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Maokai Build Guide by chedlol

Top Unstoppable Maokai Top S12 (Read notes/description!)

Top Unstoppable Maokai Top S12 (Read notes/description!)

Updated on June 18, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author chedlol Build Guide By chedlol 11 1 16,887 Views 0 Comments
11 1 16,887 Views 0 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author chedlol Maokai Build Guide By chedlol Updated on June 18, 2022
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Runes: Almost all games (read notes)

Grasp of the Undying

Manaflow Band

+8 ability haste
+6 Armor
+15-140 HP (lvls 1-18)


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Champion Build Guide

Unstoppable Maokai Top S12 (Read notes/description!)

By chedlol


I would almost always advise something like this as your rune setup, I'll explain your options for each row below

I always take Grasp of the Undying, I've considered Aftershock but I've always found Grasp of the Undying offers stronger and more consistent trades, as well as better scaling.

I think it's down to personal preference whether you take Demolish or Font of Life, but I tend to prefer Demolish as it offers a chance to extend your lead if you get a solo kill, and it also helps if you're pushing to end as it scales with Maximum Health, which by late game you will have at least 3500, usually 4000+. Font of Life can be really useful in teamfights, skirmishes, and even ganks, so it is entirely down to preference, I really couldn't say if one is 'better' than the other.

Next you're almost always going to want Conditioning for its scaling potential, but if you are against ranged you can opt for Second Wind.

I think Overgrowth, Revitalize, and Unflinching could all work, but I find Overgrowth does the best, as Sap Magic and Sapling Toss both scale with Maximum Health, and you have enough healing as it is. Twisted Advance allows you to dodge cc fairly easily, and Mercury's Treads usually provide enough tenacity. Read my notes in Playstyle - Objectives below to see why tenacity isn't that important on Maokai. Revitalize would be overkill in my opinion as Sap Magic, Grasp of the Undying, and Spirit Visage all give enough healing on their own.

Sorcery is my favourite 2nd tree by far.

The increased mana pool and mana regen from Manaflow Band makes Maokai's mana issues much less problematic, the 250 bonus mana synergises well with your Fimbulwinter too.

Transcendence is incredibly good on Maokai in my opinion. The Ability Haste is incredibly useful in teamfights for using your CC more often, but it also means you get your Sap Magic heal back quicker as you're using more abilities.

Sorcery rune page is criminally underrated on Maokai and it should be your go to. Other pages I've seen have mostly been Inspiration with Biscuit Delivery and Cosmic Insight or Time Warp Tonic, as well as Precision with Presence of Mind and Legend: Tenacity. Use the Inspiration and Precision rune pages at your peril, I promise you'll find much more success taking Sorcery tree on Maokai!

Starting options

I'd recommend Doran's Shield in 95% of lanes just to help with CSing and poke, I've experimented with Tear of the Goddess start in lanes like Irelia/ Camille where you want to rush Bramble Vest, as you'll always want Tear of the Goddess on your first back if you start Doran's Shield. Doran's Shield start means it takes 400 more gold until you get Bramble Vest, if you need it early.

Early buys

ALWAYS buy Tear of the Goddess on first back as you'll want to buy Fimbulwinter 2nd in 80% of your games. Despite nerfs Bramble Vest is still high value on Maokai as he can often surprise early all in champs such as Irelia/ Darius by outhealing them in certain trades. Bami's Cinder massively increases your trading power vs Melee champs. Plated Steelcaps vs Ranged and auto-based Melee champs such as Camille and Wukong. I've experimented with early Spectre's Cowl vs Magic damage based toplaners such as Teemo and Mordekaiser and it can help out with early trades, while also subsidising your Spirit Visage buy later on. Warden's Mail can be very effective against heavy AD champs in lane such as Jayce or Tryndamere, as well as helping against ranged AD tops such as Vayne and Quinn.

