Maokai (Tank) Support S13
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Runes: Standard Runes
+10% Attack Speed
+8 Magic Resist
+10% Attack Speed
+8 Magic Resist
Ability Order Standard with E start
Threats & Synergies
Probably the only "pure" hard counter to Maokai Support. He basically neutralizes you in every phase of the game. In lane with his tankiness, sustain and counter-engage. And later stages of the game with his ultimate. The only reason why he isn't a must ban, is because it is a very unpopular pick.
While his early game was nerfed recently, dealing with his turrets in lane is still somewhat problematic for Maokai. Overall easier to punish than before though, so moving him down a tier.
The most difficult lanes usually involve Cait with a ranged support like Lux/Morgana. Even with E start you will have a hard time contesting the push at lvl1, if the enemy duo plays aggressively. You generally scale well enough though, that if you survive the lane she won't be an issue. Having an early gank from your jgl-er helps against these type of matchups a lot.
Draven is another lane-bully, that can be difficult to deal with at early stage. Most ADC's can't match his dmg in lane so you can't really do much vs him and his support either. If your all in doesn't burst him 100-0, then you are just risking feeding him. You definitely need both Q+W and ignite to really consider engaging against him.
Samira is a weird matchup. She isn't really a threat early lvls even when paired with an engage support, but once she hits 6 and has a few components, her all ins generally do well against you. She can snowball very hard (even from a losing position), and her windwall can also be problematic for your ultimate.
Similar to Samira. She isn't an issue in lane (although you won't really have kill pressure on her either with her passive), but her lvl 6 is rather strong and once she has Shieldbow, she is very hard to shut down.
Sivir isn't really a threat until she gets a few items, but she does neutralize lane against you most of the time if she uses her E properly. In this matchup you probably wanna focus heavily on roaming, because it's very hard to all in her if she plays safely.
With the Yuumi rework, this champion became somewhat more viable into Maokai. She now has a Shield on E instead of a Heal, which counters burst much better, and her ultimate became a stronger peeling tool as well to counter dives/engages. While in a vacuum she is still manageable as Maokai, certain 2v2 matchups can be hard to win against. This, and the fact that she is a rather popular pick, makes her a decent ban candidate.
In theory Milio should be a bigger counter to Maokai because of his utility and ultimate, but the champion in general doesn't do that well vs heavy dive even with his ult's CC cleansing effect. That being said, in certain 2v2 matchups the early trading power his passive provides for his ADC can be very strong. and can turn them into a bit of a raid boss as the game goes on.
How problematic support Twitch is, comes down to how good the player piloting him is, and how disciplined your solo-laners are. If he doesn't get any successful roams off, he will be pretty useless. If he manages to get in a few early kills, he can snowball pretty hard though, while also setting up his solo-laners for success. Overall he is more annoying than problematic, but a good player can turn the game into a very frustrating experience for you and your team, and you can't really match his roams at the earliest levels.
-The reason for this guide:
When I was browsing for support specific Maokai guides, I couldn't really find a really in-depth guide that is also up-to-date (a lot of them still focus heavily on the AP build despite the nerfs and the rework, or is centered too much around Deadman's Plate rush.)
-Why Maokai support:
Maokai in my opinion is probably the best all-rounder tank support in the game. He has a ton of CC, great both as an engage- or peel support, amazing at establishing vision thanks to his saplings, and his kit is overall very well suited for objective centered metas (the ones we have in recent years).
This was very evident in S12, when every other tank support was struggling vs the enchanter favoured support meta, Mao was the only tank that managed to keep a consistent 50-51% WR (even if it was by a smaller playerbase).
Strong CC/utility (suitable for any comp)
Good Vision Control
Easy to execute kit (beginner friendly)
Strong Scaling (dmg and survivability)
Is a flex-pick (less counterpicking)
Good synergy with almost any lane partner
Not many hard matchups/counterpicks
Not often picked/banned
weak lvl 1/2 (certain 2v2 matchups can be difficult early game)
low influence in games where your team is behind
(if your team has not enough dmg, your engages don't really work)
Requires a stronger matchup knowledge than traditional Tank supports
(Maokai's early sustain is weak and he doesn't have dmg mitigation in his kit so you need to be more thoughtful of your engages in lane)
Both help to mitigate the biggest issues Maokai has, survivability when engaging and early mana sustain.
Maokai, unlike traditional tank supports doesn't have any damage mitigation in his kit, so he heavily relies on the extra resistances Aftershock provides, especially when engaging against multiple opponents. You also have good "sticking power" with your kit, so you can reliably land the damage part of the keystone as well.
