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Maokai Build Guide by Der Bestimmer

Top [Season 12] Maokai [Rework] Lane & Jungle Guide - by Der Bestimmer

Top [Season 12] Maokai [Rework] Lane & Jungle Guide - by Der Bestimmer

Updated on November 4, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Der Bestimmer Build Guide By Der Bestimmer 22 3 77,795 Views 2 Comments
22 3 77,795 Views 2 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Der Bestimmer Maokai Build Guide By Der Bestimmer Updated on November 4, 2022
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Maokai Lane Builds
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Maokai Jungle Builds
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Maokai Support Builds

Runes: GU + Precision [L]

1 2 3 4 5
Grasp of the Undying
Second Wind

Presence of Mind
Legend: Tenacity

+10% Attack Speed
+6 Armor
+15-140 HP (lvls 1-18)


1 2
F + I
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


Champion Build Guide

[Season 12] Maokai [Rework] Lane & Jungle Guide - by Der Bestimmer

By Der Bestimmer

Hello there,

Maokai got reworked! Hurray! He was made more suitable for Top / Jungle, which at least shows in his Top Winrates already. I compiled Data from LoLAlytics as far as available on the background of my Building Knowledge into this Guide.

Maokai is a strong Vanguard Tank with great Engage and CC. He also scouts and zones very well with his Sapplings. He can do decent Damage on his own with good Sustain from his passive, but mainly wants to engage / peel for his team.

My Builds for Lane and Jungle are following 3 Philosophies in this Guide Dueling, Engage and Mobility:

  • Dueling Path - it will make you a tanky Duelist with good DPS and Sustain through Grasp of the Undying
  • Engage Path - this path lets you Engage with extra Resistances and Damage through Aftershock. It is used in Jungle, so that you can lead your Team and Synergize with them through means like Font of Life.
  • Mobility Path is achieved through Phase Rush. It is an Alternative in Lane against Mobile / Ranged Enemies that don't let you proc GU often. You can poke them from afar, then engage and stick with PR.
    In Jungle it is a good measure against overall mobile Teams. Thornmail and Sapplings will give you PR Stacks from afar!

For Completeness Sake I include the current Meta Support Builds in the Build Section above. They follow the Engage Path as well as an AP Poke Path. For more insights into Support Maokai have a look at these Resources:

Have a look at this Comparison of old / new Maokai from Remus:

Quick Guide from Aizolol1 on reworked Maokai:

Bit older Guide about Maokai from Aizolol1 / RTO, Items are outdated, but general Gameplay Advice still applies:

You can follow me on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube for regular Content Updates!

General Abbreviations
General Abbrevations:
- CQ = Conqueror
- FF = Fleet Footwork
- PTA = Press the Attack
- LT = Lethal Tempo
- PR = Phase Rush
- AS = Aftershock
- D = Dueling Build
- TD = Takedown Build
- E = Engage Build
- MS = Movement Speed
- LS = Lifesteal
- AD = Attack Damage
- AS = Attack Speed
- AP = Ability Power
- HP = Health Points
- AR = Armor
- MR = Magical Restistance
- Res = Resistances
- AdD = Adaptive Damage
- AA = Auto Attack
- AoE = Area of Effect
- DoT = Damage over Time
General Resources


Abilities and Combos


My own Micro YT Playlist with lots of Content about how to move and fight in LoL.

A quick Overview over Maokai's new Abilities by Remus:

Have a look at Maokai's Abilities:

  • P: Sap Magic
    His Passive Cooldown now gets reduced by Monster attacks too - so more Sustain in Jungle!
    So all in all you have the following events reduce Passive CD:
    1. Maokai casts an Ability or hits an Epic Monster / Champ with a Sapling
    2. Maokai gets hit by an enemy Ability
    3. Maokai gets hit by a large Monster's Attack
    The Passive Enhanced Auto resets Maokai's Auto Attack Timer - so try to hit an Enemy Champion, right before you Passive CD is rdy for an Auto Attack Reset.
    For more Information on Auto Attack Resets have a look at the Combos Section below!

