Maokai Build Guide

[S3] Maokai is still the Jungle

Uploader TheOddOne
Updated 4 years ago
2,292,619
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Runes
  • 9
    Greater Mark of Attack Speed (+1.7% attack speed)
  • 9
    Greater Seal of Armor (+1 armor)
  • 9
    Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist (+0.16 magic resist per level (+3 at champion level 18))
  • 3
    Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed (+1.5% movement speed)
Skill Order
Q W E R
1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4
5 5 5 5
6 6 6 6
7 7 7 7
8 8 8 8
9 9 9 9
10 10 10 10
11 11 11 11
12 12 12 12
13 13 13 13
14 14 14 14
15 15 15 15
16 16 16 16
17 17 17 17
18 18 18 18

Disclaimer: Some parts of this guide may be copied and pasting from my previous guide because certain aspects of Maokai haven't changed in forever (values/effects on skills for instance). Since my last guide, Maokai has consistently been a high priority picked in tournaments and while his numbers haven't been changed, he can be played slightly different in order to maximize his effectiveness. Maokai is a strong jungler due to his skillset which is very strong with few items and his durability. He has some of the best CC as he can stop movement and interrupt enemy channeling and constantly slow targets in an AOE. This allows him to defend his carries from melee divers much more effectively than many champions. He also has other heavy utility such as sight from his saplings which can be amazing for level 1 scouting or moving on baron when wards are down. He also possesses one of the strongest defense spells in the game with his ultimate which may seem like it doesn't do much but when properly cast, it'll absorb a significant amount of damage. I'm hoping this updated guide will be even more helpful than the last one as I've updated the way I play Maokai lately and it's been more effective than the older style of play found in my old guide which was a long time ago. For whoever didn't see the first guide, this guide should help show you why I think Maokai is still one of the strongest jungle picks in the game.

To clear things up, we're playing Maokai as a tank. People claim he doesn't do damage but his base values are actually fairly nice and his disruption is top notch, in many cases I'd rather have Maokai for CC than Nautilus as Maokai's CCs are more practical and easier to pull off while most of Nautilus' are harder to get off in a team fight. Maokai as a AP burst caster does not work in the jungle due to the lack of farm junglers have compared to solo lanes. Another reason why it isn't very good compared to a lane burst Maokai is the fact that you cannot abuse AP Burst Maokai against jungle minions like you can in a 1v1 lane where you're constantly against a target. Since Maokai's skillset features some of the best crowd control abilities in the game such as his Arcane Smash which is a knock up and a slow at a very short cooldown and a target snare, it is very beneficial for Maokai to be durable to cast it as many times as possible while stronger DPSers in the back line do the real damage. Therefore we will build Maokai as a ganker->tank support to effectively fit in our team. Finally, keep in mind that after the gank phase is over and the teamfight begins, often you'll be tasked with either being the frontline and soaking up the enemy spells by going in first or defending your back lines from their divers by constantly CCing their diving champions from getting to your casters/ADs. While it is possible to be a diver as Maokai, it's generally only useful if you have follow up diving allies due to Maokai's damage not being able to fully kill a champion in a short timespan.

Copied and pasted from my previous guide: Starting from the top: My marks are attack speed solely to speed up the animation of my auto attack while giving me an easier time in the jungle. I've found that if you don't have enough attack speed, you'll rarely get off your passive in time when it's constantly being fired up due to spells being cast constantly. My seals are currently still armor, it helps greatly in the early phase and even later in terms of facing the enemy physical attacks. Adding up the damage every camp does to you early game, these seals can reduce the damage dealt to Maokai by a large amount. My glyphs are just plain magic resistance per level, they'll give the most bang for your glyphs later on in terms of durability which is what we're aiming for in terms of playstyle/build. The reason these are per level rather than flat magic resist is because we don't expect to be hit by many spells at all early game (especially pre level 4) and by the time we're in teamfights, we'll be past the breakpoint of when the scaling glyphs surpass the flat glyphs. My quintessences are flat movement speed as the current trend is ganking often and early. Movespeed allows us to do both as we're walking between camps faster and we are getting in range for twisted advance faster to perform a better gank.