From the 2nd row neither rune is really amazing, but overall Font of Life is the most reliable choice. Demolish is an okay rune if you have a favourable bot 2v2 matchup, but you can't really know for sure if you get the chance to proc it in lane, and it's value is somewhat limited once the plates are gone.
3rd row all options are decent, Bone Plating is useful at every phase of the game, but if you have a lane where you are not really under a threat of dying, you might wanna opt for Conditioning. Second Wind is usually picked vs double poke, but your passive and the two pots should be enough sustain early if you are not eating every skillshot/letting your opponents constantly aa you, so I would still opt for the other two in those matchups.
From last row all can work as well. Unflinching helps vs CC since we don't really wanna opt for Tenacity boots, but if enemy team doesn't have much, then both Overgrowth and Revitalizeare good options to amp your passive and FoL healing.
From Inspiration we want to have Biscuit Delivery as Maokai runs out of mana early on rather quickly even with a conservative mana management.
For the 2nd option every minor rune outside of Magical Footwear has some merit to it. (As a support you wanna have boots early on to move around faster, and Mao also relies on MS a lot to be able to catch people with his W, as it's rather short range.)
I personally prefer Hextech Flashtraption as it gives me more flexibility at engaging/roaming, helps with warding over walls/ in enemy jgl, and there are a lot of situations where a fight transfers over terrain which Maokai can't follow by default unless he manages to catch someone with W.
If I were to opt for something else, it would probably be Cosmic Insight for more frequent flash/ignite usage.
For lanes where you get bullied very hard as you try to get early Relic Shield stacks(Something like a Draven/ Caitlyn lane) you might want to consider picking up Minion Dematerializer for a more consistent support quest completion. Generally not needed though.
For secondary tree you can opt for Sorcery as it also covers your mana issues with Manaflow Band, but overall Biscuit Delivery is more reliable, even if it provides slightly less bonus mana. If I were to choose this option, I would personally pair it with Celerity for the extra MS, synergises well with Boots of Swiftness and items like Dead Man's Plate, Turbo Chemtank or Force of Nature.
While you still looking to all in onto these champions as you have good kill pressure once you unlock your W(+Q)+Ignite combo, Arcane Comet+ Scorch helps to relive some of the early pressure these double ranged lanes can put on you and your ADC, especially during lvl 1.
Eating one empowered Sapling does about 1/3 of the HP of these squishier champions when you run Comet, which increases your kill potential at lvl 2 a lot.
Since we run Manaflow Band as well, we can also spam our saplings more freely, even throwing at enemies not near the bushes.
The main thing to keep in mind with this Rune set is that we do sacrifice some survivability in the later stages of the game, so only opt for it if you are sure the lack of Aftershock won't hinder you in the bigger fights.
One great thing about Maokai support is that he offers insane kill-pressure in lane once he unlocks both his Q + W, and Ignite dmg is usually a difference maker between being able to burst down an enemy or not. It also helps vs any healing they might have with an utility support or Heal summoner.
Exhaust is generally taken with teamfights/later stages in mind, when you have a specific assassin/dmg threat you want to shut down.
Since Maokai generally doesn't have very one sided 2v2 bot matchups (and even in those you can "fish" for openings), you generally want to keep your chances of securing early kills in lane, this is why Ignite is taken as the preferred summoner.
The standard choice is Relic Shield. Even for the AP build I prefer to take it over Spellthief's Edge, because you can stack it more reliably. Also since Mao isn't amazing at the earliest lvls, your ADC can struggle to last hit in certain 2v2 matchups, so it's nice to be able to help out.
Also most 2v2 matchups allow us to look for an early lvl 2 all in with W+ignite, and having the minion execution passive, helps to secure the lvl advantage over our opponents.
Steel Shoulderguards is an alternative, it's generally taken with Dead Man's Plate in mind, as with that build you tend to AA more in skirmishes.
With the recent Maokai rework though, even our E has a reasonable AP scaling on it, so you generally prefer the AP variant of the item. And while Dead Man's Plate build path is still a viable choice, it's not really required anymore for Maokai support to work.
Boots of Swiftness is the most commonly built/optimal choice.
One reason is it's price, compared to the defensive options it costs 200g less, which might not look like a lot, but on support budget every gold counts.
Another reason is that while Maokai has great target lockdown and sticking power with his kit, he can struggle to get the initial engage going, because his W is rather short range. The extra MS helps a lot in this regard.
