough for Rod of Ages, if you get it between 15-20 minute then your in great shape.
By mid game you probably finished your Sheen and you have ganked a few times. Maybe even a few group skirmishes played out and hopefully you won them with your amazing AoE damage and support. Finish your boots up after then look at enemy team and build accordingly. Keep in mind Maokai is one of the best gankers and you should gank a lot, your root and slow is pretty much death for the enemy player.
Late Game Team Fighting
For late game this is where most of team fights are. You have to remember your not the main tank but you can initiate and deal heavy damage. Just don't think you can survive all by your self with 5 people on you forever. As Maokai in team fights your job is to initiate with root, and deal tons of damage with your bombs and smash. Remember to place your ult down on the area you initiate BEFORE you charge in, you can get silenced and it can lead to disorder and death. Don't ever make this mistake especially if they have a Garen. You should win most team fights and you will end up carrying them, with this build your bulky enough to deal out enough damage, but you have enough AP/damage to devastate everyone with your awesome damage.
Tips and Tricks ;)
-Use your root, then getting to back of target and knock back for great results
-Plant saplings in the bush near river in your lane to avoid ganks
-Quickly activate and deactivate your ult on a low health enemy for quick damage while there running
-Avoid Lumberjack Sion!!!!
-Use your knock up on enemies chasing you to get away
-Use saplings to scout baron and even steal it
-Use sapling toss and arcane smash on minions while attacking turrets to activate Sheen
-Solo lanes are good for you
This is the end of my guide, I hope you learned a lot from it. Make sure to try build out and test it before voting, this build has brought me by far the most success and if you don't do good with it maybe Maokai just isn't your cup of tea. Please leave constructive feedback in comments below on how I can improved and I will constantly update this guide. Peace for now!