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Maokai Build Guide by ClearSky

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League of Legends Build Guide Author ClearSky

Maokai:The Unstoppable Power Of The Forest(AP/Tanky Jungler)

ClearSky Last updated on October 23, 2012
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Ability Sequence

2
8
10
12
13
Ability Key Q
3
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
1
4
5
7
9
Ability Key E
6
11
16
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.



Masteries

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunder
Archmage
 
 
 
 
 
 
Executioner
 
 

Offense: 9

 
 
 
 
 
4/
Durability
Vigor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Honor Guard
Mercenary
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/
Juggernaut
 
 

Defense: 21

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Strength of Spirit
Intelligence
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mastermind
 

Utility: 0


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The Twisted Treant


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Introduction



Hi, I am ClearSky and this is my first Mobafire guide.However i intend to make this guide as useful as I can for everyone that is interested at playing Maokai...


Maokai is a very good jungler with high mobility and fast clear of the jungle especially if you play him with Ap items like myself. His role in the game is both to take kills and help your team get fed up. However, I must say that Maokai can't carry a game on his own but his ability to provide very high damage on early ganks makes up for it.


Last, the content of this guide will focus primarily on my main AP/Tank Maokai build!


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Pros / Cons



As all champions in League of Legends, Maokai has both strengths and weaknesses. The best reason for picking Maokai is for his Twisted Advance that provides with a secure stun no matter what(not many junglers can give you that , right?). Also, it gives your team a good amount of AoE in both late and early game.


Pros

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Cons

  • High mana costs.
  • Easy to escape from his ulti Vengeful Maelstrom.
  • Not easy to deflect counter-jungling.
  • Slow jungle on large buffs.
  • Can't carry a game on his own.


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Masteries

Masteries
2/5
2/1
4/5
1/1
1/5
3/1
2/1
4/1
2/5
1/1
1/1
3/5
3/1
1/
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Offense
  • Brute Force :Give you 2 more points in damage.
  • Butcher :Your basic attacks deal 4 more damage to monsters..More damage.;)
  • Sorcery :Gives 4% cooldown redaction..Always useful!
  • Arcane Knowledge With 10% more magic penetration you will have a great boost of damage in your spells.
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A trick to make better jungling with Maokai is to choose also these two masteries, Brute Force and Butcher ..No i am not crazy..Maybe a bit..;p..I know that Maokai is Ap Champion but by increasing slightly his damage you can make your way through the jungle much more quicker.Try it and you will see..
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Defense
  • Summoner's Resolve :Give you 10 more gold on every cast..More money!:P
  • Hardiness :Provide you with 6 more points in armor,that help your sustain in jungle.
  • Tough Skin :Reduces by 2 the damage you take by minions and monsters.
  • Durability :You have 6 health per lvl more life(108 at lvl 18).
  • Indomitable :It reduces all incoming damage for 2 points..Not bad i say.:p
  • Veteran's Scars :Gives you 30 health points.
  • Bladed Armor :Returns 6 damage against minion and monster attacks.
  • Enlightenment :It gives you a 0.45 cooldown redaction per lvl(8.1% at lvl 18).
  • Initiator :Increase movement 3% when you are above 70% of your health.
  • Juggernaut :Increases your maximum Health by 3% and reduces the duration of incoming disables by 10%.
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Now all the above masteries are chosen to make Maokai more tanky. Some of them provide you fast clear through jungle, like Hardiness ,[Tough Skin]] and Indomitable . But I want to talk about Initiator and Honor Guard . The first one gives you more mobility when you have more of 70% of your health and the other reduces the damage taken by 1.5%.So why I don't choose Honor Guard ?
The reason is simple!Let's say that someone hits you with 1000 damage and Honor Guard reduces 1.5% of it so we have...15 damage..So it reduces only 15 damage in a various of 1000 damage..:-/..not very good I must say..The best choice is Initiator because it gives ypu more movement speed and Maokai realy needs it.


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Runes

Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
9

Greater Seal of Armor
9

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
9

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
3


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Items

Item Sequence











Rod of Ages
2700

Sunfire Cape
2900

Abyssal Scepter
2750

Frozen Heart
2700

Force of Nature
2610



Starting items:


As first item is necessary to take Boots of Speed,this movement speed help you with your early ganks.

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Take 3 Health Potion in order to help you survive through your early jungling and your first gank.



