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Graves Build Guide by Polarshift

Jungle diamond


By Polarshift | Updated on December 1, 2020
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Runes: Standard Phase Rush

1 2 3 4 5 6
Phase Rush
Nimbus Cloak
Absolute Focus

Legend: Alacrity
Coup de Grace

+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor


1 2 3 4
Graves Jungle
LoL Summoner Spell: Challenging Smite

Challenging Smite

LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


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Jungle Role
Ranked #34 in
Jungle Role
Win 50%
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Threats & Synergies

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Champion Build Guide


By Polarshift
Hello! I'm Polarshift, currently an EUW Diamond player. I've reached Diamond with multiple roles including Jungle and Mid. Since I'm not that interesting and you aren't here for me but to learn Graves instead, I will just start immediately!

Please upvote the guide if you liked it so more people get to see it! Join my Discord community server if you have any more questions or would like to chill, join give-aways and coaching sessions and be updated for more guides on League of Legends:

I do free coaching sessions in my server in order to promote my Twitch stream and Discord, so feel free to join and message me if you want one too. I love to meet new people. Platinum and below only!

Doing a 10$ RP and Discord Nitro Classic giveaway on my server right now. Come join; its growing fast!

What will you learn Back to Top
+ Pro's and Cons.
+ When to pick Graves.
+ Ability sequence, rune setups and smite choice.
+ In-Depth Itemization. Read the notes on the builds too.
+ Combo's, tricks and animation cancels.
+ Different types of jungle pathing.
+ How to gank as Graves.
+ Midlane Graves.

Pro's and cons Back to Top


+ Among the fastest jungle clearing in the game.
+ Has a lot of mobility and repositioning ability.
+ Great at invading and splitting the map.
+ Very versatile with runes and item setups.
+ Mechanical, fast-paced and quite fun to play.
+ Can be flexed in all roles except Support.
+ His W is among the most broken abilities in the game.


- Might feel "clunky" and "weird to control" at first.
- Since your auto attacks are projectiles they can easily be blocked in tankier teamcompositions.
- Again, because your AA's are projectiles Graves feels bad fighting in minionwaves or towerdiving.
- You rely on the enemy overextending or your team having CC for ganks.
- Have to stand in very close vicinity of enemies to really deal the big damage you want.

When to pick Graves Back to Top
Graves is generally good versus heavy AD and heavy melee-based teamcompositions. The less crowdcontrol abilities they have, the more likely the chance you want to pick Graves. This last point also counts in the reverse for your teamcomposition; if your team has some kind of peel/engage there is a higher chance you might want to pick Graves. Since Graves doesn't have that much range on his basic attacks you generally don't want to pick him vs champions that outrange him by a lot.

Graves also has the ability to dodge skillshots with his E - Grit, so that gives you an extra opportunity to outplay your opponents.

Ability Sequence Back to Top
Let's first talk about leveling your abilities. On Graves you don't have to think about them since you will always level up abilities in the same order and leveling anything else (other than potentially maxing "E - Grit" on Graves toplane for your dueling ability), is griefing. The leveling sequence will always be as follows:

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Depending on your first jungle clear you might want to put an extra level into Q at level 3. This is often the case when you want to fullclear from Blue all the way to Krugs and don't plan on fighting before you clear. This will allow you to clear your birds faster, since your W is not really useful to clear birds when you dont have your Hunter's Talisman yet. The rest of the abilities will be leveled in the same order. I highly suggest you read the abilities yourself so you know exactly what they do.

Runes + Smite Back to Top
Since Graves is a bit confusing with his Rune Page setups I'll go over a few basics here. Remember to read the notes on top of this page as well (the little pencil) since there is a lot of information there too!

Fleet Footwork: Better than Phase Rush later in the game since Fleet Footwork scales and since taking Fleet Footwork allows you to go into the Precision tree. Fleet Footwork is generally taken when your lanes are extremely weak and you just want to scale (can be argued with, if the enemy will heavy invade you like high elo, you still go Phase Rush) or when you're playing vs (tanky) champions that are already easy to kite. It's stronger later in the game since it heals you quite a few times in longer fights and gives you a bit of movement speed, while you're already super beefy with the items you've built.

Phase Rush: Good for when you have to chase your enemies down. Definitely the keystone for on overly aggressive playstyle. Phase Rush is actually a must in some matchups that are too slippery or sticky to play against as Graves. Think about Olaf, Nidalee and Udyr. Fleet footwork won't help you escape (since it doesnt give slow resistance!) Olaf, and it also doesn't let you stick to Nidalee while she can casually kite you while you have Phase Rush. However, Phase Rush doesn't give anything more than movement speed (you already have multiple dashes in your kit, although it's obviously a broken stat to have), and also denies you more valuable primary and secondary runestones (precision and domination).

