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Maokai Build Guide by LeX0R

Jungle Maokai - the tree in its natural environment

Jungle Maokai - the tree in its natural environment

Updated on June 16, 2012
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League of Legends Build Guide Author LeX0R Build Guide By LeX0R 39,893 Views 12 Comments
39,893 Views 12 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author LeX0R Maokai Build Guide By LeX0R Updated on June 16, 2012
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Before we start I want to tell you something:
English is not my native language, so I ask you to forgive me if you find spelling mistakes. If you do not understand something, then write me a message or make a comment

Jungle Maokai - the tree in its natural environment

Hey Guys!
In this guide I will show you how to jungle with Maokai.
The first thing I want to tell you is why Maokai belongs in the jungle and not on the lane.
1. Maokai is in my opinion the best tank who is haunting in the jungle because he can kill the smaller camps like wraiths and wolves quite fast with Sapling Toss and arcane smash.
2. Maokai is an awesome ganker. He has a stun ( Twisted Advance) and a skill that knocks enemies back ( arcane smash). And his Sapling Toss follow the opponent if you used it outside a minion wave.
3. Maokai is a tree and trees are in the jungle.

For all those who want to play Maokai the first time, here is Champion Spotlight. ______________________________________________________________________

If you like to see some videos with an other good jungle champion then watch this video:
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Maokai's Lore

''I will use this power until I am free of it.''
quote from

The twisting magical energies unleashed by mages during the Rune Wars caused an incredible amount of devastation to the natural world. The League was established to control the use of this magic by confining it to the Fields of Justice. By limiting its use to there, they thought that they could prevent it from doing further harm to the environment. It seemed that they were successful until Maokai came into being. During a League match on The Twisted Treeline, Maokai, an ancient oak that stood above the upper jungle, spontaneously roared to life. Ripped from the natural balance by arcane forces, his sentience was forged in chaos. Before the Adjudicators of the League could step in and suppress him, he slew all six champions participating in the match. The scholars of the Arcanum Majoris took a keen interest in him, as they were eager to discover the secrets of his animation.

Maokai was furious, however. He abhorred the existence that was thrust upon him; he felt it was a corruption of nature. He learned to communicate with people in hopes of finding a way to be returned to his former, true state. Seizing the opportunity, the League offered a trade. They would research a way to revert him so long as he agreed to fight in the League of Legends. Maokai was indifferent to verdicts rendered by the League, but he was eager to punish summoners for their wanton use of magic. He agreed to the terms under one condition: once they learned how to turn him back, they would never animate another tree again. He wears a lantern on the Fields of Justice to set him apart from the other trees, and as a warning to the animals that would do him harm.
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Pros / Cons

Here are a few reasons for and against Jungle Maokai.


  • awesome ganker
  • good jungling sustain
  • is a good initiator
  • nice early and late game damage
  • sure that he is a tank, he can jungle pretty fast
  • he doesn't feed himself, but his team

arcane smash


  • needs blue buff early game to jungle fast enough
  • is dependent on a successful team
  • doesn't have an escape skill
  • susceptible to counterjungling
  • his ult is not the best
  • is not fireproof
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I put 21 pionts in the defense tree for the maximum of survivability and because I play Maokai as tank. Don't forget to skill Summoner's Resolve for extra gold if you use smite. Also skill Tough Skin and Bladed Armor to jungle a bit faster.

The remaining 9 points I do in the Utilitytree because of
... Expanded Mind which grants more mana what makes you less dependent from the blue buff.
... Improved Recall . This one second can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
... Swiftness because it makes you faster.
... Runic Affinity because it extends the duration of your buffs.
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Main rune set

Now I explain why I have selected the following runes.
Greater Mark of Insight
I think this is self-explanatory. More magic penetration = more damage = faster jungling

Greater Seal of Resilience
You are a tank and tanks need armor. This is the only choice because it gives you the most survivability.
Greater Glyph of Shielding
Take magic resistance-per-lvl-runes because you later need magic resistance. These runes give you the most MR (MR = magic resistance).

Greater Quintessence of Potency
As an AP-Jungler these quintessences are the best choice because you'll deal more damage and so you clear the jungle even faster.

