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Top Lane: Iron --> Diamond Champion and Lane Guide

(Patch 12.3)

Who am I?

My name, and in game name, is Connnor and I've been playing since the end of season 2 on the NA server and then the OCE server when it released.

I am primarily a 5-man, flex queue, Top lane player, maxing at Diamond in flex and high Platinum in solo queue. I'm not sure where I could get to if I tried, so my max is Diamond, and I'm not going to pretend to be a high elo challenger player. Those players aren't reading this anyway.

Why should you read a guide from a player who still is what "higher elo" players consider to be "low elo?"

It's because the game at "high elo" is a completely different one to "low elo." The game is primarily balanced around the "higher elo" though, so while improving your macro and micro skills with this guide, it's also worth improving your knowledge of the entire in game economy of champion balance. I have personally been placed in every single rank below Master, so I understand what it takes to get you out. Surprisingly, it's often the little reasons that snowball into the big reasons.

Before we begin, I know this is quite an extensive and long read to get through, and not everyone is going to get through all of it. Feel free to skim and and find anything you're interested in learning about or having difficulty with.

NOTE: This guide won't be as polished with formal language and professional formatting as some you may see. I'll be using common league terminology and typing as I would be interacting with you in person. Hopefully you can bear with and interpret any new phrases and, on rare occasions, fabricated words.

Mentality

In Platinum and below, no one but smurfs have the mechanics or game sense to take advantage of bad picks or counter match up properly to absolutely stomp the game single handily, and really all it takes is a bit of team work, leadership on the part of the player who wants to climb and mentality of the team.

Before champion choices and counter picks come in, having the right mentality is essential. If you're yelling at your team constantly, being overly toxic, or you're just not letting one simple mistake go, you could be costing your team the game while reassuring yourself that it's their fault. There is one simple rule for Solo Queue ranked, and that's the simple fact that you're not going to convince the other person that they're wrong. It just won't happen. So arguing about awkward decisions and failed plays isn't going to change their mind. Keeping your mouth shut and allowing the egotistical man child to think he's pulled one over on you in the conversation puts him in a better mood and you'll have a higher chance at winning. Yeah it sucks, but if you're trying to climb that's the way to go. It's less tilting to remember that you're likely never going to see them again, so their opinion, if unhelpful and toxic, does not matter. It's also a lot easier to just mute them as soon as you sense the toxicity in them, but I digress.

As a little extra side note on the topic of mentality in games in general, there will always be someone who is better than you. It may not happen often, or it may happen a lot, but don't let it lower your confidence in your chosen champion. It's absolutely fine to lose lane, as long as you have confidence in your team fight capabilities or split push, there is no reason to give up. Surrendering is a last resort only if the entire enemy team is winning every matchup and has the late game advantage on you. Other than that, there is always hope you out scale, or they make vital errors in the mid and late game. Especially with the installation of the bounty system on objectives, they've given the losing team a ridiculous amount of income options to get back into the game. There will always be those people in Solo Queue that type "gg ff15" after your team hands over first blood or the odd team fight goes bad etc. Don't let that be you. The amount of successful games I've experienced while massively behind, or unfortunately lost while so far ahead is staggering. It is worth the extra 15mins to stick it out. Even if it doesn't work out, learning how to play while behind is a very useful skill for your future games. For example you can use leagueofgraphs.com to help in understanding your patterns relating to your average win rate while behind or ahead in kills at 10 minutes, or how often you surrender compared to players your own rank. It's important to try and visualise to be better than your current rank, otherwise you won't climb.

What can I get out of this guide?

This guide will be useful for answering the age old question of "I win my lanes but my teammates suck and that's why I'm low elo", and in some cases this is probably true, but in many others, there was a lot more you could have done with your lead even with all other ally's losing their matchups. Top laners are unique; we have a completely different mentality when it comes to our playstyles, and this isn't our fault. This was instilled in us over years of constantly being abandoned in the deserted island we know as top lane.

While Mid laners want to 1-shot each other and ADC's want to safely farm and scale, us top laners have goals of crushing our lane opponents in 1v1's, wave management, and team play. We just want to be better than our counterpart. This mentality has been 'double-downed' on with the teleport early game nerfs to force top laners to stay in their designated islands till at least 14 mins, and ignite being as powerful and snowball starting that it is.

It entirely depends on the champions we play with what our sort of playstyle mentality is. For example,

Riven
,
Aatrox
and
Fiora
players want these legendary 1v1's and snowball from there.
Vladimir
and
Kayle
players want to farm and scale with good wave management to be as safe as possible and put their lane opponent in the position to have jungle pressure.
Ornn
,
Shen
and most (if not all) tanks are focussed around a team reliant playstyle. This isn't to say you can't mix and match these strategies and champions, but it's a general guide. Also side note, every player's map awareness should be as top notch as possible to allow for priority roams when their Jungler requires regardless of playstyle.

