Maokai Build Guide by Dotter
This build has been archived and is for historical display only.
PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated. As such, voting and commenting have been disabled and it no longer appears in regular search results.
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.
I've always liked nature. Especially when trees turn into living creatures, who throw small exploding dudes at you. Thank you Riot, for giving me a champion, who does exactly that. This build for Maokai will focus on him as a tank/support champion. This awesome-looking champion can be a pain in the *** in teamfights, if he is played properly. There is not one single way to play him, which is way better than other ways to play him. Therefore, you shouldn't flame the guide for not being 100% like the way you build him. Read it and comment! - Hope you'll enjoy it.
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.
Pros / Cons
- He looks awesome and he has nice skins.
- Great supporter.
- Nice survivability.
- Good amount of damage.
- Awesome in teamfights - awesome ultimate.
- He can ward with one of his abilities.
- His death-animation is so sad, that the other team will cry when you die.
- He might be hard to master.
- He is kinda item dependant.
- If your team is bad, you will get owned in teamfights.
- You have to place yourself right in teamfights, which can be hard against champions such as Kennen & Galio.
- He is a tree, so dawgs might pee on him.
- He eats his own sapling - CALL GREENPEACE, THAT HAS GOT TO BE CRUELTY TO ANIMALS!
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.
- This passive gives you good survivability in laning phase, as well as in teamfights. Just try to time it, so you won't heal up, when you already have full hp. Don't waste the heal, unless you really dominate in your lane. Then it does not matter that much, if you last hit a creep. + How often do you really have full hp in laning phase? Not that often, if you ask me. In teamfights try to keep an eye on the stacks. Then try to get a standard attack off, so you heal a bit. It will give you some more time to support your teammates and to do some damage.
Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks nearby enemies back and sends an arcane shockwave forward, dealing 50 / 95 / 140 / 185 / 230 (+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 |
- Great spell combined with you W-ability. It is good for farming as well as for doing damage in teamfights. The slow is a good support for your AD-Carry (Ashe, MF, Xin Zhao etc.). It will give them more time to kill you enemies in teamfights. It can also keep enemies off you squishees. Great support spell, which also does quite some damage. 40% scale is not that bad, for a tank/support.
Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to a target enemy. The target takes 80 / 110 / 140 / 170 / 200 (+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 |
- A great initiating spell in teamfights. This combined with your ulti is a nice way, to engage. Just make sure, that your team is there to back you up! You might not wanna use this build in solo-queue, because it requires teammates, who know what you are doing. Skype or Ventrilo is highly recommended. This spell is also good in laning phase, since it gives your lane-mate a bit extra time to do damage. It will often give you aggro, which is exactly what you want. This combined with Arcane Smash is a great harrasing combo in laning phase.
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 25 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 has got to be the coolest spell in League of Legends! Throwing these little fellas for harrasing as well as warding is great fun and really useful. The range is great and the damage is also quite allright. You can use it in laning phase, when your enemies stand in the bushes or to ward an area when you and your teammates are being chased.
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 seconds | Cost 30 / 35 / 40 mana per second |
- Definately one of the best supporting spells in the game, if you place it right in teamfights. Against champions as Kennen & Fiddlesticks it can be a lifesaver for your team. 20% less damage is very much and you can simply root the enemy, so your team can escape. Afterwards your team will show them, who the got damn boss is. Try to get a blue buff before a teamfights, in order to keep it up for as long as possible. Don't use it before the fight has begun. Throw it right where the heat is to support your team. Twisted Advance combined with this can win a teamfight. Especially if you have Randuin's Omen to slow the enemy team. A great way to support your carries. Therefore, you might want to get Randuin's instead of Aegis of the Legion or simply buy it as your last item, if it is a long match you find yourself in.
- Great summoner spell for many things. A great escaping mechanism - Maokai is kinda slow, so it is a good way to get out of trouble by flashing through walls and stuff like that. Also a great way to get from one point to another in a teamfight, in order to keep enemies off your carry. Of course it is also a great way to initiate a teamfights, since it gives a surprising element to your game. Just a great summoner spell for Maokai. I change between this and ghost, depending on my team's setup.
