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Maokai Build Guide by Desseus

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Desseus

Maokai - Indecent Exposure to Nature

Desseus Last updated on March 2, 2012
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Top Lane
Ranked #22 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
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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: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hello and thank you for reading this guide, even if you disagree with my opinion on tanking Maokai in this build I am more than happy to receive constructive and useful criticism from others.

Maokai is a fantastic support tank, while I heavily focus on the tanking side of him (partly because I am often forced to play a tanking character ^^) his Ultimate alone gives him enough reason for being classed as a support. The following guide is just me trying to help give some basic information and a general idea for people who may have not made their minds up on using Maokai.

Please read the FULL guide to get a complete understanding of this build as at a quick glance may deem this build odd or confusing.

by all means leave a comment at the end of the guide and tell me what you think, enjoy.

[UPDATE] - Updated build finally to revive it from the grave.

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Pros / Cons

The pros and cons to Maokai are quite straight forward.


Beefy tank/support character
Have a variety of disruptive abilities and CC
Has the ability to scout with Sapling Toss
Good initiator
powerful and effective ulti when used correctly
good damage when got some AP

Very Mana dependent
A heavy tank build such as this can not single lane/mid well (its possible but not recommended)
A slow character

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Unique Skills and Sequence

The skill sequence for fights and what skills I level first is just how I play this character when tanking and can vary slightly depending on your team playstyle and setup.

PASSIVE: This can be quite handy in keeping yourself topped up on health and in your lane for longer to farm as for every 5 stacks or "magical saps" if you will, can heal you for a percentage of your max health on your next melee attack. so if you end up with an aggressive caster e.g in your lane then you will end up getting stacks more regularly. This passive works with both your enemy spells and ally spells as well as your own so in an aggressive team fight 1 out of 3 attacks could heal you making for a very useful survivability passive.

Arcane Smash
Q- Arcane Smash is a directional shockwave that will damage and slow anything hit by it by a percentage of their movement speed and also has a slight knockback effect, it has a short range so its recommended that to use it after to ensure a hit.

W- Twisted Advance is Maokai's initiate, he bursts forward as a bolt of energy reappears in front of the enemy damages and snares for 2 seconds (at level 5.) This followed by a Sapling Toss whilst the enemy champion is snared and then Arcane Smash to slow as the snare wears off, this way chances are unless they use an excape mechanism such as flash your sap will hit the target and should be fleeing from your power! This is the skill sequence I use in fights but in a team fight you will make use of for ulti as well to absorb damage and then detonating it to damage enemy champions caught inside.

E- Sapling Toss is by far my favorite ability on Maokai, not only does it damages as it lands and then blow up next to the closest minion or champion but it also has a far enough range to use them for scouting bushes since saplings give sight in them much like traps or shrooms, also makes great harassment tool. However they only last for 35 seconds so its best just for checking bushes when moving through jungle or from lane to lane not to give sight in an area for a few minutes like a ward.

R- ULTIMATE - This is just fantastic, its the real reason why Maokai classed as support. A 20% damage reduction for your team when they are in the area which is big enough to engulf a whole lane. Not only that but all damage taken in the area is absorbed and added to the other effect of the ulti which is when it is activated again it basically explodes damaging all enemies in the area, doing this in a team fight when 1 or 2 of the opposing team are low you can get some quick kills. Be wary when using this near towers as tower damage is not reduced but still adds to the second effect of the ulti. However to balance out this Ultimate Riot have made it extremely expensive to cast and to maintain, it costs 40 Mana a second, in 10 seconds that is 400 Mana gone just on your ultimate, to truly master this ultimate you will need to be able to know the difference of when you need it to clench victory and when it would be unnecessary and a waste of Mana.

The usual skill sequence I tend to use is as follows:

-> ->Arcane Smash->

you initiate with Twisted Advance, whilst they are snared you throw your Sapling just behind them, just before the snare runs off hit the target with Arcane smash to slow them down and by this time the Sapling will do its second set of damage (its main explosion), and then as all other teammates rush in for the fight activate your ultimate and then its game on!

I tend to level a certain skill depending on my lane partner setup and the opposing team on my lane. if they are tower hugging then Sapling Toss is the obvious choice and you will stick to the skill sequence as seen at the top of this guide. if your lane partner requires a crowd control ability or 2 from you then put 1 or 2 more points in Arcane smash or Twisted advance to hold targets in place and assist in a kill.

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Summoner Spells

Now on to summoner spells, this is of course down to your opinion, everyone have their favorites and I am no different. I shall cover why I choose the two as seen above as well as possible replacements that can also work for Maokai.