And one last reason is that our Sapling's MS does scale with our own MS, so it buffs our E slightly.
Defensive options like Mercury's Treads or Plated Steelcaps are taken only in very specific situations (Ton of CC on enemy's side,(multiple) high AA-based dmg threats), and even in those cases you want to consider if the extra defense/tenacity is worth sacrificing your mobility.
The Tank Mythics that were added in the current Preseason aren't really suitable for the support budget at the moment, and overall don't really provide the same level of utility that Evenshroud's 10%dmg amplifying passive does.
You are also exceptionally good at using this item, as every ability outside of your E procs the passive, and it applies it on being CC-ed as well. As someone who likes to throw himself into the opposing team in teamfights, this is also a very valuable part of the item.
With the 13.10 changes Radiant Virtue finally became a more accessible item for supports. It costs only 400g more (which is basically the extra 150HP it offers), but it does have 10 less AH than Evenshroud. Has a solid build path as well ( Giant's Belt is always a very strong component regardless of what item you build it into).
I personally still prioritize Evenshroud because of how strong and cheap the item is, and the AH difference between the two also makes it a better mythic overall (since our core build doesn't really include that much AH outside of the Wardstone items), but it's a reasonably good alternative for games where keeping your teammates alive takes priority over dishing out more damage.
-2nd item: Most games you want to build AR. Evenshroud already provides you with some MR, and generally most comps lean towards AD dmg in their dmg profile. Not to mention that as a tank, you are not really the primary target of AP casters.
Thornmail and the recently "reworked" Sunfire Aegis are both great options.
They are one of the cheaper Tank legendary items, offer good stats, and help us to dish out more dmg/take down opponents easier.
Thornmail is a bit more commonly built, because the current meta is full off Bruisers/Juggernauts with a lot of sustain/healing, and utility supports with healing in their kit are also very popular.
With the 13.2(/1.b) changes Thornmail lost it's reliability when it comes to applying anti-heal, but in return it got +10AR and +5% dmg on it's damage passive.
Overall this made the item more of a generic Armor item, than an actual anti-heal one, but for it's price, it still remains one of the strongest AR item for a support budget, while still being a strong enough option for champions who rely on auto-attacks to proc their healing.
It has a good build path with Giant's Belt component as well, which even by itself is a very strong item-spike for 950g.
Sunfire Aegis with it's lowered price became an excellent AR alternative for games where the enemy sustain isn't that big of an issue. While it offers less AR than Thornmail, it makes up for it in the extra 150HP it provides, and the more potent damage as well (which ofc synergises well with our Mythic).
Has a reasonably solid build path as well, with Bami's Cinder's cost being reduced to 1000g, and the very strong Chain Vest component, which provides an amazing 40 AR for just 800g.
-3rd item: You generally build the item that suits your gamestate the most, but since most games you opt for an AR item as 2nd, you probably want to buy an MR item to make you more durable, especially that around the time you start building your 3rd item, is when most AP casters hit their bigger power spikes.
My primary choice is Abyssal Mask. Thanks to the changes in 13.10, this item basically became the strongest MR option for champions with a lot of CC in their kit. It offers on average 69-78 MR in teamfights, which is a lot considering how cheap the item is, while also not suffering from "hard to complete" requirements like the adjusted Force of Nature does.
It's "Curse" passive also reduces your opponents MR, and since most of your damage is magic damage, it can really amp your late game DPS. Overall an execellent item both as a defensive and offensive option, for a very cheap price and an improved buildpath as well thanks to the new Negatron Cloak component.
Until the item gets nerfed, I don't think any other MR item can compete with it as an alternative. Force of Nature has been hard nerfed on 13.10, and as a result, it doesn't really offer better protection vs AP champions anymore. The 5% MS passive is nice, and it does have 100 more HP, but these two stats alone don't make up for the 400g price difference IMO. Overall I would even rate Turbo Chemtank above it at the moment, because it offers more HP, and has a useful active.
-4th item: Most games I prefer to go for Vigilant Wardstone because being able to buy Control Wards late game is a very powerful ability, and this item not only allows you to store more wards, but also to place more on the map.
With the 13.10 changes it costs more gold, but has a minor component in Watchful Wardstone to make up for it. The completed item also offers +20% in stats now, which means even more AH/HP (stats Mao really loves).
In certain games you might want to have some extra resistances instead, but overall Wardstone is a very strong 4th item option with it's utility and improved stats.
