Maokai Build Guide by voidflame
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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.
So guys, here's my 3rd guide. Wow I'm bored this summer. Churning out 3 guides. All cause of really bad queue waits. Anyways, if you haven't noticed yet , I really, REALLY, like to play tanks. Actually, it's just because I can ONLY play tanks. I really like to initiate...
Anyways, here's a guide on Maokai. I really love Maokai because his Sapling Toss is hilarious. But in all seriousness, I really like Maokai because he actually has a kind of burst combo. Naturally, it's not as good of a burst as Brand. But it's still fun. Similarly to my Amumu guide, this guide has some amount of ap in it to allow you to dish out reasonable damage. Your main source of AP will be the Rod of Ages and perhaps the Abyssal Scepter. However, Maokai is not an easy tank to learn how to play.
Pros / Cons
Sapling Toss is an explosive ward of pure awesome
Twisted Advance is a great initiator and you can turret dive with it.
Pretty good tank.
Vengeful Maelstrom is a powerful support ability and is very useful during teamfights to save your squishies' lives.
Can solo lane pretty well if your team has a jungler. Do not put Maokai on mid tho.
You can't control your Sapling Toss so luck can play a part in whether or not your team gets a kill.
Can be very mana hungry
Slow cause he's a tree
I take Greater Mark of Magic Penetration for the magic pen. This lets your Sapling Toss and other skills deal more damage.
I take Greater Seal of Armor to be more tanky. I have experimented with Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration and they have worked as well. The mp regen from the Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration is good, but I think armor is more important on Maokai.
I also take Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for magic resist. I like these, because Maokai can lack some magic resist comapred to other tanks with this core item build. (Of course the situation item section has good magic resist items to use if you need them). Since Maokai has a relatively long cooldown on his initiation move, Twisted Advance, Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction can be used, but these are more expensive and I feel that Greater Glyph of Magic Resist work better on Maokai anyways since he does lack some magic resist with his core build.
Finally, I take Greater Quintessence of Health for extra health. This health won't seem significant late game, but the extra health is super good early and mid game before your Rod of Ages reaches full power.
I take 9/21/0 masteries. The 9 in offense give me magic penetration and makes my Exhaust better. I take 21 in defense for tankiness.
9/0/21 can work as well, but you'll lose out on some tankiness. 0/21/9 is viable as well, but I feel a mere 9 in utility doesn't really get you anywhere.
Good Summoner Spells
Flash for positioning your Vengeful Maelstrom. Or escaping. Or getting close to someone with Twisted Advance. So many good uses.
Exhaust is good for chasing. This slow prevents people from escaping and makes people stay in your Vengeful Maelstrom longer. Arcane Smashhas a really nice slow too, but Exhaust is a lot easier to use.
Clarity keeps your Vengeful Maelstrom up longer. Helps with some mana issues early game.Personally, I like Exhaust over Clarity because you can conserve mana if you're smart and not keep your ult up forever.
Decent Summoner Spells
Teleport helps you move around a lot and prevent backdooring from major attack speed people like Master Yi.
Ghost works pretty well too, but I just prefer Flash more. It's up to you. If you haven't unlocked Flash , take Ghost and Exhaust.
Fortify helps protect your turrets.
Ignite for extra damage. Just try not to ks your carries.
Heal not great as you approach late game but it can prevent your opponents from grabbing that first blood.
Bad summoner spells
Clairvoyance is a big no. You already have your Sapling Toss to use as a ward.
Rally = USELESS.
Revive is a major no. You shouldn't really die as Maokai....
Cleanse is bad for Maokai. You're the one doing the cc.
Smite...You're not a jungler.
Nice passive letting Maokai lane longer. This is why I like a good caster to lane with Maokai because Maokai can't really spam his skills for his passive. On the other hand someone like Annie will probably spam her skills letting your passive work a lot better. Keep in mind that the passive doesn't do anything if you're at full health and instead, it just keeps the 5 charges and doesn't increase.
Interesting skill. This skill has some range, but for it to be effective should be used at very close range to knock them back a little. This lets you keep them in Vengeful Maelstrom. I max this last because I mainly like the knockback. As it levels, it increases damage which isn't really needed and it increases the slow percentage. But, since we have Exhaust, that's not needed, so I max it last.
