Build Guide by McMasterT

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author McMasterT

Maokai - Hybrid AP Tank, It's all about early game

McMasterT Last updated on April 19, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 0

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For my first build, I wanted to talk about Maokai. I feel that, most of the time, I'm having strong early game and I wanted to share my thoughts about this funny champion.

As you'll discover later in this build, the key to this build is early aggressivity, not being selfish and not being afraid to die.

And if you never played Maokai before, let's say that if you enjoyed Singed, Cho'Gath, Sion, Amumu and all other Tank with AP champion out there, you'll like Maokai.

Please enjoy and comment, I'll try to update this build with your thoughts. And if you find that I did a good job. LoL Account : ThierryF

Here's the link to the Champion Spotlight :

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Pros / Cons

Pros :
- Sapling Toss is a Top 5 most fun ability in the game
- Sapling Toss hurts like a truck early game
-E - W - Q ability is incredible burst damage early game
-Jump In ability with Twisted Advance
-Can stay on lane for a long time
-You can outzone people afraid of Saplings

Cons :
-When you used your E W Q combo, you're close to useless while cooldown
-Slow character
- Twisted Advance results may vary
-Vulnerable to Early Jungle Ganks
-You're a tank, if your DPS cant do sh*t, you can't win the game by yourself

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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 was that 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.
- Maokai

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For Runes, I know I might be surprising a couple of people out there, as the actual best rated guides in Mobafire for Maokai goes with 3x Quint of Fortitude, and more tanky Blue and Yellow runes. With all of that said, I want to focus on my early game ability to kill. I'm not a big fan of Quint of Fortitude, I prefer to be able to get early kills in order to get Rod of Ages and my boots quicker. As I'll discuss later, all of my runes are set in order to make my Saplings and my EWQ combo the strongest possible.

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration, 8,5 of Magic Penetration. Early game, there's only Garen and other guys that have MR per level upgrades that this 8,5 of Magic Penetration won't hurt that much.
Greater Seal of Replenishment, with RoA and Banshee, you won't get mana starved in mid to late game, early on, you have to keep those saplings raining on enemy and have sufficient mana for EWQ Combo.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power, for early game damage burst.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power, for early game damage burst. You'll get 24 AP with Blue flat AP

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Classic build of masteries of 9/21/0.

AP per level, little bit of cooldown reduce, and the nice 15% magic penetration. With the 8,5 Magic Penetration. In early game, let's take a 36 MR statistic, (36 - (.15 * 36))-8,5 = 22.1 MR. You guys all know that, I just wanted to do the maths :D.

It might be surprising that I'm talking a lot about early game aggresivity while saying that you guys should take 21 in Defense. Let's not forget that Maokai is not a mage, and while Early Game is SO important to Maokai, there's still an end to this game, and your teamates will look up to you to initiate combat and to take the first blows. These will help you out in mid to late game to survive.

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Sapphire Crystal plus potions is a first 475 well spent. You'll get enough mana to conquer the bushes with saplings, throw harrasment saplings. Generally, I use 1 of the 2 potion kinda quick. Red if things go bad and blue, if things get funny.

On your first ride home, you have to get at least a Ruby Crystal, if you're luckier, Catalyst the Protector. With a Catalyst, you'll be able to stay in lane forever. Mercury Treads are next, these boots will help you a lot, since you're the tank of your lane and maybe 1 of the 2 tanks of your team.

Building Rod of Ages is a must. Health, Mana, and AP will help you throwing saplings forever, while being a threath to your enemies. Funny fact, I like to watch at what time I'm buying my Rod of Ages. Before 17 minutes, you'll generally win the match. Between 17 and 21, you're doing okay. After 21 minutes, you might make your mind about losing soon (unless there's a psycopath korean cyborg in you're team that is 10/0/4 by the time you're buying it).

With these 2 items, I'm generally starting to be a threath to enemy champions, they focus you when you'll use Twisted Advance, so you'll need to get Banshee's Veil. More mana to pop you ult, magic resist, health and the nice passive. Why MR first ? You get Armor per level while levelling, not MR.

After that, I'm generally going to Sunfire Cape. Health, Armor, and damage around you. Let's be honest, if you jump in with Twisted Advance, your Sunfire Cape will deal a little damage, and might get you a kill or two in late game.

You're now up to 4 items. These are the Core Items of my build. After that, you have to analyse what's the other team is about and pick items against them. Here's a little list of items I consider :
- Frozen Heart
- Guardian Angel
- Warmog's Armor
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter
- Abyssal Scepter
- Randuin's Omen
- Soul Shroud
- Shurelya's Reverie
- Thornmail
- Force of Nature

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Skill Sequence

Sapling Tossis by far the best damage output of Maokai. Even if you play Pure Tank or Full AP Maokai, maxing out Saplings will get you gold by farming, maybe kills, surely assist, so max it as quick as you can.

Twisted Advance is next. Why this before Arcane Smash ? Better damage, I think there's a little cooldown reduction while levelling, and it's CC so it's a no brainer.

Level your ult when you can. I find that Maokai ult isn't THAT good since you don't really see what it does, but It will give you a kill or two in the game, help your team. I don't like it because champions tend to get out of it. BUT, if you play premade. The best thing you can do is to tell your AoE Ult Champions to do thir stuff in it. Pantheon Ult in this Ult is so fun because it's harder to see the ring on the ground. Think also of Nunu, Galio, Sona, Gankplank. Your ult can be also used to rush towers or to defend your towers. It has a little intimidation effect.