My aim with this guide is to bring it to your attention that while your champion choice is a numbers game with win rates, the meta, and statistics, your playstyle might be losing you games you should have won.

Brief rundown of current patch for Top Lane

Patch 12.3 had some interesting changes to shake up the top lane meta, mostly to the fighters and juggernauts.

A variety of adjustments were given to many fighter/bruiser items that included a decrease in health stats and sometimes a price increase. These negatives were substituted with either more damage, ability haste, price reduction or unique passive changes. For some these changes were rather large nerfs, while for others they were large buffs, warranted or not. The official reasoning was to make fighter's less tank and promoting a higher damage reliant build instead of fighter's imitating tank's while also being able to dominate tanks. Most notable changes would be a squishier

Goredrinker
and
Divine Sunderer
build path, a stronger
Death's Dance
that fits the fighter playstyle, a
Sterak's Gage
adjustment that brings it back in line with a situational off tank bruiser item, a buffed
Maw of Malmortius
finally becoming a viable option for fighter's and a more expensive
Blade of The Ruined King
percentage damage buff.

The patch before this one also reintroduced

Janna
back to the top lane as pretty much the only viable support pick.
Janna
may have a high win rate (54.75% Plat+) and ban rate (16.4% Plat+) but it's also quite a low play rate (1.6% Plat+). I would not recommend playing it in ranked without previous experience on
Janna
or support tops, as you may over reach and unintentionally snowball your opposing top laner, or other lanes that you impact. It's a completely different play style than any top laner would be use to.
Janna
received a mid-patch nerf to bring her back in line, but her win rate hasn't budged. This could very well be because of the limited amount of games she has in the U.GG statistics, so it's more of a wait and see type situation.

Classification of Playstyles in Top Lane

Each lane has numerous classes and sub-classes of champions that, in the meta, make it what it is. It's common that you've heard the terms fighter, juggernaut, or diver in relation to your favourite Top lane champions, or Mid lane with it's mages and assassins. By using playstyle orientated classifications of champions, it's a lot easier for lower ranked players to understand playstyle differences between champions who share the same class.

A brief run down of the following categories below will be discussed, which explains the playstyles that the champions with in it excel at. The champions that fit into multiple classes would inherently be more consistent and flexible picks, which would provide better carrying potential.

Though a champion may not be classified under a certain heading, it does not mean they are unable to fulfil a specific role if either forced upon them, or if the player is mechanically skilful. Champions who excel at split pushing, as seen below, will very rarely be more effective at grouping with their team then champions who excel at team fighting and vice versa. Duelists will win the majority of 1v1 match ups in the early-mid game against Scalers, while Scalers will be a potent destructive force late game.

* S+ Tier Rating

Key: AD | AP | Tank | Support



Duelists

  • The champions I've categorised as Duelists have a large amount of kill pressure against their laner, and their abilities are often used offensively and have damage scaling's.
    • A common example of this is
      Renekton
      , who has damage ratios on all his abilities and only a small amount of utility.
  • A large majority are lane bullies that rely on either consistent or burst damage to dominate the.
  • There are few carries in this class that have both burst and consistent damage, but they are weak in other parts of their kit.
    • An example of this is
      Heimerdinger
      . His consistent and burst damage is countered by removing his turrets early in the fight and baiting out his ultimate, but this may be a tough challenge for melee champions with no ranged abilities.
  • A large amount of their wins will be due to snowballing from early game kills, so starting out the game with a mindset of playing safe and farming in a match up that doesn't favour you is more important that attempting risky plays to get ahead.
    • This is portrayed well with
      Riven
      's ability to burst a
      Gangplank
      even when behind in lane, due to having access to a higher amount of damage early even with less gold than the opposition.
  • Duelists in the top lane capitalise on mistakes extraordinarily well because of their access to high damage and utility, and the lack of escape mechanisms in many of the champions.
  • With the buff to
    Blade of The Ruined King
    , higher amount of damage and lower amount of health on many top lane items, many duelists may seem quite oppressive in the early and mid game, but more susceptible to damage as well.
  • Duelists are usually predominately damage based, excluding aggressive Tanks, so building any amount of tank items, armour or magic resist (only purchasing health will not usually help), will negative a high percentage of their damage.
  • Lower ranked players would consider many of these picks overpowered due to their high amount of damage, but within their kits there is counter play to be found in itemisation and your own champions abilities.
  • In some cases though your champions mechanics may just be countered.

