General Guide by Khazem
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This will be a guide about the solo top lane.
In the current meta game, the solo top lane is generally home to the tanky bruisers, assassins and some AP carries. Before this, this would be where the AP carries would go, while tanks would go bottom with a support. But with the recent rise of all the new bruisers and assassins and the shift from AD carries going bottom instead of mid, the bruisers and assassins took over the solo top lane.
The solo top lane is usually very far from any action. While middle and bottom lane will often be fighting over map objectives, your goal as solo top laner is to farm, farm and farm.
The champions you see here will always be champions that scale very well into late game, with a lot of farm and will generally try and stay in their lane for as long as possible to get those creep kills. These champions also always have some strong points, making them competent solo laners.
These champions will usually also be very good pushers/farmers, in order to keep up proper lane pressure throughout the entire game.
In this guide I will cover the viable champion choises for this lane, as well as give you a general idea of how laning here works and try and give people a better idea of what champions to pick as solo top.
What makes a good solo top laner?
To be able to properly solo top, your champion needs to fulfill at least one or more of below criteria:
- Have decent lane sustainability (examples: Warwick - Hungering Strike Eternal Thirst, Cho'Gath - Carnivore, Nasus - Soul Eater)
- Have a good escape mechanism ( Jax - Leap Strike, Lee Sin - Safeguard / Iron Will, Renekton - Slice and Dice)
- Scale well into late game ( Nasus, Jax, Cho'Gath
- Be a good and fast pusher ( Galio, Cho'Gath, Nidalee)
- Be somewhat tanky ( Jarvan IV, Renekton, Cho'Gath)
Now what determines a good solo top laner is not about how many of these criteria are met, but what combination of them are. For example if you have a good escape ability and you scale well into late game, but are squishy and have no lane sustain (e.g. AD carries), you won't be a great solo top choise and you'll be better off going bottom lane with a support babysitting you.
These will be the summoner spells you will usually grab as solo top. Note, these summoner spells will be your choises BESIDES either Flash or Ghost, as one those 2 are pretty much needed for any champion in this lane for the much needed escape.
Ignite: Helps counter several champions self healing capabilities, which is common in this lane. Adds to your burst and helps you net kills.
Teleport: Can be used to get back in your lane quickly to avoid missing too much farm, and/or for better dragon control/ganking bottom lane.
Exhaust: Useful against certain champions in this lane, be it for surviving or getting kills.
Solo top lane and teleport
In the solo top lane you will often encounter Teleport as a summoner spell. Let's start off by going through the pro's and con's of this spell.
+ Gets you back in lane faster after you buy/get forced out of lane
+ Gives you the ability to turn around clutch dragon fights
+ Ability to preform teleport ganks and have a good pressence on the map
+ Allows you to split push effectively while being able to come in and help your team at any time
- Won't be able to pick up Ignite or Exhaust
- Can be easily stopped with a stun/silence/knockback
- Long cooldown
- When used for a dragon fight, leaves your tower open to be taken for free
What if the enemy solo top laner has Teleport?
- Always try and stop their teleport when possible, this can be done by both hard pressuring the lane or by trying to follow the person when they're obviously looking for a Teleport
- Always announce when this person is missing and could potentially be teleporting
- When your lane opponent does teleport to bottom lane or dragon, try and punish them by taking top tower
- Try and keep track of their Teleport cooldown and keep your team updated
So since we have Teleport and we don't have to use it to get back into the lane quickly, why not use it for an unexpected gank?
A teleport gank is where you Teleport on top of a sight ward placed by your team somewhere on the map to gank a lane or outnumber your opponents for a dragon or baron fight.
This is most efficiently used in case of a Dragon/Baron fight, where your team will engage Dragon/Baron while you're pushing a lane. When the enemy team sends a person to stop you, you teleport to the dragon/baron fight, effectively creating a 5v4 situation in your favor. Congratulations you've just collected a global gold boost, a few kills and possibly a Baron buff!
Another way to teleport gank is way earlier in the laning phase, where you gank bottom lane. This is done by asking your bottom lane to place a ward in any of the 2 brushes, depening on how far the lane is pushed up, after which you proceed to teleport on top of that ward and pick up 2 free kills.
Note however when doing it in the laning phase to make sure your tower is safe and you're not about to miss out on a ton of experience/creep kills. It is best to coordinate it with your bottom lane right after you push your lane out to the enemy turret.
Red: Possible locations for Baron teleport gank wards
Blue: Possible locations for Dragon teleport gank wards
Black: Possible locations for bottom lane teleport gank wards
Now if your team is refusing to buy wards for some reason, it is possible to teleport to nearby friendly turrets or minions, while this works fine it is much less reliable and not recommended.
