Build Guide by Ohmicidal
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.
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.
Introduction to Roaming
Roaming is a new style of play that has emerged over the past few weeks in high level tournaments and ranked games. Roaming is basically allowing your team to have 3 solo lanes, with a jungler, 3 laning champions, and a roamer.
A Roamer is a champion that will move around the map from lane to lane and assist team members in getting kills or supporting them by allowing them to stay in lane longer.
Maokai makes an excellent roaming champion because his base values are all very high, he has excellent CC at level 1, and his saplings make for excellent harassment throughout the game.
What makes a good situation for a Roamer?
First and foremost, a good roamer also needs good team mates. Roaming is hard to pull off in solo queue due to the inherent lack of communication and/or playing ability present at all levels of solo queue.
This is not to say roaming isn't viable in solo queue, but you must be much smarter about when and where you chose to gank.
The second thing a roamer requires is 3 lanes that are able to hold their own. As a roamer your team could possibly have 2 lanes that are playing in a 2v1 situation. It is essential that your team picks the right champions that can hold a lane in most situations to allow you to effectively roam.
If your team is auto locking yi, eve and twitch, then you should probably know that you will not be able to play a roamer this game.
The third most important thing when playing a roamer is the enemies team composition. Certain champions will make a roamers life impossible. Namely Ashe, Leblanc, Kassadin, Teemo, and virtually anyone with an innate escape or scouting method. It is possible to work around these champions, but know that trying to gank them unless they are overextending is ultimately futile.
Pros / Cons
Maokai is one of the best roamers in the game. From level 1 you are ready to assist your team in getting kills
Maokai is an exceptionable harasser and is one of the most annoying champions to play against
Maokai is able to fulfill a tank role later in the game and is able to support his team through his q w and r.
Maokai is not a very hard champion to learn
Roaming is easily shut down by champions with innate scouting abilities or strong escapes.
Maokai is a weak champion if he is unable to gain an advantage through roaming
He is slow
His base defensive stats are not very strong and require items to build up to tank status.
For a roamer, you're going to be behind in leveling and farm. This is why I chose my runes for sustainable defense, as Maokai in any end game situation is expected to be a tank. The runes I chose will allow for exceptional offense and sustainable defense that will carry later into the game as well as provide a massive advantage early.
For the same reasons listed above, I chose my masteries for reliable offense, defense and sustainability. I picked Magic penetration masteries as well as ability power will give you a significant boost to damage. The defensive masteries allow for sustainability through Strength of Spirit and a boost to defense through armor, and the utility masteries will aid in sustainability and allowing you to not fall so behind that you become useless.
As a roamer you are expected to be mobile. With a philo stone you will be able to stay away from the fountain more and the boost to gold is essential as you will fall behind on farm.
As maokai is one of the slowest champions in the game, boots of mobility are a must to allow you to effectively be where you need to be at all times.
RoA comes next, as it is one of the most cost effective items in the game and gives everything mao needs for damage into the mid game.
The next few items are completely preferential and matter entirely on what the enemy team contains. As stated before, in the mid-late game maokai will fill the role of the team's main tank and he must be able to initiate team fights, and protect the teams carries so that they can do their job. Take whatever survivability items you need to fulfill this role.
I grab an abyssal scepter last because it provides a strong boost to damage through the magic penetration, ability power, and the magic resist will allow you to survive much longer against casters.
Play Style 1-6
Buy your starting items and head to the bottom lane. Make sure your team is aware that you are roaming.
At level 2 take a point in Q. Discreetly wander away from your lane and try and get a gank off either in mid, or counter jungling. This is basically roaming in a nutshell.
If you have scored a champion kill or forced them back, stay in the lane and farm up until you hit the next level. Do not push the lane, last hit only. Your team should not have a problem with you getting a bit more experience to push you over the edge.
Play Style 6-12
Continue to roam and score champion kills when you can. You and your jungler should be able to gank effectively. If the other team is buying wards, it might be worth it to invest in a Oracles.
When the laning phases of the game are over, you should assist your jungler in controlling dragon/baron and pushing lanes with the goal to kill towers. In team fights your job is to root the enemies carry and protect your team with your Q and your ult.
At this stage of the game you should also be working on catching up to the rest of the team. If you were roaming effectively you would be somewhat behind in levels. Try and find an empty lane that you can clean up quickly so that you arent taking too much time away from assisting your team.
Play Style 12-18
By this point you should be able to tank fights for your team. You need to be the one in the front initiating fights, disabling enemies, and guarding allies.
Your goal in this stage of the game is to secure baron, destroy towers an inhibitors, and win team fights.
You should also be defending lanes and your towers as well. With your E you are able to clear minion waves very quickly. However, if your carries are around the last thing you want to do is take farm away from them.
That's it for today on my guide to roaming Mao. I plan on adding more to it later, but this is what I have so far for experience with him. I hope it allows you to play this champion more effectively and at a higher level.