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Maokai Build Guide by Silverman43

Jungle gold

Where Men Fall, Saplings Rise! Maokai Jungle & Top S9

By Silverman43 | Updated on November 4, 2019
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Jungle Maokai
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Predator Maokai
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Toplane Maokai
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Grasp Maokai
  • LoL Champion: Maokai
    Silver's Signature AP-Juggernaut Maokai


Font of Life

Cheap Shot
Ultimate Hunter

+10% Attack Speed
+6 Armor
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Smite


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Top Lane
Ranked #23 in
Top Lane
Win 52%
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Champion Build Guide

Where Men Fall, Saplings Rise! Maokai Jungle & Top S9

By Silverman43

Table of Contents


•Pros / Cons

•Summoner Spells









•Early, Mid & Late Game



Hello everyone!
I am Silverman43 and I'm a Maokai Main. I play on EUW, maining Jungle/Top so this guide will include both roles.
My first champion was Malphite, but once I got enough IP, I bought Maokai, who I mained from then on.

Some abbreviations I use in this guide:
-AD=Attack Damage
-AP=Ability Power
-AS=Attack Speed
-MR=Magic Resist
-MS=Movement Speed
-HP=Health Points
-AoE=Area of Effect
-AA=Auto Attack
-CC=Crowd Control (Stuns, roots, slows, fears...)
-CDR=Cooldown Reduction

This is my first Mobafire guide and my first ever gaming guide on the internet. I know there is still room to improve this guide, so leave your ideas in the comments!
I also want to apologise in advance for my english, as im a non-native english speaker and there may be some errors in this guide.

8/1/2019 - Mobafire Season 9 Contest Winner!
I can't express how thankful I am for this. A year ago I was writing this, for fun and because I love Maokai.
To celebrate this, the guide recieved new artwork in theme of Victorious Maokai !

This is just how I play Maokai. Of course there are other ways to play him, so maybe you won't agree with my build or something. I want people to have fun reading my guides, even though I'm not the best league player around.
Thanks :)


+ Decent first jungle clear
+ High Sustain with Sap Magic
+ Tanky
+ Free Vision with Sapling Toss
+ Has a Gap Closer with Twisted Advance
+ Heavy CC
+ Very good Late Game
+ A well-timed Nature's Grasp can be game changing
+ Easy to pick up
+ Fun to play


- Weak early on
- As Jungler, he relies a lot on his team
- Nature's Grasp is slow and can be dodged
- Hard to play when behind
- Slow movement

Maokai In The Meta
Maokai is currently in a balanced spot. Top is viable as always when you want a heavy CC tank, even though his laningphase isn't always that strong.
Maokai jungle is far from top tier, but he is playable. Early game he just can get abused by stronger early game meta junglers. In return, Maokai's ganks are really good and he scales well into lategame.

Flash: The best offensive and the best defensive spell in one. Get out of bad situations or catch a target with a Flash + Twisted Advance combo.

Teleport: When playing toplane, this will always be your 2nd summonerspell besides Flash. Use it to get back to your lane fast, or teleportgank bot, which is very strong with Maokai's CC.

Smite: Always take this when jungling. You need it to be able to buy jungle items and secure buffs or objectives.

In my opinion, the best main rune path for Maokai is Resolve. It's the best path for tanks. If you prefer other rune setups, go ahead, especially now rune paths no longer determines stat bonusses, thanks to the preseason changes.

As Keystone, Aftershock
is the best choice. It gives you extra armor and MR for 2,5s and deals damage after you immobilize an enemy. Both Twisted Advance and Nature's Grasp root the enemy so this Rune will get activated very often. It even gets activated by the knockback of Bramble Smash

This keystone isn't bad on Maokai. But I would take it only in melee matchups toplane because otherwise you won't be able to auto attack that much so you can't proc it.

After Bone Plating was moved to another row and replaced by Shield Bash, I have returned to Font of Life. Demolish doesn't fit Maokai's playstyle and Shield Bash doesn't work due to Maokai' lack of shields, so Font of Life is the only viable option. And it's actually good. It get's activated by rooting someone and allies can heal for by attacking those immobilized enemies. The heal even synergizes with Revitalize.

Our next rune Conditioning doesn't look very spectacular, as it only gives flat armor and magic resist. But besides the 8 bonus armor and MR, it also increases our total armor and MR by 5%. You will almost always build full tank on Maokai, so this helps a lot.

Revitalize boosts heals and shields with 5%, increasing with 10% when below 40% HP, so this synergizes with Sap Magic. Combine this with Spirit Visage and Maokai becomes an unkillable raidboss!

As jungler, I like to use Domination. The extra burst is useful while ganking.

This rune is good on every heavy CC champion. Who doesn't want to deal extra true damage against movement impaired enemies?

I used to play with Ravenous Hunter, but Maokai's passive gives already enough sustain. Ultimate Hunter grants extra CDR on our ult, which is very nice if you want to gank often.

As second Path for toplane, I use Sorcery. It grants some extra tools to survive laning phase and scale faster.

The first Sorcery Rune I use is Manaflow Band. It gives 25 max mana after hitting a champion with an ability, until 250. I use this to counter my early game mana struggles in cases where you can't rush a mana item. Or just to spam my abilities more often.

The last Rune is Gathering Storm. It gives you a huge AP boost over the course of the game. Maokai is a late game champion. So why not make his late game even stronger?

Predator Maokai Jungle
This keystone is very fun to play. Your boots get an active ability, which allows you to channel for 1.5 and get increased Movement speed out of combat. The effect ends after damaging an enemy champion to deal extra bonus damage. This makes Maokai's ganks godlike. The Domination tree also has some interesting runes.

This rune is good on every heavy CC champion. Who doesn't want to deal extra true damage against movement impaired enemies?

A nice rune for some extra AP. Champion kills and assists and ward takedowns grant permanent AP (or AD) up to 20 AP. Upon Completion, you get another 10 AP. Zombie Ward or Ghost Poro are nice options too, but I like the extra Dueling power it provides.

