Maokai Build Guide by Sunli Min

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 Sunli Min

Maokai | The Tanky Support Jungler (REVAMPED)

Sunli Min Last updated on September 4, 2012
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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.



Offense: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Maokai, The Tanky Support Jungler.
spaceThe beauty of this champion is he doesn't get fed, he gets his team fed. Playing Nocturn you take all the kills, and your carry's are left with squat. This is one of the only junglers who job is to get his team fed. He is a great initiator in teamfights, he is easily the best ganker in the game and finally, has a unexpectedly high jungling speed. Everything about this champion is perfect except for one thing. He cannot single handedly win the game, even if fed. The beauty of this tho is he doesn't get fed, he gets his team fed.
Welcome, to my ranked Maokai guide.

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spaceThank you everyone for not only getting this to be the highest rated Maokai guide (For a long time :D ) but also for finally getting past the 1,000,000 views! As a thank you I have revamped this guide :D I have updated all the items, runes and overall just took a deeper look into the eye :) Enjoy!

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Pro's and Con's:

Pros / Consspace


+ Amazing ganker
+ Good jungling sustain
+ Is not blue dependant
+ Amazing initiator
+ Good early and late game
+ Belongs in the jungle
+ Scouting mechanism

- Does not have carry worthy damage
- Needs a good team
- Has no escape mechanism
- Is easily counter jungled
- His ult is not amazing
- Has low sustain damage, all burst
- Cant think of another one

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As you can see, I play Maokai with a 0/21/9 masterie page. I take 21 point in defence for the aide in the jungle and for the overall persona of building Maokai as a tank.

I put 9 points in utility instead of offence for the following reasons.
+ Summoner's Insight to decrease the the cooldown on Flash.
+ Expanded Mind for the mana regen, this little bit of mana regen is all you will need. This way you can easily afford to give your mid all of the blue buffs.
+ Swiftness for the movespeed. Maokai is a naturally slow moving character. 4% movespeed here really helps you move alittle bit faster. This with the movespeed of Force of Nature will aide you alot.
+ Runic Affinity makes you buff's last longer. Your initial blue buff will last longer and so will baron buff's and red buff's. This point is not the strongest, but I feel it is better then the other options.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

  • Greater Quintessence of Swiftness: Maokai has some of the strongest ganks in the game! These Quints will aid you in your ganks to make them even stronger.
    spaceIf you feel like the Mobility Boots are enough though, you may get Gold per 10 Quints instead. Both are viable choices, find which best suits your playstyle.
  • Greater Mark of Insight: Maokai primarily does Magic Damage, so these Marks will increase is damage.
  • Greater Glyph of Shielding: Magic resist per level is the way to go. No questions ask.
  • Greater Seal of Resilience: You need armor for jungling, now the reason I get them in the Seal's is because they are primary here, meaning they are worth more armor then if I got armor Glyph's

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Summoner Spells:

Smite: You are jungling. You need this to secure dragon and baron.
Flash: This, paired with Twisted Advance will net your team multiple kills.

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Ability Explination:

  • Sap Magic: After 5 spells are cast around you, your next auto atack heals you. This spell is his form a sustain in the jungle. Very usefull early game, but becomes not as usefull later on. Overall a really nice passive.
  • Arcane Smash (Q): The low cooldown makes jungling a breeze with this spell, and the knock back/slow makes your ganks even more powerful.
  • Twisted Advance (W): Your bread and butter spell. This is what sets up your amazing ganks. This spell single handedly is what feeds your team.
  • Sapling Toss (E): Helps alot in ganks if you learn to throw properly. The main thing about this ability is it makes jungling very fast and efficient. Also, the scouting properties of this spell make facechecking unneeded, saving lifes of you and your teamates.
  • Vengeful Maelstrom (R): A lot of people say this ult is very bad, but I dont agree. Its not amazing, but its not bad. The 20% damage reduction easily makes or breaks teamfights. The damage is does is decent, and the cooldown is very low. This spell is decent as long as you learn to place it right so the fight takes place in your bubble.

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Ability Sequence:

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

At level 1 you should always take Sapling Toss. This makes your jungle route very efficient, placing 2 saplings before the wraiths spawn so you can take it before blue spawns.

At level 2 you take your Arcane Smash. You need this for your level 3/4 gank, and for jungling more efficiently.

