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MAOKAI BUILD GUIDE: Maokai, Jungle Tank. by doo0ooooooom

by doo0ooooooom (last updated 2 weeks ago)

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9
Greater Mark of Attack Speed(+15.3% attack speed)
3
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed(+4.5% movement speed)
9
Greater Seal of Health(+72 health)
6
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction(-4.98% cooldowns)
3
Greater Glyph of Scaling Mana Regeneration(+3.6 at champion level 18)
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Summoner Spells
View Summoner Details

Starting

3

Full Item Build

View Item Details
0
9
21
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/4
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
0 Offense
mastery 1 0/2
mastery 2 0/2
mastery 3 2/2
mastery 4 2/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/3
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
9 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 3/3
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 2 1/1
21 Utility
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Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Sap Magic
QArcane Smash
WTwisted Advance
ESapling Toss
RVengeful Maelstrom
View Skill Order Details

Introduction

Season 5 preseason updates are here!

Recent Changes:

1) Jungle is harder, so spec utility.

Early jungle is just a pain. Some guides recommend backing after level 3 and not ganking until after you back. I think that is a bad idea. Not having the option to gank at 3 reduces your pressure tremendously. You should always plan your mastery and rune specs and routes such that you have at least enough hp to gank at level 3, even with a mediocre leash.

Also, the difference between "good late game masteries" and "good early game" masteries is usually only a couple hundred gold worth of stats, which can easily be made up for by clearing a few extra early camps (if you don't gank for some reason) or getting an extra gank early or even by the GP/10 mastery in utility. Last season the jungle was easy enough that you could have your cake and eat it too--using late game masteries and runes and still being fine in the early jungle, but this season the jungle is a lot harder so you'll want to spec utility rather than defensive to improve your early clearing. Utility gives you lifesteal/spellvamp, an extra potion and better potions, which will make your first jungle clear go much smoother. The lifesteal spellvamp will continue to make your jungle easier throughout the game. It also gives cdr and move speed which are pretty nifty, although you won't be as tanky as a full defensive spec maokai.

2) You need to kill 3 camps to hit level 3. All camps now give the same xp. So your path depends on how high hp you want to be and also where you want to end.

You're pretty flexible with the utility spec, you can really kill any 3 camps you want to hit level 3. The safest route though is "Krugs" (Double Golems) --> "Raptors" (Wraiths) --> (wait for smite to be ~15 sec from cd) --> Red

More info about jungle routes in the updated jungle routes section.

Runes

Marks:

Attack Speed are the best option. Maokai lacks single target damage in the jungle and these really help. Also they help you apply red buff and your passive in teamfights. Magic Pen or armor are both slightly better late game but in my opinion its not worth it to slow down your jungle by that much. Just use attack speed.

Seals
Flat Armor got nerfed, and health got buffed... so I'm using health now. Although there isn't too much difference. If you play draft mode and have a million rune pages, maybe have an extra page with armor in case the enemy team is almost entirely physical damage.

Glyphs

I'm using mostly CDR glyphs, i want 5% from runes to go with the 5% from masteries, this means i can hit CDR cap with juggernaut enchantment + frozen heart, or Locket + frozen heart, or juggernaut + spirit visage + locket. 10% is a nice number to have. Although if you're playing draft mode you might want an extra page for mr/level in case the enemy team is heavy magic.

For the other 3 glyphs I finally gave in and used mana regen/level, cause I'm sick of running out of mana late game. You don't want flat mana regen as the machete gives you plenty of regen in the jungle. These are very much a personal preference. I suspect nobody else will actually use them.

Quints

Despite the very jungle oriented masteries, I'm still using move speed this season rather than AP or armor or something. It's mostly the new machete--Now that you get a 15 dps dot which doesn't scale with AP, your damage is actually high enough that you don't need AP from runes to jungle. So AP runes are far less important than utility spec for efficient jungling. Also, since I'm speccing utility and picking up all the move speed masteries, might as well go all out and get the move speed runes too. This will make me very fast for my first level 3 gank. Early ganks are quite important for setting the flow of the game, if you can get a lane ahead you can often snowball the game off of that.

Other good options are armor quints for safer jungling (a good option if you plan to stick with defensive but still want to gank at 3), or AP quints for more damage (always nice... AP quints are quite cost efficient as runes go)

Masteries

mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/4
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
0 Offense
mastery 1 0/2
mastery 2 0/2
mastery 3 2/2
mastery 4 2/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/3
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
9 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 3/3
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 2 1/1
21 Utility
Masteries:

New jungle is harder so you want to spec utility for safer early jungle clearing. You spec utility mostly for the extra potion and the lifesteal/spellvamp. This will keep you topped off in the jungle and allow you to clear safely between ganks without going low hp.

About indvidual masteries:

Phasewalker (-1 sec recall time, 1 point)

This matery is actually decent and underrated, I was just short one point. If I had one more point to spend, I would have taken this. If you recall once every 3 minutes, you save just over half a percent of your time in game, which isn't too bad for one mastery point, its always good to save time. Still, there's other things I wanted more. This mastery is nice on split pushers where the 1s recall time can save you, but maokai doesn't really play that way.

Fleet of Foot (+1.5% move speed, 3 points)

Move speed is always wanted on maokai to catch people for ganks. although it would be nice if it gave more than just 1.5%, but you take what you can get.

meditation ( 3 mana/5 sec, 3 points) (KEY MASTERY) [/b]

This is one of the better masteries in util for maokai. You have mana problems but you don't really want to spend too much money to itemize mana cause you need to be tanky. Do not skip this.

