Original article by: Dot Esports
There are a variety of League of Legends top laners that counter each other. Some vary in strength based on metas, others vary depending on matchups.
For top laners, there are three archetypes of champions that fluctuate as the meta changes: hyper-carries, support-style champions, and split pushers.
Splitpushers have a weak laning presence and a weaker ability to trade damage until they get a few items. Once they get some items and can duel with their opponents, they just steamroll through the lane, taking turrets until the enemy team sends forces to stop them.
Support-style top laners are the beefiest tanks in the game, like Sion, Ornn, and Shen. They can trade damage with their lane opponent reasonably well, but their main strength comes from surviving in their lane until they can build up enough tanky items to join their team in all-out team fights.
Top lane hyper-carries put out insanely high damage in the blink of an eye and can usually hit multiple targets at once with high cleave and AoE damage.
This list of top-tier champions can be affected depending on a number of things. Sometimes the meta shifts for no apparent reason other than players’ tastes, but usually there’s some kind of balance change behind it. It can be difficult to keep up on the flavor-of-the-month champs, so let us do that for you.
Here are our top five top laners for League’s Patch 10.21.
- True damage
- Crowd control (CC) denial as a basic ability
- Mediocre teamfighter
- Requires good awareness to make good use of W
Fiora is one of the best split pushers in the game, which can easily net you wins if you have a good laning phase. She’s one of the highest skill-cap top laners in the game with which you can show off your mechanical prowess.
She rose in the meta as a result of Camille becoming more popular. Fiora is a great answer to Camille with the match-up being highly skill reliant between both parties.
As with many bruisers, Conqueror is the core keystone to take. It grants you additional AD that scales well alongside the healing component when fully stacked, which makes you a huge nuisance for the opposing team. Triumph is taken for the additional gold and health return for those risky plays. Some people like to go for Overheal due to the abundance of assassins in the meta, but Triumph is the better default choice.
Legend: Alacrity is taken for the additional attack speed but other options are viable as well. Legend: Tenacity is valuable against CC-focused compositions, while Legend: Bloodline can be taken against heavy tank compositions to keep you topped off. But Coup de Grace, on average, deals more damage, so it’s taken instead of the other two.
While there’s a lot of experimentation regarding the secondary tree, Resolve is one of the most picked due to Demolish, which can help you snowball early on. Bone Plating can also help you get favorable trades. You can try out Inspiration for the Biscuit and free Boots of Speed as well.
Fiora’s skill priority is: R>Q>E>W. Q is maxed first to help you out with your wave clear and mobility. It’s the most valuable skill in your kit and should be used wisely early on to proc your passive. E is maxed second due the effectiveness of having your attack speed steroid as often as possible. W is maxed last. Even though the utility from it is tremendous, if timed correctly, you can negate all incoming damage and CC.
Fiora is one of the most snowbally top laners in the game. If you win your lane, most of the time you’ll be able to convert that lead and help out your teammates as well. During the laning phase, focus on using Q to proc the passive on your opponent for a huge amount of damage. Due to Conqueror and Bone Plating, you have a huge advantage early on and can take fights against most top laners without issues. If you’re having a rough time, try to farm for your core item, Tiamat, Blade of the Ruined King, or any other item you choose.
Your main goal should be to split push with your core items. The more time you spend teamfighting, the more opportunities you give the enemy team to come back.
- Strong one-vs-one duelist
- Exceptional sustain
- Good at punishing immobile champions
- No dash
- Falls of in later stages of the game
The Duke of Dunk is a very strong pick in the meta simply because of how much raw damage he deals—if you’re a melee champion. If you’re ranged, or a Pantheon, he’s going to have a tough time getting close enough to deal damage, but there aren’t many melee champions that can match his power early in the game. He has one of the best level-one damage outputs in the game, and he’s excellent at getting an early snowball rolling to run away with the match.
The Precision tree is one of the core trees on Darius. While there are some players who prefer to go for Sorcery main for Phase Rush, most go for Conqueror since it grants you a lot of damage and healing when stacked up. The Precision tree is very good since it gives you additional sustain via Triumph in teamfights and the Legend: Alacrity will make your attacks more fluid and more frequent. Additionally, Last Stand does increased damage when low on health. The secondary Sorcery tree will make you stick easier onto the enemy champions since mobility is the biggest problem of Darius
Darius’s skill priority is R>Q>E>W. You want to max your Q since it is your primary waveclear ability, alongside heal, and poke. E max second over W since you need the lower cooldown on the drag—it’s better to have a gap closer more often than the additional damage from W.
Darius is one of the strongest early game fighters. His passive alongside Conqueror allows for easy outplays on both the enemy top laner and jungler. Engage on your opponent with E when he tries to go for last hits, stack your passive, and let them bleed. If they try to engage on you, your passive alongside Conqueror will overpower most top laners and give you a chance to pick up easy kills.
In teamfights look for the immobile carries and charge towards them with Ghost or Flash. They are the easiest targets to pick off and allow you to get your passive stacked to be stronger for the remainder of the teamfight.
- Strong sustain
- Lots of crowd control
- Exceptional teamfighter
- High mana costs
After being away from the Rift for multiple patches, Maokai is back in action. His counters were nerfed into the ground and his item build was buffed up. The most significant buff was to Bami’s Cinder. The item deals a lot of AoE damage if you use crowd control on a champion and Maokai has plenty of it.
