Olaf Build Guide by Ace Ventura
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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.
My current stats with Olaf in Season 2 (1350-1400 ELO)
Welcome one and all! Ace Ventura here with my very first guide on Mobafire. Before I go any further, I want to apologize for my mediocre English as it is not my native language. I've put a lot effort in this guide and gave my best to make this a good guide based on my experience with Olaf, my main and my most played champion with over 300 games under my belt.
It all started a somewhat a week or two since Olaf's release, when I bought him. Firstly I noticed, a Viking with two axes and has ability to toss it to an enemy. His design, his role in this game, and his steroid abilities made him my "lovely" champion. I can tell you that he is one of few reason why am I still so addicted to this game. Even after so much games played with him, I still keep playing and rollin' dat Berserk.
I was really looking for everything related to Olaf around the net for a long time, from guides and treads to gameplay videos. So everything I recommend in this guide should be taken with a "grain of salt".
Olaf is the man, real man. He is the biggest baller out of all wack *** champs out there. Treat him as such.
I made this guide for level 30 players with full sets of viable runes. In this guide I advocate only jungling Olaf as in the current meta-game Olaf is really only viable when jungling and that is where he excels. If you can't get Olaf as the only jungler in your team you should be looking at some other champions to pick because I rarely say it, but he is kind of a useless champion to lane with nowadays.
Where would man with beard and two axes be if not in the forest, it even makes sense. Anyways, he is very fun champion to play.
I accept any suggestions, feedback, constructive criticism or any sort of comments. This guide is only for Summoners Rift map and rate the guide however you feel it should be rated.
Who is Olaf?
Olaf hardly fit into competitive game scene as he lack on things that other DPS / off-tank junglers has. He is rarely seen in the current meta-game with a reason. He doesn't have a gap-closer ability like Lee Sin or Xin Zhao, nor potent ganking tool as his Undertow isn't always reliable.
He is very difficult to play as he is slow, pretty vulnerable while jungling, susceptible to counter jungling, requires sticking to a target to do his job and his ganks are reliant on aiming and landing an Undertow properly. On lane, he is kinda useless character.
However, he has steroid skill set and he excels in things where other champs don't. Once you master using Undertow and realize how that skill can be a thing of beauty while you keep gamin' that hoes, your whole view on Olaf will change. His Berserker Rage makes him one of the fastest junglers in the game, or with offensive mastery tree, the most fastest. He has another skill named Reckless Swing, which is brutal as it deals true damage on low cooldown. Not to mention Ragnarok which makes him no.1 choice for against teams with bunch of area-of-effect abilities.
I treat Olaf as a carry, a beefy ground-breaking DPS carry who can be turned into a late game terror champion. He is designed to be an anti-carry due to his Ragnarok. He requires early game patience, knowing when to attack, knowing when to run, good farming and proper item build to become face mashing Viking who can carry his whole team to the competitive victory.
Pros & Cons
+ Among the fastest junglers in the game
+ Relatively item independent early game (only Wriggle's Lantern and boots)
+ Has Undertow
+ He's dealing True damage with Reckless Swing
+ Ragnarok ability is purely amazing
+ One of the strongest toe-to-toe champions
+ Unstoppable late game
- Can be kited easily
- Vulnerable while jungling because of the Berserker Rage
- Lacking on movement speed and can get outrun easily
- You can get a "God Mode" feeling with him and commit suicide
- He is getting screwed over against counter junglers
- His ganks are reliant on landing an Undertow properly
Important Things On Olaf
Here I will note things that are very important on Olaf including gameplay and ability usage.
Yes, an Undertow. Olaf is so reliant on this ability that it's not real. A player which know how to use Undertow on Olaf is a good Olaf. Anyone can escape him if you miss an axe. He has no crowd control abilities besides slow from this one. That makes him difficult to play and rarely seen in current meta-game. This is an amazing ability, don't take me wrong, but if you don't know how to use it properly you shouldn't play Olaf in ranked games.
Running From a Fight
As Olaf you have to know when to run and when to step away. I can't explain you exactly how should know that, it requires practice. You got lifesteal from Vicious Strikes, you got Berserker Rage which will make you very tough to kill at low health, you got damage reduction from Ragnarok, you got Reckless Swing which is eating good amount of HP, you will get lifesteal from other items, the safest thing you can do is to hit people, the moment you step away will just kill you faster. I know, sometimes you'll have to run like a unviking-sissy, but you're a Viking, at last try to take someone down with you.
Health on Olaf is important for several reasons. Your Berserker Rage is more useful more health you got (in fights). Your Vicious Strikes synergies well with your Berserker Rage and this ability has health scaling into damage. Your Reckless Swing cost health and only health, simply as that. Also Olaf has always been beefy and health is very useful on him.