Scout (Increase the cast range of trinkets by 15%)

This mastery is garbage. I guess it helps some champs bush check with yellow ward, but you have saplings for that. Contrary to popular belief, this mastery does not increase the radius of sweeper trinkets.

Summoners Insight (10% reduced cd on summoner spells, 3 points)

A mastery I sortof wanted but just didn't have enough points for. This will improve your first jungle clear speed by allowing you to smite the second camp without waiting first, if you use a route where you beat the smite cooldown (such as the popular golems --> wraiths --> red ). Also, the reduced summoner cd is nice. I just don't think its worth 3 points, that's all.

Strength of Spirit (+1 hp/5 for every 300 max mana, 1 point)

For just one point this mastery isn't bad. Will give you about 1 hp/5 (same as def mastery) early, and a bit more later.

Alchemist/Culinary Master (Increases the duration of potions and elixers by 10%, 1 point. Potions instantly restore 20 hp/10 mana)

These masteries are pretty bad but the new jungle is a pain so I want them to keep me topped off in early clears, where you'll be buying a lot of potions. These two masteries give you 105 extra hp for your first clear which is the main reason you take them. and if you use one potion every 3 minutes there on, these give the equivalent of 0.972 hp/5 for two points, which is not the best but at least hp potions give you far more control over your health regen than normal hp/5. less will be wasted. Your effective hp in fights will also be slightly higher, if you happen to have a potion handy, esp due to the instant 20 hp boost. 20 health is worth ~50g, and this gives it instantly. But this is mostly for the first clear, you need enough hp to gank after hitting level 3 and this is an important source of that.

Greed (+1.5 gp/10, 3 points)

The typical "good" mastery gives ~40g worth of stats, so this mastery effectively "pays" for itself in 13 minutes. After that you're making bank.

Runic Affinity (Increases the duration of buffs by 20%, 1 point)

Not really essential but for only one point i think its worth it. Having the red buff longer can make your ganks better, and 30 sec of blue is quite a bit of mana to keep you topped off when camping a lane or something.

Vampirism (3% lifesteal/spellvamp, 3 points ) (KEY MASTERY)

This is really key for the new jungle, it saves you ~110 hp on your first clear, and even more for subsequent clears.

Wealth (40 starting gold, 1 point) (KEY MASTERY)

Your first clear will be 185 hp higher due to the extra potion. With the new jungle, you really need this for the added flexibility. You don't want to waste time backing before your first gank.

Intelligence (5% CDR, -10% activated item CD) (KEY MASTERY )

Quite cost-efficient for 3 points, one of the best masteries in utility.

Wanderer (+5% move speed out of combat, 1 point) (KEY MASTERY)

The top mastery in the utility partly half makes up for the fact that you can't really go boots of mobility anymore due to ninja tabi being pretty necessary in the current meta. Gives you 19 move speed out of combat once you get tabi--not bad.

DEFENSIVE TREE:

I put the remaining 9 points in the defensive tree. Some notes about early def tree masteries:

Block/Unyielding (-2 damage from basic attacks, -2 damage from all sources)

These are such nice masteries but I'm sad because I don't have enough points for them. Unfortunately in the new "hard" jungle meta, you can't afford to take too many masteries that don't help your jungling. These are good for teamfights, especially early ones, but I don't have the points.

recovery (2 hp/5, 2 points)

This mastery is pretty mediocre compared to the other early tier def masteries which are all very good.

Enchanted Armor (+5% armor/mr, 2 points)

A nice mastery that scales well into late game. Early game it only saves you ~12 hp on your first clear, but once you get lots of armor and MR items it becomes much more valuable.

Tough Skin/Bladed armor (reduces damage from monsters by 2 per hit, returns 1% max hp damage to monsters)

New jungle is a pain and integer damage reduction is huge when the camps hit you for like 10-30. This can reduce the damage you take in the jungle by 10%, plus bladed armor itself is going to increase your clearing speed by ~5%. Bladed armor also works on baron/dragon, so they help with objective control too.

That said, bladed armor isn't 100% necessary as machete gives you decent single target damage. you CAN skip it, if you really, really like block/unyielding. I prefer it though, it gives you way more flexibility to gank when you want if your jungle clear is better.

Veteran Scars/Juggernaut (36 hp, +3% max hp, 4 points)

Solid tank masteries for early game and late game. Gives you extra hp for your early clear and all game long.

Oppression (reduces damage taken by 3% from enemies that have impaired movement, 1 point)

Awesome mastery, but its either this or veteran scars (+3% HP). You can't have both and still go 21 utility. Some people might prefer this to veteran scars, esp since it doesn't have the mediocre hp pre-req and you can take unyielding as well. Personally i'd rather have veteran scars and I don't want to drop wanderer either so this mastery gets a pass.

Summoner Sets

Smite & Ghost
Smite is obvious. Really, is there anyone left who doesn't know to always take smite on junglers? You can't even buy machete if now if you don't take smite. And how else are you going to secure baron if you don't take this spell.

Second summoner spell is debatable but i prefer ghost. It gives more distance overall than flash and makes for some nice lane ganks. Also it has shorter cooldown and is a better escape if they come to kill you in your jungle.

Flash is nice though cause you can jump walls. I prefer ghost.

Maokai really needs mobility so i wouldn't consider a second summoner for him other than ghost or flash. You need to be able to catch people somehow.

Item Builds

Starting Build(s)
Blue Path
3
Some junglers can skip machete in the new jungle but maokai is not one of them. The damage over time and mana regen are both extremely key for his jungling. The mana regen lets you take a path that doesn't include blue, which is nice cause blue is kindof out of the way in the new jungle, for the first level 3 clear. And without machete your single target damage when jungling will be pitiful.
Final Build(s)
Standard Final Items
Boots: The best option are usually (90% of the time) tabi.

