Maokai Build Guide by barcium
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Not Updated For Current Season
Late Objectives Against Strong AD Team Comp
Not Updated For Current Season
~~~Disclaimer~~~ Please Read
If you are looking to up your game jungling as Maokai, then you've come to the right place. This guide is a work in progress, and I am going to try my best to keep it as up to date as possible. If you have any feed back, or suggestions please feel free to comment as it will only help me improve the guide over time.
I would like as much negative and positive feed back as possible to help improve the guide. This guide is nowhere near where I would like it to be yet, and my purpose of publishing the guide is to get community feedback on what should be added, and what needs to be improved!
An Intro Into The OP Tree
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can get down to business. Maokai is an incredibly strong and very under-rated champion in the League. If you know how to play him, and you build him right, you can make some truly ridiculous plays. He is one of the tankiest champions, with a solid damage output, and because of the vision his sapling gives, you are able to make very unexpected escapes. If you want to see what that looks like, take a look at the video of some of my game play in the spoiler from normal 5v5.
Maokai is one of the most versatile champions that can play a multitude of rolls on the team; because of this versatility, if you notice that your team is lacking something, chances are you can build maokai to compensate. Not only is maokai super tanky, but he has a massive amount of CC, and can be built to dish out tonnes of AP or AD depending on where you are playing him. Say you are mid lane and you need to build AP. You could buy a [Zhonya's Hourglass] which will give you armor, a great active, and 120+ ability power. From this item your sapling impact and detonation gains a total of 460 + 120 (100% of your ability power assuming this is your only AP source) magic damage. This guide is primarily for jungle so I'm not going to go into detail, but I may release a Top and Mid guide at a later date.
One other cool trick that Maokai can do is use his sapling to give vision of jungle camps, which can be used as a very creative escape to get you out of some sticky situations. The video below was taken from a normal 5v5 game, where I got ganked late game at mid while pushing the lane out.
Early Game Jungling
When starting Maokai in the jungle, I always take a leashed blue buff. When playing as Maokai, you can prep for blue so that you can clear it even faster. If you throw a sapling starting at 1:30 and continue to throw them until it spawns, you will have 3 saplings on the ground at the time of spawn. This will help you clear the buff with maximum speed.
To Clear a jungle camp with the least amount of mana, and fastest clear time, throw your Sapling Tossfollowed by your Arcane Smash . This should burst down all the smaller monsters, and leave you with just a few hits on the one remaining. After clearing wolves, proceed to check your red, then clear the wraith camp followed by red buff. After this you should and have your Twisted Advance up, and be ready for a gank. If not, then continue farming until a ganking opportunity presents itself. Maokai's ganks are incredibly potent so early ganks can really bring an advantage to a lane from early on. In case you are unfamiliar with the jungle, this is a map you can follow to help you through your first few times.
When jungling don't forget to time your buffs. If you lose control of Blue because of an invade or something happens and you get behind in farm, you will want to have buff timers so you can contest the enemy's blue and ensure that your mid always gets your blue. No matter what, try to get buff timers on EVERYTHING. I can not reiterate this enough, but that will come later
When determining where to gank, you need to look for which lane(s) are pushed out, how much health everyone in lane has, and what kind of escapes the opposing team has. (lol, when was the last time someone got away from Maokai). Once you have selected your target, ask if any wards were placed, and if you can't be sure cross river and get ready to utilize flash to pop in from somewhere they won't expect.
Ganking with Maokai is pretty simple. Use your Twisted Advance to fly to the enemy position, and root them. Knock them back and slow them after the duration of the Root with your Arcane Smash. If they start to get away, pop another Twisted Advance to close the gap and ensure the kill. If the enemy starts running for a bush make sure to throw a Sapling Toss to it, so that you can gain vision and avoid jukes. If you do it right, Maokai has an incredibly potent gank, with a stupidly high success rate. After a successful gank, you should continue to farm the jungle until another ganking opportunity presents its self to you.
The Mid Game Gank-A-Thon
Coming into the mid game, players in lane will start to roam more as towers fall, and with this brings the opportunity for some truly amazing plays by Maokai. Because of Maokai's incredibly strong CC you can catch players out of position in river, or in the jungle, and you or your laners can easily clean up after the engage.
You should continue to gank as you would in early game, but in between jungle camps you want to be sure to ward river and the enemy jungle. If you can get vision on river you can see enemies that are out of position and that is the first step to killing them off. Once you see them ping the lane they are approaching to come down, and use your Twisted Advance on them to root them. Worst case scenario no one shows up (welcome to elo hell) and they start attacking you. Well that's not a problem for Maokai! you are a tree, and as such, you are tanky enough to just kite them on over to the lane so your blind laners can clean up after the fact.
During this phase of the game, you should strive for map control. Make sure that if someone comes down into river alone, they are punished for it. As the pressure ramps up, and your team gains control of the map, push any lanes that your laners neglect so that you can keep up the overall map pressure. By applying as much pressure as possible to the map, your team will be able to take every Dragon, hopefully grab their buffs, and it will be significantly harder for them to catch anyone from your team out of position. Maokai is a very good champion to use when looking for map control because of his kit, and his ability to push out a lane so take advantage of it wherever possible.
Late Game and Team Fights
As a Maokai your role on the team in late game should be to initiate and counter-initiate in team fights. Maokai's kit makes him very strong for this role, but in order to use it effectively you must first understand it's strengths and weaknesses.
One of the major weaknesses is that you don't have a high damage initiation, or single target burst. Your primary strength as a Maokai player comes from knowing when to engage a fight, and who to jump on to.
The major strength is that if someone is out of position, they are pretty much dead. Your CC will ensure that they can't make an escape, and if this person happens to be the enemy mid or ADC, you just won your team a free team fight. Your kit also protects against high damage initiations and counter initiations.
Using Vengeful Maelstrom at the right time and in the right location can be the difference between a won, and lost team fight. This Ultimate will absorb a MASSIVE amount of the enemy's damage and protect your entire team for the entire duration of his ultimate. Poping the ultimate will also dish this damage back to any of the enemies remaining within the circle.
One of the hardest things to do when using this ultimate is knowing when to pop it and take a kill that someone else isn't going to be able to secure, and when to leave it up so a carry can pick up on a kill. I've seen many other Maokai's get greedy and try to take kills from the carries by poping the ultimate prematurely but this often results in not only death for other teammates, but the carry losing out on a kill that he/she otherwise would have had. Good judgment with this ability can make or break team fights, and this can not be stressed enough.
This is a current list of sections I would like to add
[*] Breakdown on summoner spells
[*] More detailed guide to clearing the jungle for beggingers
[*] Ganking 101
[*] pretty pictures, more video explanations, and aesthetics.