I used to play with Ravenous Hunter, but Maokai's passive gives already enough sustain. Ultimate Hunter grants extra CDR on our ult, which is very nice if you want to gank often.

The next rune Conditioning doesn't look very spectacular, as it only gives flat armor and magic resist. But besides the 8 bonus armor and MR, it also increases our total armor and MR by 5%. You will almost always build full tank on Maokai, so this helps a lot.

Revitalize boosts heals and shields with 5%, increasing with 10% when below 40% HP, so this synergizes with Sap Magic. Combine this with Spirit Visage and Maokai becomes an unkillable raidboss!

In terms of stat bonusses, I think it's mainly personal preference.
For the first row it's the choice between 10 AP, 9% AS and 1-10% CDR. I take the extra AS. It helps the most with clearing + proccing Sap Magic faster.
The second row offers the choice between Another 10 AP, 5 Armor and 6 MR. I suggest not to go for the extra AP, but instead grab the armor or the MR, depending on the enemy team comp.
For the last row, we can choose between 15-90 HP, 5 Armor and 6 MR. I feel the Extra HP is the best option here, as it means extra healing from Sap Magic. Only exception is when the enemy team is fully AD or AP.

Sap Magic (passive):
Periodically, Maokai's next basic attack against a non-structure heals him for 5 / 15 / 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 / 65 (+6 / 7.5 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13% maximum health) (based on level).

Each time Maokai casts an ability or is struck by an enemy's ability, Sap Magic's cooldown is reduced by 4 seconds.

Sap Magic will not trigger if Maokai is above 95% health.

Cooldown: 30/25/20s (at levels 1 / 6 / 11)

Maokai doesn't have a flashy passive, but that doesn't mean it isn't good! It's underrated in my opinion, as this passive gives him a lot of sustain both in lane and in the jungle. He can keep healing in teamfights (as long as you can AA) because of the CDR from nearby spellcasts.

  • When you see it's almost up, it can be better to wait until it activates before casting another spell. This maximizes its use.

Bramble Smash (Q):
Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks nearby enemies back and sends an arcane shockwave forward, dealing 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 (+40% of ability power) magic damage and slowing his enemies by 99% for 0.25 seconds. Enemies close to Maokai are knocked back slightly more.

Cooldown: 8/7.25/6.5/5.75/5s
Mana cost: 80

A good allround AoE ability with high base damage, a slow and a knockback (when close enough). It has low cooldown: 5s at max rank, which can be lowered to 3s with max CDR, so it's quite spammable combined with the relative low mana cost. It's our main tool for clearing the jungle/lane, so max it first.

  • You can push a catched enemy a bit towards your teammates if you cast it fast enough after rooting him with Twisted Advance. Same thing if you have to run. The knockback and the slow can save your life.

Twisted Advance (W):
Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, becoming untargetable and quickly traveling to a target enemy. The target takes 70 / 95 / 120 / 145 / 170 (+40% of ability power) magic damage and is rooted in place for 1 / 1.1 / 1.2 / 1.3 / 1.4 second(s).

Cooldown: 13/12/11/10/9s
Mana cost: 60

A simple point-and-click ability, but stronger than it looks. It's sort of a gapcloser, with a root, but becoming untargetable while casting makes it interesting. Most Maokai players (including me) max this second, because it's a lot easier to hit than Sapling Toss and the root duration + cooldown scales with levels.

  • With some practice, you can make outplays with this ability. You become untargetable, so you can dodge skillshots.
  • If your timing is good (or when you have some luck) you can extend Twisted Advance's range and follow up with a flash! When you activate your W and they flash before you root them, you automatically follow up with them.

Sapling Toss (E):
Maokai hurls a sapling to a target area. The sapling becomes implanted in the ground, warding a nearby area for 30 seconds. After a 1 second delay after landing, the sapling will seek out nearby enemies. When an enemy approaches, the sapling will chase for up to 2.5 seconds and explode in an arcane blast that deals 25 / 50 / 75 / 100 / 125 plus 7 / 7.25 / 7.5 / 7.75 / 8% (+1% per 100 ability power) of target's maximum health as magic damage to enemies and slows them by 35% for 2 seconds.

Saplings tossed into brush last 30 (+2.5% of Maokai's bonus health) seconds and have a larger detonation radius. Enemies caught in the explosion take 67% damage on detonation plus two additional ticks of 67% damage over 2 seconds.

Saplings gain increased movement speed based on Maokai's boots, with Boots of Swiftness and Boots of Mobility giving the highest movement speed.

Cooldown: 10s
Mana cost: 60/65/70/75/80

Maokai's signature ability. It grants vision, chases enemies and explodes with a scream. What can you want more?
Its %max HP damage can chunk tanky opponents with ease. I max this last, because of the long cooldown which doesn't scale with levels. It only increases the max HP damage with 1% over 5 levels, so Twisted Advance should be maxed 2nd instead for more utility.

  • Don't hestiate to use this spell for extra vision. Place saplings in the bushes for extra duration. And the best part is that you can't destroy these wards or you have to take its damage.
  • It has long range, but if you throw it in the terrain you can extend its range even more.
  • The most important thing I can say:
    Play around the bushes! Bush-empowered saplings deal a lot of damage to multiple targets. So when clearing the jungle, always put saplings in nearby bushes if possible for faster clears. And when playing toplane, I almost always have at least 1 sapling standing in one of the bushes next to me, in case the enemy laner engages me or the enemy jungler ganks. Even as full tank Maokai you can win 1v2's. As long as you use those saplings.

Nature's Grasp (R):
Maokai summons a colossal wall of 5 thorny brambles that slowly advances forward, each stopping at the first enemy champion they collide with, dealing 150 / 225 / 300 (+75% of ability power) magic damage and rooting them for 0.8-2.6 seconds (based on distance traveled).

Cooldown: 120/100/80s
Mana cost: 100

A big multi-target root for up to 2.4s??
Yes please! There are 2 ways to use this ability: a high risk- high reward long range cast (harder to hit, but longer root duration) or a close range cast. I am fond of this last way, as you can hit a few targets almost instantly, with almost no time for them to react. Along with Call of the Forge God, Emperor's Divide and Pyroclasm one of the most devasting teamfight ultimates.