Warding is very important as a solo top laner as you're often leaving yourself open to ganks. When you ward you basically want all access points to your lane covered so you can prevent getting ganked.
Good ward spots when on blue side:
Good ward spots when on purple side:
General good items to have as a solo top laner
Regrowth Pendant: Good for early sustain, build this into a philosopher's stone as soon as possible.
Cloth Armor: If you're laning against strong bruisers with very strong early games such as Garen and Renekton. Allows you to buy 5 Health Potion
Doran's Shield: Gives you some sustain, health and some armor. Perfect to make you beefier in the laning phase.
Doran's Blade: The item you want to grab for an agressive start.
Boots of Speed: Pretty neutral starting item. Get this against champions with skillshots or want to get in your melee range, or if you're worried about an early gank.
Note: Make sure to always spend the remaining starting gold on Health Potions.
Items for later in laning phase:
Philosopher's Stone Philosopher's Stone: Great item to help your early game lane sustainability. Very cheap and pays for itself over the course of the game.
Heart of Gold: Gives you some nice early game tankyness and also pays for itself over the course of the game.
Wriggle's Lantern: Cost effective item that gives you free wards and some very nice early game sustain, damage and tankyness.
Warmog's Armor + Atma's Impaler: A lot of solo top champions benefit a lot from this as you'll usually encounter tanky bruisers here. Requires a lot of farm to get and what better place to get that as in the solo top lane?
The Brutalizer: A lot of solo top champions will have a lot of armor, so getting this in the early game can be very effective.
As a solo top laner, you have three priorities:
1. Tower. Try and hold on to it for as long as possible.
2. Creep kills. Honestly this is the most important score for you on the scoreboard. Not kills or assists.
3. Champion kills. Only go for a kill if you're absolutely dominating your lane and when it doesn't cause you to miss out on too many creep kills. Sometimes it's just as beneficial to just harass your opponent out of lane and not chase for the kill than straight up dive them even if you can.
Last hitting is one of the most important skills to master in League of Legends. While you get experience from creeps when they die around you, to get gold from it, you need to get the last hit on it. The basic idea of last hitting is waiting for your creeps to damage an enemy creep untill it's just low enough for you to get the last hit. There are many advantages to this but rather than writing it all down, here's a nice video explaining the concept.
Some extra tips for last hitting under a turret (provided the creeps are not attacked by your own creeps)
Melee minions: 2 turret shots, 1 auto attack
Caster minions: 1 turret shot, 2 melee attacks (get 1 melee attack in before the turret shot and 1 after the shot to get the last hit)
Here's a great tutorial on zoning, not much more to add.
Sometimes the enemy team will not have a jungler while your team will have one. This results in the top lane being a 1v2. Not every solo top laner can pull this off. Here are some champion traits that are most advantageous (in order of importance):
1. AoE spells (ability to clear waves fast if they are pushing hard)
2. Range (ability to last hit or harass safely)
3. Sustainability (Survive in lane for long periods, remedied by pots/items)
4. Escape mechanism (Avoid ganks, remedied by flash/ghost/exhaust)
5. Teleport mechanism (Remedied with teleport, pretty much needed when going 1v2).
Examples of champions that do fine 1v2: Cho'Gath, Galio, Yorick, Nidalee, Nasus, Gragas
Solo top champions are often very good pushers, and if this is the case they can be very valuable as split pushers. The basic idea of split pushing is pushing your lane while the rest of your team is pressuring a different lane.
The benefits of split pushing is you will always force the enemy team to send people over to stop you, relieving that pressure from the rest of your team and giving them the oppertunity to catch them out of position.
Split pushing is best done on a champion that has good escape abilities or is very hard to kill in general. Teleport is also very nice to have when split pushing as it gives you the ability to sort of be at two places at the same time by teleporting to your team after the enemy team sends someone top to stop you.
Split pushing is also a very effective tool when trying to gain Baron control (if you have Teleport. You can hard pressure bottom lane while your team is around Baron, in which case the enemy team can't really afford to send anyone top. If they do send someone top, your team can engage on Baron and force the enemy team to engage in a 4v5 situation while you teleport over to help your team. If they don't send anyone top, take what you can before your team gets engaged on and Teleport over to help them if needed.
Will add some videos showing this more clearly later on.
Champions of the solo top lane
~THIS SECTION WILL GET UPDATED SOON, ANY FEEDBACK ABOUT MATCHUPS SINCE NEW MASTERIES ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED~
For this section I will be using the following format for each champion I feel is a viable solo top laner.