Some games i build Juggernaut enchantment, But typically I don't. Take a look at the enemy team and see if they're stacked with CC--champs like fiddlesticks, rammus, Braum, leona, etc. But do you really need tenacity on maokai? I mean, really, if they stunned you, they probably should have stunned somebody else. You're the tank. Who stuns tanks? You don't need tenacity, although its sometimes nice for catching people.

The other thing to keep in mind is CDR cap. You already have 10% cdr from runes/masteries (if you use this guide, that is). You're probably building both locket and frozen heart, cause those items are both way more cost-efficient than juggernaut. So the 10% CDR from juggernaut is going to put you over the cap.

It's also not very slot-efficient late game compared to other things you could be buying. That being said, Its a nifty source for 10% cdr in games where the enemy team is stacked with one type of damage so you'll be skipping either locket or FH. So its not like i never build it, its just not a priority.

Locket is a must vs teams with some magic damage on them. Frozen heart is great vs teams that are at least 40% physical. After that, your CDR is capped, so you'll probably want some health and regen. Warmogs is a good idea. You could also buy sunfire or banshee's if you need armor or MR.
Build Order
Ranger's trailblazer is the best machete upgrade for maokai. You can sell it mid-late game for 525g, if you're 525g short of a major item.

Level 2 Gank skill order

Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Sap Magic
QArcane Smash
WTwisted Advance
ESapling Toss
RVengeful Maelstrom
Arcane smash first because it adds aoe jungle clear and increases the power of the slow when ganking.

After i max arcane smash, i max twisted advance.

The 2nd rank in vengeful maelstrom is not really necessary. You don't have enough mana to spam this spell early game, so the cooldown reduction on it is mostly irrelevant. It adds 50 -100 more damage if you rank it, but I'd rather put a point in twisted advance for better roots.

Sapling now only gives 60 damage per rank. I used to sometimes put extra points in this but in the current patch that's pointless. Everyone pretty much maxes this last now.

Skills

Sap Magic
Passive: Sap Magic: Your next auto attack heals you for 7% of your max hit points after 5 spells are cast nearby.

This passive is really nice for large fights where it will be procing constantly and fairly underwhelming otherwise. It does give you some sustain for jungling but it is not nearly strong enough to be your only sustain. Don't forget to use it though, if sap magic is up and you're not near full hp, just whack a nearby anything* for a quick heal.

*except buildings. It doesn't proc off of buildings for some reason.
Arcane Smash
Q: Arcane smash: Knocksback nearby enemies and shoots a damaging slow.

Some people don't realize that this ability can affect targets that are *behind* you. the knockback is about 100 radius aoe, and it goes full circle around maokai.

While this ability has surprisingly long range, it's projectile speed is painfully slow, making it awkward for chasing but exceptionally good for peeling enemies off of your carries or running away.

With it's cheap mana cost it's also great for clearing minion waves, especially if you max it first like I do. When attacking minion waves with this skill, move just ahead of the melee minions so that they're just behind you but within the aoe radius, and then skillshot the caster minions. With practice you can easily hit all 6 minions in a wave with this skill almost regardless of how they're positioned.

It's also great to use right after twisted advance expires (remember to weave in either sapling or ult between twisted advance and arcane smash as part of the combo). After you twisted advance someone in a teamfight, move forward a bit try to skillshot their team with arcane smash, and the arcane smash will still hit the rooted person as long as you are still within 100 range of them, regardless of which direction you aimed the skill.

Maxing this skill first rather than sapling has several advantages:

1) Ranking this skill increases the power of the slow, making tanking and locking down opponents easier. A more powerful slow allows saplings to chase better, indirectly increasing the damage of your saplings.
2) Unlike your other skills, the mana cost on this ability does not increase as you level this up.
3) Provides solid, consistant aoe damage for jungle clearing, even if not as much burst as maxing sapling first. Ranking this skill adds 45 damage extra per rank on a 6 second cooldown. In comparison, ranking sapling adds 60 damage on a 12 second cooldown. Arcane smash simply adds more utility and is more reliable damage than sapling toss, and while the burst is lower than sapling, it will catch up and overtake sapling in sustained dps over time.
Twisted Advance
W: Twisted Advance: advances to your enemy rooting them in place.

This is pretty straitforward, they nerfed the range but it now does % damage and has reduced cooldown at later ranks-- a fair trade, i think. One thing you should keep in mind is that it has a (fast) projectile speed and it doesn't root them until maokai reaches them. If the enemy flashes or uses any other escape ability while mao is en-route, mao will continue following them an unlimited distance and finally root them when they reach their destination. This can be a good thing for ganking: they can't flash away from you after twisted advance has already started. It can also be a very bad thing when tower diving. If you thought that was a rather shallow tower dive you were planning, or not even a tower dive, once they ghost and flash halfway to the next tower down the line, you're going to find yourself in a heap of trouble and far far away from your team. I often get killed this way, and if you're clearly dead after a bad twisted advance that spanned half the map, it's a good idea to spam the \"fall back\" ping on your position so you're team knows to back off rather than courageously following you to die together.

I put the first rank into this skill when I plan to gank (usually level 3), and I max this skill second as maxing it increases the duration of the snare, improving lockdown ability.
Sapling Toss
E: Sapling toss: Toss a grenade.

In addition to being Maokai's highest damage attack, this ability , especially at rank 1 with the lower mana cost, is quite useful as a temporary ward and bush check. It lasts for 35 seconds, so if you need a ward in a pinch while pushing some tower, it's a great option. Also, don't just run into that bush, sapling it first! you never know when the entire enemy team is in that bush!