[title][img=skills/maokai/p.png] Passive: Sap Magic[/title] [number]Each time a champion near Maokai casts a spell, he gains a charge of Magical Sap. When he has 5 charges, his next melee attack drains energy from his target, healing Maokai for 7% of his maximum health.[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Far more powerful than it looks, this not only sustains Maokai during his route but also in teamfights. Using this passive constantly while throwing out spells is huge, this could easily proc every second in a fight which means you could be healing half your max life before you die which allows you to be very durable. Master using this passive while doing teamfights and you'll be one of the tankiest champions in the game. [title][img=skills/maokai/q.png] Q: Arcane Smash[/title] [number]Maokai slams the ground, the force of which knocks nearby enemies back and sends an arcane shockwave forward, dealing 70 / 115 / 160 / 205 / 250 (+40% of ability power) magic damage and slowing his enemies by 20% / 27% / 34% / 41% / 48% for 2 seconds. Cooldown 6 seconds Cost 55 mana[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] The shortest cooldown knockup/back spell in the game, this spell gets extremely annoying for your opponents as they are constantly slowed or knocked up/back due to its low cooldown. This ability has the effect of stopping channeling if you're close enough (otherwise it'll just slow) due to the knockup property. Also note that this spell affects the small area around Maokai meaning that you can knockup targets directly behind/beside you despite the line animation going the other way. [title][img=skills/maokai/w.png] W: Twisted Advance[/title] [number]Maokai transforms into a cloud of arcane energy, quickly traveling to a target enemy. The target takes 80 / 115 / 150 / 185 / 220 (+80% of ability power) magic damage and is rooted in place for 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 seconds. Cooldown 13 seconds Cost 75 / 80 / 85 / 90 / 95 mana[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Similar to Rune Prison, this spell has an additional bonus/drawback in that it positions Maokai beside his target after the projectile reaches the target. Notice how I say projectile as if the target flashes or blinks back, you'll follow them to that location rather to where they used to be. This means you can either secure a kill easier if they mess up a flash or you could be in severe danger if they flashed into a tower/team. [title][img=skills/maokai/e.png] E: Sapling Toss[/title] [number]Maokai hurls a sapling, dealing 40 / 75 / 110 / 145 / 180 (+40% of ability power) magic damage on impact. The sapling becomes implanted in the ground, warding a nearby area for 35 seconds. When enemies approach, the sapling attacks, exploding in an arcane blast that deals 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 (+60% of ability power) magic damage to enemies. Cooldown 12 seconds Cost 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] This spell boasts the highest base damage in the entire game for a non ultimate. Clocking in at 460, this spell's drawback is the cooldown and fact that it might be difficult to get both damage ticks off. The sapling is also useful for a ranged ward/trap (provided you don't put it near a neutral monster) or as a trap early on in the game to instantly kill a jungle camp. This is probably the best part about the skill as such utility value is very powerful. That said, I max this spell last as it has a high cooldown and only does pure damage rather than have any CC ability like the other two non ultimate skills. [title][img=skills/maokai/r.png] R: Vengeful Maelstrom[/title] [number]Maokai shields his allies by drawing power from hostile spells and attacks, reducing non-tower damage done to allied champions in the area by 20%. Maokai can prolong the effect as long as he has mana to spend on it. When the effect ends, Maokai unleashes the absorbed energy to deal 100 / 150 / 200 (+50% of ability power) (+2 bonus damage per damage absorbed) damage to enemies within the vortex. Maximum 200 / 250 / 300 bonus damage. Cooldown 40 second Cost 75 mana + 30 mana per second[/number] [title]Explanation:[/title] Deceptive like his passive, Maokai's ultimate is extremely useful against casters and their high damage ultimates or aoes. Placing this before a Morg or Fiddle ult can be very deadly to them as it greatly reduces the damage of their attacks and near instantly gets charged up to full, this could very well help kill the enemy attackers. Also note that when used in combination with Maokai's Q and E, Maokai is dealing extremely high AOE damage without needing a single offensive item.