- Great for map control, defending turrets and to support teammates in need. You can get back in your lane really fast, so your enemies can't kill your lane-mate nor do damage on the turret. You can set up ganks with it, if you have wards or Teemo on your team. His shrooms really compliment teleport. If you are on team with Teemo teleport is almost a must have. As a tank/supporter teleport benefits your team really much. A great summoner spell for most champions imo. The bad thing about this is the really long CD. However, it can help pushing the first tower, when you teleport to a fight in mid or top lane, and you turn the battle to your team's favor. Then the tower will be destroyed and you will have a great advantage in mid-game.
- Maokai is really slow, so ghost can be useful to catch up with those enemies on low hp.
It gives great chasing, initiating & escaping mechanisms. Awesome summoner spell for Maokai. Either go with this or flash, combined with Teleport. It is your choice, since it is a personal matter of preference. I like ghost & flash almost equally, so I often change between them. You can also go with ghost & flash, if you don't like teleport and it's long cooldown.
- This spell can do wonders for Maokai. It will give you so much mana to harras and farm with during laning phase & it will give you a great amount of mana to keep up your ultimate in teamfights. If you have a jungler on your team, who takes the blue buff, you should seriously consider this summoner spell.
A great spell to finish off the enemy. Also good to stop champions as Mundo, Vlad, Swain, Janna etc. But I prefer it on damage dealers, who need kills. However, it is recommendable for Maokai. Take it, if you want to get more kills or to play more aggressive. It just doesn't give you map control, if you replace it with teleport. And you will lack an escape mechanism if you replace it with flash. It is simply what you prefer. I am not saying that teleport & flash is the best summoner spells for Maokai, but I prefer them in the way I play.
- A great spell for denying an opponent a lot of damage output in teamfights as well as in lane-fights. However, you should not have a problem surviving, so I would prefer other summoner spells than this one. It can be good for first blood or as an advantage in lane-fights, but I would leave it for another teammate to have.
I have not tried other summoner spells, so I can only tell you of the pros/cons of the before mentioned summoner spells. Feel free to sugges other summoner spells, if you have tried them. I know heal, clairvoyance & clarity gives good support, but I wouldn't go with them. You already have saplings to show people in the bushes in your lane. And you aren't that good a ganker on junglers, due to your low movement speed. They will probably be gone before you even get to them.
Not a traditional way to use your masteries, but I find this way to be nice for Maokai. Now, I will tell you why:
3/3 in Archmage's Savvy .
- A nice tiny AP boost, but it gives the needed points to get more magic penetration.
1/3 in Deadliness
- You need 4 points to get Sorcery , so take on in this. Critical chance, is not that useful for Maokai, but there's no use in improvin smite nor exhaust.
4/4 in Sorcery
- Cooldown reduction is great for Maokai. It makes you able to spam sapling dudes more often and to farm with Arcane Smash better. Nice to have some cooldown reduction from the beginning of the game.
1/1 in Archaic Knowledge
- Magic penetration benefits your spells nicely. They will do more damage, which is good, cause you won't get that much AP with this build. It scales well with all your spells, so getting this is a "mush have". Unless you want to go really defensive in your masteries.
3/3 in Resistance
- 6 extra magic resistance is not much, but it does help a bit in your early game. You have to start somewhere, right? So 6 extra magic resistance is nice. Good to have, when you go tanky.
3/3 in Hardiness
- 6 extra armor. Same reason as the extra magic resistance. It makes you a bit more tanky early game. Not much, but a little bit is always good.
2/3 in Strenght of Spirit
- You do buy mana items, so health regeneration scaling on your mana is nice. Good to get some of this, due to the improved health regeneration, which mostly benefits you in early laning phase.
1/1 in Spatial Accuracy
- Improved teleport is good, when you go with teleport. Logic for dummies.. Nice with a little cooldown reduction on a great summoner spell. The reduced delay is also nice.