Some examples for champions like this: Kayn, Sylas, Vladimir, or even certain enchanters as Sona/ Soraka (since their target won't necessarily aa you, and in those games you can benefit from the AoE anti-heal your kit provides).
Things to keep in mind with this alternative build path:
-We don't want to finish up Morellonomicon until last item. Spending 2200g for only 200HP and some offensive stats (stats that Maokai doesn't really rely on) is simply not worth it,so we just want to sit on Oblivion Orb. We only buy it for it's 40% GW value, and that doesn't really change between the finished item and the minor component.
-We still need to sort out our "defensive needs", since we opt out of the 350HP and 70 AR Thornmail offers. What item exactly we build after Oblivion Orb comes down to enemy team composition and the game state (and is the main reason, why I didn't include any item suggestion after Orb in the item preview).
Some "3rd" item options:
Dead Man's Plate/ Sunfire Aegis - (vs AD heavy comp).
Abyssal Mask - (vs comps where there are more AP threats than AD)
Anathema's Chains - (vs a comp that is mainly centered around one carry-generally the ADC. This item provides a lot of HP, so even with only the base resistances and Evenshroud's stats, we should be tanky enough against these type of teams.)
This used to be the most popular build choice when tank Maokai support really started to gain popularity. The main reason was, that back in S11, there wasn't really a suitable mythic for Maokai, at least not one that was worth building early.
This item provided good survivability, mobility, and since the meta build included old Abyssal Mask as a 2nd item for it's %dmg amplifier passive (current passive of Evenshroud), you generally didn't mind that it only offered AR as resistance.
Since then Evenshroud was added to the game to provide a Mythic for tank supports whose gameplay is more centered around engaging, while Dead Man's Plate lost some of it's stats/dmg.
Considering the massive price difference and how strong of an item Evenshroud is at the moment, I can't really say it's justified to build Dead Man's Plate, at least not as a priority item.
That being said, I want to address some advantages of the item:
-It does offer reasonable single-target damage once completed, and the meta build still includes Evenshroud as a core, so this damage also gets amplified.
-The Winged Moonplate component allows you to not rush Tier2 boots before 1st item completion, as Boots MS combined with the 5% MS bonus basically gives you the same amount of MS most T2 boots would provide, and the completed item also offers extra MS because of its stacking passive.
Overall I would consider building this item only in games where I don't really need the early MR component of Evenshroud, so basically very AD skewed comps.
Since the item offers enough MS on it's own, you are not forced to default to Boots of Swiftness, which means you are able to build Mercury's Treads as an MR option, and focus with your build on stacking AR.
In general the extra dmg you and your teammates are able to deal in fights with Evenshroud at a cheaper price, is worth more than the burst dmg Dead Man's Plate can provide vs a single target, and the extra MS doesn't really make up for it in my opinion. But it still remains a viable buildpath.
- Frozen Heart: While I do consider this item as a very solid Tank item (even with it's higher price in S13), generally you don't want to build items on support Maokai which don't offer you HP.
Main reason is that you are generally under lvl-ed compared to the other roles, so you will have much less HP to begin with.
On top of this you also have less gold to spend/less items to buy, so you kind of fall behind if the few items you invest in don't have bonus HP on them.
And your passive/sustain also scales of your Max HP, so you lose out on durability twice with items like this.
That said, in certain games vs a hyperscaler like Yi/Jax/Vayne/Kindred...etc you can include this item as a 3rd/4th late game item, but overall it remains a very situational buy, especially with the slightly increased price.
- Dead Man's Plate: In games where I do Oblivion Orb as the anti-heal option, I started to default to this item in case I need AR.
Reason is, that we are a bit more squishy with this build, so we don't really get that much value out of the sustained damage of Sunfire Aegis, and the extra mobility can also be the difference between surviving or dying with our weaker survivability.
A few items that didn't make the cut, but worth mentioning:
- Anathema's Chains: This item is great when the enemy team doesn't really have multiple damage threats, or only one dmg threat of a single damage type. It offers a ton of HP and is very cheap. I generally use it as a pseudo-MR item, but can be okay vs AD as well.
My biggest issue with the item is that it can be very frustrating to bind it to the ideal target late game, if they play around vision/fog, and it also takes some time to ramp up.
- Spirit Visage: This item is very niche and the only reason worth mentioning is because it does synergise with our healing passive. With Turbo Chemtank offering better stats for a cheaper price and even the hard nerfed (13.10) version of Force of Nature being a superior MR item, there isn't really a situation where you would opt for this item on support Mao.