  • Q: Bramble Smash
    His Q Ability gives him A Slow, Knockback and decent damage. Great for Peeling, Wave Clear or straight up Damage. Remember that only Enemies close in front to you and stand right behind you are knocked back, Enemies at the end of the Q Range are only slowed.

  • W: Twisted Advance
  • Your W is a targeted Dash. Its initial Range is 525 Units. As soon as it triggers though, it will follow the target anywhere in a 2000 Units Range.

    • Here an example of 2000 Untis Range by @moobeat on Twitter:

    • For an example of the Dash itself have a look at my YT Short:

  • E: Sapling Toss
    Saplings on E are just great. They can slow fleeing Targets, surprise Enemies checking Brushes, create Vision, clear Jungle Camps etc.. After a Sapling grows in a Brush it will deal enhanced damage to all Enemies but Minions. So you will no longer push Waves too hard in Lane playing around Brushs. Remember that each Sapling lasts for 30 sec. The DoT from multiple Saplings will not additively increase damage. Each Sappling will only apply its own duration of DoT to any existing DoT.

  • R: Nature's Grasp
    Your Ult is now much faster on its approach. It will root enemies caught.
    It is a great Engage. Try to finde good Flank Angles.

    See this Video by me for an example:

    You can use it for disengage too against strong Engages like Ornn Ult or Sion. Just let them run into your team, then cut their team off with your Ult as Counterengage.
    Remeber once an Enemy is rooted, he will cut out that part of the Vines and protect his teammates behind him from being rooted.
    Your Ult will root an Enemy hit longer, the larger its travel distance inside its 3000 Untits Range was.
    So for the longest Root possible you want to advance ahead of your already running Ult with Flash / Ghost / Chemtank etc. and W onto an Enemy to keep him in Place for your Roots to get hold of him!
    If you let your Ult hit first, Appraoch Velocity can help you catch up to the enemy quicker. Font of Life will also be applied to whole teams by a well placed Ult Root.

General Mechanics Concepts:

Additional Resources:

For more insights into League's Micro Mechanics have a look at my YT Micro Playlist HERE!

For Basic Movement Concepts for Melee Champions look at the Mechanics Section of my Udyr Phoenix Guide HERE.

Maokai's Combos:

Movement with Maokai

Sticking correctly, together with Maokai's Combos and Abilities (see below) is extremely Important.
You don't want to just right click an opponent and let Maokai walk after him.
You want to combine Attack Commands and Movement Commands as well as your Combos for maximum Efficiency.
  • The Foundation of all Combos: The Animation Cancel

    An Auto Attack consists of 3 Parts:

    Wind Up
    Attack Hit
    Wind down

    - NOW, if you just right click or Attack Move onto an Opponent, even if you reach him and start hitting, your Champion will go through all Phases of the Auto Attack.

    - BUT - as you can see - the Wind Down does nothing for us. It has no Damage!
    It is wasting Time.
    How can we use this time better? ... YES - by moving in between Attacks or using an Auto Attack Resert / an Ability.

    - So - to correctly Kite as a Ranged Champion or Stick as a Melee Champion you input a Movement Command right after your Attack hits the opponent (that means your Hand, Hammer, Sword smacks the Enemy etc. or, in case of Ranged Champs - your Projectile leaves your Weapone - )
    - and therefore deny the Wind down its time!

    - Have a look at this AA Analysis by LoL Analyst for insights into the Concept:

    - NOW - what works with Auto-Attacks also works with a lot of abilities - You Cancel the last part of their animation by triggering another Ability right after them.

    - I would advise you to turn on Damage Numbers in League, so you get a Visual Feedback when your Attack has dealt its Damage.
    Click here for a Screenshot of the needed Option.

  • The Next Step: Maokai's Combos

    Maokai Combo Overview on Mobalytics.

    1. Your standard Melee Trade Combo:

      • AA + Q Animation Cancel
        As soon as the AA hits, cancel the Wind down Animation by pressing Q.
    2. Your enhanced Melee Trade Combo:

      • AA + P:-AA Auto Attack Reset + Q Animation Cancel
        As soon as the P:-AA hits, cancel the Wind down Animation by pressing Q.

