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Maokai Build Guide by Sujing

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Sujing

Maokai - Jungling with the Tree

Sujing Last updated on December 7, 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: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 9

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My Perspective

Maokai the Twisted Treant is a very strong jungler and his ganks are powerful. I am no pro, but I felt comfortable enough to create this guide as I have played Maokai and seen happy results in the jungle, during team fights, and especially the ganks. Maokai is a strong tank as well as he can absorb damage and protect his allies. Although Maokai does not really have a high damage output, he can successfully kill using his skills. The cooldowns are tolerably low and it's quite fun playing a tree.

Prices to buy Maokai:


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.

''I will use this power until I am free of it.'' - Maokai

Below is an image of matches that I have played as Maokai before I have started working on this guide:

No, I do not KS...

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  • Quick jungler
  • Strong tank/support
  • Good CCs
  • Over 85-90% successful ganks
  • Easy to play
  • Easy to farm with abilities
  • Sapling gives vision
  • Good sustain from passive


  • Not too high damage
  • May not use ultimate's maximum capabilities/damage at all times
  • Mana dependent
  • Cannot really escape from tough situations

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

- I choose Greater Mark of Attack Speed because the extra attack speed will help you in clearing camps quicker especially with Season 3's jungle being harder. This balances out the trouble of Maokai's low damage output to be dealt in a shorter time.

- Greater Seal of Armor gives you that extra armor to help you survive better in the jungle which results in you having more health so it opens up more chances of you ganking a lane.

- Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power will allow you to have a bit more AP so you can do more damage. These are per level so by level 18, you will get the full 28 AP.

- You can never go wrong with extra movement speed and Maokai will be able to make use of it by walking around the map quicker. Three Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed will give you an extra 4.5% movement speed.

Below, you can see the statistics that adds up for all of these runes.

If you do not feel you would really like to use these specific runes, by all means you can change it up to whatever you are comfortable with. It is all up to the player!

Alternate Runes

Here are some different runes that you can use and will still be able to jungle safely and be consistent as the game progresses.


Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

The attack speed runes can really help you clear out jungle quick as I have mentioned. If you feel you like you need more magic resist since you are facing against strong AP champions, then use the above runes setup. You can still switch out Greater Quintessence of Ability Power for Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

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- One point in here for Smite. 10 extra gold isn't too bad.

- More health so you can safely gank without it backfiring.

- Makes jungling easier and safer.

- All three points go in to get the maximum armor. You can however split or move over the points into Resistance if you need to get MR instead.

- Just simply 1 point into Resistance and it will get you an extra 2 magic resist for obvious reasons.

- Same reason for Durability .

- This returns 6 damage to any minion and monster that attacks you, thus for easy and faster jungling.

- I highly recommend putting 2 points into Relentless because taking 2 damage off from enemy champions allows you to stay in team fights longer than usual.

- For the same reason as Unyielding . Although it reduces the damage from enemies' basic attacks by 3, it can still help you tank for your team longer.

- Having extra health is always a pleasure. The items you purchase gives you a lot of health so having Juggernaut will be worth it.

- I believe Defender is better than Legendary Armor because you won't be able to get plenty of armor or magic resist to enforce the bonus increased armor and magic resist by 5%. Flat armor and magic resist is much better especially when you are very likely to engage in team fights to obtain its full use. Masteries are more used for early game anyways.

- This mastery basically beefs your up more by reducing damage dealt to you. I think this is more of an optional mastery rather than necessary and you could point the point in for Defender instead.


- Putting a point in this can help lower your Flash cooldown by 15 seconds. You never know when you are in trouble and your Flash is still on cooldown because you didn't take Summoner's Insight .

- Maokai usually gets Boots of Mobility so I felt that pointing all three points into Wanderer is worth it. It helps with the already massive increase in movement speed while out of combat since it basically behaves the same way.

- With the jungle much harder, it will take you longer to clear camps and make you less healthy than you would have been in Season 2. Getting Improved Recall will help you get to your base, heal up, and get then back out quicker.