Scalers

  • Scalers are often quite safe laners that focus on farming and wave management to come out as strong as possible at the end of laning phase.
  • Their kit's are focussed around either high amounts of damage, tankiness or both in the late game, more than the average champion, but weaker in the early game.
  • Many champions of this class have sustain in built in their kit to assist them through the early laning phase.
    • Common examples are
      Kayle
      's 'W' heal/move speed buff,
      Gangplank
      's 'W' heal/CC removal and
      Vladimir
      's low cooldown 'Q' healing.
  • Scalers are also quite often the best lanes for ally Jungler's to camp as it helps scaling champions hit spikes and influence the game quicker.
    • Once a
      Kayle
      is past the weak stage of her laning phase, it is not uncommon for her to become completely unstoppable.
  • On the other hand, it's quite common for scaling champions to be absolutely shut down by the enemy team, so these power spikes are never brought to fruition.
  • Scaler's primary counters are Duelists.
    • Champions that have an insane amount of damage and pressure that can bully the scaling champions off farm and XP.
  • This class has many champions in common with the Team Fighting category, due to by the late game teams have grouped up and fighting together for objectives.

Team Fighters

  • The Team Fighters are a broad class that is home to a wide array of champions. The most notable similarity in all of them is that they have the ability to do a large amounts of AOE damage or utility.
  • They were hit the hardest by the recent Top lane teleport nerfs as they lost the ability to impact the map in the early game by teleporting Mid or Bot.
  • Tanks are useful to frontline for their team, soaking up damage and cool downs, to make the team fight less dangerous for their squishy back line.
  • Team Fighters are the most consistent class due to the large amount of AOE abilities impacting multiple champions at once in team fights.
    • As a contrast between two tanks,
      Malphite
      will be more useful to a team with large amounts of AOE damage then
      Dr. Mundo
      , as
      Malphite
      has the potential to use his ultimate to AOE knock-up all five enemies, which in turn can then be combo'ed by his team without the enemy being able to fight back.
    • So why would we ever pick
      Dr. Mundo
      then? In the overall fight,
      Dr. Mundo
      will do more single-target damage and survive longer than
      Malphite
      will with heavy sustain healing and resistance to CC. It's up to you to decide which one your team needs in champion select, survivability and damage, or utility.
  • Team Fighters and Scalers have many champions in common due to their high amount of late game AOE damage, utility and strength.

Split Pushers

  • Split Pushers have a playstyle that is the direct opposite of Team Fighters. Their kit is more efficient to push structures in a solo lane and be confident enough that they can either kill whoever comes to stop them, or easily escape to then return and do it again.
  • To be able to effectively split push for the majority of the game, these champions must at least meet one of these requirements:
    • A high amount of attack speed and/or consistent structure damage through abilities or sheen based items on auto-attack reset abilities.
    • The champion must be more effective in their split pushing then in a team fight, otherwise you may as well group with your team and fight together.
      • Some champions, such as
        Urgot
        , are both Team Fighters and Split Pushers. They will have to make a choice situationally which class they will lean towards that game. This choice will also effect whether someone playing
        Urgot
        will build
        Hullbreaker
        or not.
    • Either enough consistent damage to be able to kill anyone who tries to stop them, or have the necessary survivability mechanisms to escape and having the option to return at a moments notice.
      • A good example of this is
        Mordekaiser
        being able to duel anyone with his ultimate, and
        Quinn
        who can use your ultimate to gain a large amount of movement speed and escape being caught out.
  • Split Pushers quite often have kill pressure on enemies while they're under their turrets.
    • Examples of this is
      Tryndamere
      as his ultimate allows him to not be able to die for long period of time,
      Nasus
      from in built tankiness, CC, lifestyle and scaling damage; and
      Kled
      being able to go untargetable and lose turret aggro when he gets off his steed.
  • 
    Hullbreaker
    is built very rarely, but the only ones who can build it are those in the Split Pusher class. These champions also take
    Demolish
    for more structure damage and early turret plate pushing.
  • The Split Pushers and the Duelists have the most champions in common, due to high damage and attack speed going hand in hand together.

Roamers

  • Roamers are a class designed around mobility, speed and utility. They're able to disappear out of Top lane for a short or long while and show up terrorising another lane.
  • These champions are also very jungle active, looking to assist and having the priority in lane to arrive first.
  • Many would rather take ignite for kill pressure or exhaust for utility, as they don't need teleport to influence other lanes, their abilities allow them to do that.
    • Common examples are
      Shen
      's
      Stand United
      ,
      Pantheon
      's
      Grand Starfall
      ,
      Sion
      's
      Unstoppable Onslaught
      ,
      Camille
      Hookshot
      and the support roaming meta that is soon to be nerfed.
  • Once laning phase ends, roaming champions look for picks and use their mobility to take advantage of enemies caught in bad positions, though the support picks are doing this even in laning phase and giving up minions to do so.
  • Roamers shift into either team fighting or split pushing as picks become harder and harder to find in the late game.



This is the context necessary to understand the different play styles of people, and the optimal playstyles of the champions they're playing, and champions you want to play.

