Olaf - A Guide by JackAubrey

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Olaf's been out a few days now, and I've been testing out different items and builds. While I'm by no means amazing at this game, I do think I've managed to pick up a few things, and I wanted to share what I've seen with people who are new to Olaf.

I treat Olaf as a carry. That means items that give him an offensive edge over his opponents, like Youmuu's Ghostblade and Stark's Fervor--NOT Warmog's x4 and an Atma's Impaler. Why?

Because Olaf has what every carry wants. He's got 2 steroid skills (his passive and Vicious Strikes), and he's immune to CC every single teamfight thanks to an amazing ult with a pretty short cooldown. Given a character that has all that, why would you build him into a tank? That's like building tank Ashe and only using her for her Ult / slow. People see that Vicious Strikes scales with health, so they immediately decide he's supposed to tank. I see it as being a bonus for taking survivability items with your damage items; Jax gets health from damage items, Rammus gets damage from armor items, Olaf gets damage from health items. But while it's nice, it's not enough to make health stacking a good idea for Carry Olaf. You should have enough HP to keep you from being squishy, but no more.


Why HP Stacking is a Poor Choice
"Rush a Warmog's!" you say. "Frozen Mallet is MANDATORY"

I don't believe a word of it. Vicious Strikes gives you 1.6% of your max HP as damage while it's active. 1.6%. That's 1 damage for every 62.5 hit points you get. That Warmog's, maxed out on creep kills? It gives you 1220 health, meaning 19.52 damage while Vicious Strikes is active. That Frozen Mallet that Olaf "NEEDS TO GET FIRST"? It gives 700 HP and a total of 31.2 damage, in addition to its slow. So for your 6385 gold (not including boots), you've got 50.72 damage. That's as much as an 1850 gold B.F. Sword. And that all-important slow? Oh right, Lizard buff.

"But my teammates might need Lizard buff!" To that I say this: If Olaf is so dependent on Frozen Mallet for its slow--to the point where you have to buy it first--what other champion could possibly need Lizard buff more?


Bottom line is this: If you want a tank, play a tank. If you want a carry, play a carry. Yes, you can build Olaf with tanking items / Atma's and be a tank. You know who else can do that? Everyone. The only reason you're doing it with Olaf is the crappy scaling on Vicious Strikes.

So treat Vicious Strikes as a nice bonus, and a bit more damage when you buy that survivability item mid-game. But don't base your entire build on a 1.6% scaling bonus.


Other Common Misconceptions
-Olaf has mana issues.
FALSE. Olaf is a melee carry with mana. That means you don't spam his abilities when you're laning. Using Undertow to hit an entire creep wave and an enemy (including a last hit on a low creep) is a great idea. Spamming Undertow whenever your opponent gets close is a BAD idea. Here's how you can tell if you're spamming too much: if you're out of mana before you can try to get an early kill, you're spamming too much. If you have to blue pill for mana before you've farmed enough gold for your next item, you're spamming too much. Save your mana for when you need to use it and it'll last you through the laning phase. And once you get to mid-game, you should only really be using mana during teamfights (and if you're using ALL your mana during one teamfight, I have no idea what to tell you because you're breaking my brain).

-Olaf can't farm
FALSE. Stop rushing to buy Frozen Mallet, of COURSE you think he's got farming issues when your first item is 3k gold. 2 or 3 levels in Undertow and you can tear through a creep wave in seconds. While laning, last-hitting is easy with him; the hardest part is dealing with harassment, and you've got a ranged ability so you can at least get an occasional last hit when facing heavy harass. If you still think he's just too slow at farming, try starting with a Tiamat or Madred's Razors. They're not ideal, because they limit your ganking potential (due to their limited use in early game ganks), but they're better than complaining about not being able to kill creeps.

-Undertow is terrible
FALSE. It starts out bad. 1 rank in Undertow gives a really bad snare. But leveling it gives you a moderate damage harassing tool that scales with your attack damage and heals you if you pop Vicious Strikes before tossing it! Its single-target damage is lower than, say, Mundo's Cleaver, but its ability to hit multiple targets makes up for it. It works best for chasing, as the cooldown is longer if you use it to run away. But sometimes a 40% snare on their entire team for 2.5 seconds is exactly what you need to escape. The bottom line is, if you leave it at Rank 1, it will suck. So don't leave it at 1. Remember, Vicious Strikes only goes up by 6 flat damage and 0.3% of your max HP per rank. You can leave it at Rank 2 or so early on for an extra 45 damage and 6% slow in AoE on Undertow. Don't underestimate how strong it is when maxed (and aimed properly...)


Masteries

21/0/9
Since Olaf gets zero benefit from AP, I leave the point in Improved Smite even when I'm Laning. Important masteries are Brute Force, Sunder, Havoc, Haste, and Awareness. A 21/0/9 build gives you a higher damage output, faster leveling, and longer neutral buffs.

Welcome to the part of the guide where I discuss items and item builds.

Starting Out
Your first item should be chosen based on your opponents.

The first choice, and the most reliable, is  Doran's Shield and 1x Health Potion. This boosts your starting HP and armor a bit, making you harder to kill, and gives health regen to keep you in your lane longer. This item works well regardless of the items you will choose later, and can be sold if necessary to finish a better item.

Another option is  Long Sword + 1x Health Potion. This will help you get last-hits by lessening those times where you try to last-hit something and it ends up with a sliver of health, only to get ninja'd by one of your minions :(. It also builds into several good starting items and increases the damage of both your autoattacks and Undertow.