  • Your ult is a very good ganking tool. It can take some practice, but a well timed Nature's Grasp can be the difference between a kill or a failed gank.

> > >

Skill Sequence (Jungle)


Skill Sequence (Top)


When playing jungle, always put a point in Sapling Toss first. Before the first monsters spawn, you have time to put up to 3 saplings in a bush near the monster camp. This gives you a healthier clear than a start with Bramble Smash.

Note that there isn't a general build. Each game is different, so adapt your build to your opponents. I will show you Maokai's best items and when to buy them.

Starting Items (Jungle)

Maokai isn't going to auto attack much, so Hunter's Machete doesn't work as well as Hunter's Talisman.

3 Health Potion's are another possibility, especially for first-time Maokai junglers, as it gives you more early sustain than Refillable Potion. I just prefer Refillable Potion as it's useful through the whole game.

Starting Items (Top)

This is a great starting item as it makes your auto attacks against minions stronger and it gives you some extra health. It gives some nice sustain. Take this against champions with heavy poke like Pantheon or Jayce.

Take this in an easier lane against weak early game champions.
This item allows you to punish them harder. Your trades become stronger and you have less mana struggle. Great against Malphite or Jax.

Early Items (Jungle)

At the first recall I usually buy the Stalker's Blade. You can cast Chilling Smite on champions to slow them so you can gank easier and it allows to stay in the jungle longer without recall. The main difference with Skirmisher's Sabre is that skirmisher's is duelling-oriented and stalker's is ganking-oriented. It's personal preference.

As a jungler, mobility is always important. But Maokai lacks mobility so rush this item.

Early Items (Top)

If you play against an AD toplaner, build this item first. You can stay longer in lane because of the mana, and the CDR is always handy.

Take this item against AP champions. Besides MR it also gives health and health regen.

This is the most offensive start for a tank like Maokai. Farming gets easier and you do more damage because of the Immolate Aura.
Jungle Items

The Standard enchantment on every tank who jungles. It's basically the same passive as Bami's Cinder, but it does 300% damage to monsters, making your clears much easier.

When you want to build AP, build this enchantment.
Jungle clears are okay with it, as both your Q and your E do AoE damage. Building this as a first item is risky though, as it lacks some HP which is very valuable for a melee champ like Maokai.

Armor (Vs AD)

Frozen Heart is one of my favourite items, as the 100 bonus armor, 400 mana and the 20% CDR are good against AD champions. The passive isn't bad either, reducing the attack speed of nearby enemies. That's why it's a great item against AA based champions when they build on-hit, like Jax, Shyvana or Kog'Maw

Randuin's Omen is a good anti-ADC item. It has a passive which slows attack speed, an active with a slow and a passive that reduces the damage you receive from critical strikes. A must against Yasuo or fed Crit based ADC's!
You can Flash + Twisted Advance + Randuin's Omen active on an ADC. They won't escape without burning Flash.

Another item against AD champions, this item reflects damage from auto attacks and inflicts grievous wounds on the attacker. Because of the grievous wounds, it is an item to counter self healers. Their healing will be reduced by Thornmail. Build it vs red Kayn, Aatrox and Lifesteal building ADC's.

The passive of this item is great for any tank and Maokai is no exception. Like I mentioned before with Bami's Cinder, this item is great in an easier lane against Shen or Malphite for example. Just never buy it as a jungler, because Stalker's Blade - Cinderhulk and Sunfire Cape have the same unique passive, which can't stack and would be less cost efficient.

This item is the offensive counterpart of Frozen Heart.
It has the spellblade passive, making it quite useful as you are looking to land some auto attacks between your spell casts to activate Sap Magic. A great item when ahead against an AD laner or an AD comp.

This is a more offensive tank item. I provides almost the same stats as Randuin's Omen, but it has a passive which generates stacks while moving. Those stacks grant you movement speed.
At 100 stacks, your first auto attack deals bonus physical damage and gives a slow. It's not really a gapcloser, but it helps to get around the map faster. I like this item when I play jungle.

Magic Resist (Vs AP)

This is simply the best item on Maokai. His passive gets a huge boost with this so always get this first against any AP opponent. Even when playing against teams with little Magic Damage, this item is useful in almost every game, as it also grants health and CDR.

This item isn't bad, but Spirit Visage and Abyssal Mask
are the preferred MR items. Altough it is still useful against some mages like Cassiopeia as the passive reduces subsequent magical damage from the same spell of effect. When getting crushed by a fed Teemo, this is your only hope...
Other examples are: Heimerdinger's turrets, Anivia's ult and Taliyah's Q.

This is another item you can buy for teamfights, especially when relying on your carries. But aside from the shield active, it's pretty basic with 60 MR and 30 armor.

Spirit Visage is always the first choice against AP, but this item can be useful vs heavy AP comps. The item also has a great passive besides the flat stats (MR, HP, CDR & mana). 15% of damage taken restores mana & 20% of mana spent restores health. AND it has an aura: nearby enemy champions take 15% more damage. Maokai's abilities are all magic and in teamfights, you will always be in the middle of the fight, so your AP carries can deal more damage too. It's also worth to mention that Bami's Cinder's passive deals more damage when combined with Abyssal Mask. So if you need more MR after building Spirit Visage go for this. Or if your APC is fed because of the passive.

Allround Items

Warmog's Armor is pretty good if you are going full tank. You can just keep on healing after teamfights and Sap Magic's healing get's increased too, as it scales with max HP. It can also be used to counter champions with a lot of true damage, like Cho'Gath's or Fiora's ult.

This item is broken. It's super useful in teamfights because of both its passive and its active. With this, you can tank A LOT of damage. A must have vs teams that keep on grouping.

I see many people build this as one of their first items. It gives Maokai everything he needs early game and the active is pretty good to catch people. When I jungle, I build it often because of its active to empower my ganks, but for toplane, I think you should go for another more defensive item first.