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Core-Mid Game items:


Boots of Mobility is an essential item for Maokai.The movement that this item gives you makes you capable of moving fast all over them map and ganking many times in all lanes.
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Rod of Ages not only boost your damage up but also provides you with life and mana. This is your most important item.

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Sunfire Cape gives you health,armor and an aura tha damages your opponents for 40 magic damage.Great item for a melee ap tanky caster.

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Another item that you must take as Maokai is Abyssal Scepter. It gives you magic resist ,ability and an aura tha lowers your enemies magic resist by 20.



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Finishing Items:


At the end of the game Frozen Heart will provide you with a huge amount of armor and good cooldowns and will help you get even more tanky.

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And the last item is Force of Nature. Force of Nature will give you health regen, movement and that magic resist that will transform you into a real tanky ap monster.;)


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Optional Tips:


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Here are some tips that help you guys follow this build without doing anything wrong. If you are in tough game and the enemy team have a fed AD carry or strong AD champions i suggest you after taking Sunfire Cape,try to finish your Frozen Heart first and go for the Abyssal Scepter later. Doing that will give more sustain against those fed champions.

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In the other hand,if the enemy team has a fed AP carry or strong AP champions i suggest that you should take Force of Nature right away after buying a Giant Belt and then follow the build normally.Taking Giant Belt will give you more life that you really need and a fast Force of Nature is going to provide safety against fed AP champions.



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Alternative items:


And finally, Mercury's Treads is great choice because of that tenacity and magic resist that gives on early game. But I prefer Boots of Mobility,because this item offers you the opportunity to run all over the map and gank faster and more often.:)

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One item that you can use instead of Force of Nature is Banshee's Veil. This is my opinion but i believe that Maokai doesn't need anymore life at this point. And also Force of Nature gives you more magic resist and a great amount of health regen and movement.

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Zhonya's Hourglass is a very good item for every ap champion. I only take this item instead of Frozen Heart when the enemy team it's low on kills and we have a fed ad carry, but only in that occasion.Just for the fun of it!:)
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Randuin's Omen is great item.It offers you armor, health, health regen, small cooldown and a active passive that can slow your enemies attack and movement speed. So why i don't choose it? Because it you no mana and only 5% cooldown reduction!!!It's better to take Sunfire Cape or Frozen Heart because the first one offers 30 less armor but more life and also 40 magic damage to all your surrounding enemies and work so good with your Abyssal Scepter.About Frozen Heart what can i say? It gives 20% cooldown reduction, reduces the attack speed of nearby enemies by 20%, mana which is essential on Maokai and 99 armor! So i don't think Randuin's Omen is going in my
build.

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So the almighty Lich Bane....Just no way..It gives you only 30 magic resist more ability and that passive for more damage. I have seen this item at top guides and the jungle section. I can understand the reason to take taking when you play full Ap Maokai but not when jungling. If you want not only to survive and help more your team but to be able to do some damage,then you should take Abyssal Scepter that gives you more magic resist and and enough ability to harass your opponents.Do not trade any item that offers armor, health for Lich Bane. In late game i won't offer you anything and it's cost is about 1000 gold more from Abyssal Scepter.Trust me on this.

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I will try to be short on this. Rylai's Crystal Scepter offers you nothing in your late game! It give you no mana, no magic resist ,no armor, no cooldown reduction and no movement. The only thing you take from this item is health and ability. Maokai can't survive with just that,he needs defense from all types of champions and then more life. For example let's say that you take Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Rod of Rod of Ages and not Abyssal Scepter or Sunfire Cape or Frozen Heart, you will end dieing too quickly and your team it wouldn't be able to do nothing in that short amount of time.

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Taking Warmog's Armor is really a bad choice.You will have enough life from both Sunfire Cape and Rod of Ages that don't any more and expect from that Warmog's Armor is very expensive item.Another danger is that because of your huge amount of health that you will take from Warmog's Armor your enemies will ignore you and focus your teammates instead of you.By any means necessary you don't want that...you want your enemies to focus you and waste all their skills trying to kill you.

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Shurelya's Reverie gives you health, 15% cooldown reduction, some health regen and a movement boost for your whole team.I realy don't think that this item is agood idea because it doesn't give you what Maokai really wants. I have to repeat myself but with this item offers you have only some temporally movement and 15 % cooldown. However, you have no defense and no mana..but the the primary reason it that this is a support item and because you will always have a support in your team the chance that he will take Shurelya's Reverie is between 90-99%. Your team have no use for two supports and one more thing....eh who can i say this....you are not support!!!

