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Maokai: The true force of nature!
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Maokai, born of the trees, is an excellent tank. His initiations are superb, being able to single out the carry or someone out of position. In clustered team fights, he gives his gift of tankiness to others of the team while returning the damage back upon the attackers.
His damage is great at all stages of the game and can even knock down annoyances like Akali and Vayne with his powerful AoE skills.
His farm is amazing all game and can easily out farm most other carries and tanks in solo queue.
When he ganks from the jungle, people fear the bush like there is a Garen in all of the bushes.
When he supports, people run from nature as if the jungle it's self is going on a killing spree.
If you do not play Maokai like a real force of nature, there's a good chance you could end up mulched.
That said, I have found the best masteries for this style of Maokai play.
really quickly, Siege Commander is very strong if you chose to take it. It makes all your minions push harder and makes it a bit easier to take towers in general after either a good jungler gank or forcing them to leave lane.
Initiator is a strong mastery in the defense tree. If you chose to forgo the extra speed, Honor Guard is a decent alternative. Still not that great.
The best part about the utility tree now is, you get both your improved summoner spells in one mastery!
There is a lot of preference when it comes to jungle masteries and the jungle Maokai role in general. Summoner's Resolve is completely optional. The 10 gold it gives is nice too. On the other hand, Tough Skin and Bladed Armor are not. They drastically increase both your survivability in the jungle and your clear time. Hardiness is almost 100% required because of the armor it gives.
While Mercenary is not needed, it puts you ahead early because of your great level 2 ganks and just good ganks in general.
Vigor , Durability and Veteran's Scars are just good survivability bonuses in general. If you don't feel like taking Vigor for early game security, put the three points in a mastery of your choice in the defense tree.
In the utility tree, you can literally take whatever you want as long as you're getting Runic Affinity . It gives you a full 30 seconds more for both blue buff and red buff. (From 2:30 normally up to 3:00)
If you have a blue dependent mid laner, it is worth it to take both Expanded Mind and Meditation for until you get your catalyst the protector.
When it comes to support masteries, they are a little weird. Most people would either take the full 40 gold from Wealth but, unless you actually need more heath potions, you only need the extra 20. Especially for what we're building. If you want to take the full 40, you're going to lose out on either CDR or move speed. Both are really important. Especially for Maokai.
Summoner's Resolve is completely optional but the bonus healing is kinda nice. You'd be surprised how much difference 16 HP makes at level 1.
For the most part, the runes are free choice if you do not want to stick to my runeset, here are alternates!
Even though these are fairly standard to up your damage output, you may want to swap them out for a bit of defense. Strong alternates for this section are as follows:
Like most champs, you lack scaling MR. Makes you nice and tanky against other magic solo top champions.
More armor. Need I say more really?
While these are fairly important to have you rain death with your saplings as much as possible, you can swap them out for more defense. My favorites are as follows:
Greater Seal of Vitality
HP per level!
More HP to help your passive later game when you don't really have mana problems unless you stick around way too long.
More armor and it gives the most stats of all the basic armor runes. Amazing if you really need the stats versus specific AD champs.
These are 100% free choice for primaries. In order of preference, I would take these glyphs:
More damage come late game to make up for a severe lack of early game power.
Scaling MR is always good because again, very few champs have scaling MR.
None of your skill's cooldowns scale with level other than your ult. Shorter cooldowns are great. You Q more, you disrupt more. Simple! They're also boatloads cheaper than the flat CDR runes.
Do not mess with these. Unless you get some really fast AP, 3 levels of sapling toss at 5 minutes will not do enough damage to 1-shot caster minions. If you want to run the alternate skill set below, your best bet for defensive runes are as follows:
Flat Magic resist!
|space||Simply because the MR per level quints are utter garbage.|
|space||Having a full armor page absolutely decimates some solo top champions like Riven and Renekton. It keeps them from getting to their powerhouse of a late game, if they have one that is.|
|space||More flat HP to help your passive early game. It's not much, but it really helps.|
If you are still going top lane and you have swapped the Greater Glyphs of Force and Greater Quintessences of Potency to other defensive runes, you must run this alternate skill order to be able to 1shot caster minions safely and for as long as possible.