      A great Combo Guide by Bav Bros:

      Another nice Guide by LoL Tips:

You can download my premade Rune-Book File for LoL Rune Changer HERE.
To import the Item Sets after you downloaded them:
- Go to the extracted LoL Rune Changer Folder - be Sure the App is closed!
- Backup your old "RuneChangerRuneBook.dat"
- Paste my Rune Book File you downloaded above into the Rune Changer Folder
- Start the App again - my Runes are now available.
- Click on the Plus Signs right to the rune Pages to import them into your LoL Client
- for more information about LoL Rune Changer look at their Wiki

Rune Philosophy:

As stated in the Intro, my Runes are following 3 Philosophies in this Guide: Dueling, Engage and Mobility:

  • There are tanky Setups with Grasp for Dueling in Lane
  • Aftershock for Engage in the Jungle
  • Mobility through Phase Rush Setups with higher Mobility and Sticking Power.
Basic concepts:
- Maokai needs Mana Sustain in Lane. I would advise to always take one of the following Runes: Manaflow Band, Presence of Mind, Biscuit Delivery or Doran's Ring
- You can take Manaflow / Biscuit in [J] if you plan on building Fimbulwinter for more max. Mana. Especially Manaflow will give you better Shields after stacked with its Mana Regend Boost. I include the Rune in all my PR Rune Pages for that reason. Fimbulwinter will give you Damage Mitigation when sticking to targets that kite you.
- Font of Life will not heal you, only your allies! It will scale with you HP. So Overgrowth is a Synergy for Late Game, Revitalize will give more early Value.
- Don't take Magical Footwear if you plan on buying Ionian Boots of Lucidety early on.

General Rune Considerations:

- Grasp of the Undying, Legend: Alacrity for Dueling Sustain / HP Scaling / HP scaled Damage in Lane
- Coup de Grace against Squishy Teams.
- Manaflow Band, Presence of Mind, Biscuit Delivery for Mana Sustain and Fimbulwinter Sustain
- Second Wind / Revitalize against Poke
- Bone Plating against Burst Combos
- Nimbus Cloak + Celerity / Waterwalking [J] / Magical Footwear / Approach Velocity / Relentless Hunter [J] for Mobility
- Legend: Tenacity / Unflinching for Anti CC / Anti Kite
- Absolute Focus for early Trades, escpecially for [J] with Waterwalking - think Scuttle Fights. You have great HP Sustain from Jungle Items / Passive / Smite so Uptime should be good.
- Gathering Storm / Overgrowth / Conditioning for Late Game Scaling
- Cheap Shot, Eyeball Collection, Zombie Ward [J] for earlier Damage Scaling
- Demolish + Overgrowth for Split pushing [L]
- Corrupting Potion Synergy with Biscuit Delivery, Time Warp Tonic, Scorch for Poke / Sustain in Lane. Also good with Fimbulwinter later on.

Item Philosophy

These are the main Items for the above mentiond Build Paths.

Sunfire Aegis is your main Tank Item for Mobility and Dueling.
It gives you Tank Stats, HP Scaled AoE Damage and Tenacity.
Lots of good Stuff for Maokai.
Its Brother Iceborn Gauntlet will give you less Dueling Damage, but more CC with its Slow and therefore more Sticking Power.

Turbo Chemtank

Chemtank is your Epitome of Speed for Jungling. Gives you a 2nd Ghost, lets you Slow Enemies apart from your Abilities, gives you CDR and HP as well as Tank Stats.
The Damage Burst is also very nice in Impact, especially combined with Aftershock or Dead Man's Plate. Keep Moving though to get that Burst Proc back up ASAP!
Works nicely with Cheap Shot. Remember though to not layer you Slows but rather sequence them one after the other for max. Duration!