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Aegis of the Legion is really a great item. It offers armor ,magic resist, health but because it offers so much they are pretty low for a more tanky build... That's why supports always buy this item and of course for that aura that helps all your team.


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Summoner Spells




As for Summoner Spells I like to use Smite and Flash.
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Smite gives me 10 extra gold every time I use it but I also have a faster jungle and I can easily secure Dragon and Baron Nashor .

I can easily escape or catch my enemies with just using Flash.

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Other Summoner Spells that can be used is Ghost, Teleport.
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Ghost can be used but it is not a spell that I would use. You can't escape with Ghost like you can with Flash and you have Boots of Mobility for movement so not a great choice.

Teleport is the same with Ghost you can take it but it wouldn't be any real help.

Exhaust can slow down your enemy but I can say this spell can make sure that you will survive.



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Summoner Spells that can that never be used are Clarity, Cleanse, Clairvoyance, Revive, Promote, Surge, Ignite, Exhaust, Heal.
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Restores 190-700 Mana (depending on champion level) to your champion and 50% of that to nearby allies. 180 second cooldown.
Removes all disables and summoner spell debuffs affecting your champion and lowers the duration of incoming disables by 65% for 3 seconds. (Does not remove the healing reduction from ignite) 210 second cooldown.
Reveals a small area of the map for your team for 4 seconds. 70 second cooldown.
Instantly revives your Champion at your team's Summoner Platform and increases your champion's maximum Health by 220-560 (depending on champion level) for 2 minutes. 540 second cooldown.
Promotes the nearby allied siege minion, healing it, granting it bonus stats, and causing it to grant the caster gold for its kills. 180 second cooldown.
Empowers your champion, increasing Attack Speed by 35% and Ability Power by 10-78 (depending on champion level) for 12 seconds. 180 second cooldown.
Ignites target enemy unit, dealing 70-410 true damage (depending on champion level) over 5 seconds and reduces healing effects on the target for the duration. 180 second cooldown.

Restores 100-570 Health (depending on champion level) to your champion and 50% of that to nearby allies. 270 second cooldown.


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Skill Order and Explanation





Skill Order


Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
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With the order of spells that you can see above you a Maokai player(like yourself)can use all of the damage potential that this champion is able to offer.
  • Maxing first your Sapling Toss(E) is the right way to do more damage and have the enemy team feel first handed the power of the forest.:)
  • Secondly, you max your Arcane Smash(Q) for more damage output and have it respawn more often.However, you should always max your ulti Vengeful Maelstrom(R) whenever it is possible.
  • Max your Twisted Advance(W) last, because this spell offers you low damage output and when you use it to jungle the monsters thinks you are there anymore so they regen their hp.
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Skill Explanation

Sap Magic(Passive):

Each time a spell is cast near Maokai he draws energy from it, gaining a charge of Magical Sap. When Maokai has 5 charges his next basic attack heals him for 7% of his max HP.


Arcane Smash(Q):

This ability allows Maokai to knock back and slow all enemies in range. Not many people know this but this ability affect all enemies in an area around him, meaning that all enemies are slowed but only one of them is knocked back.


Twisted Advance(W):

Casting this spell Maokai is tossing himself on an enemy champion standing them for 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 seconds.


Sapling Toss(E):

Activating this spell will make Maokai tosh away one Sapling. When that Sapling touches the ground does some amount of damage and then explodes to the nearest enemy for more damage.


Vengeful Maelstrom(R):

Maokai shields his allies by drawing power from hostile spells and attacks, reducing non-tower damage done to allied champions in the area. When Maokai ends the effect, he unleashes the absorbed energy to deal damage to enemies within the vortex.
Maokai creates a magical vortex that protects him and allied champions by reducing damage from non-turret sources by 20%.
Maokai can end the effect to release the stored energy, dealing 100/150/200 (+0.5) (+2 per damage absorbed) magic damage to enemies within the vortex. Maokai can store up to 200/250/300 bonus damage.