Recommended guide: The guide I personally feel fits the champion in this role the best.
Strengths: Strong points of this champion in the laning phase.
Weaknesses: Weak points of this champion in the laning phase.
Strong against: Who this champion is particularly strong against in the solo top lane.
Weak against: Who this champion is particularly weak against or gets countered by in the solo top lane.
Akali, The Fist of Shadow
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/akali-the-epitome-of-an-assassin-80578
Strengths: Strong burst, high sustainability, hard to gank cause of Twilight Shroud
Weaknesses: Squishy, vulnerable to Vision Wards, Oracle's Elixir
Strong against: Cassiopeia, Gangplank, Mordekaiser, Nidalee, Singed
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Garen, Lee Sin, Swain Talon, Riven
Cassiopeia, The Serpent's Embrace
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/cassiopeia-theres-a-snake-in-my-boot-40430
Strengths: Decent lane sustain, low mana cost on spells, long range, her ultimate makes for a very good escape ability
Weaknesses: Squishy, hard to master, highly dependant on hitting skillshots
Strong against: Gangplank, Garen, Irelia, Jarvan IV Jax, Malphite, Mordekaiser, Riven, Wukong (pretty much any melee champion really)
Weak against: Akali, Galio, Ryze, Talon
Cho'Gath, The Terror of the Void
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/a-gentlemans-way-of-playing-chogath-86284
Strengths: High sustainability, quite tanky even early in the game, Rupture is a very good tool to escape ganks, good pusher
Weaknesses: Hard to lane skillshots, no real escape mechanisms
Strong against: Akali, Jarvan IV, Malphite, Mordekaiser, Shen, Talon
Weak against: Garen, Jax, Renekton, Swain, Udyr
Dr. Mundo, The Madman of Zaun
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/offtank-mundo-got-an-upgrade-81154
Strengths: High sustainability, very tanky at level 6, good low cost/high range harass
Weaknesses: No real escape mechanisms, vulnerable to ganks
Strong against: Singed
Weak against: Garen, Irelia
Galio, The Sentinel's Sorrow
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/galio-a-sentinel-supports-56272
Strengths: High sustainability, great pusher, hard to gank
Weaknesses: No real escape mechanisms, mana starving early game
Strong against: Cassiopeia, Mordekaiser, Rumble, Singed
Weak against: Malphite
Gangplank, The Saltwater Scourge
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/gangplank-wait-where-did-their-health-go-full-o-facts-98004
Strengths: High early game damage, low cooldown high damage range harass, hard to gank
Weaknesses: Low sustainability, squishy early game
Strong against: -
Weak against: Garen, Irelia, Olaf, Yorick
Garen, The Might of Demacia
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/garen-spin-to-crit-updated-9-12-11-99504
Strengths: High early game damage, Courage makes him very tanky early on, hard to gank, counter to many melee based champions in lane
Weaknesses: Has to stay out of combat to have any form of lane sustainability, no real escape mechanisms
Strong against: Cho'Gath, Dr. Mundo, Gangplank, Irelia, Jax, Lee Sin, Malphite, Mordekaiser, Nasus, Riven, Rumble, Shen, Singed, Sion, Talon, Trundle, Udyr
Weak against: Cassiopeia, Kennen, Ryze, Swain, Teemo
Irelia, The Will of the Blades
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/irelia-true-will-cannot-be-defeated-in-depth-guide-70179
Strengths: High sustainability, Equilibrium Strike makes for a good way to escape, great ultimate on a low cooldown, true damage
Weaknesses: No real escape mechanisms, quite mana starving early game
Strong against: Dr. Mundo, Gangplank, Malphite, Mordekaiser, Shen, Singed, Talon, Udyr
Weak against: Cassiopeia, Garen, Jax, Jarvan IV, Olaf, Renekton, Rumble
Jarvan IV, The Exemplar of Demacia
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/the-prince-of-solo-top-95233
Strengths: High mobility, high armor at low levels, hard to gank, good long range harass
Weaknesses: No real lane sustainability
Strong against: Irelia, Wukong
Weak against: Cassiopeia, Cho'Gath, Kennen, Olaf, Rumble, Ryze, Swain, Udyr, Warwick, Yorick
Jax, Grandmaster of Arms
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/jax-the-tanky-dps-counter-100868
Strengths: High burst, good escape by using Leap Strike on creeps
Weaknesses: Low lane sustainability, needs a lot of farm
Strong against: Cho'Gath, Irelia, Jarvan IV, Nasus, Renekton, Riven, Shen, Talon, Udyr, Wukong
Weak against: Cassiopeia, Garen, Kennen, Ryze
Kennen, The Heart of the Tempest
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/saintvicious-kennen-the-new-op-112722
