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Maokai Build Guide by IcyAuron
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Threats & Synergies
You don't have a huge advantage on her, but the fact that you can cancel her ult at basically anytime is pretty severe, considering she needs her ult to kill anyone.
He's more mobile and stronger than you, and can control both jungles fairly easily. Also, if you get fed, you just have more of a presence. If he gets fed, he can carry the game while tanking.
You both have to get in melee distance to perform optimally, and that's exactly what he wants. He can also use his movement ability (Sweeping Blade) multiple times in quick succession, while you can only use your's (Twisted Advance) once, so it's harder for you to chase/escape.
As with most carries, Riven's performance completely depends on whether or not she gets fed. You can usually jump on her with your team if things're even, but she can just erase all of you with enough gold.
Best of luck.
You need to be able to click him to go in on him, and even if you get him, he's strong as hell, so he can just kill you. :|
You counter her high mobility and have a strong burst. I wouldn't go in on her alone, as she'll win, but you shut her down pretty hard in team fights, and especially in ganks.
You have much shorter CDs than him, which is where both of your powers lie. Unless he has his ult and a sunfire cape, this means that you benefit more from extended battles than he does.
He, like most assassins has to come in melee distance to get you, but the problem with him (and Shaco) compared to Zed is that he has invisibility, which makes him untargetable from Twisted Advance. This also means that saplings won't notice him, and those're your two main abilities. You can still hurt him with AoE damage, but he gets really fast during stealth, and your Q and ult have fairly limited ranges.
He has to go in melee distance for the kill. When he does, ensnare him with Twisted Advance and make him regret it. Things to watch out for: very good poke in Razor Shuriken, good jukes in his shadows.
True damage, tanky, and you have to get within melee distance to perform at your best, which is exactly what he wants.
Frozen Heart and Omen are your best bets, but he deals massive true damage, so armor doesn't necessarily help that much, and Frozen Heart doesn't grant HP. On the plus side, you can stop his heal with your Q, and hold him in place during his ult with Twisted Advance.
This is a noodle fight. Neither of you will be able to do much to the other, but he has much better sustain.
Unless she has very nice Glacial Paths, she's a pretty easy target.
Maokai struggles heavily with DPS champs with healing.
Maokai struggles heavily with DPS champs with healing.
Azir isn't a great champion in the hands of most players to begin with, then to top it off, he has to use his ult to get you off of him.
AD: Attack Damage
AP: Ability Power
MS: Movement Speed
MR: Magic Resist, magic defense
CDR: Cooldown Reduction
AoE: Area of Effect
SS: Summoner Spell
HP: Hit points; health, life
MP: Magic points; mana
CC: Crowd control. League has a bizarre usage of this term. It doesn't mean dealing with a group of enemies, like in everything else. CC in League of Legends is equivalent to status effects (ex. poison, darkness, slow, etc.) in anything else.
RoA: Rod of Ages
MFSB: Moonflair Spellblade
Abyssal: Abyssal Mask
Iceborn/IBG: Iceborn Gauntlet
Torment: Liandry's Torment
Rylai's: Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Warmog's: Warmog's Armor
Unholy: Athene's Unholy Grail
Witchcap: Wooglet's Witchcap
FH: Frozen Heart
TT: Twisted Treeline
SR: Summoner's Rift
3s: 3vs3; Twisted Treeline
5s: 5vs5; Summoner's Rift
Old 3s: TT prior to the total remodel on 10-25-12.
New 3s: The current TT, with Vilemaw, new items, etc.
"Glass": Little to no defense. Mages can probably kill you in one or two bursts.
IMO: In my opinion
ATM: At the moment
If there's anything I missed, please let me know.