- Along with Summoner's Insight , I find Mastermind hard to pass up. This will not only lower your cooldowns on your Flash even more, it will also lower the cooldown on Smite which is absolutely great.

- 20% longer duration of buffs is highly suggested for Maokai as Crest of the Ancient Golem can allow you to use your abilities more often than when you don't have a point in Runic Affinity . Even if it's only 30 seconds longer.


The reason why I go 0/21/9 is for encouraging the role of Maokai as a support tank. He is not truly a damage dealer so you would rather want him to be tanky over AP with the exception of some AP items you may or may not purchase. Maokai is a great camp clearer so I feel that AP masteries can be overlooked. I am not supporting a Maokai going all out with AP items (only a Rod of Ages and Twin Shadows) unless you need to get those tanky AP items, Abyssal Mask, Iceborn Gauntlet, or Athene's Unholy Grail. If you do put in some points in the Offensive Mastery, you will be taking away points from either Defense or Utility which will take away your viability of being a tank or initiating with Flash and Twisted Advance. Still, if you feel that you need to do extra damage, you can always get some AP items that also incorporates defense as I have stated above.

Alternate Masteries


The above shows a slightly different masteries setup. Take out Durability and put the three points into Perseverance and Resistance for the Defense tree. For the Utility tree, instead of Wanderer , the three points would go into Meditation for the need of quicker mana regeneration. The mana regen will help you stay on the field longer and keeping Improved Recall will get you back to base earlier as well as getting out to the Field sooner. You would want to use these masteries if there's AP and AD to worry about rather than havng more health. Still, you can swap out certain points to your preference.



This set of masteries still holds 21 points in Defense but instead of 9 points in Utility, you can switch it over to the Offense Tree. I have noticed that Maokai can survive without the extra mana and the extra mana regen. Maokai does not need to particularly hold onto the buffs during mid and late game as you should hand it over to your other laners. I have also noticed that 9 points in the Offense Tree, Sorcery, Blast , and Arcane Knowledge can be extremely helpful in terms of more AP and magic penetration, thus more damage. In addition to all of that glorious stuff, 4% CDR will let you use more of your skills within a set time frame. Like the second set of masteries, you can take out Durability and Veteran's Scars for Perseverance and Resistance .

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Summoner Spells

  • This spell is always useful in terms of getting closer to your enemy to land your Twisted Advance. Since Maokai does not really have any escape abilities, Flash will help you (hopefully you don't fail flash) get out of sticky situations.

  • As a jungler, it is undoubtedly useful of you to get Smite. No question about it. Do not question it. Steal a Baron or Dragon . Just saying.

Other Spells to Consider

  • Some say Ghost is better than Flash. At certain times, I would agree. However, I'm used to Flash so I'm sticking with Flash. It is up to you.

  • Useful in terms of slowing the enemy down and being able to snare them easier if you need to catch up.

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Maokai's Abilities

Below are the official abilities of Maokai. The description is taken from the actual game verbatim. It is a good idea that you carefully read what each one does so you will be able to understand the role Maokai plays.

Passive - Sap Magic

  • Each time a spell is cast near Maokai he draws energy from it, gaining a charge of Magical Sap. When he has 5 charges his next melee attack energizes Maokai, healing him for 7% of his max HP.

Q - Arcane Smash

Arcane Smash SPACE
  • Maokai knocks back nearby enemies with a shockwave, dealing magic damage and slowing them.
  • Maokai releases an arcane shockwave. Nearby enemies are knocked back and all affected enemies take 70/115/160/205/250 (+0.4) magic damage and are slowed by 20/27/34/41/48% for 2 seconds.

W - Twisted Advance

  • Maokai dissolves into a cloud of arcane energies. He regrows near a target enemy, dealing damage and rooting it in place.
  • Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy that quickly travels to a target enemy, deals 80/115/150/185/220 (+0.8) magic damage and roots it for 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 second(s).