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Tips and Gameplay




Tips and Gameplay

  • The best combo when playing Maokai is Sapling Toss(E)-> Twisted Advance(W)-> Arcane Smash(Q). Most people always cast first (W) then (E) and last (Q). This is wrong because by you cast your Sapling Toss(E) the stun would have were off and the enemy will probably escape. So make sure(or at least try :P)to cast the (E)->(W)->(Q) combo right.
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  • Also when casting the (E)->(W)->(Q) combo you have to cast Arcane Smash(Q) in front of the enemy in order to knock him back to your allies. Try to remember not to cast your Arcane Smash(Q) after Twisted Advance(W) but not right away, because you will loose on second of your stun. So remember this..is too important.

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  • Choosing for summoner spell Flash can give you and the team to get one easy kill or help you save your allies.By using Flash you can close up the distance between you and your target and then use Twisted Advance(W) to stun them.
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  • Another trick is that you can use Sapling Toss(E) as a temporary ward to see if there is an enemy in the bushes..or steal Baron Nashor and Dragon .;)

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  • Also something that a lot of people don't know is that if you toss a Sapling Toss(E) over a wall you can jump through the wall with your Twisted Advance(W) and stun an enemy, hit a monster in jungle or escape inside the jungle.. In the pictures below I have marked with red arrows the places where you can put this trick in motion.
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The Way of The Jungle




In this topic I will explain you below the right way to jungle and the difficulties that you might encounter when jungling with Maokai.

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Jungling Route




First I must say that my opinion is that when jungling with Maokai you must always start from your Wraiths .
Why you ask?
  • Clearing fast your Wraiths give you the privilege of ganking at lvl 3, because after you finish taking your blue buff, the Wraiths camp should have been respwaned. That way you became lvl 3 at 3:00 min and you start you first gank at mid.
    The trick in this is to put 3 Saplings Toss at the center of the Wraiths camp, starting between 1:05 and 1:10 min..
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  • After clearing your Wraiths camp you take your blue buff and Wolves by start casting your spells whenever they are up. Remember to always ask for help from your team in order to clear blue buff faster and easier.
  • Now you should be lvl 2 and taking your Wraiths for a second time, this will make you lvl 3. At this point you must either gank mid right away or take your red buff and gank mid afterwards. I recommend ganking mid straight away if the enemy champion is at half life or your teammate is in danger.
  • After you finish with your red buff you will be almost 4 lvl. At this point is better for you to gank bot or mid again and seek for a kill than taking your Golems . Also, I must say something about ganks. A fail gank is not when you gank a lane and you or your allies end up with no kills!. Making your enemy burn a Flash or an Exhaust gives you the opportunity to gank again in a short amount of time and also give your allies the means to harass even more his opponent now that they have no escape mechanisms.
  • After your first successful gank you should go back to your base and buy the Boots of Mobility item(it's only 650 gold). Now with this item you can gank everywhere on the map when you want. Try to gank at least 2 times bot before you gank top. You must feed your carry as fast as you can.
  • Now you should be close to lvl 4 or just lvl 4(This depends from how your gank went). After lvl 4 you should always give your blue buff to your mid or or take it yourself if you have someone like Katarina in mid. Because Maokai has big mana problems I recommend that from now on you must always have 2 or more Mana Potions with you. This will help you greatly cause you will run out of mana quite often.
  • When you are lvl 4 start ganking at your top lane too, expect from mid and bot lane. Upon reaching lvl 6 and unlocking your ulti Vengeful Maelstrom(R) and also having the Catalyst the Protector or at least the Ruby Crystal you can be more aggressive, like tower diving to get or to give a kill to your allies. Evermore, now you can tell your bot lane to help to take the Dragon . Dragon not only gives Xp but the most important thing is that it gives your whole team a 150 gold boost. Try to take Dragon as often you can, 150 gold can help you finish a item faster or take 2 more Sight Ward that can save anyone from getting ganked.
  • After lvl 7 and from now on you must concentrate on more helping pushing the lanes and destroying enemy turrets than jungling on your own.I know that you think that because your are jungler you must farm at jungle all the time but.......the true answer is No!. Now you should focus on pushing all lanes that need you in order to win the game(expect from time that you feed, try not too).

