Graves Build Guide

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Graves, Competitive AD-Carry

written by Oxay

Graves Build

Starting items

  • OR
  • OR
  • x 3
  • OR
  • OR
  • x 5

Core Build

Late Game / Luxury Items

Situational Items

  • OR
  • OR
  • OR

Skill Order

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • True Grit
  • End of the Line
  • Smoke Screen
  • Quickdraw
  • Collateral Damage

Runes for Graves

Masteries for Graves

Table of Contents

  • Explaining the Quick Reference

    Starting Items: Start with a doran's Blade if you have a sustain support like Soraka, or Sona and believe that you will be able to win the lane using it. The extra survivability and damage is really good.


    Start Boots of Speed if you're with a non-sustain support and you think you'll be able to outplay your enemies using your mobility and sustain from Health potion.


    Start Cloth Armor if you're with a non-sustain against a harass lane like Caitlyn, this will lead to you building a Wriggle's and getting lane control with it.

  • Introduction

    Who am I?
    Hello and welcome to my guide to Graves, The Outlaw. My name is Oxay and I just simply love playing Graves. I'm not a 2300 Elo player, but I'm quite an experienced AD-Carry player. Graves is definitely one of my favourite AD-Carries, though I also regularly play with any of the other AD-carries. Excuse my English I'm from Europe, if there are any annoying spelling mistakes, please tell me so in the comments.

    Why play Graves?
    Graves has a nice way to escape sticky situations/join fights with Quickdraw, it also gives a really nice Attack Speed buff, it's basically a combination of Vayne's tumble and Tristanas Steroids in one ability. Has Buckshot which has an amazing burst, and ultimate with double burst damage and a huge range. After all of this you still have his Smoke Screen, an AoE slow with an effect much like Nocturne's ult. Shortly, Graves has awesome mechanics.

    External Image
    Ignore the Kennen game. These are normal games though, I do not have a picture of ranked games.
    I also play Normal Games a lot.

    Whom is this Guide aimed at?
    I'm mostly trying to reach out to Summoners whom have reached level 30, but I'll try to adjust my Guide considering there are lower level players as well.
    I'm aware of the fact that Graves can play a really good solo top, but I'm more of a Support & AD-carry bot lane kind of guy, so that's what I'll be focusing on.

    While making this guide I took inspiration from Hyfe's Nasus Guide and watching players such as Chaox and Doubelift play Graves in ranked solo queue.

  • Abilities

    True Grit
    This passive is actually a lot better than most people think it is. At it's highest rank, this passive nearly gives Graves a free & .
    Try to keep this at 10 stacks during lane phase, you will be able to take a hit once a while. Very helpful when laning against other AD-Carries.

    This is what really makes Graves scary, especially during lane phase. Use it to harass or farm big waves if you get pushed too hard.

    It does GREAT damage in a CONE, has a NICE range and it can hit the same target SEVERAL times. Just try this ability close to an enemy champion and see what happens.

    Smoke Screen
    I love this ability, it's new and has a really cool mechanism. Use it when you get gank, use it when you're going for a kill. Use it on the opposite AD-carry or AP-carry and burst their teammates down whilst they can't see what is happening. It takes a while before you get used to all of it's uses.

    I love Quickdraw, it has so many uses. You can Quickdraw through thin walls to get away, like a flash just a little shorter range. You can use it to burst down turrets, use it to join teamfight, not to initiate them that will just get you killed. It gives a great Attack Speed buff. Try not to use it just to farm minions unless you know you're completely safe, as it has a 14 to 22 seconds cooldown, if you get caught without it you will have to rely on your flash to get away.

    Collateral Damage
    Awesome AoE ranged nuke, it's first bullet has an really good range and once it hits a target it explodes and increases that range with another nuke. I honestly don't know what more to say about this ability. Shoot it, melt faces.

  • Skilling Order

  • Pros & Cons

    *Great Burst Damage
    *Nice juke skills with Quickdraw and Smoke Screen
    *Nice Range(With his Buckshot and ult)
    *Very strong lategame
    *More sustain compared to other AD-carries thanks to his Passive
    *Strong farming with Buckshot

    *Dies quickly compared to other champions, like every AD-carry.
    *Does not have a very reliable way to get away, like Tristanas Rocket Jump.
    *Relies a lot on a good farm to be effective
    *Rather slow with only 305 base movement speed.

    *His auto attacks have rather short range, and Buckshot does not have as much damage on full range. Thus he can get outranged.