E - Sapling Toss

  • Maokai flings a sapling that deals area damage on impact. The sapling then wards the nearby area. When enemies approach, the sapling attacks enemies with an arcane blast.
  • Maokai flings a sapling that deals 40/75/110/145/180 (+0.4) magic damage on impact.
  • The sapling wards the nearby area, and will chase enemies that approach, exploding to deal 80/130/180/230/280 (+0.6) magic damage. Saplings last for 35 seconds.

R - Vengeful Maelstrom

  • Maokai shields his allies by drawing power from hostile spells and attacks, reducing non-tower damage done to allied champions in the area. When Maokai ends the effect, he unleashes the absorbed energy to deal damage to enemies within the vortex.
  • Toggle: Maokai creates a magical vortex that protects him and allied champions by reducing damage from non-turret sources by 20%.
  • Maokai can end the effect to release the stored energy, dealing 100/150/200 (+0.5) (+2 per damage absorbed) magic damage to enemies within the vortex. Maokai can store up to 200/250/300 bonus damage.

The description for each of Maokai's abilities are taken from Riot Games' League of Legend champion page specifically about Maokai, here.


__________Arcane Smash __________ __________ __________

Level 1
Level 2
  • The next ability you invest in is Arcane Smash because it does quite a lot of reliable damage, CC, and it is AoE too.

Level 3
  • At this point, you can decide which point should go in which ability. You can get Twisted Advance if you feel you and your ally is ready for an early gank. That snare is too stronk. If there is no possible early ganks (at level 3), then you can upgrade either Arcane Smash (preferred) or Sapling Toss (more damage against the neutral monsters).

Level 4
  • If you have not gotten Twisted Advance, get it now. With this, you can generally start ganking and be successful at it whether or not they died, they should at least blow their summoner spells.

Level 5
  • Now, you will focus on maxing out your Arcane Smash first. You want to max your Q first because it provides CC of slowing the enemy, making your ganks secure.

Level 6
  • You are level 6 now and so you must get your ultimate, Vengeful Maelstrom. Of course, put two more points into your ultimate at levels 11 and 16.

Below is the order in which should invest your points into:
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Skill Sequence for Ganks and Team Fights

Preferred for Ganks


- You definitely want to use your snare first to pin your target down and easily use your next ability to further keep your target trapped. Using Twisted Advance is a good ability to initiate and gank with. Also, keep in mind who you are snaring. Preferred targets are the enemy's AD carry, AP carry, and anyone who's a real threat. It is your job to make sure whoever is fed on the enemy's team is kept locked down and killed. Even before using Twisted Advance you can use Sapling Toss. It is very effective when you need vision if your target happens to be in a bush. Then, you will never encounter a problem with loss of vision, which is absolutely great for ganking.

2. Arcane Smash

- After you used your Twisted Advance, do not immediately use Arcane Smash. Instead, you should walk behind your target or where ever it would benefit your team because Arcane Smash bumps and moves him/her. So, you want your target to be closer to your team mates rather than moving him/her in a position where he/she can escape easier.


- Of course, you need to place down your ultimate. Make sure it is covering an area where you think the enemy would be heading towards. This way, you can also do last second damage when they escape instead of making Vengeful Maelstrom actually useless. Certain situations, you won't have to use your ultimate at all. Sometimes, you can't use it first because you really want to CC your enemy first.


- Use your Sapling Toss after you have used your three other abilities. Remember that your sapling takes time to land and time to trigger. Watch where you throw it too as you should predict your enemy's movement so Sapling Toss's damage isn't wasted all the time.


Preferred for Forcing Baron/Dragon Fights


- Depending in the situation you are in, you would place down your ultimate first. This way, you have it set up and your teammates receive the effect of reducing non-turret damage dealt to them. Situations where you would use Vengeful Maelstrom first is if you are about to be fighting in small areas and when your team is doing Dragon or Baron Nashor .


- If you are going to fight in small areas and you don't really have vision, you would actually throw a sapling first because it gives you vision, like a Sight Ward but only for 35 seconds. This can give you a heads up and get ready. However, if you choose to throw it after placing down your ultimate, you should immediately use Sapling Toss.