This will put you at exactly the right amount of damage to 1shot caster minions.
|space||While these do not directly influence your clear time, they are the best runes to transition to late game.|
|space||Flat AD, while it seems counter-intuitive because you're technically a mage, it increases your clear time by about a second or so. It also helps deal more damage in ganks.|
|space||Attack speed, like the flat AD, seems counter-intuitive. It does improve your auto-attack animation though and does improve your clear time. It also helps you proc your passive in later game team fights because, again, it does improve your auto-attack animation to be faster.|
There is not much you can change with these runes. Flat armor is really the only viable choice unless you have someone following you around and leashing all the large buff camps for you. That's a hindrance for your team though so, please take armor marks. I'm not even going to list alternates here.
These are completely free choice again. You can either take more offensive runes for a better early game or more defensive ones for a nicer late game. Again, in order of preference, I take these:
|space||You don't have scaling MR naturally. Why not get some?|
AP per level!
|space||Need more damage? Why not AP/level?|
|space||It makes for a slightly safer jungle with more armor. Not much else to it.|
Unless you are making a blue start, you're going to need the 15 AP that the 3 Greater Quintessence of Ability Power give you. Otherwise, they are 100% free choice as well. Because the jungle route is based on starting wraiths, I'm not going to go over other choices here.
Made mostly to maximize your defenses while still giving you gold for if you're not able to get assists.
Only real alternate runes I would suggest are Greater Glyph of Armor for early hard hitters like Graves.
Teleport: One of the crucial spells for a solo top. It allows you a free return trip every now and then and, as a tank, allows you to get into the heat of battle if one should break out near a tower or a well placed ward. You are also a great defender of towers with your ult and the massive amount of CC you have on a pretty short cooldown. On the other end of the spectrum, you are a strong tower pusher and can easily knock down undefended turrets with a big enough minion wave thanks to all your AoE slowing down the other minion wave.
Flash: If you really need an explanation for this, you have some minor issues. Flash is great in many, many ways. Maokai is a great example. With only one re-positioning device, wich requires an enemy to be targeted for it to activate, this allows him to get in the fray to disrupt with Arcane Smash or close the gap to... close the gap... with Twisted Advance so your team can catch up.
If you are put in a bad position or just over-extend like an idiot, Flash can help you escape as well. It's good, period.
Other viable spells in place of Teleport
Ignite: Ignite is always nice to amp up your burst damage. Just be careful you don't ignite a minion or something... <_<
Exhaust: It's a nice soft peel and great for chasing down stragglers after fights.
Ghost: You're slow. Ghost can help you get in position to snare with Twisted Advance or slow/knock back with Arcane Smash or just allow you to escape a nasty gank.
These are the only spells for jungling.
Smite: YOU MUST TAKE THIS! Not only does it increase your clear times, it also vastly increases your buff security along with dragon and baron control. You also can't do the route without it unless you take Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potions.
TL;DR Take smite.
Flash: Still good in the jungle. Surprise flashsnares from the bush usually get a kill early levels or at least blow a summoner spell so you can come back and kill them later if you gank at higher levels.
Now, why are we taking heal when the AD carry should be taking heal? It's all preference. If you want to take Exhaust because nobody else did, do it. Flash is a given because you should be taking this simply because it can save your life so often.
Passive: Sap Magic
Passive not ready.
Your passive and the main reason you can solo top. It also makes you pretty tanky in team fights because of the large amount of spells going off. This applies to almost all spells. It will not give you a charge if the spell is a toggle like Frost Shot or Defile but, it will give you two charges on "drop-toggle" skills like Vengeful Maelstrom or Glacial Storm if they both activate it and turn it off on their own. You get a charge from any spell cast. It does not matter if it is you casting it, an ally or an enemy. It does not proc the heal on towers or inhibitors though so, be careful. If you don't like looking at your buffs, your model will show you when your passive is ready as I have shown above.
Q: Arcane Smash
Cooldown 6 seconds Cost 55 mana
Range of shockwave, about 700.
Your only hard CC. It can be used as an escape move if they are chasing you. It has roughly a .5 second wind-up time before it does the knock back and the line of damage. Enemies can't be hit multiple times if you hit them with both the shockwave from the initial hit and the line.
Range of initial targeting, 650.
One of the best, if not the best, initiation skills in the game. Singles out one person and snares them.
