Maokai Build Guide

[S3] The AP Mid Christmas Tree

Uploader Hazul
Updated 3 years ago
  • 9
    Greater Mark of Magic Penetration (+0.87 magic penetration)
  • 9
    Greater Seal of Armor (+1 armor)
  • 9
    Greater Glyph of Magic Resist (+1.34 magic resist)
  • 3
    Greater Quintessence of Ability Power (+4.95 ability power)
Skill Order
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10 10 10 10
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[imgext=] Greetings. My name is Hazul and I play AP mid Maokai. You've likely seen this once or twice and it may or may not have been played very well. I remember Chu8 making this popular a while back, but nobody has payed much attention to it lately and I haven't seen a great Season 3 guide for it yet so I thought I'd make this. Jungle Maokai is so great because he has nearly perfect ganks with crowd control that works very well in conjunction, but AP Mid Maokai is great because of his early game damage and tank-mage build potential. This works completely viably and effectively because Maokai has such high base damage on all of his skills and a passive that keeps him alive through the laning phase. I will assure you now that Maokai, in the right hands, is one of the scariest mages to play in the mid lane. His insane burst damage and zoning ability is similar to a Leblanc but with even more potential to outplay and kill. His saplings (or Christmas presents) pack a powerful punch early on and scale very well. For a full understanding of how to play the tree mid, please read the full guide. Let's dive in. [title]Pros[/title] [.]Very strong early game with high base damage [.]Tankier than most AP mids [.]Sustaining passive which works beautifully in lane [.]Can eliminate anyone in a team fight [.]Saplings provide great long-ranged damage/vision [.]Decent at farming [.]Low cooldown ultimate [.]Great crowd control [.]High ratios overall [.]Nobody will counter you in Champ Select [title]Cons[/title] [.]Mana hungry [.]Melee auto attacks [.]Must get close to an enemy to combo them [.]Can only do heavy single-target damage [.]Out-ranged often in lane [.]Shut down by Crowd Control [.]Relatively weak ultimate [.]Must win early game to be strong late game A few simple tricks can turn these Cons into Pros and Maokai is still a dangerous caster. Getting in an enemy's face and chunking them from full health to nothing is satisfying and not too difficult if done properly.

Just for fun, here's a video I found that demonstrates AP Maokai's damage potential. [youtube][/youtube] Pretty crazy, right?

You might think this is one of those guides where I introduce something ridiculous like Jungle Soraka and try to convince you how underestimated and powerful it is. And in a way, it is that sort of guide. AP Maokai is underestimated and powerful, and you have to remember that he can't be played every game. Because he is so unconventional, you should know when to play AP Maokai. His role on the team, if I had to compare it to another mage, would be similar to a Gragas. He is a very powerful mage with a long-range poke for lane, but his drawback is that he has to be up-close with enemies to deal a lot of damage and he is forced to auto attack at melee range. [title]Best Times to Play AP Maokai[/title] [.]When your team has zero intitiation or crowd control [.]When your team lacks strong burst damage/your team is just full of poke [.]When the enemy team locks in a squishy mage that is weak early game [.]When the enemy team locks in Evelynn or Karthus [.]When you are terrified of being counter-picked [.]When your team has a very strong early game [.]When your jungler has heavy damage but lacks crowd control for ganks [title]Worst Times to Play AP Maokai[/title] [.]When your team is full of tanks [.]When your team expects your damage alone to win the game [.]When your team already has a strong assassin ([imgsmall=champ/akali.png], [imgsmall=champ/katarina.png], [imgsmall=champ/khazix.png]) [.]When you are going any lane but mid [.]When your team lacks a strong late game Also be sure to check counter matchups further down in the guide. The most important thing to remember is just that your damage will fall off a bit late game and also that you'll have to dive into team fights, so you won't survive every one of them. If you understand that and you have a strong ranged team, then pick Maokai.

[imgext=] I prefer Magic Pen reds, Armor yellows to deal with pesky Zeds/Talons, and MR blues for some early resistance. The 15 AP from quints is enough to deal the tons of damage you need to deal, so I wouldn't recommend AP reds. Most of your early game damage doesn't come from AP scaling anyway; it should come from sapling base damage so you won't need AP marks. [title]AP Quints[/title] 5 * 3 = [highlight]15 Extra Ability Power[/highlight] Extra Damage on Arcane Smash: 6 Extra Damage on Twisted Advance: 12 Extra Damage on Sapling Toss: 15 Extra Damage on Vengeful Maelstrom: 7.5 [highlight]Total Extra Damage from AP Quints: 40.5[/highlight] This might not sound great, but the purpose of these Runes is to give you a tremendous early game edge. More often than you'd expect, the extra 40.5 damage at the beginning of the game will be the difference between a kill and an enemy's escape. [title]Magic Pen Marks[/title] 9 : .87 = [highlight]7.83 Extra Magic Pen[/highlight] I get these because Maokai's base damage is so high that you will do more damage throughout the game with the extra Magic Pen than by getting Ability Power reds. [title]Armor Seals[/title] 9 * 1.41 = [highlight]12.69 Extra Armor[/highlight] With so many AD Assassins mid, I recommend Armor seals on a standard AP Maokai Rune Page. Even against a Mage, the early armor from the seals is too good to pass up in my opinion. You'll be more vulnerable to jungle ganks and tanking minion waves, so Armor Seals work well for what they give. [title]Magic Resist Glyphs[/title] 9 * 1.34 = [highlight]12.06 Extra Magic Resist[/highlight] Having a bonus 12 magic resist is crucial in mid lane against opponents of early aggression who can trade damage with you. The base resistance that glyphs give, in conjunction with Maokai's passive, is enough to survive most lanes without needing a heavy sustain start. As far as runes go, they are fairly basic. The runes above are the most efficient ones to include on an AP Maokai rune page and will give you a huge advantage over an opponent without runes. [highlight]Other Options:[/highlight] [imgext=] You could possibly run a flat AP page for increased damage, but this will make you much more vulnerable to damage in lane. Only use this page against a lane where you will constantly be healing or a lane where you know you can get an easy level 3 kill with this damage. The runes pictured above are: Magic Penetration Marks Scaling Ability Power Seals Glyphs of Ability Power Ability Power Quintessences [imgext=] This gives you more mana regen in place of Armor for Seals with the rest of the basic runes above being the same. Put this page on against a team where you won't need the Armor and you will need the mana regen for sustained damage such as an Anivia mid and some AP jungle. The runes pictured above are: Magic Penetration Marks Mana per 5 Seals Glyphs of Magic Resistance Ability Power Quintessences