Conqueror: Not in the jungle and arguably not midlane anymore either. Takes too long to stack, especially after the nerf to 12 stacks.

Electrocute: Usually taken on midlane Graves, since you'll be trading a lot and it only has a 20 second cooldown. Enemies will definitely underestimate your damage!

Dark Harvest: Thrives versus squishy teamcompositions. Taken with the Lethality build. Not really much to say about this rune, it's just an alternative for electrocute since you wont be using electrocute that often in the jungle. Dark Harvest will scale and reset on kills so you can utilize it more than once when you're fighting.

Secondary rune choices (which are very flexible on Graves):

In the Precision tree you can combo two of the following: Triumph, Overheal, Legend: Alacrity/Tenacity/Bloodline, Coup de Grace and Last Stand. Personally I like to go for a more early game based approach: Legend: Alacrity with Coup de Grace.

In the Domination tree you can combo Relentless Hunter and something else from the first or second Domination row depending on what you prefer. Zombie Ward tends to be really strong in higher ranks, since people will ward a lot more. Sudden Impact works okay with Graves but doesn't scale that well. You can also opt in for healing with Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter.

In the Sorcery tree you can either choose Nimbus Cloak with Waterwalking, Absolute Focus and Gathering Storm (scaling) or Nullifying Orb and Waterwalking. Nimbus Cloak with Waterwalking is the best Secondary Rune Setup in the Sorcery Tree right now.

In the Resolve tree you can take Boneplating with Revitalize. Boneplating can be changed with Conditioning if you'd like better scaling, but you have to take Revitalize since there are no better options currently.

In the Inspiration Tree you can take Magical Footwear and CDR for the gold efficiency. But I don't recommend this since there are better options currently.

You can see that there are a LOT of options for Graves depending on your playstyle and the enemy teamcomposition. Take your time in champselect and decide which runes will work best in that specific game. Attack speed rune shard or double adaptive force rune shards can be changed to your preference, just remember that attack speed is more useful earlygame. Don't forget to change the last rune shard to magic resist when needed.

Red Smite or Blue Smite?

All depends on your preferences. In my opinion Red Smite is way superior.

Blue Smite tends to be better if you want to have that extra utility (slow) on your ganks and invades. Will help you a bit if your team doesn't have any utility for the gank.

Red Smite works really well vs assassin matchups and for duels since it reduces the enemy damage with a whopping 20% for 4 whole seconds while you gain an X amount of true damage (depending on your level) for 2,5 seconds after you've smited the enemy, reseting with every basic attack.[/color]

Itemization Back to Top

Since I've been asked to go more in-depth about the items; I'll be explaining why you go a particular item.

Plated Steelcaps: Great item vs champions that rely on basic attacks. Don't underestimate how much blocking 12% of an enemy's damage is. Combine this with red smite and thats a whopping damage reduction.

Other boots: Mercury's Threads is still perfectly fine if you're playing versus a team with a lot of cc that isn't easily dodgeable, since it gives 30% Tenacity. Boots with extra in-combat movement speed aren't really useful on Graves since you heavily rely on your E to chase and kite anyway. Berserker's Greaves, which gives attack speed, is debatable; it does definitely give you an edge earlier in the game and feels good to play and snowball with; however remember that some of its' stats get denied by your reloading passive.

Eclipse: Amazing mythic item on Graves, since it allows you to duel and kite even better. It gives you movement speed to chase or kite enemies with, it gives you a shield that's good (especially in the early game when you're still squishy) and lastly a max health damage buff that's good vs everyone since it's not missing health but max health.

The Collector: Amazing on Assassins, since it gives AD, Lethality, Crit-strike chance, 25 extra gold on kills which will allow you to snowball even faster AND an execute for enemies under 5% HP. Denies enemies the chance to come back with healing and Last Stand. The crit-strike chance allows you to scale into the late-game.

Bloodthirster: Same old passive, gives you a nice shield and a lot of extra damage and healing, thus allowing you to stay in fights longer. The newly added crit-strike chance allows us to build into a more crit-orientated build for better scaling into the late-game.

Essence Reaver: Passive gives your damage some extra power. Extra is that it gives you some mana back, which you kinda need on Graves. It also gives crit-strike chance so it helps scaling.

Trinity Force: Honestly an insane item that gives you everything you need; kiting potential, cdr, att speed, AD, movement speed and amplified damage after an ability. This item is expensive, but after you get it allows you to chase and kite people and it also allows you to burn down tanks together with your cleaver later in the game. Eclipse won't help that much vs tanks.