AP Items (not recommend)

Rod of Ages is a great AP item on Maokai. It becomes even better after 10 minutes when you have all of your stacks. If you want to be a lane bully, buy this. Just remember to buy it early, to benefit as much as possible from it. But you should only buy it in easy matchups toplane when getting an early kill or a high CS advantage.

Zhonya's can always be useful. The active gives you the possibility to make outplays or save yourself. The stats aren't bad either with armor, AP and CDR.
An item that is both offensive (because of the AP) and defensive (armor and active). Only build it when really ahead.

An AP item with actually more MR than Spirit Visage. It also has a spellshield passive which blocks the first enemy ability. But it only recharges after taking no champion damage for 40s. The stats are good though with the MR, CDR and AP. Only build it when ahead.

This item synergizes very well with Maokai's abilities. The damage of the burn passive is doubled when the enemie's movement is impaired. It also makes you deal more damage the longer you are in combat. Not bad for teamfights or long skirmishes. One of the best snowballing options for Maokai.

After being removed back in 2013, Shurelya's Reverie got reintroduced in patch 8.6. Normally I don't buy this, but It's nice for my movement speed oriented Predator jungle build. Passive movement speed, health, mana regen, AP and even more movement speed from the active. All that for only 2250 gold, so why not.


Buy these boots when you are up against AD AA-based champions like Jax or Shyvana.

Buy these boots against AP champions or against heavy CC as it reduces the duration of CC with 30%.

I don't buy these boots often, but when I do, it's most of the time as jungler to get myself faster around the map. You can also buy it toplane if you want to roam a lot.

The first Jungle camp consists of one monster, called the gromp . It has high AS, but it decays over 5s. Because of the high AS, you want to kite it so gromp can only attack you once before having to move again. This means you'll be able to trade one AA for one AA.

The next camp is the murk wolf camp. It contains one bigger wolf and two smaller wolves. With Maokai's AoE damage, you want to focus the bigger wolf first in order to leech as much HP from the smaller wolves with Hunter's Talisman as possible.

The crimson raptor camp is easy for Maokai. With his AoE damage and through use of the nearby bush, he loses little HP while killing the camp. Focus the biggest raptor first. A trick to abuse Hunter's Talisman for extra healing is to hit all raptors with one Bramble Smash and then move to the red brambleback without killing the crimson raptor camp. You will regen more than the raptors will damage you.

The ancient krug camp is definitely a special camp. At first sight it only contains two monsters: a big and a smaller one. However, once you kill them, they split into 2 smaller monsters. The big monster can splits twice, the smaller one only once. This makes the camp the highest exp and gold provider of the non-epic monsters. A general tip for killing this camp is constantly positioning yourself so the large krug stands between you and the smaller krug. This ensures you only get hit by the large monster.

The last of the medium monsters, the rift scuttler is a passive monster that roams both sides of the river when it first spawns. After the initial two rift scuttler s have been killed, only one at a time will respawn at a random side. The rift scuttler takes additional damage after it has been affected by hard CC, like Maokai's Twisted Advance or the knockback from Bramble Smash. Killing this monster restores some of your HP and mana, while also forming a MS granting zone in the river that also grants vision.

The blue sentinel is one of the most important non-epic monsters. The killer of this golem gets the crest of insight . This buff, better known as "blue buff", grants extra mana/energy regen and CDR. The monster itself isn't hard to kill, but it is quite tanky. Later on in the game, you want to give it to a mage, for who the mana regen and CDR from crest of insight is really valuable.

Just like the blue sentinel , the red brambleback grants a buff to the one who kills it. crest of cinders is usually referred to as "red buff" and makes your auto attacks slow champions while also dealing some extra damage over time. Additionally, you'll have some extra HP regen. Later on, ADC's or other AA based champions benefit the most from the on-hit slow and burn damage from crest of cinders .

The second most valuable jungle monster is without doubt the dragon . Situated at the lower side of the map, they can appear in 4 different elemental forms, each giving an unique buff to your whole team. Which dragon type spawns is completely random, but there can only be max 3 of the same type in one game. After 35 minutes, only a 5th, stronger dragon variant will spawn, the elder dragon .

The first elemental dragon type is the cloud drake . It is fast and has high DPS against single targets. You get bonus MS out of combat upon killing this elemental dragon . It might not seem super strong, but it allows better roaming and extra map pressure when used correctly.

The infernal drake is considered the most valuable elemental dragon by many players. Combat wise, it's probably the most all round dragon type. Note it deals AoE damage. As bonus effect upon killing it, it increases your AD and AP with a percentage. Early game, it isn't really noticeable, but lategame it can really make a difference. Especially when you manage to secure 3 infernal drake s, as they grant 24% extra AD and AP.

ocean drake s deal slowing single target damage. The slow on their attacks makes it dangerous in some cases; as it will trouble you if you have to escape. The buff it grants restores some of your missing HP and mana. Good early game, but not the best at the long term.

The mountain drake is the most tanky elemental dragon , making it more time consuming to kill one. Its attacks are AoE and despite its low AS, the attacks hit hard. Its elemental buff gives your team extra true damage to objectives, both against turrets and epic monsters. Great for quickly securing other dragon s and baron nashor or for splitpushing and sieging.

Like mentioned before, the elder dragon only spawns after 35 minutes. It is stronger than any elemental dragon , but the reward for killing one is even better. It grants aspect of the dragon if it's the first time your team slays an elder dragon , if your team already got at least one, it grants empowered aspect of the dragon . These buffs increase the elemental dragon buffs your team already has with respectively 50% or 100%. Additionally, dealing damage to enemies burns them for some true damage. (Doesn't work against turrets.)