3/3 in Perseverence
- Increased mana & health regeneration makes you able to stay in your lane for a longer period. 4% is actually kinda nice, escpecially if you go with Warmog's Armor.
3/4 in Awareness
- I like the XP boost. Not that much, but still a bit. You can also go with even more mana regeneration, but I prefer more XP during the game.
2/4 in Expanded Mind
- More mana is kewl beans, because it makes you able to spam your beloved saplings. Also to farm with your other abilities.
2/3 in Meditation
- Even more mana regeneration. Yes please.
1/2 in Utility Mastery
- If you have a jungler skip this one, but if you don't, you should take it. Then go for blue buff so you can keep up your ulti for long periods of time. That will give you a huge advantage in teamfights.
1/1 in Blink of and Eye
- Improves your summoner spell flash. Not much to say except that. It makes you able to escape or chase more times during a match.
- These will give your spells a better damage output. Not much to say except that. Kinda standard runes for AP champions. I would not recommend other marks, but you might use AP as well. Have only tried these.
- More survivability is great, because this build makes Maokai tanky. You need to be able to be in the front of the battle and soak up tons of damage. Defensive runes will grant you extra survivability. You can also go with mana regeneration runes or AP runes. I like 5 of these to get more tanky.
- Maokai's spells scale on AP, so you need some of that to be a danger to the other team. Early game saplings are great for harrassin, but they need to do some damage. Therefore, I go with 4 of these to boost my damage output. Mana regeneration, armor, AP pr/lvl are also useful, if you don't have these runes.
- You have armor from seals, so magic resistance is good to have in glyphs. This will give you a better laning phase against casters. Nice choice to be more tanky early game.
- Same reason as for AP seals. More damage is always nice.
- Defensive runes for a tank build. Quite obvious choice despite the nerf of these badboys in the last patch. Most people have HP quintessences, but if you don't, go with AP runes here.
- More AP is kewl. It gives a bit AP to give you more damage early game. Kinda the same reason as for other AP runes. If you don't have this go with 3x HP or something else, which benefits Maokai.
- Start with this in order to be able to spam more saplings early game. This is useful, since you can build it into ROA. The 400 gold cost, means that you can start with 1x HP pot & 1x mana pot. You can start with a Doran's ring, but you can build that into any item, so I prefer this.
- As the initiater/tank/supporter you will be in the middle of the heat and soak up tons of damage. CC-reduction will benefit you a lot in this situation. It also gives you some magic resistance to strengthen your survivability. If the enemy team doesn't really have that much CC, you can go with Ionian Boots or Sorcerer's Shoes.
- Tank/supporter item - Yes please! Gives an aura to support your team. Awesome in teamfights and also relatively cheap. Get this to be more bulky and more supportive.
- At this point in the game you will need more damage. This is why you get this item before Frozen Heart. You will build this into Abyssal Scepter.
- Great item for Maokai. AP and magic resistance is too good to pass up on. The passive of the scepter is really good, for the same reasons as why Frozen Heart is good - You are in the center of the earthquake, so to speak.
- Mana, armor & CD-reduction is some of the best stuff you can get for the walking tree. More survivability, more mana to keep up Vengeful Maelstrom & CD-reduction so you can spam your abilities more often.
- Great item to support your team in teamfights. Especially if the enemy team has champions such as Xin Zhao, Warwick & Ashe, who all have high AS. The AS reduction of nearby enemy champions is important, because you are in the middle of the fight. It gives massive armor, so you are able to soak up more damage. The cooldown reduction is great for you, so this item is almost a must have.
This leaves one open space in your 6 item slots. Choose between one of the following optional items, depending on how the match is. You can also go with something different if you like. I will leave it up to you.
- This is one of the best tanking items in the game. Not arguable. It's active is so got damn good, that I really like to buy this, no matter what tank I play. Especially as an initiater. The active forces the enemies to start fighting, because they can't flee. Then you use your ulti where the fight it and you start killing the enemies with the help of your teammates. It requires great timing, so Skype & Ventrilo will be helpful. Buy it if you struggle in teamfights, because they have massive AS and AD.