[title][img=skills/maokai/p.png] Passive: Sap Magic[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] This passive is one of the best in the game for laning. You and your opponent will constantly be casting skills so this thing should be healing you like crazy. Be sure to take advantage of the heal whenever it's up, but it should come naturally with last-hitting minions anyway. 7% of your maximum health is a lot, especially after finishing up your Rod of Ages. Against champions like Evelynn or Karthus who literally cast a spell every 2 seconds, you should never fall below half health. [title][img=skills/maokai/q.png] Q: Arcane Smash[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is signature for Jungle Maokai and his ganks, but in Mid lane it isn't entirely as useful. Max it second for the damage and slow, but you should be casting your sapling over this. Good times to use this skill are [.]Escaping ganks (especially against auto attack junglers like Udyr or Xin Zhao.) [.]Unleashing your full combo [.]Pushing a wave [.]Easy harass when up-close [imgext=] I've added a small blue circle around Maokai because the skill's marker is also deceiving. When you use Arcane Smash, a small area around Maokai is also hit by the spell. If an enemy is immediately behind you and you smash forward, it will still knock that enemy back. This is important to remember when farming and escaping ganks. Remember that this skill is a displacement. This will completely shut down Fiddlestick drains, Katarina ults, Malzahar ults, ect. [title][img=skills/maokai/w.png] W: Twisted Advance[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] This is a dangerous skill that can be used for good or bad. Do not use Twisted Advance just to harass without following up and do not use it too often. There is a lot of pressure in having this skill available. However, it is not worth maxing early so get it at level 4 but max it last. Good times to use this skill are [.]Going in on an enemy to initiate your full combo [.]Escaping a gank (either fly to the jungler and run past them or fly to an enemy minion and run in that direction depending on the situation) [.]Catching out an enemy with your team [.]Diving Be careful with Twisted Advance. If you use it on somebody, you are committing yourself to be transported to wherever they stand. It is possible and likely that your enemy will flash into their tower after you cast this on them. Only use it when you know you will be safe flying into the enemy. [imgext=] As you can see above, Twisted Advance's range is not very long, so you should be cautious of champions with stuns or snares. However, a Twisted Advance into a full Maokai combo will easily kill the Swain or most any other mage below half health. [title][img=skills/maokai/e.png] E: Sapling Toss[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] The Sapling Christmas Present is your bread and butter. It's your pride and joy. It's your child. Your sapling is your everything with AP Mid Maokai. The early damage on this thing is wonderful, so be sure to max it first. Here is how the Sapling works, very simply. 1) You throw the sapling. 2) The sapling hits the ground, doing AoE damage to everyone it hits. 3) Your sapling looks around to see if there is an enemy unit nearby. If so, the sapling runs to them and explodes, doing more AoE damage. 4) If there is nobody nearby, the Sapling sits there and waits for somebody nearby, warding the area in a small circle. The sapling lasts 35 seconds like this before it just explodes. What does this mean? If you throw a sapling that is closer to a minion than to a champion, it will run for the minion, completely missing the champion. You want to land [number]both hits[/number] of your Sapling on an enemy is possible. The best way to do this is to throw it slightly behind them. They will attempt to run backwards a bit and, if done correctly, you will hit them and it will explode in their face, demonstrated below. After it hits, rinse and repeat until you can go in for the kill. Aside from aggression, use Saplings to farm when you have good opportunities. It is similar to a Gragas barrel which should be used to farm and kill at the same time. You should start early mana to make this possible. However, try not to cast many spells until you're level 3. The early damage on Sapling isn't that great for the mana cost. Do not underestimate this skill. Because the landing scales 0.4 AP and the explosion scales 0.6, Maokai's saplings have a total of 1:1 AP scaling. [imgext=] [title][img=skills/maokai/r.png] R: Vengeful Maelstrom[/title] [title]Explanation:[/title] Your ultimate, quite honestly, isn't as useful as any of your other skills. You will mostly be using this to finish off kills while in lane, but be sure to keep it on top of team fights. This is essentially used in the same way it is in jungling but it will do a bit more damage. Before you initiate your combo, throw up the ultimate right on top of the enemy. Remember that you must let this sit for a few seconds before you are able to explode it for damage so don't save it for last because you won't be able to hit anybody with it that way. This can also be used defensively. If you are being ganked, put the circle in your path to absorb some of the damage you take. Every bit counts and it just may save your life. Also remember that the cooldown for this ultimate is very low, so don't be afraid to use it often. However, don't keep it up for too long when nobody is inside it as it will suck up mana quickly. [imgext=]

[img=skills/maokai/r.png]>[img=skills/maokai/e.png]>[img=skills/maokai/q.png]>[img=skills/maokai/w.png] [imgsmall=skills/maokai/r.png]Max your ultimate whenever you can in a standard way. It adds another skill (both offensive and defensive) to your arsenal at level 6, and the damage reduction and extra bit of burst is worth throwing in the point at levels 11 and 16. [imgsmall=skills/maokai/e.png]In the laning phase especially, it's all about the Saplings. They are your most consistent source of poke and damage. The scaling is great and saplings should be maxed first on every occassion for your assassin capabilities. This is your bread and butter skill, after all. [imgsmall=skills/maokai/q.png]Max your Arcane Smash next, both for the great damage to your combo and the slow. Crowd-control is still important even if you aren't jungling, so the leveled slow on this skill is preferred over leveling Twisted Advance. [imgsmall=skills/maokai/w.png]Though it is such a necessary skill, Twisted Advance doesn't scale as well as other skills considering how often you will be using them. It's main purpose is not the damage (though it is important), but instead to lock down your opponent and jump in on them. For this reason, max it last. Don't underestimate it's damage at max level, though. It is still part of your overall burst. The only disagreements I could see here are whether to max Twisted Advance over Arcane Smash. Considering you will be using the latter much more often for poke and wave clearing, I would say it's fairly standard to max Arcane Smash over Twisted Advance.

I felt this was a good time to talk about Maokai's combo, which his entire kit is based around. Pulling this off in lane will leave most mid-laners at about one third health, forcing them to leave lane or desperately try to hug their tower. It is scary and does great damage at all levels, especially around levels 4 through 8, however. You can dive towers with this if you are careful, just beware of champions with hard stuns or burst damage. Do not trade kills because for Maokai, it isn't worth it. For those of you who jungle Maokai, it's essentially the same idea, but damage is much more important than CC. 1) [img=skills/maokai/r.png]If you have it, lead with your ultimate. Place it directly on top of your target. 2) [img=skills/maokai/w.png] Twisted Advance to your target. 3) [img=skills/maokai/e.png] Throw your sapling slightly behind your target so that it strikes twice, once when it lands and again when it hits them. Note that if the enemy plans to flash, they do it now and escape the Sapling and Arcane Smash. There's nothing much you can do about this, and if you burn their flash then just wait for your cooldowns and pull the combo again. It's a success. At this point in the combo, the enemy has time to pull off a skill such as a quick fear or stun, so be aware of that. 4) [img=skills/maokai/q.png]Assuming your enemy has accepted their fate, use your Arcane Smash and knock them backwards. Your primary focus is making sure the sapling strikes twice. 5) [img=summoners/ignite.png] You should be able to pop your ultimate for a bit of extra damage, and use Ignite if it will finish off the target. 6) Auto attack. Don't forget to auto attack. It does damage. Especially with your Lich Bane. Note that even if you do not get the kill, forcing the enemy out of lane and letting yourself push/farm is a success. Honestly, use this combo as much as possible. Be aggressive. Be very aggressive. Maokai mid is not passive, and you are not trolling. Assert your damage whenever you can. Champions like Kennen, Veigar, and really most mages can't do much about it. You should be able to walk away after pulling off your combo with minimal damage done to yourself. Just don't go in with low health and predict your opponent's behavior. Stay safe, but get fed. That being said, [highlight]do not neglect farm[/highlight]. Use your Sapling and get all the last-hits you can while zoning your opponenet and do not let your gold fall behind because you got greedy.

