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Build Guide by Tru Faulken

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Tru Faulken

Maokai - (AP Tank) The FIRE within

Tru Faulken Last updated on February 21, 2011
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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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 0

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Hey, Im TruFaulken and recently I've been testing out some builds for Maokai and this is the best that i've come up with while experimenting with full tank, AP tank and then finally mixing them both. So from me, in my opinion Maokai is one of the coolest champion that RIOT has come out with so far and hes a solid, extremely fun champion to play. Hope you enjoy playing him and this build is a reference and can be subject to change (i.e. the enemy team has more AP than AD, therefore u need to get aForce of Nature instead ofSunfires Cape.) Anyway have fun. <3

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Pros / Cons

Is great tanker very early game because of his starting health and armour/Magic Resist
He is also good harass with Sapling Tossand Twisted Advance
Awesome looking ingame haha
Is a good support/carry and AP Tank

He can be Crowd Controlled but he's a tank and can handle it
Dont go into a fight without team mates, you are most effective supporting everyone with your ulti
Can't think of anything else haha
Mana Thirsty but with this build, you won't be =P

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Summoner Spells

I take exhaustand flashbecause of the following:

Exhaust is good for slowing people down and just pommeling the heck out of them. It is also good for u to catch up to them to land Twisted AdvanceIt can also be used to wait out the cooldown of your abilities while they are attempting to run away, so u can land another Sapling Tossor use your Twisted Advance to finish them off.

Flash is great for catching up to enemies where u are just a bit off to land Twisted AdvanceIt can be good for escaping but mainly its for the offensive since Maokai can tank very well in teamfights and in laning.

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Other Summoner Spells

I have tried some different Summoner Spells with Maokai and here is details on the other spells that you should/shouldn't use:
Clairvoyance: I don't recommend this spell as he has a perfectly fine ability to reveal an area THAT also deals damage. So in other words, this Summoner Spell is not useful for Maokai.
Clarity is a decent spell to never run out of mana early game but with this build, from mid-late game, it practically loses its usefulness. So I don't recommend it but if you like having extra mana early game then go for it. But mind you, this spell can be substituted for something better that can guarantee a kill ^^.
Cleanse is another decent spell for Maokai as he is a solid AP tank, he can be focused alot by players who like to focus tanks alot or slow them down -.-, so cleanse helps you to not get too Crowd Controlled by slows, taunts, blinds, etc..
Fortify is an ok spell, Maokai doesn't neccessarily need it but if you feel that you are going to be the only tank in the team, it might be useful when it comes to saving a tower. However it is up to you.
Ghost is a good summoner spell for Maokai to catch up to enemy champions for that Twisted Advance or to just throw your Sapling Toss and finish them off with 'Weeeeeee, KABOOM'. I recommend this spell if you wish to replace 'flash'.
Heal as much as I hate this spell when other players carry it, it can save your life early game. But it's rendered sort of useless mid-late game. Personally, I don't think you need it but if you want to remain strong early game and fool your enemies that they become suicidal and jump tower, just to find out you have heal - its great. But this spell is up to you to take.
Ignite is a good summoner spell but only if you want to killsteal someone or just deal damage on an enemy champion. Your primary focus as an AP tank is to harass, tank damage and support your allies. You can be a killer but you don't need ignite, although it can be helpful.
These two summoner spells are definitely not needed and are useless on Maokai. Please don't take this, revive is just useless and you don't need more attack damage with Maokai. Pointless.
Smite Well I don't know anyone who has found a jungling build for Maokai so I don't recommend carrying this spell. He might be able to jungle although I have not tried it myself so until I can confirm it or find someone who has a jungling build, I will link it to this guide.
Teleport is a decent spell, as you can save towers, sometimes save ally champions or trap enemies who are trying to escape. It is a good spell because of your ability: Twisted Advance which might be able to give you leverage on fleeing enemy champions. You can choose whether to have this spell instead of 'flash'.

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With my runes:

I take Magic Penetration for well obviously dealing more damage with your abilities.
I take Mana Per 5 seconds because Maokai tends to be oom most of the time in early game so this fixes it up.
I take Ability Power Per Level just for that extra damage throughout early-late game.
Now with Quintessances, you can take Flat Health Quints so you have better survivability early game and can tank the brute force from enemy champions during the laning process. OR you can take more Magic Penetration so that when you have your Vengeful Maelstromyou can deal massive amounts of burst damage in a teamfight.