In an example scenario you're playing

Ornn
, you're constantly split pushing and trying to duel all the way until late game. Whether you're succeeding or not you're not using the potential of the champion to the max and not making use of his team fighting skill set. This will in most cases land you with a loss unless your teammates are very well ahead. The opposing laner will still be able to clear waves because you don't have the kill threat or turret destructibility of another champion such as
Nasus
or
Yorick
.

If we go from the opposite viewpoint and suppose in this example scenario you're playing

Tryndamere
. You've won the early game with a kill or two and now you're attempting to roam to other lanes in an attempt to help. You're not playing to the strengths of
Tryndamere
. In most cases the opposing mid laner has mobility or cc to escape and all you'll end up doing is taking XP and farm. You need to capitalise on your victory and continue pushing until eventually you're a problem that the other team has to send two champions to deal with, in which you've given enough map pressure for your team to win team fights else where and grab objectives.

The reason for the Champion Lists is to see what champions associate with the most categories. These are the champions that will, in most cases, have more impact on games. I'm going to start with champions to avoid if your only aim is to gain LP. Keep in mind this is entirely dependent on your play style and skill level.

Firstly we're going to be looking at high-skill cap champs with low team fight capabilities that should be avoided in any elo lower than Diamond. These champions are quite high-skill cap and their should be mechanics should be mastered before they become reliable ways to make LP.

Three mechanical champions to avoid in Low Elo

Akali

  • 
    Akali
    has been a champion with heavy discussion since her rework. This is due to the amount of mechanics in her kit that allowed to have both an insane amount of damage in the early, mid and late game, while having wave clear, sustain and very little counter play.
  • She has had multiple nerfs and currently her early game is very sub par and is countered by any champion that builds any sort of tank items.
  • Unlike most assassins, she is also not able to one shot a champion in a quick succession burst, as she is forced to E backwards, ultimate forwards and then ultimate backwards again. In that time she can be exhausted or CC locked down.
  • Assassin top laners offer very little to a team. Truthfully any champion can play top lane if you put your mind to it, but by playing assassins top you're putting a class of champions not designed to fight the champions that you'll come up against, and you'll lose lane more times than you'll win.
  • At best you'll be able to kill your squishy target, but after you're burst you're quite useless with not very good sustain fighting capabilities.

Akshan

  • 
    Akshan
    is an S+ tier champion in the top lane at the moment, so it's reasonable to question why you should avoid him.
  • He's an expert roaming Mid laner with a tonne of early-mid game damage while also being quite safe through mobility, range and shields.
  • The problem is in Top lane you don't have access to the roaming capabilities that a Mid lane
    Akshan
    excels at.
  • Once it hits late game,
    Akshan
    is as squishy as every other ADC, and because of this it's inefficient to play him Top lane when you also have an ADC scaling in the Bot lane.
  • To climb it is more efficient to use Top lane as a beefy engage or sustain damage that terrorises all the squishy champions on the enemy team.
  • 
    Akshan
    is also quite unsafe in a team fight. To get off a lot of his damage, he needs to swing himself into the enemy team, putting him into the line of fire and generally one shot.
  • I think it's safe to play him if you're entire team is early-mid game reliant and you're attempting to finish it fast, but other then that it's not worth it and too highly mechanical to succeed consistently.

Irelia

  • 
    Irelia
    is a mobile melee on-hit carry that excels at marking champions with her abilities and darting around a fight healing as she goes jumping from minion, to champion to minion.
  • Her main issue is the amount of mechanical skill she needs to output to keep her relevant in a game.
  • She is also heavily countered by grievous wounds, which is quite common in the Top lane, whether that be
    Ignite
    ,
    Executioner's Calling
    , and
    Thornmail
    .
  • Currently with the fighter item nerfs, her core build consists of the buffed
    Blade of The Ruined King
    and
    Immortal Shieldbow
    . This makes her extremely glass cannon and easily able to be out tanked.
  • Her team fights are also quite poor with the lack of minions to mobilise herself with and being blown up as soon as she enters a fight.
  • Once she enters a fight, she attempts to hit multiple people with her E and R to mark them and allowing her to jump to them and getting off auto attacks.
  • 
    Irelia
    only succeeds through snowballing from her very good early game and pushing that advantage until the enemy laner catches up in gold and becomes more useful then her.

Three consistently good champions to climb

Urgot

  • 
    Urgot
    is one of those rare champions that can build multiple different ways and still be useful. This is due to his machine gun turret-like W that once maxed at level 9 allows him to permanently have it toggled, and his executing ultimate with an AOE fear.
  • He's ranged and does percentage damage allowing him to not only be a tanky damage dealer, but also able to kill tanks white easily.
  • If an enemy champion is killed with
    Urgot
    's
    Fear Beyond Death
    in a team fight, the AOE fear utility basically wins the fight alone.
  • Using his W auto attack cancel mechanics and buffering of his E and Ultimate to the utmost value, he offers an easy to play champion with skills to master that can dominate teams.
  • 
    Sterak's Gage
    lowered passives on ranged champions were removed, meaning it was quite a big buff for
    Urgot
    , especially when you build health with every legendary item.