- Randuin's Omen: This item used to be super bad last season, this season they made it into a slightly more appealing item at the cost of a price increase and a slightly weaker dmg reduction.
Sadly this made the item less affordable for support. It's competing against Thornmail/ Sunfire Aegis with an extra 300g in price, while offering worse stats or utility than those. Probably won't see many Maokai support games without some further changes to it.
- Zeke's Convergence: With the 13.10 changes this item finally became an item worth looking at. It offers now reasonably good AR for how cheap it is, and the HP+AH isn't too bad on it either. Might become a reasonable alternative in games you don't require to build Thornmail.
- Knight's Vow: Item offers now a bit less AH/HP but in return it has some AR on it as well. With a more warden style build that has Radiant Virtue as mythic, it might be worth looking at as an AR alternative.
As you probably noticed, I didn't include many of them, and most of them aren't even supports.
One of the greatest thing about Maokai support is that unlike other, traditional engage supports, he doesn't really struggle in isolated 2v2 matchups because he does have a ranged ability despite being melee.
In melee vs melee matchup you basically go toe-to toe vs all except Blitzcrank*, and the dynamic of the early fighting is usually decided by who has the more dominant ADC and who secures lvl 2 1st. Even if a champion like Leona/ Nautilus/ Alistar is slightly stronger than you in lane, both your sustain and your DPS massively outscales them as the game goes on, which gives you an overall edge against them.
*(Blitz hook can isolate either you or your ADC in an 1v2, but even this matchup is favourable for you overall if you have both W+Q unlocked, depends ofc on the ADC picks).
In ranged matchups you can keep the enemy out of bushes with your E (Which makes their poke more dodge-able both for you and your ADC) and if you can secure the lvl 2 advantage (generally you should because of the support item difference), you can try for a quick all in onto one of them with W+Ignite, especially if they are already chunked a bit by your Saplings.
As I mentioned earlier, Taric is the only "official" Maokai counter. He pretty much does the same you do in lane, except his sustain is superior, and he even shares it with his ADC, so it's very hard to win out on trades, if the enemy duo doesn't misplay.
The only advantage Mao has over Taric is that he is better at ganking other lanes because Taric's CC is very situational/hard to coordinate with randoms.
In teamfights his ult basically shuts down your ult/engage, so you either burst your target before his ult charges up, or you have to wait out the 2.5s invulneribility, which is a rather big window for them to kill you and your teammates.
Luckily Taric is a very unpopular pick even above Plat+, so you won't play this matchup often, and when you do, you always have the option to dodge as well.
With the rise in popularity of Heimerdinger(the only reason you are allowed to hate on DRX), Maokai players were quickly reminded how annoying this champion is regardless of which lane you meet him.
Unlike other poke supports, you can't really scare him out of bushes, because your Saplings target the closest enemy to them, which are his turrets and not him, and it takes quite a few E-s from you to actually take them down, so you are generally better not bothering with them and just play towards the river side of the lane. Your best bet is to survive lane without feeding (he is annyoing, but doesn't do that much dmg if you don't get stunned by his grenade), and be more useful at roaming/teamfighting than him. Side note - this is one lane where you might consider taking Comet over Aftershock.
Caitlyn is one of the few ADCs which can force you and your ADC to play more passive at earliest lvls. While you have your E to counterpoke her and her support, it does have a relatively high CD, something Caitlyn'S autoattacks don't have.
If you make it to lvl 3 without getting chunked down too much, you can try to punish them with W+Q+Ignite, as both she and the ranged support she is usually paired with is rather squishy.
You generally do well vs the likes of Lux/ Morgana at later stages because of their squishyness and how well you scale, so overall these matchups aren't that bad for you outside of the earliest lvls.
Draven pretty much wins 1v1 in lane against any ADC because of his insane early dmg, so these lanes you are kind of forced to play passive early on regardless of the support matchup, but it's especially true vs another melee/engage/hook support, as they give Draven even more kill pressure.
You scale very well though, so if you don't feed him in lane too much, he won't be an issue at later stages of the game.
Samira/ Nilah overall very strong(S+ Tier) champions currently. Lane you might secure a lead, even a few kills, but one misplay is enough by your team during mid game, and they snowball out of control. Samira with her relatively high PR is ban worthy champ. Nilah sees less gameplay overall, but can be just as problematic to deal with.
Sivir Boring, perma-wave clear champion with a spell shield. If she and her support plays it safe, there isn't much you can do in lane, so try to roam and secure early objectives/kills elsewhere so she doesn't have an opportunity to scale into late game.
