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Maokai Build Guide by BlackLancer

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League of Legends Build Guide Author BlackLancer

How to be #1 Maokai Mid; By BlackLancer

BlackLancer Last updated on July 18, 2012
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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: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Hello, I am BlackLancer and have been requested by many people to release my guide on my favorite champion; Maokai: The Twisted Treant.

This guide was originally released last year during Season 1 and was heavily outdated. I am updating it with the current strategy I am using, I am 67% win rate with about 130 games played in Season 2. I reached Rank 50 in Solo Queue for the first 2 weeks mainly playing Maokai Mid, sadly that was only 1900 Rating because it was the beginning of a new Season.


I believe that Maokai is a full tank and can satisfy the needs of a team as a solo laner that shows dominance without necessarily heavy reliance on Ability Power items. He combines especially well with Will of the Ancient's users, and could be used in competitive play with AP Top while Maokai goes Tanky Bruiser Mid.

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I have updated my runes for the season 2 circuit. These runes make very little sense, but once you use them and trust my build, there are no other runes that can play with the amount of effectiveness these runes posess.

Hybrid Marks -> Maokai auto attacks alot, helps with last hitting as well.

Mana Regen/Level Seals -> Maokai uses alot of mana so I used to go with a mana heavy build, however times have changed and after learning resource management to a higher level, therefore these runes help cope with the removal of heavy mana items in my builds.

Cooldown / Level Glyphs -> Cooldowns are nice nuff said.

Attack Speed Quints -> Really helps in teamfights to proc Maokai's passive frequently. Alot cleaner animations.

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Skill Sequence

I get alot of questions about my skill sequence, and the simple answer is that it works. Maokai does not need his ultimate in laning phase as it rarely helps during ganks or counter ganks. Therefore, we should prioritize his damage and utility by making his saplings and smash hurt. Note that arcane smash is MAOKAI's PRIMARY FORM OF CC, a supplement to his snare. Arcane Smash is a rare skill in the game, it does 2 types of CC's, knockup and slow. Learn to utilize your knockback well in a teamfight by combo'ing with your Twisted Advance. I do not level Twisted Advance because you generally use it once to twice per teamfight; Mana, damage, and cooldowns are not an issue with this skill as they are fairly adequate at level 1.

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Extra Item's to Buy after Core Build listed in initial place.

Will of the Ancients Always get it if anyone else benefits from it. Big sustain and big damage, if you get this immediately you will not tank as well.
Banshee's Veil Quite good if they have "One Skill" AP mids such as Morgana.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter Usually my first choice optional item. With this much resistance, HP is epic along with an epic slow.
Abyssal Mask Generally a great first choice as well, Increases all damage (including sunfire) and giving you some much needed AP/MR.
Shurelya's Reverie Really situational, I get this when we have AP jungles such as Fiddle or Karthus.
Rabadon's Deathcap If I'm carrying hard or pubstomping this is the best way to go. Super fun.
Force of Nature If casters are carrying hard go for force of nature, you will become unkillable with the passive.
Guardian Angel If your support is lacking or needs to focus on other allies, GA is never a bad way to go against both types of damage.
Spirit Visage Early game and gives you a nice amount of CDR for more damage, but also your auto attack heal is now huge.

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Game Progression

Early Level
Try not to use mana if you take wraiths. Autoattack and heal using passive up to level 3, get far away farm using Q level 2. I generally start doing combos at level 3 to farm by using sapling on the back wave and then using Q on all 6 creeps. By level 5, if you have a Doran's Ring (recommended) you can go ahead and just use E on the back 3 creeps and they will be cleared. Use this to push hard.

Mid Game
Push lane farm wraiths, especially effective once you get blue. Once you have taken a wraith clear and a lane clear, you can gank top or bottom really well because that's what Maokai is good at. Once you get mercury treads you can tower dive people, if you plan to do this go ahead and get an early R.

Trades are simple, do the basic W->E->Q combo but make sure to drop your ult down before hand. Go ahead and ignite your enemy and just keep auto attacking. Pop your ult immediately after your E lands otherwise they could flash out. You should be able to top to bottom the enemy AP carry as long as you are not under a turret, only with sunfire cape, no other items. Sunfire + Dorans is all the damage you need for most of the game.

Decide on your items before you reach late game, know what is good and bad. Optimally you would want Sunfire/Abyssal/WOTA/Rylai's for alot of AP damage and Sunfire Cape. This is if you have a tanky bruiser top however, Remove and replace certain items for Banshees or GA as you see necessary depending on team comp. Randuins is alright but you should be pretty stacked on armor.