Mordekaiser

  • This is a champion I usually dub as the "AP
    Garen
    ". His combo's and mechanics are very simple for how much damage, pressure and utility they give, but the difference being you can't escape the
    Mordekaiser
    ultimate without assistance from an item (or
    Gangplank
    oranges)
  • His W offers free sustain in small scale trading lanes, while also being very effective for high damage burst and long drawn out fights. The moment you cast your shield in a 1v1 is usually the moment the enemy knows they've lost it. It is quite an effective bait ability.
  • His passive, Q and E all have AOE damage allowing for great team fighting even without your ultimate.
  • With your ultimate, you're able to single out enemy carries to kill or problematic champions that allow your team to carry the team fight without needing to be cautious of them (high damage enemy front line).
  • You're able to target enemy champions and drag them into your Realm of Death, forcing them to be cut off from attacking your ally team.
    • This greatly effects champions with:
      • Large scale AOE abilities such as
        Fiddlesticks
        '
        Crowstorm
        ,
        Kennen
        's
        Slicing Maelstrom
        ,
        Ornn
        's
        Call of the Forge God
        ,
        Anivia
        's
        Glacial Storm
        and many more.
      • Champions that use pets for damage such as
        Heimerdinger
        's
        H-28 G Evolution Turret
        s and
        Illaoi
        Prophet of an Elder God
        tentacles. They are cut off from each other and the pets are unable to receive commands. The same goes for
        Annie
        's
        Summon: Tibbers
        and
        Ivern
        's
        Daisy!
        , though these pets are able to function without commands.
  • The most effective strategy is to wait for the objective such as Baron or Dragon to get low, use your ultimate on the enemy Jungler to allow your ally Jungler to smite with no competition. This is the peak of
    Mordekaiser
    performance and this single ability will carry games.
  • The only downsides of the
    Mordekaiser
    ultimate is that it can be evaded through using
    Quicksilver Sash
    items, and losing vision at the exact second you used it.

Yorick

  • 
    Yorick
    has had some trouble in the past finding his place in top lane but now it is cemented as the split push king.
  • With his permanent pet
    Eulogy of the Isles
    and ghouls, he offers high damage, sustain with Q, split push, percentage damage for tank killing, and high burst with ghouls against squishies that are consistently replenished through his Q and ultimate.
  • His main counter is range, but by three items, it'll be hard to stop him even still as he runs you down with a thousand more health than a ranged champion. He has enough sustain in the early game to survive until he can't be 1v1'ed in the mid-late game.
  • He has enough easy mechanics to stomp lane with little experience but there is a clear difference between a dominating
    Yorick
    and a useless one.
  • Having your push down the opposite side to your split push and picking up solo inner tower gold on both sides is a game changing gold lead.
  • Lower cooldown on the new 'Unleashed'
    Teleport
    released in the pre-season was also a buff to split pushers, so make use of it,
    Hullbreaker
    and
    Demolish
    to secure victories even when your other lanes might not have won.
  • 
    Yorick
    's main weakness is the early game when he doesn't have ghouls available easily, but if you know when to be safe, it is easy to play around.



What these three champions have in common is that they can carry games single handed in their own way, whether it be Team Fighting capability or objective control in Split Pushing.

Challenging champions to learn for high elo

Riven

  • Possibly the most difficult champion in the game with the highest skill ceiling, she's fun to learn and naturally highly mobile champions with consistent damage are quite popular in any elo, though less common in the lower ones.
  • Though you may not have mastered her animation cancelling yet, a slight buff on nearly all of her core items leaves
    Riven
    in just a plain overpowered state.
  • These buffs can also be utilised in lower elo games for easy wins, as many top laners below diamond have not much experience against her, and the only ones they've seen have possibly next no experience on her, or are smurfs making their lives hell.
  • Now is the time to learn her if she's on your wish list of mastering.
  • There are countless YouTube videos on the How-To of her animation cancelling, it'll take hours in practice tool and many many games against real people to be able to naturally pull it off, but once mastered, she'll be able to carry you much higher in elo than most other champions.

