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< Maokai

Champion Background Strategy Skins & Trivia

Skill usage

  •  Sap Magic gives him a lot of staying power during the lane phase, especially if facing/laning with champions that spam skills like  Evelynn,  Akali,  Cassiopeia, or  Karthus.
    • Using your abilities at the start of a game to charge your passive grants you a small burst of health after taking damage in a level one skirmish.
  •  Sap Magic will not trigger when attacking structures. If fighting under a tower, be sure to attack nearby minions if you need the heal.
    •  Sap Magic does not trigger when you are at full health, so do not be afraid of last hitting minions at full health while this ability is up.
  • When used close enough  Arcane Smash causes a small knock-up in addition to the slow it provides, use this to interrupt channeled spells such as  Katarina's  Death Lotus or  Nunu's  Absolute Zero.
  • Flash and  Twisted Advance can make a surprise grab and provide an opportunity to open a team fight.
  •  Maokai is a great initiator and has good tower diving/chasing capability thanks to  Twisted Advance. His  Sapling Toss is also able to chase retreating enemies past their towers and possibly kill them.
  •  Maokai can farm using  Sapling Toss, as mid-game the sapling can kill 3-5 minions easily. The Sapling deals damage twice: once upon impact and another after a short delay. It can also be used to damage enemies in brush safely.
  • Use  Sapling Toss to harass enemies in the lane. Try to overshoot your target slightly, just enough to get the impact damage and allowing the enemy to dodge into the explosion.
    • Try to aim your saplings so there are no enemy minions nearby to trigger them, as they may choose to explode on them rather than the desired champion. You can also use it to zone out enemies by placing them behind the enemy minions, forcing the enemy to duck away from experience range or take damage.
    • Champions with Boots of Speed can outrun the sapling quite easily, making this form of lane-control mainly effective at the very start of a game.
    • Saplings won't detonate on stealthed enemies, but can hit them. This is very useful if the enemy tries to flee through both minions and stealth.
    • By using  Sapling Toss multiple times in a bush, stacking them on top of each other, you can catch unsuspecting enemies off guard resulting in a huge burst of damage if they walk into your saplings.
  •  Vengeful Maelstrom is not a channeled spell, so  Maokai is free to use other skills while supporting his teammates. Remember to deactivate right before all enemies leave the AoE, or else they will suffer no damage.
    •  Vengeful Maelstrom is very useful when the battle ground is stationary, such as during a tower push or defense. Using it in the open will usually cause enemies to run out of it, wasting its potential unless you want them to go away. During a push, however, the designated fighting grounds remains around the tower, which forces the enemy team to fight on your terms.
    • Small skirmishes in the jungle or even the occasional team fight are good times to use  Vengeful Maelstrom, as escape routes are few and the fighting ground is often crowded and fast paced.
    • The damage output from  Vengeful Maelstrom is very powerful with some ability power. Using it in team fights to hit as many enemies as possible can turn the tide greatly in your teams favor.
    •  Vengeful Maelstrom is good for small skirmishes in laning as well. If you aren't sure you can kill your enemy with the normal E-W-Q combo, throw down  Vengeful Maelstrom to add that extra bit of damage you may need.
    • Use  Vengeful Maelstrom while tanking minion waves to quickly kill minions and shut down the enemy's push.
    •  Vengeful Maelstrom can be very useful for a kamikaze operation. A fully built  Maokai can easily store up the 300 bonus damage when 1 v 4 thanks to  Sap Magic. In addition to free hits while they try to kill you, the resulting nuke from  Vengeful Maelstrom can often get an unexpected kill.
    • Place it over enemies and yourself should you expect the enemy to focus on you, reducing your damage taken while possibly let it cause more to enemies. Place it over allies if you expect enemies to aggressively attack them instead.
    • Enemies running from  Vengeful Maelstrom isn't necessarily a problem, as long as you are damaging them while they flee from it. With  Arcane Smash,  Twisted Advance and even other allied crowd-control effects, the enemy fleeing  Vengeful Maelstrom can allow your team to do a lot of damage upon them without receiving reprisal before they escape the circle.
  •  Vengeful Maelstrom is a great counter against other champs' AoE ults. Activate  Vengeful Maelstrom during a channel such as  Absolute Zero or  Death Lotus to absorb some damage and later retaliate with some of your own.
  •  Maokai's typical initiation is using  Sapling Toss, rooting them near the sapling with  Twisted Advance to ensure the sapling explodes on them, and finishing off with  Arcane Smash. Waiting until the root is just about to end before using his knock-up on  Arcane Smash increases disable time on them as well. If a team battle is about to start, use  Vengeful Maelstrom after you jump in with your  Twisted Advance, positioning its location to net as many enemies and allies as possible.
  •  Maokai's damage output early game is very high being able to bring a squishy enemy to about 1/3 of their health using a few well aimed  Sapling Tosses. When they get low enough use the above combo, you can easily get a kill.
  •  Maokai can have a support role similar to  Galio, being able to deal decent damage and still protect allies, or  Malphite, being able to disrupt enemy positions and set-up kills for his allies while still remaining relatively tanky.
  •  Maokai has great jungle potential and is one of the fastest clearing junglers with  Sapling Toss,  Arcane Smash and his passive  Sap Magic.


