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Maokai Build Guide by bobsalad

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League of Legends Build Guide Author bobsalad

Tree OP: A support Maokai guide. Updated for S7

bobsalad Last updated on November 23, 2016
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Ability Sequence

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

Masteries

Fury
 
 
Sorcery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vampirism
 
 
Natural Talent
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Battering Blows
 
 
Piercing Thoughts
 
 
 
 

Offense: 0

5/
Wanderer
 
 
Savagery
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Merciless
 
 
5/
Meditation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Precision
 
 
Intelligence
 
 
 
 

Defense: 12

5/
Recovery
 
 
Unyielding
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Runic Armor
 
 
5/
Veteran's Scars
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5/
Swiftness
 
 
Legendary Guardian
 
 
 
 

Utility: 18



Threats to Maokai with this build

Threat
Low
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

Maokai is 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.

In season 6 Maokai is falling off as a top lane pick but I think he can still work as a support.

The new mastery Courage of the Colossus makes tank supports that can use this viable again. Maokai is a great user of it as you want to get right into their team.


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Runes

Greater Mark of Armor: Get flat armor marks as most of the damage you will receieve in the bot lane will be AD damage.
greater mark of hybrid penetration: 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. However they are very expensive so generic armor seals work if you cannot afford these.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: 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.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: For more aggressive playstyles I prefer AP quints on Maokai as they help with early game sapling damage for poke or clearing a jungle camp. However if you want to proc your passive in teamfights more easily take Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed


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Items

This item is what makes Maokai support so strong in lane. 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.
A common mistake for supports is to get sightstone first item. Never get sightstone before you upgrade relic shield to targon. Upgrade your relic shield to targons for lower cd and up to 3 procs. That way you can get more gold and heal both you and your adc more. Buy normal sight wards until you get your sightstone. You should be able to get sightstone next back due to more than double the gold gen from targons (with 3 max charge, gets rid of delay when maxed at 2 charge).

vs
You may think more vision is important, but it is not necessary. You should be able to get both targons and sightstone before 10 minutes every game anyway. You dont need 3 wards on the map at all times that early in the game. Plus you can ward deeper and safer with your saplings.
With the nerfs to regular sightstone, this item becomes a decent upgrade. I do not think the ruby sightstone is very good at the moment so get this item over the support item.
These are the best boots for pretty much every game. As a support, you will want to be roaming for ganks as well as warding/getting vision with saplings while also not leaving the adc alone too long. Swiftness boots are best for this and you should try to get this item early as Maokai is much better with high movespeed. You dont need Mercury's Treads and Ninja Tabi is better for defensive boots. You can also get ninja tabi if your team is lacking in tankiness or their ad carry is somewhat fed. The passive reduces a lot of damage and you can always get Elixir of Iron later in the game. If you are very far ahead, you can get Mercury's Treads but I do not recommend them.

This item is pretty strong. Most tanky supports will build it.
Get this item next for the aura and the shield. It is probably the strongest teamfight item you can build.
They reduced the cost on frozen heart by 100. The rest of your build does not give any cdr so far so this gives everything you need.
This item is a little broken right now and though it doesn't synergize too well with maokai's kit it is strong enough to warrant building it until nerfs.

Sell your support item for le guardian angel. With a GA you can be a manly man. You can be more bold with your engages. If the enemy team is full ad or have a strong adc/melee adc (like yi or fiora), you can get Thornmail instead. You can also just keep your support item as a 350 hp shield on your carries may make a huge difference.



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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In depth: Targon's Brace vs Sightstone

So I got some differing opinions on whether to get Sightstone first or upgrade Relic Shield to Targon's Brace. This is why I build targon before sightstone in almost all cases.

Sorry for the wall of text.
TL;DR: Sightstone is only more gold efficient than targon if you want to have 3 wards down at all times. However, it is better to get targon if you are only going to need one ward and goes even if you need two wards. Except you dont need that many wards cause saplings op and its solo queue.