At level 3 you ether take your Sapling Toss if you are going to take red right away, or your Twisted Advance if you are going to do a level 3 gank in mid.

At level 4 you take either your Sapling Toss or your depending on which you took at level 3.

From levels 5 threw 18 you do the skill order I mentioned above. The reason you only get two points in Sapling Toss is for the jungling speed, after that you want to upgrade Arcane Smash for the slow and Twisted Advance for the snare duration increase, making your ganks stronger.

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Core Build:

  • : These boots are the best on Maokai for the early/mid game. They allow for amazingly strong ganks. You should sell these for one of the following pairs late game.
  • : If they are CC heavy, get these boots.
  • : If they have 3 AD's *Top, Jungle and bot* and lack CC, get these.
  • Philosopher's Stone: This item is a must. It gives you HP regen and Mana regen, which is a great aide to your jungle sustain, plus it gives you gold per 10.
  • : A bit of health to make you tankier, plus the gold per 10 passive. This item is also a must.
  • Shurelya's Reverie: The stats are very nice on you with a amazing active. Even if the support is getting one of these, it never hurts to get a second one. They allow you to have amazing engages, amazing disengages and amazing team fight presence. There is no con in this item.
  • : Overall nice stats. This item is very cost efficient and it also has a aura to make teamfights so much easier. Your ult+Aegis' passive makes you very useful. Discuss with your support who gets this item, but make sure someone does (Preferably you, allowing your support to rush another Shurelya's faster.)
  • : This item is great on Maokai. It gives you plenty of armor, plus a passive that seriously aides teamfights. I get Glacial Shroud before this item, and upgrade to this later. I ALWAYS get this item UNLESS your top laner is already getting it (Malphite perhaps?) or your mid is someone like Ryze.

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Situational Items:

  • : If they are heavy heavy AD, I will sometimes get this. The armor is nice. Health is nice, and passive is nice because you are always in the very center of the teamfights.
  • : Unless your mid or top wants this item for the Magic Resist, I would get this item at some point (Either as your 6th or even a bit earlier). This item allows you to deal more damage, get some well needed magic resist (A stat lacking in this guide.) and gives a powerful passive that aides every member of your team.

  • : The magic resist boost is amazing. AP carrys wont be a problem after this. The movespeed boost is also very nice, being able to catch those pesky runners so you can Twisted Advance them.
  • :I just find this a very amazing item. Renduin's Omen tied with Frozen Heart completely handicaps the enemy AD carry.
  • : Out of all the upgradable items from gold per 10 items, this one I find is the best for Maokai and his play style. Right as you initiate and your team is now backing you up, you pop the active and give everyone a bubble, similar to a Janna bubble. Vengeful Maelstrom +this item = amazing teamfight.

  • : I sometimes get this item, but only very last. The slow is very good with your Arcane Smash and Sapling Toss, and gives a nice health boost. The only issue is that both those abilitys are AOE, meaning they have reduced slow effects. Once again, I get this very last if at all.
  • : If they are AP heavy and you are the main tank, get this on top of Force of nature. Those AP's cant do a thing. This also gives a nice health boost too.

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Jungle Route:

Start at Wraiths. At 1:05 place two Saplings. The second wraith's spawn, throw 1 more Sapling in the middle of the wraiths, and then autoattack the big one twice.

Ask for a leash at blue. Throw your Saplings whenever they are up.

Sapling and Arcane Smash the wolves to kill them faster.

Wraiths will have spawned again, take them using Sapling and Arcane Smash's with auto attacks. Don't be afraid to spawn your ability's while you have blue.

Take it. Spam your ability's.

Last but not least take the golems.

If you have enough health, gank bot/top. If not then go b and heal.
A option I did not mention is after your 2nd encounter with Wraith's, you may get your Twisted Advance and gank mid. This is not mandatory, use your proper judgement.

