Maokai Build Guide by SwelteringMuffin
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+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10 Adaptive (6 AD or 10 AP)
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)
Champion Build Guide
Why should I play Maokai?
Maokai is the type of support champion that brings amazing crowd control and prevents the enemy team to go on your carries by locking them down. You're the champion that soaks up all the damage for your team while staying sustained you're able to siege turrets and secure objectives. So if you like tanking, locking enemies down and staying healthy after teamfights then Maokai is the champion made for you.
The key to success
Teamfights aren't always coordinated therefore you'll have to keep your team together. It's your job to crowd control as many enemies as possible while keeping divers/assassins off of your carries so that your team can pick them off one by one. Eventually you're outsustaining the enemies and you're ready to secure objectives. To play Maokai like a god it's definitely important to know which enemies you need to be tanking/cc'ing during teamfights, but most importantly have fun playing Maokai and being the unkillable forest!
Check out the chapters, Items for reasonings and Tips & Tricks for useful information on Maokai gameplay.
+ Very tanky
+ Strong crowd control
+ Great sustain
+ Decent damage
View on pros
View on cons
Q at lv 1 Bramble Smash deals damage, slows and knocks back enemies.
||W at lv 2 Twisted Advance dash to a single target, damages and roots the target.|
|E at lv 3 Sapling Toss fling a sapling to target location, grants sight, shortly chases nearby enemies, damages and slows them.||
R at lv 6, 11 and 16 Nature's Grasp more damage, lower cooldown.
The remaining points are put in the Precision tree, this will grant you alot more mana sustain/ult cdr and permanent tenacity upon takedowns.
We choose 9 Adaptive Force (9 AP) in the first row because it's a flat amount (level 1), attack speed won't help us, the CDR scales way too slow.
We choose 9 Adaptive Force (9 AP) in the second row because it's another flat amount (level 1), the armor and MR are not as valuable (about a third amount less).
We choose 15-90 HP scaling based on level in the third row, the break even point is at level 8 and 10. It becomes almost twice as valuable as the armor and MR options. Choose the armor or MR option when against 4-5 AD or AP champions respectively to have a safer early game.
So what Summoner Spells do I pick?
Get Exhaust and Flash, no discussion. Both can get you out of sticky situations but can also get your allies to kill the exhausted person really easy as it reduces their movement speed and damage dealt for a good 2.5 seconds. Exhaust is also more flexible than Ignite since you can use it both defensive and offensive.
Whenever you play a champion your item build/order needs to somewhat be flexible, this is especially the case for tanks as they willfully focus on items with resistances. Determine which six items you need before the game starts, the item build above is optimal against your average enemy team composition, however the order will be determined by the state of the game.
Meaning if AP champions on the enemy team snowball the early game you'll have to focus on MR items first, unless you avoid fights around that specific champion. When you're up against team compositions without champions building crit or full AD/AP compositions you'll also be building different items.
Understanding the items
Your core items:
gold generating, HP, sustain, cdr and warding item
MR boots against heavy cc comps
Armor boots against heavy AD/auto based comps
against AD crit/auto based comps
against AD auto based comps
against heavy AD auto/healing based comps
against heavy AD comps
against AP comps
against heavy AP comps with damage over time
against heavy AP comps with AP champions on your team
grants more MR than armor, great aoe shield for teammates, scales off of your bonus health
great self defensive item against AD/AP comps during big teamfights
grants more armor than MR, gives more focus on damage when using ult in teamfights
Some alternative item builds
Against full AD comp with crit based champs:
Eye of the Aspect
Against full AP comp:
Eye of the Aspect
Locket of the Iron Solari
When you're up against 4 AD and 1 AP or 4 AP and 1 AD you determine a middle ground in terms of how many armor/MR items you build. With each back ask yourself if you need more armor, MR, HP or a bit of both/everything.
Counter the counter
Keep in mind that there are some items that counter tanks.
Liandry's Torment and Blade of the Ruined King shred your HP, when you see Haunting Guise or Bilgewater Cutlass (on a physical champion) you'll know they're building the items. You can't avoid enemies building the items, unless you just stomp them with your team and they don't get any gold, but you can prioritize armor/MR over HP when building your items.
Vice versa when you see Black Cleaver and Last Whisper upgrades being build you can prioritize HP (or MR) over armor when building your items.
By doing this you delay the effectiveness of your opponents items.