Ornn

  • The highest scaling tank in the game with probably the best team fight viability,
    Ornn
    only recently returned to the meta with the Pre-Season update with buffs and additions to tank items, and has since been an immortal scaling menace in the top lane.
  • Tanks are stronger since the fighter items health nerfs not being able to handle the amount of damage, CC and scaling of his extra stat passive and upgraded items he builds for his team gives 5460 gold worth of stats on average split between five players at level 17.
  • Tanks are known as a bit of a meme to do unreasonable damage, but it's true for
    Ornn
    . Able to 100-0 carries that are completely CC'd while also taking 0 damage, it's the tank dream come true.
  • Tenacity also effects only one of
    Ornn
    's abilities as they're all knock ups or knock backs, minimally targeting the Q slow, making no difference to combos.
  • His combo's are fun to learn and quite easy to pull off in real games after only a few practice runs, allowing for quick gratification from your effort to learn.

Shen

  • 
    Shen
    got a huge buff with the teleport nerfs at the start of pre-season. Suddenly when he teleports to assist his team in the early game, his lane opponent isn't able to follow him with their own teleport.
  • 
    Shen
    is a tank that is able to build more aggressively, but his build focusses heavily around health.
  • He does percentage max HP magic damage with his Q's that have a rather low cooldown, and between those and your "Frostfire Embrace technology" (Credits to xPetu
    Shen
    god check him out), that's where the majority of your damage will come from.
  • The health you build scales into your Demonic Embrace's AP passive, and both your max mealth and AP scale into your ultimate shield.
  • 
    Shen
    may not have the skill ceiling of
    Riven
    or
    Ornn
    , but his roaming capability and positioning, while also being a formidable lane opponent and Split Pusher makes him viable at any level of play.
  • He excels at
    Grasp of the Undying
    and Q trades, while having kill pressure with
    Ignite
    .
  • In the late game he counters auto-attack based champs with his W on top of being an actual tank.
  • He will join a fight from split pushing, forcibly peel his teammates with his taunt, survive due to passive shields and tankiness and then dive the back line with AOE-AP slowing percentage max health damage.



  • What these three champions have in common is that they excel in more than one category, but primarily focus on team fighting.
    • 
      Riven
      - A Duelist that excels at Team Fighting with AOE damage and survivability.
    • 
      Ornn
      - A Scaling, team fighting engage tank with an abundance of AOE and percentage max health damage from abilities and CC. Every team wants an
      Ornn
      on it. Even if you lose lane, you scale to the win.
    • 
      Shen
      - A Split Pusher that can join a Team Fight at a moments notice or save team mates in small skirmishes,
      Shen
      is a one of a kind split pushing, damage dealing tank.



Now with those three lists we know of a few champions to avoid, a few champions to try out and a few high-skill cap champions that you can consider learning and taking on as your main.

Now why is a champion's ability to team fight so important to winning games? The main reason is how consistently they can attack or CC multiple enemies at the same time.

Team Fight Capability vs. Single Target Damage

If you win top lane, you're an absolute dominating menace to the rest of the enemy team. You have the gold and XP advantage to take over the game with either a large amount of AOE damage and CC to take out multiple opponents at the same time, or a large amount of dependability, peel and tank to walk over the team and not let the opposing back line do anything to your allies. A fed

Aatrox
has the survivability and damage to control a team fight, without being able to be straight up burst by 99% of champions in the mid game. In comparison, a fed
Akshan
has a large amount of damage and ways to be impactful through roaming, but one mistake and he's being one-shot by the assassin or control mage in the mid lane, giving over bounties and possibly just out right losing the team fight from the start.

If you lose top lane and you have a better team fight capable champion, the only option is to cower and farm safely until the mid and late game, then be more impactful in comparison to your lane opponent. Common examples of this would be

Ornn
vs.
Fiora
,
Urgot
vs.
Akshan
, or
Shen
vs.
Quinn
. The opposition may counter and cause problems for you personally, but they won't compare when teams start to heavily rely on grouping.

Champion Versatility

It's all well and good to pick up a champion or two that has been suggested earlier in this guide, but it's even more important to have multiple play styles under your belt. I currently have 739 total Mastery Score with 83 of the 158 total champions above level 5 mastery, and 14 level 7 mastery top laners. While this may look like a flex, (the opposite in the eyes of non-gamers) I'm using it to demonstrate that in any match up, I have a variety of champions that I have enough experience on to be confident in any match up.

My recommendation is having a main champion with Team Fighting or Split-Pushing capabilities (both if your choice is

Shen
), a secondary pocket pick champion of the opposite category in case they pick a counter to your main before your turn in champion select, and finally a counter pick champion to your own main in case they out right choose your main before you.

NOTE: Try to consensually swap champions between your team in an attempt to give yourself the most advantageous lane possible. Many times this will not work and you will be counter picked and need to play around that. This is when your micro and macro skills shine brightest. If you have never won your lane, or a game, while being directly countered before, it may be a sign that you need more experience with your main champion.

Example Matchups

In this example we'll use

Riven
as your main, who is a Duelist-Team Fighter.

The enemy first picks

Urgot
who is notoriously a difficult laner for
Riven
in low elo due to being an easier champion with consistent damage and tankiness. Instead of moving ahead with your main
Riven
pick, you pick your secondary pocket pick
Tryndamere
.

