How to Play Top Lane in League of Legends

By | August 16th, 2018 | Categories: League of Legends

There are many different gameplay elements that are a part of League of Legends. It is a very complicated game where every aspect must be understood on some level in order to have success. As a MOBA game, League of Legends is defined by its roles. On any given team, there are five different positions to consider, namely ADC, support, mid, jungle, and the most over looked, top. Each position has seen its fair share of changes throughout the course of the game’s history. For example, there have been significant changes to the jungle annually during the preseason, with jungle mains having to figure out how to approach the upcoming season differently.

Top lane, in particular, is interesting because it has historically been witness to a large variety of different champions and playstyles. The uniqueness of the lane is what attracts so many different players to it. Often times, players will look to find a new position when they grow weary of the lane that they have grown accustomed to during their time playing League of Legends. If you are looking to escape the many changes of bot lane or a new player looking to find your role, then figuring out How to Play Top Lane will be of particular interest to you in the long run.

How do I play top lane?

  • Champion diversity
  • Alone on an Island

There are currently 141 champions in League of Legends. While many of those champions are relegated to specific roles, the majority of them have a degree of variance involved. Top lane has seen its fair share of champions throughout the years, having even support and ADC champions played there. While there is a typical meta that is seen in the lane, the reason so many different champions can be played top is because of its location on the map. Compared to the other roles, the top lane is most separated from the rest of the team. The phrase often used to describe the role is “alone on an island.” This is an apt description because it can prove difficult to have an impact on the rest of the game when you are so far removed from it. It mirrors the structure of the bottom lane, but the key difference involves it being a solo lane compared to the two players that head bot.

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What is the most important decision that must be made as a top laner?

  • Teleport versus ignite

In being one of two solo laners, there is a key decision that must be made during champion select when you play top. Within the past year, there has been an increasing prevalence of the teleport summoner spell in professional games. Riot Games has always had a weary relationship with teleport, often at odds with the type of gameplay it promotes. In being a spell that moves your champion to a target location, it masks the mistakes of players in being a “get out of jail free” card so to speak.

In patch 8.13, death timers were reduced during the early game in order to bring down the strength of first blood gold. This addition was particularly interesting when thought about in combination with the 8.14 nerf to the teleport summoner spell which increased its cooldown from five minutes to six minutes. The nerf was seemingly introduced as a response to the death timer change because having smaller death timers in the early game is an indirect buff to teleport and encourages mistakes to be made early rather than later.

Despite this, the cooldown has been increased and as a result, ignite has become a standard choice in its place. Prior to 8.14, teleport was far and away the most widely used second summoner spell given how it could be used in many different types of situations. Now, ignite is more common top than ever before and it encourages proactive play from the onset. It has been widely believed that passive play often loses games, and if you subscribe to that school of thought, ignite is far and away the choice for you.

What type of champion is optimal for the top lane?

  • Bruiser class
  • Kill potential, yet able to take hits at the same time

While it is a matter of opinion as to what champions are optimal for the top lane, bruisers are a reliable choice that will help you win games if played correctly. It should be first outlined as to what exactly a bruiser is. The most fitting description is a champion that both deals good damage and can also survive in skirmishes without being killed quickly.

Whereas supports and ADCs often have low health and have to rely on one another to survive in most cases, top lane champions typically do not have to worry about that happening if the said champion is a bruiser. The top lane matchup is entirely about survival because it is very solo oriented. A self-sufficient top lane player is much more valuable to a team compared to someone who relies on help from the jungler or mid laner. The question then becomes: what champions are bruisers?

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Which champions best embody the bruiser class?

  • Garen and Darius
  • Built-in sustain and strong ultimate abilities

The two most notable examples of bruisers in League of Legends are Garen and Darius. Healing is an incredibly important part of champion kits and any champion with the ability to heal in any way is much better at sustain and consequently, much better at surviving. Both Garen and Darius have healing built into their kits. In the case of Garen, he has out of combat healing with his passive ability and in the case of Darius he has healing and sustains built into his Q ability.

Despite that, both are also very adept at killing the lane opponent. Both Darius and Garen have execute ultimate abilities that provide a reliable way to kill, but despite their similarity, they also operate differently.  While there are other champions that fit the bruiser classification, both Garen and Darius are strong champions that will help any player climb the ranked ladder.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that the top lane in League of Legends is isolating. Given its location on Summoner’s Rift, it is separated from the rest of the team. Due to that, it is a lane where surviving both jungle pressure and kill pressure from your opponent is of the utmost importance. Throughout the course of League of Legends many different types of champions have been played top, but because survival and beating your opponent in a one-versus-one is so important, bruiser champions such as Garen or Darius are ideal for the role. Despite that, anything can be played if you understand the limits of the champion, but what matters the most is an understanding of your role in the scope of the overall team. If being isolated and relying on your own ability sounds appealing, then top lane may very well be the optimal role for you and you may soon be on your way to climbing the ranked ladder and achieving a high rank.

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