The rift herald spawns in the pit at the upper side of the map. It is quite tanky, but it can be defeated easily by prioritizing the eye at its back. Auto attacking the eye will chunk its HP. As Maokai, you can just attack its front and Twisted Advance behind it when the eye opens up. When killed, the rift herald drops the Eye of the Herald. It can only be taken by the team that killed it and it despawns after 40s if not picked up by then. Eye of the Herald will replace your trinket for 4 minutes. You can then use it to summon the rift herald , who now fights for your team and pushes the nearest lane. It is a strong sieging tool, but it is still vulnerable at its eye on the back, while being less tanky than at first.

baron nashor is the strongest and most valuable neutral monster in the game. Due to how tanky it is, you'll need multiple teammates to even stand a chance against it. In combination with a tank like Maokai, high DPS carries like Jinx or Azir are usually the most effective against baron nashor . Upon killing this monster, your living team members get the hand of baron buff. This buff grants bonus AD and AP, while also empowering nearby minions. Ideal for when your team is ahead and is able to contest baron nashor without issues, but you can't really finish the game due to high waveclear on the enemy team.

There are 3 types of plants on the rift. They can all be found in the jungle or in the river. They can be destroyed to grant some (small) bonuses.

The first type of plant is the Honeyfruit. These plants spawn at the river and can be destroyed to spawn some fruit on the ground. These fruits can be picked up to restore some HP and mana. Note that these fruits also slow you while consuming them, so taking them while escaping can be risky.

Next comes Scryer's Bloom. These blue plants can be found at the edge of the jungle, near the river. Destroying them reveals a wide area in a cone. This can be used to reveal wards or to get a look at objectives when your team doesn't have any wards there.

The last plant is known as a Blast Cone. They appear deeper into the jungle. Destroying them knocks away all nearby units. It can be used to hop over walls, for example from your own jungle into the dragon or baron nashor pit. It can also be used in clutch situations when you have to flee.

Jungle Pathing in this meta can be different from game to game. You will have to react and adapt to the situation quickly. Some starts will be hard, where the enemy cheeses you and steals buffs, or even worse, kills you. Again an example of how important wards are in this game. Let's say you are playing vs a champ like Shaco. That guy will counterjungle you in 95% of the cases. So you and your team ward your jungle. You see Shaco at your own red, but instead of trying to stop him, you invade Shaco's jungle and you steal his red in return. Another thing is the rift scuttler . They give a lot of EXP and gold, so you want to take them asap before the enemy jungler takes them. If you know exactly where the enemy jungler started, you can probably take at least one crab without issues. But if you know it could be contested by someone with a good early game like Lee Sin or Elise, you can better just leave it. You won't lose a game by missing a crab. So now let's get over to the pathing itself.

Standard Clear

The most common route I use is to get to level 3. After that you can choose what you are doing next: gank top or mid or farm the remaining camps of your jungle. The easiest start is botlane so you can get a better leash than you would get from your toplaner. That means starting at red brambleback for blue side or blue sentinel for red side. Next come crimson raptor 's and the murk wolf camp, with the order depending on what side you are on. The last camp is the remaining buff; the red brambleback or the blue sentinel . After these 4 camps you are level 3 and ready to gank. Also get a rift scuttler whenever it's uncontested.

Fast level 3

This clear allows some early ganking, as you will get level 3 sooner than with the standard clear. However, doing this is risky as a smart enemy jungler has enough time to steal you blue sentinel .

You always start red brambleback , whatever side you're on, followed by ancient krug 's and crimson raptor 's.

Now I want to show some little, but important things every jungler needs to know.


Taxing is a mechanic laners hate, but it's necessarily for junglers. Taxing means taking a few minions from a lane after a succesful gank. This is necessary because the jungler spent time ganking a lane while he could also have continued farming his jungle. That's why you want to take a few minions to compensate the gold you could have earned while farming. If you got the kill from the gank, take a few caster minions. If the laner got the kill, you can take some melee minions too. Don't take the cannon minions as most laners will get mad at you. Even though that doesn't matter much you don't want another flaming teammate.

Pushing A Lane

Another thing to do after ganking a lane is pushing the lane. This grants the allied laner(s) the time to back, while the opponent(s) will lose gold and exp because minions will die under their tower. Additionally, your ally won't lose much minions due to the wave being far from his tower.

Holding A Lane

Holding a lane because the laner has died/recalled is a job you should be happy to do as it grants a lot of gold and exp for little effort. You should only do it when the wave is close to the allied tower, as the laner will lose some minions to the tower anyways. Only last hit so the laner to keep the amount of minions the laner misses as low as possible.

First of all, when talking about laningphase, you obviously think of 1v1/2v2, attacking towers and farming. While farming minions might not seem as complex at first, it can be pretty tricky to learn all the small nuances of the art of wave management. I'm gonna be honest, I am no specialist either, but I can teach some of the basics. For more information about the subject, I recommend you go check out this page from Mobalytics.


The first main use of wave management is known as freezing. It means that you'll be holding the wave close to your own turret, in order to be safer in harder matchups. You can freeze the wave by only last-hitting the minions and letting your opponent push, until the wave reaches the position you want it to stay. This is where it gets tricky. In order to maintain the freeze, you'll have to damage the minions as much as your opponent does. Damage the enemy minions too hard and the wave will push. Deal less damage to the wave than your opponent and the wave will move under your turret and you will lose CS because of that.


+ Safe positioning close to tower.
+ Enemies have to overextend, leaving them vulnerable to ganks.
+ Possibility to zone enemies with the threat of engaging them under your tower. If the enemy has Bami's Cinder and you can Twisted Advance to him while under turret, he'll immediately gets turret aggro.

- Getting low while freezing the wave means you are in an ideal position for the enemy jungler to dive you.
- The enemy laner has the opportunity to roam.
- Enemies with high waveclear can easily break your freeze.

When to freeze: You generally want to freeze the wave if you are weaker in the early game than your opponent(s) to allow you to safely farm without getting killed. For example, against a Darius toplane who outtrades you hard early.


The other main use of wave management is pushing your wave. It's easy to do, as you just have to damage the minions as much as possible (don't forget to last-hit) in order to push the wave. Maokai can push fairly well with his fairly high AoE damage through Bramble Smash and Sapling Toss, although it costs a lot of mana while doing so. Pushing the wave is the best decision in matchups where you have little kill pressure. Instead you'll push the wave to open up on other opportunities like roaming and getting deep wards in the enemy jungle. You'll also always want to push the wave before you back, to reduce the chance your opponent is able to push the wave under your tower so you lose CS before you are back in lane.


