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Graves Build Guide by rudyards

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League of Legends Build Guide Author rudyards

Dead Man Walkin'

rudyards Last updated on August 6, 2013
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Jungle Role
Ranked #23 in
Jungle Role
Win 47%
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Hello! I'm Rudyards. I'm beginning to write guides which, I hope, walk the line between helpful and humorous, even if the humor is of the self-deprecating variety. I'm a player stuck in Silver IV at the moment (Not because of bad teammates, because I make stupid calls), who loves playing as Graves. Graves is an amazing Attack Damage Carry who brings a lot to the table.

  1. Amazing Burst in an AOE, possibly the greatest of any ADC.
  2. Fantastic Utility with Smoke Screen which both slows and robs the enemy of their map awareness
  3. A Reliable Escape and Steroid. Most carries don't get both a reliable escape and an amazing steroid (With a few exceptions). But Graves is a rule breaker.
  4. Clean Auto Attack Animation and Decent Base Damage. Graves is one of the easiest characters to get Last Hits as, at least once you get used to him.
  5. Strong at Most Stages of the Game. Graves will outlane most carries, other than the ones who are known for lane bullying, and out scale most carries, other than the ones who are known for scaling really well. When he can't beat them in one area, he'll beat them in the other.

By no means is Graves without weakness. Each of those pros is flawed in some way (other than the second one. Smoke Screen is absolutely ridiculous). But the bottom line is Graves many, many strengths outnumber his weaknesses.

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Greater Mark of Critical Chance

Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
I run fairly standard Runes on Graves. You 100% need Armor Seals, or else Auto Attacks and minion agro will just shred through you in lane. I usually like Scaling MR Glyphs, due to the fact it becomes better right when most AP champions get scary (level 6), although Flat MR Glyphs works as well, especially against poke supports such as Lulu, Lux and Sona.

I run flat AD Marks, although I'm researching Armor Pen Marks at the moment. One slight deviation is I use 1 Crit Chance Mark, because that 1% chance for double damage is worth a little bit more than the less than +1 bonus AD. However, that change is a personal preference. Finally, I just run Lifesteal Quints. They're much better if you start out with a Doran's Blade, which I have recently started doing. If you don't wish to invest in the Quints however, feel free to run AD Quints. They do fine in a pinch. I encourage readers to experiment with possible builds, as there is no 1 way to build any character, and Graves is no exception.

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Really simple and standard 21/9/0 page for an ADC.

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Skill Sequence

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So this is the most important part of playing Graves, and it's something that a few people screw up. The item build I recommended is a rough estimation of how your average game will cause you to build, in the rough order you'll be able to afford them. But before I delve in deep, I'll give a TL;DR.

  1. Graves scales really well with raw AD.
  2. Itemizing against your opponent is critical.
  3. It's important to have at least one of your items be a survivability one.
  4. Change your build depending on your skills.

And of course, as with the list of Graves Strengths, there is something flawed about each one of those. But that's a fantastic baseline for understanding how to build Graves. With that being said, lets dive right into specifics.

Table Of Contents
Default Build Explanation
AD Scaling
Changing Builds
Always Buying

Default Build

AD Scaling

Graves has some of the best scaling of any ADC. If you land a point blank, level 5 Buckshot, it will deal 340 + 136% of your bonus AD. If you hit someone with the initial damage of level 3 Collateral Damage, it deals 450 + 140% bonus AD. Most importantly, neither of those spells have cast times, allowing you to AA during your Burst. So although Caitlyn has technically higher scaling, the channel time on those abilities makes them less damage efficient (if you were to break down the damage and scaling over the cast time, it ends up somewhat disappointing).

The key part of the scaling is it's bonus AD. So that means that if you grab a BF Sword, with your Q+AA combo, it adds approximately 100+ damage to your Burst. If you also ult, it's close to 150 bonus damage. This actually doesn't sound like a lot, admittedly. But it's a significant power spike that you can sometimes use to catch people off guard.


Adapting is the key to winning. If their tank is completely shut down, don't bother building anti-tank items (such as Last Whisper). If their AP carry is fed, it's time to build a Quicksilver Sash, upgrading it to a Mercurial Scimitar when you can afford to. If they have lots of poke, it might be worth getting additional sustain, or tank items depending on what their poke lineup is like. No two games are the same, so it's important to not think of your build as a static one.