He’s quite simple to pick up and can also be fun to play due to how his abilities work. He has a great laning phase due to being able to set up ganks for his jungler with his high CC capabilities, though he can be mana hungry. Aim to get some mana items early on to solve this or stack up your Manaflow Band.
The Resolve tree is essential on Maokai since it grants him additional damage and sustain via Grasp of the Undying. Demolish will help you take towers since your kit lacks capabilities to do so. Conditioning alongside Overgrowth will make you harder to kill by granting you additional armor, magic resist, and health.
The secondary Sorcery tree will fix your mana issues and the additional cooldown reduction will allow you to use your crowd control more often.
Maokai’s skill priority is R>Q>W>E. Your Q is the easiest ability to farm with, so it’s maxed first. W is maxed second to have a point-and-click crowd control more often, which allows you to get onto carries more often or help set up ganks for your jungler. Max E last. For it to be effective, it needs to be placed in a bush. In teamfights, you’ll most likely not have a bush near you, so you’ll lose a lot of utility if you max it.
Your goal as a tank in the top lane is to not lose the game, scale into the mid game, and purchase your core items. You can set up ganks for your jungler with all the slows and roots in your kit. Pre-level six, you can flash in with W then follow up with a Q to allow your jungler to easily secure a kill. After level six, you can initiate with your ultimate then follow up with your basic combo.
In teamfights, look for flanks to surprise the opponents, throw out your ultimate to cut them down in their tracks, and engage with your W followed up by a Q. Remember to auto attack often to proc your passive and heal up frequently in teamfights.
- Strong utility-oriented kit
- Cheap power spike
- Low cooldowns
- Can’t split push
- Needs a carry in the team
Lulu relies on a jungle carry champion to take over the game. With top laners being left on an island for most of the time, Lulu is the perfect answer to this meta. You can easily farm up your cheap core items and then just assist your jungler or carries to win the game by constantly roaming.
One huge disadvantage of picking Lulu top is that you won’t be able to split-push otherwise you’ll get ganked and blown up. But that can easily be fixed by having a mid laner with Teleport who can take over the split-pushing duties.
The Sorcery tree is core since it grants you everything you’d want as a support Lulu. At the core of this pick is the keystone Summon Aery which ensures that your poke hits harder every couple of seconds or that your shields are stronger. The keystone doesn’t do a lot in isolation, but quickly adds up in damage or shields. Other notable choices are Manaflow Band to solve your mana issues, and Transcendence to grant you some additional cooldown reduction while also converting excess CDR to ability power. Scorch will ensure you keep poking heavily in the early-game to have a great laning phase.
The secondary page taken is Inspiration for the Biscuits and Cosmic Insight. The Biscuits will make your laning phase smoother while Cosmic Insight ensures that you can spam your abilities more often throughout the entire game.
Lulu’s skill priority is R>Q>W>E. You want to max your Q to be able to clear waves and farm up to your core items. W max is second for the CC duration, which can easily punish enemies who dive you. E is maxed last since while the shield is great, the power of Q and W combined is much higher.
Lulu is an unusual top laner who relies on teammates to carry her. You want to farm safely during the laning phase and convert your gold lead into support items such as Ardent Censer, Athene’s Unholy Grail, and Redemption.
You want to play safely and not overextend. Try not to push the lane into the opposing tower, otherwise the wave might get frozen and then you’ll get easily killed by either the top laner or the top laner with the help with his jungler. As the game goes by, aim to group up with your team and provide them the buffs and utility from your kit and items to ensure a smooth victory.
- Great duelist
- Can dash over walls
- Game-changing ultimate
- Item reliant
- High skill-cap
Camille is a powerful pick in the current meta. She singles out immobile carries easily and can destroy them in the blink of an eye. While she has some weaknesses such as being item reliant and having a high skill ceiling, the glaring pros of picking her grossly outweigh all cons she currently has.
Camille is flexible with her rune choices. The current most popular one is the Resolve primary tree with Precision as secondary. Resolve grants her access to the Grasp of the Undying keystone alongside Shield Bash, Bone Plating and, Overgrowth to make her deceptively tanky.
Precision as a secondary tree grants her access to Legend: Triumph for those pesky low health plays and Alacrity to increase your attack speed and overall DPS.
Camille’s skill priority is the following: R>Q>E>W. You want to max the Q since it is your main damaging tool. It will also allow you to get Trinity Force procs more often with the lower cooldown. After maxing Q first, focus on maxing E for the additional mobility. In some ranged match-ups, you can max E first then Q or a couple of points in W for the additional sustain, and then Q. Camille’s entire kit is very good and you can max pretty much any ability you want in the long run.
Camille is one of the strongest top laners currently. She scales well with offensive items, making her extremely annoying and difficult to deal with. Look to punish the enemy when they go for minion kills by doing a simple combo of Q, auto, improved Q to deny him the experience and gold.
With Trinity Force completed, look for offensive plays all around the map. Your base damage combined with the damage from Trinity Force makes you a force to be reckoned with. If you have enough gold for a Tiamat or Ravenous Hydra, you will become unstoppable and the enemy will have to send multiple members to stop you.
Remember to ward if you’re going to push aggressively and look for teleport plays in the backline of the opponent. A simple teleport behind followed up by a E into R on a carry can decide the game in the mid or late game easily.