+ More control of the topside of the map.
+ Creates the opportunity to roam and gank.
+ Possibility to get turret plating's.

- Pushing the wave leaves you vulnerable to ganks. Make sure to always ward.
- Much less kill pressure and it's very likely you won't get any ganks.
- Playing too aggressive while pushing under the enemy tower can result in your death. Especially dangerous against enemies with a lot of CC.

When to push: You generally want to push the wave if you are stronger than your lane opponent(s), or when you simply don't have kill pressure due to your opponent being a tank. Instead, you can look to impact the rest of map by roaming and ganking. For example, Malphite will get really tanky once he gets some MR, so there is no reason for Maokai to try and fight him alone. Instead, you push the wave and you might be able to gank mid while Malphite is pushing.

Trading is, like most will already know, the exchange of damage between champions. In most cases, this isn't even with the intention of killing your opponent(s). Trading can happen in all lanes, but is most frequent in the toplane, because most champions there are made for sustained damage and they are usually tanky enough to not die after one trade.
Trading partly depends on your lane opponent(s), but knowing how and when to trade is even more important. Here are some general rules:
  • Minions shouldn't be underestimated. Attacking a champion draws minion aggro, so fighting while there are more enemy minions than allied minions is a bad idea and will make you lose the trade. In reverse, looking for a trade while there are remarkably more allied minions significantly increases your chances at a good trade.
  • You should analyze your opponents: what are there main trading tools? Which ability is the most dangerous for me? When the opponent uses one of those important abilities, you have a small window with an advantage. This is a good moment to trade.
  • Besides knowing major damage spells, having an idea of your opponent's base stats can also really help to estimate how the trade will go. I mean that when you know if a champion is strong early or late, you'll have an idea when you should trade or not. For example, Maokai is weak early but strong late. Early trades against a Darius who is strong early but weaker late will be hard for Maokai. In return, Maokai outscales Darius and is better at later stages of the game.

First of all, to those who are new to League, there are 3 types of wards. These Totems grant vision on the map and are the key to winning games.

Warding Totem, the yellow trinket, is a stealthed ward that reveals the nearby area for 90-120s* and you gain 1 charge every 240-120s*. (*Depends average champion level.) It's available from the start of the game.

The red, visible wards can take 4 hits from enemy champions before they are destroyed. These wards cost 75 gold, but it can reveal other nearby wards and stealthed enemies or traps like Noxious Trap. You can only have 1 control ward placed on the map at a time, but you can carry up to 2 as long as you can buy them. You should place them in bushes in most cases, as they are visible and will be destroyed quickly if left in open sight.

The last type of ward, Farsight Alteration, is a fragile ward wich takes only 1 hit to destroy. It can only be bought from level 9 on and replaces Warding Totem or Oracle Lens. These wards are visible, but they don't count towards a ward limit and they can last forever. The most interesting about this trinket is that you can place it from a distance. You can just stand near your blue or red buff and ward baron/dragon pit for example.

Oracle Lens isn't a ward, but it reveals the area around you, revealing stealthed enemies, wards and traps, like a Control Ward. It is free and available at level 1, but I don't recommend taking this at the start. During the early game wards have higher cooldowns and their duration is shorter. This results in there being less wards overall.

Here I'm going to show you the most common warding locations for top and jungle. Like you can see in the images below, for toplane I focus on laningphase. Later on in the game, when people start to roam and group, you'll be warding as much as possible from the whole map instead of only your own lane. For jungle, you'll be able to place wards over the whole map during the whole game, so looking at the jungle warding map will also give you info on how to ward objectives and the jungle during the lategame for any role.

In the toplane, your main concern will be protecting yourself against ganks from the enemy jungler, while also clearing enemy vision to give your own jungler a chance to gank your lane. Besides your own lane, you are also the main team member in charge of controlling the upper side of the map, including the rift herald / Baron nashor pit and the adjacent jungle. When your jungler is getting counterjungled frequently, help him ward the allied jungle. It is a team game after all and if you want a jungler to help and gank your lane, you must help him in return when needed. When it's safe; your lane opponent just backed, mid is pushed in and your allied jungler is near, you might want to place a deeper ward in the enemy jungle. Information is key. Revealing the location of the enemy jungler opens up a lot of opportunities for your whole team. You or your midlaner might be saved from ganks, especially against junglers with stealth ( Evelynn or Twitch) or globabl ganks ( Pantheon or Nocturne). Your team might be able to secure a free dragon with the enemy jungler being at the other side of the map. Your jungler might be able to counterjungle at the other side of the map. The possibilities are almost endless.

I divided the wards on this map in 3 categories, objective/river control, jungle control and lane control. It is more of a general warding map, but with junglers being able to roam early, they have the most opportunities to ward at these locations. For the other roles, they will have to ward at these spots too, especially the objective and jungle control spots, but it will be later on in the game when everyone has left their lane and starts to group to get objectives.

So for the river and objective wards, they can be used to get vision of rift scuttler s early, dragon and rift herald / baron nashor and just general vision of a common used path.

A ward in the river is always useful. It can warn your team for ganks, give away the position of the enemy jungler or show enemies on their way towards an objective.

Objective wards are obviously oriented towards controlling the dragon and rift herald / baron nashor pits. These objectives are super valuable, so you don't want to give them up for free simply because you lacked vision of it so you had no chance to contest it. Against some champions you'll have to ward even more and/or earlier. A Shyvana will always try to get dragon s because of her passive and she is able to solo them quite early in the game. A Warwick is even able to solo them at level 3.
When you just killed (almost) the whole enemy team, you won't necessarily have to check for enemy vision in the pits with Control Wards or Oracle Lens. But at any other moment it is wise to use these tools to reveal and destroy enemy wards, otherwise the enemy jungler could steal it. For the same reason it is smart to ward the edge of the adjacent enemy jungle, so you are at least prepared for a possible smite battle.