Health Potion x2
You start the game with Relic Shield and 2 Health Potion's. Relic Shield is a gold generating item that gives you some HP and sustain as it heals both the owner and the nearest allied champion upon minion execution which is useful to keep your adc longer in lane aswell as making you tankier once you upgrade the item. The Health Potion's will keep you further sustained throughout the laning phase.
The Warding Totem is self explanatory, you get it to place wards in bushes and prevent any possible early ganks if your lane is pushed.
*Swap to Oracle Lens upon quest completion, this is great for denying vision and preventing tp flanks. Keep track of the cooldown so you can use it as soon as it's available, whilst active try to cover as much map as possible.
Eye of the Aspect
Mercury's Treads or Ninja Tabi
We opt for Eye of the Aspect as it gives the most HP and regen/sustain out of the three gold generating items. In combination with the MR/armor boots it gives you some nice early game defensive stats.
These three items provide you the most tankyness and sustain and are optimal against your average enemy team composition: balance between AD/AP damage, decent amount of cc aswell as crit based champions. As mentioned before, the order varies per game.
Locket of the Iron Solari
Elixir of Iron
Locket of the Iron Solari is a great item to round up the build as it grants some more MR than armor, this way you balance out your resistances more. In addition you also gain an active giving you and your nearby allies a great shield which scales off of your bonus health, meaning it synergizes very well with Eye of the Aspect Randuin's Omen and Spirit Visage.
When the game you're in doesn't want to end don't forget to buy an Elixir of Iron.
- You got a huge aoe ult Nature's Grasp which sends out five brambles rooting enemy champions 0.6-2.4secs based on distance ult has traveled it's a great tool to initiate fights or get enemies off yourself/teammates to get to safety.
- Maokai's ult starts slightly behind him, if you need to instant root an enemy champion (with high mobility and/or flash up) after you've cc'd them you can use your ult in the opposite direction, as long as there's no one else you can catch out with it.
- Bramble Smash is a close range aoe line that damages and slows enemies by 99% for 0.25secs, enemies near Maokai are knocked back.
- Bramble Smash has a 0.35secs delay meaning that you can Q flash for smoother/faster animation if necessarily in certain situations.
- Bramble Smash can knock enemies standing near thin walls to the other side of the wall. The closer Maokai is to his target the further the knock back will be (up to 300 units). In sticky situations when you're out of options you may path near thin walls, bait enemies to path very close to the wall and try knocking an opponent or two over to the other side.
- Twisted Advance makes Maokai dash to a target enemy, on arrival he deals damage and roots the target. During the dash Maokai becomes untargetable, he'll be able to avoid lots of different abilities/aoe's aswell as minion/turret shots, but it doesn't make him invulnerable, damage over time, delayed detonations and tethers still go through.
- Sapling Toss flings a sapling to the target location, remaining there for 30secs aswell as granting sight. Chases enemies for up to 2.5secs, dealing % target's max hp damage, slowing them by 35% for 2secs upon impact in a small aoe range. Saplings thrown in bushes deal double damage to enemies hit and last 2.5% bonus hp longer, meaning they will last a total of 60secs with Aspect, Randuin's and Spirit Visage.
- Use Sapling Toss as a way to safely obtain deeper vision for a shorter amount of time. Don't overdo it during early laning phase as it will drain your mana.
- Sapling Toss chase speed slightly increases based on boots speed.
- After making an engage with Twisted Advance and Bramble Smash use Sapling Toss in the direction which you expect your enemies to path to further damage and slow them. Throw the sapling in a nearby bush if you know the pathing will trigger the sapling for double the damage.
- Maokai's passive Sap Magic heals himself upon auto attacking anything but a structure for 6-13% max hp based on level, it has a static cooldown and gets reduced by 4secs each time Maokai uses an ability or gets struck by enemy abilities. It doesn't activate when Maokai is above 95% max hp.
- Sap Magic has a 0.25secs delay meaning that in rare case scenario's you could auto flash away and still get healed.
I will go through the following topics:
- Map awareness
- Team compositions
- Wards, functions and efficient use
What is vision and why do we want it?
Vision is information of the map that your enemy team may not know about, therefore you're talking about advantages. Having vision around objectives means you have more control over the situation.
Once vision is obtained you need to make use of these advantages, the placed wards will help you with your map awareness.
What is map awareness and why do we want it?
Map awareness is nothing more than being aware of your surroundings:
- Knowing in what situation you are
- Realizing how far up in lane you are
- In what kind of dangers you may be getting
- What you're risking
When you're aware of your surroundings enemy ganks/roams will be less effective because retreating in time will result into less deaths. Having map awareness will not only reduce your amount of deaths but it will also help you make the right decision.
