Riot and K'Sante are one troublesome pair.
Despite K'Sante being a terror in pro play, Balance devs had always wanted to balance him for the rest of the player base and failed miserably at doing so.
The recent Rework has changed this and made players from all tiers play him (From Bronze to Challenger), the issue is that is not happening for the right reasons. The champ is way too busted, especially in Patch 13.21.
Before continuing on the rant that everyone is doing on K'Sante, Patch 13.21 did bring interesting changes to the top lane. Let's get into them.
Top lane changes in Patch 13.21
There are three changes to Top Lane champions in Patch 13.21, being the biggest one a buff to the Pride of Nazumah.
K’Sante also received a ton of bugfixes (He still needs much more)
Passive - Dauntless Instinct
- All Out Bonus Damage: 35% ⇒ 45/60/75% (levels 6/11/16)l
Q - Ntofo Strikes
- Required Bonus Health for Minimum Cast Time: 1800 ⇒ 1600 (Hotfixed from 1200)
- Tooltip Update: Tooltip now always shows Resists/Health needed for cooldown and cast time reductions. All Out tooltip has been simplified and updated.
W - Path Maker
- Disruptive Dashes: W - Path Maker will no longer interrupt K’Sante’s E dash when the channeling starts
- Maximum Channel Time: 1.0 seconds ⇒ 1.5 seconds (Note: this will affect both the base and All Out version of W - Path Maker.)
- Tooltip Update: All Out tooltip has been simplified and updated.
R - All Out
- Healing: Calculated based on Physical and True Damage dealt to champions ⇒ Calculated based on all damage dealt to champions
- Q + E Attack Resets: 0.1 seconds ⇒ Instantaneous
All the extra damage in the passive along with buffs to his Q cooldown, mechanics, etc are too much. His pick rate alone from the previous patch skyrocketed from 3.90% to 13.50% hovering at a win rate of 51.42%.
He even got a quick hotfix, but he’s still stronger than ever, and the best thing is that anyone can play him now (He no longer needs good ping to do the previous fancy combo cancels).
Another champion receiving buffs is Tahm Kench.
Besides having recent success in the World Championship, Tahm has not been in the best state in Solo Queue for quite a while.
These Top Lane skewed buffs are an attempt to make him return to the spotlight, and with the current data things are looking good for the River King.
Passive - An Acquired Taste
- Bonus Magic Damage: 8-60 (based on level) (+2% AP per 100 bonus health) (+3% bonus health) ⇒ 6-48 (based on level) (+2% AP per 100 bonus health) (+5% bonus health)
W - Abyssal Dive
- Cooldown refund on champion hit: 40% ⇒ 40/42.5/45/47.5/50%
The last change is a nerf to Dr. Mundo.
Scaling being better due to the Anti-Snowballing changes made Mundo's health stacking even easier to achieve therefore turning him into a walking HP monster with absurd damage in the late game.
E - Blunt Force Trauma
- Passive Bonus Attack Damage: 2/2.5/3/3.5/4% maximum health ⇒ 2/2.25/2.5/2.75/3% maximum health
- Bonus Attack Damage based on Missing Health: 0-60% ⇒ 0-40%
Now let’s jump straight into the list.
The Duelist makes up for the 5th spot on this list
Fiora has been destroying the Top lane throughout all of the Season 13 span, and this is only improving with the changes to Anti-Snowball.
Recommended Fiora build
The extra game time helps Fiora to build her core items more frequently. Once she has them, the Duelist becomes unstoppable.
What makes Fiora one of the best champions currently is her good matchup against most champions in the top lane.
For instance, Fiora if played well counters the likes of Jax or Aatrox with only one ability, Riposte (W), which negates their most important CC, stuns them, and leaves them hopeless against you.
Also, Fiora has incredible inherent sustain with her Duelist’s Dance (Passive) and absurd true damage with her Vitals, allowing her to counter all tanks.
In terms of landing, she has short obnoxious trades with Lunge (Q), and the extra DPS with slows from Bladework (E) makes her fearsome in chase-down scenarios.
There are nasty combos with Grand Challenge (Ultimate) which take Fiora's skill ceiling and potential further into the higher tiers of play and because this is a list directed to an audience of all skill levels, Fiora is placed in the 5th spot.
Let's write down a few issues of Fiora.
As strong as she is, Fiora does have hard matchups against ranged champions like Quinn, and she is not the best team-fighting champion thus relying on flanks to find out positioned carries, or playing only the split push game.
Of course, good players are aware of this, making Fiora players play a lot of mind games which makes her Duelist motto a reality.
If you are the 1v1 type of player who wants to win things by skill-checking your opponents, there is no better champion than Fiora to do that.
- Hard-to-play (Requires tons of games to pilot)
- Doesn't have CC, making her not the best at team fights
- Useless when behind (Requires items)
To learn Fiora, check our recommended MOBAFire guides.
To find out about the best Fiora counters, check CounterStats.
Our 4th spot on this list. There’s no better lane bully than Darius
The current top lane is all about the scaling picks or the strong duelist, and one champion that makes them suffer is Darius.
His Hemorraghe (Passive) bleed damage (Especially when he gains Noxian Might), makes Darius a champion that can run down you literally from level 1 with all of his extra attack damage and DPS.
Darius also has great sustain in lane thanks to Decimate (Q), powerful slow on his Crippling Strike (W), and a pull with Apprehend (E) to catch those fleeing targets.
Recommended Darius build
The cherry on top, and what makes Darius the perfect 1v9 champion, is his Noxian Guillotine (Ultimate) that if you use it at the right moments to execute, it resets the cooldown and allows Darius to become a raidboss that if you left untouched, chop all the opposition.