Finally, lane controlling wards are used to help allied laners when they find themselves getting camped by the enemy jungler, when their wards got cleared immediately by a lane bully/the enemy jungler or simply when they don't buy wards themselves (*sigh*). To make it short, you protect lanes by helping them ward. Note that this is only worth to do when the concerned laner is frequently pushing the wave under the enemy tower, thus leaving him vulnerable to ganks.

So first of all: what is a gank? Most players know this already, so this is for the newer players.
When someone is laning, so 1v1 top/mid or 2v2 bot, and 1 or more others walk into the lane to create an advantage in numbers. This is called a gank. A jungler will be ganking his lanes frequently (unless you are playing a very farming oriented jungler) to get kills or pressure the opponent. Laners are able too gank too, but this will happen less frequently, especially early, but not less rewarding!
Not every gank will gain you a kill or a turret, but when they have to use a summoner spell like Flash to escape, it's good too. Keep track of those summoner spells. Let's say you gank an immobile champion like Vel'Koz. He escapes by using his Flash. If you gank him again before he regains his spell, you are almost guaranteed of a kill because he has no escape.

Sometimes it can be better to leave a kill for a teammate. Some champions, especially assassins, are very snowball oriented and need their kills to not fall off. Some think they NEED to get those kills and some will even flame you when you get the kill instead. But it doesn't matter that much. You won't lose a game from taking a kill instead of the midlaner or ADC. Remember that a kill grants gold to all team members involved in it.

Some lanes will be easier to gank than others. The easiest way to gank is when you are voice chatting with a friend and he can set up for you by starting a fight, or freezing his lane under his turret.
Most of the time top is the easiest lane to gank, because it's a long lane and toplaners tend to have at least some soft CC. Mid is a shorter lane with assasins being harder to gank as they have gapclosers. But some mages like Ryze and Orianna have some CC as well to set up ganks. Bot lane is the hardest lane to gank. It's a long lane, but it's 2v2. 3v2 is harder than 2v1 and most supports can peel for their carry. Some engage supports can make ganking easy. Think about Nautilus and Blitzcrank with a succesful grab. When bot is an adc + mage sup like Lulu or Janna, you will have to engage yourself.

Be careful with ganking a lane that is behind. Some champions can 1v2 easily when ahead. (Those damn Darius and Illaoi...)

Ill start with ganking as a jungler. But these gank paths can be used by everyone, no matter which role you are playing. On the map you can see 3 colors, each representing a specific kind of gank.

The first one, a "flank gank", is the most common gank and here represented by the yellow arrows. It's pretty simple: when an enemy laner pushes the wave and he is further from the enemy turret than from the allied turret, then you might be able to just walk up to the target from the river. Then you can position yourself between the target and the escape path towards the enemy turret. The enemy will either have to use Flash and/or gapcloser(s) to have a chance to escape, or he will have to fight, which you should be able to win easily, considering it's a 2v1. If you have the luxury to do so, you can wait before casting Twisted Advance until the target wasted a valuable gapcloser or Flash. Then he has almost no chance to escape.

The second type of gank is a bit riskier. It's a tower dive, represented by the blue arrows. A tower dive isn't something you should do super often, but rather in certain situations. Choose your targets carefully. A Tryndamere with ult up is something you should avoid at all cost, because of him being literally invincible, while a Sion might be able to avoid you and CC you long enough for the turret to kill you. Only do it when the target is really low and you are able to burst him fast, while being able to escape. Don't do it when the enemy jungler is near as it might result in him getting 1 or 2 easy kills.
A towerdive can be easy to execute if you play it smart together with certain champions like Kayn or Elise who are able to drop target aggro. They go in first, get targeted by the turret and at the moment they are about to die, they get out and let the turret target you.

The last type of gank is called a lane gank and is shown by the red arrows. It is quite uncommon, especially in low elo. Knowing this trick can result in some easy kills against surprised opponents.
Normally, when your allies have pushed in a lane, it might seem ungankable. Instead, it only opens up new opportunities. You can simply walk into their lane from behind and hide in one of the bushes (only executable top/bot). If your laner(s) is/are smart enough to stop pushing, you might have the chance to find yourself right in front of the enemies.
Let's say you got a ward deep into the enemy jungle. You see the enemy jungler at his blue sentinel . You are blue team, so the enemy jungler is botside, while your allied botlane keeps on pushing hard. While unseen, you walk into one of the of the bushes botlane, while the enemy jungler obviously is coming next. This allows you to easily countergank while they won't expect you at all.

For toplane, you won't have many occasions to roam and gank, but that only means efficiency is really important. The best opportunities to gank are after your lane opponent is dead or backed. Then you push your lane, allowing you to leave your lane without losing too much minions.

You are able to gank midlane with a traditional flank. Simple but effective.

Alternatively, you can go for a Teleport gank botlane. When the enemy botlane pushes hard, you might have the opportunity to Teleport to a ward between their position and the turret. Eventually, your opponents will be stuck between you and your allied botlane. Doing this can be really rewarding, but it can leave your toplane vulnerable. After your Teleport gank, you should back as soon as possible and return to your own lane. Your lane opponent might have been able to get turret plating's, or worse, your whole tower. Again, timing is key and the reward will be higher when you do it when your lane opponent just backed and he has no Teleport himself.

What you do after a succesful gank is probably as important as the gank itself. Laners want to back in order to regain their HP and mana, while also getting an item advantage with the extra gold they just got. It's important that everyone involved in the gank helps pushing the minion wave under the enemy tower. If you are able to get turret plating's or even the whole turret, you can stay a little longer before backing. The reason for pushing the wave is that the enemy laner will lose minions to the turret and thus will be set behind, while also granting your allies the time to get back into lane without missing much minions.

Maokai is a great teamfighter. His CC in combination with his fairly high base damage and his superb sustain with Sap Magic makes him one of the best teamfighting tanks in the game.