Here i'll just discuss all the possible items for Maokai, which ones you need and which ones are optional or situational. [highlight]Best Start[/highlight] [img=items/sapphire-crystal.png][img=items/health-potion2.png] [.]This is the best start for Maokai. It was the best start in Season 2 and it is the best start in Season 3. You need the Mana to throw Saplings, and the early build into Catalyst is something that you can't pass up. If you don't start with some form of extra mana or mana regen, you will likely be forced out of lane very quickly without any source of damage. Remember that saplings are quite costly as far a mana goes. [highlight]Other Starting Options[/highlight] [img=items/dorans-ring.png] [.]As I mentioned above, you don't really need this. Yes, your saplings will do a lot of damage. Yes, it does provide health and some mana. But it isn't enough. Starting a couple Dorans Rings is great for some champions, just not for the tree man. You do not have the mana for it. If you want to try and start this way, be sure it is against a squishy opponent where you are guaranteed an early kill such as Sona. [img=items/crystalline-flask.png][img=items/health-potion2.png][img=items/mana-potion.png] [.]Starting flask is a very safe route and can work on Maokai. The mana and health will keep you alive if you're afraid of a tough early game. If you're ever in doubt of starting a mana crystal due to lack of survivability, go with this route instead. It's one of the few other starting routes that works with AP Maokai. [img=items/amplifying-tome.png][img=items/health-potion2.png] [.]This is a powerful bully type of start, but Maokai will do more damage when he can throw more saplings, so starting mana is just better for him. Also, you won't find yourself building this into anything major until a couple items into your build, so it's not suggested to start this route. [img=items/boots-of-speed.png][img=items/health-potion2.png][img=items/mana-potion.png] [.]Starting boots isn't as necessary after speed was buffed on all champions for Season 3, but it's still viable and may save your life early game. The mana potion is required if you wish to start this way. This guide suits towards an aggressive playstyle, and the most important thing to keep in mind is having mana. [img=items/faerie-charm.png][img=items/faerie-charm.png][img=items/health-potion3.png] [.]Only get this if you're going for the Athene's Unholy Grail build instead of the Rod of Ages. I touch on this more below, but basically only go this way if your opponent will be doing a lot of magic damage consistently and you'll need magic resistance soon with a Grail. On most occasions, just start Sapphire Crystal instead. [img=items/elixir-of-fortitude.png][img=items/health-potion2.png] [.]Though they just raised the price on a red pot, it's still an effective all-in threat for early game that may save your life. Maokai's consistent damage is stronger than an all-in strategy and putting all your trust on one red pot isn't worth it for Maokai. It's best to have consistent saplings. [highlight]Early Items[/highlight] [img=items/catalyst-the-protector.png] [.]Build this on your first back to base. You should still be doing well enough without building any AP that you can start tanky and with enough mana to dominate the early levels. [img=items/sorcerers-shoes.png] [.]Not much explanation needed here. The Magic Penetration is standard for an AP mid. If you plan on roaming, you can grab some Boots of Mobility, but Sorcerers Shoes are what you need to wreck and get fed. I would suggest buying boots after you finish Catalyst and upgrading them after finishing Rod of Ages. [highlight]Core Items[/highlight] [img=items/rod-of-ages.png] [.]This is the perfect item for Maokai. You need to build this for an early tanky tree. Your damage is reliable enough that you don't need early Dorans Rings or anything, and this item will likely save your life several times through the game. The passive healing per level is good for laning as well. Don't pass this up. [img=items/rabadons-deathcap.png] [.]This stylish hat is standard for mages and Maokai is no exception. The straight AP and passive insanely buffs your damage and works with nearly every other item you'll buy. This is another item there is no question about. Get it directly after Rod of Ages. [highlight]Offense Options(In order from most recommended to least)[/highlight] [img=items/lich-bane.png] [.]Your up-close-and-personal aggressive playstyle is perfect for Lich Bane. After your combo, just throw in one auto attack and watch the health drop. You are not an artillery champion and you need to dive into a fight, so this item is great for some extra nuke power onto one target. Get this early if you're fed, but if you're dying a lot then save it for later and grab a Rylai's Crystal Scepter. [img=items/void-staff.png] [.]This is another item I usually end up getting. When you become a fed machine and the enemy team is just be stacking Magic Resistance, this is a solid option. Even if they aren't stacking Resistance, it is still cost effective and in some cases more important than a Rabadon's. Your base damage is high, so Penetration is so important in maximizing damage. [img=items/deathfire-grasp.png] [.]I really like this for a last item. The AP it gives is high, and the active is really good with Maokai's kit as an up-close burst caster. It basically adds another powerful skill to your kit, which you will need when your damage begins to fall off very late game. [img=items/abyssal-scepter.png] [.]If you're having trouble against a Leblanc or something, this should help you stay alive. An early Negatron Cloak into Abyssal Scepter can be a good idea in that situation, but it will set back your build. Only get this late game if you're being completely focused down by the enemy's mage. [img=items/rylais-crystal-scepter.png] [.]The slow from Rylais works well with saplings as they will be nearly impossible to run from if placed correctly, but you should already have decent health from your Rod of Ages. If you're getting shredded apart, get a Giants Belt and build it into this. If you're fed and staying alive, focus on another damage item than this. [img=items/liandrys-torment.png] [.]If you really feel like you need more health, you can get a Liandrys. I consider it a better early game item than late game so I wouldn't recommend this at all on Maokai because I see his early game build as pretty standard, but the Penetration works will with his damage and can completely tear through Negatron Cloaks in conjunction with a Void Staff, which is what makes it such a good option. [img=items/zhonyas-hourglass.png] [.]I really recommend this item in a similar way to Vladimir where you can dive the back line, take out a target, then Zhonyas while your team follows up. The AP and armor are also nice, so it's a very good item on AP Maokai. Get this if you know that you have to initiate team fights or when you're the only one diving the back line on your team. [img=items/archangels-staff.png] [.]Although Maokai does have a great poke to spam, it isn't as consistent as a Nidalee spear and you shouldn't be casting as often as a Nidalee. You should have decent mana with the essential items to not need this, but it is still a viable option. The AP is good and once completed into Seraph's Embrace, the shield can save your life as you assassinate the back-line of a team fight. [img=items/trinity-force.png] [.]Chu8 used to get this item on AP Maokai in place of a Lich Bane, and it's still a great option for Season 3. I, personally, prefer the extra damage and Ability Power from the Lich Bane. However, if you're going for a more utility-caster role, a Trinity Force is a great item. Just about everything works with AP Maokai's playstyle in some way. If you really get into playing AP Maokai, I suggest you try this in place of Lich Bane once and see if you like it. This one comes down to preference of playstyle, but I'm a fan of the raw Lich Bane damage. [img=items/morellonomicon.png] [.]This item isn't very effective in my opinion. I see it being most helpful in the mid game laning phase and Maokai's alternatives are much stronger against any opponent than this. It is a very efficient item, but the damage output is much higher if you rush more Ability Power or Magic Penetration. I don't see this as a good choice for that reason. [img=items/mejais-soulstealer.png] [.]Mejai's is the super-carry item for mages looking to get fed, and of course it's very risky. If you're going up against somebody like a Karthus and you can tell from the first few minutes that you'll be getting fed, then you can get a Mejai's. It's such an insult to your opponent to get one, and it is a very effective item to hard-carry wtih and Maokai has the potential to make it work. If you're willing to take the risk and have some fun with the game, then go ahead and get this early on. In ranked play I would not recommend this often, though, due to its high-risk nature. [img=items/frozen-fist.png] [.]I like this item on Maokai. It works well with his kit, but the only problem is that a Lich Bane does the job better. I suppose you could get this if you really needed the armor, but there are alternatives if that's the case so I would say to almost never get this item. [img=items/hextech-gunblade.png] [.]Maokai isn't a champion that benefits from Spell Vamp, so this item isn't too great on him. His damage isn't consistent and reliable enough to dive in and hope to stay alive with healing. If you are having trouble staying alive, get an AP tank item instead. There are more reliable damage options than a Gunblade. [img=items/spirit-of-the-spectral-wraith.png] [.]Although it may benefit a few mages to get this in lane, Maokai isn't one of them. The spellvamp doesn't work well with his kit and the damage to neutral monsters hardly applies to Maokai's play style. Don't get this item on Maokai mid. [img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] [.]Again, I wouldn't suggest getting an item heavily based on spellvamp with Maokai. His damage isn't reliable enough to work with spellvamp frequently and his passive should be healing him enough in lane. If your team is heavily AP-based, it might be a good idea to have somebody else get one of these as it will really help you out. [highlight]Defense Options(In order from most recommended to least)[/highlight] [img=items/spirit-visage.png] [.]This is a perfect defensive option. The bonus health works well with Maokai's passive, and his cooldowns are very high so the reduction on that works wonders for your damage in lane. You can get this as a third item if you need the magic resist and this is the best thing you can build from a Negatron Cloak if you're going to buy one. [img=items/sunfire-cape.png] [.]The damage emitted from Sunfire Cape goes to great use with Maokai with his all-in kit of skills while providing great Armor and Health. I see this as more efficient than a Warmog's Armor and this should be strongly considered if you need a flat tank item to keep yourself alive. [img=items/frozen-heart.png] [.]I strongly recommend this item on Maokai if you are taking a lot of Attack Damage not just to survive but the Cooldown Reduction is incredibly high. 20% works wonders for Maokai and his high cooldowns and you'll notice yourself throwing more saplings and doing more damage over time while playing with this item. [img=items/athenes-unholy-grail.png] [.]I've tried out starting the game with a Chalice of Harmony and getting an Athene's Unholy Grail, and it essentially does the same thing as the recommended start above. The trade-off here is getting Magic Resist instead of Health. If you're going to be constantly chunked down by a Leblanc or similar mage, this start can work wonders for you and provides even more mana. I, personally, just prefer the health. I believe that stacking Health over Magic Resist works better because more max health gives more for Maokai to heal using his passive, therefore keeping him alive longer. If you're a fan of this item on other champions, I encourage you to try it. I just don't find it as good as a simple Rod of Ages. Don't get both, under any circumstance, though. [img=items/warmogs-armor.png] [.]If you've decided you don't need the armor from a Sunfire Cape, or you're getting focused tremendously and you desperately need a lot more Health, Warmog's is your backup option for tanking damage. The flat health is very high, and it's still worthwhile to grab even though it's expensive. You should be getting this late game if you want it. [img=items/runic-bulwark.png] [.]Hopefully your Jungler or Support is getting this. If they aren't, tell them to get it. It will help you out a lot but as the AP Carry, you shouldn't afford to give up one of your item spaces for the aura. Just keep an eye out and make sure someone on your team has this, or at least an Aegis of the Legion, before team fights begin. [img=items/thornmail.png] [.]Unless an enemy Caitlyn is fed beyond belief and auto-attacking insane amounts of damage, don't get a Thornmail. It's not worth it against most opponents unless auto attacks and attack speed are becoming a huge issue on the enemy team. There are other Armor-and-AP alternatives such as an Hourglass. [img=items/guardian-angel.png] [.]A Guardian Angel can work well with Maokai's diving potential and team fight role, but I see a Zhonya's Hourglass doing the same job with 120 AP tacked onto it. If you desperately need the extra armor and resistance, go for it. Otherwise, just get the Hourglass. If you have any ideas or suggestions for this section, drop me a comment below.