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I take my selection of items for these reasons:
I Take sapphire crystal and two hp pots at the start of the game so that I have enough mana (+the mana regen runes) to survive in the lane until I get enough money for my next item, which is the Tear.
Next I take Tear of the Goddess for the mana regen and mana so that it resolves the 'Out of Mana' problems during early-mid game.
I get my boots next, obviously for the speed and Mercury Treads helps decrease the duration of stuns, slows, taunts, knock-ups, etc. by 35% and thats good for a tank, or in this case an AP Tank Maokai.
I purchase Rod of Ages because it is a good overall item for Maokai to be carrying. It provides ability power, health, mana and a very awesome passive to earn a bit of each every minute. Maokai needs health to tank, not so much for the mana but the AP helps as well.
I take Sunfire Cape with me because it gives additional armour and deals damage to enemies near u for an amount of magic damage. This can be an optional item which is explained in the next chapter below. It all depends on your team composition and/or the enemy's builds.
Frozen Heart is an amazing item for Maokai, it grants alot of armour for him to be a tank and all, but it also provides a 20% Cooldown reduction AND it slows down enemies attack speed by the same percentage. It is a mush have for Maokai, unless you're up against a full AD (or most AD) enemy team.
Archangels is the product of Tear of the Goddess and it just helps with the extra amount of Ability Power that if given by the unique passive. It is better than finishing your Tear into a Manamune in my opinion.
Last but not least, I take Banshees Veil (and of course it is another optional item but I usually take it anyway). It provides Magic Resist and gives u a cool passive that negates one spell every so often. So it is a good item to have with Maokai since he'll be in the Frontlines most of the time. (In fact, you should be in the front line all the time).

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Optional Items

Here are some other items you may want to choose, it all depends on player composition and what your devious enemies are up to:
Dorans Ring is a fantastic item to start with as well, it provides good mana regen and AP for your abilties to deal damage early game, if you want to start with this, you will have to buy sapphire crystal after to build up the Tear of the Goddess. Or if you would like to start with this item, I recommend Krazah's Build as it is another different but effective build which implements Dorans Ring.
Force of Nature is a good item and it does grant you decent amount of Magic Resist and Health per 5 seconds, so I would recommend it if you are in a game where there is alot of Casters or AP burst damage.
Thornmail is good for countering those good ol' players like Master Yi or Ashe or Caitlyn just to watch them kill themselves while attacking you XD. This item is potentially effective if you are up against a mostly AD team, or you can replace Sunfires Cape with this item, although that is up to you if Armour is your top priority.
Warmogs = health and more health and more regen of health. Although it is an okay item for Maokai, I wouldn't recommend getting flat health for him. Maokai seems to like tanking with hard armour and magical Magic Resist haha and I find the runes/Frozen Heart make up for any health that I might need.
Abyssal Scepter is great with the extra Ability Power and Magic Resist. BUT whats even better is that its passive reduces the magic resist of enemies around you which can ultimately change the tide in a team fight. I woudl recommend this item in replace of sunfires if you are against a tough AP Caster Team.
Guardian Angels is a good item to have when it comes to that point in late-game where the kills and towers are even or the struggle between both teams are tied. Its a good tanking item providing armour and magic resist along with its 'revival' passive so this item is a good choice if you really need it. And can replace Banshees Veil or Sunfire depending.
Rylais Crystal Scepter is a capable item in giving you or your team more time to kill an enemy. Your ultimate scales with this slow and so does your Sapling Toss so it is a great asset to have in your game. Although it isn't part of the main build, you can choose to buy it if the game is going well and you don't need to be relied on as the main tank. (ie there is another tank in your team)
Zhonyas Hourglass is an exceptionally good item when it comes to that bit in the game where you are FED or are having trouble dealing with burst damage champions or nukers. I get this item mainly for the passive 'stasis' IF it is needed. If it isn't use your money toward something productive like Frozen Heart or Banshees Veil.
Quicksilver Sash is a good item if you ar ebeing focused down alot or are vulnerable to so many slows or stuns. It is a great item to fool or take down an ashe/veigar.
Rabadons Deathcap is an item I have seen some players take with them and it is a good item if there is no potential threat and you don't need Zhonyas Hourglass's active ability. If you are doing really well, this item is good for that extra AP that will turn your enemies into dust.
Randouins Omen is a great item if you need armour and something to counter AD DPS champions or ranged carries. Ir provides suitable protection against champions like Ashe, Caitlyn, Master Yi and etc.
Morellos Evil Tome is another item that i see sometimes with Maokai players and it is an ok item. It provides suitable mana regen, some good AP and Cooldown Reduction. If you can somehow fit or replace an item with this, it is up to you. It does help your gameplay alot mid-game.