Teamfighting isn't as straightforward as it might seem. Champions have a different roles during teamfights. ADC's and APC obviously are the main damage dealers during teamfights, but to do so, one must engage first of all. Champions fit for this role are mainly tanks or fighters with some CC. And when the fight has started, you need to keep your damage dealing carries alive at all costs, which can be hard due to enemy divers like Irelia or Hecarim or assassins like Akali. Supports or CC-heavy tanks are usually the right fit for peeling.

Maokai is versatile enough to be used for both peeling and engaging. Choosing which role to play in teamfights depends on the composition of your team and in less measure the composition of the enemy team.

Looking at the teamcomps, your allied team already has a strong engage and frontline with Jarvan IV and Leona. However, the enemy Katarina and Hecarim might be able to slip past them to dive and kill your backline, leaving you with tankyness, but little damage. That's why it might be better to stay more in the back together with Ashe and Syndra to protect them from harm. You can easily lock the enemy in place with Twisted Advance and push them away with Bramble Smash. If you need even more CC to keep them at bay, be ready to use Nature's Grasp.

To keep it simple, I kept the same enemy team, but with a changed allied team. In this case, your team is quite squishy. Maokai is the only reliable frontliner. In terms of peel, it will be fine as Soraka and Taliyah should be able to keep enemies at bay. (As long as Taliyah is skilled enough to consistently hit Seismic Shove.) But by peeling alone you won't win a teamfight and if there is no engage Zed will have a much harder time pulling his damage off. Miss Fortune and Zyra are able to deal high AoE damage while staying safe in the back. If you can't reach and fight them up close, they will just wipe out your team. Luckily, Maokai is able to function as the main engager. You can opt to engage straight ahead, but that leaves the enemy team some time to react. It can work better with the Flash + Twisted Advance combo, but you won't always have Flash available. Flanking or even approaching from behind can surprise your opponent, at least when they don't have vision of you before you dive in. You don't even need to dive in yourself if you manage to hit a long range Nature's Grasp, preferably from out of their vision.

After the first jungle clear, Maokai can start ganking. Don't go in if you're not sure you can get the kill or burn a summoner spell. Post-6 it will be a lot easier as explained in the ganking section. Maokai can counterjungle early, using Sapling Toss for vision if you don't have any wards at the moment. However, if they catch you in the proces, you're probably dead as Maokai lacks an escape tool aside of Flash.

Farm as much as possible from your jungle between ganks. Also never gank when you are lower than 50% of your health.

Hold lanes if you have to and you should be happy to do so as it grants a lot of free gold and exp. The only downside is that you have to give away your position by doing so.

Maokai is able to solo dragon early, but it's rather risky. If you still want to do it, I recommend the moment you have Stalker's Blade - Cinderhulk and maybe crest of insight . Then it's more important than ever to make the best use out of Sap Magic by timing your spellcasts carefully. A good trick is to place a Control Ward in the dragon pit to make sure they won't see you solo it.

At the start of the game, you will look to farm as much as possibe with Maokai. His early game is pretty weak, so in most matchup's I won't recommend to play aggressively. But if you have a strong early game jungler, an early gank can succeed easily. Maokai can easily initiate with his Twisted Advance, resulting in a free kill/assist if you play it well.

After your first back, when you bought a defensive item against your lane opponent, you will be looking to poke and harass the enemy laner a bit, to test if you can take him on or not. If you are confident you will outdamage him, then you can look for some opportunities to trade with your E>W>Q combo. But only do this if you are sure the enemy jungler isn't near.

Post-6, you can play more aggressive. Poke, deny your opponent's CS and look for a chance to all-in, if you are confident you can finish him off though. When the enemy jungler ganks, fall back to your turret. You can use your ult to disengage too, if you have to. The most important thing is to keep farming and finish your first items.

Mid to late game is where Maokai begins to shine. Farm your jungle or lane and look for opportunities to roam and gank. As I mentioned before, Maokai excels at ganks and skirmishes because of his CC.

Look to take objectives like turrets or dragon and opportunities to group. You CAN make the difference in those teamfights. Don't stay farming when your team groups. Maokai can't splitpush, so don't waste time trying that. Your team will benefit more of your presence in teamfights. It can be frustrating to play against a champion that splitpushes whole the time like Tryndamere, but just group and their team will be forced to fight 4v5. But when playing toplane, be prepared to Teleport back to lane if the splitpusher becomes a too big threat.

Maokai's lategame is just insane. With all of his 6 items, he is almost unkillable in 5v5 fights. Sap Magic + Spirit Visage gives you enough sustain to tank for your whole team. Just make sure to focus the ADC, especially ADC's with true damage that can shred you even while building full tank like Vayne.


Basic Pre-6 Combo

+ +

The most basic combo, which consists of using Sapling Toss on top of the enemy, immediately followed by Bramble Smash and Twisted Advance to lock the target down so Sapling Toss is a guarantied hit.

Toplane Trade Combo/Bush Burst

+ +

Almost the same as the previous combo, but including a bush-empowered Sapling Toss. It's main use is when playing toplane, but it can be used in the jungle as well, thanks to the great amount of bushes.

Single Target CC Chain

+ + + +

The full combo against a single target, with the focus on keeping the enemy CC-ed as long as possible. Start with Nature's Grasp from some distance, thus increasing its root duration, followed by ( Flash+) Twisted Advance and the other abilities to keep the enemy in place.

Teamfight Carry Diving

+ + + +

This is a combo aimed towards catching a high priority target like an ADC or APC. It's really hard to react against Flash+ Twisted Advance, followed by a close range Nature's Grasp and the remaining abilities.

In my opinion, Maokai is one of the best tanks in the game. His CC makes him a treat for every enemy team. He has strong peel, but also good engage with Flash + Twisted Advance. If you need a toplaner/jungler, try Maokai, you won't regret it!

Thanks for reading my Maokai guide! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment! If you liked this guide, please upvote, comment and/or check out my other guides!

League of Legends Build Guide Author Silverman43
Silverman43 Maokai Guide