Demonic Embrace

This is your main AP Scaling Damage Option. It will give you a Burn DoT Effect on all your Abilities and Scale up your total AP with your HP Gains.
It works great with Sunfire's Mythic Passive and Overgrowth for more HP Stacking.
As an alternative AP Scaling Item, if you need more Mobility, Cosmic Drive is a great option. You will proc the 3 Hits very fast, and since you stick to your Target so well, you can keep the MS and AP Buff up for a long time.

Dead Man's Plate

Great Item for Mobility. Synergizes well with Chemtank for even more Impact Damage.
You can use them together or use the Slows after each other. The Impact Damage Scales with Base AD, so you can't enhance it directly, but you can work in Runes like Cheap Shot.
Try to dodge CC with its MS to not lose Momentum Stacks.
Remember it is not a Dueling Item - you will give up benefits like Thornmail or Randuin's Omen give you for the Mobility.

Force of Nature

Another great Item for Mobility. Gives you MS when getting hit by Magic Damage or CC. Each instance stacks up the Passive. At 6 Stacks Magic Damage also gets reduced by 25% on you.


Very good Item for Dueling against strong Sustain Champions (Aatrox). Even when not stacking Armor for the Reflect Damage it is still great on Maokai, because with his hard CC he will always make use of the full 40% Grievous Wounds Effect for 3 sec.

Randuin's Omen

Very good Item for Dueling against Hypercarries / Crit Users. You reduce their Damage on you through the Passive as well as the Active and it gives you another Slow on Top for more Sticking Power.

Spirit Visage

Another nice Item Choice. It will boost any Shields and Healing Sources you get. It will not make you more mobile though.

Frozen Heart

Great Teamfight Choice against several Enemy Autoattackers. It is cheap, gives you Mana Sustain and great Tank Stats plus an AS Debuff around you. Also Synergizes very well with Fimbulwinter in Lane.

Abyssal Mask

Another Item for when you are in the midst of battle. It will shred everyone around you regarding their MR. Especially great for your own Damage and with strong AP Carries.
It also enables Takedowns on priority Targets. You rush in with Chemtank, slow, then CC them, take their MR - all rdy for your AP Carry's Burst to take them out :) !

Gargoyle Stoneplate

And one more exquisite Teamfight Item! You scale up Resistances while you are damaged by the enemy Team (1 Stack per Enemy) and get an Anti-Burst Shield, that scales with your HP, Revitalize and Spirit Visage!
It also makes you very big....

Warmog's Armor

Great Chunk of Health, massive Scaling for Sunfire and Demonic Embrace. Gives you out of Combat HP Regeneration for fast Reengagements in long Teamfights.


  • Mercury Treads

    These are your Anti CC Option. You will not need them when taking Sunfire Aegis + 1 of the Tenacity Runes Legend: Tenacity or Unflinching.
    They are good with Chemtank though to rly stick to targets.

  • Boots of Swiftness

    They are Mercury's cheaper Cousin. They are great if the Enemy Team has mostly Slows to kite you or are very mobile with MS Buffs or Dashes. Swifties will give you the most Speed in a very reliable Manner.
    Remember, that they will reduce the Amount of Slow you receive (meaning you are not slowed down as much), while Treads above will reduce the Duration of the Slow.

  • Plated Steelcaps

    They are great against all Sorts of Autoattackers, Ranged and Melee. They will also reduce the Damage Monsters deal to you.
    Because the Reduction is fixed at 12% they will stay valuable throughout the game. Together with Randuins / Frozen Heart you can cut off a huge portion of a Hypercarries damage potential on you.
    Remember, that they don't work on Tower Shots though!

  • Ionian Boots of Lucidity

    They are your Utility Option. In Jungle you want to buy them as soon as possible to get your Smite CD down for faster Smite Usage - you will get your transformed Smite faster. They will also reduce your other Summoner's CD. They work together with Cosmic Insight.

    They are also an Option against Casters like Aatrox or Sylas, where you want to go for Duels with quick Ability Rotations and don't need the AA Damage Reduction of Plated Steelcaps that much.

You can download my premade Build Files for the LoL Client HERE.
To import the Item Sets after you downloaded them:
- Go to your Collection
- Click on Items
- Click on the Downward Arrow Button called "Import Item Sets" left of the Search
- Select my Build File on your Hard-Drive Location and click OK.
- The Build is now available in your Client and In-Game

I collect Off-Meta Build Ideas for my Champion Roster in my Experimental Builds Guide! Have a look!

