League of Legends: Maokai is the solution to your top lane problems

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

Climbing the League of Legends solo queue ladder as a top lane main is an almost impossible task, but picking Maokai could be the solution to that problem.

Often labeled “the island”, top lane is one of the most isolated and least impactful roles in League of Legends. Being the farthest lane from elemental dragons and the bot 2v2 mean junglers rarely venture towards northern Summoner’s Rift and the relative strength of top lane champions compared to other roles does not make up for this fact. So, how does Maokai solve these problems?

Well, with melee bruisers like Darius, Garen, and Wukong dominating the top lane meta throughout Season 10 so far, Maokai offers the perfect counter with superior sustain through the laning phase and greater utility for team fights. What the Twisted Treant lacks in damage, he makes up for with defensive stats and crowd control which give him the edge over his top lane opponents over the full duration of a League of Legends game.

One problem with opting for a tank over a bruiser or mage in the top lane is that you’re relying on teammates to deal the damage while you take a backseat and provide crowd control. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if you’re capable of neutralizing your top lane opponent and know how to position yourself during a team fight to zone enemy carries and enable your mid laner/marksman to dish out huge DPS.

Maokai has the third highest win rate (52.72%) among top laners on Patch 10.9.

Earlier in the season, Maokai was one of the least popular top laners in the game with the primary focus being on bruisers, mages, and even supports in his role. Many tanks have skyrocketed up the top lane tier list recently though as a result of the Bami’s Cinder buffs of Patch 10.4 increasing the damage output of champions with low cooldown crowd control abilities, such as Maokai’s Q – Bramble Smash and W – Twisted Advance.

But, why has Maokai benefitted the most from these changes and risen to a 52.72% win rate on Patch 10.9, placing him firmly in the top lane S tier?

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This is not just because he’s an unkillable tank with unparalleled crowd control from R – Nature’s Grasp in the late game, but also due to the fact that he can duel with high damage dealers during the laning phase with his Passive – Sap Magic. Periodically, Maokai’s next basic attack will heal him for a percentage of his maximum health, which completely negates any incoming damage during a top lane trade and allows the tree to safely throw out damage with his abilities and Immolate procs.

As a result, Maokai can freely farm during the laning phase and quietly build up a gold advantage, provided he’s not targeted with early ganks.

By preventing the likes of Darius, Fiora, or Jax from snowballing through the early game, Maokai has already done his job as a top lane tank and simply has to provide utility and peel for his backline during team fights to win games.

To get the most out of Maokai, it’s important to get these three things right:

"Runes: Aftershock, Demolish, Conditioning, Overgrowth. Manaflow Band, Transcendence.Skill Order: R -> Q -> W -> EItem Build: Ninja Tabi, Sunfire Cape, Spirit Visage, Thornmail, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Adaptive Helm."

So, if you’re struggling to find wins and climb the League of Legends solo queue ladder as a top lane main, here is your solution. Pick Maokai, farm up and neutralize your lane opponent during the early game, and slowly purchase items until you become an unkillable crowd control machine.

It may not be as fun as picking an assassin or bruiser and snowballing your way to victory, but maining Maokai is guaranteed to get you wins if played correctly!