One of the best harrassing abilities in the game: Sapling Toss (also acts as built-in wards, is excellent for zoning, and can be thrown further than their max range if you toss them onto terrain/walls)
Very durable, boasting the highest natural armor in the game (tied with Poppy), and various methods of staying alive
Very strong for a tanky AP champ (can't blow squishies up anymore, but all of the other changes are a buff)
His W, Twisted Advance, can counter Flash (less often with the range reduction, but still), and set his team up for some easy kills
Excellent pusher, especially against caster minions ( Sapling Toss)
Unreasonably good ganking potential, which almost always result in a kill with the right team, and proper timing
Pretty fast with this build, which makes his jobs easier, and harder to ignore
Can get most enemies off of your teammates with moderate ease
Can easily interrupt quite a few skills (especially channeled ones, ex. Katarina's Death Lotus, Nunu & Willump's Absolute Zero, Fiddlesticks' Bountiful Harvest, Master Yi's Meditate, etc.) (via his Q, Arcane Smash)
Decently flexible, can get damage or tankiness depending on what he needs (high AP ratios, high natural armor, healing passive. He's rewarded for being strong and tanky, not just one)
Good pick for jungle or duo bot
No scaling MR
No level 6 power spike
Cannot demand focus like other tanks, such as Rammus and Shen
Mana hungry at all points of the game
Almost no physical damage: weak, realatively slow basic attacks
Needs a lot of different stats to get to his full potential (as opposed to most mages, for example, who only need an item or two, then everything else is just extra damage): HP, MP, MS, armor, MR, CDR, Tenacity, AP
Greater Mark of Armor: Even though Maokai has the highest natural armor in the game (tied with Poppy), extra armor can't hurt. Especially since as the tank, you're goal is to try and take all of the damage that you can. This makes doing that easier. These're my favorite marks in the game, and since you don't need magic pen, you can safely get these.
Greater Mark of Scaling Magic Resist: These're fairly weak, but they help with Maokai's lack of natural scaling MR, and when combined with Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist, they stack up pretty well.
Greater Seal of Scaling Armor: I've been trying these out, and I think that I prefer them on Maokai. He has naturally high armor, and I have armor in numerous other places in my build. This sacrifices a little early game defense for some more tankiness later on.
Greater Seal of Armor: I wouldn't take these, especially if you take Greater Mark of Armor. The scaling seals match the flats at level 6, which doesn't take long to achieve, then become three times stronger by the end of the game. When combined with Maokai's naturally amazing armor, I can't recommend these.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Just flat out the best glpyhs in the game, especially for a tank, and even moreso for a jungler. I recommend these for literally every 3s champ besides melee ADCs ( Yasuo, for example needs early stats).
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: You could use these to counteract Maokai's low base MR, but I don't recommend it.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: These're extremely strong and underrated, especially on TT. MS is crucial on this map. I even take these on Anivia, they're that good.
Greater Quintessence of Armor: If all you really care about is being an unstoppable wall, these would work, I suppose. They're powerful and give you more tank stats, but you already have a lot of natural armor from other sources.
Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist: Help with Maokai's low base MR, as well as being a better tank, but I vastly prefer the MS.
Runic Affinity : Helps with the Smite bonuses a lot more than three enhanced potions.
Meditation : This is actually one of the more powerful masteries, so it's really nice that everyone has access to it now!
Bandit : Dangerous Game is hardly ever noticeable. I'd almost always rather have 20-40 extra gold per fight, but it's a matter of preference. Neither is amazing.
Unyielding : So much better than Recovery ! This is actually pretty powerful, especially for a tier 1 mastery.
Tough Skin : Explorer doesn't help very much on this map, as the only two frequently used bushes are in the middle, and are small. This is a guaranteed benefit to your early game jungling.
Veteran's Scars : Very solid, consistent bonus. Runic Armor would help with your passive and your high HP regen, but I feel like this is better for someone who'll be getting so much HP.
Perseverance : No contest, this is incredible compared to the alternative.
Swiftness : We're finally to the point where you have meaningful choices! I prefer this by a lot, but Legendary Guardian is also very powerful. This one's up to you, but keep in mind that Tenacity is a much harder stat to come by than armor and/or MR.
Strength of the Ages could be replaced with Bond of Stone , but the latter's weak alone, and you can still be an effective tank without directly absorbing damage for your allies. This goes well with Juggernaut and RoA's HP scaling, and once it's maxed out, it'll keep you around longer during sieging.
The basic mindset with Maokai is that you're a tank with the capacity to deal damage. You don't need to be a pure tank like Rammus, but you should also be very durable. It's a lot easier than it sounds. Basically, all of your items should bolster your defense. Even your items for damage should still include some form(s) of defense.
What makes an item offensive or defensive on a certain champion is based on that champion's role. Sunfire Cape, for example, looks like a defensive item, but because of its passive and the fact that it gives lower stats than its Randuin's Omen counterpart, it's actually an offensive option for most people who would consider getting it.