Early game, you're already winning. The second you step into lane, you have an advantage over your opponent. That's your saplings. With AP runes, they are doing roughly 140 damage at level 1, which is wonderful considering champions like Anivia start the game with as low as 350 health. At the start of the game, I wouldn't recommend completely spamming your saplings. Throw a few so that your ultimate goal is to have enough mana to combo your opponent at level 4. If you can get them to half health with a few saplings, you're doing perfectly. At level 4, fly in with your combo, ignite, and walk away. It's nearly a [number]guaranteed[/number] early kill. A few champions can tamper with this such as Vladimir with his pool or any champion with hard stuns, but you should be able to work around cooldowns and get a kill. Your early burst damage is, for a fact, more than your opponent's. If you don't manage to get the early kill, perhaps you get ganked, just keep farming and harrassing. You still do great damage and should try and capitalize while you can. Also, try not to push the lane by positioning saplings behind your opponent and not onto a group of minions. It can be helpful to throw them on top of a wave of minions and your opponent for an instant explosion, but avoid this as much as possible. It is best for Maokai to be pushed on, as his combo is much harder to escape that way. Most mid-laners will push to your tower if you're careful with your saplings, which is what you want. However, this might not be the case, which brings us to warding. [highlight]Warding:[/highlight] Warding is so important as Maokai doesn't have any very reliable escapes from a gank. Depending on positioning, he can use Twisted Advance and Arcane Smash to get away but it's tough to pull off every time. However, you shouldn't buy wards until your first back, but get one or two every time you buy items. Possible Warding Spots: [.]A: On blue side, A is a good spot to keep track of their jungler. If this is your only ward, hugging the right side of the lane should keep you safe from ganks. On purple side, this is a good place to ward if you are being constantly invaded or if you are being pushed on and dived. [.]B: On blue side, this is the best place to ward to protect yourself from ganks on that side. If this is your only ward, hug the left side instead and you should be fine. On purple side, this ward keeps you from your red being invaded. [.]C:On blue side, this ward protects your blue and the left side of your jungle from invasion while keeping tabs on the upper river. On purple side, this protects you from ganks on the left side if you are pushing. [.]D:On blue side, this will keep a watch over your red side of the jungle and on purple side, this ward helps to protect you while pushed. You can also ward one of the lane bushes if you are being camped and you still don't have good tabs on the jungler. It works just as effectively. [imgext=] Assert yourself early game and be aggressive at level 4.

I like to focus on getting the enemy's tower early, and you should try and do that before late game comes. Be careful mid game, as some mages start to become pretty strong mid game. Hopefully you shut them down enough early game to where you are still ahead. Once you start building some AP, saplings should stay just as strong as they were at the start. Now that you have your ultimate, you will do a bit more damage with your combo but don't count on it being a huge difference as it wasn't made to deal tons of damage. Be wary of your opponent's ultimate, depending on who they are. (Ahri can be very tricky, for example.) Just don't negate your farm and set yourself up for late game. [highlight]Dragon:[/highlight] Dragon gives 190 gold to each person on your team when you get it, so this is crucial to getting/keeping a lead on the enemy team. Your bottom lane should be warding dragon, but if they refuse, buy a ward and do it yourself. Good times to do dragon are when you are very ahead and can afford a fight there, when you and the bottom lane are pushed, or when the enemy jungler is top. Use your best judgement and be sure your jungler is there to smite the dragon if there's any fear of the opposing jungler being nearby. Remember that if you do dragon, the enemy will know you're doing it. It is usually warded. If you see the enemy doing dragon, and you can afford to contest it with your bottom lane, do it. Wait until the dragon is about half health and force a fight. Just keep your options open with dragon but be careful. Do not recklessly try and get dragon every time it's up, because this will fail. Also remember that you cannot solo the dragon without help from the bottom lane or jungler early in the game. [highlight]Roaming: [/highlight] This is possible if you have a solid lead on your opponent, but you aren't very mobile compared to other mages. However, Maokai was created as a jungler and it shows up when roaming. Your tremendous Crowd control can guarantee a kill in other lanes, so feel free to help out a struggling top or bottom lane. [highlight]Sieging Towers:[/highlight] Maokai doesn't take towers very quickly on his own, so this isn't so smooth. I prefer taking an early tower if possible and roaming. If your opponent realizes they can't kill you and starts roaming other lanes, get the tower as soon as possible and put pressure on their team. You will have great lane clear and pushing power so you shouldn't have much trouble keeping your own tower alive in mid game. Once you take mid tower, help struggling lanes and focus heavily on getting dragons. Also, ask your jungler for blue buff and they should give it to you whenever it's up. It will help you in lane tremendously to be able to spam your Sapling Toss.

Late game, your presence is going to fall off just a bit. Because teams will be grouping, it isn't as easy to pick off anybody with your combo anymore. Fear not, however, because you should be able to bring the enemy AD Carry from full health to zero. And that's exactly what you should do. As Maokai, you are able to catch people out, chase, and poke teams under tower with Saplings. Tanky junglers and brusiers won't be so easy to pick off at this point, but your damage is still on par with most other AP champions at this time. Remember to be safe about your Twisted Advance. Although 3 of your skills do AoE damage, you still have to remember that you can really only pick off one to two enemy champions at a time (assuming the enemy team isn't dumb enough to all stand still in one small clump and die). You are, in some ways, an assassin of late game. The benefit of having an AP Maokai in late game is the powerful CC of a jungler but the outstanding burst damage of an AP mid. [highlight]Baron:[/highlight] Slaying Baron with your team and getting the gold bonus and buff can turn a game around instantly. If your team isn't warding baron, instruct them to do so. Again, if they refuse, ward it yourself. It is crucial to know when the enemy is at Baron and when Baron is up. A lot of players don't treat Baron as importantly as they should and you should always be on the look-out for opportunities to take it. If you see the enemy's AD Carry bottom lane farming and your team is all mid, there's a good chance you can get Baron. If you catch out the enemy's AP Carry and kill them, there's a good chance you can get Baron. The most important thing to remember is to be vigilant and remember that Baron exists. Pro players keep constant tabs on Baron in tournaments and it can turn a game upside-down. Once you get Baron buff, be sure to use it. Force a fight if you can, or use the pressure you have from Baron to push and get objectives. Teams will often try to wait your buff out and not fight you until it's gone, but stay grouped and push and they will either have to fight you or take heavy damage to towers or inhibitors. Remember that Dragon is still very important in late game and can give you the gold lead you need to stay ahead of your opponent or catch up to them. Don't forget that Baron is more important than Dragon, and you should always go for Baron if you're in a position to, even if Dragon is more convenient. Making game-winning plays is much more likely with Baron buff. [highlight]Towers:[/highlight] In a similar way to Baron, the key to taking towers and pushing safely is vigilance. You should always be on the look out for where the enemy is, who could stop you from taking a tower, who you could kill if they tried to stop you from taking a tower, and so on. For example, if the game is about 40 minutes in and you see the enemy's AP Carry, AD Carry, and Jungler top lane fighting over farm or pushing for a tower or something, see if it's possible to go bot lane and grab a tower. The chances are you could kill the Bruiser and Support that try to come stop you, so go for the tower bot lane. Tower sieging is very situational, so the best piece of advice is just to be aware of your map and keep an eye on the enemy. Maokai's kit provides free lane clear late game with Saplings so pushing isn't much trouble. You don't take towers too quickly with your auto attacks, but every hit matters and even just pushing a lane without getting a tower will put pressure on your opponent that will help you out in the long run. As far as defending your own towers, you won't run into much trouble with this as long as you keep lanes pushed out as much as possible and you're constantly playing for objectives. Make the enemy defend from you. After a lost team fight, losing a few towers or an inhibitor is usually inevitable, but think ahead and place the enemy team in a position that makes it much harder for them to capitalize on a lost fight, if you fear that may happen.

