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Maokai: I got WOOD!
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Flash: Use to escape or initiate, flash+ twisted advance can catch enemies running away.
Teleport: Use this mainly when soloing top to refill at base and come back, and to help other lanes.
Ignite: allows you to more effectively 1v1 enemies or kill healers, mostly securing some kills on early game for better gold gain.
Rod of Ages: enough mana to sustain ultimate on late game plus decent regen for lane phase.
Abyssal scepter: extra resistance and damage, 20 more penetration wich puts you at 29, enough to kill carries, plus aura for team always helps.
Sunfire cape: a bit more health and your only armor item, since maokai is constantly grabing enemies the area damage synergizes well with his playstyle. Also helps farm a bit.
Rabadon's deathcap: Boosting you damage, allows you to burst squishies even without help.
Rylay's: Helps sapling to catch up to enemy but mostly useless since maokai spells arent spammable and the other 2 ahve slow and root included allready.
Zhonyas: Due to the tanky nature the active isnt really necessary, you only need a small amount of armor for towers mainly and its an expensive item, not worth it.
Deathfire Grasp: More burst from active, cd always nice, if you allready have tank and want some more damage might be viable but myself im too busy using his own skills to properly include it in the burst rotation, you simply dont have time to use it because you start with twisted advance, then gotta knockback and throw sapling quickly, using deathfire most often makes your sapling miss and gives them time to get away.
Morello's evil tome: My favorite CD item, mp5 and ap always helps plus with cd runes will put you close to the maximum CD, grab it instead of rabadon's, will let you grab a target twice sometimes due to your slow and exhaust, allowing to burst your combo a second time, get it if someone else needs the blue buff.
Lichbane: Expensive item that adds more punch to your burst, can proc twice with some practice on your burst combo, but is not as effective as other champions with smaller cooldowns.
Guardian Angel: Always a good buy, will often let you initiate, get kills or assist and survive, maokai is rarely focused but can be effective if all your team buys it, allowing better teamfights.
Thornmail: Fed yi, tryndamere, or ranged physical carry? grab this and kill them 1v1 =)
Frozen Heart: A very recommmended Item for maokai, I personally dont like it, the cooldown is awesome, extra mana helps, and the armor/ passive effect will make you very strong against AD champs but its quite expensive item, I usually prefer the sunfire for the extra dmg since you are rarely focused anyway, Randuins can use active too and is therefor superior also, grab only when facing team heavy on physical damage.
Randuin's omen: Makes you very strong against ad, not much cooldown as frozen heart but teh active is very helpful since maokai rushes into enemies, adds more slow, giving you alot of crowd control options.
Aegis of the legion: decent mid game item, good for team, I prefer ap tankish items but can be an option if no one on your team takes it.
Full AP maokai doesnt work, you require close range and need tank to survive, a mix of tank/dmg is the most effective and is more useful to team, even tankish maokai can burst a carry down by himself and beat most champions 1v1 if they fight you inside ultimate.
Solo top- farm last hits, harass with sapling, conserve mana till catalyst done, ask jungler or mid help and gank after lvl 4~6.
Bot dual- If you leave farm to carry simply harass with sapling, keep enemies at bay to allow carry farming, buy gold/5 items: phiosopher stone and/or heart of gold. call targets and kill.
Mid game: Help gank, farm caster minions with sapling, leave ultimate on for teamfight, ask teammates to fight on top of it if possible.
Late game: Keep tanking and initiate fights, focus enemy carry and bigger threats.