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space Maokai is a support champion. He does not have a heal, but he is a support. In teamfights you have your Vengeful Maelstrom for damage reduction, you have your Twisted Advance to isolate the enemy carry and you have Arcane Smash for more CC. You also support in fights through aura's *If you buy them* and general tanking.

spaceOutside of fights, you do not support through heal. You support through warding, specificly the following.

spaceThat picture is where you should ALWAYS have warded. You should be warding various other places *Along with your support* but as the jungler you should never leave the places above unwarded. To recap you should have your blue/red buff's warded at all times. You should always have baron vision warded *Dont make your other support do this. Do it yourself so they can ward other places* and dragon vision warded. If you are a aggresive player then you may even have their blue/red buff's warded. Do not ever consider wards a waste of money. Spending the money to get you a dragon is worth 1000 global gold *200 each x 5 people = 1000$* and is far worth the money of a ward. The bonus blue buff gives to your mid is worth much more then 75$ to ward.

Tl;dr: Buy a ward. Stop a gank. Save a life.
Buy a ward. Catch the baron. Win the game.

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How to - Counter Jungle:

spaceOne way to aide your team is to counter jungle. You do not have the high DPS to take buff's with ease, but if you play smart you can outsmart their jungler.

spaceFor this example, I will use blue buff. Let's say their jungle starts blue. It spawns at 1:55, so they will kill it by 2:10. It will then repawn at 7:10~. Around 6:00~ go place a ward at your blue, just incase he is deciding he will counter jungle you once you take his buff. At 6:50 ping their blue and call your mid over. Now that you have taken his blue buff run to yours and either A) Take it for yourself or B) Keep it warded, and offer it to your mid after a minute or so.

spaceYou may do the same with the enemy red buff, but for lower elo *<1400~* the risk is not always worth the reward. If the time is right and the enemy jungler is dead/on the other side of the map, then by all means take red buff.

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How to - Counter Counter Jungling:

space Maokai is easily counter jungled. He has enough aoe burst to take any small camp very quickly, but lacks the dps to take red or blue buff quickly. Due him having low sustain damage vs other junglers, other junglers easily can take his red or blue buff. To counter the counter jungling, you should always have your red and blue buff warded and/or timed. Always know when it will be up. If you detect the enemy
Lee Sin taking your red, ping him and say "Help". Your mid/top or mid/bot will hopefully join you to stop him, hopefully picking up a kill.

spaceTl;dr ward your jungle.

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How to - Gank:

space If there is one thing I have seen to many Moakai's do wrong, its gank wrong. You dont know how many Maokai's ive seen in, Arcane Smash them AWAY and then Sapling Toss last, missing it completly or only getting the initial hit off.

space The proper execution to the gank seems like child's play, but I will inform you either way.

Your combo should be idealy this.

->->*Away from their turret*->

spaceNow let me explain a few things.

space"Why do you open with Sapling Toss?"
Because if you Sapling Onto them, you can snare very quickly so both the initial burst of the Sapling and the secondary explosion hit.
space"Why do you then away, when you put the ult in between them and the turret?"
So they have more distance to travel if they want to get to safety.
space"What is the proper positioning of Vengeful Maelstrom?"
The proper positioning of your Vengeful Maelstrom is to put it in between the enemy and the enemy tower, but in a place that it is still touching the enemy on the edge of the circle. You want to put it in the direction you expect him to run.

SpaceThe reason you place it that way is so because
* If they want to fight, you are in the bubble and so are they *Slightly*
* If they want to run, they must go through your bubble *You have more time to time the explosion*
* If you put it straight on top of them, they have less of it to run through if they make a break for it. Putting it straight on top of them only helps if you know they want to fight their way out.

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How to - Initiate:

Space How you initiate a teamfight is very simple. It goes as followed.

Step 1

spaceShurelya's Reverie to give your team the movespeed buff and hunt down your target.

Step 2

space Twisted Advance the enemy AD carry or AP carry. Ideally the AD carry would be best.

Step 3

space Arcane Smash the enemy you had just grabbed toward your team.

Step 4

space Vengeful Maelstrom in the middle of the fight. Put it where you expect the majority of the fight to take place.

Step 5

space Sapling Toss in the middle of the fight where ever you see a squishy. You should be using Arcane Smash on any squishy in sight when it is up.
spaceBe sure to use Twisted Advance once it is up on the nearest runner you can find. If they have multiple runners then use it on who ever is your main target. If they have no runners you should use it on the AD Carry in the fight.

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Maokai holds the power.

space Thank you all for your many votes and views :) I hope you all enjoy my Revamp of this old guide and good luck on the field my fellow summoners :)