It's also a great skill for farming minions and jungle mobs. In a lane, it is a useful harassment ability with it's long range and high damage, however this is a jungle guide so you will rarely be harassing with sapling.

Although this is Maokai's highest damage ability, it's also the least reliable and most easily avoided. Many times when I gank, the opponent will flash before the sapling explodes, or avoid it some other way. It aggros minions and will often charge them rather than players. Also it's useless vs anyone with runspeed who isn't locked down by CC. But mostly: raising it doesn't add any benefit except damage, and also increases the mana cost. In comparison, raising arcane smash first increases the power of it's slow, without increasing the mana cost, and raising twisted advance increases the duration of the snare.
Vengeful Maelstrom
R: Vengeful Maelstrom:

This is such a short cooldown its really more of a regular ability than an ult. 20 seconds at max rank, 12 with my max cdr build, you pretty much drop it every fight if you have mana for it. With the new patch, it now follows maokai in a circle rather than being in a stationary position, which means you need to be in the thick of the fight now to protect your team, and there's much less nuance about when you cast it.

Make sure to know when to cancel it for damage, the damage radius is actually slightly bigger than the animation: even if they're just outside the circle, if they're touching the circle they still take damage. You'll want to cancel it before they all run away, but not before they try to blow you up.

Ranking this skill up does not increase it's defensive power, but it does lower the cooldown and increase the burst damage slightly. After taking the initial rank at level 6, I max this skill third, after maxing twisted advance.

Jungle Route

New Jungle is harder than S4! But that's ok, this will just weed out the bad junglers, letting the skilled ones like you have free reign.

Your first goal in the new jungle is to hit level 3, and then you want to gank a lane. Any 3 camps will get you level 3, and blue buff is relatively unimportant in the new jungle due to the fact that machete gives mana and blue doesn't give increased xp relative to other camps now.

Although any 3 camps will get you to 3, some routes leave you higher hp than others. Let's make a list of common/useful routes, in order from most common/useful to the more niche routes:

1) "Krugs" (double golems) --> "Raptors" (Wraiths) --> Red

This is the highest hp route possible to hit level 3. Precast 2 saplings on "krugs", then smite them as soon as they spawn for the nifty stun proc. You could precast 3 saplings but i prefer 2 to save mana, since you aren't doing blue with this route.

after doing "Raptors" (wraiths... why did they rename the camps...), you'll want to wait until your smite is about ~14 seconds from off of cooldown before doing red, so you can smite it as smite comes up.

This will get you level 3 with full hp and with a good enough leash maybe even a potion to spare.

2) Red --> Wolves --> Blue

Another solid route if you want to gank the blue side of the map.

I do not like the similar ending Krugs --> red --> blue route because that path is seriously vulnerable to invades when you are at red. Your trinket ward will have expired by the time you're done with red, and you won't have smite. its just asking for trouble.

But anyway, when doing red first, you want to smite the red just as you get under 80% hp before using a potion. This will heal you to full and allow your smite to be back up for blue. Make sure that you used your trinket ward to keep an eye out for the enemy team before smiting red like this... if you see the enemy team nearby with any of your wards or your teammates wards, you should obviously save smite for the finishing blow. If you smite later though you'll have to wait ~5 sec before doing blue for your smite to come up... its safer but it costs a bit of time.

LANE NEEDS HELP ROUTE: 3) Stack 3 saplings on krugs, then throw fourth sapling and smite it over the wall as they spawn, then let your laner[s] kill them for exp. Then wolves --> "raptors" (wraiths) --> red --> gank red side.

Sometimes the top laner matchup is really bad but you can help him out early with some exp and an early gank. To do this, precast saplings on krugs then smite them to help your laner and give you the nifty stun proc to make the rest of your clear safe. You can then go wolves --> "Raptors" (wraiths) --> red and still have enough hp to gank the lane.

Depending on the lane matchup, it may be a good idea to help your team get an exp advantage. The point of this route is to give your laner(s) as much help as possible while still leaving you at enough hp to gank at 3 at a reasonable time.

This works best if your laners have some sustain or are ranged as krugs will still do some damage to them. Also, using smite on krugs still gives you the nifty stun proc.

4) Starts starting on blue side are generally bad but sometimes you have to due to them invading red side and you running away...

With utility spec you can do any level 3 route and have enough hp to gank. So kill any 3 camps and then gank a lane!

Early-Mid game: Maokai Jungle Strategy and Mentality

As a jungler, you should always be doing *something*, and you need to prioritize your time well between leveling and helping your team. This section is basically a list of priorities for the post level 3 jungle Maokai. After your initial clear and gank, you'll need to prioritize your time.

A general list of what you could be doing, your priorities are as follows:

1) Protect your towers.

Towers win games, so if one of yours is in trouble you need to drop whatever you're doing and get there asap. Maokai also happens to be one of the best tower defenders in the game, with 3 aoe abilities to quickly clear minion waves, a snare and slow/knockback to lock people down who try to dive you as well as his general tankiness. Don't be afraid to ult minions for more aoe damage when defending towers, the cooldown is short. Maokai has no trouble defending a tower vs two people early-mid game, and as a jungler you should always be prepared to defend any tower as needed. So if one of your lanes fails, or one looks like it's in serious trouble with your team at low hp hugging the tower, you'd better get there asap. Another reason to defend is that you don't want the lane farm to go to waste against the tower.

2) Securing buff mobs (blue/red)

These are a prime target for counterjunglers so you want to get them killed soon after they spawn. After the initial clear, it may be a good idea to give away your buffs to members of your team who can use them better than you can.