My "standard" build is in a game where no player is shut down or fed, and you need to provide damage for your team in a way that hurts the enemy tanks and allows you to survive. But sometimes, you won't need to be the primary damage dealer, if your team is running a carry jungle for instance. In this case, although you still need to be a major damage dealer, you can afford to pick up items in other orders, or even alter the build entirely. Just don't build support Graves please.


I think the most important thing to remember is simple: you can't shoot people while you're dead. If you want to go full glass cannon, you'll end up regretting it when you get jumped by someone who is an unstoppable force when diving you (Honestly, screw Malphite). No matter how much damage you could have handed out, you ended up dealing nothing since you exploded upon impact. But on the other hand, there is nothing worse than being a carry but being unable to deal damage to your opponent. This section is about the most effective defensive items in any given situation.

Guardian Angel is the classic survivability item. And it's a great choice, kinda. If you get focused down, you get a second chance to be impactful in the fight. However, it's not always great. It's awful if you have a tendency to get caught out on your lonesome, as it's easy to kill you twice and then you don't have access to it's passive when you need it. If your team doesn't have a tank line, then this item won't help much either, as you'll come back surrounded by enemies and without friends. Pick this item if their divers are fed, you can stick with your team, and your team has some great tanks/peelers.

Mercurial Scimitar is a new addition, or rather an old survivability item with some AD. It's ability to cleanse off any CC, as well as the great MR and AD it gives makes it a powerful choice if mostly magic damage is killing you or if you get incapacitated for most of the fight via disables like Terrify. It's not as slot efficient as some other choices, but it's active can be obtained in the midgame by building Quicksilver Sash if you need to.

Warmog's Armor is a possible survivability item, despite how absurd it seems on an ADC. The 1000 HP it provides you is a large buffer, especially if the enemy is lacking in burst. It's best built when you are mostly dying to AOE damage or when you aren't being focused (such as if you have a fed AP Carry or a fed diver on your team). The HP is burned through very quickly when one of the enemy damage dealers focus on you, so it's not always a perfect choice. Also, it's incredibly expensive and only really a viable choice as a sixth item.

I'm playing around with a few more options, but these three are really the choices at this moment.


This is actually different from Adapting, although it doesn't seem like it. Adapting is about altering your build to be the most effective against your opponents. But changing your build is more than that. Changing your build means that you realize that your playstyle differs from mine, and you'd rather pick up different items in different orders. And right now, I'm here to tell you that you should!

A common mistake is reading a guide on any website and assuming that's how you play the champion. Use a guide to learn a champion, to get a baseline on how to build them. But after a few games, try adapting your build. Maybe you're a weaker laner than I, so get some Doran's Blades ASAP. Or, alternatively, you are a way better team fighter than I am, so you don't really need a Guardian Angel because you don't end up in places you can be killed. And if by some chance my build works for you, that's also fine. Play Graves the way you want to play him, don't blindly follow guides.

Always Buying

This is a tip I wish someone had given me when I first started playing. If you ever leave lane, you left it for one of three reasons:
  • You are ahead and recalled to buy and solidify your gold lead.
  • You ran out of a resource, whether health or mana or consumables, that means you can't continue laning and you recalled in order to refill that resource.
  • You were killed.

The most important thing to remember is that you have gold for a reason, but that gold is useless until you use it. It doesn't matter how much you want that shiny B. F. Sword, if you keep getting forced out of lane, you're not going to get it. Now if we remember all the past points, what would the logical conclusion be?

The trick to doing well in lane, even when behind, is to buy what you can afford. And I don't mean just stacking Dorans until you are better. Lets say in the past situation you're in a tough lane, you keep being harassed down and losing trades. But you manage to scrape up 1.3k gold. Do you go back into lane and try to farm up another 250 for a BF Sword? Again, it depends on the exact situation. But sometimes it just makes more sense to pick up a Pickaxe and Vampiric Scepter instead, acquiring some much needed sustain and a bit of damage.

Or, at the very least, buy some potions. A really common mistake that new players make is they only buy potions at the start. Potions remain useful for a while, especially if your taking just 200 points of damage every so often. If you recall early after picking up an easy kill, don't walk back into lane with what you had when you got the kill. Get something that solidifies your lead, even if it's a pretty small advantage.

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In lane, you have two options: play aggressive or play passive. Graves can't really play defensive easily (certainly not in the way that Ashe can), not without spending loads of mana on Quickdraw to retreat and Smoke Screen to deter aggression, so that's out. Which of the two playstyles you chose should depend on your lane opponent and your support, as well as your own comfort zone.

