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Maokai Build Guide by bobsalad

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League of Legends Build Guide Author bobsalad

(Patch 7.9) Rework Maokai Support Guide

bobsalad Last updated on May 13, 2017
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Ability Sequence

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

Masteries

0 Ferocity

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18 Cunning

5/

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1/

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5/

1/

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1/

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12 Resolve

5/

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Threats to Maokai with this build

Threat
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High
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Threat Champion Notes
1
Janna Janna poses no threat though a good janna can block all your sapling poke with shield. A janna lane has no sustain so just go in whenever you have all your abilities up.
1
Ezreal Ezreal lets you build up passive very easy so you will usually be full hp against an ezreal lane. He also doesnt do much damage in an all in so you can trade with him very well and just sustain up.
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Introduction

Hey I'm Cloud and I mained support Maokai since Season 4 peaking at 400 lp Challenger on NA server this season. Since the tank reworks, many pros have been picking up Maokai support so I am updating this guide as a long time Maokai support player.

The patch 7.9 Maokai rework shifted a lot of power from his other spells into his Sapling Toss. You used to max this ability last as it wasn't too useful aside from warding. Now it is his main damage spell with his other abilities significantly nerfed. While it doesn't give reliable 1v1 in solo lane, it is a strong poking tool from support, coupled with his existing utility. Before, Maokai performed a similar role to Leona and had a very linear playstyle as he only wanted to repeatedly engage/all in. Now he has a strong poking/zoning/pushing tool similar to e max Nasus.

Maokai was one of the premier top lane picks at the end of Season 4 and Season 5. However I believe he is much stronger as support especially in solo queue. Pro top laners will mostly agree Maokai does not have the strongest laning phase but excels in teamfights and does well with low farm. In solo queue games, top laners are usually very farmed and top lane relies heavily on laning. On the contrary, support Maokai has a very strong laning phase and can be just as good in teamfights without much farm.


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Runes

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: Mpen is the most efficient mark as maokai is now a damage support.
Greater Mark of Precision: Alternatively you can use these in an aggressive lane. Though all of Maokai's abilities do magic damage, Maokai has one of the highest base ADs in the game so you will usually want to get off a bunch of autos when you go in.
Greater Seal of Health: Get flat health seals as the nerf to armor seals a while ago makes it more worth to use these. They are best on support as early levels are the most important for supports. However they are very expensive so generic armor seals work if you cannot afford these.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power: Flat AP glyphs are best to add to your damage in lane.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Or get MR glyphs as you will be underleveled as a support and need as many stats as you can get. They work well if you want to do a lot of roaming early as mids are usually AP heavy.
Greater Quintessence of Armor: These are very efficient quints and make you very tanky and are probably the best tank support quints all around. Typically two of these is enough to survive and take one Greater Quintessence of Ability Power.


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Items

With the e max build, this support item is now the best for Maokai in most cases. The damage/gold procs twice off his sapling (not sure why not 3 since his DoT ticks 2 times plus the initial damage). Each sapling also triggers Thunderlords so together they give Maokai a lot of damage.
Alternatively you can take this item for a safer laning phase. It synergizes very well with your passive early game so you can share gold with your adc as well as have massive sustain. With 3 other champs bot instead of 1 top, you will have your passive up a lot more. Take 3 Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation.
I do not think the ruby sightstone is very good at the moment so get this item over the support item. Frost Queen's Claim is also probably the worst upgraded support item so it is not worth it to build.
These are the best boots in most games. Maokai's saplings have high base damage and will chunk squishies with Liandry's Torment. Most squishies have around 30 base mr and these boots plus liandry/haunting guise give 30 flat mpen.
This is the best ap item in the game by itself even champions like Syndra buy it (kinda like Blade of the Ruined King for aps). Together with Sapling Toss, Maokai will do a lot of damage to any target with his % health damage. His saplings apply a slow and a DoT to make the most out of this item. You usually want to get this item after sightstone upgrade no matter whether you plan on building supportive items or full AP later.
This item along with Locket of the Iron Solari add a lot of teamfight strength and though it doesn't synergize too well with maokai's kit it is strong enough to warrant building it.
Get this item next for the aura and the shield. It is probably the strongest teamfight item you can build.
This item is incredibly efficient for a single, low price item. The only downside is it is not effective in a 1v1 but you don't need to 1v1 anyone as support.
They reduced the cost on frozen heart by 100. The item gives good stats for Maokai especially if your build is lacking in cdr.

