Not Updated For Current Season
Maokai is an AP tank. In this guide, I will provide you the basics of playing maokai and my prefered build.
Pros & Cons having Maokai in your team
+ Maokai has got an awesome ulti in teamfights. Although placing it right is crucial
+ Great tank, CC and survivability
+ Extremly good farmer
+ Extremly good solo lane, either 1v1 or 1v2 he will do epicly early game.
- Super item and team dependent. Bad team and he sucks. Lack of money and he sucks.
Runes & Masteries & Summoner Spells
We'll start out with the basics outside of the game, runes & masteries.
I use magic pen marks - most of the damage is magic and there is really no defense mark.
mana / 5 / lvl seals - Maokai is really mana thirsty, therefore these. You could go just mana / 5 for the benefit early game but it sucks midgame when you've not gotten rod of ages.
The mana / 5 is 0.41 mana / 5.
0.41 * 9 = 3.69
Per level is 0.065 / lvl
0.065 * 9 = 0.585 (0.585 mana / 5 in lvl 1)
3.69 / 0.585 ~ 6.3
You'll have higher mana / 5 when you are level 7 with those, when you're lvl 7 you'll usually not even have started with rod of ages, therefore you use this in combination with clarity.
For masteries, the old standard tanking build with 9 in offense will do the job.
The two spells I find most benefictional are Clarity and Ghost.
Maokai is extremly mana thirsty, especially early game when the mana / 5 runes aint very good. Use Clarity in order to keep harassing your opponent!
Maokai is really really slow. Really, I mean it! I use ghost for escapes. You could go with flash, sure, you can go through walls - but the enemy will just chase you down after you've flashed.
Start of by buying a Doran's Ring, it's great because of the mana / 5 and HP it gives you. Also specc in Sapling Toss.
I try to take the mid lane. But if someone else is more suited for doing so, there's no problem doing any side lane. Harass your opponent as much as you can with your sapling toss, do not focus on killing minions, focus on hitting your enemy. Keep doing so untill you have ~1200 gold, then recall and buy the boots. Ofcourse this is not always possible, but try to have it as a goal. Remember, you do not have to recall as much as other champions because of your passive and the defense specc.
Mid through late game
When hitting level 7, your Sapling Toss should have rank 4. At this stage, ONLY kill minions. Throw the sapling at the caster minions and they will die immedietly, keep doing so and you will quickly be in top of the minion kills.
Build Rod of Ages, starting with the HP/Mana part.
Rod of Ages and the boots (and the ríng) are the core of your build, you always want to grab them when going tank. When you've bought them, it's up to how your enemy team looks.
If the enemy team is well balanced between AP and AD, buy Force of Nature and Frozen Heart, then it depends on what's the majority, if there are 3 APs and 2 ADs, buy Banshee's veil, the other way around, Sunfire Cape.
If the enemy team is AP heavy, Force of Nature -> Banshees Veil -> Abyssal Scepter.
If the enemy team is AD heavy, Frozen Heart -> Thornmail -> Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen.
When decked out, sell the ring and buy Warmogs Armor for some extra health.
Ganking / Teamfights
Maokai is best ganking right after he's bought Rod of Ages. Rod of Ages is very good since it gives alot of bonuses. When ganking, use this rotation:
Sapling Toss AT the enemy champion
Root the enemy champion so he can't run away from the sapling
Knockback INTO the ultimate's center
This is the maximum damage output rotation I find very useful.
Maokai is best in teamfights when he has bought Frozen Heart or Force of Nature(depending on enemy team).
As a tank, you will be the one starting the fight. What you will want to do is catching any enemy player outside the team. Therefore, you'll start with the root in order to trap him fast enough before he escapes. Then - IF THE ENEMY ATTACKS - Ulti -> sapling -> knockback. Remember to place the knockback so as many enemies as possible gets knocked backed.
Dont focus on dealing damage, focus on keeping the enemies away from your DPSers, Stay between the enemy and your teammates, ALWAYS.
Pros & Cons this build
+ Extremly good tank.
+ Low Magic Resistance cost
+ Can still do damage
- High armor cost (except Thornmail :P)
- Can't do much on his own late-game
- Slow as hell
Maokai is an extremly good tank with great crowd control. Combo his abilities to keep you and your teammates alive for a whole lot longer, his ulti reduces damage by 1/5!! That's a whole lot!! Just remember to place it right.