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Maokai Build Guide by DerGnomi

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League of Legends Build Guide Author DerGnomi

The true Mr. Tree

DerGnomi Last updated on June 30, 2014
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 0

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 21


Utility: 9

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is my favorite jungler

I played him in season 2 and 3 most of the time. In season 4 not that often, but still the last week I was just playing Maokai to get the mechanics back.
And now here it is the legendary Mr. Tree :)

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Pros & Cons


  • Strong Tank
  • Gapclosing root
  • Knockback
  • Fast jungle speed
  • Strong ganks
  • Can reg HP with his passive

  • Passive works only after an autoattack
  • Slow (without movement runes/masteries)
  • Cant escape/get out of the fight fast because of missing non-target jump

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Runes & Masteries

First of all I explain why to take AD/Attspeed, armor/MR and movespeed.

And this Masteries:


Runes and Masteries increase stats:
| AD | 61 to 64 | runes +3 |
| Attspeed | 0.694 to 0.765SPACER | runes +10% |
| Armor | 26 to 41 | runes +9; masteries +5,+5% |
| MR | 30 to 34 | runes +1.54(per lvl); masteries +2 |
| MovespeedSPACER | 335 to 355 | runes 4.5%; masteries +1.5%(out of combat) |

In the early game I want mainly to be a very fast jungle to get as much ganks as possible off. Later I want to be the main tank to engage the teamfights or protect the carry.

Masteries and Runes will help in early to get the DMG and in the lategame because of the scaling Runes/Masteries I will get more and more tanky.

There are some other ways selecting Runes and Masteries:

Heavy AD (for advantage in the jungle and ganking (in the early game):


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Well, I think this Runes and masteries are very good if you want some DMG in the early game.
Only thing I am losing is the movementspeed but I get some defense back, because of the defensive Masteries.

Heavy AP(AP tank for example)


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Ability Power

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

AP tank is usefull if your team need another champ who can do some DMG, especially magic DMG.
I prefer to build full Tank but AP tank is a build what I can refer to and it works a bit like an AP Tank Amumu build.
You have to go in -> burst down a carry/tank some DMG -> go out and reg up

Usefull Items on AP-Tank Maokai:
Sorcerer's Shoes -> some AP pen.
Spirit of the Spectral Wraith -> Jungling much easier (+Stacks)
Rod of Ages -> Haunting Guise -> Rylai's Crystal Scepter -> Liandry's Torment -> Zhonya's Hourglass

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Summoner Spells

For this chapter I asked myself how usefull is each Summoner on Maokai in the jungle.

This Summoner Spell should be a MUST if you want to jungle successfull.
Essential to outsmite the enemy jungler or secure Dragon/Baron Nashor.

I think you should take Flash as second Summoner but you can switch it with other spells if you think you can work better with them.
Reason to take flash: first of all there is a he higher range of your e. Flash and if your near an enemy, your safe root will hit aslong as you'r not missing to click the right target.

Ghost is a good option to take instead of Flash.
You will get faster from point A on the map to point B. Also it got less CD then Flash and if you burn a flash with ghost you can call it "worth". If you cant escape very good with mao I would prefer to take flash but later switch with Ghost and try your best.

Use Teleport to do pritty hard TP ganks. Port behind the enemies and then you can root one and knock back all others, should be an easy engage.
Also usefull to defende turrets because of little CD reset.

Exhaust can be used as offensive and defensive spell.
Its hard DMG-reduction and slow effect to stay alive in a fight with enemy carries or while running away.

You can use Heal as a little Ghostboost to chase enemies off or get some HP and speed to run away. Still an usefull Summoner Spell.

More or less Ignite can be a good spell but just against a heavy healing team or just to execute kills. Just take if you confident about your escape skills :)

Barrier just gives you a (95 + (20 * level)) HP boost for 2second, while Heal is doing something around (73 + (22 * level)) + the same amount to the nearest allie (coursor) and its movement speedbuff. Barrier is just very usefull against a team with much Ignites.

If you want to get vision about enemy buffs, areas, etc. then I prefer to take the Scrying Orb, which can be casted just every 150 seconds and not that far. But Scrying Orb would do its job.

I think Clarity is a no-go, because if you need mana just take the Blue Buff .
Try to get enemys and you got manareg and cdr, which is a way better then wasting an Summoner.

Do not take Cleanse together with Smite or any other Summoner Spell. You are a tank and should ignore any source of CC, together with Runes and Masteries there is enough resist against DMG and CC.

Just take Revive together with Teleport and just if you are confident about doing this without getting flammed to hard (prefer this for troll/5v5 normal premade).

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Here are some Items you should take and some you could take (bring in some new options if you want in the comment section).

Hunter's Machete+5* Health Potion i highly recommend those starting items. Hunter's Machete for faster jungle speed and HPreg while hitting monsters and Health Potion to heal up after getting critical DMGed by an enemy or monster.