Boots options

Plated Steelcaps will be your usual go to as you'll buy them to help out in lane. Mercury's Treads can be good into either AP top, fed AP mid/jg, or just a high CC team with hard CC (which can be reduced by tenacity) in 3+ roles. Boots of Swiftness makes Sapling Toss run faster so can be a fun option if you find yourself far ahead or building AP. However, tank boots will almost always be better if you're building full tank.

Every game

I find Maokai has more than enough utility in his kit and low enough cooldowns later on to negate the utility of Iceborn Gauntlet, you'll spend most of your time in fights on top of an enemy so Sunfire Aegis is always better. Fimbulwinter is a fantastic item on Maokai as it procs on all of his abilities, and the added sustain in teamfights makes him extremely hard to kill. At the time of writing there is a bug on Fimbulwinter where it doesn't give the maximum shield it's supposed to. You can read about that and how to fix it here. (If it's still not fixed)

90% of games

As Maokai has 3 different hard CCs in his kit ( Bramble Smash, Twisted Advance, and Nature's Grasp), 2 of which are AOE, Thornmail is extremely valuable on him when needed, as he can apply it so easily. Spirit Visage adds further to the drain tank fantasy and makes his sustain in teamfights incredible, I've had games where Sap Magic autos have healed me for 800+ hp at 3 items, even without Grasp of the Undying. I would recommend going Spirit Visage 3rd into 3 AP or more, or if they have a very fed high threat AP champ such as Ekko or Diana.

Situational items

These are any items you could go if needed, sorted by how often I tend to build them. Anything after Randuin's Omen on this list I've never found myself needing to build, but there could be cases where they are useful.
Frozen Heart is great into AA heavy teams, the bonus mana also increases your Fimbulwinter's value.
Anathema's Chains is great vs 1 hard carry on enemy team.
Force of Nature is a great option and would pair well with Spirit Visage into a full AP team.
Demonic Embrace would be good if you were ahead and/or found yourself needing to do a little more damage, however I always find Sunfire Aegis + base damages to be enough, you will usually win fights by outsustaining, not outdamaging.
Randuin's Omen can be useful but check if Frozen Heart is better first, I would suggesting buying both if you are vs 3 crit champs or just full AD team.
Abyssal Mask could be good into heavy AP team but I find Force of Nature does a much better job at resisting magic damage, the bonus MS is really useful for catches as well, however Abyssal Mask works well with AP champs as it shreds enemy MR with its passive.
Redemption would work if you're teamfighting a lot, it also gives heal and shield power which is great on Maokai.
Dead Man's Plate can work but I think there are much better armor options.
Gargoyle Stoneplate would be good into insanely high burst but I have never found myself needing it.
Warmog's Armor could also work but I think it'd be wasteful considering Maokai's passive Sap Magic and how much healing he gets out of it.


Maokai absolutely sucks in lane, that has to be your mindset or you will greed and be punished. I think one of Maokai's most rewarding qualities is how well he teaches you to punish mistakes, and also whether to take longer or shorter trades. You aren't picking him for lane however, you're picking him because late game in a skirmish or 5v5 scenario he will undoubtedly be more useful than almost all other toplaners. He can even assassinate carries quite easily, or at least damage them out the fight.

Overall, Maokai tends to beat other teamfighting tanky toplaners such as Shen and Malphite, but you will struggle most against splitpushers such as Fiora and Sion, as you simply can not match them. Aggressive, full damage toplaners like Jayce and Darius will barely touch you after your Bramble Vest, Plated Steelcaps, and Bami's Cinder spike, so don't worry too much about them.

Maokai is viable in solo queue, but for the best results I would advise playing with a duo in a role that can follow up on your hyper aggressive late game. Examples of this could be a Lillia or Jarvan IV in Jungle, or a Yasuo or Diana in Mid.