- Gives 80 ability power! And 500 HP! Sweet item to boost your damage and survivability. It's passive is awesome, because it makes your spells slow. Saplings slowing down enemies is great fun. A really good item for Maokai. However, it is expensive, so you might not get to finish it. I don't even know if you will finish the items in the item sequence list. Buy it if you need more damage in teamfights, and you don't struggle to survive.
- You can go with another ROA to get more mana, HP & AP. Really a good boost for your stats. Buy it if you want more damage, and you don't need to be more tanky.
- 155 AP + 30% is a ****ing lot. This will boost your damage output massively. If you dominate and want to dominate even more, you can simply buy this. Maokai is a caster, but also a supporter, so only buy this, if you team is winning without troubles.
- If you want more mana & mana regeneration + a lot of AP buy this. If you can't have the blue buff, this is highly recommended. You might even want to buy this earlier (Before or after Aegis - I'm still not sure?)
- If the enemy team stacks magic resistance you might want to help your team strike them down. Then you will need magic penetration to do more damage in teamfights. Not the item I recommend the most, especially because Abyssal Scepter, which reduces magic resistance.
- A great item against AD-heavy teams. The passive is awesome and the armor is massive. Buy this if they have 2-3+ AD champions. If they have 2, who are fed, it is very recommendable.
- Always a great item. Mana, HP, magic resistance & a great passive. Buy it against heavy caster teams. Also usable against disable-teams.
- This item has benn buffed and it's cheap. I really love this item, and I find it to be highly underrated. Great item for more survivability. It removes all kinds of debuff. Even Mordekaiser's ultimate. Awesome item!
- This item is really expensive, but my god it gives a lot of health and health regeneration. Great item to boost your passive. The 7% will be boosted quite a lot with this item. Along with a lot of magic resistance this is great, because Madred's Bloodrazer won't tear you apart.
- If you face a really heavy caster-team you will need tons of magic resistance. FoN is great for that, because it gives massive magic resistance and a good amount of HP-regeneration. Nice item, but relatively expensive.
- Awesome for farming. Nice amount of armor and health. It can do quite some damage in a teamfight, due to it's passive. I like this item a lot, when you go tanky.
- Really good item - Tons of ability power and decent amount of armor. Nice for Maokai and it's active can be good to survive. However, it will reduce the amount of damage you soak up, when ultimate is up. But still very useful.
I have not used other item's for Maokai, so I can't really recommend other items - Please sugges other items in a comment! Feedback is always nice. I will probably try other items, such as Spirit Visage, Zeke's Harbinger, Morello's Evil Tome, Shurelya's Reverie & Will of the Ancients to see if they work well on Maokai.
You can not follow the item sequence of this guide in every game!
It is completely different how the item sequence should be, depending on the match you attend in. The amount of AP/Armor/Magic Resistance you should get is very different from game to game, because the enemy teams have huge variety. So does the item they buy and the outcome of early/mid game. If they have a lot of AD, you shouldn't go with a lot of magic resistance. (Of course also the other way around) This is a guide and it can only help you some of the way.
(Laning Partner - Potential Carry)
- He is great to lane with as Maokai. Their spells combined are pretty nice, since they both are able to dash forward to their enemy. This means that none of you will be left alone, because the other one can't get to the enemies. You both deal great damage up close, so you Xin Zhao will need ghost to be able to catch up with the enemies, especially if they are ranged. However, your spells work well together and you both have good laning survivability, because of your passives. Nice combo with a great amount of damage. You saplings will make Xin Zhao a constant threat, even when enemies try to hide in the bushes.
(Mid - Carry)
- If you have a Teemo in mid, who knows how to play him properly, then lucky you. When he hits level 6, you can teleport to his mushrooms to setup ganks. Just use your W-ability to root them, have Teemo to exhaust them (if he has exhaust) and take out the opponent. Just make sure, that the gank isn't wasted, because a wasted teleport can mean that a teammate might die or that a possible gank in another lane might be ruined.