Using it on someone like Katarina or Fiddles to stop the blinking devastation they cause, or just to stop the channeled skills they have, is a great idea. You're untargetable during the travel time but, it does not pop projectiles. This means you can avoid certain spells ( Requiem for example) with perfect timing if you absolutely need to by advancing to something right before the skill would hit you. The timing is split second and very hard to pull off.
Range of the sapling, 1100.
Impact radius, about 350.
Vision range of the sapling, about 700.
Aggro range of the sapling, about 500.
Explosion radius, about 375.
(Not taken from the wiki. Learned through gameplay.)
An AoE farming skill with a maximum 1.0 AP ratio that can easily be used for zoning. The AI is weird in that it locks on to the closest enemy when it activates "chase mode" and will explode when it gets within a certain distance of them or another enemy. If they move long distances in the opposite direction, it will turn and chase immediately. They also give nice temporary wards
Radius of AoE, 575
One of the strongest tools at your disposal. Giving a 20% reduction in damage to everyone in the maelstrom is a powerful tool and it returns about 2 times the amount of damage dealt. Starting off fights in here is a great thing for the team. If you are having prolonged teamfights, you might consider having blue buff as much as possible. It also allows you to have a really short downtime on the ult if you have it and Frozen Heart by endgame.
Solo top or mid lane.
Saplings should be left at level 3 for your best damage output. At level 3 of saplings, with these runes and masteries, you can one shot all three of the caster minions. This will allow you to push lanes easily while farming at a distance. Saplings must be level 4 by about the 10:30 mark for optimal farming.
The skill you get at level four is more dependent on your laning opponent.
If they are able to jump on you in rapid succession or have strong close-range harass, level Arcane Smash at level 7 and then Twisted Advance at 8.
Reverse this order for ranged champions or champs that focus on last hitting like Nasus, Annie or, Veigar.
You may choose to level based on your or their jungler. If you have a strong jungler who can easily stick to targets, but has a hard time getting to them, Twisted Advance is better.
We are maximizing our gank potential here. If you are having a hard time clearing the jungle as ample speeds, take more points in Sapling Toss and Arcane smash. If they're not warding and they have a decent amount of mobility, like Riven, more points in Twisted Advance early on for the snare duration.
Because you only need Arcane smash and Sapling Toss to effectively clear camps, they should be the things you focus on the most if you're farming the jungle. For faster jungle movement, use saplings to grant vision on the camps and then Twisted Advance to them.
Here's where the skilling order is a little weird.
FAQ on the skilling order
Q: "Why are we not leveling up our highest source of damage whenever we can?"(Sapling toss)
A: It's because it's only there for scouting and zoning. The mana cost ramps up too fast for you to use it for zoning often if you rank it up early on.
Q: "Why aren't we ranking up our ult at levels 6, 11, and 16 like most champions do?
A: Because there's no reason for us to. While the cooldown does get lower, it's also a toggle and on a low-ish cooldown already. The damage goes up, but the damage absorbed does not. That's all that we're using it for.
Proper use of the pre-level 6 combo
This will ensure a strong amount of damage. Only do this if you have someone coming in for a gank or you are just about to go back as it uses up a ton of mana as you can see by my mana bar. Although Philosopher's stone and Mana Potions will help with this, you should use your mana for harassing and farming with sapling tosses primarily.
Post-6, this combo increases in power. Especially if they try to dive you.
Proper use of the post-level 6 combo
You can bait tower dives on you and, with the aid of the tower, and some primo running skills, you can lock people under the tower long enough to get kills. Either single or double. Sometimes, even triples.
Staying in the ring is important if they dive you though. At your low amounts of armor and magic resist early on, the maelstrom is the only thing protecting you.
Catalyst the protector Will be gotten first, every time.
Force of Nature+ Frozen Heart (One should be rushed depending on the enemy's primary source of damage)
These are the items you will be building every match. they will be swapped in order based on the damage of the enemies or who is wrecking the team hardest.
These are not as important as they seem as you have a multitude of choices. The most viable are Mercury's Treads and Ninja Tabi. Again, these are both based on the damage your opponent's have. If they have a decent amount of CC, like most smart teams will, grab Mercury's Treads. If the AD carry is doing good, consider investing in Ninja Tabi or Boots of Swiftness and later game, turn your philosopher's stone into an Eleisa's Miracle.