- Next, you will use your Twisted Advance and make sure you focus the appropriate enemy target as explained above for the other skill sequence.

4. Arcane Smash

- Then of course, use Arcane Smash to further CC them. Keep in mind where and in what direction you are using this ability.

Guide Top


I'll tell you the items you should get and explain why you should get them. After this Items chapter, you will get to learn about Maokai's jungle route.


Start out with:

and five
  • With Season 3 unfolding and the patch released (12/4/2012), we have been introduced with a variety of new items. For junglers, however, it seems like we are limited to purchasing a Hunter's Machete and 5 Health Potions every game. Don't worry though, it does help you while jungling. You will eventually upgrade Hunter's Machete into something very useful.

After you finished up clearing the jungle about two times, and whether or not you were able to get a gank or two in due to the buffed jungle, you may proceed to head back to base and buy:

Philosopher's Stone and maybe
  • Philosopher's Stone is a very good item as it gives you increased health regeneration as well as increased mana regeneration along with an additional 5 gold per 10 seconds. You want more movement speed as you want to help gank for your teammates and Boots of Speed is enough for that in early game. Moving faster will allow you to lock onto your target and successfully snare him/her with your Twisted Advance and then knocking them up with Arcane Smash.

After your purchases, head out towards the jungle again and continue clearing. I usually head out for Wraith and then look out for any lanes that are in need of help. Also, keep in mind of your buffs' timers. The next items you should purchase includes:

and either , , or
  • Getting Sightstone basically replaces our old 5 gold per 10 seconds, Heart of Gold. You will eventually build it into Ruby Sightstone. This item is extremely viable as it gives you the necessary wards that you would buy individually. You are paying a one time fee rather than cumulatively so it may or may not be of your best interest at the moment.
  • Perhaps you are safe from CC or you just don't care who gets in your way. Boots of Mobility will get you back out in the Field of Justice. Your enemies may not expect you to have arrived so quickly which you should use to your advantage (ex: walking towards Dragon or Baron Nashor). If you do get it, I would suggest getting it early for those surprising early ganks along with Enchantment: Alacrity.
  • Mercury's Treads is obviously for against those CCs and APs. Ninja Tabi is useful to help you against those who dare to auto attack you and an additional 25 armor is great against teams that are dominantly AD. I would prefer Mercury's Treads at anytime, however, because you want Maokai to be able to freely move anywhere without being held down for the maximum time for any champion's CC spells so you can get to the enemy's carry. For example: if it gets down to really late game where CC is a grave concern, I would sell Boots of Mobility (if I happen to have that) and get Mercury's Treads.

Since you have purchased Hunter's Machete from the beginning, you will of course upgrade it into:

and then eventually into after
  • If you have gotten Philosopher's Stone, you will enjoy an immense boost of health and mana regeneration. It also helps you deal more damage to the jungle camps so that's always a plus.
  • Spirit of the Ancient Golem gives you 500 health which is quite a lot for early game. You will definitely dominate the jungle even more so now that you have gotten this item. In addition, the tenacity will obviously help you in team fights since you are likely to get Boots of Mobility instead of Mercury's Treads.

After your next trip back to base, get:

Catalyst the Protector first, then

You will eventually build Catalyst the Protector and Blasting Wand into:

  • Don't be so doubtful. Extra health, mana, and ability power along with its passive gives you a total of 650 HP, 650 MP, and 80 AP. I usually am able to get Rod of Ages around 25 to 30 minutes which isn't too bad but definitely around 20 minutes if you get fed early which is likely because your ganks are strong and reliable.
  • If you feel the game is going to end shortly and 10 minutes won't pass by the time you get Rod of Ages, you can get something else such as Aegis of the Legion or any other item that requires you to have armor/magic resistance as soon as possible. In my opinion, Rod of Ages is absolutely great on Maokai. It also builds into Runic Bulwark which gives you lots of beneficial stats. I love Rod of Ages but if you would rather get something else, go ahead.

