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Graves Build Guide by Argeal

AD Carry Graves - The Strongest AD in the West

AD Carry Graves - The Strongest AD in the West

Updated on August 20, 2013
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Argeal Build Guide By Argeal 13,611 Views 5 Comments
13,611 Views 5 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Argeal Graves Build Guide By Argeal Updated on August 20, 2013
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Introduction and Overview

Hello and welcome to this Graves build guide. Graves has the highest base AD of all the commonly accepted AD carries, making him a nasty force to be reckoned with early game on lane. Combined with his good base health, he has a lot of potential.
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Our Standard AD Carry Runepage:


Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush

Quintessences: I take flat AD quints to give a large amount of early game poke and burst, which is Graves' strongest spot.

Marks: I also take flat AD marks, for the same reasons listed above as well as making it easier to get level 1 CS. Armor Penetration marks are also a viable choice if you're feeling weak late-game.

Seals: I choose flat armor seals in order to minimize early poke damage from enemies, as well as reducing damage taken when tanking minions in a fight.

Glyphs: Here I've chosen flat magic resist, to avoid a lot of poke damage from support like Sona or Lulu. Scaling MR glyphs are also a good choice to reduce burst damage from AP casters later in the game.
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Offensive Mastery Page:

Defensive Mastery Page:

The offensive mastery set is more focused on late game potential, reducing cooldowns on your flash and increasing your mana pool. This makes you more mobile and with a greater amount of burst potential in teamfights.

The defensive page is more focused on playing a passive lane and running barrier or cleanse. It helps reduce the damage you take from opponents, and increases the usefulness of your cleanse or barrier.
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Summoner Spells

Your summoner spell choices vary on your opposition, play style and lane synergy.

Flash: Mandatory. As an AD carry you are the most damage your team has, so keeping alive and out of danger is a priority.

Ignite: Good for aggressive burst lanes, as it allows you to deal extra damage early game as well as secure kills even if the enemy tries to flash away. Also good as a counterpick to certain champions, such as Dr. Mundo or Tryndamere. Not as popular as a core summoner any more, and the most common pick now is Barrier unless with an exceptionally strong early kill lane support such as Leona or Blitzcrank

Cleanse: A good pick against teams with CC like stuns and snares, such as Amumu or Veigar. However it won't pull you out of knock-ups like Malphite's ult or Alistar's Q. Cleanse is also good as a counter to stun heavy bot lanes, such as Taric and Vayne. For further reading on what cleanse will and won't work on, look at the cleanse page on the League of Legends wiki.

Barrier: The new Heal, and generally the safest summoner spell to run on lane. Only has a 2 second duration, so timing it well is important. At equal level, it will completely absorb the damage of an Ignite with 45 hp to spare. Can also be used when on low health to bait enemies into burning ultimates or summoner spells.

Heal: A bad pick due to all of the recent nerfs. It has a low healing amount, and can be countered by ignite, a much more popular choice. If you want a health bonus on lane, take Barrier.
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Graves' Ability Set:

Passive: True Grit

Graves gains 1 / 2 / 3 bonus armor and magic resistance every second he remains in combat. This bonus stacks up to 10 times. Graves is considered in combat if he has dealt or received damage in the last 3 seconds.

Quite simply, this makes Graves get tankier as fights go on, giving him a distinct advantage over the enemy AD carry in teamfights or duels.

Q: Buckshot

Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing physical damage to all enemies in their path. Enemies at close range can be hit by multiple projectiles, but each bullet beyond the first will deal only 35% damage.

Buckshot is the biggest chunk of Graves' burst potential due to its good AD scaling and multiple shot effect. To use this to its best potential, use your E to close distance with the enemy before using it to ensure you get the full damage of each bullet.

W: Smoke Screen

Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area, dealing magic damage upon landing and creating a cloud of smoke for 4 seconds. Enemies inside the smoke cloud will be slowed and will have their vision reduced to only what is inside the smoke cloud and enemies attacking them; everything else will look like it is in the Fog of War.

Smoke screen has multiple uses due to its slow and vision reduction effects. You can use it to slow enemies when going in for burst or escaping, you can use it to harass the enemy AD carry while they CS to make them miss last hits, or you can use it to blind enemies in teamfights while you reposition.

E: Quickdraw

Graves dashes forward, gaining an attack speed boost for 4 seconds. Using autoattacks on enemy units, but not structures, lowers the cooldown of Quickdraw by 1 second each autoattack.

