Maokai Build Guide by bobsalad
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Threats to Maokai with this build
|Janna||Janna poses no threat though a good janna can block all your sapling poke with shield. A janna lane has no sustain so just go in whenever you have all your abilities up.|
|Ezreal||Ezreal lets you build up passive very easy so you will usually be full hp against an ezreal lane. He also doesnt do much damage in an all in so you can trade with him very well and just sustain up.|
Hey I'm Cloud and I mained support Maokai since Season 4 peaking at 400 lp Challenger on NA server this season. Since the tank reworks, many pros have been picking up Maokai support so I am updating this guide as a long time Maokai support player.
With the changes to righteous glory, Maokai is playable as support now.
Maokai was one of the premier top lane picks at the end of Season 4 and Season 5. However I believe he is much stronger as support especially in solo queue. Pro top laners will mostly agree Maokai does not have the strongest laning phase but excels in teamfights and does well with low farm. In solo queue games, top laners are usually very farmed and top lane relies heavily on laning. On the contrary, support Maokai has a very strong laning phase and can be just as good in teamfights without much farm.
AftershockMaokai might be the best abuser of this keystone in the game. All 4 of your abilities give CC so it is easy to get off and stay in range for the explosion.
Font of Life Pretty much stoneborn from before. Again 4 CC abilities so this is a no brainer.
Iron Skin You will be laning against an adc so mostly take this unless its a Ziggs adc or something.
Second Wind One of Maokai's biggest strengths is being able to take an even or potentially bad trade and sustain back up with relic shield and passive. This mastery helps a lot with that
Secondary tree there are many options and its mostly up to you. Personally I like the mana mastery in the sorcery tree.
Manaflow Band Maokai has mana problems as he builds relic and not a mana support item. This will save you a lot of mana when you are poking with saplings.
Celerity Movespeed is very important on engage melee supports such as Alistar (and of course Maokai).
|This item gives a lot more laning strength than coin even though coin might give more gold. It synergizes very well with your passive early game so you can share gold with your adc as well as have massive sustain. With 3 other champs bot instead of 1 top, you will have your passive up a lot more. Take 3 Health Potion.
|eye of the equinox||I do not think the ruby sightstone is very good at the moment so get this item over the support item.|
|These are the best boots in most games. They let you catch up to your target. Get Ninja Tabi if they are all ad.|
|This item is most important to engage better. You can also use the slow to peel.|
|This item along with Locket of the Iron Solari add a lot of teamfight strength and though it doesn't synergize too well with maokai's kit it is strong enough to warrant building it.|
|Get this item next for the aura and the shield. It is probably the strongest teamfight item you can build.|
|This item is incredibly efficient for a single, low price item. The only downside is it is not effective in a 1v1 but you don't need to 1v1 anyone as support.|
|They reduced the cost on frozen heart by 100. The item gives good stats for Maokai especially if your build is lacking in cdr.|
This item is very strong. Get this after glory if you have one main carry or locket first if you want to shield for the whole team.
Some items you should not get on support Maokai but may seem deceptively good are Rod of Ages, Randuin's Omen, Sunfire Cape, Warmog's Armor, and Spirit Visage.
Saplings are not so reliable in a straight up 1v1 for solo lanes but are much stronger as a poke tool for support.
Always start E on support Maokai. Your E is one of the strongest level 1 abilities as it is pretty much a 1100 range ward (can be longer if you throw against a wall). Use this to scout where the enemy is level 1.
Saplings can act as wards and if the enemy passes them, they will know they have been spotted. Even if you were not paying attention when they got hit by the sapling, they still may back off knowing you got vision of them.
Here are some good sapling placements on blue and purple side
For the tri-bushes on both sides, the enemy will usually walk through them on their way back from leashing level 1. You can get some good poke by leaving a few saplings in those bushes. Generally the enemy will walk through that bush around 1:50-1:55 and saplings last 30s at level 1 so start throwing them around 1:25.
In lane, use your saplings to poke. This is how you should place them.
The new saplings have lower lockdown radius (which is good so they dont unintentionally get aggro from minions). There are two ways to use this. New saplings have large splash radius from bush so you can place them close enough that they will target the minions and splash onto the enemy champions. Placing them on the inner edge of the bush away from minions will be out of range to target minions. This more for zoning or if you want a guaranteed hit on the enemy champs. Image below for reference.
As you are a melee champion it is common that you will be pushed under turret. Set up saplings in the bush before they push you in so they can stop them from running away from your all in. Example below.
This is usually when you will start to contest objectives like mid turret or dragon.
Great! Maokai is probably one of the best mid game teamfighting supports in the game. You have very high pick potential as you can CC people for days with your Q, W, and E. Use your sightstone to ward up around the bot jungle and river. I generally do not like defensive wards in solo queue so most of your sightstone wards should be in the enemy jungle or in river. However, place pinks defensively as it is harder to defend offensive pinks in solo queue.
You are a great engager for your team. To start a teamfight, use your Twisted Advance onto preferably one of their carries or anyone who is cutoff from their team and Bramble Smash to knock them backwards. If you are flanking, use Nature's Grasp on their retreat path and close in with w. While you are the engager, after you have engaged, try to peel for your carries. Nature's Grasp is good for flanking but also for peeling. Standing next to your carries and using it will help keep them safe. Use exhaust on either someone who does high dps like Katarina or Vayne or just whoever is on your carries. Be sure to use your actives such as Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari as they are a big part of supports' contribution to teamfights.
Try to stay near the front and be in range to use your abilities whenever they are up. Abilities will cycle very fast so you will have your Sap Magic up a lot. Proc it whenever you can as it restores a lot of HP.
If you think the enemy bot lane is leashing, you can chunk them pretty hard with saplings before they even get to lane. At level 1, saplings last 35 seconds. Buffs spawn at 1:30 now and the bot lane will usually finish leashing and pass the tribush between 1:38-1:45 approximately. To be safe, I take the longer time and start throwing saplings around 1:10. Sapling toss has a 11 second cd level 1 so you can get 3 saplings off before they get there. Spread them out so the DoT portion deals more damage.
Tips and Tricks
Check out this video by Treant on NA for some tips and tricks (starts at 4:00).
One trick I like for the new Maokai is you can use W on your target, cast ult to root them then use your Q to knock them into another branch of the Maokai ult.
Maokai support is a very strong pick compared to his top lane counterpart as it makes room for a top laner that can benefit from more farm and items as well as being a stronger presence in mid game dragon fights and laning. People who have played Leona will probably find Maokai easy to pick up.
Thanks for reading my guide!
Please leave comments on what you think I could do differently with the guide or my playstyle with Maokai. I appreciate all feedback.