; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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A strong melee character and one of the better junglers in League of Legends, Olaf is an excellent member of any team that can full multiple roles. Whether he's needed for pushing a lane, ganking an enemy hero or attacking squishies in team fights, Olaf is a great choice.
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League of Legends Olaf: Introduction
In League of Legends, Olaf is similar to champions like Master Yi, Tryndamere and Jax, except with fewer limitations than other high-damage melee heroes because of his ultimate and passive. Olaf can be very difficult to play because much of the time, you actually want to be low health, since it boosts Olaf's damage output significantly. This makes him a difficult hero for beginners (especially since he often starts the game in the jungle) but a champion with very high potential.
Olaf is listed as tough, slow, carry, fighter and melee, which are all apt descriptions (though it should be noted that Olaf's slow is a skillshot and not always reliable). While some of Olaf's abilities may suggest that he makes a good tank, this is rarely the case, though he can often serve as a suitable off-tank with the right items.
Olaf has a lot of build flexibility because he can achieve very high damage just from his passive and abilities, but he works very well when built as a melee carry. Olaf jungle is also one of the best team choices you can make, since he is very strong versus other junglers and low health champions. Items like Youmuu's Ghostblade and Frozen Mallet are excellent for individual power, while Wriggle's Lantern and Stark's Fervor can make Olaf a great team addition.
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In the League of Legends Olaf should choose masteries based mostly on where you are going to spend the first six levels. Olaf is one of the better junglers, and performs very well there, but can be a very powerful laning partner if played correctly. If you start in the jungle, you will almost certainly want to go 21 points into the defense tree for as much damage reduction as possible, since it is very hard to survive the large creeps otherwise (it is possible, with the right runes, to do this with 21 points in offense instead, but you are very dependent on crits, dodges and other random variables). If you start in a lane, offense is a very good choice, since Olaf is excellent at early aggression. Utility is less useful on Olaf, since he rarely has mana or health problems and has few long cooldowns. The only thing to consider picking up is the speed boost, but it is fairly deep in the tree and benefits Olaf less than damage or defensive masteries. One point for the Ghost mastery may be worth it as well, since Olaf needs to catch his opponents to do damage.
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Marks: Armor Penetration runes are an excellent choice for Olaf, since with his ultimate he can ignore large chunks of armor without any items whatsoever. Critical Strike runes are ok for burst, but the damage output will be better with Armor Pen. Critical strike runes can be very beneficial in the early game, but you will be more dependent on luck, not to mention the fact that it's easier to get critical strike bonuses from items than it is to get armor penetration.
Seals: Dodge runes are an extremely good choice, especially since you will want to have nine points in the defensive mastery tree for Nimbleness anyway. The 10% speed boost will often trigger when you chase past creeps, which is something you'll be doing frequently as Olaf. Armor runes may also be a good choice, especially if you prefer to play Olaf as an off-tank.
Glyphs: Not a lot of excellent choices, but cooldown reduction is a good choice for having your ultimate up more often, while Magic Resist can make killing casters even easier than it already is.
Quintessences: Flat HP runes is a good choice, as is move speed, since catching enemy heroes is Olaf's highest priority.
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League of Legends Olaf: Summoner Spells
Ghost is practically essential for Olaf, since he does almost all of his damage in melee and needs to be able to get as many hits and Reckless Swings in as possible when chasing enemy heroes. Combined with the Lizard Elder buff, Ghost almost guarantees an early game kill if you allies are being pushed even as far as halfway down their lane. For your second summoner spell, Smite is a good choice if you're jungling, though it should be noted that it is not always necessary if you make the right rune and mastery choices. If you don't need Smite or aren't jungling, Exhaust will help you hold your enemies in place while you beat them with your axes - always a good thing. Ignite may be useful if you're fighting enemies with a lot of heal, like Kayle or Sona, and many Olaf players prefer to have Flash as well as Ghost for an optimum amount of mobility.