Arcane Smash later. You just need it on lvl 3 in order to have extra damage with your combo. Otherwise, it's not your best ability.

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Summoner Spells

I'm a big fan of Teleport.

It helps you to get to your team, BD turrets (you're like the worst BDer with Maokai btw), protect your base, and have a good early game XP levelling while protecting your laning tower.

Clarity stands for early game rain of Saplings harrasments. With a blue potion, Clarity and Flat Mana Regen, no mana starvation and a lot of little maokai exploding aroung. Later on, save your clarity for those who lack mana. You won't be mana starved with Rod and Banshee.

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Early Game - Must Read

Alright, let's get down to business.

0)Before going in your lane, you need a teamate. In a perfect world, you want a heavy ability using champion with a CC ability and a ranged attack to power your passive. I'm thinking about Kennen, Ryze, Morgana, Pantheon, Lux, Miss Fortune, Fiddlestick, Sion AP, Anivia, Annie, Ashe, Twisted Fate, Veigar, Swain, Xin Zhao.

Other good lanemate are Olaf, Caitlyn, Cassiopea, Teemo, Gankplank, Eve, Twitch, Kog'Maw, Corki, Ezrael, Kassadin, Zilean, Tristana, Sivir, Vladimir, Leblanc. I'm not saying that these character aren't good, but I like my DPS to have a little CC at hands.

Finally, you don't want to lane with a Support character and another tank

1) Go in the bushes.
You can conquer them by throwing a Sapling in each of them and have enough time to regen your mana. This will help you set a good ambush for a character with low health, maybe get first blood (or get it to your teamate)

2.1) Laning 2 vs 2
Focus the squishy with your Saplings, ping it to your lanemate. Harras them. Don't try anything before level 2. You need your Twisted Adavance in order to do something. Don't be afraid of bad saplings throw. Aggresivity is the key. Bruise them, hard, use you saplings, mana comes in from 3 sources, you'll be all right. If you can, try to buy a Ward on your first trip home. And if you're not able to kill, it's alright, push them away, force them to recall, push the tower. Early tower destroyed will help your team better anyway.

2.2) Laning 2 vs 1
This is so fun. The key to this is to outzone your opponent from XP and Levelling. This will nullify the benefit of a jungler into the midgame. In order to do so, you need to stay close to the enemy mage minions, and throw as much as saplings that you need to to keep the enemy from leveling. If you draw their jungler out, you won. No nifty ganks coming from out of nowhere.

2.3) Laning 1 vs 2
Less fun. Focus on one enemy, Sapling will hurt him. Your passive will help you stay on lane and you have potions and clarity. The skill order stays the same. Use teleport when you're able too. Build order stays the same. Ask your jungler to help you, your Twisted Advance will help you help him gank.

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Mid to Late Game Strategy, Teamwork

The basics rules of LoL to good teamwork are the following :
-Stay with your team
-Be polite
-Don't chase
-Be accountable for your mistake

Based on that, if your tower is destroyed, or if you destroyed the enemy tower, try to go gank mid or other lane with your EWQ. When a teamfight is preparing, try bruising enemies with Saplings. If they have a support, use your saplings for recon. Basically, you want to use Twisted Advance on an enemy to initiate combat. It's your role to initiate combat.

Honestly, if I have a score of let's say 8/8/20. I'm happy. Your job is to sometime die in order for your comrade to win. Towerdiving shouldn't be an issue for you. Go in, take the tower focus, let your DPS do their thing, go out of the range and see what happen. Wait for your cooldown to combeback, throw sappling whenever you can. That's how you'll push tower. You have to understand that champions like Gankplank don't like to waste their ult. But if you go in, maybe another player will support you with abilities. Shields, Ults, Abilities of CC. Your job is to initiate combat.

Little thing on being accountable. If you initiate, and you get smash down, or you get kill because your teamates arent following you, try to stay something like : I'm sorry, that's my fault. You won't have a big fat white guy (I'm a french canadian white guy anyway) raging behind his computer screen. Being accountable for your mistake (and you'll certainly make one or two during each game) will not piss off other players, and you'll have way better chance of coming back to win the game.

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How to Kill - Maokai Kill Compilation Video

Ok, I found this little video on Youtube with a Maokai Kill Compilation. It kinda of demonstrate how you should do the things right.

So, in order to do a little summary, your combo works in 2 different ways.

1) EWQ. You throw a Sapling, you Twisted Advance on the guy, you Sapling is gonna explode on the enemy, and you Arcane Smash + basic attack. This kinda work well when the enemy is at least at 3/4 health.
2) WEQ. This is the teamfight order. In teamfights, you have to bother the enemy DPS. Twisted Advance on them, Saplings while they are rooted, Arcane Smash to move them further away from your DPS.

Thanks to TheLoLSoul for the video.

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Release Notes

    Base movespeed increased to 310 from 305
    Base health per level increased to 90 from 82
    Base armor per level increased to 4.0 from 3.5
    Arcane Smash damage increased to 70/115/160/205/250 from 50/95/140/185/230
    Twisted Advance damage increased to 80/115/150/185/220 from 80/110/140/170/200
    Sapling Toss lifetime increased to 35 from 25 seconds.
    Vengeful Maelstrom
Casting delay reduced by 50%
�Initial mana cost changed to a static 75 from 75/125/175
�Continual mana cost changed to a static 30 from 30/35/40 per second

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Thanks for reading,

Remember that Maokai is a really fun character to play, that you need to be aggresive in early game in order to get good results, and to cooperate with your teammates after that to get this W you're looking for.

Don't hesitate to comment and vote !