Quickdraw is both your escape and your steroid, so on lane you have to make the decision whether to use the attack speed bonus in a fight, or save the dash as an escape. In teamfights however, you can use the cooldown reduction from autoattacks to get both benefits from the ability. Your E can also be used to escape or chase over some walls, such as the one behind golems.

R: Collateral Damage

Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing heavy physical damage to the first champion it hits (also damages non-champion enemies whilst in flight). After hitting a champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes dealing physical damage in a cone behind the target.

Your ult is another large amount of burst, doing about twice the damage of your Q. On lane you can use it as part of your burst to do maximum damage or to pick off enemies who try to escape. It has a 1000 unit range, almost double your autoattack range, so it can be used in teamfights either to pick off escaping characters or to chunk the enemies while initiating. As your ultimate also applies the effect of black cleaver, using it on a grouped up team at the start of a fight can give your team an advantage over the other.

Graves Spell Order:

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

We max Q first, as it's our main burst spell. Next in priority is E, as the attack speed steroid scales well with levels. Finally is W for multiple reasons: the damage increase is insignificant as it scales with AP, the vision reduction does not increase with levels and the slow increases minimally with levels. Ultimate should always be taken at 6, 11 and 16.
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First items:

Your starting items are situational depending on your lane matchup.
Doran's Blade: Take with kill lane supports like Leona or against weak early game ADCs like Vayne
Longsword + 2 potions: Take on a poke lane i.e Sona support.
Boots + 4 potions: Take in every other situatio.

Early Game:

Doran's blade is the first item you should take of the three, as it is the most gold efficient and has the most early game strength. Pick up vampiric scepter second before you begin committing to trades or fights, and then finally finish your beserker's greaves.

Core Items:

BT and PD are your two most important items as Graves. Phantom Dancer is a great item for mobility as well as poke or burst due to the crit chance and attack speed. Bloodthirster has the same base damage as IE as well as scaling up to an extra 40 with farm, to maximize your E+Q+R combo due to the AD scaling.

Start of Teamfight Phase:

As the laning phase ends and the teamfight phase begins, you'll need survivability as your third item as your tank line likely won't have built up much resistance yet. Guardian Angel is a general purpose survivability item as it offers both armor and MR, and the passive has the potential to turn around teamfights. It's also the most optimal against teams stacking multiple AD, such as Zed mid. Mercurial Scimitar is a situational choice as it only offers MR and the active in the way of survivability, and thus is good against AP heavy teams with high CC, like Leona support and Amumu jungle. Warmog's Armor is a straight boost to your health pool, to help you duel enemy ADCs. Frozen Mallet is solely for the purpose of kiting, so is a good pick if your enemies do not have many gap closers. Banshee's is a solid pick post rework because it now gives a strong amount of sustain. Against an early poke/burst ap support like Zyra, you can also pick up the Spectre's Cowl early to keep yourself up through lane if you're having trouble.

Late Game:

Your last two items should be Infinity Edge and either Last Whisper or Black Cleaver, depending on the enemy's build. If they aren't building armor, pick up Infinity Edge first. If they've stacked it mid game, then pick up Last Whisper then Infinity Edge. If you took IE first, the amount of armor on your enemies determines what your last item should be. 100 armor is the point at which last whisper becomes more efficient than black cleaver, so build accordingly.
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Lane Synergies

Synergies are support characters which complement the play style of your AD carry. Graves is a really versatile champion, so there are multiple strong support picks depending on which play style you prefer.


A competent Leona can destroy an enemy lane. She's got two stuns, a gap-closer and a nice damage steroid, and these abilities give her so many capabilities. She can initiate teamfights with W+E+R, Roam and gank with E+Q, and defend against early jungle invades by waiting in a bush with Q.

  • Heavy CC
  • Very Tanky
  • AoE abilities for teamfights
  • Can get into nasty situations with E
  • No disengage when fights go wrong
  • E and R are skillshots

A popular pick. His E is a strong CC that can't be cleansed, and his Q can really punish people for being out of position by bringing them straight to your carries.

  • Silence and knock-up make it hard to escape
  • Mana barrier can trick enemies into diving
  • Catching enemies out with Q can make teamfights 4v5
  • Can pull the wrong enemy, i.e Alistar
  • Q has a fairly short range and slow speed so is hard to land
  • Often banned

Taric has a nice amount of burst, with his E-R-W combo. His E is a targeted stun, his R a potent steroid and his W is armour shred.

  • Can't miss his stun
  • Natural tankiness with W passive
  • Easy to play
  • Slow moving stun projectile easy to react to
  • Short stun range
  • High mana costs


Sona has tons of early game poke, and can even score your team a level 1 first blood if you're daring enough to go AP. However she can be let down by her early squishiness.