Then go on with Spirit Stone and a Ruby Crystal or some Boots of Speed.
Build then Spirit of the Ancient Golem.

Next item should be a Sightstone for places where vision is needed.

Dont forget to buy some Vision Wards!
-> small river bush is a option to place.

Heavy AD team

Till now we got , and a . This should be your basic Jungle equipment.

Sunfire Cape is your next possible Item, it makes you way stronger in the jungle and against all the ADs in enemy team as well as your doing some magic DMG with Sunfire Capes passive.

Buy Boots of Mobility to roam between lanes faster.
If you need to run away then maybe take Boots of Swiftness.
Mercury's Treads are not very usefull because of the same UNIQUE passive with Spirit of the Ancient Golem.

End Ruby Sightstone by creating it out of your Sightstone.

You should add a Thornmail and a Guardian Angel to get unkillable.
Switch Ruby Sightstone (if the vision is great enough without your wards)with a Warmog's Armor.

Heavy AP team

Till now we got , and a . This should be your basic Jungle equipment.

First item change to the build before is instead of buying Sunfire Cape you should buy a Spirit Visage. Spirit Visage passive will also increase selfhealing with Maokais passive, which means you will get 7% of your max. HP + 20% of this healing on one autoattack.

NOTE: Spirit Visage seems to be a very strong item on Maokai because of this reason.
You should remember this item if you want to creat your own special Builds.

Upgrade your Boots to Boots of Mobility or Boots of Swiftness and Sightstone to Ruby Sightstone.
After this step you can think about build Sunfire Cape too, because of its high benefit in the jungle and teamfight.
Next item build should be in my opinion Banshee's Veil -> Spellshield/MR and Healthreg when hit.
End the Build with changing Ruby Sightstone to Guardian Angel or Warmog's Armor.

"Core" Build

I think here i can talk about situational Build changes.
First of all dont buy everything same way i said it, there is everywhere a point were you have to modify my build to win/change a game.

Frozen Heart
* Take this if you have some high Attspeed champs in enemy team
* You will get pritty good stats and 15% attspeed slow for all surrounding enemies

Rylai's Crystal Scepter
*Saplings will also slow
*Sapling Toss [ E ] - Sapling explosion now slows enemy by 50% for 1 second*
*good tank/ap stat
-> usefull in many situations

*(have a look into this)

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Skill Sequence

There are two possible ways I prefer to skill on Maokai.

First way is the "Gank-Mr.Tree":
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Here you have to care about not to jump in every throng of your enemies, because it could be your death when they burn you down. Isolate a target, jump on it with your Twisted Advance and kick him to your mates with Arcane Smash, they can easily finish him off.
The problem in this version is: Your Sapling Toss is more or less useless as DMG, scout with it as much as possbile!!
If you want to go AP or APtank then have a look on the second way of skill Maokai
  • Max Arcane Smash first. (it's the best way to get DMG and a good load of CC)
  • Max Twisted Advance second. High killing potential (target is rooted for a longer period of time)
  • Max Sapling Toss at last. Use this Spell as scout attack (small ward = 35 sec)

And the second one is the "Poking-Tree":
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

This tatic is a way better, if you want to stay on a lane and sit it. Because the DMG is so much higher and you will get less DMG since you do not have to jump in the enemies to do DMG.
Just set some Saplings in a bush and wait for the enemy champ or throw them around like granades.

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Jungle with Mao the true tree!

There are difference ways i want to point out how you can jungle with Maokai.
Most of this content seems to be "Basic jungle mechanics" and yes it is, i just want to point this out for those who are starting to jungle or dont know all mechanics, which are in need for Maokai.

This picture shows you 2 different ways after buffs are (re)spawned.


You start at the yellow big circle. Clear Ancient Golem to get Blue Buff .
Make sure ur lvl 2.

Then move to Enemys Red Buff as fast as possible (just if he dont started there).
Clear this one two (if enemy Jungle is not the fastest camp clear champ you can do this step).
There is a option 2:
You need to take Ward Trinket at start to do this!
Place the ward in the bush near his red to see the Red Buff and the bush.
Then try to smite the buff away or kill the enemy while he is doing his Red Buff
-> Just a option if he is lower on HP then you!!

Go to the 2 Golems, clear them and do a gank (you should be lvl 3)

If the enemy starts at his Red Buff you should take this way to jungle if your at blue side (On Purple side just if you want to do an early gank on botlane).
Clear your own Red Buff go to Wraith s and clear them too.
Now you can decide either going to Wolves clear them fast for Exp/Gold or run fast to your Blue Buff and kill it.