Black Cleaver: Amazing item on Graves; EACH BULLET from your basic attack applies a stack, this means that you stack it insanely fast. It is also very gold efficient for the stats it provides your champion with. It gives you 40 AD, 400 Health and 25% AH. On top of that it also gives you:
1. 5% Missing health damage.
2. Up to 24% armor reduction on an enemy, which again gives you more damage for you and your teammates. Again, Graves can stack it really quickly.
AD items just work very well on Graves, with the armor penetration it becomes even more crazy. Also having extra health makes Graves' resistances even more effective. Finally, 25AH makes you able to use your abilities a lot more which also equals to a lot of extra damage. You generally want to buy this item whenever the enemy has atleast 3 champions that build armor in their kit.

Infinity Edge: Infinity Edge allows you to finish your build nicely, it gives AD and amplifies all the damage from the crit-strike chance you've built till now. Swap it for boots later in the game.

Edge of Night and Youmuus Ghostblade: Gives Letahlity, AD and a unique passive on each item. EoN is good against cc, Youmuus keeps the tempo of the game up with it's active. I'd recommend going Youmuu's Ghostblade since you build lethality Graves for snowballing/game impact and proccing Youmuus' active everytime it comes off CD gives you insane amounts of tempo. Ofcourse don't use it before an important fight, because the movement speed can help you kite. Also, if you don't know how Lethality or Armor works, there are a lot of resources, including the LoL wiki; just use Google.

Death's Dance: Same old story, let's you survive longer which in return means more damage dealt and abilities used; which is exactly what you want on Graves. Gives a passive (15% damage absorption) that's good vs assassins, and any champion actually, combined with Red Smite will make you survive for quite a bit. You should understand that, the longer you survive, the more Grit stacks you can accumulate in a fight. Combined with Black Cleaver's Health stat it just gives you so much tankiness vs AD champions. Remember that this item ONLY works against PSYCHICAL damage in season 11.

Guardian Angel: Let's you play more aggressive, especially when you have a bounty on you; and gives you 40 AD and 40 armor. Nothing more to say really, same story for every champion that can build GA.

Lord Dominik's Regards or Last Whisper: On some champions (especially Assassins) you never take Last Whisper since you want to burst them down before they can even use their heals. LDR (Lord Dominik's Regards) is more suited for this since it gives a bit more armor penetration. When you're playing the assassination build on Graves it's possible to just go for this even if they have healing since you want to oneshot people anyway. However, this is not the case for Graves when he's playing the bruiser variation, because he won't be able to oneshot people since he spend so much money on health and resistances; when this is the case and you're playing vs champions who rely on healing you have to buy Last Whisper.

Rapid Fire Cannon: Has a special interaction on Graves which makes his pellet spread smaller when it's activated. Helpful versus champions with long range. Sorry. I don't know a lot about this item since I don't use it a lot.

Combo's, tricks and animation cancels Back to Top
Graves doesn't require a lot to learn but there a few tricks, I recommend using Practice Tool to try some of these out!

1. Q+R This is your bread and butter combo for a lot of damage. The best use of this combo is when you're close to a wall so your Q ricochet will connect too.

2. Q+Flash, W+Flash and R+Flash. Go into practice tool and you will notice that you can do neat little tricks with both your Q+Flash and W+Flash. Q+Flash is obviously faster than Flashing and then using Q, because the Q will have to load after you flashed. You can 'input-buffer' your W so it shoots out immediately after you flash to catch your opponent offguard (search it up if you dont know what inputbuffering is).

3. E+Q and Q+E, when you have no ammo. Graves has a neat little trick: Normally when you use Q you will be locked in position until the animation is done, but when you don't have ANY bullets left you can combo with E+Q or Q+E and it wont lock you in place. My most used combo for faster damage output.

4. You can E and R over walls, even some walls you wouldn't expect you could dash over. For example the walls around Red and Gromp. Try this out yourself.

5. Dashing into a wall will cancel your dash animation; used to basic attack faster.

6. Remember to cancel your second basic attack with your E to deal more damage faster. (example given: AA + AA + E + AA)

7. W animation can be cancelled by your Q,E and Flash.

8. Certain matchups require you to use your Oracle Lense well. For example you can use your Oracle Lense to see Kha'zix or Shaco while he's invisible. This will allow you to hit your R for damage and get yourself out of melee-range at the same time.

Jungle pathing Back to Top
Now we are at the most fun part about Graves. His clear can be very versatile, healthy and at the same time very quick. You can keep your E passive 'Grit' (extra armor!) while doing a lot of those clears. This will definitely help when you encounter an enemy invading you. Kite all camps with a basic attack and then dash (using E) to gain one more ammunition. Now there are a few routes that Graves can take depending on enemy matchups.