    Most of the other AD-carries have the same cons as Graves, Graves though has really strong pros.

  • Optional Runes & Spells


    I strongly believe that these runes will help you a lot early with gaining lane domination. I always go with flat AD marks&quints.

    Viable options:
    Gives you enough Arm pen and will help you a bit more late.

    Really helps you a lot during lane phase, stacks nicely with Graves passive.
    Viable options:
    You can mix in a few of these if you find yourself having mana problems.? Works, not as effective as Clarity runes past level 5-7 or so.


    I use these, because I think it will help me more than the magic resist ones if I can outplay my enemies.

    I find these to give the most profit for AD-carries. Just that little more sustain.
    Viable options:
    Getting these will hit you quite a bit early game, but will catch up and work a bit better at later levels. It's a matter of taste.

    You will notice having these when farming and harassing your enemies, get them they work.
    Viable options:?
    Guess you could get these, I would not recommend it. Marks give you enough and if they build too much armour, rush your Last Whisper earlier.
    I used to have these all the time, they make you look stronger, but honestly don't give you that much. You gain no damage and no sustain, I don't find myself getting away with 70 health too often. If you already have these, they still work.

    Summoner Spells
    I honestly think that these spells are the best to have on almost any AD-carry at this moment.?
    Exhaust is great for finishing of a kill or almost completely shutting down the enemy AD-carry in ganks/teamfights.?Flash is highly needed as Graves does not really have a reliable way to get out of situations by himself.
    Is a very viable pick as well, instantly removing all cc (Crowd control, stuns, slows, etc.) and having 66% reduced cc afterwards for three seconds is awesome and gets you out of a lot of situations. I just believe that Flash is more reliable on escaping as well as granting the possibility to finish enemies who run away off.

  • Several Item Builds and how to Adjust them to the Enemy Team.

    From here and on, prepare for a good read. Get yourself something to drink get comfortable. I will place a few videos in as a nice break from all the reading. If you do not want to read anymore, I can't force you. You could just use my Quick Reference and figure out the rest yourself, but you'll be missing out on a great deal of information :).

    Here I will talk about the main items you will want to get as well as how to adjust to the current state of the game by countering enemies with your items.
    I just want to advice everyone reading this to please not start with something like a Meki Pendant, Faerie Charm, Doran's Shield or some weird Support/tank build like that. At least not if you want to melt faces as AD-carry Graves.
    In an average game you'd want to get something like this:

    These are all great items for Graves, early and will crush your lane, unless they've farmed as well as you have.
    gives a massive boost to your crit chance, damage and crit damage. Your auto attacks will really start hurting a lot after this.
    After getting your you will crit most of your auto attacks and have great AS together with and .
    is there to keep you alive during the teamfights that have to be going on at this point.
    it's late game and all your enemies are building armor because your melting their faces off, get this, continue melting.
    If you get to this point in the game, your enemies will HATE you, the AP-carries will try to burst you as fast as possible and the rest of the team just wants to stun you. Banshee's counters both. Positioning play a big roll during teamfights (I'll get back to that later on). You should not get caught, if you though manage to get caught, Banshee's shield will help you get away most of the time or at least lowering the magic damage that's coming in. It also gives some health and mana. Great item for us annoying AD-carries.

    Examples of how to react to current state of the game
    If the game is not going well for you and your enemies are already all that tanky, get your faster.
    If the enemy has an extremely fed AP-carry that just rolls over your team get your quickly.
    If you're the only/main damage on your team and you get succesfully focused too much, get a and use it's active, it could just turn around those teamfights. At this point you should also consider selling for , try not to get into this position.

    If you're absolutely melting their health bars, but still manage to die sometimes could be an option. I would not suggest it if you're losing though, since your enemies will just be waiting for you when you respawn and kill you again.

    If you're really fed and roflstomping the enemy team, you could ignore the Banshee's and get something like a 2nd or a and continue roflstomping.

    The order in which you get your items is highly depending on how you and your enemies are doing. I mostly start out with and start mixing after that according to my needs.

  • Berserker's Graves vs Mercury Treads.

    I suppose you've realized that I run with in my guide instead of . Here is my explanation:

    Yes, they both work. The main argument for going with Mercury's Treads is because of it's Crowd Control reduction by 35%. Players say going with Mercury's Treads will maximize your damage output as you will be stunned/slowed/etc. less with them.?You're looking at it from the wrong angle.