Strengths: Good escape mechanism, good lane sustain (as soon as you buy Hextech Revolver, low CD long range ability allowing Kennen to farm at all times, good escape ability
Weaknesses: No real lane sustainability at low levels
Strong against: Garen, Jarvan IV, Jax, Singed, Wukong
Weak against: Ryze, Talon
Lee Sin, The Blind Monk
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/the-sixth-sense-a-focus-on-laning-lee-sin-90364
Strengths: Decent lane sustainability, high mobility, hard to gank
Weaknesses: Hard to master
Strong against: Akali, Talon
Weak against: Garen, Olaf
Malphite, Shard of the Monolith
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/rocking-solo-top-with-malphite-jungle-guide-included-121976
Strengths: Good passive resistance to harass, decent mobility, good pusher
Weaknesses: No real escape mechanism, low sustain
Strong against: Galio, Wukong
Weak against: Cassiopeia, Cho'Gath, Garen, Irelia, Olaf, Ryze
Mordekaiser, The Master of Metal
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/unforgivens-guide-how-to-build-a-successful-mordekaiser-24061
Strengths: Good lane sustainability (as soon as he gets Hextech Revolver, no mana cost on spells
Weaknesses: No escape abilities, easy to gank
Strong against: -
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Garen, Irelia, Rumble, Ryze, Talon
Nasus, The Curator of the Sands
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/nasus-whys-this-tank-hitting-me-for-half-my-health-107987
Strengths: Great pusher, Wither is a good ability to escape ganks, decent lane sustainability
Weaknesses: Squishy early game, easy to gank, needs a lot of farm
Strong against: -
Weak against: Garen, Jax, Olaf, Ryze, Swain, Teemo
Nidalee, The Bestial Huntress
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/tournament-nidalee-96037
Strengths: High lane sustainability, high mobility, great pusher once she hits level 6, great long range low CD harass
Weaknesses: Weak before level 6, quite mana starving untill she gets some items
Strong against: Warwick
Weak against: Akali
Olaf, The Berserker
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/duffs-competitive-olaf-145429
Strengths: True damage, ultimate that makes him immune to and breaks CC, decent sustain
Weaknesses: No real escape ability
Strong against: Gangplank, Irelia, Jarvan IV, Lee Sin, Malphite, Nasus, Renekton, Singed, Talon, Wukong
Weak against: -
Renekton, The Butcher of the Sands
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/renekton-croc-chop-how-to-drive-a-movie-theater-64612
Strengths: Good lane sustain, high damage, good escape ability, no mana cost on abilites
Weaknesses: Squishy early game, requires quite a lot of farm
Strong against: Cho'Gath, Irelia, Jarvan IV, Talon
Weak against: Jax, Olaf, Teemo
Riven, The Exile
Recommended guide: -
Strengths: High damage, very mobile, spammable shield that scales with AD
Weaknesses: No real lane sustainability
Strong against: Akali, Singed, Talon, Wukong
Weak against: Garen, Jax
Rumble, The Mechanized Menace
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/the-steel-titan-of-solo-top-102929
Strengths: High mobility, no mana cost on abilities, high sustained damage
Weaknesses: Overheating at the wrong time can be deadly, low lane sustain untill he gets some items
Strong against: Gangplank, Irelia, Jarvan IV, Mordekaiser, Nasus, Wukong
Weak against: Galio, Garen
Ryze, The Rogue Mage
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/ryze-mana-carry-guiding-past-misconceptions-of-ryze-58477
Strengths: High sustained damage, Rune Prison makes him a very effective laner against melee, decent sustainability once he hits level 6
Weaknesses: Low sustainability early game, no real escape mechanishsm
Strong against: Cassiopeia, Galio, Garen, Jarvan IV, Jax, Mordekaiser, Nasus, Singed, Shen, Trundle, Wukong
Weak against: -
Shen, Eye of Twilight
Recommended guide: Couldn't find a decent AP Shen guide as which he is most viable currently in my opinion, especially for the solo top lane, but for a good general idea of how Shen works: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/shen-is-everywhere-main-tank-build-70989
Strengths: Quite tanky, no mana cost on abilities, good mobility
Weaknesses: Low lane sustainability
Strong against: -
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Garen, Irelia, Jax, Ryze, Yorick
Shyvana, The Half Dragon
Singed, The Mad Chemist
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/singed-ap-chemistry-tank-revamped-50061
Strengths: High mobility, tanky, great pusher
Weaknesses: Besides his Insanity Potion has no real sustainability, low damage
Strong against: -
Weak against: Akali, Kennen, Riven, Ryze, Teemo
Sion, The Undead Champion