3) Clear *nearby* small camps .

Killing wolves/wraiths/golems are only high priority if you happen to be nearby. You need to clear these if you want to keep up in gold/exp. Past the first clear, It's rarely a good idea to skip one of these camps on the way to a gank, unless you're low mana or you think that losing 5-10 seconds will seriously affect your ability to get a kill. This is especially true if you're underleveled -- check your level and compare it to other players in the game, if you're near the lowest level you'll get bonus xp from jungling so you may want to farm a bit until you catch up --it won't take long. If you're relatively high level you should prioritize ganking more.

It may be a good idea to simply stalk one side of the jungle constantly: ganking lanes and clearing the nearby camps. For example: you could clear wraiths and double golems, then gank double golems side, then gank mid, then clear wraiths and doubles again, then keep ganking until enemies in both lanes are turret hugging.


4) Ganking overextended lanes.

This is where Maokai really shines. Maokai is one of the strongest gankers so if you ever see the enemy pushed past river it's a good idea to go there and wreck stuff. Use the W --> E --> Q combo to lock them down, drop down ult to protect your team as they plow into the unsuspecting enemies. If they run into a bush before you w, keep in mind that your saplings grant sight, so you can sapling the bush then follow your sapling into the fight in with a twisted advance. If the gank is successful, don't forget to follow it up with a tower push or possibly a dragon attempt, as you now have the advantage in teamfights until the ganked opponents rez.

Keep in mind that "overextended" for maokai is a lot broader than for other junglers, as maokai's specialty is lockdown and burst: anyone not in flash range of a tower's attack radius is usually gankable, although it depends what escapes they have. You jump them with W, then combo a sapling and an arcane smash, while your laner burst them too. Maokai is more burst than sustain, so ganking a very overextended lane is not much more likely to be successful than ganking a slightly overextended one. Ganking lanes where your team is losing is also a lot more difficult than ganking balanced lanes or lanes where your team is winning.

Ganking is more opportunistic than a priority. Some lanes just scream out "GANK ME": when you have sub 50% people extended past river you should really drop whatever you're doing and kill them. Or when that mid-lane akali just used her bubble right as you pass wraiths and is sitting in twisted advance range next to that brush. Other times a kill is less certain and so I'll take my time clearing small camps on the way to attempt a gank.

5) warding dragon.

I really think that the support should be the one to keep it warded now. That being said, somebody needs to ward this and if nobody else does, you should.

6) Farming your jungle .

you'll want to keep the jungle camps dead as often as possible to maximize your xp gains. At this point in the game, try to save smite for the "Raptors" (formerly wraiths) camp if you don't need it for dragon, as the free ward spotter buff is more useful than anything else past the first clear.

7) Buy items

If you're sitting on a bunch of gold and you're running out of wards, you'll need to buy at some point. All else being equal, the best time to go back to buy is when you just killed wraiths, as they'll be back up by the time you get back from base, along with wolves or double golems to kill along the way.

8) mid-game counterjungling.

Maokai doesn't really counterjungle much, so this is something you only do when you're lanes are pushed like hell and you're generally stomping the the other team.

In S5 the main target of counterjungling ought to be enemy "Raptors" (Wraiths). These are quite easy to get, and you can deny the vision buff from the enemy jungler.

If you can get your team on board, you can steal red/blue buffs, which are more important than the smaller camps. This is more opportunistic than a priority. This is best done when the other jungler is known to be low hp or somewhere else. (for example, if you see the enemy jungler ganking the red-side lane without blue that's a good time to try stealing his blue.)

Advanced Early Game tactics: Counterganking, not giving up your position, and brush mind games

An advanced tactic for jungling is to put yourselves into the shoes of the enemy jungler, and think, if you were him, which lane would you gank? Then you can go to that lane and countergank and ruin his day. If you see that the enemy jungler hasn't ganked in a while and he doesn't seem to be doing dragon or anything else, he's probably itching for a gank and you can make pretty good guesses of where he'll turn up next.

You should also avoid giving up your position if possible. After ganking in a lane, if you don't plan to camp the lane, go into a nearby brush and recall. Because you recalled in a brush rather running out of the lane, the enemy may still think you're around and will be forced to play passive, unless they have a ward in the brush.

It is usually a bad idea to run back into river and then back into your own jungle after a gank. In the first place, river is often warded, and even if it isn't they have a good idea of where you are. This makes you a prime target for ganks yourself as you'll be alone in your jungle with your position known. In the second place, even if they don't gank you, they probably see where you are on the map with their ward which means they can play more agressively.

If it isn't safe to recall in a brush, it's better to run back towards your tower and recall there than to run back into river.

Mid-Late Game: Understanding Your Role as the Tank.

After the laning phase is over, it doesn't really matter anymore than you started the game in the jungle rather than the lane. It's time to roam together with your team, warding, securing buffs as a group, clearing pushed lanes, and defending and pushing towers as a group.

As Maokai, you are the tank and the initiator. Your job is to start fights on favorable terms, and protect your squishies during teamfights.

Map awareness is key

Keep in mind of where the opponents and allies are at all times. If you can't see an opponent on the minimap, assume he's nearby. The key to winning teamfights is to roam with your team through the jungle or lanes, (check bushes with saplings before moving in), catching the opponents out of position or when they're outnumbered, and initiating fights on favorable terms.

Wards are important, as if you ward a random area and somebody runs past, you know that enemy is not nearby when you want to start a teamfight. You'll also want to keep baron constantly warded, and late game make sure you're team is never too far away from baron when the other team is mia, so that you can get there in time in case the enemies attempt to kill him. Pick up oracle's lens and help your support clear out enemy wards.