Other runes worth considering

Here's where I explain other runes that are good in some cases.
Greater Mark of Alacrity
higher attack speed = faster jungling. But I don't prefer them because magic penetration is better in the mid/late game. In the early phase of the game both are equally good.

Greater Seal of Vitality Greater Seal of Vitality
More health is often better but not in this case. Without the armor runes you don't have the largest amount of survivability.
Greater Glyph of Potency
These are good runes and you would deal more damage and jungle even faster but I play Jungle-Maokai as tank and not as an AP caster.

Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
In this case more health is good. You can decide whether you would rather have more life and jungle more slowly or if you prefer to have less life and jungle faster.
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Summoner Spells

You are not a jungler that doesn't needs Smite like Warwick. So this is a must have.

Maokai doesn't have an escape skill so you'll need this.

Flash or Ghost that's the question. Both are equally good. So you can choose according to your taste.

You can use Heal instead of Flash or Ghost. But care if you do that you won't have an escape skill anymore. So I do not recommend this.

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Skill Explanation

arcane smash

Passive, Sap Magic

Everytime a skill is cast near you you'll get a 'charge'. If you have 5 'charges' you heal yourself with the next auto attack to a percentage of your maximum life. While jungling and in teamfights this heal is awesome. In teamfights where all throw around with spells you will very quickly and often have five 'charges'. While jungling this heal will give you small amount of sustain.
arcane smash

Q-Skill, Arcane Smash

Maokai sends out a wave that slows down the opponent and also knocks them back.
After you stunned your opponent with Twisted Advance use arcane smash to prevent him from getting away. arcane smash also simplifies jungling.

W-Skill, Twisted Advance

Maokai moves to his opponent as a cloud, deals damage to him and rooted him for a certain duration. This root prison is like Dark Binding or Light Binding, it just cages this but he can still cast. It is an awesome ability to gank, but it is rather useless in the jungle.

E-Skill, Sapling Toss

Maokai throws a sapling that deals damage when it hits the ground. If there is no enemy the sapling will ward the area for 35 seconds, this is awesome if you do the wraiths before you are going to the blue buff. But if there is an opponent the sapling will chase the opponent for up to 2,5 seconds and explodes which deals damage again.

R-Skill, Vengeful Maelstrom

Maokai creates an area in which his allies get 20% less damage from non-tower damage. Maokai absorb the reduced damage. When he ends the effect, the damage will be released.
This ult is not the best but in team fights, it is the fact that it reduces the taken damage, a great support for your team.
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Skill Sequence

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

Sapling Toss is the best skill on lvl 1 because you have placed the saplings before the wraiths can spawn. At lvl 3 also skill Sapling Toss for more damage. Max arcane smash first because it is the best skill to gank. Then maximize Twisted Advance to extend the duration of the root. As a last resort maximize Sapling Toss, because this is the most unimportant skill of all three. Increase Vengeful Maelstrom whenever it is possible, so in lvl 6, 11 and 16.

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Build 1, balanced opposing team

As the title suggests, this is an item build against a balanced opposing team.

Build 2, magical opponents team

As the title suggests, this is an item build against a magical opposing team. I am buying anyway Locket of the Iron Solari, because the shield absorbs any damage.

Build 3, physical opposing team

These items are my choice for a mainly physical team.

Opposing team with a lot of "crowd control" skills

With such an opposing team you do not have many special items.
You should only buy Mercury's Treads and Banshee's Veil and/or Quicksilver Sash .

Be careful, tanks only have situational items, so you have to look whether your opponent's team is balanced or makes more physical or magical damage.
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Early Game Items

Mercury's Treads
In my opinion these are the best shoes,even for a balanced team. They give magic resistance and tenacity that is in any case important.

Philosopher's Stone
Philosopher's Stone
If you gank someone, you should give the kill to your ally and don't kill him yourself. For this reason, you should use gold items to get more gold. The mana and health regeneration also ensures that you can stay longer in the jungle.