    High Elo top ranked AD-carry players always roll with Berserker's Greaves. Players like Chaox, Doublelift and Candy Panda.?Here is why: As an AD-carry, you are extremely squishy and easy to kill when caught off guard. Therefore positioning yourself is extremely important, you will want to stand a bit behind your tank ready to run/Flash/Quickdraw away if people foolishless dive through your team to get you. If you're getting Mercury's Treads because you get cc'd too much, you're doing something wrong. If you're that easy to get to you should consider moving back a bit in your team, let the tank/bruiser take the cc. If you get caught with a stun out of position you will be dead, with or without Mercury's Treads unless the enemy team is not bright enough to jump you. If you manage to survive, quickdraw away and toss a Smoke Screen in their path.?If they are chasing you, juke them with Quickdraw, Smoke Screen and Flash, instead of relying on Mercury's Treads.

    An simple version of juking as Graves is shown in this video of mine:

    Shortly: If you're not used to playing AD-carry yet and get caught out of position grab Mercury's Treads or if the enemy team runs very difficult to dodge cc like a Kennen that flashes/lightning surges in with his ultimate on, they should help a bit. If you can manage to keep your position right go with Berserker's Greaves, they will help you dominate your lane/give extra Attack Speed during Teamfights. They're also nearly 300 gold cheaper.

    Both boots work, it depends on you and the team compositions which boots you should pick. Remember this is all just my opinion and experiences, everyone has different ways to play. If you prefer Mercury's Treads, get them, they work fine.

  • Abilities (In-Depth)

    You will use this ability a LOT. It's amazing for harassing your enemies during lane phase, it's amazing for pushing back minion waves, this ability is amazing. It is though not too difficult to understand so I will not go into it any deeper for now.

    This Ability has lots of uses, juke enemy jungle gankers & help your jungler net a kill on your lane by blinding the enemies. Use it to slow escaping enemies, block off damage threats in teamfights, save teamfights who get jumped on when they're out of position, set up for a surprise attack, slow enemies when they're chasing you, this ability has uncountable amounts of uses.

    Use this ability when you're trying to take down a turret and know you're safe from ganks, use it to join in on teamfight. DON'T INITIATE WITH IT. This will cause you to be out of position, let your team initiate while you join in afterwards. The Attack Speed buff is extremely nice. You should also use Quickdraw when taking Dragon, Baron, Red Buff, Blue Buff etc. On top of all of the above, you can also use Quickdraw to escape sticky situations by taking a shortcut through thin walls/ledges.

    Here is a short video showing you a few of more important spots you should know:

    Not really a lot to explain here, remember it's massive range. Shoot it, Things go boom.

  • Supports

    As I said earlier, Graves will need to farm A LOT. I cannot stress enough how important farming minions is. As an AD-carry you should have the highest farm on your team and hopefully compared to the enemy team as well.?All of this makes you able to afford expensive items like .
    If you decide to go duo bot lane (which I think you should as Graves) I would highly recommend you to find a duo queue partner who plays a good support. The best supports are Sona or Janna in my opinion. Sona and Janna are both great supports for graves, they both offer a nice set of cc.
    Myself I prefer laning with a Sona as they just as Janna have a slow. Sona though also has an AoE stun and can keep you in lane forever with her Heal. Here is a video of how effective Graves and Sona are together:

    Thanks to Nilsbuss for playing my support!

    Janna though is also a great support do to her set of cc abilities, knock up, slow and knock back. She also has a shield that she can use to remove incoming harassment, it's just not as reliable as a heal.
    Having a support with you that grants you all the last hits will really boost your effectivity in teamfights. More on this later on.

  • How to respond to both Enemy & Friendly ganks

    The two most important spells that you have when enemy junglers come in for a gank are Quickdraw and Smoke Screen. If you're close enough to your turret just blocked the jungler's path with a Smoke Screen and Quickdraw your way to safety.
    If you're however pushing the lane and make a mistake by standing too far you will be a lot easier to gank. Try to make your support ward the river so you can see incoming ganks. Once you notice the enemy jungler run into the brush, preferably the brush closest to your turret if you can make it before the jungler gets you. Wait untill the jungler is about to enter your brush and put a Smoke Screen on him, then Quickdraw past him and run for it, if he manages to get you still. Use your flash, unless you know he can't kill you.?Remember Graves is an AD-Carry meaning he's squishy, thus easy to kill.