In solo queue, wards are not as important, but lets say you disagree with this. You would want to have 3 wards on the map as that is the max you can place. On your first back, the enemy will probably have no sweepers in most cases unless their support or jungler started with one, as there is a 2 minute delay before you can use it when you swap trinkets. So after your first back, you shouldn't be worried about having your ward swept. This way, you will only need to have 3 wards in your inventory. You will usually have enough gold for targons when you back, so never just buy a ruby crystal unless you are short of 500. However, for the sake of this explanation, assume you have 900 gold. You can buy sightstone and a couple pots or targons, wards, and a couple pots. Assume the enemy has the same gold and got a sweeper and a sightstone, so you want to match it. If you want to have 3 wards on the map, you buy 3 sight wards.

3 wards is 225 gold. Sight wards last 3 minutes if not swept (which as I explained earlier, will probably not happen). The difference in stats between targon and sightstone are negligible. 100 hp (175-75) + 50% hp regen vs 150 hp isnt that big of a difference. So that means you just need to get 225 gold worth of utility from your targon in 3 minutes.

Again, for this explanation, assume siege minions are 40 gold and melee minions are 20 gold. Minions spawn every 30 seconds and siege waves spawn every 3rd wave (90 seconds). Relic Shield gains a charge every 60 seconds. The most efficient way to use this is to get every cannon minion and get 1 melee minion every 2 cannon minions(3 charges in 180s, use 2 on cannon minions, 1 on melee). Targon's Brace gains a charge every 30 seconds. The most efficient way to use this is to get every cannon minion and get 2 melee minions for every cannon minion (6 charges in 180s, use 2 on cannon 4 on melee). The reason I used 180s is because that is 3 minutes.

At this point you are probably thinking "see, sightstone is better, 3 melee minions is only 60 gold" However, you did not account for the health gained from the support item. Relic Shield restores 40 hp per charge to you and your adc, while Targon's Brace restores 50 hp per charge. In 3 minutes, you restore 240 (3x80) hp to the two of you with Relic Shield, and you restore 600 (6x100) hp to the two of you with Targon's Brace. One health potion restores 150 hp and costs 35 gold. The difference between the two is 360 hp which is equivalent to 2.4 health pots or 84 gold.

Well that's it, you still only get 144 gold worth out of your targon. So why do I still build it over sightstone you ask?

  1. The health back is instant (health potions take a whole 12 seconds to heal you up)
  2. You wont always have your relic shield up for the cannon minion or you may miss it
  3. The hp restore is wasted if either of you is full health (this will affect when you want to use your charges and will most likely result in not getting all of the cannons)
  4. You don't actually need 3 wards on the map

*GASP* you don't need 3 wards at all times??!?!!1one. In solo queue, wards aren't that important. By the time you need wards, such as setting up for dragon, you should have both sightstone and targon. Before that make do with one or two green wards and your saplings (more on this later).

If you have played any support that builds relic shield. You will find that it feels much smoother to have targon than just relic shield.


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Laning

This is a big reason why support Maokai is much better than top or jungle Maokai. You pretty much have infinite sustain with your passive, relic shield, and biscuits when you are low.

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. It can also be used to take a jungle camp with your adc for level 2.

Your sapling is another reason why you should always upgrade to targons before getting sightstone. They can act as 35 second 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 have vision of them.

Here are some good sapling placements on blue and purple sideIn lane, use your saplings to poke. This is how you should place them.
Take Twisted Advance at level 2 and go all in unless they hit level 2 before you. After level 3 you will have Arcane Smash, which makes your trading much stronger. At level 6, your trading will be even stronger with your ultimate. Activate your ult and go in with Twisted Advance. Throw down your sapling and Arcane Smash them. Reactivate your ult at the end of the fight and you should almost always win the trade. Your ult is on a very low cooldown so sustain back up with your support item and Sap Magic and go in again.


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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.


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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 and Arcane Smash to knock them backwards. Use Righteous Glory to get in range if needed. You can also just W onto a random target and save Righteous Glory for later after your team has cleaned up the front line. While you are the engager, after you have engaged, try to peel for your carries. 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 Face of the Mountain to save anyone who is low, as the shield is pretty big.

Try to stay in the middle of the fight 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.

During the mid game, you can use your ultimate for some damage as you will most likely run out of mana if you leave it on too long, making you useless. Later in the game, you will want to leave it on for as long as possible as the damage reduction is huge.


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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.