Build Philosophy:

As stated in the Intro, my Builds are following 3 Philosophies in this Guide: Dueling, Engage and Mobility!

Table of Contents:
  1. General Hints
  2. Fire Builds

  • CQ=Conqueror
  • LT=Lethal Tempo
  • PR=Phase Rush
  • L=Lane
  • J=Jungle

General Hints:

Starting Items:
- Doran's Shield with Second Wind against Poke Lanes / Ranged
- Doran's Ring for Mana Sustain and E Poke /w Scorch or if you do not want to take mana Runes
- Corrupting Potion for general Sustain / Scorch Synergy. WR not good atm.
- Take Red Smite against Close Range Burst and Melee Damage Dealers. Take Blue Smite against Ranged or for Nimbus Cloak Synergy.

- Boots in all Builds are situational.
- Be aware, that Boots of Swiftness and Unflinching decrease the Amount of Slow you receive, while Tenacity reduces the Duration of Slows.

Anti Heal:
- get Bramble + Steelcaps against Enemies that Autoattack you a lot.
Be aware, that the Thornmail Return Damage feeds into Phase Rush!

CC / Kite:
- Your Options against high Mobility / Kiting are:
  • Items: Frostfire, Force of Nature, Dead Man's Plate, Randuin's Omen
  • Boots: Mercury's Treads, Boots of Swiftness
  • Runes:
    - Anti Slow / CC: Legend: Tenacity, Unflinching
    - Speed Buff: Nimbus Cloak, Celerity, Waterwalking [J]
    - Sustain: Second Wind, Revitallize (with D-Shield)
  • Spells: Blue Smite, Ghost
Build Paths:
- In General you want to avoid dying as much as possible when ahead, while going for some more damage for Comeback Plays when behind.
- Look for Synergies for Mobility / Anti Kite in Mobility oriented Builds and Sustain / De-Buff / Damage Synergies in Dueling Builds.

  1. Fire Builds

    Sunfire Builds

    Primary Runes:
    Grasp of the Undying [L]
    Aftershock [J]

    Item Build:
    - This is the primary Item Page for Tank Builds. For Jungle you would swap Fimbulwinter out for Thornmail primarily and buy Demonic Embrace sooner.

    Sunfire Aegis
    Plated Steelcaps
    Frozen Heart
    Spirit Visage
    Demonic Embrace

    Damage Options:
    Zhonya's Hourglass
    Defense Options:
    Randuin's Omen
    Warmog's Armor
    Gargoyle Stoneplate
    Abyssal Mask

    Frostfire Builds

    Primary Runes:
    Grasp of the Undying [L]
    Aftershock [J]
    Phase Rush

    Item Build:
    - This is the Frostfire Alternative for Tank Builds. You can go for CDR Boots / Cosmic Insight for more Slow from Frostfire and faster Tear Stacking / Fimbulwinter Shields. For Jungle you would swap Fimbulwinter out for Thornmail / Dead Man's Plate primarily and buy Demonic Embrace sooner. They can be used as Sticking Builds with Phase Rush against mobile Enemies. Turbo Chemtank is an Alternative Mythic in these Cases for Jungle Builds!

    Iceborn Gauntlet
    Ionian Boots of Lucidity
    Frozen Heart
    Spirit Visage
    Demonic Embrace

    Damage Options:
    Zhonya's Hourglass
    Defense Options:
    Randuin's Omen
    Warmog's Armor
    Gargoyle Stoneplate

General Matchup Tips:

- For specific Matchup Guides have a look at the enemy Champion's Mobalytics Page and Page for Advise.

- You can also use the LoLAlytics Matchup Stats via their Search Engine from Maokai's Main Page.
Just go to his page there and then enter your enemy champion matchup into the Search bar in the upper right corner. On the right side of the list you can click on the "vs." Matchup result.
For example against Dr. Mundo:
- Another great Resource is Solokill. It offers 1v1 Clips for all Champion Matchups.

