Olaf Build Guide by AP WormMaW Mid
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+9% Attack Speed and +15-135 Health (at levels 1-18)
Example final build
So, my name is AP WormMaW Mid and I am AP Kogmaw main since season 3. I was Master tier season 4 and season 5 in soloQ, ending up in Challenger in 5v5 bracket during these seasons as well. Last season I ended up in Diamond 1 on EUW and Master tier 160LP on EUNE.
My main account profiles can be found here: EUNE, EUW
Even though, my main role is midlane, there were times, when top was my main role instead and I still do actively play it, keeping my ability to play it close to my ability to play midlane.
My main motivation for creation of this guide is to provide (hopefully) somehow relevant guide for Olaf, which I used to play for quite some time in the past. I still play him sometimes, even though I am not really super active Olaf player, because I already have quite many champions to practice.
Tank vs AD vs Lifesteal Olaf
I would first like to give comparison and some kind of reasoning, why exactly do I prefer playing tanky Olaf over other 2 possibilities.
Tank Olaf is simply reliable. You can snowball early/midgame, which is exactly what you are made for. It as well allows you to rush into enemy backline with ability to stick on your targets for a while, before you get killed, which also depends on how the game goes. Whenever your opponents are trying to catch you, you are able to outrun them and possibly escape, before they manage to take you down. All of that is very important in competetive enviroment, where you are actually trying to win a game with less options to counter you.
Against that AD Olaf suffers from the fact, that he can get killed quite fast. Main problem is, that whenever you try to rush to kill someone, if your opponent has some kiting tool + damage, you will usually die before you even reach him. Another thing is, that in teamfights it's very easy to focus you and take you down. Your only option is usually splitpush, but that is not always an option either, once your opponents scale up, because most of assasins can just burst you, while escaping.
For many players it's popular to go for lifesteal Olaf. Main reason for that is, that you have high built-in attack speed and lifesteal, which will allow you to reach incredible amounts of lifesteal, making you invincible against targets, that don't have enough damage to take you down. This works on paper quite well, but in reality it's not so good. Again, you aren't able to teamfight, because you will get usually blown up before you even reach any target to lifesteal yourself. Another - and probably the biggest issue is, that there are multiple items that will simply make your entire build useless. Those items obviously are Bramble Vest, Executioner's Calling and Morellonomicon. If you get your healing reduced, your ability to sustain yourself will be crippled in a way, that your entire build simply stops making any sense, making you weak and vulnerable to any kind of damage. For that reason, even though it might be fun to play in some games, where opponents simply don't know what to build, it's still very unreliable build, that I wouldn't recommend to anyone.
Pros / Cons
+ Strong laning phase
+ Ability to snowball the game during midgame
+ Very good diver, who is quite hard to peel
+ Decent damage output/tankyness
- Falls off quite hard later on
- Hard to get back into game, when behind
- Can get kited quite hard
So, for Olaf, I find it really great, that you have really strong laning phase and you are able to farm very efficiently early on, due to the fact, that you have built-in sustain and Undertow, that can help you to farm from distance. As I mentioned, your early and mid game is really strong, because you usually do quite a lot of damage on squishies, while being tanky and your opponents usually don't really have items to take you down.
Problem comes in a moment, when you are unable to end the game fast enough. Because once enemy carries get their items, they will usually melt you down in matter of seconds (sometimes you simply die in a moment, when you reach them). Another annoying thing is, that if you get kited a lot, it's hard to achieve pretty much anything. Last problem is, that if enemy jungler really hates you, then (especially pre-6) it's hard to escape ganks and if you are not using your Undertow wisely, you will usually just keep shoving your lane, which will always open opportunity for ganks.
When should I proceed with this pick?
Usually it's great to go Olaf if you want to bully your lane opponent in order to disable him from game, making game pretty much 4v5, because as you might know - in soloQ, people tend to tilt quite often and destroying their toplaner might hit their motivation to keep playing that game a bit.
Another thing is, that you are able to dive enemy backline quite easily, so when you are facing a lot of immobile champions, then Olaf is your tool to do so.
On the other hand, if you are facing a lot of mobile champions, with ability to kite you, you will have really hard time and you will basically rely on your team to win a game.