Late Game
Your job is now to eliminate the enemy AD carry. It is quite easy if you can land a snare with a good shurelia's from the team. Rylai's really helps baron and dragon fights because you can effectively slow a whole team with your ult and E and Q, all your ranged skills. Think of your R like a ranged AOE time delay nuke, it can do big damage later on. You have the ability to zone most champions and split push like a boss, just remember that this build IGNORES move speed, so treat Maokai like the tree he is. He can escape 1v1, but he is quite slow so be sure to stick with your team and play agressively to win games!

Generally Maokai needs 1 less ward mid because of saplings, but you would always want to be pushing / taking wraiths during laning phase. I always ward the safe wards and sometimes their wraith wards. I'll post pictures soon of crucial warding spots with descriptions (Damn that sounds like a pain xD)!!!

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Additional Notes

Summoner Skills:
Flash Ignite typical AP mid, Ignite allows you to one shot burst almost all AP mid's once you finish sunfire.

Special Tricks:
Twisted Advance -> Sapling Toss -> Arcane Smash
This is maokai's main harass combo. The ideal situation is when your enemy is inside of all 6 minions, you should use this combo. Twist in and throw the sapling slightly behind the enemy, then Arcane Smash the enemy into the sapling by aiming correctly. If you have done it correctly, there will be alot of damage dealt, an autoattack that will heal you if you have 5 stacks, and hopefully every minion in the wave should be dead.

Twisted Advance -> Arcane Smash
Late game trap, go over them with W and make sure to Q them back towards your team for maximum distance displacement. Really crucial to know that Q knocks back a certain distance and then SLOWS your target, you can catch people from really far out for your team.

Sapling Toss -> Twisted Advance
Sapling toss gives you vision! Take wraiths like this always. Snare the big wraith and just start auto attacking. If you don't get them instantly use Q to clear the rest, once you get Sunfire this should not be an issue. Also helpful at blue, enemy blue, and enemy golems (if you are counter jungling that far).

Ultimate Placement
Vengeful Maelstrom
Ideal situation is getting maokai's ultimate in a place like Amumu's ultimate for a fight or a dead Karthus. He is a great initiator and his ult is very good for soaking damage even though it is never visibly doing anything. The best part is releasing it for a quick kill, always prioritize a dead enemy over soaking an extra 100 damage, you CANNOT PREVENT DEATHS with this skill, it's simply too much math to try and judge the enemy with. Do not be afraid to use it on baron or dragon to help your team out, and make sure to try and create stationary teamfights for maximum efficiency.

Stealing Wraiths
Maokai has choices since I choose to start with E on him. Sapling Toss at 1:05 in the center of the wraiths, place another at 1:20. I suggest standing in the bush across from the wraiths, tell your team to hide in the bushes on your side in river. If they come, flash to your teammates and enjoy the free ace. At 1:39 go in the middle of the minions and throw a sapling up so that it does impact damage at 1:40 then blows up. This will be enough to kill all the wraiths except big one which requires 2 auto attacks more. This will put you ahead in lane and I recommend attempting this every game, your wraiths or their wraiths does not matter it is worth while.

Passive Sap Magic
Try and combine the enemies skills into your count, if they are spamming skills to farm alot you should be spamming your autoattack to utilize the heal as there is a very small cool down to recharge it. 7% is no joke, and it will often save your life in teamfights, 1v1's, and looks hella clutch when you use that ATTACK SPEED SON!!!

3v3 Twisted Treeline
Maokai is a monster on this map and can be built almost the same way but without the philo stone if the other team is early game dependent. Try him out sometime if you are itching to play a 3v3, he is a god.

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This build has been heavily tested and I believe it is most crucial to ALWAYS get Sunfire as early as possible. It is just the best item for high damage and keeping teamfight dominance through the whole game. The Doran's Ring, Mercury Treads, and Philosopher's Stone are simply to help you have enough sustain to get to the Sunfire. Then they are dispensable (Not Treads).

Maokai is a very "cool" champion. He has unique skills that really help round his kit out. I'm glad Riot made him underpowered because he has the potential to be abused massively. People ask me about chu8's build and it is just a troll build. Trinity force is NOT the best choice for Maokai, and neither is ignite. I'm trying to play a tank here, not a nuker. If I wanted to play a nuker I wouldn't buy trinity force on them either, so why would you?
Either way, I hope you guys can enjoy this simple guide, it's mainly text but has some great details that most Maokai newbies would love to know. If you have any questions or tips how to make my guide better feel free to message me.

#1 Maokai