Boots of swiftness could give you the speed boost you need to get to fights early/on time and, it will allow you to run through the crowd to get to the carry with Twisted Advance to continue disabling with Arcane Smash and face-tank cool downs with Vengeful Maelstrom.
Viable endgame AP items
The two strongest items for damage are Zhonya's Hourglass and Abyssal Mask.
Abyssal Mask will make your whole team hit harder, if they have magic damage.
If you're looking for a decent amount of survivability to go with your power, Rylai's Crystal Scepter is great. The slow makes it easier to land the sapling's explosion and the health helps your passive as well. The slow is useless on short-range Arcane Smash, because of the knock-back, and all levels of Twisted Advance because of the root.
It is a decent item. I do not recommend it unless your team has at least 2 other people who can benefit from it as almost all of your damage is AoE.
Viable end game defensive items
If you have fallen behind in farming at any point in the game due to a tough lane opponent or something, Randuin's Omen or Locket of the Iron Solari can make up for that with it's GP10 component. They also give very nice team fight benefits. If they are flinging every CC in the book at you, invest in either a Banshee's Veil or Quicksilver Sash. Both are great defensive items. DO NOT BUY BANSHEE'S VEIL IF THEY HAVE A LOT OF CHEAP POKE SKILLS!
If you are completely torn on what to build end game
Sell the Philosopher's stone for a Trinity Force. It has everything that Maokai could possibly want plus a really nice proc to add to your damage output and make you more of a threat. If you don't have a good initiate other than Twisted Advance, get Shurelya's Battlesong. It also makes a good chase/escape item with it's speed boost.
Specific jungler items
Boots of Mobility!
|space||The reason you would take Mobility Boots is if your team is either behind or losing the lanes a little. It gives awesome mobility so you can both cover camps and ganks lanes. With about 5% MS on top of that from masteries, you're extremely fast. Upgrade to Eleisa's Miracle if you choose to get mobility boots.|
Support specific items
Buy wards. Just, a lot of them. you are going to be getting philo stone and Heart of Gold just for the income.
My personal jungle route will be coming Soontm, but until then, I will satiate you with Stonewall's jungle route.
I don't take the route exactly like him and the runes I use are different, but the principle is there for now.
I'll put my own route up as soon as I can.
The jungle route is as follows:
- Start laying saplings in the center of the Wraith camp at about 1:06 to 1:10 game time. Throw them whenever they come off cooldown.
- Throw your 3rd and final sapling at 1:40 game time. Punch and kill the blue wraith.
- Move to blue and take it with saplings, smite and a leash from your mid/top/bot laners. You have to have one or you will die with a Regrowth Pendant+ Health Potion start.
- Level Q next unless you are 100% sure you can get a gank on top/mid lane right after blue. (You probably can't BTW)
- Take down camps with E->Q combos. Wait until the sapling has exploded before you Q or you'll risk a couple of them not taking the explosion damage.
- Try to avoid using Twisted Advance on monsters in the jungle while early on as it will make them reset for about a quarter second, slowing you down quite a bit.
- Take ult whenever you can and only level saplings when you're having an issue clearing the small camps quickly. Or just simply, not at all.
- Once you have catalyst, donate all available blues to your mid laner if they can use it effectively
When you gank, there are a couple routes you can take.
Route 1: Walking up to them, hitting them and then arcane smashing them.
This is by far the most effective way if you have red buff and/or very few points in Twisted Advance because it allows them to flash, and then you just follow up with Twisted Advance if they flash to a good position. No over-commitment.
Route 2: Flash+ Twisted Advance them.
Very effective early on. Especially if they don't have a built in blink/dash and their flash is down/they don't have it. If done correctly, this gives them very little time to react to you and then allows you to knock them back. If you fail the gank however, you're down flash. Not always the best trade.
Route 3: Twisted Advance them from the bush.
Simple and effective. If they blink/flash/dash away, you may get caught in a bad position though. Be careful of that.