In terms of runes, there are quite many possibilities, which you can use and literally it's hardly situational. Right now I will show you most common build path, which is around Conqueror keystone, even though there are as well other possibilities.
|Conqueror, as we know, is right now most efficient keystone for most bruisers out there. Obviously, there is as wel possibility to go for Press the Attack, but that takes time, until you build up it's effect, while conqueror is pretty much instant. Another reason is, that it converts some of your damage to true damage, which makes it easier for you to shred down tanks through their defenses and as you know - Olaf already has some true damage and adding more of that in your kit will make your job even easier.|
|On paper, this looks like another decent option, since it refunds part of your mana (and if you played Olaf, then you know that after you spam your axes a lot, you will eventually run out of mana). But probably more importantly, it partially refreshes your ultimate cooldown, which might be quite useful in certain situations. Even though this rune provides some benefits, I feel like having Triumph is generally more valuable, since you usually sit on 40% CDR, which will already make your ultimate cooldown very low.|
|This one is mostly used by me for Olaf, since it provides you extra attack speed, allowing you to shred down your opponents faster and helping you reducing the cooldown of your Reckless Swing faster.|
|Even though having tenacity might be quite useful, it's quite redundant with your Ragnarok, that makes you immune to crowd control. Of course, you don't have your ultimate up all the time. For that reason, you might consider taking this one, if you are facing comp with many crowd controls and you know, that you will mostly get kited a lot.|
|This one is my least prefered choice, even though on first glance, it might be nice to have extra lifesteal. Problem is, that if you don't have enough attack damage, you won't really lifesteal that much in the end, making the choice quite awkward.|
|Last Stand is really great rune here, because since you are tanky and since you have your passive, which gives you extra attack speed, the lower you go with your hp, it really helps you to win some "close fights", helping you to increase your fighting potential, while at low health to the max.|
|Probably second decent mention, even though it usually doesn't stand the chance to Last Stand (from my experience).|
|This is right now my prefered rune, because it increases my early game potential even further. It's hard to say, that it's straight up better than Conditioning, but thing is, that this one works since level one and you don't have to wait for first 10 minutes of game.|
|Another viable possibility for Olaf. What I see as disadvantage compared to Second Wind is the fact, that it doesn't provide you anything till you reach 10 minutes mark, which is quite annoying, because you have to get yourself rolling from beginning.|
|This is pretty much must-have rune for Olaf, since it scales very nicely with your health pool, compared to other possibilities that you have in Resolve tree and even if it doesn't provide you anything early on, the benefit that you receive from it through the game can't be beated by any other possiblity out there.|
|This is right now my most prefered starting item. It gives you extra sustain in lane for both health and mana and it as well increases your fighting potential, due to extra damage, that you receive.|
|Doran's Shield is other alternative for starting item, since it provides you quite good stats and extra health regeneration, whenever you are getting poked. What I usually see as a problem here is, that you basically run out of mana way too fast.|
|Ninja Tabi is my usual shop in terms of boots. You might change these for Mercury's Treads, when you feel like you need Tenacity or when you are facing heavy-AP team.|
|Another situational possibility for boots except for Ninja Tabi, that you might consider purchasing whenever you are against heavy-AP teams or whenever you are against teamcomp, that has a lot of CC.|
|Typical first item for Olaf. It increases your damage output, gives you huge amount of CDR, extra movespeed whenever you attack your opponents and decent amount of health. Main reason, why you can afford to get this as first item is, that you get 20 armor/MR from Ragnarok, which is enough defensive stats for earlygame and the health pool will make sure, that you won't die too fast. We shouldn't as well forget about the fact, that it provides armor penetration, that is not useful just for you, but for your teammates as well!|
|Great item, whenever you need to get magic resistances. Great thing about this item is, that it increases healing on you, so you increase your lifesteal amount from your Vicious Strikes or even increase healing on you from other sources (if you have stuff like Soraka, Sona, etc. on your team).|
|Great tanking item, whenever you need huge amount of armor and healing reduction against certain opponents like Fiora, Aatrox etc. You shouldn't be really getting this item, if you don't want to reduce enemy healing, because in that case, there are better choices like Dead Man's Plate, Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen.|
|This item is insanely good for Olaf, since it provides huge initiation/chasing potential and as well provides extra tank stats. Except for that, you as well gain big portion of mana, which is very useful for Olaf, if you don't want to run out of mana in the middle of fight.|
|Sterak's Gage is another great option, if you want to get extra damage, while keeping yourself tanky. It's main benefit is, that whenever you rush in, you usually get huge amount of initial damage, which will mostly get blocked by it's special effect, which provides you with huge shield.|
|Great option or even replacement for Spirit Visage whenever you face a lot of champions, that are dealing repetitive damage. Examples of such champions are - Cassiopeia, Brand, Malzahar etc.|
|This item should be always prefered, whenever you don't exactly need healing reduction, in terms of Thornmail or crit reduction, that Randuin's Omen provides. Main reason is, that you get required defensive stats mainly against physical damage dealers and it as well helps you to chase down your targets more efficiently or possibly it helps you get away from rough situations.|
|Randuin's Omen should be always prioritized over other armor items, whenever you are against champions, that are going for crit items. It's also desired to look at stats and see, if those champions are fed or not and then decide, when you want to buy this. Typically you should buy it against champions like Ashe, Caitlyn, Jinx etc. if they are major threat in that game or if you are reaching lategame, where these champions are able to destroy your entire team in matter of seconds.|
The main reason, why you want to max Undertow first is, that it provides you the most out of all other abilities. You can poke your lane opponent from distance, it allows you to shove waves really fast, it allows you to chase and it as well allows you to deal decent amount of damage with it, considering it's low cooldown, that is getting refreshed, whenever you pick up that axe.