Playing Aggressive

If you have a support like Taric or Leona, you can play aggressively. What does that mean? It means that you'll be looking for a fight, not just farming (although it is essential that you don't fall far behind in CS). You should harass in lane whenever you get the opportunity, and ask your support to land a stun when the enemy overextends. Your harrass comes in two forms: poke and combo. Your poke is just Buckshotting when the enemy is standing near creeps that you can last hit. Don't spam or else you'll run out of mana super fast. Your combo is a bit more complicate:
  1. Quickdraw in, immediately Buckshot
  2. After Buckshotting, Auto Attack (at least) once.
  3. If they are disengaging, Auto as they run, but don't chase unless your support is following you and you will get the kill without dying.
  4. If they stand and fight you, fight them until it seems like you are going to lose the trade. Then, immediately back out. Graves excels at skirmishing with his passive and (fairly) low CD, high damage skills.
A few uses of the combo should force your opponent out of lane, especially if your support joins in. You should play aggressive when they have a carry that will out scale you and a support that can't kill you or allow you to be killed easily, such as Soraka or Sona (when she's level 4-5 or doesn't have her ult)).

Playing Passively

Playing passively is simple: Don't harass as much, and never waste Quickdraw aggressively. CS as best you can, and don't push the wave with Buckshot unless you have to. On the other hand, if your jungler or support provides you with the opportunity to fight, don't be afraid to. Supports such as Blitzcrank or Thresh work amazing in this sense, where they can constantly threaten your opponent without you. The other type of support that works in a passive lane is a sustain support, such as Soraka or Nami. You should play passive when they have someone who can beat you in lane you, such as Caitlyn or Draven, or a support that can lock you down and kill you, such as Leona or Taric.

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((This section is incomplete due to missing knowledge on the matchups.))

Ashe is a really easy matchup, especially if you have a more aggressive support. You should be able to shove her out of lane with your harass combo, and even outscale her if you win lane. The one important thing to be careful of is Enchanted Crystal Arrow which can make fighting Ashe a living hell. It's rare for a Carry to be able to stun, and there's good reason: if two Carries are fighting, the one that isn't Auto Attacking the other is gonna lose.

Caitlyn is a tough matchup, maybe your hardest. She outranges you, allowing her to poke you down whenever you want to fight her. But as long as you find farm and don't feed, you'll be more helpful than her in teamfights. Probably. In general, the only way you are going to win the lane hard is if either 1) she's not an amazing Cait or 2) Your support outplays her support. Don't put too much pressure on your support though.

Corki isn't a super easy matchup, but certainly not a hard one. Corki has amazing burst in a short range and alright poke in a long range post six. His Valkyrie makes him hard to kill unless you can drop him fast. Don't use your harass combo on him, as getting close to Corki without a way to back off is a very easy way to take a bunch of damage. You should try to outlane him, but again it mostly depends on your support. You'll probably scale fairly evenly, but it largely depends on your team comp.

Ezreal regularly isn't an issue. You can out damage him at basically all stages of the game, except maybe level 1. If you chose to AA harass him, you'll probably find him especially squishy when you decide to all in.

Blue Build Ezreal, however, is a little harder to deal with. His Q spam is more frequent and much stronger. Once he has his Spirit of the Elder Lizard, you can't let him harass you. Also, do your best to dodge his ulti, even burning Quickdraw if you have to. That really hurts and opens you up for all ins.

Draven is tricky. His early game damage is surprisingly good, especially if you stand still and man fight him. And once he picks up a B.F. Sword, you'll find that he bursts more with his AA's than you do with you're full combo. Your goal should be harassing him in lane and avoiding straight up fights. If he starts to go aggressive on you, feel free to disengage with Quickdraw. If he doesn't bully you out of lane too hard, and you are able to keep up in terms of farm, you probably will be able to outscale him

Graves is a total badass. Don't want to mess with him. (I've never done that mirror match due to the nature of ranked. You're on your own for discovering how this works.)

Kog'Maw is an easy matchup. He doesn't have much burst or poke prior to level 6ish. He's squishy and susceptible to bullying. Play as aggressively as the supports of the lane will allow. However, you can't afford to allow the game to drag on too late, as a full build or close to full build Kog'Maw is absolutely terrifying.

Miss Fortune is a fairly even matchup. She's strong in lane, especially at drawn out trades due to Impure Shots. Her Bullet Time has a ridiculous range, so don't be assume you'll get away safe post level 6. Try not to stand in a straight line from her and minions in order to avoid Double Up harass. MF's early and mid game are her best parts, so try to stay even with her when she's strongest and then destroy her when she begins to fall off.