After you got both Buffs go to Top/Mid and make a gank if it is possible.
Is this not possible keep on jungling and watch out for an option to gank!

pink x's
Here should be a Vision Ward

Red x's
place a Stealth Ward here to gain full vision about enemys Red Buff and Blue Buff .

Jungle Rotation

Just have a look on this pic!
Here you can see movement between lanes:
If you want to gank another lane and you got some time then try to kill fast one or two camps to gain some gold and exp.
There are some more options to rotat between lanes. Just want to give you some impluses

Basic: Vision

Here i want to make clear why it is so important to buy wards as a Jungler.
First of all it is not only Supports Job to gain full vision map and since last Ward changes not even possible. Try to get as much warded as possible, introduce your team where you need a ward or what to do with your gained vision!
Care about enemy movement, if a lane do not react on it dont be to shy to do some pings to show them what is happening! (Dont Spam them with pings -> won't help)

If there are no wards at the blue x's then you may ward there to get essential vision for your Bot/Top lane.
Put Down a Vision Ward in one river bush at the orange X in the other bush you can place Stealth Ward if you got one.
Place wards at the green x's if you want to counter jungle or gain vision about enemy movement.

Now you can see:
  • where the enemy jungle is (can i do a save gank/invade?)
  • where enemies laners are going (are they roaming?)
  • when does Buffs respawn (calculate your rout)

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Tricks and Tipps

There are serveral Tipps and Tricks i got from viewing streams or trying something out.
It would be nice if you know some others (not listed down) and give them to me to list it too.

I. Sapling Toss Twisted Advance escape

Because Twisted Advance need to be casted on a non-allied united there is no way to escape over walls with it, or is there a way?
There is: While you are running away throw a Sapling Toss over a wall onto a jungle camp (here is the problem!), if there are monsters: here we go Twisted Advance on one of them and you can keep on running (works with minions as well).

II. Arcane Smash Kick

If you want to kick someone in a certain direction then you can use your Arcane Smash to do so.
If one side of your spell hits the enemy, he's getting knocked back in the same direction.

Enemy hit in the blue area will just get slowed not knocked back.
Red dots show you the point where an enemy can possible stand and the red arrow describe in which direction he would get knocked back!


III. Teamfight

If you or your team going to engage in a teamfight make sure your auto attacking full time.
Then you have the highest heal with your passive, also a reason why i took Attspeed runes.


IV. Warding/Scouting

Remember you dont have to facecheck bushes and areas hide by shadow of war, just throw a Sapling Toss where you want to get vision. If there should be a enemy seen by the sapling. Its is also usable as detector!!


V. Vengeful Maelstrom

Do not use your ult some seconds before you think teamfight begins.
If a teamfight is starting way a little moment and have a look where your carries are, then place it there to let them get 20% less DMG.
If you are not in range then use your ult on yourself or your other mates.
Just watch out it is effectiv, wasting such a strong ult is not really usefull to win a fight (If you would get 4000 DMG and your casted Vengeful Maelstrom then there would be 800 less DMG on you).


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Changes on Maokai/Jungling

Unoffical PBE patchnotes (6-21-2014)

Maokai will get patched and "balanced" a bit.

Arcane Smash [ Q ] - Slows now lasts for 1.5 second (down from 2 seconds)
Arcane Smash [ Q ] - Now costs 45 mana (down from 55)

Twisted Advance [ W ] - Now deals 9/10.5/12/13.5/15 (+0.04*AP)% magic damage (from 80/115/150/185/220)
Twisted Advance [ W ] - Tooltip now says "(Max: 300 to minions and monsters)"
Twisted Advance [ W ] - Range is now 500 (down from 650)
Twisted Advance [ W ] - Now costs 75 mana (down from 75/80/85/90/95)
Twisted Advance [ W ] - Cooldown is now 12/11/10/9/8 seconds (down 13 at all ranks)

Sapling Toss [ E ] - Sapling impact damage is now 40/60/80/100/120 (down from 40/75/110/145/180)
Sapling Toss [ E ] - Sapling explosion damage is now 80/120/160/200/240 (down from 80/130/180/230/280)
Sapling Toss [ E ] - Sapling explosion now slows enemy by 50% for 1 second
Sapling Toss [ E ] - Now costs 60/70/80/90/100 mana (down from 70/80/90/100/110 )

Vengeful Maelstrom [ R ] - Tooltip now says "Maokai surrounds himself with a magical vortex [..]" from "Maokai creates a magical vortex"

  • Mana cost - DMG is got balanced what means less DMG -> less mana costs
  • Q Slow reduced -> E got slow effect if enemy got hit by explosion
  • W got less Cooldown, less range, less mana costs
  • R is the same, but just all time on you (video on bottom of this thread)

New Maokai Ult:

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This my last chapter for the links to the pictures.
The picture is the basic one, created everything else by myself:
This Picture

Shoutout to all my mates!!!