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/clean-up-on-aisle-sion-ap-sion-50485
Strengths: Good defensive abilities
Weaknesses: Besides his Cannibalism no real lane sustainability, no escape mechanisms, requires a lot of farm
Strong against: -
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Garen, Yorick
Swain, The Master Tactician
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/an-enemy-has-been-swain-54159
Strengths: Good sustained damage, high sustainability when he hits level 6
Weaknesses: Squishy before level 6
Strong against: Akali, Cho'Gath, Garen, Nasus, Wukong
Weak against: -
Talon, The Blade's Shadow
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/talon-the-noxian-assassin-ad-burst-update-117801
Strengths: High burst, good escape ability
Weaknesses: No lane sustainability, squishy
Strong against: Akali, Cassiopeia, Kennen, Mordekaiser
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Garen, Irelia, Jax, Lee Sin, Renekton, Warwick, Yorick
Teemo, The Swift Scout
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/get-me-teemo-over-here-with-a-blowgun-82617
Strengths: Low cooldown blinding ability, good damage that's hard to mitigate, very mobile, free wards at level 6
Weaknesses: No lane sustainability, squishy
Strong against: Garen, Nasus, Renekton, Singed
Weak against: Yorick
Tryndamere, The Barbarian King
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/your-tryndamere-resource-updates-4964
Strengths: High early game damage, good sustainability, good escape mechanism, great scaling into late game
Weaknesses: Squishy, easy to kill before level 6
Strong against: ?
Weak against: ?
Udyr, The Animal Spirit
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/taggrins-udyr-130660
Strengths: High early game damage, tanky, good sustainability, high mobility
Weaknesses: No real escape mechanisms
Strong against: Cho'Gath, Jarvan IV, Talon, Wukong
Weak against: Garen, Irelia, Jax
Warwick, The Blood Hunter
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/lanewick-no-more-jungling-88376
Strengths: Very high lane sustainability, tanky
Weaknesses: Slow pusher, no real escape mechanisms
Strong against: Jarvan IV, Talon, Wukong
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Nidalee
Wukong, The Monkey King
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/wukong-the-immortal-king-comprehensive-guide-106153
Strengths: Decoy makes him very hard to gank/kill, good passive for laning top, good harass with an armor shred
Weaknesses: No real sustainability
Strong against: Gangplank, Jarvan IV
Weak against: Cho'Gath, Jax, Udyr, Warwick, Yorick
Yorick, The Gravedigger
Recommended guide: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/yorick-king-of-killing-you-with-dead-things-100242
Strengths: Good lane sustainability, good long range harass
Weaknesses: No real escape mechanisms, squishy early game
Strong against: Gangplank, Jarvan IV, Renekton, Riven, Shen, Sion, Talon, Wukong
Weak against: -
Few notes on this list:
This list is far from complete and I probably overlooked a bunch of things, that's where I need you guys. Any feedback regarding this list is always much appreciated and will be taken into account, I will try and keep this up to date as best as possible.
The goal for this list is to make it the list to go to if you want to know what champion to pick if you're solo top.
If you want a champion to be added here, add a comment with some information about their matchups and I will add them to the list.
- List completed
- Corrected a ton of mistakes and incorrect matchups.
- Added some more guide links
- Added Malphite to the list
- Corrected another bunch of incorrect matchups
- Removed Riven from the list. Lately the only Riven's I've seen is in the jungle where, in my opinion, she is much more viable
- Added a few images to the guide
- Added a "Laning" and "1v2 Laning" section
- Added starting items in the Items section
- Updated lots of match-ups, including a lot of updates for Wukong
- Re-added Riven
- Added Swain
- Added Teemo
- Added Tryndamere
- Added Olaf
- Removed Pantheon, the very few times I've seen him he's been more succesful mid or bottom
- Updated Singed's matchups's (added a few more counters)
Specifically looking for: Information on matchups for Riven, Wukong, Pantheon, Shyvana, Tryndamere
Thanks for reading my guide. I will make sure this stays up to date with every patch. As mentioned before, I will need some feedback on the champion section in order to make it complete so any feedback at all will be greatly appreciated. I hope this guide proves helpful to people to make them slightly more competent solo top laners, and help people get better at picking the right champion when they're solo top.