Specific solo top match-ups!
|space||Unless he starts using Spirit Fire every single wave, you will out-push him and out damage his life steal after level 5 with your saplings.|
|Play against him like you would if you were playing against him mid. If he goes in for a Baleful Strike on the melee minions, feel free to either throw a sapling on him or root him because, he is almost always at max range for his own safety.||space||
|She is an extremely aggressive laner. Extreme health potions and ganks are required in order to win.||space||
|Oh goodness. Xin is the last thing you want to be seeing. He is an amazing duelist at all stages of the game while you are only sub-par. Get someone to gank him a lot. And I mean a lot. Full armor runes are recommended for this matchup because of his high physical damage as well as his passive, Challenge. He can thwart your gank attempts with his ult, Crescent Sweep as well. Or he could simply kill you. Be careful about engaging him at all points of the game.||space||
|space||Pantheon is not one of the strongest solo tops but he does have an amazing early game. If you are not packing armor runes, you will have difficulty with his constant spear shot harass. If he maxes it first, he will out damage your heal until you get catalyst the protector. Ganks from someone with decent CC ( Udyr, Xin Zhao, your own Pantheon) You should be able to overtake him with decent ease.|
Other non-ranged solo tops, you will have no real difficulty with or I have no experience with.
Ranged solo tops that you might have trouble with!
Being top doesn't stop you from fighting ranged champions and, some of their harass is really good.
|space||An annoying lane in general. Keep moving around to avoid the corrosive charges and poke with the saplings. If he's doing his job and spamming his Q, you'll have sustain for days up there.|
Good god he's a terrible lane match-up. He will beat you in lane a large percentage of the time.
If he stands near his turrets while you go in to do your burst combo, you will lose in the trade. You can poke down his turrets with your saplings but it takes way too much mana and time to take them down. Getting jungler ganks is really your only option unless he pulls away from his turrets for a long, long time. If he's out of mana, you can go aggressive wit ha W-Auto attack-Q combo then walk away. Only if you have a Catalyst of Aeons or Philosopher's stone though. Your mana doesn't replenish it's self! Wait... Yes it does...
|space||He is definitely a force to be dealt with. If he is leveling up his Death Ray more often, you are going to have a hard time simply because it outranges your turret. He clears waves fairly quickly and this does leave him open to ganks. Call them as much as you can. Because he does not have a source of healing unless he has health potions or a Hextech Revolver/ Hextech Gunblade/ Will of the Ancients, landing a standard post-6 combo should make him back early on until he gets either a Catalyst the protector or another healing item.|
|The time lord who unfortunately doesn't travel in a blue box. His bombs are a much better and more reliable harassing method. he will force you out of lane if you don't build early Negatron Cloak and Null-Magic Mantle. you must get early and frequent ganks or he will just trounce all over you.||space||
Unless you are spending all your mana on sapling toss or the opponent has low cost, low cooldown skills, you will not have much sustain from your passive early on. Once you get your Catalyst the Protector though, you shouldn't have any more real issues with health.
Once you get level 5, just farm with saplings until your jungler comes in for a gank.
After you have your Catalyst the protector/ Rod of Ages, proceed to farm your lane... forever. They should not be able to force you out of lane if you play smart at this point.
If your/their AD carry is bad at farming, you should easily be out-farming most players while denying/harassing with your saplings. The excess gold you will be building up with both your farming and your Philosopher's Stone will be just the gold advantage your team needs to ward the top half of the map for baron raids and to keep tabs on your red buff and their blue. AP carries are easy pickings for the amount of burst you can do. Warding and taking down top tower is your priority. Only leave the lane if you have someone to cover it or you need to cover another tower by using teleport.
That's the philosophy behind Maokai. You can easily initiate with Twisted Advance on a person of your choosing. Dis-engaging is just as simple if you chose to. Just lead Vengeful Maelstrom in the direction you are running to minimize your losses. Chuck Arcane smash back too. If you are running towards your team, this can lead to some nice battles inside of the maelstrom.
If you want more CDR, change your Philosopher's Stone into a Shurelya's Battlesong. It will give you a miniature ghost for your entire team and makes for a great initiation/escape tool otherwise, turn it into a tank item, if you die too fast to do anything, or another AP item if you are having poke wars before fights, so the saplings will do more on impact and explosion if they chose to stick around them. This also makes you deal more damage in a fight just so you know.
You there, at the computer! Thanks for reading to here!