After Rod of Ages, you should get:

, , or
  • Aegis of the Legion gives you wonderful boosts in terms of armor, magic resist, and attack damage that will definitely help your team out in most cases. This item can also be ignored and instead you can go Frozen Heart for the following reasons: enemy's AD carry is fed, it's much more efficient for certain games, and you need more mana. I would recommend immediately upgrading Aegis of the Legion into Runic Bulwark.
  • Yes, Maokai will be hard to take down especially if you get Warmog's Armor. That beautiful amount of HP, 1000 to be exact, will give you instant access to having that extra health early. It actually should be the perfect item for Maokai as it matches him (in color)! Get Warmog's Armor if you really want to be able to stay on the Fields longer, its passive will grant you that wish.

You will then of course get:

Shurelya's Reverie
  • You can also get this item before purchasing Runic Bulwark. If you feel you need the use of its active, then rush it. I tend to hold off Shurelya's Reverie because I want to take advantage of Philosopher's Stone for as long as I can. Pay attention to how the game is going to determine when you need this item.
  • You want to be able to help your team speed up and yourself so you can use Twisted Advance on any fleeing enemy. Using it defensively, however can also help save your teammates from getting caught.

Next item you would get is situational. I prefer:
and/or and/or
  • Randuin's Omen is also a good choice as its activation will slow down any surrounding enemy units. It will definitely help you chase them down and snare them. Plus, it also gives you extra health, armor, and health regeneration. Its passive is also viable against the enemy if they have fed AD champs. Especially if you are already stacking armor, Randuin's Omen is a great addition!
  • Frozen Heart is absolutely necessary if the enemy AD carry is fed (as explained previously above) so lowering their attack speed will increase your chances of protecting your allies and yourself. Cooldown reduction of 20% is wonders as well.
  • Sometimes you need extra help in catching your enemies. Twin Shadows is a great item for you to purchase due to its active. It also gives you AP, MR, and MS! In addition to your Boots of Mobility, the extra movement speed will prove useful for any occasion.


Other items to be considered based on the enemy's team composition:

All of the above items are defensive items.
  • Sunfire Cape is a helpful item if you want to have that early set of armor and you are not worrying about getting magic resist. A tree on fire looks pretty cool as well. The passive is not too bad but sometimes not very effective. Every game is situational so you have to think about which items best fits your role and game play.
  • I would get Abyssal Mask if my team are mostly AP so the passive will help lower MR of the opposing team and my team will do more damage. Also if the enemy is heavy AP, this item can help bring your MR up so you can survive longer.
  • Rylai's Crystal Scepter gives you more health and AP and ability to slow the enemy. This will allow you to do more damage, be more tanky, and never let the enemy escape. Personally, I have not yet bought this item as I haven't met a situation where I needed the slow. I do think this item can be bought on Maokai which is why I bring it up here in this guide.
  • Iceborn Gauntlet gives you enough armor, tons of mana, AP, and CDR! Even though doesn't seem to be useful for Maokai and reading carefully, I can see that Iceborn Gauntlet will help keep your enemy within reach as you auto attack them consistently. I definitely would get this item for the sake of all the plentiful stats it provides in addition to its passive.
  • Like to dive often? Then getting Ohmwrecker will ultimately please you. It provides you health, mana, and armor so it is quite an acceptable item to purchase for Maokai. I don't really have any problems with this item but 120 second cooldown might be a bit too long or the turrets aren't really a bother.

Alternate Builds

For full tank:
Shurelya's Reverie

If the rest of your team members are not tanky, it would be best that you are the tank for the game. The build above will help you achieve that. It is a mix of armor and MR. You can switch out items if you need to go primarily armor or MR ( Randuin's Omen or Abyssal Mask). Perhaps you want more health or better regeneration, then get Warmog's Armor or Spirit Visage! Take out Twin Shadows for it. Mix it up!