There are multiple scenarios in which you might want to change your junglepathing:
  • Versus fullclear champions you can decide to fullclear too OR you can decide to invade while they are at their weakest (Karthus, Olaf).
  • Versus heavy gank matchups.
  • Versus bad, invading matchups (Nidalee, etc).

Graves can choose to do one of these standard clears:

3 camps into a gank or invade:

You start Blue or Red and take Gromp. After that you can invade, gank or reverse clear back to scuttle by doing raptors and wolves.
Blue buff into fullclear:

You start at Blue buff with your E and kite towards your Gromp. Take your Gromp by using smite and take wolves after. Put the point you get from leveling up into Q and clear Raptors, Red Buff and Krugs. After this you can do the rift scuttler and back, invade or gank.
Red to Wolves/Gromp.

You clear Red buff with your E. Afterwards you clear your Raptors with the red buff you've just received. Now, after clearing Raptors you head towards Blue and use the blast cone to jump over the wall. Clearing blue first helps with keeping your mana resources high. After doing Blue you either do Gromp into Wolves or Wolves into Gromp depending on what clear you want to do after you've reset.

Remember that you can jump over Herald and Dragon pit with your E as Graves. So if you ever want to invade after doing your Red buff go ahead and jump over these walls.

You can decide to start on the same side as the enemy jungler and countergank/fight him at scuttle, or you can decide to do a reverse clear and dodge him in the early game. Ofcourse, this is where jungle macro knowledge comes into play.

How to gank as Graves Back to Top
I've seen a lot of questions about how ganks often don't work out for people when playing Graves. Since Graves is a ranged champion without any cc abilities other than a suboptimal slow there are a few things you want to do:

1. Cover as much terrain as you can before you arrive for the gank. Dont walk straight at the enemy! Circle around them so you have more time to autoattack and less to walk! You can also be creative with your ganking path, for example when you're on the blueside team by jumping over the herald pit and ganking the enemy toplaner from behind!

2. Don't let the enemy jump on you to escape when you're ganking. Happens when you gank from behind mostly; don't let Maokai, Pantheon or Renekton dash to you and escape for free. Think about what pathing is the best to gank with.

3. Think about when the next minionwave arrives. Not the most important thing, but since Graves doesnt fight that well in minionwaves this is something to think about. Later in the game you clear minions fast and it will not be as important to think about anymore.

4. Use your Phase Rush, Nimbus Cloak and Fleet Footwork rune to chase enemies and use your Red Smite to deal more damage. These runes will allow you to stay close to your enemy and dish out a lot of damage. Just be careful about sticking too close to, lets say a Renekton, since it's okay if you don't kill him; but not okay if you don't survive and lose crucial tempo!

5. Dont use your smokescreen immediately on top of the enemy, use it in front of them where they have to walk so they get slowed and blinded for a long while if they decide to take that path.

6. Towerdiving is not impossible on Graves but keep in mind that towers and minions will prevent your autoattacks from reaching the enemy.

7. This point counts for every jungler: wait for enemies to use their escaping tools. For example, if Renekton and Galio don't have their dashes, they will be easier to catch.

8. But my laners are pushed in all the time! Great! Now you can invade, dive the enemy or take an objective. But for real, in higher ranks, people will look at the position and state of the minionwaves before they even walk to gank a lane (e.g. is it pushing or de-pushing).

9. If something is impossible to gank, don't bother. You will only waste time and possibly throw the game. Focus on other lanes and try to farm up yourself so you atleast have those lanes to help you out. When you've got enough of a lead you can always come back to possibly gank that lane.

Midlane Graves Back to Top
Graves in the midlane has good waveclear and is very strong in the early game. This will allow you to help your jungler invade and gain scuttle, objective and ganking control. Remember that the midlane is in the center of the map, so gaining lane priority in the midlane gains you priority in the jungle most of the time. All this equals to a LOT of pressure which is huge on Summoner's Rift.

Graves midlane is a pretty strong pick, but sometimes it will be impossible to kill the enemy laner. In this case, you just want to take (enemy) jungle camps and apply pressure around the map by roaming.

The average setup in the midlane mid is to go electrocute and build full lethality. Do not build Doran's Shield first item because it nullifies the reason you picked Graves in the first place, which is pressure. Starting Doran's Blade is ideal; a Long Sword and three potions is not as strong as this. Builds on Graves are pretty much the same and you can find them all the way on top of this page.

Outro Back to Top
I hope you liked my guide. I hope I have the motivation to make more extensive guides for other champions too so I can help you guys out. Please leave a thumbs-up if you liked the guide and I'd love it if you could follow me on Twitch!

If you need to know anything else come join me on my Discord:
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