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Maokai Build Guide by MotrColt


[6.10] Maokai, Tank in the Jungle

By MotrColt | Updated on May 30, 2016

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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Maokai
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Runic Echoes


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Smite


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Top Lane
Ranked #23 in
Top Lane
Win 54%
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Why play Maokai?

Maokai is one of the biggest and baddest tanks on the block. Not only is he a massive tree that is hard to kill, but he is a massive tree that makes his entire team hard to kill. Maokai is often chosen for having possibly the strongest ability in the game, granting 20% damage reduction to all of his teammates who stand within his Vengeful Maelstrom. Add this ridiculous ultimate to one of the last remaining point and click crowd controls that is also a gap closer and you have an instant beast of a champion that is a force at all points of the game. Maokai is also a CC machine that has some form of crowd control on all of his abilities except for his ultimate.
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Pros & Cons (Incomplete)

  • Good Team Fighter
  • Humongous Tank
  • Huge Amounts Of CC
  • Great Ganker If You Can Get In Range
  • Makes Whole Team Tanky With Ultimate
  • Best Brush Checking Ability In Game
  • Decent AoE Damage

  • Low Range On Initiation
  • Rough First Clear
  • Small Damage Threat
  • Mana Hungry
  • Very Little Dueling Potential In The Jungle
  • Slow Clear Speeds On Large Monsters
  • No Stuns On CC
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(Passive) - Good amount of healing that we take huge advantage of in team fights. Provides some healing in the jungle, though it takes a while to charge up since we are only getting charges from our own spells. Amplify this healing with Spirit Visage and add that to our huge damage reduction from our ultimate results in us not going away for a long time in team fights.

Arcane Smash (Q) - Maokai's main damage dealing spell in team fights. Provides a nice chunk of damage though it is very short range. Slows champions hit by it and also knock's up champions close to Maokai. Knock up, slow, and our largest chunk of AoE damage all in one spell? What more could you possibly need?

(W) - One of the last remaining point and click crowd control abilities left in League. Roots the enemy and also transports Maokai to that enemy. Deals a sizable amount of percent max health damage. Point and click root, gap closer, and percent max health damage? Why does this still exist?

(E) - Provides us with a small amount of poke in the form of AoE damage that also slows those hit by it. Great for checking bushes for enemy champions. The slow is useful for slowing down fleeing enemies that our out of range of our Twisted Advance. Also able to spam 4 before our first camp for a pretty fast first camp clear.

(R) - In my opinion the strongest ability in the game. Provides a large AoE zone that reduces all non-turret damage to allied champions inside the zone for up to 10 seconds. The amount of damage that your team avoids taking in team fights from this ability alone is enough to completely throw a game in your favor. And if this weren't enough, once the ability ends, Maokai deals damage to all enemies within the zone based off of how much damage was absorbed.
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Summoner Spells

The most versatile of all Summoner Spells. Gives us a long range initiation tool if need be with a Flash into W combo. Without a means to escape other than using Twisted Advance (W) over a wall (which we need vision to make use of) to jump to a jungle camp, Maokai has no means to escape when counter-jungled against. Flash provides us with some means of safety in this regard early game.

What allows a jungler to do what he does. Pretty self explanatory. Needed in order to buy jungle items, clear the jungle faster, pick up valuable buffs by smiting from jungle camps, secure baron, dragon, and rift herald kills.

Since Smite is so self explanatory I will instead go over the different Smite buffs from jungler items as well as the buffs picked up from smiting different camps. Located below in Jungle Item section.
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Masteries (Incomplete)

Coming Soon
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Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed - Probably the most widely used of all runes on junglers. The more movement speed we have the quicker we can get around the map. In a role where we travel the map constantly going from camp to camp, lane to lane, fountain to dragon; the quicker we can get around the map, the more impact we can have on the game.


Greater Mark of Attack Speed - Used not only for faster clear speeds but mainly for our passive healing. In team fights where there are 10 different champions constantly casting spells, the only limiting factor on proccing our passive is how fast we can attack. These runes provide us with extra sustain in team fights. The extra clear speed from these is also not something to scoff at used in conjunction with savagery.


Greater Seal of Armor - Used on almost all junglers to help survive the jungle. Necessity on Maokai as his first couple clears are simply terrible without these. Flat armor is also nice for early survivability on ganks.


Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist - Shouldn't need the extra CDR here as we will likely get capped through our build. AP isn't a big enough priority to build here as well. Scaling magic resistance is simply the best choice to get tankier in the game. Flat magic resistance shouldn't be needed as we will likely only encounter AP attacks a couple times before we reach the break point.
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Choosing Your Jungling Item

Important enough to where I thought it warranted its own section. Certainly different options in regards to which jungling item you want to choose and I'm sure there is an instance in which all 3 could be usefull.

Challenging/Red Smite - DoT and Damage Reduction.
Allows Smite to be cast on enemy champions, revealing them for 4 seconds, reducing their damage on you by 20%, and providing a true damage DoT for 3 seconds.

Now I see many people recommending taking this item based off of needing to do extra damage to enemy champions, however the DoT is pretty minuscule doing only 162 damage at level 18, less than 40% of ignite. Must continually attack the target to refresh the DoT if we want any meaninful damage out of it. Does less damage than Blue Smite if we are unable to refresh the DoT.

The real reason we choose Red Smite is for the 20% damage reduction done to you by that champion. Skirmisher's helps you to win duels by surviving longer. 4 second reveal on enemy champion can be useful in fights around brush.

Maokai doesn't really have the damage to duel people straight up. Even if you are able to 1v1 a champion, they will often realize that they cannot beat you by the time they reach 1/2 health at which point they will likely disengage before you are able to get them down the rest of they way. Nonetheless if you really feel you need to duel on Maokai this is the item you want to choose.

The main reason I would take this item is due to my preference to go Runic Echoes and possibly an early Iceborn Gauntlet, we will not have much health at the early stages of the game with these 2 items and Strength of Ages still stacking up. Add Red Smite's 20% damage reduction from a single champion to Maokai's ultimate and you will be able to tank good amounts of damage early game even though you are lacking health, and late game when you have defensive stats from items on top of this you will be a nightmare for the enemy to take down.

Chilling/Blue Smite - Slow and Instant Damage.
Allows Smite to be cast on enemy champions, stealing 20% movespeed and dealing instant true damage. The instant true damage dealt is noticeable and I can't tell you the number of times I have secured a kill with this damage that I may not have been able to get otherwise.

The real reason we build this is for the 20% movement speed steal. Helps tremendously early with ganks and is thus probably the best item to get you and your teammates ahead early. Maokai already has powerful ganks with his point and click stun with his Twisted Advance as well as the minor knock up granted from his Q. Add the slow from chilling smite and you should have plenty of CC for ganks.

Chilling smite smite is also useful when ganking bottom lane as your point and click stun will obviously only hit one target. With chilling smite you can get some amount of CC onto both the AD carry as well as the support.

Chilling Smite is also a pretty good smite for helping against counter-jungling as the stolen movement speed can help you to get away from the opposing jungler. Vision wards from Green Smite are still by far the safer option against counter-jungling, and thus the only reason we really take this is for the extra CC during ganks.

Green Smite - Stealth Wards.
Green smite isn't really a smite in the same sense as the following two, in that if you pick up the Tracker's Knife, it does not add a buff to your smite. Instead we decide to forego these buffs in favor of picking up two Stealth Wards every time we return to base. This is very valuable as we normally want to carry a Sweeping Lens as our trinket in the jungle and thus have no other means of obtaining Stealth Wards outside of picking up a Sightstone.

Vision is key in every facet of the game. Whether you need to protect your jungle, gain knowledge of an incoming gank, be secure that you won't die as you push a lane, know when to escape when counter-jungling in hostile territory, gaining control over baron and dragon, etc. Very few things in the game can be accomplished without the aid of wards.

Stealth wards are in some cases more important even than Vision wards late game, even with their short life spans. Sure you can drop a Farsight Alteration or Vision Ward on baron, but you can be sure it will be cleared quickly by the enemy team. Using a Stealth Ward on a high priority target will ensure you will have vision of that target throughout its duration or else the opposing team will be forced to burn a Sweeping Lens or Pink Ward to deny that vision.

Choosing Green Smite also makes it so that you are less likely to burn Smite on a champion and thus have it down when trying to take an objective.
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Choosing Your Jungling Item Enchantment (Incomplete)

Coming Soon
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Itemization [Cinderhulk] (Incomplete)

- Better option for Maokai than Machete. The extra mana regeneration is needed for the first clear.