So mainly like above: [imgsmall=skills/maokai/e.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/q.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/w.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/e.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/q.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/r.png] Maxing Q first and leveling R and then W when possible while maxing E last. The reasoning for this is that after level 4, you'll tend to get more than 1 arcane smash out in a fight as opponents last longer than a single combo. Also the slow is extremely good and gets stronger later, meaning you can essentially keep them from going far while your team damages them. This reasoning is the same for maxing Twisted Advance, it allows for a longer snare on the enemy target so your carries can do more damage as they're itemized for damage unlike you. The second skill point in Sapling Toss is very useful for clearing the jungle and minion waves as it makes Maokai's AOE damage to be fairly high for that point in the game. The second skillbuild is superior for clearing and since we want to be flexible in terms of our jungle route (in case no ganks are possible): [imgsmall=skills/maokai/e.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/q.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/e.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/w.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/q.png][imgsmall=skills/maokai/r.png]

Start: [imgsmall=items/hunters-machete.png][imgsmall=items/health-potion3.png] The reason for such an item build, is that Maokai simply uses too much hp/mana to do camps without the Machete (unless Maokai gets significant help) as the stronger camps make it so Machete is a great item to clear them. However you will take more damage than in season 2 jungle so we're stuck with using 5 potions. Easy gank lanes (skip this if it's going to be farm war): [imgsmall=items/boots-of-mobility.png] If you are going to buy these boots, they should be relatively early and you should be ready to gank often as they're most useful during the early game lane phase. What I mean for farm war is that if you expect the lanes to be difficult to gank such as say [imgsmall=champ/vladimir.png] vs a [imgsmall=champ/morgana.png] and your team is the [imgsmall=champ/vladimir.png] side and other lanes are similar, often your ability to gank will be minimal. Also could be if the lane phase ends, as in towers in lanes start dying and teams are starting to group up more, it is probably a bad investment to go [imgsmall=items/boots-of-mobility.png] as you'll want defensive stats for teamfights in order to tank for your team. But for the situations these boots are good, they can work very well as you move from base very quickly and the enemy has a much more limited timespan to avoid a [imgsmall=champ/maokai.png] gank with these boots as they won't be able to outrun such movespeed. Just be warned that these aren't so valuable in an even number gank (say the enemy jungler arrives) as defensive stats are more useful when damage is being thrown out. If you do get these, you might want to sell them for the correct defensive boot later due to late game being mostly teamfights. Next: [imgsmall=items/spirit-stone.png] This item helps Maokai clear the camps in a fast and less costly manner later in the game. I like this item due to the fact that it allows you to spend less health and mana at each camp because you're killing them faster due to higher damage (10% to 20% from machete). Since we're already 300 in the hole from Machete, this is superior to phil stone in many ways as it costs only 500 to upgrade from machete and it gives more hp regen and front loaded stats. Because of how champions build machete first, Philosopher Stone has been phased out on many champions due to its regen being redundant when Spirit Stone is only 500 extra gold compared to philstone's 700 and Spirit Stone gives additional damage to minions and higher hp regen. Depending on opposing team's damage (if you didn't get boots of mobility): [imgsmall=items/ninja-tabi.png] OR [imgsmall=items/mercurys-treads.png] If you didn't go [imgsmall=items/boots-of-mobility.png], this is a good time to get these boots as simply moving faster gives you faster clear, better ganks and better teamfighting as you're able to stick with targets or evade them. Depending on the majority of the enemy team composition, you can either go [imgsmall=items/ninja-tabi.png] vs heavy physical damage teams or [imgsmall=items/mercurys-treads.png] against heavy magical damage teams AND heavy CC teams as they can be very annoying when escaping from ganks or sticking with a target. Also some skills such as [imgsmall=champ/amumu.png]'s ultimate will do less damage to a target with Tenacity as the damage effect ends with the snare. If you are the sole tank: [imgsmall=items/locket-of-the-iron-solari.png] When I say sole tank, I mean if your champion is the only frontliner on the team, it basically means you need items that make you survive or else your backline falls once you die. Locket is very strong at this due to its huge base stats for the wearer and the additional shield it gives to everyone around you. Compared to shurelia's which is a very similar price, you can easily defend against an additional 300-400~ damage with Locket. Factoring the shield and health, you can easily have a 600~ hp advantage from this item. More tankiness: [imgsmall=items/warmogs-armor.png] This new playstyle being adapted in my games has been stack hp, and ask questions later. Unfortunately we have no choice but to follow this on Maokai due to his constant frontline presence. This item also somewhat helps his passive as it'll heal for more as it's a higher hp value the more hp he gets. Right now, almost every frontliner wants [imgsmall=items/warmogs-armor.png]. Go for this against APs and support hasn't gotten it (otherwise get visage) : [imgsmall=items/aegis-of-the-legion.png] into [imgsmall=items/runic-bulwark.png] In teamfights, there are very few items that are stronger than this due to its raw power through stats. While it may not be perfect in every situation (say the enemy is playing a kite comp or poking from afar, then Aegis' stats won't be very helpful), it is strong even without having many allies around due to the type and amount of stats it gives. Almost every champion in the game can appreciate health, armor and magic resist. If teamfights are about to happen, this item is probably very useful as everyone near you will get a boost. Bulwark should be gotten in most situations unless the enemy is heavily AD stacked and possess very little magic damage. A good thing to note is that Bulwark in total gives 60 MR, making it one of the highest magic resist items in the game. Enemy is more heavy magic damage: [imgsmall=items/spirit-visage.png] If the enemy has sufficient magic damage, often you'll need a spirit visage to defend against it, it also gives a nice bonus to Maokai's passive which heals him.   Next: [imgsmall=items/randuins-omen.png] Useful in a significant amount of situations due to popularity of physical damage dealers, this item will always be the bane of AD carries due to it's slowing effects. In addition, it gives a nice amount of health which is always useful against all forms of damage. If enemy is heavy AD stacked or auto attackers (Irelia): [imgsmall=items/frozen-heart.png] Usually mid-late game you'll want to have at least one armor item as the chances of the opponent having one strong physical damage dealer is high. Most team compositions run an AD carry in case the game drags on and typically they'll be by far the highest damage dealer in the game when late game does roll around. If the enemy has only an AD carry and not much else in physical damage dealers and autoattackers, a [imgsmall=items/randuins-omen.png] ([imgsmall=items/wardens-mail.png] is also sufficient if you're on a budget) is enough. If the enemy has more than just an AD carry and contains auto attackers such as [imgsmall=champ/irelia.png]/[imgsmall=champ/jax.png]/[imgsmall=champ/nocturne.png] in addition to their ranged AD carry, then it may be wise to invest in a team item such as [imgsmall=items/frozen-heart.png]. Just by being near those champions with the item will lower their DPS as their attack speed will drop which means even if you aren't the target of their attacks, they'll be dealing less damage since they'll get less hits in. Finally if you STILL have money: [imgsmall=items/zekes-herald.png] OR [imgsmall=items/trinity-force.png] My games tend not to go this long but if you're still leaking cash, either invest in items that'll help your AD carry win the game or invest in a power item to do it yourself since apparently your team is unable to do it themselves since this is trolololo solo queue.

