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Graves Build Guide by MRN.ecco
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Hello! I'm here with another guide with one of my long-time go-to ad-carries. Ever since his release a couple years ago I was always interested him because of his spell-heavy style as well as his overall slipperiness. He is a very unique champion that can also do some unique things with his Smoke Screen that not any other champion can do. Frankly, he's just awesome. There are many aspects that I enjoy about Graves and hopefully this guide will help improve your gameplay with him!
This team comp I have set up would be a very standard, strong team composition in the current meta. It is overall very tanky with a lot of versatility, wave clear and is strong the entire duration of the game. It always good with Graves to have a champion, in this case both the support and jungler, who can set up fights extremely well. When these fights are setup well it allows Graves to blow all his burst in the beginning of the fight onto a clumped portion of their team, or at least an important priority target, giving your team a massive health advantage to start off. No other AD champion can follow-up as well as Graves can to a proper engagement so it is soooo important to have that ability on your lineup.
Overall, you're going to want to just have a strong engage team composition that is tanky and just really meaty. Graves can fend for himself pretty damn well late-game because of Quickdraw coming off cool-down extremely quickly so you don't really have to worry about having a lot of support aspects on your team.
Flash and Barrier are always my main choices of summoner spells on aggressive ad-carries. Barrier gives the largest versatility out of the couple of defensive summoners and anything that inflates your health pool (even artifically like in this case) is just fantastic because it allows you to live through more burst and give you more time to lifesteal. Things that would potentially kill you, you can survive it and live with a lot of health after (depending on the point in the game).
There are times when Cleanse can be the better choice (against champions like Leona, Ashe, Elise) where a lot of cc is going to be hard to avoid early on in the game in the laning phase. You just need to keep in mind that when you are going cleanse that you can't be as nearly as aggressive in lane and overall have to play a lot safer.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Glyph of Mana Regeneration
Greater Quintessence of Life Steal
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
These are very standard runes to run on adc currently and have been for quite some time. Attack damage reds are by far the most efficient and strongest thing on an adc so to take anything else would be shooting yourself in the foot... both feet even. Try kiting with those. Armor yellows helps for your early game trading a great deal and without them you would have to play extremely passive in lane and lose out on cs. For blues I take both magic resist and mana regeneration. This is because the magic resist helps a little bit for trading in lane but isn't nearly as useful in consistency as the armor yellows. So we take out a little bit of the mr and put in mana regeneration for extra sustain in lane. Lastly, quints are going to be 4% lifesteal and a couple extra attack damage. Once again, it is for sustain and trading efficiently.
Masteries, the same as runes, are very focused on being as strong in lane as you can possibly be. The points in offense scale fairly well into the mid and late game but for the most part it is just the most ideal way to place our points. The points in defense, on the other hand, are entirely for laning. It reduces incoming auto-attack damage, gives us health regeneration, and also helps out our health pool. All important things for trading efficiently in lane.
The above skill sequence is one that I can never really see myself changing. Maxing Buckshot first is really non-negotiable because of the laning presence that it provides and then Smoke Screen is just pretty meh overall for the damage aspect so we max it last. The only time where it is okay to change it is to put a second point into Smoke Screen at level 8 to help with your wave clearing. That way you can one-shot caster minions with Buckshot and Smoke Screen.
Buckshot is probably the move that defines Graves the most in my opinion. It combined with True Grit is the reason that he is so absurdly strong and overall resilient in lane. He is just a bully with so much lane control and presence that for a long time it was unmatched and kind of still is today. Ideally, as with other spells on an adc, you want to cast this spell so it cancels the animation of an auto-attack to get out the greatest deal of damage. Also, if you are all-ining a squishy champion you want to to get up right into them to where their nose is pressed up against your barrel. This is because that if they get hit by multiple bullets they take even more damage. Obviously this is something to do only when you are bursting someone but it is important to maximize your damage when you can.
Smoke Screen is such an interesting, unique ability. Typically you are using this only for the utility and very rarely for the damage. You typically want to do it to deny a ranged champion vision or to slow those who are chasing you or those who are running away from you. Usually it's for denial of vision though. Say you are fighting down in bottom 2v2 and you get jumped on by the opposing team's Leona. In this instance, you would want to toss your Smoke Screen on their adc to reduce their damage output and force them to use their dash or whatever they have to get out of it to start doing damage again. If they don't, they have to take the time to walk out of it and this will severely hurt their damage and by the time they do escape it, Leona's CC change will have ended and you should be able to just win the fight 2v2.
Doran's Blade is as standard as you can be for a starting item on an ad carry nowadays. There really is no other choice.
