Build Guide by Foshkey
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Watching the champion spotlight, it seemed pretty obvious to me that Maokai is meant to be a tank, while throwing in any support aspect other than healing other players. He snares, knocks back, slows, and has an AoE resist spell.
There is a lot of debate of how to go about his mana problems. More than once, I guarantee you that you will run out of mana. To get by this, a lot of players just stack mana. However, flat mana is relatively expensive while mana regen is relatively cheap. Every good build should be effective and cost-efficient.
This build is to aim for cost-efficiency and effectiveness through mana regen rather than flat mana. Although this isn't as effective as flat mana, it's still a hell of a lot cheaper.
As for any other aspect of the build, I'm sure you can figure out why I choose the item / mastery set / runes. And, of course, I would love your input.
Here is how I currently have my rune page set up:
Marks: Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: You deal magic damage; this is for a good kick.
Seals: Greater Seal of Replenishment: This will give you the much needed mana regen early game.
Glyphs: Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: This makes up for the lack of good magic resist items for Maokai. Plus, we could always use magic resist.
Quintessences: Greater Quintessence of Health: Believe it or not, Maokai is a little squishy if you look at his base health. This will help him out a bit.
Again, if you have another rune page set up, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear it.
You are a tank with support elements. Therefore, it would make sense if you go 0/21/9.
In the defense tree, you can use anything in your preference. I usually avoid the dodge mastery if I don't have any dodge runes in my rune page. It just feels like a waste of mastery points.
In utility, go for Perseverance, Spatial Accuracy (or Haste if you take ghost), Awareness, and one point in Utility Mastery.
It is viable to go 9/21/0, and take the spell penetration mastery, but you miss out on the extra 15% duration of neutral monster buff (blue buff is especially handy).
It is also viable to go 0/9/21 (take the clarity mastery), going for more support. In fact, I would recommend this if you know there's another tank on the team.
Honestly, Masteries are entirely preference. If you're more offensive, by all means, go 21/9/0. I just told you what I think is best for Maokai.
If there is one chapter in this guide that I don't care about, it's this chapter. Spells are entirely up to you, depending on your play style. I will go through the spells and describe why I would/wouldn't pick this one.
Teleport: Your job as a tank/support is to protect, whether it's turrets or champions. Now, how would one go about protecting a champion/turret if he is not there? In 3.5 seconds (with the mastery), you will be next to your fellow champion in need of aid.
Clarity: Maokai will constantly run out of mana early game. This will keep your champion in the lane longer and harass even more. Plus, it works well with your ult if you desperately need more mana.
Ghost: You honestly can't go wrong with this spell. Maokai is very slow (he is, after all, a tree) and this can give you an extra boost if needed. If you could pick three summoner spells, this would be my third.
Flash: Always useful for escaping and getting into position. However, unlike most tank champions, your ult is ranged, making this spell slightly less useful.
Cleanse: A nice little mastery if you're stuck in place. But this can easily be replaced with Mercury Treads and/or Quicksilver Sash.
Exhaust: Ok, if you want to go that offensive. However, this could be used for saving that squishy Veigar from Ashe's arrows.
Heal: This is actually slightly useful with the mastery. Use it for dire need, or ARAM.
Got another spell that's useful? Let me know.
Like Phreak said in the champion spotlight, it's really quite preference. But, this is my favorite.
Prioritize in this order: Vengeful Maelstrom >> Sapling Toss >> Twisted Advance >> Arcane Smash, with one exception: Arcane Smash at lvl 4.
Sapling Toss is really, really useful for harassing. It deals decent damage, and turrets don't attack the little pikman. I love the little guys.
Twisted Advance is leveled up second because you need to increase the snare duration. This is possibly your best CC spell and very useful.
Arcane Smash: no need to level up this first other than damage, but we're not going for damage here.
Time for the meat of the build: the items. I've mentioned before in the introduction that this build is aiming for mana regen more than flat mana (thus, no Rod of Ages). I've also noticed that Maokai can be built a lot like Taric, with support and aura items.
This item build is also meant to be relatively cheap, as all tank builds should be. It is definitely not the absolute best, but it is very effective considering the cost.
First, start off with a Meki Pendant and 2x Mana Potions. This will give you the mana you need for early game without the need to go back at 500g to get a chalice right away.
Try to save up around 850g, where you can go back and get yourself a Chalice of Harmony and Boots of Speed. If you can, go all the way to 2000g and add a Catalyst the Protector in the mix. The Chalice of Harmony will give you early magic resist while supporting the much needed mana regen.
Next up, get a Catalyst the Protector if you haven't already and Mercury's Treads. Catalyst the Protector will give you decent health and mana, and the passive is really nice.
Aegis of the Legion is your first aura support item. I absolutely love this item for its aura. It provides a decent balance of magic resist, armor, and health. Of course, always make it clear to your team mates that you're getting one, so another champ doesn't accidentally buy it.
Soul Shroud is the next aura item on your list. Decent amount of health, with a nice amount of mana regen and cooldown reduction.
Here, you can go ahead and finish up your Banshee's Veil, my all-time favorite magic resist item.
And for your last item, look at their team and look at your magic resist and armor, and determine what the best route would be. I'll run you through a list:
Frozen Heart is perfect for Maokai against an AD/Carry team. This is yet another aura item, not for your team mates, but for your enemies. 20% attack speed reduction will easily shut down a Master Yi, Sivir, Ashe, Twisted Fate, or any other Attack Speed champs. Plus, it has real nice Cooldown Reduction.
Randuin's Omen is in here for the same reason as Frozen Heart. It provides armor, but what's real nice about it is the active. It's another CC element to add to your combo.
Guardian Angel: You cannot go wrong with this item. You just simply cannot.
Force of Nature provides the magic resist against caster teams. Also, the health regen is quite nice.
Spirit Visage gives health, magic resist, cooldown reduction, and health regen increase all in a nice little package for only 1550g. Get yours today!
Quicksilver Sash: Riot recently buffed this item and now is a really, really good item against casters with CC (especially Malzahar).
Abyssal Scepter is a good item that has magic resist, ability power, and provides yet another aura for you to use. Good for hitting more like a truck.
I think that pretty much covers the item section. If you have any more ideas, let me know in the comments down below.
Early game laning
Maokai dominates the lane, simply because of his Sapling Toss. You can use this to easily harass and ward bushes. The great thing about this little pikman is that turrets won't shoot the little guy and he doesn't have any health.
Maokai, while doesn't deal a whole lot of damage, is a decent ganker. Let your team mate know who to go for, throw out your sapling, use Twisted Advance to snare the champ in place, wait until the snare is up, and land an Arcane Smash. At level 8-10, the enemy champion will not be able to move for a good 2 seconds, enough for a quick and efficient kill.
This is where Vengeful Maelstrom shines. It provides an AoE resist for your mates and deals decent damage at the end. Be sure to put this up at the beginning of the team fight, where a lot of the initial burst damage comes from. Once all the burst damage is done with, let it go.
Make sure you are constantly using your Sapling Toss, Twisted Advance, and Arcane Smash, all very useful in disrupting the enemy team and causing a lot of damage.
This is my first guide, and I hope it was useful to some people in fighting with Maokai. If you have any suggestions at all, please, by all means, leave a comment below and tell me what you think. I plan to improve this guide based on your comments. We're all here to improve our skill with Maokai, including me.
See you all on Summoner's Rift!