My chosen summoner spells:

I take heal to forfill that somewhat supportive role tanks should be in, you dont need exhaust when you have twisted advance or arcane smash to keep people in the fight so to be able to heal as well as reduce damage on your team with your ulti really can make a difference in a teamfight

This choice is purely about personal preference, I prefer ghost in general over flash so I have used it here as Maokai seems to be lacking a true escape mechanism, while you can use Twisted Advance in a way as an escape mechanism it requires for a enemy champion or minion to be behind you for you to jump to and retreat. Flash would work just as well for Maokai.

Other spells to consider:

An extra slow never hurts and can help you escape as well as pick up a kill/assist. Plus you can not always rely on your team to help control an enemy can you, however eith twisted advance and Arcane Smash I feel that this is not 100% needed, but the choice is yours.

Again as mentioned earlier its all about personal preference, replace Ghost with this.

for when you need to reach the other end of the map in a hurry this is the summoner spell to do it, usually taken by pushers but a tank can use it effectively by teleporting onto towers that are in danger of being destroyed or onto a minion to help push a lane suddenly.

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The masteries I have chosen for Maokai is a standard tank build of 9/21/0 now of course if you plan on going more support or maybe even full on Ability Power you will not have the same set of masteries but for tanking these seem to do the trick so far, like everything else they are not set in stone so play about with these masteries and experiment to your hearts content.

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Now then the runes I have used are what you would typically expect from an Ability Power tank and they are as follows:

A typical choice as even tanks need some penetration to help with the damage in the laning phase and since we will be getting some AP anyway it only benefits us futher.

Straight up armor for rthat early defense against AD this should last you awhile until mid game then you need to be getting your Sunfire cape.

These are an obvious choice for some tanks increasing your Armor/Magic Resist/Health is always good and these increase your Magic Resist at 18 to a suitable amount.

Extra health is always good, when combined with a heal you can last just that bit longer in a fight and turn the tide, early game with will help for you to soak damage for a carry or other squishy champion in your lane.

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Now like some parts of my build the items I use may appear strange or odd for a tank and you might not understand my choices, allow me to explain.

Start of the game:

At the start of the game you have a choice, what beginning item you take is determined by this choice, whether to go aggressive and go for some extra Mana Regen,Ability Power and health, or go full on tank from level 1 and gain health, armor and health regen. If you decide your going to take a more aggressive approach then get , if you want to tank from level 1 and just play it safe then get a

Early game:

Now you should be in either the top or bottom lane (unless you want to brave it in mid) play safe, call misses and work with your lane partner. Try to get a kill or two whilst in this laning phase but don't be over zealous about it. you should start to work on your by getting Catalyst the Protector and then the full thing, follow this up with your

The reason for picking up over something like for health is because of what else it gives Maokai, the extra ability power and mana really does help with being able to contribute more in fights with more damage and longer laning by reducing the need to regen mana and not be contributing to both the whole team and to that particular lane, instead of waiting for mana to regen you could be pushing a lane, getting a kill, saving a tower etc. helps you play more of an active role with Maokai, at least that is what I believe. As for that should be clear, if the team is heavy on crowd control abilities then these will reduce those effects by a reasonable percentage and give you more of a fighting chance against such abilities. although if the enemy team is lacking these abilities you could always go instead for the damage reduction.

Mid game:

by mid game you should be working on either and depending on if you need extra armor early or can go for the extra AP, health and Slow.

Late game:

by this time you should have completed both and and you should now be working on your and Once that is done you should have over 200 Armour and Magic Resist will be around 190,a suitable amount of health to do your job you will also of obtained along the way. You should be an unstoppable unkillable beast of nature by now.

Once all of your items have been brought all there is left to buy are consumable potions such as and which all will provide boosts to your main stats and if there are enemy stealth characters then of course which you would buy often within mid and late game to prevent sneaky ambushes.

Other possibilities:

you may come across a team that say only has 1 Ability Power Champion and the rest Attack Damage or the other way round well here are some items you could get to replace those you might deem unneeded within your current scenario.

heavy Attack damage team:

is always a good item against champions such as and due to its effect to return 30% damage back to the attacker as well as 100 armor.

gives you 80 extra Armor, 300 Health, 25 Health Regen along with 5% Cooldown Reduction and 20% chance on being hit to slow the attacker's movement and attack speed by 35% for 3 seconds for a passive and then when you activate it slows movement speed and attack speed of surrounding units by 35% for 2 second + 0.5 seconds for each 100 Armor and Magic Resist. 60 second cooldown.

Heavy Ability Power items:

gives 375 Health 375 Mana 50 Magic Resistance and its passive Blocks one negative spell every 30 seconds. This can be a life saver against certain Ultimates and spells such as

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To bring my Rambling to a halt let me say thank you for reading this build I appreciate any feedback I get and hope that this has giving you some insight into Maokai now let the indecent exposure to nature begin!

By the way this is my first build so any comments on the structure of this build is also welcome, thanks again.