- Must pick up in order to buy Hunter's Potion which we will need if we decide to go for the Cinderhulk Enchantment over Runic Echoes. Provides less early health than 3 Health potions which really hurts on Maokai, but at least we can get some of the gold back later when we sell our Hunter's Potion. Take Tough Skin on masteries to make up for the weaker start refillable gives you.

Vs. - I start with a warding totem as I likely won't be needing to clear out wards early game on Maokai. Switch to Sweeping lens once your team is able to get adequate ward coverage and you need to start denying vision.

- Pick up on first back no matter what as it provides us with full experience from jungle camps as well as the needed regen for the jungle not to hurt so much.

- Pick up as first item immediately after Hunter's Machete. We need this in order to spam our spells without going oom due to having less damage from taking Cinderhulk over Runic Echoes. Also should make it so we are always at full health when clearing our jungle as well as when we enter lanes to gank which is very nice.

- Pick up your smite buff before Bami's Cinder if you want to put more stalk into your ganking potential.

- Pick up before your smite buff (Stalker's Blade) if you want to have the added damage to clear camps faster as well as get a little bit tankier faster.

- Want to complete your jungle item before starting any other pieces if your going Cinderhulk. Gives us a massive chunk of health that only gets bigger as we pickup other health items. Can rush this ahead of a Glacial Shroud due to having Hunter's Potion to prevent our mana pool from being depleted.
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Itemization [Runic Echoes] (Incomplete)

- Better option for Maokai than Machete. The extra mana regeneration is needed for the first clear.

- Maokai goes pretty low on his first clear and these will help him to make his way through. Absolutely vital if you want to have any chance to gank before your first back. Provides much more early health than Refillable potion which we will need as the first clear is rough. After obtain your jungle item shouldn't need Health Potions to survive the jungle.

Vs. - I start with a warding totem as I likely won't be needing to clear out wards early game on Maokai. Switch to Sweeping lens once your team is able to get adequate ward coverage and you need to start denying vision.

- Pick up early for the extra experience as well as the chilling smite to add more tools to your early ganks.

- Grab these early so that you can start moving around the map faster and make plays for your team.

- Provides us with enough damage to clear camps relatively quickly and without having to spam spells to do so. Also makes it so the enemy cannot completely ignore your damage in fights.

- Must pick up first regardless of which core item we plan on completing first. Great item to pick up early. Gives us more damage throughout our jungle clears as well as decent AoE DoT in team fights whenever we are in the center of the enemy team, which we should be. Also provides nice amount of health that we need early to start getting tanky.

CORE ITEMS - Purchase in order based off of need
- Core Item I pick up first almost all of the time when using Runic Echoes build. Without this item we are simply to squishy on ganks without this item at this point in the game. Gives us a large chunk of both health and armor to where we can start becoming a formidable sized tank. The AoE burns is also very noticeable and is great with us often being at the center of team fights.

* Pick up early out of core items if you want to become tanky the fastest.

- Want to pick up your T2 boots early for the added movement speed to get around the map faster as you should be ganking often at this point. Added bonus from Ninja Tabi or Merc Treads will also give us some nice early resistance.

Vs Vs - Should be really self explanatory. Pick up Ninja Tabi if the enemy has multiple auto attack based champions to worry about. Mercury's Treads come in handy if the enemy has either a lot of CC or multiple AP damage dealers. Pick up Boots of Swiftness if you really want to gank nonstop.

* Pick up early for increased speed across the map or if passive is needed against enemy team comp.

- Item gives use so much that is useful to Maokai. 20% CDR to spam our spells more often. Spellblade along with Runic Echoes makes us a decent damage dealer. Gives us an AoE slow that gives us our 4th piece of CC (5th if we take Stalker's). Large chunk of armor to begin getting tanky. Also gives a nice chunk of mana to where we can begin spamming our spells in the jungle a bit more without fear of going oom.

* Pick up early out of the core items if you are looking to play the most aggressive. Watch out as though we now have some resistance in the form of armor our health pool will still be very low if we pick this item up first.

- Best Magic Resistance option on Maokai. Gives us a large chunk of both health and MR to make us very resistant to AP champion. The passive also increases healing from Maokai's Passive giving us noticeably more sustain.

* Pick up early out of the core items if the enemy has large amounts of AP damage

Finishing Items












Feel free to comment about an item if you think it does well on Amumu or if you want to know my opinions on it and I'll try to add it to the guide.