Your main initiation skill is Twisted Advance. You rush toward the opponent and snare them. I max this second to increase the snare duration. What's interesting about this ability is that if you target an enemy and they Flash away, you follow them and snare them anyways. HOWEVER this does not work with recall. If you time it right they just get a snare at their fountain, but you won't follow them. (If you do try to record a video of it and send it to me). Most teamfights will break out after you unleash this skill.
I LOVE Sapling Toss. I get this skill first to face check the bush and avoid first blood. I will toss it 3 times before minions spawn. Here's how I do it:
1. I throw this into the bush near the turret (assuming you're side lane which you should be). If it's safe I walk in. You can skip this step if you're confident the opponent has not had enough time to run in yet.
2. Then I go the edge of my bush, where I'm still hidden and chuck a sapling into the bush near the enemy's outer turret. This will give you sight if anyone walks in or is already inside.
3. If there is STILL no one inside go into the bush. Last, but not least, step out of the bush and try to throw a sapling directly behind the enemy turret without taking turret aggro. This can take practice. The side of the turret works too but I feel that directly behind it is the most optimal position. Run back into the bush afterwards.
Now if they walk by, the unsuspecting enemy will get hurt by your sapling and you won't take turret aggro. Or sometimes the minions spawn and get hurt instead. Anyways, after the 3 tosses, you'll be low on mana (unless you skipped the first) So be careful. The Doran's Ring that you should've grabbed will help you restore your mana a little bit faster. If you're getting chased you can run into the bushes you put the saplings into to damage and discourage your enemies. You don't have to do the three steps above; they're just my preference. You should try it out and if you like it, keep doing it. If you don't like it , that's fine too.
You can even use this skill to check baron or dragon. Just go from behind and chuck a sapling in. This will give you vision and in lucky cases allows you to steal the monster if the enemy team is attacking it. Unfortunately, this will attract the monster's aggro. If the enemy team is there, they will know you are nearby as well. You can also use this if you suspect the enemy jungler is at a buff. Just go from behind and throw your sapling into the bush near the golem or lizard and voila you have vision. Not to mention you may damage the jungler and even disrupt his jungling route if he was low on hp. Again, you'll attract minion aggro by doing this.
Not a great ult damage wise. But it's good support for your team as it can reduce the damage they take. It costs lots of mana to keep up for a long time. You can explode this for some AoE damage to anything within your ult. Chances are this skill will only get to kill people who are on their last two bars of hp. Still good for teamfights though. Knowing when to explode it is very important.
Yes Maokai can kind of burst combo, if you define bursting as comboing skills to deal damage. Like all burst combos, your fingers must be fast and follow up each skill quickly. Don't expect his burst damage to be as great as le blanc or something. The burst can deal significant damage but you're not a nuke champion, so you're not gonna kill someone at full health with one burst.
A burst combo early game WITHOUT your ult would look like this. W, Q, E. First Twisted Advance to keep them in place. Then Arcane Smash since Twisted Advance put you on top of them. And then throw your sapling a bit behind them. This way the sapling will injure the champion even if they run back in fear. But it should be close enough that if they stay, the sapling will still chase them. So a moderate distance is good. Note that minion waves can get in your sapling's way. This deals significant damage, but consumes lots of mana, so don't spam this combo. You can also switch it to W,E,Q. So you Twisted Advance, Sapling Toss, and Arcane Smash. Again, throw the sapling a moderate distance. Both burst combos are practically the same since the damage will be equal so it doesn't really matter which you use. This burst can still be used after your ult for single targets.
Now after you get Vengeful Maelstrom, your burst combo changes a bit. It is now W,R,Q,E (this burst is mainly for teamfights but works on single targets too.) You can initiate a teamfight with this burst combo. First you single one of them out with Twisted Advance. The enemy team may try to help their teammate, so you use Vengeful Maelstrom. By now their team may be stuck in your ult and your team will rush into your ult as well. Follow this up with Arcane Smash to keep the target you picked in Vengeful Maelstrom. If you're lucky the enemies all got near you. Then you can keep all of them in your ultimate longer. Then Sapling Toss which deals AoE damage to damage their team more. Finally, blow up your ult whenever you feel like you've absorbed enough damage or you feel like you can grab some kills with it. Another good time to explode is when you notice the enemy tries to retreat. Explode it before they escape.
