Who is Olaf?
Olaf is a viking with a beard. He is the conqueror of womens hearts and the slayer of men.
I meant what does Olaf do? How do I know if I want to play him?
Olaf is a durable physical dps champion.
His primary roles are the following-
1) Anti-carry. His job is to stick to the other teams MVP's like glue and ruin their lives.... Or take it instead.
2) Off-tank. He is a durable champion and you can expect to be taking a lot of damage from the enemy team being in the center of the battle. Secondly alot of cc effects may be used on you in attempts to peel you off of the enemy carries. This makes him exceptionally valuable as his ultimate can heavily negate these effects and eat up the opposing teams cooldowns.
3) Physical dps carry. As a game progresses, a large part of it will fall directly on your shoulders. You will become exponentially more powerful and eventually will be the most important member of your team turning into a monster.
I will go into more detail later, however if this is a champion type that you like to play, then you will enjoy Olaf.
What runes do you use?
Red: Armor Pen
Yellow: Health/lvl or Dodge
Quint: Flat HP
Thats what I use because its pretty much all I own. However there are some other options. Movement speed and Armor Pen quints are both good on him. Mana regen runes are also acceptable. If you dont have a golem buff, there are times you will be bleeding for mana.
What masteries do you use?
Typical 0/21/9 build. However these are very flexible. Offensive, Utility or a variety of mixes all can work on him. However I think 0/21/9 is the best, and necessary for some things I will mention in this guide (in particular jungling routines).
What summoner abilities should I take?
Smite + Ghost 100% of the time for a jungler.
Cleanse or Exhaust + Ghost for a laner.
What are Olaf's abilities?
What is your build order?
There are several ways to build Olaf. They all vary on playstyle and how you want to build him, so I will cover them.
My primary build for a jungling Olaf
This build is meant to make Olaf useful for early, mid and lategame. Other builds can work very well on him too, but they come at a sacrifice of early and midgame strength.
Your first 3 levels will be - (W), (Q), (W) - From this point (R) > (Q) > (W) > (E).
Why do you build him this way?
W is the key to jungling so you will it first and get it to lvl 2 first. However Undertow (Q) is Olaf's most important ability to have if you want have any large impact in the first 15-20 minutes of the game. The only reason you get (W) before is because you will be level 4 before you ever attempt to gank and a 2nd rank in (W) makes jungling faster.
Vicious strikes (W) is his most signature and arguably most important ability so it may seem strange not leveling it up first. One way or another its the first or second ability you level. However you can jungle perfectly fine and fast with 2 ranks. As far as fighting enemies is concerned, early in the game you do not have the ability to stick on targets. The only way to take advantage of (W) is to be able to stick to a target, the only way to stick to a target reliably is - you guessed it - undertow.
Reckless Swing (E) is a reasonably strong ability, particularly if you max it first. However that means very little because as I stated earlier, you have a horrible time trying to keep in range of enemies early in the game. Often you will get the 1 nuke off and that will be the extent of the damage you put on the target.
Now we go to Undertow (Q). Undertow allows you to farm faster in the jungle. It allows you to hold off creep waves at towers and score last hits. This can be very important early in a game. Especially if you have to cover a lane from a teammate who has backed or gotten killed.
Secondly it is the key to early/midgame success on Olaf. The snare at low ranks of this spell is abysmal and has very little effect. This means to have a reliable snare you have to level it and level it fast. However once you have 3-5 ranks in it, you can stick to opponents like glue. By spamming the axe and picking it up you can do great damage just with the axes themselves, while making it incredibly hard for a target to escape you and/or your team.
That is the most important thing. Later on items will allow you to stick to people, however when you dont have them, you are terrifyingly weak without a snare. Even when you get them, phage is unreliable and ghostblade is only usable once. Undertow provides both a snare, and damage output for Olaf that he desperately needs early in the game, and even in the mid and lategame allows you to stick to people even better. It can also be used to escape or help others escape.
Lastly it can be an aoe snare in a fight and aoe damage in a fight just adding to its utility. The bottom line here is that Undertow - while not necessarily his "strongest" ability, it is the most important for him to be a strong champion. To play Olaf to his maximum potential you have to max undertow first, and you have to get good at using it and timing it properly so you can pick it up immediately without having to detour.
The one concern with undertow is mana. You have to use it selectively on creeps or as harassment unless you have a blue rune because you will eat through it very quickly. You also need to keep your pool very high because when a fight occurs you will eat your mana pool very quickly. I cannot emphasize the importance of going into a fight or gank with high mana. There are times where you will use an absurd amount of mana with spam.
What are other builds on Olaf?
Many people max (W) first. Its certainly helpful in the jungle and if anyone actually decides to go toe to toe with you, but you heavily limit what you can do early/mid in the game by doing so.
Ive seen some max (E) first or get it secondary after (W). Its good for kill stealing or as a little harassment strike, but its really sort of the "icing on the cake" ability. Its there to round out his ability set. It shouldn't be a primary spell.
I change my build in various minor ways from game to game, but there are staple items you will get every game. Starting items can vary which I will touch on later.