    If you notice your own jungler is setting up for a gank ping the target that you want to focus (in a AD-carry/Support lane you will want to focus the AD-carry), when your jungler starts moving in shoot your Smoke Screen on the focused Champion. This will cause him to not see your jungler coming, Quickdraw in, if they're far enough away from turret use Exhaust, Buckshot, Collateral Damage and finish him.

  • How to act during Lane Phase.

    If you started with Boots of Speed and Health Potions try to outskill your lane, keep your passive at 10 stacks and try to trade hits with your enemies. At low-mid elo most players still go with Doran's Blade even though they're not with a sustain Support like Soraka. If you can hit them with a couple of Buckshots and auto attacks you will dominate the lane, if they hit you back you can just use one of your Health Potions or make use of your Support.If you started with Doran's Blade I hope you're with a sustain Support, if you are hit your enemy a lot. It will deal good damage, you will have to rely on your Support to get your health back up. Doran's Blade is still a really strong item with the right lane combination.

    FARM, FARM, FARM. This will make your game, without your farm you are nowhere, YOU HAVE TO FARM. If you're not used to last hitting, start practising. You will need to have the most farm on your team. If you can get to that point where you dominate your lane try to push the enemy AD-carry out of range for last hits, if done succesfully and the other lanes are going at least okay you will win your team the game. FARM LIKE YOU'VE NEVER FARMED BEFORE.
    Once you get to either 1650 gold or 2000 gold, depending on the starting item that you choose, push your lane quickly with Buckshots to the enemy turret and recall. Buy your B. F. Sword as soon as possible once you have enough money. This will help your lane domination IMMENSLY. If you someone manage to nearly die thanks to a good burst/jungle gank and you're forced to recall with less than 1650 gold. DON'T buy the Pickaxe/Cloak of Agility. It's not worth it.

    If you're the one being dominated a lot during early lane phase and you just simply can't seem to get your gold, recall and buy Berserker's Greaves + 2?Doran's Blade instead. More sustain, a bit of lifesteal and a nice bit of Attack Damage. You could also get a Wriggle's Lantern instead of double Doran's Blades. This will give you some armor, attack damage and quite a bit of lifesteal.
    ?If you get to a point where you manage to kill the enemy AD-carry whilst everyone on your team is still alive, set up for a Dragon quickly. Push your lane VERY fast and tell your mid lane player to do the same. If you're solo top champion has taken Teleport for a summoner (which most solo top champions take) place a ward and tell him to teleport to the Dragon, if he doesn't just do Dragon with the 4 of you and make your solo top champion keep his enemy in the same lane. Tell your jungler that he NEEDS to smite the Dragon. The surviving 3 enemies will not be able to fight you over the Dragon so it will be a free Dragon. 190 gold global equals 6 entire free minions wave last hits for the team, therefore getting Dragon is very important. It is a LOT of gold. Try to fight your enemies if you find them doing dragon, which you should cause your support has to ward it once you reach level 6 ish, this is where team are able to kill dragon quickly with strong junglers.

    Most people think that laning is all about getting KILLS. This is NOT true. One Champion kill equals about 8-13 minions. Of course it's a nice bonus, but if your farming is suffering from you focusing too much on killing your enemies you're doing something wrong.Farming>Killing, focus killing when your jungler arrives or if you find a perfect moment, other than that just farm, Farm, FARM.

  • How to act during Teamfights.

    Teamfights is all about POSITIONING. As a good AD-carry player you should be able to position yourself wisely in every teamfight. This is extremely important for the following reasons(Considering you have a normal good functioning team composition;

    ..-Supports never do damage, they're there to heal/shield/cc.
    ..-Jungler is mostly more tanky built and even if you have a carry jungler, they never get anywhere close to your farm.
    ..-Solo top player, your bruiser, will be there to initiate and soak up the damage while still dealing some damage to the enemy team. So far your team still has no good damage output.
    ..-Now you have the AP-carry player, they do great damage but only with bursts. They're very depending on cooldowns. Once they blow their Abilities, your team has no damage left, EXCEPT FOR YOU.
    As an AD-carry you have CONSTANT damage, dps. As I mentioned earlier, AD-carries become stronger and stronger through the game. Tanks will build armor, but your Last Whisper + Arm Pen should ignore nearly 50% of it anyways. This does NOT mean that you should be focusing tanks, I'm just trying to say that IF an enemy tank gets caught without it's team, you will be able to hurt him a lot. Because of you being the only one with constant good damage, you are IMPORTANT AS CHEESE to your team in teamfights.
    Even if you're doing everything right and get really strong, you can still lose. Today has been one of those days for me, I though still made a lot of mistakes. No one can be perfect, remember that. You'll always make mistakes, admiting it to the team is appreciated.

