How To Play Graves In League Of Legends

Graves has been one of the most consistent carries that you can play in the jungle ever since he got reworked. Here’s how you can get started playing Bilgewater’s most famous Outlaw.


Over the recent seasons, Graves has established himself as one of the premier Junglers in League of Legends. When this champion was initially released, it was played as an ADC but Riot made some welcome new changes to Graves that completely reinvented his role. Now, Graves can play to his full potential being an aggressive Jungler that can fit in any team composition and in any meta thanks to his excellent clear time and amazing burst damage. So what exactly makes Graves a great champion?

Champion Abilities

Graves’ kit is completely geared towards making an advantage out of the unique playstyle that comes with being a Jungler. He is super effective in closed ranged situations and can easily make a quick escape because he can dash through certain terrain.

Passive – New Destiny

Graves’ shotgun has some unique properties.

  • Double Barrel: Graves must reload when he runs out of ammo. Attack Speed reduces reload time only slightly, but reduces time between attacks dramatically.
  • 12-Gauge: Attacks fire 4 bullets (6 on critical strikes). Units hit take physical damage plus an additional third of the damage for each bullet. Structures take 25% reduced damage.
  • Buckshot: Bullets cannot pass through units. Non-Champions struck by multiple bullets are knocked back.

Graves’ passive is pretty straightforward. His shotgun essentially functions the way an actual shotgun would. It adds to his overall burst damage and makes his basic attacks hurt even more. 

Q – End of the Line

Fires a powder round that deals physical damage to enemies in a line. After 2 seconds, or on collision with terrain, the round detonates, dealing physical damage to all nearby enemies.

This is Graves’ primary offensive ability. It has a ton of uses but its main purpose remains the same: to deal damage. End of the Line works best when in tight areas that allow it to detonate immediately. This makes Graves’ jungle clear time very quick and makes him a dangerous duelist in the jungle.

W – Smokescreen 

Creates a cloud of Black Smoke lasting 4 seconds. Enemies inside Black Smoke cannot see out. Deals magic damage and slows by 50% for 0.5 seconds on impact.

This is Graves’ only form of crowd control. Despite scaling with AP instead of AD, this ability gives Graves a lot of utility that can help you when you’re in a sticky situation. The blind when enemies are inside the aoe is enough for you to get a few hits in without receiving damage in return.

E – Quickdraw

Dashes in a direction, reloading one shell. Graves gains True Grit for 4 seconds. If Graves dashes towards an enemy champion, gain two stacks of True Grit instead.

Basic attack hits lower the cooldown of Quickdraw by 0.5 seconds. Damage against non-minions also refresh True Grit. True Grit grants bonus Armor (stacks up to 8 times).

Quickdraw is Graves’ mobility spell. It offers a lot of utility and can be used offensively or defensively. Plus it gives you bonus armor which certainly goes a long way when you’re trading with an opponent. It’s a great tool for ganking since it can go through thin walls which can catch enemies off guard. Overall, this is a pretty great ability and gives Graves a lot of room to work with.

R – Collateral Damage 

Fires an explosive shell with such force that it knocks Graves back. The Shell deals physical damage to the first enemy hit. After hitting an enemy Champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes, dealing physical damage in a cone.

Grave ultimate is true to his identity of being a burst damage champion. Collateral Damage gives you quite literally a lot of damage. Despite it’s high damage, you’ll mostly be using it to finish off low health targets. It has a pretty long cooldown when you first get it at level 6 so use it wisely in the early game.

Runes and Item Builds

When building items on a champion like Graves, all you need to do is to pretty much buff up his damage and survivability. While most of his core items will stay the same, there are some slight differences depending on his role on the team. Graves is best utilized as a Jungler but can also be used at Top or Mid.

Starting Items

Graves’ starting items largely depend on his role. If he’s going to be a Jungler, he needs to start with Emberknife. This item is one of the starter items designed specifically for Junglers. It gives you everything you need to survive in the Jungle and it upgrades your Smite into Challenging Smite, which allows you to mark champions and deal increased damage to them. If you’re going to lane, you have to start with Doran’s Blade. This gives you a lot of helpful stats in the early game with its 8 Attack Damage and 80 Health plus a 2.5% Omnivamp.

Mythic Items

Graves has a lot of options when it comes to Mythic items. The best choice is Immortal Shieldbow. This gives Graves stats in all the right places and increases his survivability. It’s perfect for Graves’ aggressive playstyle and improves his dueling ability. Galeforce is another decent option, trading in Shieldbow’s survivability for more utility. It’s active dash makes Graves incredibly mobile and can lead to better ganks. Prowler’s Claw works similarly to Galeforce albeit with less utility. Unlike Galeforce’s dash, the dash from Prowler’s Claw requires a target. Though it does let you do damage, Galeforce is a better option if you need a dash. Overall, Immortal Shieldbow is still the go to Mythic item regardless of role but the other two are pretty solid options as well.

Full Build – Jungle

When playing in the Jungle, your first item should be Youmuu’s Ghostblade as opposed to rushing your desired Mythic. Ghostblade is a very cost efficient item that gives you a ton of stats and utility but is an inexpensive item. Get this as soon as you can as it will greatly increase the power of your ganks thanks to its active move speed buff. Next, you have to finish your tier 2 boots and it has to be Plated Steelcaps. Once you have these two items, you should work on finishing your Mythic item. Next go for The Collector to help you execute low health targets and Infinity Edge to further increase your damage. Top off your build with a Guardian Angel for additional damage and survivability.

Full Build – Top/Mid

When playing in a lane, your build largely remains the same with a few differences. You’ll need Bloodthirster since it increases your damage, gives you critical strike chance, and most importantly, it gives you lifesteal. It’s great for dueling since you’ll find yourself in 2v1 situations often when you’re in lane. Lord Dominik’s Regard is also a recommended item especially in the Top Lane, where you’ll mostly be matching up against Tanks or champions who generally have more health than you.

Other Viable Items

Most items that give Attack Damage can be viable on Graves. But for this guide, we have three item suggestions that could easily be swapped out for some of his core items. Maw of Malmortius is first up since it is great when Graves is against a lot of magic damage. It gives him a shield that can help him survive against burst mages. Edge of Darkness functions similarly to Maw of Malmortius but instead of a normal  shield, you get a spell shield that can block the damage and effects of an ability. And finally, Serpent’s Fang is a great pick up when against enemies with a lot of shields. Since most of the popular Enchanters in the game right now use shields, this item can help you to easily burst down high priority targets.


For runes, you’ll go with the Precision tree and tae Fleet Footwork as your keystone. This increases your survivability, gives you sustain, and lets you do a bit of extra damage when it’s fully charged. It’s great whether you’re in lane or in the Jungle. Next, take Triumph for the bonuses, Legend: Alacrity for bonus attack speed, and Coup de Grace to help you finish off your targets. For secondaries, take Cosmic Insight for cooldown reductions and Magical Footwear for the free boots. For rune shards, take Attack Speed, Adaptive Force, and Armor.

Useful Tips

  1. Graves has one of the best ganks as a Jungler. Smokescreen and Quickdraw are great for setting up kills or escaping opponents. The little knockback from your basic attacks are also enough to disrupt opponents when they try to escape.
  2. Graves does well against most Jungle champions like Zac, Volibear, or Lee Sin. However, he is weak against champions that can easily burst him down like Zed or Diana. Try to ban these champions if you can so that you’ll have an easier time.
  3. For summoner spells, Graves has a lot of options. When playing as a Jungler, you should obviously take Smite and  Flash. When in lane, however, you get a bit more flexibility. You can swap out Smite for Teleport, Exhaust, Ignite, Barrier, or Cleanse depending on your playstyle or your matchup.

So there you have it! That’s all you need to know about playing Graves in League of Legends. Be sure to check back with us again for more awesome guides on your favorite games. Have fun and we’ll see you on the Rift!