There are not much champions that can face him directly, which makes Darius a deadly pick in the Top lane. However, he has clear flaws.
First, he’s immobile so he relies on Flash and Ghost to play his game.
Second, falls off hard in the late game compared to other picks on the list. Finally, because he relies too much on getting its stacks to come online, good players avoid him completely, which sadly makes him not the best pick in higher elos.
Despite all of this, Darius has unique neat mechanics that give him skill expression, like using Apprehend (E) to catch a Camille mid cast of her Hookshot (E).
- Lacks mobility and range
- Falls on in late game
To learn Darius and make your opponent’s life miserable, check our recommended MOBAFire guides.
Find about the best counter picks for Darius (most are ranged) in CounterStats.
Poppy makes it to the 3rd spot
Unlike Darius who preys on scaling picks, Poppy specializes in taking down the dashing duelists on the top lane.
What makes Poppy such a great pick is her unique Steadfast Presence (W) mechanic. This ability alone makes her any champion with dashes useless against her.
The slower-paced games also make her a much more valuable pick, due to protecting carries being more relevant and Poppy's kit being great at it.
Recommended Poppy build
Although you would not call Poppy your usual 1v9 champion, she has one of the best laning phases currently. Your range auto with the passive, and using Grasp of the Undying allows her to sustain even the most unfavourable matchups.
Also, Poppy has great engage in her E when turning into walls, and her Ultimate is one of the most versatile abilities to both engage/disengage and control objectives in the game.
Now let’s talk about her cons. First, she’s vulnerable against stat-checker types of champion like Garen, that don’t give a damn about her W.
Second, she does not have the most damage so you can kind rely on your teammates to get the final win (You still can one shot an outpositioned Jinx).
Poppy may not be the most popular pick, but if you give her an opportunity, you'll be surprised by her strength.
- Doesn’t have the most damage
- Can be bullied by stat check champions like Garen
- Suffers against control mage picks like Orianna
To learn Poppy, check our recommended MOBAFire guides.
To counter the Keeper of the Hammer, check CounterStats.
Jax leaps to the 2nd spot on the list
With the Worlds meta fever, Jax is one of the best and most popular picks in Patch 13.21.
Not many champions can face a fed Jax or even a well-farmed one in the sidelane. And with the recent changes, he’s consistently getting into his GOD status.
Recommended Jax build
Seems like one of the true hyper carry on the game, Jax only gets better when the games are longer.
Divine Sunderer + Spear of Shojin makes his damage go into the roof. The lowered cooldown on Empower (W) autos and Leap Strike (Q) makes Jax hard to catch and to run away from.
However, what makes Jax such a great duelist in the Top lane has to be Counter Strike (E). Not only does this ability allow him to dodge all incoming non-turret basic attacks but it also deals damage and stuns targets around him.
Most of the depth of Jax relies on using well your abilities and how these interact with each different champion, which makes learning Jax a tough task. especially if you want to master him.
Now getting into the cons of the Grandmaster (Even Jax has). Despite having Leap Strike (Q) to close the distance, Jax still has one of the shortest auto-attack range in the game. Thus making him vulnerable against kiting or range champions.
Second, he’s not as tanky or has inherent sustain. Although your Grandmaster-At-Arms (Ultimate) helps with that, is not enough compared to other champions in the top lane.
Finally, his team fight is not the best. He doesn’t have a game-changer ultimate like Orn’s Call of the Forge God (Ultimate), so a lot of his team fighting relies on smart positioning and catch plays with Flash + Counter Strike on several targets.
Although it seems that Jax has many flaws, he is the stronger sidelaner in the game (Fiora does beat him) and almost no champion can stand his split push pressure.
To learn Jax, check our recommended MOBAFire guides.
To find out about his best counters, check CounterStats.
The number one pick is K’Sante
Recent rework did reduce parts of his skill expression in exchange for better numbers in his stats/abilities, and right now he's the undisputed best Top lane pick in Patch 13.20.
A tank that can all of sudden become an assassin with insane mobility (Four dashes if you count All-Out cooldown resets), did I mention that he can kidnap you by smashing you into a wall?
That's K'Sante, saying that he has the most overloaded kits in the game is not an exaggeration.
K'Sante has a lot of options, you can play as a main tank in the frontline and absorb damage like no other. Having a dash that shields himself and allies with Footwork (E) and a skill that makes you unstoppable (that also stuns) with your Path Maker (W) makes it hard to take K'Sante down.
Tip: You could turn bad situations into good ones with W used in key moments.
Recommended K'Sante build
But what makes K'Sante truly broken is his ability to become a duelist when using All-Out (Ultimate). The extra true damage/AD and the All-Out bonus abilities make K'Sante a high mobility assassin.
This is even worse when you consider that he has the luxury of building Gargole's Stoneplate which gives him a Shield and extra armor/resistances, that in the case of K'Sante All-Out Form turns into even more damage.
Footage from Patch 13.21 only. Source: The Legends - Youtube Channel
- Hard to pilot
- Bad matchups against tank melters (Gwen is one of them)
- Lacks range (Can be punished against Control Mages)
K'Sante is challenging to learn, but one good place to start is by checking our recommended MOBAFire guides. Most of them are in-depth and made by OTPs or High Elo players specialized in the given champ.
To counter the Pride of Nazumah (If possible), check CounterStats for the best picks against him.
- Aatrox - The Darkin Blade is one of the best picks in high elo but he kind of struggles against most picks on the list.
- Camille – The slower meta helps Camille to scale into her mid-game, where she’s a monster. She kind of suffers against the likes of Darius or Jax though.
- Garen – Recent changes to Hullbreaker did hurt him in performance. Otherwise, he still remains the go-to pick to climb the ranks in Low Elo.