Berzerker Rage -- An amazing innate ability for jungling and it makes Olaf one of the fastest junglers in the game. As your health is going down you attack faster and faster, and at low health makes you more deadly then ever. While this innate is so sweet, you can not rely on it post-jungling as it only affects your base attack speed, and it makes you vulnerable since you will be most of the time at 20 to 50% of your life early on. Anyways, it works well when toe-to-toe against other DPS carries and attackers can get easily surprised when attempting to kill you at low health, but not always. This function very similar to Tryndamere's [less health = more crit] but without our other skills being horrendously dependant on it. It will help you jungle, it will help you win teamfights, it will help you push towers after those teamfights, and it will save your life more often than you'll realize.
- The best way to use Berserker Rage is not trying to use it, it is an extra little something for when you get low on health or pushing towers.
- Using health items like Frozen Mallet will make this innate even more useful.
- It synergies well with Vicious Strikes and Reckless Swing.
Undertow -- This is your core ability with a variety of uses. The most important use of it is slowing enemies. Since we should be frequently chasing players down, movement speed will come in handy. This becomes a fantastic farming tool later in the game with a decent amount of attack damage. It can be a 0-1 second area-of-effect ability due to its own cooldown reduction while picking up the axe. It is not easy to master using it, but very important as Olaf's ganks depends on it. Since damage is physical, with armor penetration runes / items you're looking for some serious damage output. In my opinion, one of the best non-ultimate abilities put into game yet.
- Undertow is great jungling ability as you can spam throwing it at your feet, what makes creeps die faster.
- It goes as far as you click (max 1000).
- It will reveal small area and units in bushes, so use advantage of it instead of face-checking and getting face malting.
- It is an amazing chasing ability as you can constantly tossing your axe at enemy, then pick it up and keep repeating that.
- This ability will trigger spell vamp from Vicious Strikes, but since it is an area-of-effect ability, it will trigger only 33% of your spell vamp.
- Vicious Strikes will also increase the damage of this ability while active.
- It goes through units, so it is great harassing ability.
- In combination with a Lizard buff (or Frozen Mallet) nothing can get away from you.
Vicious Strikes -- This thing is nice. It gives you life-steal and spell vamp, plus add in scaling with health into damage, what makes health items nice to have, but not good idea to stack it. It is just an extra little something to have in pushing towers and pvp'ing (player vs player). All that works only while this ability is active (6 seconds). It's what lets Olaf jungle, it's what keeps you alive when you're going toe-to-toe and it will reduce the damage you receive from Reckless Swing.
- While Vicious Strikes is active, using Smite will heal you. Same goes to Wriggle's Lantern, what is making this item core. All that thanks to the spell vamp that this ability has.
- As mentioned it synergies well with Berserker Rage, as this ability keeps you alive.
- It increases your damage to towers, means, always activate this to burst them, faster.
Reckless Swing -- This ability is brutal. Thanks to this, tanks going down like a paper early on, and Olaf gets a nick, killer of tanks. It does true damage, means, it will ignore armor/resistance, damage is hard at early-mid game part and considerable late game. The only thing that improves the damage this does is leveling up the skill. Also it does a bit damage to yourself and you should never farm minions with this, even with maxed CDR. This isn't a nuke. This isn't Poppy's Devastating Blow. This is an extra button to press to make people die.
- Care when you're at low health, cause using Reckless Swing might help your foes to kill you faster.
- While Vicious Strikes is active, using Reckless Swing will end up with taking less feedback damage as spell vamp will heal you.
- When it becomes possible to kill yourself with Reckless Swing it becomes unable to use.
Ragnarok -- This ability is purely amazing. An ultimate that helps you do your job, it's exactly what you need. Use it while under attack, use it when chasing, use it while evading... As you rank it up, you passively getting more and more armor penetration and active makes you immune to all Crowd Control effect, except blindness and silence. Also it gives you flat damage reduction for the duration. It will take some practice when it is best to be used it, and some guesswork.
- You can use Ragnarok to clear snares like Ryze's Rune Prison or Swain's Nevermove, but you can't use it while stunned / silenced / feared / suppressed.
- Exhaust's damage reduction on Olaf works while Ragnarok is active, but slow doesn't.
For jungling Olafs the best skill to be maxed first is Undertow, no doubt. Its damage is very significant early-mid game and it will make your ganks a lot easier as it gives you stronger slow, harder damage and faster clearing creep camps. Don't underestimate how strong it is when maxed early (...and aimed properly).
I start off with a rank in Vicious Strikes because of the lifesteal which is very useful when your health is going down due to your Berserker Rage, spell vamp will heal you when you use Smite (of course with active Vicious Strikes), and extra damage on your melee attacks.