For support tank:
Shurelya's Reverie

If there's another ally that can be tanky, then you don't have to fully go tank. Instead, you can act as a support with those super awesome auras. It helps you move faster, slow your opponents, reduce cooldowns, and absorb damage. Plus, you will definitely earn lots of HP!

For tanky AP:
Now, if you do feel like your team can use extra damage, you have the chance to go tanky AP. The above items gives you AP along with HP, CDR, MR, and armor. I have switched out Zhonya's Hourglass for Athene's Unholy Grail because I believe it will help you out more than Zhonya's Hourglass would in terms of mana/MR. You can still benefit from it's 100 AP, armor, and active. If you really are looking for more damage, you can get Rabadon's Deathcap or even Deathfire Grasp.

Note: For Mercury's Treads, you can switch it to any other boots that fits. For example: Ninja Tabi for more armor or Boots of Mobility for more speed with either Enchantment: Alacrity, Enchantment: Furor, or Enchantment: Homeguard.

Optional but Still Important

  • If there are champions that can go invisible such as Twitch, Vayne, Talon, and Rengar, you should definitely get Oracle's Elixir to prevent these annoying champions from getting away or killing you without you being able to fight back. As of Season 3, Oracle's Elixir lasts for 5 minutes or, as usual, until you die.
  • Another reason to get Oracle's Elixir is because the enemy places down wards. Those wards can help the enemy so killing them will make them lose vision and opens up a possibility that you can gank them instead. I highly recommend investing your gold early on, around levels 8-12 to start clearing wards and gain map control. Due to the nerf of Oracle's Elixir, I am not sure whether I would be happy with buying it. I am considering to purchase Vision Wards instead.

  • The two items shown above are potions basically to help you empower AP with CDR and Health with AD.

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Jungling Route

With the new jungle, it is a lot harder to clean up. The neutral monsters have more health and are generally stronger. Your jungle route is still typically the same but you will probably find yourself farming more than ganking.

You can either start at Wraith or Ancient Golem.

The route I take is starting at Ancient Golem so I will post that route and above and below shows the order, no matter which side of the map you are positioned:

1. Get Sapling Toss first. Always be wary of invasions. At 1:25, you should throw your first Sapling Toss where Ancient Golem will spawn. Continue to do so until it spawns at 1:55. You will have 3 by then. Also, ask your teammates (solo top or mid) to hit it a couple of times. Three Sapling Toss will easily kill the two Young Lizards so make sure your allies don't steal them by accident. Smite when Ancient Golem gets low enough.

2. After doing Ancient Golem, you should be level 2 and put a point in Arcane Smash. Proceed towards Giant Wolf. Use your Sapling Toss and Arcane Smash whenever possible.

3. Next, head to Wraith and you will use your Sapling Toss and Arcane Smash.

4. Skip Lizard Elder as your Smite is still on cooldown. So, head towards Golems.

5. After Golems, you will be able to take down Lizard Elder and the two Young Lizards. You may need to use your Health Potion to remain healthy.

6. Wraith will spawn soon after so you should take down those too before wanting to gank or go back to base. I wouldn't suggest going back to base as you don't really have a lot of gold and it would be a waste of time going back. You should also be good on health so there's no need to go back. Continue jungling if you cannot find a lane to safely gank or try to counter jungle if possible.

As a jungler, you will have to look around the map and figure out yourself how each lanes are doing. If you feel like one lane is okay, you can ignore but there's always a time when you have to gank. Keep warding usual spots, top, both sides of the river, and eventually Barons and Dragon. If you see a particular side that is being visited by the enemy, definitely ward that side. You can also ward the enemy's jungle so you can try to counter jungle and invade. You will also have to keep in mind about each camp timers which I will tell you below.

Then we have our two big bosses.

  • Dragon spawns at 2:30 and takes 6 minutes to respawn.
  • Baron Nashor spawns at 15:00 and takes 7 minutes to respawn.
  • Both of these will need to be checked and warded as they give out global gold, 190 gold from Dragon and 300 gold from Baron Nashor. They also give out experience to allow you to get ahead of the enemy team. Save your Smite for these occasions to ensure you get Dragon and Baron Nashor for your team or at least attempt to successfully steal if you are in that tough situation where the enemy is taking them.