Thirdly we've got the "Oh god, I'm going to be harassed so hard this game" setup:  Rejuvenation Bead and as many  Health Potions as you can hold. Also known as the "Wait, you mean I have to 1v2 my lane?" start. This gives you enough regen and potions to stay in lane a long time. Plus, Rejuv Bead builds into Emblem of valour later on.

Lastly there's the Madred's start. Cloth Armor and 5  Health Potions. This lets you build Madred's Razors quickly, leading to better jungling and farming and eventually a Bloodrazor for their Cho'gath or HP stacking tank. You could alternatively start with the Longsword+Potion build; this just gives you a bit more survivability and regen for laning.


Items I don't reccomend starting with:
Vampiric Scepter -- Lifesteal doesn't keep your HP up unless you're autoattacking. You shouldn't be autoattacking, you should be dancing back and forth behind your minions and moving forward to last-hit.
Doran's Blade -- Again, lifesteal, except this one doesn't even have a decent amount. This item is the worst of the Doran's items.
Ruby Crystal -- This would be a great starting item if you could buy health pots to go with it. Unless you have a babysitter in your lane (Janna / Soraka etc), skip this. You likely won't be able to deal with the harassment.



Where to Go From Here

Now that you've managed to farm up some cash, it's time to spend it. If you've been leveling Undertow and Reckless Swing, the item you buy won't have much effect on your damage output (unless you've saved up enough for a B.F. Sword or something). This gives you some flexibility in what you buy; you can start building your damage, mobility, or survivability. Some solid early items:

Madred's Razors -- If they've got some HP tanks, or anyone building a lot of HP, or if you want to farm faster, Madred's Razors are a solid choice. The bonus damage proc is affected by lifesteal, so you'll get chunks of HP restored when killing minions with Vicious Strikes active (or a lifesteal item).
Phage -- This item gives you some survivability and a little bit of damage. The slow is unreliable, but present. It's all-around decent. Builds into Frozen Mallet.
The Brutalizer -- Damage, armor penetration, and cooldown reduction, all for 1337 gold. Builds into Ghostblade, which is amazing.
Zeal -- Crit is nice, and it's a bit better for you than some thanks to your Vicious Strikes' damage bonus. Add in some attack speed and movement speed, and this is a solid choice. Builds into Phantom Dancer for some extra stats and some dodge.
Boots of Speed -- This one isn't optional. The only choice involved is whether you get it before or after one of the above items.



Strapping On Your Shoes

You've got Boots 1. But that isn't enough. You need Boots 2, at the minimum! Let's take a look at your options.

Ninja Tabi -- With dodge and armor, these help you stay alive against physical damage teams. If they only have one crappy caster, or if you know you're going to be going toe-to-toe with another physical carry, these are a great choice.
Mercury's Treads -- Magic resist, and the only item that reduces the duration of Crowd Control effects on your champion. You don't need these as badly as other carries for the most part due to your Ult, but there are definitely situations where they are warranted.
Boots of Swiftness -- These are Boots 3. They're your chasing boots and your running away boots. If you have no compelling reason to get a pair of defensive boots, these are a great choice. Since you have no skill that speeds you up, or charges an enemy, having a pair of speedy boots can be very helpful. You want these over Boots of Mobility because with Boots 5 you get dropped down to Boots 2 speed when you hit an enemy with Undertow.



What You Want

Now I'll discuss the big items, the ones that change games. What you build depends on your opponents and what you built earlier, so instead of giving a set item build I'll discuss your options.

Youmuu's Ghostblade -- Wow. This thing is good. This thing is so good I'm tempted to make it mandatory. Instead, I'll just put it at the top of this list and encourage you to get it. It has everything you need in one convenient item.
Stark's Fervor -- Attack speed with a lifesteal / attack speed / health regen aura for your team and an armor reduction aura for their team. Very, very nice.
Madred's Bloodrazor -- With your high attack speed, this burns through high-HP targets with ease. Plus, Madred's Razors is a good starting item for junglers.
Frozen Mallet -- This is a decent hybrid item for when you're feeling too squishy. It's got a bit of damage, a reliable slow, and a big chunk of health.
The Bloodthirster -- Attack damage and lifesteal, perfect. This thing makes you hit hard, and heal hard. My only issue with this item is that it punishes you for dying. And as Olaf you may find yourself initiating teamfights with Ghost / Ult, meaning dying is sometimes unavoidable.
Bilgewater Cutlass -- A cheaper version of The Bloodthirster with less damage and lifesteal. Its activated ability is a short range targed slow which works well if you can get into range.
Atma's Impaler -- Armor and crit %, plus 2% of your max HP in damage. If the armor will help you and you've got an HP item or two, this is a nice choice.
Banshee's Veil -- This gives you HP (and a smidgen of damage), mana, Magic Resist, and the ever-useful spell blocking shield. As you run into a teamfight, pop your ult right after your bubble breaks, and you won't even need cleanse.
Sunfire Cape -- Once you've got your damage ready to go, it's time to work on survival. A Sunfire Cape will give you a safety net of HP and Armor so you can last longer in battle. A small bonus to your damage via W's health scaling, and a 40 damage AoE aura are just icing on top.
Guardian Angel -- It's not so much good on Olaf as it is good on everyone (when it doesn't bug out). Try this: Run into a teamfight but DON'T pop your ult. Chances are, the enemy will assume you're ulted and not CC you (having Cleanse just in case helps). Either way, do as much damage as you can and die. As you revive, hit your ult and keep pounding faces in while being immune to CC.

Runes

9x Greater Mark of Desolation
9x Greater Seal of Evasion or  Greater Seal of Clarity
9x Greater Glyph of Celerity or  Greater Glyph of Clarity
3x Greater Quintessence of Desolation or  Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
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