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When farming with Maokai, it is important that you don't need to be wary of your enemy who is laning against you unless it is a champion that has good CC or is very tanky like you. You can farm minions and harass the enemy using Sapling Tossand/or snare your enemy with Twisted Advanceand Arcane Smash. Although Sapling Toss is the best way to farm the Caster Minions all the while harassing your enemy at the same time.

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Team Work

Teamwork. [EARLY GAME]

With Maokai, it is fairly easy to annoy the bejeebas out of the enemy. I tend to get Twisted Advancefirst because if you are laning with a dps partner like yi or shaco, the immobilisation gives them time to lay all the nasty damage on the opposing champion. You could even try for for First Blood by simply exhausting and continuously attacking them. When minions arrive, use your Sapling Tossto farm up and deal some damage to your enemy. When the timing is right and you have warned your laning partner to follow up on an attack, quickly use Twisted Advance ; Sapling Toss at the trapped location ; and Arcane Smash. That is the combo for early game, and it will either kill your enemy or seriously do tons of damage. You should be considerably farmed up and can afford your Tear of the Goddess, Mercury Treads and started building your Rod of Ages.

Teamwork. [MID GAME]

Your Ultimate, Vengeful Maelstromshould be up and you can start helping your team mates by tanking the enemy and helping others get kills. You can get a kill yourself and get fed but remember that you are also an AP Tank/support/carry. What I like with Maokai is that he can tank the living daylights out of anyone, deal lots of AP damage and carry the team throughout the whole game. During mid-game, you should be attempting ganks using Twisted Advance and the combo that I explained in early game. Except when it is a fight of 2 or more enemy champions, use your ultimate and place it where the battle is to protect your allies AND make sure to deactiviate it, so it will explode and deal damage to enemy champiosn within the circle before they run off like cowards. ^^. So your combo would be Twisted Advance, Ultimate, Sapling Toss and finally Arcane Smash.

Teamwork. [LATE GAME]'

Late game you should be trying to stick with your team mates or rather they should be sticking to you because, you will be the one initiating most fights with your awesomeness. You should always throw the occassional Sapling Toss at enemies because you never know what will happen. An example of this is, when you are flanking an enemy champion, place a Sapling behind you, to cut off his route. Therefore the enemy would have to take the damage from the sapling or find another way out of the gank. Sapling Toss is always very useful for getting that last hit on an enemy who is running away. The best thing about it is, Sapling Toss deals damage on impact and chases them down like how a gay person chases a boy D:

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Champions: Who to Lane with/Team Mates