Regarding synergies, Maokai is pretty much playable with all ADCs and even APCs, because he is very good both as engage and as a "Warden-like" peel support.
The only exceptions are probably Senna (You can't really farm for her) and Aphelios (he is rather weak early, and not many players are adept at playing him).
This and the fact that he doesn't really have terrible matchups makes him a very good/safe Blind pick overall.
-My general rule of thumb is that vs ranged supports (except Yuumi*) you should start with E.
The reason is, your E is the only thing that stops a ranged support from perma-harassing you and your ADC at lvl 1, and forcing you off the wave.
Without it, you can't really push for lvl 2 advantage using your support item ((unless you have a lane bully ADC, and enemy is weak at lvl 1)), which would be a mistake as lvl 2 vs ranged is one massive spike for Maokai.
-E start also helps you with placing a ward in the enemy jungle, to get info on the enemy Jungler's pathing. This information can dictate how aggressive you are allowed to play the lane early on, so it's very valuable.
-Generally if my team wants to invade at lvl 1, I tell them that I Need my E for the early lane, and I only agree to invade (W start), if I think we have the champs for it, and the enemy doesn't have many tools to counter us. Otherwise just ping them off from doing it.
*Vs Yuumi you should always start W. One reason is that your E is pretty useless against her, because she is sitting on the ADC. The other reason is, that once she detaches, you usually can surprise her with W start, and CC her for a good amount of dmg, especially that most of the time she will start Q, so won't have E to heal/mitigate it. W start into Q also allows for quick lvl 2 plays even against her ADC, which should secure you an early push.
-Vs melee both E and W has its merits.
E still helps with bush control, which can be useful vs catchers/hook champions.
W start means you get your W+Q combo quicker, and is usually preferred if you have the stronger ADC, to look for lvl 1-2 plays.
If you are unsure about a specific 2v2 matchup, you can always start E as a safe option, and wait for lvl 3 to get your full combo.
If the enemy has an aggressive ADC like Draven, Tristana, Kalista...etc paired with an engage/hook support, you probably better of playing it safe, and wait for lvl 3 with plays, unless you also have a strong ADC, in which case you should try to contest the lvl 2, but only if you are confident in your knowledge of the matchup, and in your execution. "It's better to be safe than sorry".
Your basic combo is W onto enemy champ, Q towards your ADC (to separate the support and ADC) and ignite them. This usually secures a kill vs most champions, especially if they weren't full HP to begin with.
(You can AA after Q/ignite if they still in your range, Aftershock dmg also should go off in time, but the important part is to get the Q direction off properly and in time - your W is a very short CC, so Q has to be pretty quick). Not very hard to learn, 5 mins in Practice Tool should do the trick.
Once you have your entire W+Q combo and have Ignite available, there aren't many champions that you don't have kill pressure on with the help of your ADC, but it's especially true vs ranged/squishier supports.
Unless the wave is very close to their tower or you/your ADC is very low, you should always at least consider an all in.
When you have Flash available as well, you can engage from even further, and if you took my advice and equipped Hextech Flashtraption, you can be more "liberal" with your standard Flash usage, as Hexflash from bushes still allows for you to engage from range.
The only drawback of not having Flash up, is you are more easy to gank by the enemy jungler, but since you have your E for vision, this isn't an issue most of the times.
To have more successful engages from the lane bushes, you should get Oracle Lens either by backing until 0:55 after you placed your 1st ward (this still gives you time to help with leashing your jungler if they need it) , or after your 1st back.
This will also help in case you want to make a quick gank attempt at mid after your 1st back.
Ideally you want Boots, Ruby Crystal, Control Ward at your 1st back, but as long as you get Boots, you are fine.
I generally get Boots of Swiftness before finishing Mythic, it helps with better roams/rotation.
Maokai is very good at objective control once he hits lvl 6 because of his ult and saplings, so if your team isn't behind, you should generally look to secure early objectives with your jungler.
Use your saplings to check bushes, and use this to place deep wards in enemy jungle when you have some time to roam.
Maokai makes a great Warden with his Q(knockback ability), always play him according to what your team needs the most (engage/peel).
Since Maokai is a 3 role-flex pick, you can fake hover champions from Jgl/Top lane, to pretend you are picking for one of those roles. This sometimes can help to secure a favourable matchup for your teammates, who otherwise would not get the counterpicking opportunity.
Hope you find this guide somewhat useful, if you have any questions/feedback feel free to reach out to me in DM/Comment.
GL on the Rift, FunnyBunnyH.