After, you want to focus on maxing Undertow and putting one rank in Reckless Swing at level 5 for stronger burst. Once you finish with Undertow, focus on leveling Reckless Swing. Lastly there is Vicious Strikes in which we need only one rank early-mid game, and it will be maxed last. Point in Ragnarok obviously whenever you can.
I found this one the most effective on Olaf, a3/6/21 tree setup. Though you can go anyways you wait with your masteries as Olaf and success. I do think this works a bit better then other, in overall look.
Tier 1 /
2/3 - This is pretty self explanatory, standard for any DPS. Critical strike chance is always good to have.
Plentiful Bounty 1/1 - Bonus 5 gold on Smite and reducing its duration by 5 seconds is nice and can be very helpful, or even save your life when killing big creeps.
Tier 1 /
3/3 - Magic resistance increased by 6 will help you with being more bulkier against casters early on, especially while ganking mid lane.
Hardiness 3/3 - This mastery will increase your durability while jungling as well as everywhere.
21 points in Utility for improved Ghost, increased exp gain, buff duration, movement speed,cooldown reduction and reduced recharge time of your summoner spells
Primary Rune Set
Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation
I run armor penetration as these Marks are currently over-powered, even after a nerf. They are overall best choice if you want to deal more physical damage, no doubt. They will make yours Undertow and melee attack hit harder. With Berserker Rage as your passive and these runes you will melt creep camps like a butter and deal significant larger amount of damage whole game.
Greater Seal of Resilience
These armor Seals are currently one of the strongest in the game and the best choice for most junglers. They will add up a good survivability early game what comes to be useful even later against physical carries.
Greater Glyph of Shielding
These Glyphs are great choice as they work very well on any DPS / tank / off-tank, providing good survivability and reducing damage from your biggest treats, magical burst champions. Magic resist will not increase each level as armor, so a bit of magic resist each level is really helpful.
Greater Quintessence of Desolation Greater Quintessence of Desolation
I run armor penetration quints as well because they works wonders. Olaf goes hard with these, along with Marks.
Greater Seal of Evasion
These are good choice if you don't have armor runes. However, dodge runes aren't quite as useful as they would be with Evasion and Nimbleness masteries.
Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
Olaf very vulnerable at early jungling as he is at low health all way long. These will make you more bulky and save your life at some parts. As Olaf gains armor penetration from Ragnarok, these can be great choice. Not to mention they will add small amount of damage to your Vicious Strikes.
Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
Movement speed quints works very well, but since we are going for Quickness mastery, I find other quints more useful.
This is what enables jungling. Smite will be used to steal enemy buffs, to speed up jungling, to kill enemy pets and to not be sitting at low health constantly. You should save it only for big creeps early on: Golem, Lizard and Dragon. Also it will heal you while Vicious Strikes is active. This is necessary for successful jungling.
Ghost is mandatory. No negotiating. With Lizard buff (or Frozen Mallet) people will be sticking to you once you reach them. The problem is reaching them, and Ghost solves this. As Olaf got no escape mechanism besides Undertow's slow, this is necessary.
This is the best item start on most physical junglers because of the two things: it builds into Madred's Razors and it provides armor which is best defense against creeps.
These pots are required for successful jungling. Constantly using them each time past one expires (if you're not at 95-100% health while switching lanes) will allow you to jungle fast and effectively without thinking of returning back to base.
These are the core items for jungling Olaf and basically all what you need early game.
After you build Madred's Razors proceed to Wriggle's Lantern. This is such an amazing item on jungling Olaf. It is cheap, it has lifesteal, it has armor and damage, perfect. None jungler benefits from it as much as Olaf does. Since its passive can deal true damage to creeps/minions Olaf's Vicious Strikes's spell vamp will proc and heal you for a good chunk of health each time it proc. That's not all. You get a free ward who lasts 3min and can be used every 3min to place it at crucial locations such as Dragon or Baron Nashor, top side of the river to give a sight to your solo laner or any other location. What is there not to love?
Mercury's Treads is a core item because Olaf has problems with CC (without Ragnarok) and due to how hard he can be kited. These are the most expensive boots with reason. They will not block or ignore any stun or any other Crowd Control effect, but reducing its duration will save your life more often then you will realize.
Now I'll discuss the big items, the ones that change games. What you build depends on your opponents and what you built earlier, so instead of giving a set item build I'll discuss your options.
This thing is good. This thing is so good I'm tempted to make it mandatory. Instead, I'll just put it at the top of this list and encourage you to get it. It has everything you need in one convenient item. Armor penetration is absolutely necessary on Olaf. Same item grants you cooldown reduction, attack damage and critical chance. Did I mention that amazing active, enough said.