It's important to note that you should be aware of what the enemies team composition is, aswell as your own team composition. This means you should know or have a general idea what the enemies are capable of doing and what your team is capable of doing.
Now that you know what map awareness is, why we want to be aware of our surroundings and the team compositions, you'll understand that the minimap is an important tool and by looking frequently at it you'll become a better player.
When you check your minimap you must immediately think about certain things and inform your allies in an efficient way. Use your ping functions on the minimap, when enemies are missing for about 5 seconds, to inform allies quick and safely.
Using pings frequently to communicate with your allies is a great, fast, efficient and safe way to get on the same page with them. Now let's talk more about wards, how you should use them and ward efficiently.
Wards, functions and efficient use
First of all, let's look at the possible options to get vision:
- Eye of the Watchers Eye of Ascension Eye of the Aspect and Warding Totem place stealth wards.
- Control Ward's are bought from the shop for 75 gold.
- Farsight Alteration upgrades from Warding Totem at lv9.
- Rift Scuttler is a neutral monster located in the river.
All of these options are used in a different way.
Stealth wards have a limited use, each player can have a maximum of three stealth wards placed on the map at a time. Therefore you should use them wisely and efficiently.
- Don't place two wards on the same location or near each other, try to spread them around.
- Place them in bushes so that if an enemy goes in a bush you or your team can still attack them.
- When being pushed in, place wards for protection.
- Try to get some deep vision, when pushing waves, around the objectives (turrets/drakes/dragon/baron) that you're going for without risking to die.
- When alot of enemy turrets are destroyed you can place a ward in lane (usually in mid lane) depending on the situation because the lanes will be very long. The ward is also great for tp flanks.
Control wards are wards that give vision but are visible to enemies if they spot them. They last forever until destroyed by the enemies, they reveal and disable enemy wards and reveal camouflaged enemy champions. You can only have one of these on the map per champion.
- They aren't free so try to protect them by attacking the enemy.
- They are used to deny vision and clear enemy wards, thus giving you control over that part of the map.
- The best way to use them is to place them in bushes where they will last long and give good information.
Farsight Alteration are wards that give vision but are visible to enemies if they spot them.
- Keep track of the cooldown and spam these in any bush for deep vision.
- Sometimes you want to place them in bushes of your own jungle, they are more likely to last longer and you can spot enemies invading your jungle.
- Take these with your allies whenever you can, to prepare a possible drake/dragon or baron.
- This vision cannot be removed, not even with control wards, sweeping lens or oracle alteration. Enemies that start drake/dragon or baron will be spotted unless they enter the pit from the back.
- Besides vision it also gives a nice movement speed buff that may help you win teamfights if the objective is contested.
The following two things are important to note:
- If there are three enemies in the top lane it means there can only be two enemies on the rest of the map. Therefore you're more safe to make plays in other lanes, play more aggressive, try to push out waves, get a turret and take jungle camps whilst retreating if you're in the position to do so. Otherwise your team should rotate to other lanes to save turrets in the top lane.
- When you ward be careful, it is not worth dying to place a ward. It is also not worth going halfway across the map to place a control ward, you lose too much time running around and you'll fall behind on xp/levels/gold. However it is worth if your team is about to make plays on that side of the map.
Dealing with the living jungle:
- Blast cones are used to hop over walls, when you're in the enemy jungle destroy these to deny a possible advantage.
- Scryer's blooms are used to scout enemies and enemy wards, note that when enemies get spotted they'll get particles around them meaning they know someone destroyed it.
- Honeyfruits are used to top off your HP and MP. Use them when you need them. Denying them from enemies will deny them from your allies too, only deny from enemies when they are nearby with low HP and wanting it.
Placing control wards when on blue side:
*The darker coloured square is optional.
Placing control wards when on red side:
*The darker coloured square is optional.
Recommended Stealth Wards when doing drakes/dragon:
*Blue squares are Stealth Wards placed by blue team, red squares by red team.
*The darker coloured squares are optional when doing dragon.
Recommended Stealth Wards when doing baron:
*Blue squares are Stealth Wards placed by blue team, red squares by red team
*The darker coloured squares are optional.
Lower ranked players tend to allow their emotions to get to them more often than higher ranked players. Bad plays or teammates can cause anger and frustration which swings the mental state into a negative one. Higher ranked players tend to neglect emotions more often or don't allow the emotions to affect their mental state, they stay focused on the game and look for opportunities.