On my first back, I hope to have enough gold for a B. F. Sword. If not, that isn't the end of the world but I'll have to manage with picking up a Vampiric Scepter and maybe Boots of Speed if I feel it's necessary. The goal is to rush The Bloodthirster asap. It gives us a gigantic boost in overall damage and causes Graves to become a little demi-god very early on.
Then, I'll settle with Boots of Speed until after Last Whisper for the most part. Berserker's Greaves don't typically help very much in a straight-up fight this early as much as raw damage because of the steroid from Quickdraw as well as attack-speed not assisting in burst damage. If I have a back where I already have my Long Sword and am saving up towards my Pickaxe and I have 600g I'd pick them up then but otherwise not really until after I finished my core damage items.
Alright, so I have my core damage items and can destroy anyone with my burst. Now it is time to go back and pick up some attack-speed. I never like getting Statikk Shiv unless it is rushed as my second item because it doesn't scale nearly as well as Phantom Dancer. So I pick up my PD and now is where my build can change. I have to ask myself a few questions. Am I getting bursted? Am I getting cc'ed? What overall damage-type am I being afflicted with? If I answered yes to getting bursted then I'll most likely pick up a Giant's Belt. If I'm getting cc'ed a great deal then I'll most likely get a Quicksilver Sash. If I'm overall being afflicted with magic damage, getting cc'ed, /and/ I'm getting bursted then I'd get QSS over a Giant's Belt. If it's attack damage burst then I'd definitely go Giant's Belt.
Then, once I have decided on the proper defensive item to get, I follow it up with an Infinity Edge to max out my damage.
Alright, as gone over above, after finishing my Infinity Edge I should have a good idea of which one of these defensive items I'm getting. Finish it out and then once you have about 2k gold saved up, sell your boots for Zephyr to get the maximum amount of damage possible.
Laning phase for Graves is very straight-forward. You want to be playing very forward and trading often, whenever your Buckshot is available. If your lane opponent ever wastes a spell (such as Sivir missing her Boomerang Blade) then you should move yourself forward onto their caster minions and just zone her. There should be nothing that she can do against you when she has her strongest spell on cool-down. Just make sure not get baited and allow her to Spell-Shield your Buckshot otherwise she can turn the situation around and do the exact same thing to you.
Because Graves can punish mistakes so strongly with his innately high defensive stats and early-game damage, it is best to pair him with an extremely aggressive support who can position themselves forward with him and compliment his aggression well. Annie, Leona and Alistar are all amazing with him at setting up burst as well as helping him zoning.
Keep being aggressive, shoving the lane with Buckshot, zoning the opposing laners when possible, and once hitting level 6 looking for spots to all-in and achieve kills.
Once you get to mid-game it can be a little tricky on knowing where to put yourself on the map. It isn't as straight-forward as another adc such as Caitlyn because all you do with her is push and siege towers. Graves isn't very good at sieging towers because his range is so terrible but that doesn't mean that there aren't times where you should be pushing turrets together as a team. Most of the time, I'll be farming and split-pushing on my own during mid-game and then meeting up with my team when it is time to force objectives or siezing an opportunity for a favorable team-fight. Because Graves has such incredibly strong burst as well as overall dueling power he is fantastic at being on his own. He melts turrets, can 1v1 practically anyone and, if played perfectly by him and misplayed by them, he can even 2v1 in certain situations. You should be able to even duel Vayne if you save your burst for after she uses Tumble.
When you are forcing objectives, make sure to be positioning yourself in the back as you typically would on an adc. The one thing that is different on Graves than other ad-carries is that you have the potential to almost one-shot a squishy. If their adc or mid is a little bit worn down and you are in a position to Flash, Quickdraw in and then burst them with your Buckshot and Collateral Damage then do it! Graves is very flexible in what he can do so if an opportunity presents itself do your best to seize it. If you are having to play the fight as a more standard adc, staying far back and kiting against tanks, then that is fine to. Your Quickdraw will come off cool-down fairly quickly so you should be able to single-handedly do very well in these situations. You don't need to be baby-sat like most ad-carries do.
Going into late-game it can be risky to keep split-pushing as much as you were mid-game. It is riskier because teams as a whole will become stronger and it will become easier for teams to force things as a 5v4. This leaves high priority objectives such as Baron more vulnerable to being forced and bursted down before you're able to react. Also, the more time given for assassins or tanky top-laners (such as Nasus) to snowball and become pretty much impossible to 1v1.
So, you're kind of put into an awkward position. You can't split-push as far as you could before but you are also fairly weak at sieging towers. This is why Graves isn't the best late game champion. His range is low which is bad for team-fights (and just bad in general) and his strengths begin to dwindle the further the game goes. Your team is going to have to put a lot of focus around Baron and denial of vision and try to bait out a team-fight that is favorable for them and then force objectives and towers off of advantages gained from these fights.