Other than this simple above advice, it simply takes a lot of practice and experience to know when to initiate, when to tower dive, or when to signal your team to backoff, since it's heavily dependent on which opponents you're facing, what escape abilities they have, how squishy they are and how they could kill you. But mastering this (when to initiate) is the most important aspect of learning to tank.

The other aspect of learning to tank is peeling enemies off of your carry. Arcane smash is your friend. If people are beating on your carry, arc smash them, and maybe root them too, so your carry can get away. If they keep chasing, arc smash them again. With a 48% slow/knockback on a 3.6 sec cooldown (assuming max cdr), followed by a 2 second snare, Maokai is stupidly good for peeling. Use this to your advantage. If you have to chose between chasing down a fleeing enemy squishy, or pealing some bruiser or assassin off of your carry behind you, you should generally choose the later, as your team should easily be able to kill the enemy after peeling and locking him down with Q --> W --> Q combination, giving you an advantage in the next fight even if the other enemies get away.

Conclusion

*Insert something witty here*

Change Log

9/21/11: Added "Change Log" section.
9/22/11: Added "Very Early Ganks" section to Jungle Routes section.
9/23/11: Added video of a very early gank to Jungle Routes section.
9/25/11: Clarified items section.
10/9/11: Added mention of Sap Magic to abilities section.
11/6/11: Updated alternate runes section. Also removed dismissive references to attack speed marks... I'm starting to think they're a decent option, they seem to help a lot when recovering from being counterjungled.
11/7/11: Updated jungle routes list to add mention of a new wraith start route. Might add video later.
11/7/11: Seriously considering changing my mark/glyph setup to flat attack speed marks and flat mana glyphs. That setup seems to make maokai a lot more versitile and less vulnerable to counterjungling. I'm going to play around with this setup for about a week, then i might update the guide to use those runes.
11/10/11: Decided to just remove marks/glyphs from the rune list. They're basically choice anyway, it hardly matters which ones you use. I don't want people getting the impression that they *must* have armor marks or mana glyphs to jungle maokai properly, esp since that's the first thing they read on the guide. I listed all of the good options in the runes/masteries section.
11/11/11: Added Youtube video of the wraith start full clear alternate route.
11/12/11: Wow, they're redoing the whole mastery tree next patch. That's going to make things pretty crazy. Expect a major revamp of this guide next week.
11/15/11: Updated masteries. Consider them preliminary I might change them around. I'll also be experimenting with totally new setups over the next week or so and might add some new alternate routes that the new masteries make possible. Also removed references to removed masteries (RIP Strength of spirit). Removed section discussing the precise amount of AP you need to kill mobs with certain numbers of spells, as it's sortof pointless now with the addition of bladed armor.
11/15/11: All of the routes already posted in this guide still work fine with the new masteries. I may update the videos at some point.
11/15/11: The new masteries (particularly wealth and bladed armor) make level 3 ganks a lot more attractive than before, as you now can plan for and/or attempt a gank at level 3 without slowing down your main route significantly, and be at much higher hp/mana for the gank. I've updated the standard route section and other sections of the guide to include the possibility of starting with boots + 2x hp pots + 2x mana pots and optionally ganking at level 3.
11/15/11: Updated Standard Route video for new masteries patch. Jungle times listed in guide updated to reflect times in this new video.
11/16/11: Made some more minor updates to reflect new masteries. Added new mention of Continuing to blue golem after the double golem --> wraiths --> wolves route, the new masteries have made this option a lot more viable as you can start with an extra potion and be at higher hp in general.
11/16/11: Blue start route works a lot better than before with new mastery changes, so I've revised my opinion on "Never Start at blue" and I've added a new route that kills blue after wolves at level 1.
11/16/11: Added video of Wolf-->Blue start full clear route.
11/19/11: They hotfixed the xp jungle mobs give, changing them yet again. You no longer need 1/4 awareness to do my "standard" route. You also no longer need any points in awareness to do the Doubles --> red double gank route.
11/22/11: So after much waffling on the runes, I've updated the guide and listed Attack speed marks and Mana glyphs on the front page. These are by no means the only options. Heck, with the masteries changes, you don't even need runes to jungle anymore, not even the AP Quints. I've split off the runes section into a new chapter where i discuss the options. I also fleshed out the masteries section.
11/27/11: So they're redoing the whole jungle next patch! Going to have to revamp the guide next week.
11/29/11: So they revamped the jungle! Guide should be considered under construction.
11/29/11: Changed glyphs to flat AP. These seem better with the new jungle.
12/2/11: Going to wait till that hotfix comes out before updating this further.
12/4/11: Hotfix didn't change that much. Blue/Red have 100 more hp. so the route takes 3 seconds longer and you end up with slightly lower hp. You also no longer need that random point in awareness to hit level 4 so full defensive works again. Updated video.
12/4/11: Updated Glyphs: After further testing, you need precisely 19.5 ap at level 1 to kill the wraiths with only saplings as shown in my video. So that means you need 5 ap glyphs and 3 ap quints. I swapped the rest of the glyphs out for magic resist/level because I think those are better mid/late game.
12/4/11: Removed under construction introductory section. Updated guide for new jungle.
1/24/12: minor updates: It is not actually possible to interrupt the enemy jungler's smite with arcane smash, because you can still smite when cc'd. Removed reference to shurelya's being an "overlooked" item. Re-did the math on Warmogs, and it's still worth buying after nerf. New Ninja Tabi is still good, too.
1/24/12: updated "Early-Mid game: Maokai Jungle Strategy and Mentality" chapter.
2/15/12: Added alternate route to jungle routes section that gets double buff and level 3 earlier.
3/18/12: minor changes to item build: lately I've been getting shurelya's earlier than I used too. So build order changed slightly. Also clarified that rushing glacial shroud is something you only do if you're winning early.
3/24/12: Changed item build--I find myself having less and less mana problems early-mid game... might be that sigils now give mana. The early 425 mana from glacial shroud seems less important so I find myself rushing aegis--> shurelya's in 90% of games now.
3/25/12: More updates related to above: Now listing spirit visage on front page as an alternative to glacial shroud if you need mr rather than armor. I'm starting to like this item better as it seems that games are taking less time than before: I haven't reached full build on maokai in months, so the fact that spirit visage doesn't build into anything is less of a problem these days. Also removed references to ionian boots, those are sortof awkward cause you want the move speed early game but don't want the CDR till mid-game.