Alot of players blame others because it's easy or they have a big ego.
What even is an ego?
The origin of "ego" comes from the Latin word meaning "I". It's how the conscious mind deals with the unconscious parts and the world around us.
Having a big ego is basically a high belief in ourselves (high self image) for example our abilities/skills to do something (make an outplay), our importance to people and our place in society (being the image for your viewers as a streamer/guidemaker). Having a big ego is just a self perception which doesn't necessarily mirror the truth. We as humans can be very ego centric and our minds can often look for ways to boost up our egos to feel good about ourselves. There is nothing wrong in us feeling good about ourselves. Having a high self image and self worth is more beneficial than a low self image which could lead to conditions like depression. Having a low self image or suffering from depression is obviously a bad thing, it's life limiting and potentially harmful.
However having too big of an ego can lead to arrogance and hubris (excess of confidence/thinking you're better than others), these are generally unlikable character traits. When a person seeks to boost up their ego they often target other people to accomplish it. Insulting them directly or indirectly in order to make themselves appear and feel good. They may put down other peoples achievements for the simple reason of gratifying their own egos.
Big egos can also lead to a delusional way of thinking. They may say things like "I am always right" or "I am never wrong", they may never admit when they are wrong, their egos won't allow it. Understand that seeking a quick ego boost is a very limited and short sighted method of feeling good about oneself that will probably do you more harm than good in the long term. The same way an elo boost works.
Note: understand that the need to boost up your ego could just be a compensation for a low self image.
So next time you bump into someone arrogant/delusional in your solo queue games, just pretend they have a low self esteem. XD
Having an ego is good and important, but don't overkill it. It just has to be balanced and controlled with enough self awareness to prevent a healthy self belief turning into harmful delusional thinking.
There are better ways to feel good about yourself. For example the feeling you get from helping somebody or generally doing good is far better than a simple ego boost that comes from putting somebody else down. So instead of blaming others, self-reflect on your own gameplay. The most straightforward way is to look at replays of your own games. Analyze your decision making and use of abilities.
Now obviously you can't self-reflect every single game you play (well you can but it's too time consuming, exhausting and we just want to play more games right?), but the more you analyze, the more you will learn about the game and thus become better at it (that's what you want!).
Note: don't blame yourself for every single ability you miss during a game, you can't land them all. But the more you do land, the more consistent your games will go. Try to understand which ones are crucial so you can distinguish them from the ones that wouldn't have made a big difference.
"I can't always land skill shots. I'm only human." - GorillA
Fun vs competitive
Some players have a more competitive drive than others, some want to have more fun than others. Determine what the case is for you. What is your goal? Do you want to mostly have fun or climb?
Fun or off meta champion picks are not necessarily the strongest picks, however can add a surprise factor and throw your opponents off when played perfectly. If you have a desire to climb pick champions you're very good at and consider learning newer/reworked champions with a very solid/strong kit. The combination of the two, being good at the champion aswell as it being overtuned (AKA balanced LUL), increases your chances to win games.
Note for players with competitive drive: If you're (super far) ahead of the enemy team, your goal is not to just stay ahead but to further increase your lead and to close out the game with a victory. Winning and being ahead is fun, some players fool around and have fun when they are ahead, however this opens up opportunities for the enemy team. If you queue up to climb don't mess around and take that LP while you can. Why only think about your LP when you're behind but not when ahead?
If you're more of a player that wants to have fun. Do whatever makes you happy, just keep in mind you're also playing with other players (unless you like playing bot games), don't have fun at cost of other players mental state.
Note for fun players: I'd recommend to keep the fun in normal games/ARAM. Ranked games are for players with a competitive drive and a winning attitude. There are points on the line afterall, not just any points, but League Points. I know that keeping fun out of ranked games may be hard for some regions knowing that NA is a 4fun4 region. hehe xd
Some general tips to increase your chances at winning your ranked games:
- Play when you're focused, energized (after a meal), avoid playing tired after a long rough day of work/school.
- Have a great mental, be optimistic and positive.
- Only play champions you're very good at.
- Play overtuned champions (only if you're good at them).
- Pick champions that synergize with your team composition (only if you're good at them).
- Avoid making crucial mistakes/deaths.
- Don't focus on teammates/own mistakes, focus on opportunities instead.
Even when playing focused players can make mistakes.
"Mistakes are opportunities, ya know." - Reignover
Mistakes definitely open up new opportunities, however the counter-argument would be that making too many mistakes will put your team too far behind.
