Maokai support has taken over League of Legends Season 11, here’s why

Andrew Amos
Riot Games

League of Legends Season 11 has thrown the meta into disarray, and Maokai support is at the forefront of it. The old-school top lane pick is now the number-one support in the game, thanks to the power of Imperial Mandate.

There’s been a rise in many interesting picks across League Season 11 so far. The “MoonStaff” build with Moonstone Renewer and Staff of Flowing Water is one of the latest crazes. However, the other involves Maokai.

The treant made a brief appearance in the Season 10 meta across the map, but he’s definitely here to stay in Season 11. He’s risen up to become League’s most powerful support, heralding a huge 53% win rate while wrestling one of the high playrates in the role.

And it’s all thanks to the item rework. Here’s why.

Meowkai in League of Legends
Riot Games
For a guide to Maokai’s best builds, runes, and why he’s so popular, read below.

Why is Maokai support popular?

Breaking down the numbers quickly, your eyes don’t deceive you. At the launch of League patch 11.2, Maokai has a win rate of 53.05% according to stats site OP.GG, making him the winningest support. He also is the third-most picked at 15.47%, just behind Thresh (26.11%) and Alistar (15.56%).

The champions’ popularity doesn’t just exist in casual play or ranked. It’s extended to pro play too. Across all big regions ⁠— Europe, North America, Korea, and China ⁠— since the Season 11 item rework dropped, he has won 15 games out of the 25 he’s played for a 60% win rate.

Maokai support Season 11 winrates
Maokai Support has always had a high winrate, but now he’s getting picked a lot.

Some players have risen up to become Maokai masters. The pick is most often banned against DAMWON’s Cho ‘BeryL’ Geon-hee, who showed proficiency on the Twisted Treant in the lead-up to Worlds 2020 ⁠— long before Imperial Mandate was a thing.

That one item is the core crux as to why Maokai has become so popular. The new support Mythic is completely broken on Maokai. It gives him extra damage on crowd control abilities, which is his entire kit ⁠— his Q, W, E, and R all have some form of CC.

Although it’s been nerfed in League patch 11.2, overall decreasing its effectiveness because of the cooldown change, it’s still very strong on Maokai. Just having the bonus damage helps, and can ultimately make the difference between winning or losing a trade.

Watch Evil Geniuses’ IgNar take down Dignitas with Maokai support at LCS Lock-In 2021.

How to play Maokai support in League Season 11

Want to try Maokai support for yourself? Well, you’re not going to need to be a Challenger-level player, as he is one of the least mechanically intensive champions in support. Plus, his power level is through the roof, making him relatively hard to mess up.

You start off with your Sapling Toss, and you also want to max the ability. It was nerfed in League patch 11.2, but it’s still the best way to proc Imperial Mandate. It also provides vision in lane, and can surprise enemies with its ridiculously high damage ⁠— even without much AP.

Rune-wise, Aftershock is the best pick. While some opt for Arcane Comet, it makes Maokai a very squishy pick. Aftershock gives him at least some sort of trading ability in lane, allowing him to tank up damage in short bursts while dishing out plenty. It also is effective in teamfights.

Hexflash is also a must-take on Maokai. His Flash-Twisted Advance combo is the bread and butter of his engage. Having Hexflash allows him to pull it off more, flashing from the shadows on top of enemy carries.

Maokai Support runes in League Season 11

Maokai’s laning phase isn’t the strongest, and he can struggle into picks like Leona who will decimate him. However, he can often outpoke ⁠— and outsustain ⁠— many enchanter supports. Once you get on top of an enemy, you can abuse your passive to keep healthy. Taking Revitalize also helps with some bonus healing.

After Imperial Mandate, Maokai typically thrives with even more AP. Demonic Embrace is heavily favored thanks to the shred and damage over time. Oblivion Orb is also a good pick-up into teams with lots of healing.

Between that, your support item (Relic Shield), Stirring Wardstone, and Boots (typically Lucidity Boots or Mercury Treads), Maokai can dish out tons of damage while taking some back. He’s not the ultra-tank he usually is with this AP-heavy build, but what he lacks in durability he makes up for in punch.

The pick has been nerfed a little bit on League patch 11.2, but not enough to push it out of the meta. If the Moonstone build isn’t for you, you might want to consider playing Maokai in your early ranked games to push up the ladder.