1) Boots. The first item I fully complete. You have many choices. Mercs, Tabis, Swiftness and *gasp* zerker greaves are all acceptable choices. Im personally a fan of swiftness but there is a lot of flexibility here. Olafs job is really sticking tight to people and making it so they cant get away from him. Swiftness synergizes best with this.
Zerkers are acceptable on him because with your ulti you can negate cc's and snares (which merc treads are meant to defend against). Obviously this helps your damage output.
Tabis are good because dodge is always handy, especially because you will be eating a lot of auto attacks. Secondly you need them if you want to take advantage of nimbleness in the defensive tree.
Then merc treads because they are obviously the best boots in the game. That being said you can easily avoid them on Olaf unlike some other champions due to his ulti
2) Ghostblade. This is the first damage item I usually actually finish. Once you complete it your power will drastically increase and you are immediately a force unlike other physical carries which often need more. With your ulti up noone can get away from you when you have this and ghost if needed, although I like to spread ghost and ghostblade apart so you can move extremely fast for an entire teamfight. Bottom line is once you finish this you are going to be able to stick on people, and they are going to have to tank you.
3) Phage/Frozen Mallet I usually pick up phage after ghostblade. Frozen mallet doesn't get finished until after starks. Gives you a bit of HP, and a bit of an unreliable snare. However that snare synergizes well with ghostblades attack speed activation and gives you a bit more room for error with undertow. Frozen mallet is amazing on Olaf and the best first item for less skilled players, or for people who aren't experienced on him. However when you get used to his skillset, it no longer needs to be rushed.
4) Starks. Vampiric Scepter comes first. You will either start the game with it in the jungle (which I will cover later), or pick it up pretty early. After you finish ghostblade and phage, you should work on finishing Starks. First of all lifesteal is insanely good on Olaf. Secondly starks gives armor pen which combined with his ulti, runes and everything else gives him incredible armor penetration. Almost everyone you attack will have next to no armor. Also gives your team an awesome aura and gives you some attack speed to boot.
5) Elixirs. If you have ghostblade, starks and phage or maybe mallet, elixirs become priority. Make sure you have a red and a green for every engagement. Teamfights at this stage in the game usually lead to inhibitors or baron and end the game. That being said you can use elixirs even before then if you think you will make good use of it.
6) Extra goodies You will almost never see anything here so its not worth much thought. Atmas is an easy choice for damage. Typical tank items like Banshees, Guardian Angel or Sunfire Cape can make you more beefy. Of course other dps items like bloodthirster and infinity edge can be useful.
7) Jungle Option - Madreds Razor/bloodrazor You will either start the game with cloth armor and health potions or a vampiric scepter. If you start with cloth armor its because you are going to turn it into a madreds razor. Getting madreds is nice for jungle speed, but the real key is dragon. You can do it effortlessly at lvl 5, possibly at 4 (im 5 when I make my way there so I haven't tried yet). You cannot do dragon this early without it. Also you can lifesteal from madreds procs which makes it very easy to heal yourself up on creep waves or in the jungle.
If the other team has a jungler I dont bother for fear of getting caught and feeding them a dragon and a kill without team support because other junglers will check it or ward it. If you have team support you wont need a razor to do dragon anyways.
If the other team has no jungler then I do get razor because you can easily secure dragon for your team very early in the game.
You can also finish the bloodrazor later in the game if the other team has a lot of high HP champions as it synergizes very well with your high attack speed, though games usually end before that will happen.
For rookie players
If you arent the best player in the world and cannot rely on your skill to hit undertow consistently, or need to get used to olaf more, I would rush frozen mallet as a first item. Getting frozen mallet first isnt the most effective way to build him, however it is the easiest way to make him effective. You can never go "wrong" with a frozen mallet.
Once you have a frozen mallet you are good to go and can be very effective. However I recommend everyone try to get good with undertow because it takes your reliance on frozen mallets snare away and lets you focus on items that can benefit you more.
How do you jungle on Olaf?
This method is the safest way to jungle so you dont get messed with at level 1 and maximizes your experience. There are other ways to jungle, but this is simply the best. Ive tried several ways and this is just the best.
As I just mentioned you will start with either a vamp scepter or cloth armor + health potions. This depends on the other team and if they have a jungle.
1) You will start at the golem/wolves camp in the same part of the jungle as your lizard/red rune. An important note is that smite lifesteals if you have (W) up. If its wolves you can just smite the big one. If its golems start attacking for a second or two, then hit (W) and smite the one your are attacking.
2) Wraiths. If you got golems you will be level 2 and you can undertow once on this camp. Make sure to hit (W) before you undertow so you lifesteal from it and get increased damage and try to hit all 4. If you got wolves kill a small one first so you level up and you can undertow the remaining 3.
3) golem/wolves camp by your blue rune. You will be able to use undertow once here if you want and still have necessary mana for the blue rune. Smite will come up when you are fighting this probably. Save it.
4) Blue rune. If you started with a vamp scepter you may be walking into this camp with about 400 hp and nothing to heal you, especially if you got double golems on the small packs. Its ok, you can still kill it as long as you have the same runes and masteries as I do. (W) to start but dont smite yet. Lower health means more attack speed which means more damage so you kill it faster. Once it comes up off cooldown again you will almost be dead, but (W) and smite will keep you safe. Note if you started with wolves on the first pack, and golems on the third, you may want to blue pill if you have a vamp scepter because it may be risky.
Vamp scepter: Blue pill back. Buy boots and a health potion if you want, but its not needed, merely insurance. You only get it if you need to be topped for a gank or if you need to hold a lane. The small camp you started at will be respawning now. Go and kill it. After you kill it smite will come back up so go and get your red rune. You can continue to do wraiths and the other small camp, try to gank, or go buy wards for side lanes or dragon. Varies game to game.
Cloth+pots and they have no jungler: proceed into their jungle and kill at least the golem/wolves pack and the red rune. You can also do wraiths to if you want, but you risk being heard/killed. After this you have your jungle spawned again + your red still left, dragon, enemy blue and ganking.
Another Good Jungle Option
Start with vamp scepter, start at the blue rune. You can wait a couple extra seconds to get a health potion at the start of the game if you want. You may show up to the camp a 5-10 seconds late, but in the grand scheme of things thats practically nothing. After that just make you way through the entire jungle which should be effortless. Starting with blue rune allows you to spam undertow in creeps which makes it fast and simple.
After you finish you can blue pill back or continue on to the other teams jungle and snag their blue rune.
This method is as good as the first one I posted, however you risk being screwed with at the blue rune at the start of the game. Its for that reason I recommend the initial jungle pattern I mentioned just for those times where the other team wants to get you off to a slow start. One way or another both methods work and you should do whatever makes you most comfortable.
How do I Lane on Olaf?
As with most other champions it depends on who you lane with and who you are against. Here are some key things to know
1) Mana is tight, dont recklessly use abilities.
2) You can use W+Q on an entire creepwave to get a nice boost of health. Beware this will weaken the entire wave of creeps and will push the line forward. You also cant do this often as you dont have much mana to work with
3) If you have a hard lane, you can use undertow to last hit. Make sure you always try to kill the big turret minions as they are worth the most gold. Try to make undertow only hit the creep you want to kill so you dont push your line forward. The exception is if you are pushed into your tower.
How do I gank on Olaf?
Olaf is pretty bad at ganking until at least 7+, however he can still do it. First off you will need ghost. You can guarantee the people you are ganking have summoner abilities they will use to stay alive too, ontop of champion abilities and you have a small window to kill them. First of all its best for your teammates to engage first. This works best when you are supporting the 1v2 lane or a 2v2 lane where your teammates are out comped. This will allow them to stun/snare and engage and the enemy will be willing to stay and fight them as opposed to running away scared.
From your side of things, the first undertow throw is the most important. You need it to hit and snare, but you need it to land in a position where you can pick it up without having to detour. This often means delaying throwing it.
At the very least you can damage people, blow there summoner abilities and maybe get them to back. If your team has stuns and snares to support you, then you can score a kill. Unlike a champion like Udyr that can create kills with his stun when he ganks, Olaf needs support from his team to be effective until undertow gets strong.
As far as the fighting goes, its all about hitting them with undertow and picking your axe back up again. You have to get good with it to be good on Olaf. Missing an axe, or throwing it in a bad place will cost you many kills if you screw it up.
Teamfighting as Olaf
The melee champion that eats ashes alive. It feels SO GOOD. That should summarize your objective. Find the opposing carries or important damage champions and kill them. hit your ulti, then either ghost, ghostblade or both and hunt them. Make sure to try and time them well, you want as much effective uptime from them as possible, so delay as long as you can without risking getting cc'd. Just like ganking you want to spam undertow if possible to keep them snared and increase your damage output on them. Olaf is a champion you can actually tunnelvision on focusing solely on your objective. There is nothing better you could be doing than what you are doing. Unlike pure tanks that may have to help peel people off of their squishies, your skillset is wasted unless you are ripping one of their carries apart when you use those cooldowns.
With your ulti and ghostblade up, if they cant blink over a wall or arent running a stupid healing comp they are pretty much dead, its about as simple as that.
After that you have to make a decision on the drop of a dime. You have to assess everything that is currently happening and quickly find your next target. Most likely it will be another damage dealer, though depending on team makeups and how the fight is going, you may need to help peel someone off a teammate if they are in trouble. Its okay to do this after your ulti has worn off because you aren't massively wasting your skillset.
EDITED: Added a second jungle method for those of you who like selection.
Good. Although I didn't notice you mentioning how much Exhaust ruins you. Apparently the developers do not consider blind a disable, so you are NOT immune to it. Watch out for enemy Teemos and people who carry exhaust. When trying to stay alive at low HP, exhaust makes you cry (especially because you rely on life steal to keep you up). In this situation, I recommend Guardian Angel, so they burn exhaust on you then you can come back and kill them or just plain running away.
Also maxing E first is not a terribly bad idea. It is all about who you lane with and are against. Against 2 melee heroes its great because you don't have to get within hitting range to do some serious damage to them. This is especially effective against people with dodge or squishy melee carries without much of a heal. Add someone with a heal in your lane and it is even sweeter.
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