I'm always trying to improve the guide and I am a pro by no means. Please, please comment on it.
If you find something I've missed or a spelling mistake of some sort please tell me.
If you own a strong solo top, I would like to play against you just so I can get more information.
When you vote, please tell me what you liked or didn't like. I'd like to improve the guide by any means necessary.
Many thanks to Psiguard for the initial guide name.
Thanks to Ruin Sage for reminding me to put the item section in.
Thanks to all in the past/present/future who provide criticism on this, my most comprehensive guide.
Thanks to jhoijhoi for having such a great guide to making a guide and the little green line dividers I borrowed.
Thanks to all of you who upvoted my guide and made it #1 for a time in the Maokai guides. It really means a lot to me. Go get your friends to upvote it as well. :D
If you enjoyed this guide, go over to this thread and nominate it for scout points.
Don't forget to do this for any guide you like as well!
11/8/2011: Re-vamped the item section for more choices. Added Heimerdinger into the specific lane match-up section.
11/12/2011: Removed a section about the skilling order that pertained to a Maokai with less AP. Added in a very important note about Twisted Advance.
11/13/2011: Added in a small section about pushing turrets with Teleport.
11/15-17/2011: Major overhaul. Rewrote the mastery section and added in a few more tips to the skilling section. Re-formatted the skills section to make it look prettier.
11/18/2011: Slight mastery changes after I figured out that Evasion is a fairly useless mastery. Added 2 more specific match-ups to the laning section. Added a small section on Trinity Force in the items section because it is worth mentioning.
11/20/2011: Fixed an issue in the mastery section and updated it accordingly.
11/25/2011: More overhauling. Changed all the line dividers from lines to some of jhoi's. Added screenshots of the ranges for skills. Changed the name of the guide.
11/28/2011: Added something for people who only vote based on the cheat sheet. Finished the runes section.
12/9/2011: Added a smexy banner thanks to GrandmasterD.
12/17/2011: Separated Veigar and Nasus into their own specific lane match-ups. Corrected some coding mistakes and other small spelling mistakes. Redid the burst rotation videos to make sure they have better quality.
12/24/2011: Added in the lane match-up for Pantheon. Working on making the match-up section look prettier.
12/28/2011: Added a thank you section to all the voters that made me #1. :3
12/31/2011: Added a "Laning vs Victor" section.
1/1/2012: Rewrote the TL;DR of the cheat sheet because something in the guide messed up. First edit of the new year!
1/3/2012: Fixed a spelling error or two.
1/6/2012: Added a section telling people about our scout points. Go nominate guides for them!
1/20/2012 - 2/25/2012: Did some massive overhauling. Added in a jungle section, recoded the lane match-up to make it look sexier, added in jungle info and support info. ****'S STILL MISSING. I WILL UPDATE IT WHEN I'M NOT BALLS-OUT TIRED!
3/5/2012 - Fixed a skill order issue in the support build where I had 8 ranks of Twisted Advance. How I missed that, I'll never know.
3/8/2012 - Updated a large section of the mastery section to... fix what I hadn't done with the Jungler section of masteries. Support to come tomorrow along with most of the rune explanation sections. Maybe sexy new dividers too.
3/9/2012 - Continued updating the sections I hadn't finished. Most should be done now.
3/13/2012 - Fixed some minor weirdness that jhoijhoi pointed out. Will be fixing more of it soon. I just need to find the free time.
3/15/2012 - Changed the guide name again since it's not exclusively solo top any more.
3/16/2012 - Changed the banner to reflect the guide name change.
3/26/2012 - Changed the active masteries to what I have now. Changed some wording in the mastery section to reflect this.
5/1/2012 - Moved some chapters around to properly reflect different stages of the game. I.E. Pre-game, early-game, late game.
5/24/2012 - Fleshed out the jungle and support skilling order and added in a "How to gank" section in the jungling area.
5/25/2012 - Finished all the "I'm tired. Updates are coming" sections. If you see any typos, tell me about them.
6/14/2012 - Started adding "Advanced tips" to the matchmaking section as I experience these lanes in-depth in draft pick.
7/3/2012 - Removed something in the "Playing against Veigar" section that is no longer true.
8/6/2012 - Rewrote the Xin Zhao section due to his rework.