Build Guide by N O R I S K S
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Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Olaf is a very weak starting champ, but can turn into a one man pushing machine. Most people have seen a good Olaf destroy an entire team at 1% health, literally changing the tides of battle single handedly. Then, they go and make one thinking that buying a bunch of life steal damage items is what makes him awesome. Wrong. The greatest thing about Olaf is that his damage is pretty much built into his skills... what you need to think about is how that Olaf stayed alive to kill you at such low health.
This is accomplished by making him tanky, and by only taking damaging items that also benefit your survivability (aka the frozen mallet and atmas. The bloodthirster is just icing on the cake if the game lasts this long). You honestly don't need pure damage items to make him destroy people. Next to the newly buffed Kog, Olaf is THE best tank killer in the game in my opinion. Having armor pen marks along with reckless swing will make tanks beg for mercy. CD reduction glyphs make it so that you can reckless swing more often, making it so that you literally can take almost half of someones life, wait in a bush a couple of seconds, and do it again. The distance on it is nice also. The other important skill here, Ragnarok, makes Olaf a great initiating champ for team fights or a great low health killer when a single enemy thinks he has the upper hand. The key here is the damage reduction, making you pretty much take next to nothing in damage while still delivering devastating blows. Another great thing about Ragnarok is its armor pen and its immunity to disables. While the armor pen needs no explanation, the immunity to disables awesomeness is twofold. One, the obvious ability to run in or run out willy nilly, and two, it makes you able to buy boots other than merc treads (like the immensely cheap dodge boots.) Undertow, while pivotal to chasing or initiating a stupid solo champ, doesn't need to be rushed (also note that undertow can be used effectively to slow an enemy team advance to give your teammates time to gtfo of dodge). Vicious strikes, while teamed up with his other skills is awesome, is not what makes him great (note, even though you won't gain the lifesteal while attacking towers, the +damage is pretty amazing. Use it to blow those turrets up). So, along with undertow, no need to push this in leveling.
Now, the key to getting kills with Olaf is... well... playing reckless. When you go to get a kill, harass at first, but once you commit, commit all the way. When you go in, don't use Ragnarok right away. Wait for them to start committing to the kill also. When they do that, R, E, W, Q, E, hopefully dead. If not, keep swinging away, your lifesteal and increased attack speed will outlast any enemy damaged that badly. DO NOT RETREAT unless you KNOW you are going to die if you stay and you think you have a chance to get out, and even then, sometimes going for broke pays off with teammates coming in late.
In the end, realize Olaf is not your average carry or tank. He relies on his ability to out survive an enemy carry/tank while still doing massive damage for the team.
As a side note, I would like to pass along a request from a fellow guide maker that I admire on this site. If you rate this down, please give an explanation so that we can make our guides better instead of just making them unseen. Remember, guides, just like people, can only be made better by CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.