Maokai Build Guide by TN Taango
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Maokai is a great jungler, with great cc and good clearing time, making him an extremely strong champion in the jungle. He has a flexible jungle route, his godly level 4 ganks and his insane CC supporting ability. Despite not being popular in solo queue, it is extremely easy to do well on Maokai and pull off easy victories as Maokai can control the game from level 3-4 and cover your carries all game for the win. This guide will hopefully show you how to build and play Maokai successfully as it has done for me.
My masteries focus on making Maokai extremely durable, I find that I'm often the person who dives in first in any gank/fight and thus need to take an extra beating. The bladed armor also helps my jungle speed as in addition to my already high aoe damage, I have that mastery speeding it up. Since Maokai's bases (skillwise) are so high, we can ignore the offensive tree as being durable enough to do a extra combo is often far better than having each combo be slightly more damaging. I spec 9 into utility rather than offense for this reason as I find I require the mana/regen due to the fact I won't be hogging the blue buff. This part of the tree is especially helpful considering Maokai has 2-4 spammable spells (depending on CDR) which all cost a decent amount of mana.
Starting from the top:
My marks are attackspeed solely to speed up the animation of my autoattack while giving me a easier time in the jungle. I've found that if you don't have enough attack speed, you'll rarely get off your passive in time when it's constantly being fired up due to spells being casted constantly.
My seals are currently still armor, I haven't experimented much with different ones in the new jungle as it's been changing constantly in the past week and I've been playing numerous champions. That said, it helps greatly in the early phase and even later in terms of facing the enemy physical attacks.
My glyphs are just plain magic resistance per level, they'll give the most bang for your glyphs later on in terms of durability, these could be choice runes but I prefer to just be tankier.
My quintessences are flat AP, simply because the quint is very valuable in early game stats compared to many of the other stats the quintessences give. However like the glyphs, I haven't experimented enough to say you truly need these so I suggest finding something that works if you don't like just having 15+ AP.
Smite is used for obvious reasons and is a MUST for almost every jungler. Flash is great for any champion, especially maokai as is adds on an extra 400 range to his twisted advance, also great way to escape.
Passive: Sap Magic
Each time a champion near Maokai casts a spell, he gains a charge of Magical Sap. When he has 5 charges, his next melee attack drains energy from his target, healing Maokai for 7% of his maximum health.
Far more powerful than it looks, this not only sustains Maokai during his route but also in teamfights. Using this passive constantly while throwing out spells is huge, this could easily proc every second in a fight which means you could be healing half your max life before you die which allows you to be very durable. Master using this passive while doing teamfights and you'll be one of the tankiest champions in the game.
Q: Arcane Smash
Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks nearby enemies back and sends an arcane shockwave forward, dealing 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 (+40% of ability power) magic damage and slowing his enemies by 20% / 27% / 34% / 41% / 48% for 2 seconds.
Cooldown 6 seconds
Cost 55 mana
The shortest cooldown knockup/back spell in the game, this spell gets extremely annoying for your opponents as they are constantly slowed or knocked up/back due to it's low cooldown. This ability has the effect of stopping channeling if you're close enough (otherwise it'll just slow) due to the knockup property. Also note that this spell affects the small area around Maokai meaning that you can knockup targets directly behind/beside you despite the line animation going the other way.
W: Twisted Advance
Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to a target enemy. The target takes 80 / 115 / 150 / 185 / 220 (+80% of ability power) magic damage and is rooted in place for 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 seconds.
Cooldown 13 seconds
Cost 75 / 80 / 85 / 90 / 95 mana
Similar to Rune Prison, this spell has an additional bonus/drawback in that it positions Maokai beside his target after the projectile reaches the target. Notice how I say projectile as if the target flashes or blinks back, you'll follow them to that location rather to where they used to be. This means you can either secure a kill easier if they mess up a flash or you could be in severe danger if they flashed into a tower/team.
E: Sapling Toss
Maokai hurls a sapling, dealing 40 / 75 / 110 / 145 / 180 (+40% of ability power) magic damage on impact. The sapling becomes implanted in the ground, warding a nearby area for 35 seconds. When enemies approach, the sapling attacks, exploding in an arcane blast that deals 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 (+60% of ability power) magic damage to enemies.
Cooldown 12 seconds
Cost 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana
This spell boasts the highest base damage in the entire game for a non ultimate. Clocking in at 460, this spell's drawback is the cooldown and fact that it might be difficult to get both damage ticks off. The sapling is also useful for a ranged ward/trap (provided you don't put it near a neutral monster) or as a trap early on in the game to instantly kill a jungle camp. That said, I max this spell last as it has a high cooldown and only does pure damage rather than have any CC ability like the other two non ultimate skills.
R: Vengeful Maelstrom
Maokai shields his allies by drawing power from hostile spells and attacks, 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 100 / 150 / 200 (+50% of ability power) (+2 bonus damage per damage absorbed) damage to enemies within the vortex. Maximum 200 / 250 / 300 bonus damage.
Cooldown 40 second
Cost 75 mana + 30 mana per second
Deceptive like his passive, Maokai's ultimate is extremely useful against casters and their high damage ultimates or aoes. Placing this before a Morg or Fiddle ult can be very deadly to them as it greatly reduces the damage of their attacks and near instantly gets charged up to full, this could very well help kill the enemy attackers. Also note that when used in combination with Maokai's Q and E, Maokai is dealing extremely high AOE damage without needing a single offensive item.