Quinn is a rare matcup. If you can punish her if she goes aggressive, then you win the lane, as Quinn is primarily a lane bully/duelist, and less of a hard carry. Keep in mind the power of her blind, as it's almost impossible to win trades if she can AA you when you can't AA her. Also beware her massive movespeed steroid in the form of Tag Team which, when combined with Skystrike, gives her an amazing execute.

Sivir is a suprisingly hard matchup, although she isn't played much. Her Spell Shield will negate a lot of your burst, so it's important for you to either wait for it to fade or have your support trigger it first. If she's good however, she'll wait for you to use an ability before she uses it to block. In that case, you just have to hope you can win a manfight with her. And good news! You can! Although her poke is stronger (since she can ignore yours and that Boomerang Blade hurts), your Quickdraw and passive make you a better trader. Sivir isn't amazing late game, so if you can't seem to beat her in lane, switch to playing passive.

Tristana is tricky. Her mid game is awful, but her early few levels are somewhat dangerous and her late game is absolutely terrifying. Try to prevent her from farming as best you can, but if that's not an option all in her at level 5 and 6. Punish her when she blows her escape by hurting her if she comes back with it on cooldown. However, never try to tower dive her, as she's a slippery little yordle.



Vayne is someone you 100% must beat in lane because of how scary she becomes late game. Trading with Vayne is tricky, because once she has Silver Bolts 3 hits basically wins her the trade and the AA reset on her Q means she'll get two for the price of one. It's easiest to deal with Vayne when you have an aggressive support or one with lots of CC. If you don't or Vayne's support has counter CC, it's important to ask your jungler to gank bot a few times. Also, while dealing with a Vayne: don't stand next to walls! Similar to Ashe, Vayne has a conditional stun, Condemn that will end your fun if you get hit with it.

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Team Fighting

Graves has fantastic Team Fighting due to his huge amounts of AOE damage and the CC monster that is Smokescreen. Positioning is really important for Graves, due to his short range for a carry. Luckily, he has a reposition in the form of quickdraw. Finally, his passive True Grit gives him a few more defensive stats, allowing him to soak some of the AOE that tends to be thrown around in team fights. So let's break down how to team fight as Graves.

Once either your team or theirs initiates the teamfight, you should immediately use Collateral Damage and Smoke Screen, aiming for their backline if possible. The damage you dealt and the disruption you provided should help. Next step depends:

I've Been Jumped!

First step: Don't panic. Quickdraw backwards, and, if you didn't get the opportunity to use it initially (because you were dived) plop a Smoke Screen in their face. Hopefully, you have at least someone to peel for you (if they have a diver who is making your life a living hell, request your team mates kindly to help you out the next time you fight). If you do, just kite back and shoot the would-be-assassin in the face, possibly Buckshoting if you're in range. Once they're dead, jump to step Strife. If you don't, you need to abandon the fight. Kite back as best you can and try to hurt them. Don't be afraid to Flash. Your survival is the number one priority. As bad as it feels to leave your team, your death doesn't help them anymore than your abandoning them. If you can kill the assasin on your own, congrats! If you aren't at critically low HP and the battle is still raging on, and you can make a difference, jump to step Strife. Otherwise, recall.

They're Running!

Try to chase with your team. Get auto attacks in whenever you can, and Buckshot when appropriate. If it comes up, try to slow them with Smoke Screen. Don't use Quickdraw to chase after teamfights. If they turn around and fight, you're now out of your reposition, and might die. That's simply not worth the chance of killing. Possibly take an objective depending on how significant of an advantage you guys gained from the teamfight. But in general, it's not your job to force a play or get kills out of chases. If you help out, that's excellent. But never put yourself in danger.


Ah yes, the teamfight where they can't/don't focus the carry. This is what you were built for. Shoot people, whether their tanks or their carries. Although, of course, it's most important to kill the squishy damage dealers, frequently you have to put yourself in their position to do so. So just follow this simple rule: Kill the nearest opponent. Use your abilities when necessary, only blow Quickdraw to reposition, not for the attack speed. Meanwhile, your allies will be dictating the pace of the fight, and hopefully, you guys should win this fight. If things begin to go south, follow the steps recommended in I've Been Jumped!

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Hope you enjoyed my guide! I'll try to keep it up to date and add in more thoughts as I climb with Graves. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions or questions, I'm more than happy to answer. If this guide helped out, please upvote it. It really helps.