You know you can't contend with

Urgot
's Team Fighting prowess, even if you pick another Team Fighting based champion, so you pick a champion
Urgot
does poorly against in the 1v1 and someone who excels in Split Pushing. Now
Urgot
has to decide between Team Fighting with his team, which he excels at, or trying to stop you pushing objectives solo, that if played correctly by all those involved is a win/win for your team.

In the majority of instances,

Urgot
will stay with his team in an attempt to push the advantage in a 4v5 team fight, but with proper communication from you to your team, your team will back off and time waste while they let you win the trade for them through objectives.

This strategy also works for Baron and Dragon fights as well. It is far easier to contest the objective and poke the enemy out with proper preparation, than it is to attempt to start the objective and fight both it and the approaching enemy team. It can certainly be the case that your team still loses the fight and the objective, but all while this is happening you've just grabbed two turrets in bot lane (baron fight), inner turret extra solo gold and moving onto the inhibitor turrets. In the next fight, you either have map pressure of ending the game through bot lane, or you do the exact same thing to top lane causing just as much map pressure.

This is in comparison to an equally good Team Fighting counter to

Urgot
, for instance
Kayle
. Although you may have an advantage, you're still 60/40'ing the team fight and relying too much on your teammates own mechanics to win the fight. While a Split Pusher such as
Tryndamere
only has to communicate his strategy and seize advantage of the enemy team's mistakes which is far less mechanically difficult and more consistent of a strategy to pull off.

In the next game they've taken your

Riven
, and you don't feel confident matching your secondary pocket pick
Tryndamere
against her as you feel you need to press the advantage of a counter, so you pick
Urgot
. You're tankier than
Riven
, while being able to front line for your team and have enough damage to kill the back line and execute priority picks to win the fight for your team. Peeling teammates is always quite easy with your flip and ultimate combo to quickly execute.

With this method you have three picks for three different situations, and the variety will make a massive difference while you climb, and will keep you from mentally straining yourself by spamming one champion. Climbing can be tough mentally, so make sure you're picking champions you actually enjoy, otherwise it's just not worth it.

Teammate Champion Compatibility

Choosing your top lane champions, unless you're a one-trick, should be based around the versatility of the champions under your belt.

If you have a jungle

Zac
and a support
Nautilus
, it's not efficient to play another engage tank. In that scenario it would be better to play more damage heavy Duelist. If you have a primarily AD team with a
Yasuo
or
Zed
etc, need to be thinking of staying away from high AD damage as your pick. This may seem rather obvious, but the truth is people don't think it matters as much as it does. Picking AP's in this scenario like
Mordekaiser
,
Rumble
,
Kennen
or
Vladimir
, means that if all of their team buys
Plated Steelcaps
and builds even just a
Death's Dance
or
Zhonya's Hourglass
, you're gonna do a much higher percentage of your damage than you would if you went AD. With
Death's Dance
,
Maw of Malmortius
, and
Wit's End
being viable pick ups in all roles, there's so many defensive options in the game that having a mix of AD/AP/Tank on your team is absolutely necessary and gives you a big advantage against teams with a large amount of either one stat singularly.

If your team has a large amount of damage, it's okay to rely on them by picking an engage tank with decent damage of its own. There has been many games where I've personally maxed most damage on difficult wins as

Ornn
while also having a completely damage focussed team. The engage is absolutely essential to win team fights, so if your team has no engage and you're picking a tank like
Dr. Mundo
, you may be under the delusion you're helping your team with this choice; but in actual fact
Dr. Mundo
has no engage and you've picked a tank that focusses on survivability and damage, something not required by your already damage heavy team.

Itemisation: Tips and Tricks on Tanks

That's right, tanks are well and truly back in the meta.

I'm going to start this section off with a hard truth. Unless you're playing a champion that is completely damage reliant while also being safe and scaling like

Gangplank
or
Kayle
, your itemisation every game should not be the same, and this is especially true on tanks. The ironic problem with many guides is they give you the optimal build with the highest win rate, but doesn't mention anything about personal decision making and situational versatility. There is so much variety in tank items that your build path should change every game.
Randuin's Omen
is used against crit damage ADC's,
Frozen Heart
for attack speed reliant carries,
Thornmail
for healers,
Spirit Visage
for healing and shielding tanks against magic resist teams,
Force of Nature
for AP heavy teams or low cooldown magic users such as
Ryze
,
Cassiopeia
,
Karthus
,
Rumble
or
Corki
to name the majority (I got carried away). I've also found that the only thing you can do against the excessive true damage picks such as
Camille
,
Vayne
, and
Fiora
are large amounts of health and shields, introducing
Fimbulwinter
ladies and gents, attack speed slow on
Fimbulwinter
(the 400 mana also scales with
Fimbulwinter
shields and passive health increase) and attack damage lowering on
Randuin's Omen
(reduces the AD scaling's that fuel the true damage). Not to mention that the absolute best way to counter true damage, is to just focus and lock them down with heavy CC.