4/4/12: Changed text to specify that building AP on maokai is only bad in the jungle... if you're a solo laner (or really, really, fed) you can pull off a little bit of AP and still be tanky enough. Actually, I'm currently working on a mid-lane maokai guide, and I build a bit of AP on him when I mid.
4/13/12: Fixed some mechanical issues with the standard jungle route, time to 4 is now 3:21. Some notes: They increased the movement speed of double golems, so it's now impossible to hit both of them with with both parts of the sapling damage when pulling them out with sapling. The best strategy now is to just lead the closest golem with the sapling, the explosion will hit both but the landing damage will only hit the closest golem (see updated jungle video for optimal placement of sapling). Ironically the jungle route is now faster than before as their increased move speed means you can train them out farther so less running for you. I've also determined that casting arcane smash a 2nd time on double golems is both a waste of time and mana, so I don't do that anymore. Sapling --> arcane smash --> sapling is all that's needed.
4/18/12: They buffed AP Glyphs, so you now only need 4 of them to kill wraiths properly.
4/19/12: Added Mid-Lane Maokai mini-guide.
6/17/12: Split off mid-lane guide into it's own guide. Also updated the mid lane build a little: I now sometimes build athene's on mid-lane maokai. That's a pretty good new item they added.
7/21/12: it just occurred to me that I've had this guide out forever, but I still haven't mentioned starting boots rather than regrowth pendent. I think a previous version of this guide mentioned starting with boots. Boots start is a perfectly good option, obviously.
8/11/2012: added mention of boots of mobility.
9/16/2012: Misc updates. Added mention of soul shroud to build options. This item isn't terrible if you need to cap off your CDR in games where you don't want glacial or FH. It gives a nice aura. Also expanded section on why you should never buy mercury treads on maokai. I added a little bit more detail on why I take ghost... but I may switch to flash eventually... seems like everyone else takes flash.
9/16/2012: Now instructs you to cast saplings at 1:05 instead of 1:04... maybe I'm crazy but it seems like ever since project shiny they spawn a quarter second or half-second later.
10/5/2012: Added a note on how to properly prevent red buff from resetting after leash.
11/18/2012: Preparing to update this guide for season 3. I think the level 4 paths are a waste of time on the PBE, the level 3 double buff paths are best.
11/27/2012: more s3 update thoughts
12/4/2012: Updated guide for major season 3 jungle and item revamp patch. Will update more sometime later this week.
12/4/2012: added item cost evaluation spreadsheet.
12/4/2012: General clean up. Removed outdated info, rewrote some of the early game strategy. Added new "Advanced Early Game tactics" section. Also, I Removed references to "new Jungle" that were actually referring to season 2 jungle. wow, this guide is old.
12/8/2012: Cleaned up skill order to reflect the fact that I usually gank at level 3 now.
12/8/2012: Updated Runes/Masteries for Season 3. Added Standard Red level 3 path to jungle videos... blue path will be updated shortly. Removed mention of starting bead + potions + flask, even if this start works, I think machete is too good to pass up. Updated Item build, now instructs to rush bulwark vs heavy magic teams. I'm starting warm up a bit to the new spirit stone item.
12/8/2012: Blue level 3 path now up. Revamp is about done.
12/15/2012: Now instructs you to always buy crystalline flask on your first back if you don't start with it.
12/28/2012: I've decided I like spirit stone better than philo stone most games. Updated build to reflect that. Also cleaned up build section a bit and added "Final Build" suggestions.
12/28/2012: Spreadsheet version 2.0 added. A few changes: Added "Scaling Bonus" column to attempt to account for the benefits of having multiplicative stats on the same item. SOTAGolem is now listed as 2160g rather than 2400 because it builds out of spirit stone. Instead of selling spirit stone for 560g you can upgrade it to SOTAGolem, so building SOTAGolem saves 240g. Liandry's is now spelled correctly. Also I now value the aegis/bulwark auras more than before, I think I was undervaluing them before. Value of CDR increased slightly. Added Glacial Shroud and Randuin's Omen to spreadsheet.
12/30/2012: Updated boots enhancement section.
1/16/2013: Flask Nerfed, Flask/Machete start no longer possible. With this and the stealth biscuit nerf (no longer usable concurrently with hp pots), I'm not sure if even want to spec util anymore. Masteries tentatively changed to 4/23/3 and starting item suggestions changed to machete + 4hp pots + 1 mana pot or machete + 5 hp pots. I will update the red path once I get the exact masteries locked down, probably sometime over the weekend. Also changed the 3 mr/lvl glyphs to cdr glyphs to maintain 10% cdr.
1/17/2013: Madred's razors are now superior to spirit stone IMO. Maokai has enough aoe dmage already and with the reduced hp of the lesser creeps and increased hp of the major creeps, you'd rather have single target damage. In S3 this item is cheaper and no longer has wasted stats on attack damage, so its a pretty good buy even on ability oriented champs such as Maokai.
1/19/2013: Switched to all move speed quints. AP mostly adds to AOE clearing ability so its sortof pointless in the new iteration of the jungle where all the lesser monsters have very low hp.
1/19/2013: Updated Red path video for new mastery spec and new item start after flask nerf. Blue path video will not need to be updated because absolutely nothing changed about the path.
1/19/2013: Updated Masteries Section.
2/3/2013: Moved flask from "always buy" to "optional". I don't think its a must buy anymore since the nerf. I still usually get it though. Also added spirit stone back as an option since they reduced the price by 100g.
2/10/2013: added suggestion to precast saplings on double golems to help your bot lane kill them.
3/1/2013: Warmog's nerfed too much, removed it from build. Now that warmogs isn't a good option, you could maybe build a little bit of damage as your 6th item if the game goes to super late. Updated Spreadsheet.
3/19/2013: They buffed CDR glyphs, so you only need 7 of them plus offensive masteries to hit 9.83% cdr which is close enough to 10% for my purposes. Now using a couple of mr/level glyphs. Also, I made a new jungle fizz guide, check it out by clicking the link to the right!
4/29/2013: Spirit of the Ancient golem got buffed too much, i'm going to buy it now and forget about madred's razors. Since it gives CDR now, there's no reason to get FH/Visage as you'll be overcapped. You could still pickup shurelya's or a glacial shroud.
7/3/2013: some updates to early jungle paths related to recent jungle changes.
7/31/2013: Lots of changes for 3.10. Changed masteries to 9/21/0, removed CDR runes as you're capped on CDR just from items since the item changes.
11/19/2013: updated guide format for solomid.net site revamp.
11/24/2013: S4 updates.
7/2/2014: Working on updating this guide for 4.11 rework. Changes so far: back to move speed quints. Warmogs is now a good buy. I now only put one early point in sapling toss.
7/15/2014: more updates for 4.11
11/30/2014: updates for season 5 preseason