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Counter Jungling

If you want to counter jungle, check who is your enemy jungler and make sure you can swiftly kill a camp down to one monster since now the camps do take a bit time to clear.

  • If it's those AD junglers that usually start at Lizard Elder, then you can time it. They all spawn after 5 minutes. So, it is likely they next time Lizard Elder spawns will be around 7:25. You can then Sight Ward the bush in the area and steal the red buff.

    Possible Champions that Start Red Buff

  • The same goes for Ancient Golem. If they start blue buff, then you can time it as well. Place a Sight Ward in the bush where you can easily sneak in and Smite it or attack the jungler. If you are very careful with where you go, the enemy won't realize what you are planning.

    Possible Champions that Start Blue Buff

  • For me, I really like taking Ancient Golem because it is easier than taking Lizard Elder. Whether you are on the blue team or the purple team, the blue buff is always easier and much more safer to steal. I would always Sight Ward the bush at around 6:30 and then prepare myself and sometimes my teammates to steal when 7:25 comes around.

  • Even if they do start Lizard Elder, I will still go for their blue buff. You can still time it. By the time you get to your red buff, you can assume they are taking their blue buff at the same time. So, it is around 8 to 9 minutes that their blue will respawn. This will also apply to their red buff if they started Ancient Golem, if you really want their red buff.

  • If you do successfully counter jungle, you can have their blue and then give your blue to one of your allies, preferably your AP carry. This is very beneficial as you want to keep the blue buff on you so your mana isn't low and the reduced cooldown will really help you snare more often. Thus you won't be blamed for neglecting your AP carry the blue buff. Maokai is really a nice tree as he can also give away red buff to any of the AD champions.

Still, you will have to be very watchful of where the enemy jungler is heading to. Make sure you don't get counter jungled, or at least keep it to a minimum if you can't help it. Tell your teammates to come and help you. Warding your own jungle helps too since you really cannot give up the gold and experience or else you will severely fall behind especially if you cannot counter by ganking. A good time to counter jungle the enemy is when they are top but you are around bottom, vice versa. They would not be able to do anything about your invade unless they do have Sight Wards or Vision Wards. Thus, it's a good idea to bring out an Oracle's Elixir.

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In this section, I'll be going over ganking certain champions the best I can in a few sentences. If further explanation is needed, I will explain the process of ganking for that champion thoroughly. I will list them on their most common role (AP mid, Top solo, etc). Keep in mind that champions are not limited to one lane. I may or may not list them under a different category. I will leave some of the champions out as I feel it is not necessary to actually guide you on what to do with those particular champions. There is one thing I would like you to keep in mind when ganking. You don't have to get kills. Let your opponents burn their summoner spells and then come around once more to gank with a higher percentage of success and remember with either blue or red buffs, they can make your ganks a breeze.

Note: Not all of the champions shown below under a certain category holds true for every single game. Many players tend to switch up their roles and play differently than what most think they would/should. This entails you to also play differently in terms of how to proceed ganking and jungling.

AP Mid

Click to see Advice for AP Mid champions

Top Solo

Click to see Advice for Top Solo champions

AD Carry (Bottom Lane)

Click to see advice for AD Carry champions

Support (Bottom Lane)

Click to see Advice for Support Champions

Junglers/Other (Multiple Lanes/Roles)

Subject to change at anytime

Click to see Advice for Champions with Multiple Roles

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Team Fights

Laning Phase is Over

When laning phase is over, meaning most of the turrets have been destroyed whether from your team or the enemy's team, you will have to be prepared for team fights. At this stage it should also be getting into mid to late game. You have to expect that the enemy champions are built as much as your team is. You have to figure out whether or not you will win team fights. Keep up with warding and try not to get caught.

  • You are Maokai and remember it. Your role needs to be aggressive, especially when you are ganking/engaging. If you are going, you MUST go. Do not hesitate. In team fights, you will have to commit as you will most likely be using your Twisted Advance first so you are being pulled to the enemy and potentially be in a 1v5 situation for a second or two.
  • Get your teammates to be ready because if they aren't and you used Twisted Advance on the enemy, it is all wasted efforts. The enemy you should focus and snare would obviously be the one who's carrying them. It is mostly the AD or AP carries that are fed. Keep in mind where they are and hold off any fights if you and your allies cannot get to their carry. You especially do not want to focus a tank or anyone that's quite difficult to take down. The squishies always go first. However, every game is different so adapt to the situation. There are times where you have to focus a tanky DPS.

The enemy champions that you would most likely have to focus includes but not limited to are:

Common AD Carries

Difficult Champions to Focus But Still Should

The lists above shows common played champions pertaining to their role. The common ones are found to be easier to deal with. The last list shows most of the champions that are quite harder to kill due to their abilities that allows them easy escapes, increase movement speed, any CC, and sustainability.

After Team Fights

After fighting the enemy, if the outcome is favorable, you should do the following:
  • Take objectives; includes Dragon/Baron Nashor
  • Push, push, and push lanes and turrets
  • Take the enemy's jungle camps, especially the buffs (or at least clear the skulls)
  • Ward their jungle for even better future fights

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Maokai is an excellent farmer as he has 3 AoE abilities which does enough damage to kill minions and neutral monsters. You may even use Vengeful Maelstrom if there is a huge creep wave that needs to easily be farmed in seconds. So, last hitting isn't such a big deal but keep in mind your passive, Sap Magic will heal you a good amount of HP after 5 spells are cast near you. It is good for you to keep farming so you can get your items out and tank and support your team. Gold will get you the items you need and proceed to dominate.

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My Impressions

I really love Maokai as a jungler. He is really strong throughout the whole game. Although he seems to be low in damage, he can get kills which allows you to get the core items necessary to protect your allies. His ganks are unbelievably successful most of the time. You can easily counter jungle the opposing team. Sapling Toss gives you vision so throw a few before face checking. Maokai is a strong tank with lots of HP, armor, and magic resist. He will most likely survive after every fight. His ultimate may not be too impressive but if you are going against a team of lots of AoE, you may as well pick Maokai for that reason so less damage is inflicted onto your teammates. Another thing with Maokai is that you have to be aggressive. With your ganks, if you're going in, you're going in! Don't back off, just let your snare, Twisted Advance, do its job followed by your other abilities. Of course, if you sense extreme danger then back off. ^_^!

Other Things to Note

Riot's Official Tips
  • Saplings can be tossed into brush or over terrain to gain line of sight on your enemies.
  • Save Vengeful Maelstrom for after your opponents have fully committed to a fight.
  • Ranking up Arcane Smash and Twisted Advance gives Maokai powerful crowd control moves, while ranking up Sapling Toss will improve your damage output and ability to farm.

My Maokai Wins

My Maokai Damage Dealt

Season 3 First Two Games

First Guide =]

This is my first guide. I am very tired yet very happy. I know it's very long but I felt passionate about doing this so I was committed! Thanks for any comments/suggestions/upvotes!!! Please do comment. Even though I am "done", I feel like I can always edit and continue to help out new players who's interested in jungling and Maokai!


  • I give credit to jhoijhoi's Making a Guide. It really helped me a bunch with the coding to make the guide look somewhat appealing. I still have a lot to learn though.

  • After requesting banners of Maokai, jhoijhoi has my thanks once again!

  • I also give my thanks to because I had to search for those neutral monster images and make sure I got my info correct and accurate.

  • I also appreciate my reviewers who took their time to look at this guide and offer beneficial suggestions as well as a +1! Thank you all!

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- Edited most of guide for Season 3!


- Added advice for Syndra under chapter "Ganking"
- Edited chapter "Masteries"


- Replaced Honor Guard with Enlightenment
- Updated chapter "Masteries"
- Fixed some codings

Click to see older updates