This game is a standard one on blue side with a random solo queue feeder making it slightly difficult to finish the game. Otherwise it's a standard smite jungle path with a bulwark item opening after the initial core items (I don't get ancient golem spirit stone early if I get bulwark). [twitch]http://www.twitch.tv/tsm_theoddone/c/1787586[/twitch] This game is just a proper snowball, if you're against a team where you've won in team select, merely getting a lead wins the game. Avoiding mistakes and not letting a counter jungling Lee Sin get ahead of our team, I gank mid a couple of times to essentially win mid lane due to it having a very strong lane to gank for (Swain). Combined with bot lane winning on it's own, the game slowly snowballs. Most games you should try to find a good objective to do while keeping your team safe, so in this game we basically stayed away from bottom as they were winning without our help so I tried to make sure mid/top won by ganking for them in order to complete the snowball. Though personally I don't think it was much of a game since it became very lopsided. [twitch]http://www.twitch.tv/tsm_theoddone/c/1787601[/twitch] This game I make a judgement call that goes wrong (I still believed we could've gotten Rumble early and Yorick would've gotten the buffs) and suddenly we're behind. The important part here is that I try to fix the situation immediately before it spirals out of control by ganking the lane that has double buff. [twitch]http://www.twitch.tv/tsm_theoddone/c/1787597[/twitch]

So hopefully you've learned enough about Maokai here or from watching my streams to get a good idea of how to play him, I've tried to get as much info that is practical in this guide with my time limitations (I gotta update all of mine lawls). But thanks for reading and hope you can make the forest proud, born in the jungle, die in the jungle!

Comments coming soon!
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