- You can find even more Matchup Statistics Sites on my ULTIMATE Link List for League of Legends.

- It is also always a good Idea to watch some High Elo Games of the Matchup you are interested in via Youtube.
Here is a Search Example for Dr. Mundo.

Matchup Spredsheet by Aizolol1:

- Link
- also have a look at his Matchup specific Videos on YT

Matchup Guide on Maokai by wickd:

Top Lane Basics

Top Lane Guide

  • The best Introduction to Basic League Concepts I know is made by Phroxzon from UNSWLOLSOC (the makers of the original Leaguecraft 101).
    If you want to learn League in the most efficient way, check out his great Content HERE.

  • Maokai Top Guide by Mobalytics: LINK

  • My own Maokai YT Playlist with lots of Content.
  • For general Top Lane Guides / Macro have a look at my own Youtube Top Lane Playlist and Youtube Macro Playlist!

Short Overview of an OTP Challenger and his approach by LoLProAnalysis:

For a more detailed overview, have a look at these Toplane Guides by DaveyX3:

A nice Gameplay Commentary by High Elo Maokai Player Aizolol vs. GP:

Maokai Top Coaching by Neace (bit older, but still appliable):

Maokai Top Coaching by wickd - also older, but still good:

Jungle Basics

Jungle Guide

  • Maokai Jungle Guide with Clear by Mobalytics: LINK

  • My own Maokai YT Playlist with lots of Content.
  • For general Jungle Guides / Macro have a look at my own Youtube Jungle Playlist and Youtube Macro Playlist!

    Maokai Jungle Gameplay Guide by Neace (Pre-Rework, but Basics still apply):

    Maokai Jungle Guide by Neace - older but still good:

    The Jungle Clear


    • Normally you want to Full Clear on Maokai - look here at Mobalytics!
    • Do my Ward Swap Trick in the beginning to get Sweeper rdy for Ganks and protect your Buff from Invades.

      Video from my Youtube Channel on how to do it:

    • Always try to spot the Enemy Jungler's Starting Point from paying attention to which Enemy Lane is late to Lane after their Leash.

      For a Guide about Basic Tracking watch this Video by ProGuides:

    • While you clear, train yourself to always move the camera to your closest lane while moving from one Camp to the other (in your downtime so to say).
    • In General, look at the Minimap every 10 seconds.
      You can use a Metronome at 6 bpm for that. Look here for an Online Version: LINK.

      For a little Guide about Map awareness, have a look at this Video from my Youtube Channel:

    • Whenever you are not behind, get a Pink Ward on every Back to protect your Jungle / Lanes. You also want to get Sweeper early on for ganking / Clearing Enemy Vision in your Jungle. Only swap back to Trinket Wards if your Team gets very behind and you need the Vision Protection.
    • Practice to always do "Cross Map Actions" - Whenever you spot the Enemy Jungler doing something on the other side of the map condition yourself to do sth too.
      Invade his Camps, Gank, get Tower / Herald / Drake etc.

    • To not lose Aggro while kiting to those Brushes have a look at Phylaris' Jungle Monster Patience Guide:

    • For optimal Camp Kiting for time and HP efficiency study these Phylaris Guides:
      • Standard Kiting:

      • Advanced Kiting:

    Maokai's Clear Routes

    • Full Clear Red Start Video by Inori:

      For a different Clear Approach at the 2 outer Camps, including enhanced Brush Saplings have a look at my Screenshots here:
    • Clear Variation with Raptor Start from Trash Bandicute:


That's it for now folks!

Thank you for reading my guide and I hope you got something out of it.

If you want sth added to the guide, let me know too! I will see what I can do :).

Also, have a look at my other Content:

MOBAFire Guides:

Tutorials and Collections:

You can also follow me on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube!

Have a great Time in the rift!!!

League of Legends Build Guide Author Der Bestimmer
Der Bestimmer Maokai Guide
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[Season 12] Maokai [Rework] Lane & Jungle Guide - by Der Bestimmer

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