In team fights, your job is to assassinate whoever is fed. You are not jungle Maokai and you are not peeling the enemies away from your damage dealers. You are the threat to them, and you do not want to initiate if possible. Likely, the obvious target will be their AD Carry, so wait until your jungler or whoever intiates the fight to do so. Again, try to not be the initiator, but on some occasions you have to be. Once you go in, jump onto the AD Carry and kill them. Your stun and slow on them should really shut down their fighting potential even if you don't get the kill for some reason. You may then proceed to clean up the rest of their team or help out your own AD Carry. Use your best team fight judgement, but just remember that you have heavy damage potential to only one person. Do not try to throw some miracle Sapling and kill all 5 of them at once. Assassination is your goal. Remember that your ultimate should be used in the same was as with Jungle Maokai. Put it up on top of the team fight and keep it up for the entire duration until the enemy is about to get out of it or you can finish somebody off with it. Do not simply use your ultimate and burst it for the mediocre damage it gives, but keep in mind the potential of the damage reduction.

Here is a list of the possible enemies you'll face mid and how much trouble you're going to face as the tree. Keep in mind that the enemy will not try to counter pick you when you lock in Maokai on Champion Select so you could be facing anybody. It's completely random. [img=champ/ahri.png] [highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Ahri has a great kit that can really put a lot of pressure on you in lane. Early game, your primary goal is dodging her Charm which will set her up for a large chunk of damage. You will set yourself up for a better mid game if you can hit more of your Saplings than she can hit her Charms and force her out of lane or kill her. When Ahri hits level 6, her ultimate is going to greatly raise her killing potential and make it harder to touch her. To win this lane, dodge her skills as best you can and toss Saplings frequently to put pressure on her so that she can't dive you. If she does try to dive you, do not be afraid to lock her under tower with Twisted Advance and turn on her. [img=champ/akali.png] [highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]There isn't much she can do to hurt you before level 6. Akali is known for a weaker early game so it is very possible to get a kill early on. A sapling inside her shroud won't detect her and she is able to dash out before it hits her, so initiate on her when her shroud is on cooldown. If you can do that, it's not a hard kill to grab before level 6. After level 6, Akali's ultimate increases her burst damage and she will buy some spell vamp. Ideally at this point, you should have pressured her or killed her with heavy aggression and she shouldn't be able to burn through your health. If you didn't do well early game, however, she will do a lot of damage. Continue to poke at her from a distance if this is the case and wait for a gank. The most important thing to remember is early aggression while she's weak. [img=champ/anivia.png][highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Anivia lanes, with any champion, are entirely based on the Anivia's skill level, but most people that play her are able to deal with Maokai well. She will be able to land a free combo on you when you jump on her, so it's best to try and fight her while one of her cooldowns is up. It's impossible to dive her while she has her passive up, which makes it very hard to get an early kill which is where Maokai thrives. However, her base health is still very low so I would still recommend throwing Saplings often and going in at Level 4 when you will outdamage her. Even if you can pop her passive early, it will benefit you with lane pressure. If she is completely outplaying you, just farm as best you can and ask for a gank. [img=champ/annie.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]Annie is similar to Maokai with her close-range, high-combo burst and stun. You just have to do what she does better. Play this lane from a distance and always keep in mind Annie's damage potential. At level 6, her ultimate adds a huge chunk of damage to her burst while your ultimate doesn't help you so much. Whenever you go in for your combo with a Twisted Advance, be prepared for Annie to use all of her skills plus an ignite on you, which is often a kill. You may want to wait on fighting her until you've built some early health, but the best time to fight is levels 4 and 5 before she gets her ultimate. Also, never Twisted Advance to Annie while she has her stun up (when she is surrounded by a white ring). [img=champ/brand.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]Brand is another champ with a similar playstyle to AP Maokai, so the idea is the same. He is more skillshot based, so dodge as best you can and you shouldn't run into many problems. He can get a quick stun off when you go in on him with Twisted Advance, so try to initiate when one of his cooldowns aren't up. This should be easy for you with your sustain as long as you can dodge moderately well. Be careful of standing near minions, as his ultimate bounces from target to target and will strike you several times if he places it correctly. His health is fairly low, so this is another target where it's best to fight him before he builds a few Doran's Rings at early levels. You should be able to pull off any combo as long as his cooldowns aren't up. [img=champ/cassiopeia.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Cassiopeia will try to put on the early aggression, but using your passive in conjunction with your 2 health potions should keep you full enough to kill her at an early level. Her poke is much stronger than yours and she can stun you into her full combo when you Twisted Advance to her. Poke at her from afar and be careful when last-hitting as she will try to land some free damage on you because you are forced to kill minions at melee range. She has trouble escaping ganks so ask for one if possible and fight her before level 6 to get an early lead. [img=champ/chogath.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]This lane shouldn't be hard in the slightest, but it will be rather annoying and harder to get fed. Cho'Gath's damage isn't enough to put a dent in your early tankiness, but he will also start out with more health than a typical mage and his ultimate stacks at level 6 will just start making this problem worse. Keep your farm higher than his and get tower, roaming as soon as you can get away with it. You can still try to get a kill on him in early game laning, but it won't really be possible after about 10 minutes in if he plays correctly. Also remember that Cho'Gath's Feast does a large amount of damage so don't underestimate that if you Twisted Advance to him. [img=champ/diana.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Diana is just a strong champion, but as long as you can dodge skillshots, you should be fine. You outdamage Diana over time with Saplings and you'll be able to survive the lane with your passive as long as you focus on dodging. She will likely start to roam if you get an early lead on her or if she's not getting any kills, so just make sure your team is aware of that and get her tower. She is another champion with a strong full combo that is easy to land if you Twisted Advance to her, so be sure you're prepared to take heavy damage if you jump on her. I would also advise against diving Diana at tower. [img=champ/elise.png][highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Elise is very strong right now and has always been very strong. She has sustain, great burst damage, and a wonderful kit to outplay you, but you can still kill her. She will likely invest in some mid-game health, so fight her before her first recall. Keep your health up by using your passive whenever available because she will consistently deal a lot of damage to you. I suggest pulling off a combo when she is in human form after she misses a stun; otherwise she can stun you and escape your burst. If she gets an early kill on you, just stick to farming for a while and watch out for her roaming other lanes. [img=champ/evelynn.png][highlight]Difficulty: 1[/highlight] [.]Evelynn is a joke against AP Maokai. She will be casting Hate Spike every two seconds, so your passive will be drowning you with heals. Her damage isn't good early on, and she doesn't have an escape from your wrecking-ball combo. The only thing to watch out for is her roaming, which she will likely do, so just keep lane control and push for the tower whenever Eve leaves the lane. After landing a couple Saplings in lane, there is solid kill potential. This lane shouldn't be too difficult at all solely because of your passive. [img=champ/fiddlesticks.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]I hate this guy. His sustain, fear, and ultimate are just such a hassle. Know that he starts the game with minimal health so as long as you can kill or zone him early on, it shouldn't be too challenging. Whenever he goes in for a fear, it should be an easy sapling toss to trade damage. Do not try to fight him while he's using his ultimate unless his health is extremely low. Watch out for Fiddles buying a Zhonya's Hourglass and outplaying you. The best way to win is just to make him pay for getting close and draining a target. [img=champ/fizz.png][highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Notorious for snowballing and crushing lane with his troll antics, Fizz can be problematic. If you're going to fight him, do it while his Troll Pole is on cooldown. You are both melee, so make him pay for last-hitting minions with your Saplings. By the same token, you are both melee, so you often become an easy target for him to leap in get some damage on you. Play this lane at a distance past level 6 and use your saplings to last-hit and harass as much as you can with them. Play safe but don't back off on ranged aggression. He can be beat and you still do tremendous damage to him before level 6. Keep your health up and don't try to stay in lane when your health is low. He will land a free shark if you jump on him. [img=champ/galio.