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Maokai Build Guide by InFlux5

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League of Legends Build Guide Author InFlux5

Maokai - The Twisted Tank Mage

InFlux5 Last updated on October 16, 2011
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Top Lane
Ranked #22 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 0

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I have done very well in Dominion playing Maokai as a mage who is tanky, rather than a pure tank. I'm not sure exactly why this is, but I generally feel like I can build somewhat offensively with Maokai and still have all the survivability that I need. I think this is largely due to , but there may be other reasons.

In any case, some games will require a more tanky build, or to emphasize Armor or Magic Resistance more. The build above represents a typical game; more specific suggestions are below.

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The rune setup emphasizes AP, as this allows you to build more tanky during the game, if needed, without crippling your offense.

If I were going to replace these it would be with Greater Quintessence of Vitality for the boost to .

These allow me to avoid and go with instead. (More on that in the Items section.)

These allow me to focus on Armor more which is good for most games.

Again, these ensure that my damage is scaling which frees me to build defensive while still being able to lay down the hurt.

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Summoner Spells

Ghost is sort of a must-have for Dominion. Consider using it to be the first to get to Windmill, as you will likely be (one of) the most tanky members on your team. This isn't necessary, however, so feel free to save it for a more situational use. Late game it is great for stopping an enemy cap in clutch situations.

Maokai makes a great turret diver, as you are invulnerable during the travel time of . I almost always use this offensively; only use it on your turrets if you know the enemy won't run out of range, and that nobody will be channeling on the turret to stop its firing.

Suggested Alternatives:

Maokai is a great pusher. If you know you will be going bottom, or if there are already enough Garrisons, this makes a good alternative.

I generally only take this if there aren't already 2-3 Exhausts on the team. Usually carries and assassins already have this covered.

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Skill Sequence

Priority is given to because it simply kicks ***. If you can hit a target with both portions of the spell, you are doing 460 +100% of AP per toss at max level. The incredible range means you have an AoE interrupt (actually, two interrupts) that can be thrown, for example, from the fog above Windmill to where the enemy is channeling.

Because of the longer cooldown on , I prioritize Arcane Smash as it's more spammable. This makes Twisted Advanced primarily a gap-closer for most of the game, though it can provide that much-needed damage boost to finish off an enemy, even at close range.

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The build up above represents a typical game, but Maokai can go in several directions depending on team makeups and the state of the game.


I start with a nearly every game. In those rare cases where the opposing team is very AP-heavy, I'll go with instead. Ninja Tabi synergizes well with to improve your mobility, and it gives you staying power, especially against AD-heavy teams.

takes care of the other side of the equation, helping you stomp the other team at Windmill, and setting you up for a .

Don't spam abilities too much before you get your . If your team can take Windmill, you should be able to defend it for quite some time - as long as you have mana.

Mid Game

takes care of your mana issues, while getting you some early CDR. None of Maokai's abilities gain reduced cooldowns from leveling, so CDR is a top priority. That said, I usually delay until after some defensive items, as the enemy is likely beefing up their offense at this point.

is your core offensive item. After that you can focus on Armor or Magic Resistance depending on the game (usually Armor.) I think a lot of people view as overly expensive and situational, but in 9/10 of my games it is boosting my damage output just enough to allow me to 1v1 a lot of popular champs, resulting in many a turret capture with me at ~10% health.

isn't flashy, but it "covers all the bases" while also helping your team.

Late Game

Unless the opposing team is totally lacking in AP, usually makes sense at this point. If they are totally reliant on AD, then is probably the best replacement.

(You may be wondering, if CDR is so good on Maokai, why not get in a typical game? While I feel that some CDR is essential to reduce your "downtime", the 20% from feels adequate in most games. Your mileage may vary, but be mindful of mana issues that can crop up with too much spamming of spells.)

can be taken whenever you feel like you need the extra health, or if you are doing a lot of minion pushing. This is a great item for Maokai in most games, but against the rare AP-heavy team replace it with whatever Magic Resist item suits you best. (I like though is probably the more popular choice.)

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Having played quite a few Dominion games, I believe the 1 bot-1 mid-3 top meta makes the most sense (with mid moving to top after capping.) Maokai does very well going bot or top. (Somebody with or no boots should usually go mid.)

Going Top

I prefer to go top with Maokai, as your respectable spell damage plus general tankiness will often make the difference in the initial Windmill skirmish. I usually focus on disrupting the enemy and keeping them off my team and the turret until things start to go in our favor. If things don't look good, I head into the fog of war above the Windmill to conceal my whereabouts while still being able to toss saplings at cappers. You want to delay the cap as much as possible to prevent an early lead. Often your teammates can be rezzed and halfway back to the Windmill by the time it gets captured.

Going Bottom

Maokai is a great pusher, so you should be able to hold your own against most any champ in the bottom lane. If you get to their turret, just remember that your top priority is to keep your bottom turret, not to take theirs. Neutralizing or capturing theirs is good, but it's usually not worth losing yours.

Sometimes, though, the other team has Windmill on lockdown. In that case, holding their bot may be the only way to get to three turrets. If this should occur, rest assured that Maokai is one of the best defenders in the game; if anyone can hold their bot, you can.

Defending Turrets

This is where Maokai really shines. I have always loved the huge range and general awesomeness of , and in Dominion it is very powerful. Just remember if you are using it to interrupt a cap to throw it after the enemy has started channeling. The travel time is slow and it can be dodged by experienced players; make them pay for this by forcing a cooldown on their ability to cap.

Attacking Turrets

This build excels at offense as well; you can dislodge many champs from under a turret with Maokai. Save for after you close with since you are invulnerable during the travel time. Follow with Arcane Smash and a after which you pop forcing them to move or get blown up. At the very least this softens them up for more saplings, and another Twisted Advance once your cooldowns are up.

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Maokai excels at both the attacker and defender role on the Crystal Scar. By balancing between AP and defense, he can do more than just turret hug. I believe enemies often look at Maokai as simply a tank, but with this build you can surprise them with your sizable burst damage.