Many say that the top lane is the most passive lane in League of Legends. Unlike bot or mid, playing top can be slow and tedious, but in reality the outcome of the lane is crucial for a victory. In all seriousness, top can be very fun to play if you have a clear understanding of what you must achieve in your lane, securing objectives and outplaying your lane is a must in the early stages of the game. I hope that by the end of the article, everyone can now fully understand the simple mechanics of playing in the top lane, or better yet, being good at it.
CHOOSING YOUR TOP LANE CHAMPION
Of course we will start off with choosing a champion that best suits your play style. As a top laner, your best bet would be choosing tanky, bruiser champions that can both take heavy damage, but has a considerable amount of damage. Champions like Renekton, Darius, and Riven are good picks if you want a go-to bruiser champ. Some assassins can also be viable in the top lane, but caution is necessary because of how squishy these champions are. Despite their ability to kite and disengage, assassins have a problem when it comes to trading because of the tanky nature of bruisers. There are also players who use AD carries such as Vayne, Quinn, Graves, and Lucian in the top lane. I suggest that if you are to use an AD carry in the top lane, you must tell your jungler to visit often. A well fed AD carry in the top can be very scary when laning against. Play the champions that you are comfortable with. You do not need to counterpick if you are not familiar with the champion. Champion mastery is more important than playing with a champion for the sole purpose of counter picking the enemy top.
PLAYING THE ROLE
Playing in the top lane is all about taking advantage of your matchup. I highly suggest taking flash and teleport because it gives you mobility and map presence. You must always coordinate with your teammates on where to put wards in case you need to teleport and help other lanes. Bear in mind that teleporting to other lanes may cause your matchup to have an advantage in the lane. Always make sure that when teleporting, you are sure that you will get something in return. A good tactic would be to coordinate with your jungler in case your top lane tower gets heavily pushed.
The early game for top lane can be a snorefest to many, but the addition of the Rift Herald in patch 5.22 made the lane something to fight for. Before the patch, junglers would visit bot and mid more than top because of how important these lanes are in securing objectives and buffs. Before the start of the game, you must first analyze on whether you have the upper hand in your lane matchup. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your champion can be a game changer. If you think that you have the advantage, try harassing your opponent while getting creep kills. Having an advantage of matchup does not mean that you must be confident in your lane, in fact you must be more careful because the enemy top might request for an early gank from their jungle or mid. Try freezing the lane, or if you want to be aggressive and safe at the same time, you must ward the bush to avoid ganks. Champion kills this early is always good, but it must never be your primary objective. There are other ways to win the lane such as creep score, level, and towers pushed. With the addition of rift herald, these objectives became easier as the buff gives you 10%-increased damage, 40% movement speed, and enhanced recall. Try to avoid dying early in the early game because it can be disastrous especially if your lane matchup racked up all the kills.
The mid game usually starts when you have pushed the first tier tower. By this time, you must now try to roam and gank. Map presence is necessary because this is the time where you can now determine who has an edge in the game. You must now soak enemy damage, or flank the frontlines depending on who your top laner is. I believe that top laners, when snowballed, can be very dangerous because of their hybrid nature. Now is the time to assert your dominance in all lanes and capture objectives as much as possible. There is also a possibility that the game can be finished at this time if you play your cards right. Most top laners also have the only teleport summoner spell. Use this to your advantage and try to split push if you see a window of opportunity. Take note that you must be cautious when split pushing because the enemy can gank you anytime. There is also a possibility that your team will lose clashes because of a 4v5 situation wherein you are solo pushing other lanes.
The late game is the make or break moment of any LoL matches. If your match has reached this point, one small mistake can cost you the entire game. When you already have all your items, remember that buying the Elixir consumables can help a lot in late team fights. I believe that as a top laner you have the obligation to somewhat help your ADC in fending off the enemy team. Dragon and Baron buff are also huge advantages in this moment of the game. If you are very far behind as a top laner, I suggest going with a tankier build so that you can let your damage dealers do all the damage while you go up front to deny them going for the carries in your team.
Overall, being the top laner has its pros and cons, but if played correctly you will be able to carry your game. Always remember to avoid dying early, and try to outplay your matchup so that you will have a lasting impact further in the game. Have extensive map awareness and try to pressure other lanes by teleporting when the time is right. I hope to see you all in the rift top laners!