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]This is similar to a Cho'Gath lane. You might get a kill or two on him early, but when he stacks magic resistance it can be troublesome. Push the lane and roam to get yourself fed as opposed to trying to deal with him. Don't worry about him killing you though; you can still out-trade him with damage and you shouldn't find yourself dying to him alone. Buy a Void Staff for sure. Watch out for his ultimate when you jump on him, but most Galios won't anticipate your full combo just by a Twisted Advance. As long as you don't go in on him when your health is below a third, you won't die to him. Be careful of ganks as you push the lane, because good Galios can pull a kill out of most ganks with his ultimate. The most important thing here is to push and roam mid game. [img=champ/gragas.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Gragas is more similar to Maokai than any other mage you'll play against. You're both melee. You both have a long-range poke that hurts a lot throughout the game. You both have a close-range slow. You both do great burst damage, and you both have natural sustaining passives. Gragas has a very healthy laning phase and his barrels hurt a lot at all levels. The best you can do is try to dodge them. Be very careful of Twisted Advancing to Gragas near tower. A seasoned Gragas will body slam you and use his ultimate to knock you back into tower for a quick kill. Let him push the lane, because he likely will, and fight him from there. It's probable that Gragas will build early Health or Magic Resist, so you may find it difficult to kill him but don't hold back on aggression. Ask for a gank if you find yourself in trouble. [img=champ/heimerdinger.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]Heimerdinger is a strong champion, believe it or not, but Maokai is stronger. Make him pay for throwing a rocket at you, as he has to get in range of your Twisted Advance to do it. You can try and take out turrets with saplings if you feel you need to, but most of your saplings should be going right for Heimer's head anyway. Allow him to push the lane and jump on him then. His ultimate is nearly useless as it increases his turret damage and causes them to slow, so don't worry about that, but just keep your health up so that he can't turn on you with them and this should be an easy win. The biggest advantage you have is your gap-closer and close-range burst damage. Assassins dominate Heimerdinger for that reason and you fall into that category. There's nothing much he can do when you Twisted Advance him. [img=champ/janna.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]You won't see much AP Janna, but it can hurt. As long as you're wary of tornadoes, there isn't much trouble here. Do as you normally would and position your saplings properly as she's a pretty fast champion that can often outrun them. Essentially, AP Janna is a one-trick pony so it comes down to your ability to dodge. Watch out for ganks and you won't find yourself dying much in the lane. Early game is the best time to get a kill. If she's playing very passively from tower, you can try and roam other lanes or dive her. You have much higher kill potential than her. [img=champ/karma.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]The new Karma doesn't seem to be any trouble for Maokai. Her shield is on a 12-second cooldown, so that's the best time to fight her. Her lack of a heavy burst-damage ultimate really sets her back from other mages in my opinion. As long as you can dodge Inner Flame moderately well, she won't put much damage on you in lane. Just don't get lazy and let your health slip because she can still outplay you if you are careless in lane. Punish her for getting close to you and focus on killing. Shutting down Karma leaves the team very lackluster as far as AP damage goes. Not many people play Karma, even after the rework, simply because she is outclassed, but her damage isn't awful and she shouldn't be underestimated. [img=champ/karthus.png][highlight]Difficulty: 1[/highlight] [.]This guy is just the worst against Maokai in lane. He casts a spell every second so you should always have full health from your passive. There's nothing he can do when you jump on him except desperately try to put up a wall and turn on his AoE spell, but you won't take much damage from this as long as you combo and immediately get out (or just kill him). This lane is similar to Evelynn where your passive plays such a huge role because Karthus is heavy on casting. Tell your team when he hits level 6 and constantly throw Saplings at him. He is slow and it will be tough for him to find pressure in the lane. Abuse your lead until the very end and it's a breeze. [img=champ/kassadin.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]Kassadin can be troublesome and irritating, but you're much stronger than him early in the game. Shut him down before level 6 if at all possible. Once he gets his ultimate, Kassadin becomes very slippery and powerful with a lot of potential to kill you. Play this lane aggressively and force him to recall or die early in the game with Saplings. Kassadin will outscale you later in the game. If you build your Rod of Ages, it isn't as easy for him to insta-chunk you to death as he would with other mages but his damage still becomes very high. Getting a gank before level 6 can work wonders for this lane as well. [img=champ/katarina.png][highlight]Difficulty: 2[/highlight] [.]Every time she shunpos to you, Twisted Advance to her and chunk her. Every time she uses her ultimate, Twisted Advance or slap her with an Arcane Smash and disrupt her. Every time she throws a blade at you, just heal it right back. Everything you do counters her and she should be no trouble at all early game. Katarina has a similar all-in playstyle to Maokai but to harass, she must get in melee range. Past level 4, use your combo on Katarina every time she shunpos to you and your damage will be much higher than hers. Her only ranged form of harass is her blade, which is very minimal damage. Beware of her roaming and just treat her like any other weak mid-laner. Your kit works so well against Katarina. [img=champ/kayle.png][highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Kayle mid is great right now and I find it annoying. Her ultimate is irritating and when you go in to fight or dive her, you may find yourself being killed because of it. She will be pushing you to your tower where you can get off some damage at her, but she will still be able to swing her fire sword at you. To beat Kayle, you'll need to farm better than her. Don't bother Twisted Advancing to her unless you're going to kill her or cause her to run away because her melee-ranged damage can almost add up to your burst damage when you go in on her. Farm at a range if her damage is becoming a serious issue and go in for a kill when her ultimate is down. [img=champ/kennen.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]Squishy Kennen has difficulties in this lane, but you still need to be wary of his skills. If you are not landing consistent Saplings on him, Kennen can drag your health down with his kit. Watch out for him getting his stun on you with 3 Marks of the Storm and then ulting in to finish the job. You shouldn't find the lane too difficult, though, because of Kennen's low health. As long as you are getting harass off, Kennen will be afraid of you and your killing potential is higher than his. The best time to fight him is before level 6. Also watch out for Kennen buying and using a Zhonya's Hourglass in fights. Whenever he is at half health, use your combo with ignite and it should be a kill. [img=champ/khazix.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Kha'zix is a melee shredder that does more damage when you are isolated, so just stand by your minions. As long as you keep yourself on top of your minions, you can outdamage him if he tries to jump on you. His ranged poke is strong and something to watch out for, though yours is also very damaging. If you are taking heavy damage, buy a Chain Vest or Seeker's Armguard, but you shouldn't need to as long as you put pressure on him. Don't be afraid to jump on him and kill him if his health falls short. The best he could do is turn on you and try to trade kills or leap away. Don't be intimidated and stand by your minions in lane. [img=champ/leblanc.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]Her level 6 burst is a lot. If you've played against a Leblanc, you probably already know this. Her damage throughout the whole game is enormous and she can full-to-zero most mages by mid game. This is a lane where you can build an Athene's Unholy Grail in place of a Rod of Ages if you wish, or just buy a Negatron Cloak and build an Abyssal Scepter early on. Stay at a distance from her and don't let her get free damage on you. Farm with Saplings and fight her at level 4 or 5 if you can do so before she gets her ultimate. If you die more than two times in lane or you are getting completely zoned, either just focus on farming entirely or roam and get kills that way. The best strategy here is trying to get an early kill. [img=champ/lux.