This is very good item on Olaf, though many people prefer Warmog's Armor over this one. This is the only health item you need. It's got a bit of damage, a reliable slow, and a big chunk of health.
This is your best DPS item and you should build it always if you have a chance. High amount of attack speed, movement speed is required and extra critical chance is like cherry on top of an ice-cream.
Attack damage and lifesteal, perfect. This thing makes you hit hard, and heal hard. My only issue with this item is that it punishes you for dying. And as Olaf you may find yourself initiating teamfights with Ghost / Ragnarok, meaning dying is sometimes unavoidable.
With your high attack speed, this burns through high-HP targets with ease. If you got Cho'Gath or Vladimir on enemy team, or if they are using builds with Warmog's Armor on it, this is what you want.
This is great mid to late game item once you got HP item like Frozen Mallet. It has armor and critical chance, but real reason why people building this is 2% of your maximum health immediately counts into your attack damage, plus add in that 1% from Vicious Strikes while active, and you getting pretty good item on Olaf, though it's lowering effectiveness of your DPS build.
Force of Nature
This is a better item against magical bursts then Banshee's Veil when the enemy doesn't have large amounts of CC. It gives you more magic resist then BV, it gives you much important movement speed and not so useful HP regen since you're DPS. But, great item.
I prefer this one against physical DPS'ers over anything else. It has bunch of armor, mana, 20% CDR reduction which is amazing, and it reduces attack speed of nearby enemies by 20%. This can be a thing of beauty.
This is what you want when squishy DPS jerks like Vayne, Master Yi or nasty worm Kog'Maw etc, ripping you and your team apart. Actually, this is good only if they focusing you, but you will get focused, believe me, nooo worries.
Sword of the Divine
This is a well-rounded situational DPS item to build against dodge-focused champs like Jax or Sivir. With its active you gain 30 armor penetration, with maxed Ragnarok and Youmuu's Ghostblade and my rune build you will be rollin' over 100 armor penetration, what is currently impossible to do for any other character.
This gives you HP (and a smidgen of damage), mana, magic resist, and the ever-useful spell blocking shield. Useful against teams with hard CC effects. As you run into a teamfight, pop your ult right after your bubble breaks, and don't take NO for the answer.
Boots of Swiftness
Since you have no real gap-closer skill, having a pair of speedy boots is very helpful. If you have no compelling reason to get a pair of defensive boots, these are a great choice. They used to be my core item, but in the most cases Mercury's Treads are simply more effective overall. You can build them early game for ganking and roaming and sell it later when teamfights starts, that is what I'm doing in most games.
I tried to explain all and everything about jungling, but there are simply bunch of jungling guides about that. Instead of adding jungling routes and things, I will put videos made by TheOddOne who show and explains everything what you need to know about jungling Olaf in two videos. Check it...
TheOddOne's Olaf Tutorial Part 1
What do we see in this video?
We see that he has put first point in Undertow while starting at Golem buff. Doing like that instead of putting first point into Vicious Strikes speeds your jungling a bit as you're able to hit multiple creeps, and stronger damage as you got one point more then you would have if you started with W during leveling, and your ganks will be more easier because of the stronger slow. This is the problem for unexperienced Olaf players or if your team isn't communicative and won't listen you or don't know how to do exactly.
Without leashing / pulling Golem and with first point in Undertow you'll probably be dead. The thing is, you don't have lifesteal and you won't get healed when you use Smite without Vicious Strikes. This is better and faster way to do on jungling Olaf, but this needs to be tested on unranked games and be sure your team know what you want. I simply prefer Vicious Strikes to open my abilities with as you don't need leashing (but it's better) and you can clear camps more or less as fast as with starting with Undertow.
You also see his jungling route which is pretty standard and I usually do it by myself. You can see how does he hit all 4 Wraiths with Undertow and chopping Lizard and his buddies together.
At the time you get to small Golems and chop them, you should recall, unless you got opportunity to gank a low health enemy, just like he did. You can see his gank on Mordekaiser and how difficult aiming Undertow on a moving opponent can be.
And lastly you have seen why is Undertow such an amazing chasing / farming tool.
TheOddOne's Olaf Tutorial Part 2
In the second video basically you see what is Olaf and how does he acts. I suggest different build, but this is how Olaf should be played, described in 2 videos.
Change Log / Credits
[6 October 2011] -- Guide published! I will keep adding new sections and try to be updating frequently.
- Credit to jhoijhoi and his amazing Making A Guide for showing me how to add some touch to my guide.
- Credit to Searz and his also beautiful and informative and awesome-looking guide for the same thing.
- Credit to JackAubrey from Leaguecraft for allowing me to copy some of his stuff explanations as he described them amazing in his Olaf guide, and as won't update his guide anymore as he is not playing.