Mythic choices are a bit touch and go depending on the champion. On some you must take the same highest win rate option every game to be relevant, on other they can be substituted out. Using

Ornn
as an example (yes I play a lot of
Ornn
, sorry about constantly using him for my examples) I switch up my mythic based on my match up. If there are multiple enemy melee champions that I stick close to in fights, I'll go
Sunfire Aegis
. If there are slippery mobility melee's or short ranged champions that I might have difficult landing abilities on, I'll go
Frostfire Gauntlet
. If there is a full team of exclusively ranged champions and it's nearly impossible to stay next to any of them melee in team fights, I'll go
Evenshroud
to buff my team's damage after I hit any CC.

There are some items that work so well together that it is essential to buy them one after the other every game, such as

Frostfire Gauntlet
and
Demonic Embrace
on
Shen
, but it is also not essential to rush them straight away.

Playing a tank champion with high base damage against an auto attack dependant top laner such as

Fiora
looks on paper nearly impossible. Rushing
Plated Steelcaps
,
Bramble Vest
and
Warden's Mail
before going for your mythic completely counters her early game damage and healing, and once you hit your mythic your power spike, you will be able to trump hers for a long while. Rushing
Bramble Vest
isn't always essential though, as it's not always the better option to rush it against healing champions that recover their health out of combat such as a
Tryndamere
,
Cho'Gath
, or
Gangplank
. These three "recipe items" (items that build into legendary or mythics items) are key if both the enemy Jungler and Top laner are AD auto attack based champions. Against the same type of Top laner, but this time with an enemy AP Jungler, you might opt to just finish the mythic item that has magic resist if there are constant skirmishes around top side. I can not stress this enough,
Warden's Mail
is absolutely game altering in the early game against any champion that is reliant on auto attack damage. This includes but not limited to
Kayle
,
Shen
,
Tryndamere
,
Fiora
,
Irelia
,
Akshan
,
Vayne
,
Urgot
,
Renekton
,
Viego
and
Sett
. The item also reduces the attacks of minions targeting you in trades, and you'll find by the 20 minute mark, with aggressive laning, you'll have repelled over 500 damage, on top of the 40 armour it offers in a 1000 gold recipe item.

Tank vs. Tank matchup's are quite simple, just build the optimal mythic and target your next legendary item's stats for whoever their carries are in bot, mid and jungle. The 1v1 between two tanks will be decided on whoever avoids the most damage, buffers the correct abilities for efficient timing's, and trades better with rune choices (not to mention jungle interferences).

Effective Top lane duo options

Duo queuing with someone you trust to perform is the best way to climb the ladder. If you're looking for your largest advantage, you're not going to find it by duo'ing with an ADC or Support.

One of the best duo options are the classic Top and Jungle that often hovers top side to assist each other in getting ahead with jungle skirmishes, roaming and camping. The is the Top and Mid lane duo. I have found the Top and Mid duo to be more effective of the alternatives, due to both playing variety type damage carries and having the ability to both of you responding to early game jungle skirmishes. It is often the case when duo'ing with a Jungler that the random Mid lane player has no map awareness and the enemy will end up having priority in mid, but by having your duo be the Mid laner, you're both responding together to the Jungler, insuring an even or advantageous fight.

Changing your build against specific matchups

Going to be listing some match-ups in which your build should change to adapt to your opponent. This can include runes, items and rarely the differed maxing of certain abilities on champions. Won't be listing every top laner, just ones with specific weaknesses that doesn't just include "just build armour/magic resist". For the same weaknesses as a previous champion mentioned I'll just be entering the same reason.

  • Breakdown



Last Remarks and Recommendations

I could probably continue on this subject for a few thousand more words, but most of what I haven't said you can find rather simply through U.GG and champion guides. This includes individual match ups, champions and counters, runes, wave management tutorials and tier lists. If you were to pick up a champion like

Urgot
because of this guide, please go through and find a descriptive individual guide just for him. The knowledge I provided only out lined the champions and their roles, it's important to properly learn them through experience and research.

My honest recommendation is choosing a high health, high damage front liner that's able to greatly effect a team fight. That's it. That's how you will climb. There are so many ways to play and so many playstyles, but I think the overall best is working as a team.

The best I can ask for is everyone who reads this guide learns at least something by the end of it to help them in their climb. This information is purely personal opinion from thousands of hours of game time and statistics gathered from U.GG.





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1 Comments

Share your thoughs, feedback, comments...

SirTr4sh 2 months ago

just mad an acc just to comment. Best guide over all not just for ornn or top.

Helped me alot