This item is kinda weird right now but may see more use when they nerf other items like redemption. Right now don't build it until later.

As a legacy Maokai support player, it is hard to get used to being so squishy. So I prefer to build more supportive items after Liandry's Torment but a full AP build is also good maybe even better. Some AP items you can get are Void Staff, Morellonomicon, Luden's Echo, Zhonya's Hourglass, and Banshee's Veil.

Some items you should not get on support Maokai but may seem deceptively good are Rod of Ages, Randuin's Omen, Sunfire Cape, Warmog's Armor, and Spirit Visage.


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Laning

Saplings are not so reliable in a straight up 1v1 for solo lanes but are much stronger as a poke tool for support.

Always start E on support Maokai. Your E is one of the strongest level 1 abilities as it is pretty much a 1100 range ward (can be longer if you throw against a wall). Use this to scout where the enemy is level 1.

Saplings can act as wards and if the enemy passes them, they will know they have been spotted. Even if you were not paying attention when they got hit by the sapling, they still may back off knowing you got vision of them.

Here are some good sapling placements on blue and purple side
For the tri-bushes on both sides, the enemy will usually walk through them on their way back from leashing level 1. You can get some good poke by leaving a few saplings in those bushes. Generally the enemy will walk through that bush around 1:50-1:55 and saplings last 30s at level 1 so start throwing them around 1:25.

In lane, use your saplings to poke. This is how you should place them.

The new saplings have lower lockdown radius (which is good so they dont unintentionally get aggro from minions). There are two ways to use this. New saplings have large splash radius from bush so you can place them close enough that they will target the minions and splash onto the enemy champions. Placing them on the inner edge of the bush away from minions will be out of range to target minions. This more for zoning or if you want a guaranteed hit on the enemy champs. Image below for reference.


Your Sapling Toss is your main ability in lane but you still have the same all in potential as old Maokai support. Take Twisted Advance at level 2 and go all in unless they hit level 2 before you. After level 3 you will have Bramble Smash, which makes your trading much stronger. At level 6, your trading will be even stronger with your ultimate. When engaging, it is difficult to use your ult forward as it is super slow. Instead, aim it backwards like how you would aim your q. Also when setting up for ganks, it can be used behind the enemies' escape path to cut them off.


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Mid game

This is usually when you will start to contest objectives like mid turret or dragon.

Great! Maokai is probably one of the best mid game teamfighting supports in the game. You have very high pick potential as you can CC people for days with your Q, W, and E. Use your sightstone to ward up around the bot jungle and river. I generally do not like defensive wards in solo queue so most of your sightstone wards should be in the enemy jungle or in river. However, place pinks defensively as it is harder to defend offensive pinks in solo queue.

With your new saplings, Maokai's saplings not only grant vision but also provide high damage. Maokai can leave saplings in bushes around the map or he can sit in the bush with the saplings and look for picks similar to how zyra/malzahar plays.


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Teamfighting

You are a great engager for your team. To start a teamfight, use your Twisted Advance onto preferably one of their carries or anyone who is cutoff from their team and Bramble Smash to knock them backwards. If you are flanking, use Nature's Grasp on their retreat path and close in with w. While you are the engager, after you have engaged, try to peel for your carries. Nature's Grasp is good for flanking but also for peeling. Standing next to your carries and using it will help keep them safe. Use exhaust on either someone who does high dps like Katarina or Vayne or just whoever is on your carries. Be sure to use your actives such as Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari as they are a big part of supports' contribution to teamfights.

Try to stay near the front and be in range to use your abilities whenever they are up. Abilities will cycle very fast so you will have your Sap Magic up a lot. Proc it whenever you can as it restores a lot of HP.


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Conclusion

Maokai support is a very strong pick compared to his top lane counterpart as it makes room for a top laner that can benefit from more farm and items as well as being a stronger presence in mid game dragon fights and laning. People who have played Leona will probably find Maokai easy to pick up.

Thanks for reading my guide!
Please leave comments on what you think I could do differently with the guide or my playstyle with Maokai. I appreciate all feedback.