Comments

December 7, 2014 - 04:37 PM #1

Pity! It's still lots of fun! :D

September 19, 2014 - 03:18 PM #2

I haven't played mid maokai in years, lol. so probably not.

September 18, 2014 - 12:44 PM #3

Will you be updating your Maokai Mid guide? :D

April 11, 2014 - 12:44 PM #4

http://www.linkbucks.com/KtnP

January 20, 2014 - 03:58 PM #5

sh.st/cM6P

December 22, 2013 - 06:21 PM #6

if i bought chalice I'd probably put the point in R at level 11 as it should give me enough mana to use r more than once per back. With glacial its debatable, that's only +300 mana. (and FH is actually 400... didn't it used to be 500?)

Its not a huge difference eitherway... one point in ulti vs 1 point in w isn't going to make or break your build. Hell you could even put the 11th point into sapling for more damage if you want. (+85 damage vs 50-100 for ranking r, and on a shorter cooldown).

December 22, 2013 - 04:21 PM #7

Hah, you just made me realise how big difference between sell prices of hunter's machete and Madred's Bloodrazor is. It seems I need to change sunfire cape to madred + randuin's omen. Thanks.
Btw; Do you consider it as good idea to max ulti if someone decide to buy madred's + chaolice/glacial shroud instead of golem?

December 22, 2013 - 03:35 PM #8

I don't have a PBE account so I can't really test. Just eyeballing it though, replacing the regen with life/manasteal on monsters is definitely a nerf but probably not a big enough one to make me stop building golem. Although the madred's razors might become a viable again, i'll have to test that once it goes live. I don't see myself bulding sunfire to clear the jungle, it's too expensive... even if they were to nerf spirit stone/golem into the ground, I think madred's razors would be a better option. (note that madred's still sells for 490g so it's not like you lose any significant amount of gold late game for buliding it).

I'll probably start preferring chalice--> athene's to spirit visage though, since spirit visage is also getting nerfed and athene's gives mana regen which i'll especially need now that golem has no mana regen. (for physical teams i'll still build FH as it has +500 mana) And I might wait for later to build locket so I can get a mana item after golem (either FH or chalice) to cover early game mana problems. I might need a couple more mana potions early game.

December 22, 2013 - 10:50 AM #9

Have you heard about pbe changes to jungle items (these items no longer grant passive regen, instead we got revamped butcher buff on these items: "Against monsters, deal 30% bonus damage and restore 8% of damage dealt as Health and 4% as Mana.(Half restoration effect for area of effect spells)'"? IMO it places Maokai in bad position, because he spends a lot of time ganking and restoration effect is halved for aoe. I even consider buying hunter's machete and rush to chalice instead of golem even if it will force me to buy sunfire cape for more damage on jungle monsters. I alredy tested it and it seems fine for me (I sold hunter machete and bought Athene in the late game). Could you tell me what's your opinion about that idea?

December 22, 2013 - 10:49 AM #10

Have you heard about pbe changes to jungle items (these items no longer grant passive regen, instead we got revamped butcher buff on these items: "Against monsters, deal 30% bonus damage and restore 8% of damage dealt as Health and 4% as Mana.(Half restoration effect for area of effect spells)'"? IMO it places Maokai in bad position, because he spends a lot of time ganking and restoration effect is halved for aoe. I even consider buying hunter's machete and rush to chalice instead of golem even if it will force me to buy sunfire cape for more damage on jungle monsters. I alredy tested it and it seems fine for me (I sold hunter machete and bought Athene in the late game). Could you tell me what's your opinion about that idea?

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