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]This is another instance of your early tank build saving the day. If you can't dodge Light Bindings in lane, she will still be able to kill you, so just try your best to avoid them. She is a ranged burst champion and you are an up-close burst champion. Do your best to last-hit but she should still walk into sapling range often, giving you free harrass. Remember that the range on your sapling is wonderful against enemies like Lux and that she can still be killed just like everyone else. This matchup just comes down to you being able to dodge long enough to be able to kill her. Also, when she hits you with a skill, don't let her auto attack you afterwards. It hurts a lot. Don't let your health drop below half and use your passive consistently. Also watch out for her low cooldown ultimate that can snipe you to death if you aren't careful with low health. [img=champ/malzahar.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]Malzahar is a pest, but his damage isn't very impressive as long as you are careful in lane. Watch out for his Damage-Over-Time skill that jumps from your minions to you, and just put pressure on him. Malzahars love to push the lane, so he will be an easy target for your jungler and you shouldn't be worried about getting ganked because of that. Malzahar's skills are easier to dodge than most, but if you have trouble with that then the lane might be difficult for you. Get blue buff and spam Saplings mid game to drive him out of lane. Remember that you can disrupt Malzahar's ultimate with Twisted Advance or Arcane Smash if he uses it on a team mate in fights. [img=champ/maokai.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]Two Maokais mid. What. This did not happen. Who plays Maokai mid? Did he forget smite? Okay, well you read this guide so you know what to do. Common mistakes of Mid Maokais are misplaced saplings, spamming of skills (and missing them), and Twisted Advancing without following up. Just build better than him and be sure to use your passive whenever it's up. Capitalize when his mana runs out and roam if you find yourself at a stalemate without kills. You should also find yourself winning if you have had more experience with Maokai mid and are farming better than him. Most Maokai Mids are just people trying it for the first time. [img=champ/masteryi.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]All you really have to do here is don't stand next to your minions. It's that easy. Do what you normally do, but don't stand by your minions as much as possible. Master Yi mid is a one-trick pony and he can't hurt you if he can't Alpha Strike to you. His Meditate can be irritating, but you should be able to chunk him down immediately after he uses it and go back in to get a kill early game. His ultimate stops you from slowing him and he can often just escape your burst damage because of it. You will have trouble keeping up to him in farm, so just do the best you can. Ask your jungler for a gank if he pushes, which is very probable because AP Yis push like crazy. Fight while his Meditate is down. [img=champ/mordekaiser.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]Hue hue hue. No really, this lane shouldn't be too difficult. You can capitalize when his shield is down and throw a well-timed sapling. If your jungler is smart, they should know that Mordekaiser can't escape ganks. Let him push and wait for your jungler. Even without any help, this can still be won by playing at range and only getting close for the kill. Remember he is a melee champion, too, and you can punish him for killing creeps with your Saplings. His damage increases significantly at level 6 and his Spell Vamp can become an issue. Just be careful early and pressure him so that he doesn't snowball out of control. [img=champ/morgana.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Her Crowd Control and Spell Shield can make this lane irritating. Morgana's major combo is hitting you with a Binding into her Area of Effect damage, so being able to predict her skillshot and dodge it is important. She will be harder to full combo with her Spell Shield and snare, which is a free shot when you jump on her, but her damage isn't nearly as high as Maokai's. Poke at her with Saplings and be a bit more careful before you try and all-in fight her because she has great potential to turn on you. Don't dive Morgana, and instead zone her with Saplings and force her out of lane. Her ultimate makes her much stronger, so ideally you should outlevel or kill her before then. Rely on your heavy damage in this lane. [img=champ/nidalee.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]AP Nidalee's spears do a lot of damage, which is common knowledge, so this comes down to your dodging ability. Because you have natural sustain, this lane is going to be easier than if you were playing other mids. At level six, her Cougar form is only useful in melee range, so you shouldn't be too worried. Likely she will play the lane at a distance. Her heal isn't going to keep her alive against your constant flow of harrass and she doesn't have an escape from your combo unless you step on a trap. If you really have trouble dodging spears, buy a Negatron Cloak. It will set you back on your build but greatly keep you alive. This lane shouldn't be too difficult otherwise, as her Spear is her only real source of damage in lane. [img=champ/orianna.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]Orianna's ball can hurt but it costs her a lot of mana, and you just need to stay in her face with damage. Your passive and Catalyst should keep you alive to the point where Orianna will run out of mana. Watch out for her auto attacks and make sure you hit her with a Sapling when she tries to last-hit. Her ultimate does moderate damage at level 6 and can interrupt your combo, but it should really only kill you if you're being ganked or if you're diving Orianna, so avoid doing that. This is another lane where early aggression and pressure will give you the lead you need. [img=champ/pantheon.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]This manly AD champion doesn't show up mid often, but he is very powerful. His spears do a lot of damage consistently and he can jump on you with his combo to put a major dent in your health. Remember that he has to get in melee range to last-hit so punish him for doing so with Sapling Toss. Whenever he jumps on you, get right back at him with your combo as long as you can survive to do so. Pantheon has major mana problems, and you can wait out his low mana around level 4 or 5 and heal with your passive until then before you start fighting. His ultimate isn't too useful in lane but it will allow him to roam elsewhere, so be wary of that and push the lane if he does. [img=champ/rumble.png][highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Rumble can cause some trouble when played smart. He will burn you for free whenever you go in to last-hit and he has a natural speed-boost and slow to keep you at bay, along with a shield to avoid poke. Your saplings are your best friend, especially after his shield is down. Remember that his rod strikes twice so he will try to go for a second throw after he uses it once. Also know that his auto attacks do a lot of extra damage when he overheats, but he can't use any skills at that time. His ultimate can make it hard to escape him if he goes in on you, so just keep your health up. Don't neglect farm while trying to hurt him, but just stay alive and you'll be more useful late-game than him even if you don't get fed as long as he doesn't get many kills. [img=champ/ryze.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]He will build infinite mana and then tank and still do damage. He can punish you for last-hitting with his range, stun, and combo. However, his damage isn't godly and you can fight him, especially early on. Be careful of him turning on you when you jump to him and don't dive under his tower. He will kill you that way easily. Ryze isn't very powerful early game, so level 4 is a good time to fight him. You can attempt to disengage when he uses his ultimate if you want with an Arcane Smash and a Twisted Advance away. [img=champ/sion.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]AP Sion can do pretty great damage late-game and his shield and sustain keep him in lane for ages. If you're going to jump on him, do it and use your skills but back off. His AD will be higher than yours so you do not want to try and fight him up-close. His ultimate will essentially heal him back to full health, and do not fight Sion while he has it on. (He will be surrounded by little ghosts.) After it's on cooldown, I recommend taking him on them. Sion can activate his shield to do a chunk of damage to you, so be wary of getting near him while he's shielded. Fighting Sion is about manipulating his cooldowns and harassing him constantly. If you can't kill him, out-farm him. Even if you aren't beating him, it will be difficult for him to kill you. [img=champ/sona.png][highlight]Difficulty: 2[/highlight] [.]Sona can seem irritating at times due to her heal, easy poke, and speed boost. However, she has the lowest base health in the game. She starts with only 340 health. Get your Twisted Advance at level 3 and kill her immediately at that level. Sona is one of the champions that Maokai thrives against due to her low health and weak early game. Every time she comes to lane, you should be able to instantly jump on her and kill her. If she sits at tower, out-farm her or consider diving her. Take advantage of her completely to get fed. [img=champ/soraka.png][highlight]Difficulty: 2[/highlight] [.]Her only damage comes from Starcall. Granted it does do a lot of damage on a short cooldown, she can't win the lane with it. Do not let her hit you with it several times in a row because your Magic Resistance will drop very low and you'll be picked off. She is similar to Sona. Kill her immediately when you get all your skills and you should face no troubles. She will likely push the lane, so let her do so and you won't have to worry about jungle ganks and your jungler has free kills mid lane. If she plays at a distance, zone her out of experience. [img=champ/swain.png][highlight]Difficulty: 7[/highlight] [.]Swain can be particularly irritating. Keep harass up as you would normally and beware his stun. As long as you walk out of the circle before it hits, you won't be snared inside it so the dodge there isn't too challenging. His other skills are Damage-Over-Times that he will spam on you as you last-hit. Swain's ultimate heals him tremendously but note that the mana cost becomes very high when he uses it for long periods of time, so the best way to beat Swain past level 6 is to make him waste his mana on his ultimate. His passive regenerates mana when he kills a unit, so you should capitalize with aggression whenever he runs out of mana before it comes back up. Try and get a kill before he gets his ultimate, also, as his health isn't too impressive but don't take free harass. Only go in if Swain misses a snare and you see an opening. [img=champ/syndra.