Maokai is just an incredible champion. If you are looking for a champion who is extremely fun, can take some damage, and deal some hefty damage, then look no further. I will go over how I play Maokai andwhat runes, items, and masteries I use.
As for all of my guides, this is not me saying "USE THIS OR DIE". Take what I have to say, mold it to how you want to play and your own play style. Enjoy and let me know what you think
Pros / Cons
Can take some damage
Has a grenade-like sapling toss that is funny as hell
Really great initiator
Amazing team support
Mana dependent / starved (Especially ultimate)
Some people may argue with me on his solo lane capability, and while its POSSIBLE, I believe him to be the most effective laning with someone.
Not the greatest champ for a solo lane (Requires someone else in lane to be the most effective)
Annie can burn your ***...
So for Maokai I go for a tanky build with some points in offense. I take all the magic resist and armor talents, and all of the standard AP/Health tank talents. I believe this is the most effective because it gives you that tanky edge while allowing you to use your moves and be very potent at the same time. Again, this is not set in stone and if it doesn't work for you, try something else that you think works better. Overall I feel like this does the job well for Maokai.
Here are his spells and how I believe they should be used to maximize Maokai's full potential:
This spell is mostly used for the knock back. The slow is really not all that special. What I use this for is after I Twisted Advance an enemy, to prevent them from getting away AFTER the root, and to keep them inside the Vengeful Maelstrom ult area, I knock them up. I usually only get 1 point in this until I can't put points in anything else.
THIS is your main initiator. Use it to trap an enemy who over extends themselves, or to initiate a team fight. This is what gives you the title of tank. Use it wisely though. Make sure you aren't using it and putting yourself in the middle of 5 enemies with your team nowhere in sight...bad idea. Play it smart, but don't be too passive, people are going to expect you to initiate. Pick out someone weak who is falling behind, and grab them.
This spell is the, HAHAHAHAHA omg did you see that?!?!!?, spell. This is the spell that makes me LOVE Maokai. This is your main source of damage. I always grab this first because it lets you scout out bushes in lanes to prevent getting ganked, and if you get to the bush early enough, you can have some fun with your enemies, and sit at the edge of the bush and throw the sapling at the turret and watch it run after them and blow up in their faces. Use this often, it's an amazing harassment tool. Learn how to position it so it will absolutely hit the enemies and not minions. It's tricky but its extremely rewarding watching the little bugger go running after a champion and blow them up.
People tend to underestimate the power of this ultimate. The way that I use it the most is after I root someone with Twisted Advance I pop this up over the area. I knock them up with Arcane Smash and throw a sapling on top of them. Even if you are fighting 1 enemy, or the whole team, throw it up. It can really save you and be that deciding factor. It has a short enough CD to where you can afford to throw it up in 1v1 situations.
Maokai has INCREDIBLE burst damage if you combo his moves correctly, it's just a matter of practice.
For my items, I start off with a Doran's Ring. The reason for this it gives you health and Mp5 at the start to let you do some damage with Saplings and still retain mana. I use clarity as a summoner spell which also helps with this, but the ring helps a lot and gives him some staying power early on.
Moving on to Catalyst the Protector which will later build into Rod of Ages. This will give us health, mana, and a lot more AP. This is the first item you should work towards. Try farming well so you can get this early, it helps A LOT.
Depending on the team, you can go 1 of 2 ways.
For Melee Heavy Teams!!
Get a Sunfire Cape and Frozen Heart after Rod of Ages.
For Caster Heavy Teams!!
Work towards Abyssal Scepter
In general, I like going for Abyssal Scepter first anyway, because it gives me a nice AP boost, but if you are really having trouble with some fed, hard hitting melee, grab that Frozen Heart.
After that I build into a Guardian Angel and finish off with a Force of Nature
I HAVE ADDED NEW ITEMS TO THE END OF THE BUILD LIST! THEY ARE OPTIONS ITEMS THAT I AM PLAYING WITH AND I BELIEVE YOU SHOULD USE IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS RATHER THAN OTHERS. PLAY WITH IT AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. I WILL BE DOING THE SAME!
I ask you to take these suggestions merely as SUGGESTIONS. This build works for me, but as in any game, it's completely situational. Build based off my build how you think will best help your team.
Maokai is an incredibly fun champion who has a lot of uses. I recommend trying him using this build or any variation of this build that suits what you need. As always, comments are appreciated, and I will hopefully be updating this guide regularly based on feedback and my own experience with him. Thanks a lot and enjoy the Twisted Treant.
2/17/11- Edited Rune Build
2/18/11- Added to item build (experimental)
2/18/11- Changed Morello's Tome to Rabadon's Deathcap