Now I have recently asked some of my friends on LoL to play certain champions, and I have finally gone through most of the champions that I find suitable to lane with. Here are some that were effective: DPS Champions, Burst Champions, Nukers and various others.
Assassin, Nuke, Slow, Stealth, DPS
is a great team mate to lane with. Shaco has fear which can lead up to your Twisted Advance. Or with Shaco's ability to decieve. Some great combos are, Shaco waits in a bush, he stealths, attacks an enemy, slows them to line up your Twisted Advance and thats a guaranteed kill.
Nuker, Silence, Fear
Fiddlesticks is great to lane with because you can coordinate combos easily. Fiddle can flash in with an ultimate, fear and drain while you Twisted Advance on a second enemy so that he is trapped within Fiddle's ultimate. From there, you torrent them with all your abilities until they are dead. And if they manage to get away, you can attempt your Sapling Toss to finish them off.
Nuker, Stun
Annie is great for that stun and nuker abilities that she has. It works hand in hand with your Twisted Advance and your Arcane Smash.
Burst, Slow, Assassin, Stealth
Akali is a wonderful laning partner as she can deliver huge amounts of damage with her 'Mark of the Assassin' combo. And when she has her ultimate, she can chase down enemies with ease after you (as Maokai) deliver your Twisted Advance, Sapling Toss, Arcane Smash combo.
Nuker, Chaser, Assassin
I have played with Katarina so many times, it is always guaranteed you will dominate the laning phase. Your Twisted Advance and her Ultimate/Shunpo is so effective, your enemies will die on the spot.
Stun, Burst, Global Ultimate
Pantheon is also a good laning partner as you would have two stuns (Twisted Advance roots them so it counts ^^). With Pantheon, you will be able to dish out alot of damage. You could also root someone on the spot with Twisted Advance at the last minute, to guarantee a hit from Pantheon's Ultimate.
Slow, DPS, Chaser, Potential Carry, Knock-Up
Xin is a great example of a good laning partner for Maokai because of his ability to charge, knock-up and deal tons of damage. With Xin as your laning partner, expect alot of assissting as Xin will have most of the kills XD.
Stun, Nuker
Veigar is an awesome laning partner if he hasn't gone mid. He can stun an enemy, nuke him and if the stun isn't long enough, you can Twisted Advance towards them and root them in place as Veigar unleashes his full potential on him. What a hell!
DPS, Poison, Slow, Stealth, Assassin
Twicth is awesome when you want to coordinate effective ganks and combos. Maokai can initiate, hold them in place with Twisted Advance and his combo while Twicth rains down on them (from behind to block their escape) using his attack speed and poison, or all out with his Ultimate. (Make sure to assist Twitch after he has killed the first enemy, or he will have trouble against the second, angry enemy laner ;D.)
Trap, Slow, Nuker
Swain is great for landing that trap of his and dealing the full damage of his slow after you hold them in place with Twisted Advance.
Snare, Nuker, Assassin
Great for allowing Ryze to come up close while you have snared them only to snare them again and deliver a satisfying punch of Ryze's Ultimate and Bouncing Combo.
DPS, Carry
Master Yi is great when you have snared them with Twisted Advance and he comes in with Aplha Strike, ultimate and pounds them with his insane attack speed and damage with Wuju Style :D.
Nuker, Stun, AOE ability, Assassin, Silence
Maokai is great for providing the best set-up any Malzahar would love. When you have snared them with Twisted Advance, Malzhar could unleash his combo including his aoe ability, the disease-looking one and his final stun (i.e. ultimate.)
Nuker, Silence, Slow
I cannot say how effective Leblanc is, her Mimic of Sigil of Silence is amazing and she can nuke them to death while you tank their damage. Its just amazing, why don't u try it XD.

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Examples of Counter-Builds

Here are a few examples of a mash-up of builds you can use against different enemy champions:

AP TANK: PLaying Against a Team of Mainly Casters

AP TANK: Support/DamageDealer
AP TANK: Playing Against a Team of Mainly AD Champions
AND then there are various, many others you can try or that works. At the end of this guide, I have noted some of the best builds aside from mine out there. Check out Krazah's which is awesome or have a look at what Dotter has in store for you. Any other suggestions are welcome.

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In conclusion, Maokai is an awesome champion to play and he is one of the coolest champions to look at XD. His skins are epic as well. Suggestions and advice is welcomed and this is a guide, I am not telling you how to play. This build is how I play Maokai and serves as a guideline. Thankks for reading and "Do not Defy Nature" or FEAR THE SAPLING!!

(This build is subject to change if items change or if Maokai gets nerfed/buffed. Shall be updated each weekly patch.)



Recommended Builds if you want to try a little Diversity ^^

By the Legendary Man: Krazah! (wow sounds like Huzzah! haha :D)
"You Have Iced His Killing Tree"

By the Great Dotter
"Of Course I will Support you...if you suck my log ^^"

My Other Builds:

Gangplank: INSTAGIB: Sent Back to the Noob Generation

Twitch (Under Reconstruction and Renovations: Rat-Ninja Assassin

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~Change Log~

2011-02-17Guide Created

2011-02-21Edited the Build: Added Sections - Examples of Counter-Builds, Optional Summoner Spells, Who to lane With/Teammates. Edited Sections: Optional Items, Summary