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Do not underestimate Syndra, as her Dark Spheres do a lot of damage. Keep yourself moving around in lane as you last-hit and dodge as best you can. She can shoot the spheres at you to stun you, so watch the positioning because she has to have a sphere between herself and you to pull off the stun. When she picks up a minion or sphere to throw, simply back off until she throws it down and wastes the mana. The only thing to worry about here is keeping your health up because she has some high level 6 burst. You can still harass and kill her as you normally would. Many people underestimate Syndra's damage and die because of it. [img=champ/talon.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]Talon will try to get in free harass as you last hit, so use your saplings often to farm. His silence causes him to jump to you and deal additional damage, so avoid this as much as possible, but go in and use your combo when it's on cooldown. (Talon's silence cooldown is pretty hefty, 18 seconds at level 1.) Talon's kit is, in my opinion, a bit weaker than other AD Assassins mid so you can treat him like a normal caster. His ultimate gives him brief invisibility and can be a quick way to suprise you with aggression for a kill. As long as you keep your health above half, Talon can't pull anything like that. Remember that he is also a melee champion that should be punished for last-hitting. [img=champ/twistedfate.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]If you play your cards right (ha), this should be one of the easier enemies in mid lane. His wild cards are very easily dodged and slow-moving and you just need to show aggression on him. Don't let him poke you as you last-hit. If you go in after his Wild Card is on cooldown, there's literally nothing he can do but Flash away or take heavy damage. With most Twisted Fates, you can predict when they'll draw a card and then just back off until they've wasted the skill. The only thing to beware of is that he will probably get kills in other lanes just by using his ultimate. When he does this, push the lane and get his tower. It's all you can do and it becomes worth it in the end. Make sure your team is aware when Twisted Fate steps out of the lane. [img=champ/veigar.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]A lot of people have trouble dealing with Veigar and his infamous burst damage combo. Maokai doesn't face this problem as much but it's still a tricky lane. Early aggression is all you need. Toss some saplings and do not let him farm. Get in his face before level 6. When Veigar gets his ultimate, his damage becomes very high and you should prioritize early health or magic resistance. When you Twisted Advance to him, he will often try to stop you with a stun so be wary, but you can fly over his stun as long as you land the skill and don't step on it. Your health after your first back should be enough to withstand a few of his combos and get a kill before he can try anything. Just be careful and do not let yourself get below half health at any point. [img=champ/viktor.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]I'm a major Viktor fan. His combo is stronger than Maokai's and he has a shield. So how do you beat him? When he misses his laser, go in. Fly into him, chunk half his health, and get out. Next time he misses his laser, do it again. Viktor has to get very close to you to hurt you so take advantage of that. His health isn't too great early on so you should be able to pick him off. Just beware because his skills hurt a lot after he gets a few items under his belt. Just know that once he misses his laser, he has lost most of his damage and you're free to capitalize for about 10 seconds. His ultimate is a Silence that can stop you mid-combo so do not go in on him unless you know you can kill him before he kills you. [img=champ/vladimir.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Vladimir is a strong champion through all parts of the game. Beat him before he gets his Revolver and starts healing off everything. As long as you keep up constant aggression, he won't be able to handle your damage. Do not dive him because he will turn on you, suddenly become untargetable, and you'll be dead. His poke is essentially free because he uses no mana, but Vladimir's major fault is that his burst damage isn't high. As long as you build a Catalyst early, he shouldn't be able to kill you as long as you are careful. The worst he can do is force you out of lane, which shouldn't happen as long as you keep trading damage with him and use your passive whenever you can for a heal. [img=champ/xerath.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]You won't see many Xeraths, but don't underestimate him. You are melee and he can poke from very far away, but his damage isn't anything too special and you'll be able to avoid most of his spells. When he goes into Locus form, he can't move from his spot and he's giving you a free sapling hit on him or even a free combo if you can kill him. Be wary, though, that he will get a speed boost after using Locus which lets him run away from your Sapling so it will have to be well-timed. Good Xeraths know how to completely zone you and out-range you, but you can avoid this by farming at a distance and going in for harass after Xerath misses a skillshot. [img=champ/zed.png][highlight]Difficulty: 6[/highlight] [.]Zed is a strong assassin that can constantly spam his skills and use his shadow to escape death. Remember that his shadow is nearly on a 20-second cooldown and you should always consider going in after it's down. Be careful while last-hitting, but you won't be close enough for him to do much if you play the distance game. Zed's ultimate will do a lot of damage to you if you aren't careful so keep your health up. He shouldn't be able to dive you, as Zeds often do, if you are ready with a Twisted Advance to lock him under tower followed by an Arcane Smash slow. Zed's poke is high but it comes down to being able to dodge Shurikens and sustaining yourself. The best time to fight him is before level 6. [img=champ/ziggs.png][highlight]Difficulty: 3[/highlight] [.]Keep up aggression and Ziggs's damage won't be able to compare at all to yours. The only thing to watch out for is the bouncing bombs, which hurt a lot, but they always travel in a straight line and aren't too difficult to dodge for that reason. His other two skills are very noticeable and shouldn't bother you as long as you don't step on them. Be careful of trick plays from Ziggs with his extremely long-ranged ultimate with a huge area of damage. Ziggs gets outclassed in the damage category, but he will beat you if you can't dodge bouncing bombs. As long as you can do that and hit a few Saplings, Ziggs won't be a threat to your lane. [img=champ/zilean.png][highlight]Difficulty: 4[/highlight] [.]Zilean is squishy and you can take major advantage of that. At level 4, it should be an easy kill if you have Ignite and he won't be much trouble from there. You can't really avoid his bombs as you have to last-hit at melee range, which is the only problem in this lane, but you can make him pay heavily for getting close enough to place them with a Sapling or a full combo. Don't dive Zilean, as his ultimate will bring him back to life, which is another annoying part of this lane. Kill him before level 6 and roam if he's playing really passively. [img=champ/zyra.png][highlight]Difficulty: 5[/highlight] [.]Zyra has died down a bit from when she was released, but she can deal a great deal of damage. Dodge her thorns as best you can and stay away from turrets. Beware of her passive when you kill her, and I would recommend not diving Zyra due to her kit. Keep using your passive whenever possible and her poke shouldn't be as heavy as yours. Remember that Zyra's ultimate has a wide area of effect and will knock you up into her combo. Her kit isn't very reliable for damage, in my opinion, and you shouldn't have trouble chunking her down in lane for a kill. Just be wary of ganks and be sure to farm. So who "counters" Maokai? Nobody in particular. In every lane you can get early kills and snowball yourself into a victory. However, the lanes that cause the most trouble are: [img=champ/ahri.png] [img=champ/fizz.png] [img=champ/swain.png]

AP Mid Maokai is underestimated and underappreciated, but played correctly he is a laning god and powerhouse mage that is very frustrating to face. I would just ask that you try one game and see if it's right for you, because most people are very unaware of his damage potential. I honestly believe he's much more viable than some of those scrubs in the mid lane like Ziggs. (No offense to all you Ziggs fanboys.) I feel that some pro player is going to pick up Mid Maokai again and everybody will play it for a month in Bronze solo queue to roll face. He really does have the potential to dominate and carry every game. Also, he's a Christmas tree. And that's just awesome. If you enjoyed the guide, leave me a thumbs up and a comment. Also comment if you have suggestions or disagree with me on anything, I'm totally open to criticism. Thanks, -Hazul

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