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Alternative Jungling Route





Here is an alternative jungling route for ganking first not mid or bot but your top lane instead. The only difference in items from the first jungling route is that instead of Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions, you start with 2 Health Potion and one Mana Potion and of course Boots of Speed.
  • First of all, you clear the Wraiths camp they same way as in the jungle route above here(I just don't to repeat the same things all over). Then you go straight for your red buff. Try to take your red buff without using Smite. That way when you get to your blue buff you will take it no time. Now you are lvl 2.
  • After taking the red buff use your [Mana Potion]] to get some mana back and go clear the [Wolves] camp. You should be almost lvl 3.
  • At this point you should have used 1 or 2 [Health Potion] and your Mana Potion. Go and take your blue buff fast using Smite. You became lvl 3. Now go and gank your top lane.
  • If your gank is successful then return to base and take Boots of Mobility. From now on you should follow the same steps as the first jungling route.
  • This jungling route is harder than the other one but you will definitely surprise the enemy top lane champion.

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Difficulties


  • Maokai has huge mana problems so make sure that you always have with you blue buff or Mana Potions.
  • Counter junling is the worst thing that can possibly happen to you playing as Maokai.
    Maokai is a champion that can avoid to be counter jungled but sometimes even he can avoid it. Enemy champions such as Lee Sin, Xin Zhao, Dr. Mundo and Shyvana can ruin your jungling game pretty easily.
    The best way for you to survive trough their counter jungling is to put wards in various key-places..See picture below.


    The places with the red circle must at always have wards if you want to avoid getting ganked in your own jungle!So be careful!
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Timers


Another useful tactic that you can use in order to make better jungling is the use of Timers. Every monster in jungle has a specific amount of time before respawn again. You can use this to know exactly when Dragon , Baron Nashor , red and blue buff will respawn. For example if you know that your enemy jungler took his blue buff at 20:00 min then at 25:00 he might try to take again and that's a chance to gank him pretty easy.
Below you can find all the spawn and respawn times from all the neutral monsters.

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Spawn time: 1:40 min.
Respawn time: 0:50 min.
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Spawn time: 1:40 min.
Respawn time: 1:00 min.
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Spawn time: 1:40 min.
Respawn time: 1:00 min.
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Spawn time: 15:00 min.
Respawn time: 7 min.
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Spawn time: 1:55 min.
Respawn time: 5 min.
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Spawn time: 1:55 min.
Respawn time: 5 min.
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Spawn time: 2:30 min.
Respawn time: 6:00 min.


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Teamfights



As the game goes on many teamfights will start and it's your job to make sure that the result will benefit your team. Your main purpose in mid and late game is to do as more damage as you can, initiate teamfights, stun the right people and take most of the damage the enemy team is capable of producing. By doing those things right you and your team might be able to win the game.
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Here some tips on knowing when is the right time to start a fight and when is the time to take your team and retreat.

  • Always check the map in order to be able to know where are your enemies. For example, if your team is going for Dragon or Baron Nashor and you don't see at least 2 enemies on your map then you better watch your back. It's almost 100% sure thing that they know where you are and they are just waiting for the right moment to gank you.
  • Secondly, being Maokai gives you the privilege of stuning the enemy AD carry first and without fail.In order to do that, you can either take on you all damage and the use your stun or you can use your Flash to cover some distance and then use Twisted Advance.
  • Evermore, when the enemy team has champions like Xerath or Jayce you must initiate as fast as you can. These type of champions can damage your team severely before the teamfight even start.
  • Also, use your ulti Vengeful Maelstrom in all teamfights, remember that even they don't focus you your ulti still damage them for 100 damage. Another thing that you should know about your combo is that when you are in teamfights you should use your Arcane Smash right away after Twisted Advance(unlike when you gank at early game)because it is better to slow and damage all enemies than standing one of them for just 1 second longer.
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That's it guys, try to act like that and your chance of winning the match are close to 100%!


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Summary



In the end, all I have to say is that Maokai is a great champion that can't only damage his enemies and chase down an opponent but he can also change the course of a game by capturing the most important target without fail. Make sure to remember that the job of Maokai is not get fed up all by himself, but to ensure that his teammates can relay on him to initiate a battle and also give them kills or the opportunity to kill someone.
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Casting aside everything else, if you like my guide pleaze vote it so it can go higher in the top ten guides for Maokai. Also, if you have any suggestions post them in order to make better this guide. Thanks a lot for reading it. One more thing, i would really appreciate if you don't troll vote because i spent a lot of time and effort to make this guide they it is now.


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Updates

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Here are the upcoming updates for the guide!!
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  • Counter Junglers:

    In this topic i will show you how hard or easy is to counter another jungler!:)