This gives you early mana and the two Health Potion give you more lane sustain. This will build into the Rod of Ages. You can also start with Doran's Ring for health, AP, and mp regen.
Gives some nice mr and tenacity. Pretty good on Maokai.
I rush Rod of Ages because it takes a while to reach its max power. I like Rod of Ages because it gives AP for more damage, HP for more tankiness, and MP for your ult. Since you grab this early game, grab catalyst the protector first when you're building this item.
I grab Sunfire Cape for more hp and armor. Not to mention Twisted Advance brings you close to an enemy and snares them so they can take your Sunfire Cape damage.
By now, there are probably some teamfights going on. This, plus your ult, help support your team. You can take this item before Sunfire Cape if you wish. It's up to you. I just prefer Sunfire Cape first so I can stay around in a teamfight longer. You can sell this item toward end game if you want to as it's not as good late game.
Now here's some mr and a great passive. This is your main defense against casters. It also gives some hp and mp.
Frozen Heart gives mp, cdr, and nice armor. It has a pretty good passive against attack speed heavy teams. This is a pretty good end item. You can get this item before Banshee's Veil if their team is mainly AD. This will be your last item so you have to sell your Doran's Ring for space if you have not done so already.
Now you might have realized that Frozen Heart was your sixth and last item. I have a 7th item in the core build because Abyssal Scepter is a great end game item as well. Either grab the Frozen Heart or Abyssal Scepter as your final item depending on whether or not you want armor or magic resist. Or you can take both by selling your Aegis of the Legion. I tend to get Frozen Heart, sell the Aegis of the Legion, and grab the Abyssal Scepter if the game lasts that long. Or you can do it vice versa and grab the Abyssal Scepter first and sell the Aegis of the Legion to make room for the forzen heart. Note that Abyssal Scepter can show your opponents that you are nearby due to the debuff. Thanks to NOBODYqwertyfor pointing this out.
Basically, your final item build should be this:
Tanks have more situational items than any other champs in my experience. For this Maokai build you can replace the Frozen Heart or Abyssal Scepter with one of these items. You can also replace some of the other items as well. For example, if the enemy team is all AP, by all means replace the Sunfire Cape with a Force of Nature. or if they have no AP, skip the Banshee's Veil. So you can replace most of the core items if you need to. Also, keep in mind who is the best on their team. If Master Yi is stomping your team, build armor. But if Fiddlesticks is the one decimating your team, build magic resist.
Force of Nature is the most hardcore magic resist item in the game. If you feel like Mercury's Treads, Aegis of the Legion, and Banshee's Veil aren't enough magic resist, grab this,
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is good because of its AP and HP boost. Grab this if your team is doing good and you feel you don't need to be much tankier and you want more damage.
Use Thornmail if you need more hardcore armor. This can reflect back some damage so this plus Vengeful Maelstrom will make them think twice before attacking you. This is a great way to counter Attack speed heavy champions like Master Yi.
This has one great active and plenty of nice tanky bonuses. You can keep opponents in your ult longer with its active.
This is a rather unorthodox item, but I have found that it works successfully. Nice AP and armor and its active can save you sometimes. I don't use it very often because its active has terrible synergy with Vengeful Maelstrom because if you can't take damage, your ult doesn't build damage. The main reason why Zhonya's Hourglass costs so much is because of its active, which you won't really use. So this item is situational. If you really like the extra AP and armor, then you're free to use this item.
If the opposing team lacks cc and you don't need Mercury's Treads, build these for magic pen.
This gives Maokai amazing nuking power with Sapling Toss, but this item is very expensive. I would only build this if our team already had a tank or you were doing so good that you didn't need to be any tankier. Thanks to
SatansRache for the suggestion on the deathcap!
Guardian Angel provides some nice defenses plus a passive. You might very well die right after reviving. A neat trick to prevent this is to Twisted Advance to a nearby enemy minion that gets you farther away from the champs who are probably crowding around you body. While you Twisted Advance the enemy can't hurt you and you will have traveled farther from them allowing a possible escape.
Maokai is a great tank and he's lots of fun. He can take some getting used to as his gameplay is pretty unique compared to other champions. He cost 6.3k ip so he's really expensive. He's not a really easy tank to play, so if you want to try a first time tank, buy someone easier and cheaper like Malphite, Shen, or Rammus.