Avoid making crucial mistakes/deaths and try not to focus on the mistakes that are being made during a game but instead the opportunities which progress the state of the game for your team.
Optimism, pessimism and realism
When you're optimistic, you tend to see the brighter side of things, believe in people, and you're convinced that things are getting better. The opposite of the optimist is the pessimist, who sees everything as negative as possible. The pessimist believes that things are bad, and that they're going to get worse. The realist tries to see things as they really are, and expects the future to act according to probabilities and tendencies.
This is another one of those you want to keep balanced. Being pessimistic won't make your mental state feel good, thus winning games may become harder. Being optimistic is positive, you may win games from behind that others may already given up on, staying optimistic and focused throughout the game will help you find the opportunities to swing the game in your teams favor. However being too optimistic when the game is long gone isn't good either (e.g. top lane is 0/5, mid lane is 0/5 and adc is 0/5), that's when you need to realize the actual state of the game, start to be more realistic and move on to your next game.
Note: in pro play teams pretty much never FF anymore compared to earlier seasons, not necessarily because they're too optimistic, they may already have realized the game is a loss, however they keep playing to gain more experience and get better at playing from behind. Sometimes they'll even grab the win surprising themselves.
Last but not least, risk-taking tends to come easily to optimists.
So next time you have a too optimistic teammate trying to do something crazy mission impossible, tell them to get real. Realistic that is.
If this Maokai guide helped you in any way make sure to up vote the guide. If you have any questions/feedback feel free to comment in the discussion section.
I play on the NA server with the username SwelteringMuffin.
I mainly play support. Beside the fact that it's the fastest to queue with, it's also a really easy role. For example you don't really have to worry about last hitting minions. It is an easy role, but to be great at it you have to do alot for the team. I also like to play unusual support champions, because people don't know what to expect and how to react when you change a champions standard role/lane/build. The element of surprise can be beneficial for your team and unfavorable for the enemy team.
I have also played alot of jungle. It gives a good knowledge on when to exactly gank and how to bait your enemies perfectly into death as a laner. Since I play alot of squishy supports I've learnt how to bait enemies very well, provoking them or sometimes showing that champion mastery is enough to get them greedy.
Because of how much I've played as a support I have a good understanding on how the bottom lane and synergy between AD and support works. This is one of the reasons I like to play AD aswell.
Support throughout the years
Aside of all that, maining support has taught me how to efficiently ward, bringing the most vision to your team. This is something that I've transferred to other roles aswell, warding efficiently, because vision is not only the supports job, it's a team job. Once you get the hang of warding efficiently you will automatically work on your map awareness. Having map awareness made me know very well how to rotate around the map and when to take turrets, drakes, dragons or barons.
2 June 2015: Creation of guide (Soraka)
24 July 2015: 100k champion points on Soraka, wooooo!
28 August 2015: Creation of guide (Sona)
9 October 2015: Creation of guide (Tahm Kench)
14 November 2015: 100k views on Soraka guide, aww yeeaa!
14 November 2015: Creation of guide (Nunu)
2 December 2015: Creation of guide (Kayle)
6 December 2015: 100k views on Tahm Kench guide, woop woop!
6 December 2015: 100k views on Sona guide, double woop woop!
18 December 2015: 500k views on Soraka guide, keep on healin' keep on healin'!
24 January 2016: 500k views on Tahm Kench guide, don't stop licking :P
1 February 2016: Creation of guide (Jhin)
3 February 2016: 100k views on Nunu guide, let's build this snowman!
12 February 2016: 100k views on Kayle guide, keep on smackin' with your sword!
10 March 2016: 1M views on Soraka guide, a small loan of a million views.
13 March 2016: 100k views on Jhin guide, load, aim, headshot!
31 March 2016: 500k views on Sona Guide, heal, speed, burst, repeat!
16 May 2016: 2M views on Soraka guide, that's quite a bit, but we heal more with one W! >:D
9 July 2016: 500k views on Nunu guide, stay frosty.
16 August 2016: Creation of guide (Bard)
24 August 2016: 1M views on Tahm Kench guide, Lickitung would be proud of this.
3 September 2016: Lv7 mastery on Soraka!
29 September 2016: 500k views on Kayle guide.
29 September 2016: 100k champion points on Sona.
2 November 2016: Lv7 mastery on Sona!
2 May 2017: Lv7 mastery on Bard!
5 May 2017: 200k champion points on Soraka!
Champions I play