  • Large AoE stun
  • Lots of harass with Q + Power chord
  • Nice amount of CC and mobility with E and R
  • Very squishy
  • Poke means she's out of position
  • Tricky to play well

While not a common pick, she has tons of utility and a great late game team fight presence.

  • Q harass deals damage often and slows
  • Ult is good for baiting enemies
  • Instant cast targeted CC
  • No sustain on lane
  • Very low base movement speed making it hard to harass effectively
  • Low base HP makes her squishy


Massive tankiness and counter-CC with his ult. His W and Q can't be cleansed, and his E gives a lot of sustain with the penalty of pushing lane.

  • Hard to kill due to natural tankiness + ult
  • Can tower dive at 6 with ult and W
  • W+Q combo can initiate fights on lane easily
  • E pushes lane
  • W+Q can go wrong and get enemies out of danger
  • Can be kited easily

Soraka gives a lot of sustain potential to your carry, but isn't much good at helping to secure kills.

  • Ult can save people on other lanes too
  • Good for baiting enemies with heals
  • Lets you out-sustain enemies by poking and healing
  • Has no hard CC
  • Squishy
  • Q can steal CS and push lane

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Counters to Graves:

Sivir: Her spell shield can block your Q or your support's abilities, and her Q outranges yours so can be used to harass you down. Against Sivir your best bet is try and bait out her spell shield before attacking, or picking a sustain support like soraka and farming.

Caitlyn: Caitlyn is a nasty poke champion, with the highest base attack range. However she falls off a bit late game, so you'll want to stay back and farm up while waiting for teamfights to happen.

Miss Fortune: Miss Fortune is another poke champion, as her Q hits you hard and she can kite you with her E. In order to avoid most of her damage, try to avoid standing behind your own minions so she can't get her Q double damage, and don't let yourself get kited to death.

Champions Graves Counters:

Vayne: Vayne is the strongest late-game AD carry, but this is counterbalanced by her weak laning phase. Graves is a nasty lane bully, so can burst her down with ease as well as zone her out from CSing in order to make her take longer to achieve her late game potential. Remember to watch out for her condemn when against walls.

Kog'Maw: Kog'maw has a similar situation to Vayne, as in a potent late game and a weak early game. Engage on him and burst him down when he tries to poke pre-6, and try not to get poked down by his spammable ultimate.

Ezreal: Ezreal has the lowest base health of all AD carries, even more so than Vayne. As such he can be easily burst down by your full combo. However, you'll want to watch out for his Q so he doesn't poke you down before you can burst him.
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Early Game:

On lane, your method of play depends on your support. With a burst like Blitzcrank or Leona, wait until your support has caught out the enemy AD carry and E+Q in. You'll probably pick up early kills if your support is competent. While they're dead, push the lane up with Q before recalling so that your opponent loses minion kills to the turret.

What to do if you're behind:

Pick up a second doran's blade for extra on-lane tankiness, then play passively and farm until you have your bloodthirster. At that point either call for jungle ganks to reverse the snowball, or continue to farm and poke with your extra sustain until you have your survivability item and the enemy's turret down, at which point you can begin to force teamfights as normal by roaming.

Mid Game:

Generally you'll want to push down the enemy turret as soon you get your third main item up, so that teamfights can begin. After the turret is down, you can roam mid with your support and get your AP carry fed for fights, and then take their turret to ensure control of dragon.

Late Game:

Teamfights are an important element to winning games, and as your team's main source of damage you need to think about dealing maximum damage while also staying alive. The things you need to take into account are:
  • The tank line. Never go in front of the tank of your team, or you'll be focused down almost immediately.
  • CC. Either be ready to avoid skillshots like Blitzcrank's Q, to cleanse or pop mercurial scimitar, or away from champions like Lulu or Taric which comes under...
  • Positioning. You need to be aware of your enemies and their potential, as well as what you can do to avoid it. For example, against a Vayne you'll want to stay away from walls, and against Blitzcrank you want to keep minions between you and him.
  • Focus. Or, not. As an AD carry your job isn't to focus down enemy carries, it's to deal the most damage you can. You should attack the closest enemy, kiting them where possible, in order to deal damage and stay alive.
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That's about everything there is to Graves. I hope this was informative in some way, and I look forward to seeing you playing the Outlaw on the Fields of Justice! :)
With thanks to:

  • Kento12 for pointing out the viability of midgame BT over IE.
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Argeal Graves Guide
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Graves - The Strongest AD in the West

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