Heart of Gold
Grants you more health and more gold per 5 seconds. The health makes it easier for you to gank someone and the additional gold is self-explanatory.
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Mid Game / Core Items

Glacial Shroud
It makes you even more tanky and the amount of mana makes you independent from the blue buff. It also reduces your cooldowns by 15%.

Rod of Ages
It gives more damage, even more mana and life. It's a good item for Maokai.

Shurelya's Reverie
A very important item. It is useful to flee or to chase the enemy, it also reduces your cooldowns.
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Late Game Items

Frozen Heart
It brings you the same effects as Glacial Shroud but improves it even further. Moreover, it slows the attack speed of nearby enemies by 20%, which is very good against champions like Master Yi for example.

Locket of the Iron Solari
It's an awesome support item which makes you even stronger. I use this rather than Randuin's Omen because I think the shield effect is better than the slowing effect. And besides, I have Shurelya's Battlesong to chase the enemy.

Force of Nature
It gives magic resistance and health regeneration depending on your max health. And the extra movementspeed is not bad for Maokai.
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Jungle Route

Buy a Regrowth Pendant and a Health Potion and skill Sapling Toss first. Now move to the...

Wraiths Camp

After 1:15 minutes of playing time you throw the first sapling in the middle of the spawn point of the wraiths. If the cooldown is up, you are throwing the second sapling to the same place. Throw the third sapling exactly after 1:40 minutes, then you hit the big wraith a single time, the smaller wraiths will die from the saplings. Now you're running to the ...

Blue Buff

Ask the champion, who plays in the middle, if he pulls the blue buff for you. Now autoattack the big golem and whenever you can you throw a sapling on it. When the big golem has less than 445 lives, you use Smite on him. Time now you got lvl 2, now you skill arcane smash and move to the...

Wolf Camp

Throw a sapling on the wolves and kill them with auto attacks and arcane smash but focus the big wolf. Then you go back to...

Wraith Camp

Kill the wraiths in the same way as the wolves. You also focusing on the big wraith. Now you move your roots to the...

Double Golems

Activate your Health Potion and use all your skills to kill them and focusing you, as in the previous two camps, on the big golem. Now it's time for the...

Lizard/Red Buff

Begin by throwing a sapling at the lizard. Then you use arcane smash and Sapling Toss whenever you can. If the lizard has less than 500 life you use Smite. Now you should...


If you are on the blue side, you should now gank the bottom lane. If you're on the purple side, you should now gank the top lane. How you gank, I'll show you in the next chapter.
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In order to successfully gank a lane you should consider the following things:

1. Initiate with Twisted Advance and try to attack from behind because the opponent has it harder then flee.

2. If you use arcane smash always try to stay between your opponent and his tower so you throw him away from his tower.

3. Never ever use arcane smash directly after Twisted Advance because arcane smash would not help because the enemy is still deeply rooted and still can't move. You would only waste the skill.

4. If you are already lvl 6 and Vengeful Maelstrom is used to make more damage then always try to put the area so that your opponent still has to go through the whole area and is not already in the middle.

Now I will show you simplify the order in which you must use your skills when you gank:

---> ---> positioning yourself between your opponent and his tower ---> arcane smash ---> auto attack ---> repeat arcane smash and auto attacks until your opponent is dead or fled
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Your role in team fights, is the role as initiator. Now open the team fight with Twisted Advance. Then you use Vengeful Maelstrom to absorb some of the taken damage. Throw a sapling into the crowd and focusing now on their AD-carry. Use arcane Smash to prevent your opponent from running away. If they are too far away, use Shurelya's Battlesong to chase them.
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Last Words

Maokai is a awesome Jungle tank that feeds his team and not himself. If you have a good team and obey these things in this guide, you will most likely win. I personally like Maokai and it makes a lot of fun to play him. Why don't you try him out sometimes. If you have questions or suggestions just make a comment under my build, I'll try to answer as many as possible.
Special thanks to searz because he has made ​​a layout for guides which I used
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Build Log and To-Do List

To-Do list

In the future I'll add the following things:

- Videos showing how to clear the camps and buffs (sry I have some problems with my video recording program)


Build Log

-4/3/12 guide has been published
-2/4/12 changes in the "pro / cons" part

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide