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Graves Build Guide by Polarshift

Jungle [S11.20] Malcolm Graves [In-Depth Guide] [MID+JG]

Jungle [S11.20] Malcolm Graves [In-Depth Guide] [MID+JG]

Updated on October 6, 2021
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Polarshift Build Guide By Polarshift 369 19 1,111,462 Views 13 Comments
369 19 1,111,462 Views 13 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Polarshift Graves Build Guide By Polarshift Updated on October 6, 2021
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Runes: Dark Harvest - Assassin

1 2 3 4 5
Dark Harvest
Sudden Impact
Eyeball Collection
Relentless Hunter

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 #30 in
Jungle Role
Win 52%
Get More Stats
Jungle Role Ranked #30 in
Jungle Role
Win 52%
More Graves Runes

Threats & Synergies

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None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
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Champion Build Guide

[S11.20] Malcolm Graves [In-Depth Guide] [MID+JG]

By Polarshift

Hello everyone, welcome to my guide!

My name is Polarshift. I'm a player that has always been interested in a bunch of roles and champions, allowing me to possess quite a lot of general game-knowledge. So why don't I use my knowledge to help other people out that are interested in the same champions that I enjoy to play? Before I make any of these guides, I like to do my own little research about the champion to correct any wrong views I might have, thus raising the quality of these guides. I hope that you enjoy reading my guide and that it'll answer any questions you had.

I've spent a lot of time on this guide and I'd love it if you'd like to follow me on Twitch. Come and join my Discord community server if you have any more questions or would like to chill, join giveaways and be updated for more guides and tips!

Currently I have guides available on Graves, Ryze, Warwick, Rengar, Draven and Yasuo!

Please upvote and leave a comment if you liked the guide so more people get to see it!

+ Pros and Cons and when to pick Graves.
+ Ability sequence, rune setups and smite choice.
+ In-Depth Itemization. Read the notes on the builds too.
+ All kinds of combos, tricks and animation cancels.
+ Different types of jungle paths and how to gank as Graves.
+ A different approach to playing Graves: Midlane.


+ 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 have to stand in very close vicinity of enemies to deal the big damage you want.
- You rely on the enemy overextending or your team having CC for ganks.

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 dash and Galeforce; allowing you to outplay your opponents.

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.

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!

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

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; that is 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 Future's Market. 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
Blue Smite (hailblade) 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
Red Smite (emberknife) 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.

Graves doesn't require a lot to learn but there are 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 are reloading. 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 are reloading 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). Using E after your AA fast enough will have the basic attack you used BEFORE using E count towards the cooldown of E!

#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.

#9. You can shoot on targets through wards, just focus the ward and it will shoot through it, only using 1 pellet for the ward.

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. Doing just red buff and jumping over the wall to take enemy camps is a possibility too. If you're gonna do this ward for invades on own blue.
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 Gromp:

You clear Red buff with your E. Afterwards you clear your Raptors with the red buff you've just received. After clearing Raptors you head towards Wolves and complete the full-clear. Take scuttle and look for an invade on enemy Krugs + Raptors, gank a lane or reset and go to your own Krugs.

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 also 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.

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 pushing 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.

Graves in the midlane has amazing waveclear. Since Graves is very strong in the early game this wave-clear 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 of the jungle and of the enemies' vision 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 shove the waves and apply pressure around the map by roaming. You can also invade the enemy jungle with Graves; you can steal some camps, gain deep vision or even kill the enemy jungler.

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

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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