Laning Phase

Start Doran's Shield and a Health Potion almost every time. You'll usually be looking to freeze and wait for ganks, but Maokai isn't the easiest to achieve this with. If you need to let it crash, let it crash. You're playing Maokai to be a CC chain monster late game, and to flank teamfights with Nature's Grasp or provide incredibly utility around objectives with Sapling Toss. You aren't looking to farm heavily and stat check people later on. Don't be afraid to give up minions and respect your enemy toplaner, they can kill you most of the time if you overstep. It's always better to give up a cannon, get the XP, and live, than to take the cannon, die, lose a wave of XP, lose a tower plate or more, and then have to tp back or even worse, walk back. Your sole goal of laning phase is to survive. If you get ganked, you usually want to give your jungler to kill gold, as they can usually snowball much harder than you. If it's very early on and you're building towards your early Bramble Vest, Plated Steelcaps, or Bami's Cinder then feel free to take it. Just remember that games are often decided by the biggest liabilty, not the biggest threat, and if you die a lot in lane you are probably feeding someone beyond your control.

Mid game

Mid game is about looking for catches with your team, start grouping with them as soon as you can, laning phase is horrible so just look to get out as quick as you can. Once you have Sunfire Aegis, you will win almost all teamfights, as long as your team is following, that is simply how good Maokai is. Look to take this fights around objectives, or perhaps by counter ganking mid, making it a 3v2.


Around objectives you have 2 ways to approach, you can either get there early, litter the enemy jungle with Sapling Toss in all bushes you can, and wait to ambush them as they get caught, this is the preferred way as you do very little damage to objectives, and your catch potential is far greater with Twisted Advance and Nature's Grasp. Your other approach would be asking teammates to deep ward and using Teleport and flanking with Nature's Grasp catching multiple members of the enemy team off guard and CC locking the main carry. Just make sure you ping it before you go in as you can't really hold 3+ people off for too long until around 3 items. You always want to be fighting around the jungle, using your saplings in bushes to block enemy escape paths off cooldown. The reason I suggested that tenacity isn't as important on Maokai as some other tanks is for 2 minor reasons. He has untargetable status while using Twisted Advance, making it fairly easy to dodge spells such as Bandage Toss and Dark Binding, but also if you find yourself unable to dodge a cc spell, you can start the cast of your Sapling Toss into a nearby bush as the cc is about to hit you, your enemy will probably get hit by Sapling Toss should be able to catch up to them again, or at least be able to zone them away with more saplings.

Late game

Late game is all about being insanely agressive, especially if ahead, looking to use Twisted Advance whenever you can, and all inning from there, just try to build the trust of your team. If they follow you in and you don't mess up Maokai's fair simple mechanics, you will win the teamfight. Just focus on locking up the carries and/or peeling your own. By this point your cooldowns will be low enough that as one enemy dies, your CC chain will be ready to cast again. Continue to play for objectives and extend your lead as far as you can, keep waves pushed out, force teamfights whenever you can, and peel your carries well. The LP will very soon come :)
Pros and Cons


Has point and click CC
Decent waveclear
High base attack speed
Huge flank potential
Very easy to lock up hypercarries
Saplings give insanely good zone potential and utility around objectives
Insanely good sustain in late game
Decent sustain in laning phase
Low cooldowns in late game
Quite hard to be dived
Very easy to execute dives


Very weak laning
Nature's Grasp can be quite slow and awkward if out of place
Mana hungry
Not great at farming under tower
Can be regarded as off meta so a little prone to flame if you're far behind
Slow to take towers
Requires team to respect your power and follow you into fights
Who am I?
I'm Ched and I've been playing League since Season 10 preseason (around time of Aphelios release). I discovered Maokai in my first season (Season 10) and ended up playing him quite a bit, ending with a 65% winrate. Here are my stats from that season (make sure you click Season 2020). However I really started loving Maokai in March 2022 (Season 12) and currently hold roughly a 70% winrate over 30 games in Gold (at time of writing) on this account here. I hope to keep climbing with Maokai as I'm having a really great time on him ^^

This is my first Mobafire guide so any feedback would be greatly appreciated! If you have any questions about this guide or want to reach out to me at all then you can contact me through either Discord (Ched#0645) or League (CH99). Happy climbing :D
League of Legends Build Guide Author chedlol
chedlol Maokai Guide
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Unstoppable Maokai Top S12 (Read notes/description!)

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