Check Moonflair Spellblade out. It gives 50 AP, 50 armor, 50 MR, and tenacity. The fact that it gives you three defensive stats makes it look like a defensive item, but Maokai is a tank, so all of his items should give him at least one of the defensive stats: HP, armor, or MR. For this reason, it's actually an offensive option for him, despite the fact that it'd be a defensive item for a mage, such as Anivia or Brand. To them, they're sacrificing some AP for the defensive stats, while Maokai's sacrificing HP for some AP. Again, it's a matter of perspective.
Your initial items are simply to help you survive the first round of the jungle. You'll need every single item in order to live through the jungle, and at least two/three passive procs. With Cloth Armor, Greater Mark of Armor, and Hardiness , you start the game with 60 armor. You're also Maokai, who has the best natural armor in the game (tied with Poppy), and have Greater Seal of Scaling Armor, so you have a lot of armor even without items.
My usual order is Ranger's Trailblazer - Cinderhulk --> Rod of Ages --> Moonflair Spellblade, with at least Boots of Speed somewhere in between. This assumes that the game is fairly even. You'll ALWAYS be concerned with HP, MP ( Rod of Ages), armor, and magic defense ( Moonflair Spellblade). In the early game, I get AP to be more relevant, and have a function aside from initiating fights/peeling (depending on the flow of the game). I don't care too much about CDR at this point, because my mana pool is low, and most fights don't require more than two rotations of spells. At this point in the game, your spells have to mean more per cast, so damage trumps frequency.
As the game progresses, your role as a tank becomes more rigid. You have to be able to dive into a group of three enemies (with your team, obviously), and be able to stick around. It doesn't matter if your combo deals 500 more damage if you die immediately after executing it. At this point, you need CDR more than AP. It just so happens that the two best defensive items for Maokai give him a combined 30% CDR, as well as a ton of armor (100), a decent chunk of HP (which goes even further thanks to Cinderhulk), and MR, among other things.
Enemy team is mostly physical damage, but includes magic: Frozen Heart --> Spirit Visage
Enemy team is mostly magical damage, but includes physical: Spirit Visage --> Frozen Heart
Enemy team is almost entirely magical damage, includes negligible physical damage: Spirit Visage --> Abyssal Mask
Enemy team is almost entirely physical damage, includes negligible magical damage: Frozen Heart --> Iceborn Gauntlet
Frozen Heart is one of the best tank items in the game, since it gives you a massive boost to defense, and increases your ability and incentive to stick around in a fight, in the forms of MP, CDR, and the aura. Without CDR and MP, you start a fight, then just kind of run around without dealing any real damage or inflicting any serious status effects to enemies. Hell, you can barely even peel.
Spirit Visage is your best bet for magic defense. It provides HP, MR, and increases your healing (this includes your passive, Sap Magic). It also gives you that crucial CDR that the tree craves. It's a very good item, but it's also fairly straightforward, so there isn't a lot to explain here. Is good. Get.
When a team consists of too much of one type of damage, you punish them on two fronts. First of all, it makes it incredibly easy to itemize against, you just get a ton of the appropriate defense. The second thing is that there're good tanky AP items that give you a reduced amount of AP while still providing solid defense.
Abyssal Mask: This is one of the best items in the game. Ironically, it's rare that you can ever get it! At least on its intended audience. It's actually much better on mages, many of whom can't take full advantage of the aura, but that's a discussion for another time). It's very cheap, and gives great stats. For this reason, it's your best bet if you need a second (third? Not counting MFSB) magic defense item.
Iceborn Gauntlet: Covers the loss of CDR from skipping Spirit Visage, as well as gives a lot of armor and even more MP. It also gives you a tiny bit of damage, and giving you even more CC in the form of a slowing field. Sadly, it's expensive, and Frozen Heart is generally a better version of this (unless you focus on the Sheen aspect, like Skarner does), and for less money. It's still a good item, but as a tank, you benefit more from its big brother. That being said, if you're up against a lot of physical damage (and not much magical), get both!
Upon inspection of Maokai's AP ratios, you'll notice that a little bit of AP gives Maokai a decent spike in his damage. On the flip side, a lot of AP doesn't really bring the level of power that you might expect, so don't worry too much about it on Maokai.
I frequently update my guides, so expect periodic changes.