There is one fun fact - if you have enough CDR, you can do axe-juggling with two axes, that you basically throw one axe, wait for cooldown, then throw another and pick up first - in that case, you can pretty much spam axes, if you keep picking them up. In reality, it doesn't really have many usages, but well, why not doing it sometimes for fun in normal games right?
The main reason, why I max Reckless Swing over Vicious Strikes is, that it provides you quite big amount of damage, especially because you are mostly going tank, so your autoattacks don't really hurt that much. Except for that, by maxing it you reduce it's cooldown from 11 seconds to 7 seconds, which is huge, once you get the last rank of this ability. Another upside is, that when you max it, it doesn't really hurt you that much due to your high health pool as tank.
Don't forget, that since this ability deals damage to you as well, think about it's usage when you get to lower amount of health. Usually if you fight someone and you are really low, you should attack only with autoattacks, ideally with your Vicious Strikes active, to lifesteal yourself, and finnish off your opponent with Reckless Swing, because if you finnish off the target, it doesn't cost you any health. For that reason, be careful, that you simply don't kill yourself with it, leaving your opponent at pretty much non-existent health.
Ragnarok is pretty much the main reason, why you should consider including Olaf into your champion pool. It gives you burst of movement speed, extra attack damage and most importantly - you are immune to crowd controls during it's effect, which is great against teams, that can peel for their important targets, that otherwise don't really have any escapes. In such case, you can just rush in and sometimes even get away without dying (depending on how the game goes).
We shouldn't as well forget about it's passive effect, that provides you with a lot of extra armor/MR, which will make you even more tanky.
Here I will try to describe my Olaf's playstyle and how single game phases differentiate from each other. It's important to mention, that not everyone has same playstyle and maybe you fill find something else more useful.
Already at this point, you will be deciding whether the game will go well or badly for you. Olaf has quite strong early game, but he lacks escape, which means that if you let enemy jungler gank you for free, you might have a lot of problems, at least against certain champions like Darius, who can snowball you quite easily. Thing is, that whenever you start using your Undertow, you are usually pushing your lane, opening opportunity for enemy jungler.
For that reason, you should always aim for playing it a bit safe, trying to poke a bit from angle, where you don't really push your wave and letting your jungler do stuff if possible. Otherwise, if you manage to drop your opponent and you know that enemy jungler is not nearby, you can just run down your lane opponent, because it's usually really hard to get away from Olaf, especially if you play on your side of map.
You should try to get ahead or be somehow equal during this game phase, because you are not very tanky and if you get behind, you will have hard time to get back in the game.
In this phase, you are literally beast, because you start being quite tanky and your opponents (unless they are fed), won't be able to take you down fast enough during your engages. For that reason, you should be looking for engages on enemy team whenever you have possibility to flank/catch someone.
Main reason is, that from this point, you are fighting with time, because if you don't end the game fast enough or if you don't create lead for your team, you will have hard time to do anything during lategame.
That is another reason, why is it so important to not exactly lose early as Olaf, because if you do, you won't really snowball during this game phase and instead you will try to catch up. And usually in the moment when you catch up, enemies will start having enough items to melt you down no matter what.
For lategame I have bad news here. It's not like you are completely useless, but you are champion who needs to chase and who needs some time to build up his damage. Problem is that important targets have their defensive items/enough health to survive your damage output, but even more importantly, they have enough damage to melt you down in matter of seconds.
For that reason, during this phase you become basically fully reliant on your team, trying to be some sort of meatshield, while praying that your carries will kill enemy frontline faster, than theirs.
From my experience, if game extends too much, while you were the one carrying early/midgame, you will mostly end up losing entire game, because if your carries didn't step up back then, they won't do it even now, because either way they are autofilled or they are tilted or anything else, causing them to perform poorly. So generally speaking - try to avoid extending game length too much and don't toy with your opponents, while being fed, because it might backfire quite badly.
Is this the end?
I consider main part of this guide as done. What I wrote here, is what I consider as most important, even though there might be some other parts being added in a future. So simply said - whenever I feel like I have something new, that I would like to share with you guys, I will make sure to add it in here!!
So I wish you good luck with your games as Olaf and hopefully you will have a lot of fun. But more importantly...
Additional questions? Wish to support me further?
If you have any additional questions, if I wouldn't explain something here properly, then feel free to visit me and ask me on my stream.