Build usage

  •  Maokai suffers from naturally low MR and benefits greatly from cooldown reduction, so Spirit Visage is a perfect defensive item as it provides a nice amount of both along with synergizing well with  Sap Magic.
  • Health items synergize well with  Sap Magic and improve his sustainability.
  • Shurelya's Reverie and its active effect is excellent for helping  Maokai getting into range of good targets to use  Twisted Advance on, or peeling allies as a tank is wont to do, in addition to having generally useful stats.
    • The Philosopher's Stone that is part of the recipe also as vital: providing health regeneration, mana regeneration and gold over time - all very useful for a jungler that will be constantly getting damaged by monsters, using mana to kill them, and have lower farming potential compared to laners.
  • Frozen Heart is an excellent item for  Maokai, giving him armor for survivability, cooldown reduction to allow him to do more damage and control fights better with his abilities, mana to allow him to maintain  Vengeful Maelstrom longer, and an excellent passive to reduce the damage of enemy autoattackers.
  • If using a Guardian Angel, it is possible to save your  Sap Magic until after you have resurrected as the stacks stay with you through death. Doing this could save your life if a champion decides to wait around until you've revived.
  •  Maokai, much like  Nautilus has rather high ability power ratios for a tank, making tanky ability power  items like Rylai's Crystal Scepter, Ohmwrecker, Rod of Ages highly effective him, however, don't pick more than two of this as you might leave your tankyness behind.
    • Rylai's Crystal Scepter provides great synergy with  Sapling Toss, as it applies the slow with its first hit and then again after it chases down and explodes near an opponent. The health will also benefit his tanking.
    • Ohmwrecker can be used to enable  Maokai to tower dive more aggressively, and save himself significant damage in situations where he is dragged under tower by someone using an escape during  Twisted Advance.
    • If your team is already very tanky and are in the need of damage, you can actually build ability power similar to an actual mage. Keep in mind however that you still have to get very close to an opponent, and as such you should try to remain hard to kill.
  • Using a Sheen or Iceborn Gauntlet can offer great results due to  Maokai's high base attack damage and low cooldown on  Arcane Smash. Iceborn Gauntlet can be aggressive alternative to Frozen Heart as it provides almost the same stats.
  • Chalice of Harmony is very useful on  Maokai as it provides valuable MR and greatly increases his mana regeneration to extend the duration of  Vengeful Maelstrom.
    • It can be later upgraded into a Athene's Unholy Grail for increased MR and valuable ability power, as well as a lot of CDR

Recommended builds

Summoner's Rift
Starting Hunter's Machete item Health Potion item5 Sweeping Lens item
Essential Ninja Tabi item Spirit of the Ancient Golem item Aegis of the Legion item
Offensive Abyssal Scepter item Sunfire Cape item Iceborn Gauntlet item
Defensive Ohmwrecker item Spirit Visage item Frozen Heart item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item Sight Ward item
The Howling Abyss
Starting Boots of Speed item Nomad's Medallion item Faerie Charm item Health Potion item3
Essential Mercury's Treads item Chalice of Harmony item Glacial Shroud item
Offensive Iceborn Gauntlet item Athene's Unholy Grail item Sunfire Cape item Talisman of Ascension item
Defensive Frozen Heart item Spirit Visage item Randuin's Omen item Aegis of the Legion item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item
The Crystal Scar
Starting Doran's Shield item2 Boots of Speed item Health Potion item2
Essential Ninja Tabi item Glacial Shroud item Warden's Mail item
Offensive Iceborn Gauntlet item Abyssal Scepter item Sunfire Cape item
Defensive Frozen Heart item Randuin's Omen item Thornmail item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item
The Twisted Treeline
Starting Boots of Speed item Doran's Ring item
Essential Mercury's Treads item Rod of Ages item Abyssal Scepter item
Offensive Iceborn Gauntlet item Wooglet's Witchcap item Void Staff item
Defensive Frozen Heart item Athene's Unholy Grail item Aegis of the Legion item
Consumables Health Potion item Mana Potion item


  • Part of  Maokai's ability to tank comes from him being able to consistently heal through  Sap Magic. If you can spare it, try using Executioner's Calling or another healing-reduction ability to minimize its effect.
  • When jungling,  Maokai can reach level 2 and gank earlier than most junglers due to  Sapling Toss stacking and strong ganking at low levels with  Twisted Advance. Be aware of this and play accordingly.
  •  Maokai's  Vengeful Maelstrom will detonate for damage even if it ends due to death or mana loss; don't forget this when finishing him off at low health.
  • Avoid fighting in his  Vengeful Maelstrom, as the spell effect can turn the tide of a teamfight in  Maokai's favor.
  • When facing a laning  Maokai, the most reliable way to avoid  Sapling Toss is to stand near your minions, then run when he throws the sapling. This way, the minions draw aggro instead of you, allowing you to reliably get out of the explosion radius.
    • Avoid the bushes if possible. Not only is bush-hugging ineffective against  Maokai's  Sapling Toss, it can actually make landing the explosion damage easier.

Champion spotlight

Maokai Champion Spotlight07:22

Maokai Champion Spotlight

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