    External Image

    Now let's discuss some things that you should do when you are actually winning and pushing.
    First of all, if you're winning, start taking control of their jungle. Taking their Blue buffs/Red buffs can be really devastating to the enemy team. AP-carries are so much stronger with Blue buffs, for cooldowns mostly. Once you've gotten control of it and stolen at least the more important creeps you could force a Baron. DO THIS ONLY IF YOU'RE SURE THAT YOU CAN TAKE THE ENEMY TEAM. Forcing the Baron doesn't necessarily mean that you should kill it. Just start fighting it, if the enemies don't know you're doing it, it's a free Baron. If they have warded it and know that you're doing it, they will come and try to steal it/stop your team. If they try to stop you, just turn around and finish them. Once you've gotten the upper hand in a game, PUSH YOUR ADVANTAGE. Get every Baron/Dragon and try to go for their inhibitors. Once super minions start rolling in they will have to defend and you will get a huge advantage.
    Split pushing is also a great thing to do. If you see that the enemy mid lane champion has gone top to gank you should not run top to try to help him, instead push the mid turret. You will be able to get it to at least 50% health from full. If they don't come back to defend it, kill the turret.

    If you're in the losing team, it's really difficult to get the upper hand. WARD Baron/Dragon and your own jungle. Stop them from killing any of those if you can. If not, just defend and wait for the enemy team to do something stupid like diving your turret. Once they make mistakes it's comeback time.
    Just try to get an early advantage, dominate your lane if you can, this will make them pretty useless. That's all you can do at the start.

  • Which Champions Counter Graves?

    Graves has a few points that counter him.

    Firstly, as Graves is a very fragile champion, cc will be a problem.?Secondly, Graves has pretty short range(not counting his Buckshot, and even if Buckshot has a nice range, it won't deal as much damage on full range).

    The most well known and favoured champion to counter Graves with right now is Caitlyn. Due to her ability to dominate lanes early on and her extreme range. When facing Caitlyn, just try to focus farming as much as possible untill your jungler comes for a gank. Once you have your ult you can start threatening a bit more, but be careful, Caitlyn will have built an advantage from the start. She will be a bit stronger.

    Ezreal and Kog'Maw are also okay counters for Graves. I usually dominate Ezreals though, but if you can play Ezreal really well he's a pretty good counter. Once you Quickdraw in he can just Blink away. Ezreal also has great range with his Mystic Shot. Kog'Maw is all about the range, when he activates his W he will outrange you easily with auto attacks. Kog'Maw though has no escapabilities except for his slow, try to hit him on that point. Quickdraw in when you know you can and blast a full Buckshot in his face. Try to push him back away from the minions.

    For supports I would say that Taric, Alistar, Blitzcrank and Lona are pretty good counters, they're all really aggressive due to their cc and Graves is very fragile to cc. Placing these champions together in lane with one of the counters for Graves is very difficult for you to play against. In these conditions you should just be focusing farming. Let them push a bit so that you can easily get to your turret if they try to jump onto you.

    All of these Champions are quite difficult to play against, but it works. When you've gotten used to Graves you will know how far you can go without getting killed.

  • Short guide adjusted to New Players (Runes, Masteries, Spells)

    If you have less than 21 points to spend in masteries, spend all you have in the Offense tree. Prioritize the offense tree and put the last 9 points that you get into the utility tree.

    If you're not level 20 yet, I'd suggest to wait with Runes. Even though they do give a boost, they'll be quite useless compared to other runes when you reach level 20 (which does not take that long). If you know what you're doing and insist on getting them, you still can. As I said, they still give a boost. Get a few then and some . They should give you a small boost.

    Summoner Spells
    If you are not high enough to get you could go with // (Heal is due to it's recent buff).

  • Summary

    Graves truly is a top tier AD-carry at the moment, I would expect more nerfs in the near future though. Play him a lot, get used to his abilities and how much damage they will take.

    With picking Graves and playing him well, you will help out your team a great deal already. He has a cool way to cc with his Smoke Screen and has a huge burst as well as constant damage as every other AD-carry.

    I hope this guide was any helpful, if it was please vote and leave a comment. Also if there's anything missing or if you have any tips, PLEASE leave a comment.

    Thank you very much!


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