(Laning partner - Nuker)
- His stun combined with your W-ability is awesome. Great burst-damage and both of you are hard to kill. Really annoying laning partners, who can be a pain in the ***, if played well.
When you hit level 6, you will be extremely hard to kill in a 2v2 lane-fight. Both of you will be good at ganking in other lanes and both of you can solo in the lane for a while, if the other is shopping or helping in other lanes. Nice laning-combo.
(Laning Partner - DPS/Offtank?)
- Both can root the enemies to the ground and do a lot of damage afterwards. When you hit level 6, you will be hard to kill and do great damage. Swain is always an awesome laning partner imo. At least if he/she knows how to play. Might not work well in all games, but my experience with this combo is good.
(Laning Partner - Nuker/Burst)
Annie's amazing burst damage combined with your support is a killing macine. I've only tried this combo once, but it wrecked our opponents completely. (Malphite & Ashe) They stood no chance against the big pedofile tree and the poor little girl.
(Mid - Carry)
- His ultimate will combined with your root + slow can take out both of the enemies in your lane. 'Nuff said.
(Tank or off-tank)
- Great, because it makes your team more tanky. The tankiness of your team does not only rely on you, so you can get more AP for damage, if you want. No matter how Mundo's build is, he is hard to kill. At least if the enemy team doesn't have tons of ignites or Executioner's Calling
(Mid - AP Carry)
- His ultimate combined with your ultimate is devastating in teamfights. The enemies will have to focus him when he uses his ultimate, so your job will be to do everything you can to keep them from killing him. Use your ultimate where his ultimate will end up stunning the opponents, cause that will be where the fight is.
These are the champions I have laned with or played with. I have not solo-laned with Maokai, but I do believe that he can solo, but only if it is really necessary. I think he works best with a laning partner, so that is what I recommend. Maokai is a really strong laner if he has a nuker/carry/DPS to support. I highly recommend Skype, Ventrilo or similar, so you can time your initiates right.
Grab your starter items and go to your lane. You might wanna throw a sappling into the bushes to see who you lane against (If they are in the bushes).
Simply try to get a good farm with your sapplings and try to harras your opponents. At some point you will probably see an opening, where you can get a kill. Use your chance and get that kill, by initiating with your W-ability. Then use your Q-ability to damage and slow your target (the squishee) and hopefully your laning partner will finish them. Afterall, they should get the kills and you should get the assists. Tons of assists during a game. When you hit level 6, you might want to start ganking & helping in other lanes, unless your own lane is struggling to defend tower. Then you have to stay and help. When teleport is ready either see if you can help in another lane or use it to get back to your own lane fast, after you've shopped. In my opinions Maokai is quite strong in the laning phase, though he really shines in the teamfights.
This build makes Maokai the initiater/supporter and also a quite tanky champion. Initiate the fight with Twisted Advance and start doing damage with Archane Smash & Sappling Toss. In the center of the battle, you place Vengeful Maelstrom. When you have soaked up a lot of damage you toggle it off, to do a lot of damage. Try to either flash, run or use W-ability to jump around the fight and keep the enemies of your carries. It is really important. Randuin's active is great in situations, where you need time to help your team. The slow will give you more time to stop them from killing your carries. Your carries will also have more time to do damage. I really recommend Randuin's if you struggle in teamfights, where the enemy team isn't mainly casters. Throughout the teamfight-phase and the end-game your job is to tank and support your squishees/carries. Do not let them die. Try to make your team stay in a group, so you'll have an easier time protection them with your ultimate. Played properly with a good setup you will be most likely to win.
I really hope you enjoyed the build. I will try to keep it updated, so it will be helpful in the future. As Maokai is a new champion people are still trying to figure out, how he is best - So am I. The build will be changed, if I find better ways to build him. You can help me improve the guide, if you leave constructive feedbacks. Maokai is great fun and an amazing supporter. Thank you for reading this guide, Mobafire people!
If you are looking for other Maokai guides, because you want other ways to play him (Summoner spells, items etc) try these, they are great: