Flash – Essential any Marksman. It provides exceptional positioning and an escape, also useful for chasing as well. With limited mobility you will always want to take flash.
Heal – The second most popular Marksman summoner. Provides health for both you and your lane partner for trading and all-ins. Also gives a speed boost which can be used for escaping or trading.
Barrier – Good for solo lane Graves. Decent in lane but heal outclasses it due to the fact that both you and your lane partner benefit from it. With barrier and Graves’ passive it does make him surprisingly tanky.
Cleanse – Still a niche pick. Good if they have a lot of CC. I firmly believe if they added an extra effect to it like they did for exhaust or heal (with the increased damage taken and the movespeed respectively) then cleanse would be picked a lot more than it is, especially in the current meta.
Abilities and What you Should Max
Passive – True Grit: Graves gains 1 / 2 / 3 (levels 1, 6, 13) bonus armor and magic resistance every second if he has dealt or received damage in the last 3 seconds, stacking up to 10 times for a maximum of 10 / 20 / 30 bonus resistances.
This makes graves surprisingly tanky for a Marksman. 10 theoretical armor (as long as you’re in combat) level one is no joke, a rune page with armor seals gives you 9. If you make sure you have 10 stacks of passive then go for trades you’ll come out ahead every time.
Q – Buckshot: Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing physical damage to all enemies in their path. Enemies at close range can be hit by multiple projectiles, with each bullet beyond the first dealing half damage.
This is what makes Graves, Graves. The amount of burst this can apply at point blank range is insane. Combine that with a +75% from bonus for the first projectile and a +37.5% bonus AD for each projectile after makes stacking Attack Damage a fantastic idea. Even if you can only hit one projectile that is still a lot of poke damage. You can use Quickdraw to put yourself closer to get the other projectiles to hit. This also makes Graves very good at clearing waves.
W – Smoke Screen: Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area, dealing magic damage to all nearby enemies upon impact and creating a cloud of smoke for 4 seconds, which slows enemies within and reduces their sight radius.
Some decent utility for Graves. It provides a 15/20/25/30/35% slow and can also up to 260 damage at max rank. The main usage of this skill is for duels since it will reduce the sight radius of the enemy champion. If you are fighting max range you can use Smoke Screen on them and get some free hits while they have to re-position. Using both Buckshot and Smoke Screen can clear a caster minion wave.
E – Quickdraw: Graves dashes in the target direction, gaining bonus attack speed for 4 seconds. Basic attacks against non-structure reduce Quickdraw’s cooldown by 1 second each attack.
This skill makes Graves pretty mobile plus it makes him able to stack Attack Damage since he gets a 30/40/50/60/70% Attack Speed steroid. Graves can use Quickdraw to position himself to get a full damage Buckshot if it is safe enough to do so. He can also position well in fights and dash over walls. The bonus attack speed is very beneficial for teamfights and also this makes Graves an excellent candidate for split pushing if it comes to that because he can take towers incredibly fast. Keep in mind that auto attacks will reduce the cooldown of Quickdraw allowing you to reposition more often in team fights.
R – Collateral Damage:* Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing heavy physical damage to every non-champion enemy it passes through, as well as the first enemy champion it collides with. After hitting a champion or reaching the end if its range, the shell explodes, dealing 80% of its original damage in a cone.*
The secondary portion of his burst. Please note that this skill is NOT an execute, it will do the same damage no matter when you use it, not counting any buffs/debuffs/masteries. It will do 250/400/550 damage plus 150% bonus AD. This AoE blast will completely wreck anyone who just took a Buckshot to the face. You can use this skill early as to maximize its damage potential. If you use it as an execute you will be wasting a lot of potential damage as IT IS NOT AN EXECUTE.
The runes for Graves are a lot more simplified than other Marksmen. He is very straightforward on what he does, which is burst. Flat AD is very good on him. 9 Attack Damage marks, 9 armor seals/4 armor 5 health (depending on lane), 9 MR blues, and 3 AD quints maximize his damage potential. His E, quickdraw, offers a great Attack Speed steroid so taking Attack Speed in the rune page isn’t really all that needed. As always having multiple rune pages for different lane matchups will help maximize your lane phase.
9 Attack Damage Marks
9 Armor Seals (Or 4 armor 5 health if its heavy magic damage)
9 Magic Resist Glyphs
3 Attack Damage Quintessences
A standard 21/9 page is perfectly fine for Graves.
My “standard” mastery page is as follows (putting points rows, then going row by row, starting with the offensive tree):
- 1 point into Double-Edged Sword: You output 1.5% more damage and take 1.5% more. As a Marksman if you get bursted you are probably dead anyway so the stable increase in damage far outweighs the possibility that 1.5% more damage taken would kill you.
- 4 points into Fury: Increase Attack Speed. Beneficial for last hitting, trading, and everything you do.
- 1 point into Butcher: Makes last hitting a little easier.
- 1 point into Expose Weakness: You want to pick Expose Weakness with Marksmen that use a lot of spells (Corki, Ezreal, Graves). It is beneficial for your team since it increases their damage as well.
- 3 points into Brute Force: More Attack Damage means more Damage. It’s a free longsword at level 18, that’s 360 gold!
- 1 point into Feast: Helps sustain since you get a flat 3 Health and 1 Mana for each minion you last hit. Trading with Graves is cool because if the minions are low enough you might actually gain health from buck-shotting your enemies in the face!
- 1 point into Martial Master: 4 flat Attack Damage level 1. Helps with last hitting and makes trades more effective.
- 3 points into Executioner – 5% more damage on champions below half health. Graves is an Executioner (just not his ult) anyway so this just makes his killing potential all the more potent.
- 1 point into Dangerous Game: Can save your life in those close duels with Vaynes. Extremely helpful when you kill your opponent and you have ignite on your face as well.
- 1 point into Frenzy – Crits mean damage by themselves. Crits grant Attack Speed which means you will Attack more which means you will also Crit more which means you will……
- 3 points into Devastating Strikes: Great for both Auto Attacking and using spells as penetration applies to both!
- 1 point into Havoc – 3% increased damage. Not much else to say.
- 2 points into Block: An Auto Attack that was supposed to hit you for 70 now hits you for 68. Not factoring in armor/resistances.
- 2 points into Recovery: Gives some sustain in lane. If you can Auto Attack the wave a decent amount with a Doran’s Blade you can actually get a decent amount of health back.
- 1 point into Unyielding: Reduces all damage taken by Melee champions by 2 and Ranged by 1. May not seem like a lot, and it isn’t, but it’s a free mastery.
- 3 points into Veteran’s Scars: 36 health at level one can win a trade. Makes you more tanky.
- 1 point into Juggernaut 3% maximum Health. Only really useful for that early game since you most likely won’t have any health items that you will build.
When and Why do you Pick Graves?
Graves works best with assassins and all-in supports. He is not the best person for a teamfight due to his short range but he can still hold his own through Quickdraw repositioning. Graves thrive’s on winning lane and taking a champion out of a fight before it even begins.
If you pair Graves with Leona the enemy laner is probably going to die. A lot. Pair that with a Zed or Fizz and if you catch someone there is absolutely no way they don’t die. Pair that with a CC heavy jungle and tanky top (you can switch those if you’d like) you have a team that will not die and will kill everyone.
In reality, you will probably never get this team unless it is arranged 5’s. The best you could hope for is if your support asks “Who should I play” and you say Leona. The rest is up to the gods of League to show mercy on you.
If you are first pick you can still comfortably pick Graves. The ones who counter him in lane are usually the ones who have a larger auto attack range. These are also the ones who usually can’t win duels. If you play aggressive enough in lane you can negate any “counter pick” they want to throw at you in lane.
Any time you aren’t first pick make sure to look at who your team is wanting to play. If they have a really safe and pokey composition you probably won’t want to pick Graves as he’s best with team fighting, all-in comps.
Siege comps can be ok for Graves but it’s not optimal. He doesn’t have the range or the poke to whittle someone down under tower.
Teamfight compositions and Pick compositions are where Graves really shines. Teamfights because if you have someone peeling for you then you can have insane damage output, true for any marksman. Teamfight compositions usually involve Crowd Control which means you can safely burst whoever gets caught by it.
Pick compositions usually incorporate a mixture of Crowd Control and pure damage. This is exactly where Graves is good. If you can get a Vi or a Nocturne to single a target out you then just walk up to their face, Buckshot, and use Collateral Damage. This ensures the enemy will have to stare down a grey screen for the next 20-70 seconds. If you can make any fight a 5v4 you should be able to win it. Just keep in mind if you catch someone out that is extremely tanky your burst won’t be able to do anything to them. Choose your fights carefully.
We will go by stages of the game. This is a general outline. Builds do change depending on the game!
First Back if lane went well:
First Back if you didn’t have 1550 gold:
First Major Item:
-Infinity Edge (Bloodthirster just pales in comparison to the crit damage on Infinity Edge)
Phantom Dancer/ Statikk Shiv
-Phantom Dancer/ Statikk Shiv
-Last Whisper/Youmuu’s Ghostblade
-Guardian Angel/ Banshee’s Veil/ Mercurial Scimitar
Even though Graves has a drastically different playstyle than Caitlyn the build remains the same. Both heavily rely on AD, only one is with Auto Attacks and one is with spells. Graves has an Attack Speed steroid on his Quickdraw and his spells scale well so much with Attack Damage that getting pretty much every item that can be made from the BF Sword is beneficial.
Graves is still a Marksman so he will be Auto Attacking for a majority of the time. Attack Damage mixed with an Attack Speed item is still the cookie cutter build for any Marksman with some variation here and there. Graves would not benefit from a Blade of the Ruined King as the HP% on hit doesn’t help that much when bursting. Obviously there are still niche pickups from the item but the Attack Damage, Lifesteal, and Shield (while Graves is already innately tanky) will benefit more than the Attack Speed and %HP will from the Blade.
Ghostblade is going to be a little better against teams that haven’t itemized too heavily for armor.
General Tips and Tricks
- When checking a bush throw either a Buckshot or a Smoke Screen in there. If you proc your passive, someone’s in there!
- Buckshot deals more damage with each additional bullet that hits. Using Quickdraw and then Buckshot will deal a massive amount of damage to your enemy. Be careful though because you will have used your only escape!
- Using Quickdraw can help you pass over terrain you can’t walk over. While using Quickdraw in a teamfight try not to go straight forward or backward, use it sideways or diagonally. This will keep you at that optimal 525 range while also giving you the Attack Speed steroid, and make you harder to hit with skill shots.
- Using Smoke Screen and Buckshot will kill the caster minion line. This does eat up a lot of mana so use sparingly.
- Try to keep your passive up as much as possibly. If you have 10 stacks you will be surprisingly tanky early game and can, and most likely will, win many a trade. Late game it’s an extra 30 armor and magic resistance.Core Gameplay
Here comes the boom. Graves is an insanely bursty champion. His Buckshot and Collateral Damage will gives you so much damage when you hit level 6.
The core of Graves’ kit comes from his spells. While he is still very much a Marksman his main source of power comes from how quickly he can delete someone from the map.
Graves should almost be played like a mage in a sense. After the initial round of spells you want to back off a bit. You still deal massive amounts of damage with Auto Attacks but you no longer have the advantage of AoE damage from Buckshot/Collateral Damage since those were used in the initial burst. Auto Attacking for a couple seconds will reset the cooldown on your Quickdraw and by the time that comes up your Buckshot should be back up as well allowing you to get the next round of AoE and Attack Speed going.
While Quickdraw is extremely useful for damage output please remember it is your ONLY escape. The slow Smoke Screen provides isn’t near enough to make a difference in a life or death situation.
Graves really does shine during laning phase. He is very good with an all-in support like Leona. He does have a slightly below standard Auto Attack range of 525 so he will be slightly outclassed by most Marksman but not enough to make a huge difference.
You will want to keep your passive up as much as possible. You can snowball extremely well so having your passive up at all times will ensure you can win as many trades as possible. If you know where the enemy jungler is then you can safely Quickdraw and Buckshot combo with your support for some insane damage.
Level 1 is when you need to establish your dominance. All this wonderful burst we’ve been talking about is no good if you’re getting zoned out by the enemy lane. You can afford to use your Buckshot on cooldown to push the minion wave into tower and getting to level 2 first. This type of mentality is the goal on any ADC since the lane that gets ahead early will gain control of the lane. Since buckshot does not suffer from diminishing returns you’re doing full damage to the entire wave, something other Marksman can only dream of. Disclaimer: this opens you up to early jungle ganks so watch out for quick gankers.
Use your Smoke Screen behind the enemy caster minion line if thats where the enemy Marksman is. He won’t be able to CS while standing in it and if he moves away from his minions then that will give your support an opportune time to strike. This is a great setup for engages but make sure to watch your mana.
Once you hit level 6 you shouldn’t be losing trades. The amount of damage you can put out along with your innate tankiness means any time you aren’t in a 2v3 bot lane you should be winning. Even then you can take out one of the three if it comes to that.
Graves is extremely snowbally. His mid-game depends entirely on how his laning phase went, but no matter how bad or good it went you still play it the same way. It’s weird.
Graves shtick is burst, I think I’ve mentioned that. No matter what, you have one goal: Burst. If laning went well you can safely and reliably pick off any non-tanky target. Position yourself in bushes to do so safely as well since if they find you, they found death. After making a pick transition into taking towers/dragons/barons/teemos.
Now lets take a look at what happens if lane didn’t go so well. You still want to burst, you just might not be able to pick someone off with just an Infinity Edge. It would be wise to stick with your team and try to make picks in the jungle or near dragon if you are behind. If your team still catches someone out then you do your job perfectly fine. Fights will be a lot harder if it’s 5v5 instead of 5v4 and those fights will make it more difficult to transition into objectives.
If you win lane you can stay with your support to pick. If you lose lane you need to stick with your team most of the time.
Above all, don’t forget the ADC mantra:* farm, farm, farm.*
Late game is where Graves falls of a bit. His burst is much less effective due to the tankiness the enemy will have built up.
This is the stage of the game that you really really need to get a pick on an enemy. 5v4 is Graves’ motto and late game a lot of other Marksmen will be able to teamfight a lot better than you, all other things equal.
You want to get as many objectives as possible and Graves does take towers fairly well with his Quickdraw as an Attack Speed steroid. Graves’ kit makes him potent in a duel so you can resort to split pushing and outduel whoever they send to stop you. Good positioning will help you get the upper hand.
Mainly in late game you want to have great vision control and stick with your team. If you can clear the wards in their jungle you can make picks. When you makes picks you get inhibitors easier. You can bait Baron as well so when they inevitably have to come stop you then you can just blow them up.
Teamfights will be based off of how well your initiators can start a fight. Again, the ideal situation is for you to pick off a straggler and then go in 5v4 right after.
We will take a look at a scenario with a pick and without.
Getting the pick then forcing the 5v4: Congratulations, you’ve found and deleted that stupid top laner who was trying to split push. You see the enemies hovering mid lane trying to get something out of their friends untimely death. You sneak your way to mid lane and your Initiator goes in. You wait for them to use their Crowd Control trying to peel a little bit and then you dive in and go for the kills. Hopefully you survived the ordeal and are now pushing onto their inhibitors.
Having to fight completely 5v5: Ugh, I hate it when the enemy team actually plays like a team. Can’t even get a pick. This is all about how well you can position yourself in a teamfight. Again it’s about the initiators as well. Work towards positioning yourself, safely, to burst down the Mid laner or Marksman. If you can pick one of them off in the beginning the fight becomes that much easier. Let’s assume though that your front line engaged on their frontline to just force the fight. You will want to play more like a standard Marksman at this stage. Identify what Crowd Control is most threatening to you and wait untill it’s not a threat. Try not to use your spells as much since they won’t damage a front line that much. Once their frontline is out of the way you can position well with Quickdraw and get some Buckshots off. Also remember to use Smoke Screen on their Marksman so he/she will have to reposition stop Auto Attacking for that short amount of time. If someone jumps on you then use Smoke Screen and Quickdraw/flash to get away if you can’t just kill them. Try to go towards your tanks or peel if you need to reposition and lay down as many Auto Attacks as you possibly can.
Specific Lane Matchups
All-In Supports (Examples: Leona, Blitz, Thresh, Braum):
Graves is at his best when paired with all in supports. Since you have higher than average early game burst damage for a marksman you can abuse the crowd control and initiation brought to the table by your ‘all-in’ support. Your Q ability Buckshot has the potential to win trades on the spot if you’re close enough to your target to land all 3 particles on them for maximum damage. Doing this should be easy since your E, Quickdraw, allows you to reposition for an optimal Buckshot. And if your ‘all-in’ capabilities weren’t amazing enough as is, Smoke Screen (your W) provides more utility than Batman’s belt. Since it slows and denys vision you can use it to isolate a kill target, or snare someone attempting to flee.
In general, ‘all-in’ support lanes have two windows of opportunity to pull the trigger on an engagement. Either when the opponent makes a positioning error, or when the opponent tries to engage themselves. We’ll start examining the latter case since it is more straight forward.
Here’s the situation: you’re playing Graves with Leona support against Thresh and Vayne. Everyone is level 4 and the minion waves are even in the middle of the lane. Thesh lands a hook on you the ADC. Your support Leona should react by diving straight onto Vayne with her E, Zenith Blade. Once Thresh has used his Hook and Flay, your reaction should be to dash into position to use Buckshot on Vayne, dealing maximum damage and proc-ing Leona’s passive. From here you’ll need to assess the situation. Has Vayne used her condemn to stun anyone? What are her Silver Bolts stacks at? Who is she focusing? What summoner spells have been used? If you’ve got the advantage, press it, otherwise, figure out how to disengage.
The other case is when the enemy is out of position. This could mean a variety of things, the support has gone elsewhere to ward, or roam and you’re left in a 2v1, their support has used a key ability that makes an engage easy to win, the enemy ADC is taking too much damage from minions. Your support is who really needs to recognize this since Graves doesn’t want to be the one starting things off, but it’s important to recognize the situations so you’re ready to go at the drop of a shotgun shell.
My opinion is that ‘all-in’ supports are go best with Graves. His high burst damage early game and utility fighting early on allow you to get kills early, follow through with ganks, and generally establish dominance in lane. ‘All-in’ supports complement this strategy the best. Converting a winning lane into team gold should be your #1 priority as it will set you up for a solid mid game and an easy late game.
Poke Supports (Examples: Veigar, Sona, Lulu)
Not a very optimal setup for Graves who does not have long range abilities or a long auto attack range. While poke supports can whittle down the opposing laners allowing you to kill them easily with burst, you won’t be able to position correctly. If your Lulu or Sona gets the enemy Marksman down to half health you may think you can just Quickdraw and Buckshot him to kill. What will inevitably happen though is your support won’t be able to follow up and you used your only escape to initiate a 1v2. Each situation is different but in general this is what will most likely happen. Beware the heal bait!
This setup will benefit the greatest from zoning the opponent. Push hard early and establish control of the lane so you can give your poke support the opportunity to deny last hits.
Peel/Disengage (Examples: Janna, Lulu, Karma)
Not horrible for Graves depending on the enemy team comp. If it looks like they will want to fight 5v5 often then a peel support will definitely be beneficial as per the reasons listed in the “Teamfight” section.
In lane these supports won’t do much for you. They can poke and you might be able to get a kill or two if you get a gank but you won’t be dominating lane. If the opposing support has heavy engage your support will be able to get you out.
They have the same flaws as Poke Supports in that they can’t help you burst anyone down and you won’t be able to win a straight up 2v2.
Sustain Supports (Examples: Nami, Soraka, Sona)
These supports are heavily characterised by their ability to recover health or provide shields. If your support decides to grab a Sustain champion you are still in a very good spot. While engage supports are better for Graves because you can just kill the opposing laners, Sustain supports are the next best things. Most of the time they can still poke down the laners enough for your burst to do some damage. The difference is that if you do have to go in 1v2 they can still sustain you enough to survive you killing that low health laner. They won’t be able to go all in with you but they are there to make sure you don’t die while you do your thing.
Alistar – All In, Sustain – Since Alistar has such high cooldowns you’re going to be at a severe disadvantage if either of you messes up an ‘all-in.’ That said, he’s is a very aggressive support, keeping a kill target in place for a few seconds allowing you to get your combo off and continue auto attacking. While his heal is not the most powerful it does offer an elevated amount of sustain giving you a good tool to make trades in lane.
Annie – Poke, All In – Unlike most ‘all-in’ supports Annie is a ranged champion. What makes her insanely good with Graves is the fact that she is a bursty champion herself and she also comes with an AoE stun! She pokes with her long range as well. I think that Leona and Annie are the best champions in the game to pair with Graves. Annie will poke down with 575 range to whittle them down and put a stunning Tibbers on their face. They should be half health at this time allowing you to Quickdraw, Buckshot, and use Collateral Damage so you can have some free time in your lane.
Bard – Peel – Bard isn’t very effective with Graves. He can sustain him but not during a fight like Nami could due to the fact that his Caretaker’s Shrine needs to build up over 10 seconds. He can stun someone but unless it’s both laners it won’t be that effective as whoever you aren’t bursting will be able to get free hits on you/peel you. His ult doesn’t work well with your ult as when you are attacking them you suddenly do no damage. Grave’s needs to be doing damage. Bard also isn’t tanky enough to try to fight 2v2 either and will be poked down.
Blitzcrank – All In – A great choice with Graves. If he pulls someone you can get a full damage Buckshot off without even having to use Quickdraw. They will inevitably have to burn flash. If you were smart and followed my advice about Smoke Screen then the enemy Marksman won’t be standing near his minions allowing Blitz to do what he do. Blitz also has a surprising amount of burst with grab, knockup, and ult.
Braum – All In, Peel- Braum is pretty fantastic with Graves. He can block poke/auto attacks from enemies with his shield helping to win trades. He also comes with a free stun as long as you can right click on an enemy. His ult allows you to use an uncontested Buckshot and Collateral Damage. Any time you can hit the enemy without them being able to hit you makes Graves very happy. Braum’s shield will help win trades.
Janna – Peel, Poke – Janna is probably the most effective poke/peel support for Graves. She can still get knockups for that uncontested Buckshot but she can’t get you back out like Braum could. What makes Janna better is that her shield provides both protection and Attack Damage, and we know that Graves loves Attack Damage.
Karma – Poke, Peel – Karma can poke down incredibly well and stun someone in a fight. She can shield you so you don’t take as much damage but again the poke supports just don’t work all that well with Graves.
Leona – All In – Probably the best support for Graves. Both of you are pretty tanky and both want nothing more than to go all-in. She is able to take out either one or both of their laners depending on what spells she has up. Leona’s passive is the cherry on top of this All-in banana split. When she does go in on both laners your Buckshot will proc Leona’s passive on both targets making for some insane burst. All the while they are stunned and not able to reciprocate their feelings towards you. She can also peel well for you and make sure you don’t die while also killing them.
Lulu – Poke, Peel – Lulu is a poke champion. Not very good with Graves but not terrible. She can whimsy an enemy for that uncontested Buckshot and can shield you. She can poke down very well and can save you with ult. You can try to go in but don’t expect that much backup as her spells are most likely on cooldown from poking so much.
Morgana – Poke, All In – Decent with Graves. She can snare so you can get a full damage Buckshot up but they will still be able to damage you since it’s not a stun. She can, however, make sure that when you do go in you won’t be hit by any Crowd Control because of her Black Shield. Her ult also stuns everyone around her but you most likely won’t be able to AoE as they probably won’t be standing right on top of each other.
Nami – Sustain, Peel – Nami can poke and sustain. She doesn’t do as much damage as Lulu or Karma but she makes up for it for the fact that you can safely trade and you can heal back up. Her ult isn’t extremely useful for you but you can get some damage off with spells. She can empower your Auto Attack to slow and do more damage so that’s helpful as well. Bubbles will still help but they have the same flaw that Morgana and Bard do in that you will most likely only be getting one target so the other can still pound on you.
Nautilus – All In – Nautilus is great with Graves. He can pull like Blitz so you don’t have to Quickdraw and is tanky so you can 2v2. Unfortunately he can’t use Crowd Control on more than one target so Leona and Annie still win out there. You will still be able to get a ton of damage out because of the insane amount of single target Crowd Control he brings to lane.
Sona – Poke, Sustain – Sona is pretty much the same as Nami. Her ult can effectively win you a trade but other than that you won’t be doing all that much in lane. She can shield you for those fights and poke down but won’t be able to back you up very well in a 2v2. The most effective way to play with a Sona is to set up a zoning lane to allow her to use her high early damage to keep the enemy lane away from last hits.
Soraka – Sustain – Doesn’t poke very well but has insane sustain so you can try to 1v2 if you want. She does offer a silence/snare so they might not be able to do that much damage back to you. Still no where near tanky enough to full on 2v2. Look to trade and harass aggressively in lane since soraka can heal you right back up.
Tahm Kench – Fish/Frog – Fish man is decently good with Graves. Tahm can grab a laner and throw them at Graves allowing him to burst, and Tahm does some good damage as well. He can poke a little bit and he is surprisingly very tanky with his shield. You can effectively 2v2 but you need to make sure he has stacks on the laners before you engage.
Taric – All In, Sustain – Taric isn’t a good champion right now, let alone support. He does offer a decent amount of sustain and is tanky with his W. The biggest reason to pick Taric is his single target stun. His ult does give you Attack Damage so level 6 fights are still very winnable. Taric’s issue is that once his stun is down in a 2v2 he doesn’t offer much more than some damage and a bit of healing.
Thresh – All In, Peel – Thresh works well with any Marksman due to his kit. He offers great peel with Flay and Death Sentence and utility and disengage with Dark Passage. He can hook someone for you to get some damage down but again you will only be able to hit one person.
Zyra – Poke, Peel – Zyra is ok with Graves. She lays down enough burst so the fact she is technically poke doesn’t hurt as much. Don’t expect much back up in a 2v2 unless her ult is up, but if she lands her snare the enemy needs to be prepared for a world of hurt.
ADC Specific Matchups:
Ashe – Ashe is a fairly difficult matchup for Graves because of her long range and ability to peel. If coupled with the correct support you will never be in range to actually reach her. She will poke you down with her Volley and if you try to initiate at 6 she will stun you. If you can engage on her pre-6 with an Annie or Leona she won’t have any escapes. With Ashe you really need to win the lane early or be forced into a somewhat mediocre mid-game. Pushing hard at level 1 will help set that up for you.
Caitlyn – Caitlyn is kind of the same as Ashe. She has insane range but no Crowd Control to back her up. You can dive her with an engage support pretty easily. If you didn’t luck out and you got a poke/sustain support you will be in a world of hurt as you won’t be able to safely reach her and she will just poke you down until you can’t even CS anymore.
Corki – Burst vs. Burst. Both want Leona. Corki has more sustained damage because of his true damage Auto Attacks and he shreds armor with E. If you can stun him and burst him down you should win but if they engage on you it probably won’t end well. Graves vs. Corki is about who can be the bigger man.
Draven – Draven should be a somewhat easy matchup for you. You have your innate tankiness with your passive so his axes won’t do as much to you as it would another champion. He also has no escapes and very little self peel so if you engage on him he will probably die. This is a very snowbally matchup and whoever wins lane will have some serious pressure mid-game.
Ezreal – Ezreal pokes you down, that’s pretty much it. You probably won’t be able to engage on him that much because of the insane mobility he has plus the fact he can basically farm from wherever with his Q. If you do happen to get a good engage on him burst him down as much as possible but he will still probably get away with his Arcane Shift. Stand behind your minions so his Mystic Shot can’t connect and you should be golden.
Jinx – Jinx can be a tricky matchup. She has the range to poke you down but also has some great self peel with her Zap! and Chompers. If paired with the correct support she will be able to poke you down enough that if you do engage she will just use Chompers and start whaling on you and your support with Fishbones. Come level 6 it’s kind of like a Corki matchup. If they engage on you then you will probably get Chompered and take a Mega Death Rocket to the face. Good use of Smoke Screen can help negate damage if you get caught in Chompers.
Kalista – Very mobile. Much damage. Wow! She is difficult to engage on because of all the hopping around. If you don’t keep an eye out for her rend stacks then you will lose trades. She can engage on you with ult and also stop your engage if you get her support. She builds Bloodthirster first so you won’t be able to duel her that much and she outranges you.
Kog’maw – Very good range, very bad mobility. Kog will most likely be paired with a poke/peel support so you probably won’t be getting to him that much. If you do manage to lock him up he will most likely die in a gigantic purple explosion. He has a lot of sustained damage and insane poke once he hits 6 so be careful when you decide to engage, because if he doesn’t die right away you might be in a world of hurt from a HP% attack and Trinity Force champion.
Lucian – One of the better counters to Graves. You do outrange him by 25 units but he outranges you in poke using Piercing Light on your own minions. He doesn’t have to hit multiple projectiles nor does he have to use his escape to get full damage on it. He is mobile with his dash and can kite you very well with Ardent Blaze. Minion waves fall rapidly to Lucian so if you do engage he will probably have the minion advantage. His Lightslinger passive also ensures that any trade you make he will be doing more damage.
Miss Fortune – Pretty easy matchup for Graves. She has low mobility if she is getting hit and has no escapes. Miss Fortune’s damage is sustained and she has no defensive skills. If you jump on her she needs to rely completely on her support to get her out of it. She can poke you down a little with her Double Up and Impure Shots can start to hurt because she does outrange you. You just need to man-mode it up and kill her. There’s a reason I call Graves “MF 2.0”
Sivir – Sivir is pretty decent against Graves. She can poke you down with Boomerang Blade and Ricochet and that will clear minions as well giving her that advantage. You do outrange her by 25 like Lucian but again she will still out-poke you even through minions. She also has her Spell Shield so a majority of your burst will be negated. If you or your support can bait out her shield and then engage you should be fine as she has very little to escape with. You will most likely be low on health though if you do engage so be sure you can kill her. Don’t get baited by Spell Shield!
Tristana – Has a lot of mobility and self peel. Also outranges you more and more the longer the game goes on. She has a lot of burst as well but she is like Caitlyn and relies heavily on Auto Attacks. Very susceptible to burst but can most likely peel you away. Your support will really determine how well this matchup goes as it can swing heavily one way or another. If you can get an early kill the lane should be won but if you get to 6 and she is even with you, the rest of the game probably won’t be that fun for you.
Twitch – Very easy matchup for Graves. He can surprise burst you but he has zero mobility and no sustain or peel. Just jump on him and you will be winning every trade and he won’t out-damage you. Be careful late game though because he can and will try to kill you dead, either from range with his ult or from the shadows with his stealth. He won’t have a lot of range pre-6 and will not even be close to his power spike so just kill him in lane and you will just wreck him completely unless it the game gets to 50 minutes.
Urgot – The Crabgot shares some characteristics with Graves given that they are both on the tankier side of marksmen. That said, his ‘unique’ playstyle is his biggest advantage. His attack range is low and he has no escape (aside from flash). Abuse this by harassing him from out of his attack range and look to engage hard with an ‘all-in’ support. In these cases save your Smoke Screen for after your support’s CC combo finishes to show his retreat. Late game Urgot’s ult (Hyper-Kinetic Position Reverser) can catch you off guard and put you in the middle of their team. Give him the respect he deserves and keep out of flash swap range.
Varus – Varus is known for his poke so be most wary of him when paired with a poke support. Beyond dodging skill shots (which should be pretty easy given that you have a dash) keep tabs on his blight stacks since they are the primary way for him to achieve burst damage. Any ability Varus uses on a champion with blight stacks will consume them and deal additional damage. As Graves, look for quick trades, ideally where you get in, Buckshot, auto attack once maybe twice and retreat before he has a chance to build up his stacks.
Vayne – As your classic late game carry, its best to keep Vayne as pinned down in the early game as possible. Since graves has plenty of burst in the early and mid game, don’t be afraid to go for aggressive trades or ‘all-in’ engagements. Its pretty easy to start chunking Vayne with your Buckshot when she goes for last hits because of her short range. At the same time, do not be afraid to zone her away from last hits. There are two ways of keeping an ADC off late game effectiveness, kill them a lot, or keep them from farming
I hope I have now shown you how to play this champion. If there was anything you felt I left out please let me know in the comments! Really nit-pick itemization? Every single practical use of your abilities? Done. Just holler and OP will deliver.
This guide a general overview of how to play Graves. In order to truly master him read other guides, watch streams, watch the LCS. Do whatever it is that you need to do to understand this champion if you’re looking to improve. And of course, don’t forget to get out on the rift and actually play some games!
Thanks for reading!