There is a scene at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, where Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef (no relation to Edwin Van Cleef, notorious Deadmines end-boss) are stood in a cemetery and have what many regard as the greatest Mexican-stand-off of all time. While the graphical style of the characters leads us to Graves being the closest we get to this in League of Legends, this analogy best lends itself towards the top lane; just you, your opponent and the Jungler(s) in a battle of wits, with everything to lose. The top lane is arguably the most important in the early game; getting a head start on your opponent here will allow you to roam and gank mid and bot lanes, and if you lose your lane then you best pray to your god that your carries can win the game for you.
Today I’m going to introduce you to the top lane, and a handful of champions I feel anyone who is learning this role for the first time should get to grips with. The champions I’m about to talk about aren’t the best top lane champions in the game, but by no means are they bad; they are just simple yet effective champions that will help you learn how to handle the lane without worrying about mechanics. For anyone who is experienced in the top lane, this guide isn’t for you. However, if you are new to ranked games or are simply levelling up and wish to explore the top lane, read on.
- A poison trail
- A slow on the enemy
- A flip
- A self buff
All of these abilities work in perfect harmony with each other. The simplest tactic for Singed is to activate your Poison Trail (Q), charge the enemy, use Mega Adhesive (W) when they run, then Fling (E) them backwards towards your poison trail. The best part? If they attack and continue to chase you, they’ll run right into your poison trail. Standard builds on Singed also make him a great safe pick, as you can build him as tanky or as damage-focused as you wish. Usual core items include Rod of Ages and Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, both of which offer nice AP damage for his Poison Trail and Fling, as well as a solid amount of health and mana. If things get a little hairy, or you’re just looking to secure a kill, activating his Insanity Potion (R) will give you improved movement speed, armour, magic resist, ability power, health AND mana regen. This means there should be no reason for you to die in a one-on-one situation.
Singed offers a simple yet very effective build for the top lane that allows for mistakes. He is a champion that will remain in your repertoire throughout your ranked and casual play, and is a must for anyone learning the Top Lane. For a full in depth guide to Singed, check out InvertedComposer’s build.
Like Singed, Garen is one of the simplest champions in the game, so simple in fact that he has his own little phrase: “spin to win”. Garen offers the player a few simple tools that can be devastating in the early game, when used correctly. Decisive strike (Q) offers not only a solid amount of damage, but a gap closer that also silences the enemy, all in one attack. This means that it’s very easy for you to get close to the enemy, stop them attacking you and then activate your Judgement (E) to deal a second round of damage on the silenced enemy. If things get too much for you, Courage (W) is a handy little shield, and once you are out of combat for seven seconds your passive will give you 0.4% of your maximum health back every second.
Where Garen really comes in to his own, especially in the early game, is Demacian Justice (R). This ability, a clear predecessor to Darius’ Noxian Guillotine, offers a scaling amount of damage depending on how little health the enemy has; the less health they have, the more damage it will deal. Once the enemy reaches anything below 50% health, a quick Q>E>R combo will almost certainly secure a kill. Garen is designed around being powerful in the early game and winning his lane, leading to a swift victory before you reach the late game. The high base-damage stats from his Q and R mean that you can build him tanky and still offer your team a solid amount of damage in team fights. Garen’s kit is very simple and he works well as a top lane champion, with a respectable amount of damage, good sustain, great tankiness (and in the early game) frankly amazing lane presence. For a more in-depth guide on Garen, check out King Kroanin’s full guide, or WingsofDeathX’s build.
Malphite is my third and final choice for beginner Top Lane champions. He’s tanky, he’s got great poke, good overall damage and has one of the best, if not the best, initiates or fight-resets in the game. He’s regarded by many as being overpowered; this leads to him being banned in most games at low to mid skilled levels. So although he is very effective and is a champion you should definitely have perfected, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to play him right away. Like Singed and Garen, Malphite is very simple to pick up. His kit consists of Granite Shield (Passive) which gives him a shield equal to 10% of his health, making him tanky from the start, allowing you to trade very effectively. Seismic Shard (Q) is his primary method of poking the enemy as well as slowing them down and speeding him up. This helps you engage, chase down enemies or even escape- all of which are crucial to your survival. Brutal Strikes (W) is not a great laning ability, but offers some aid in farming and also some armour. When stacked with his passive, this offers you an even greater level of tankiness in the laning phase. Ground Slam (E) is an AoE attack that scales with armour, slowing enemy attack speed. This works very nicely in the late game, slowing ADC attack speed is a huge debuff to the enemy team.
Finally, the pièce de résistance, Unstoppable Force (R); it is the primary reason to play Malphite and the main reason why he’s banned. It is a charge with 1000 range which knocks up the enemies it hits for two seconds at rank 3. A truly unstoppable ability (Sona’s ult won’t stop it) and it deals a solid amount of damage in the early-to-mid game. This ability can be used to initiate, reset the fight, steal baron, escape, secure a kill or anything you wish. It is one of the most overpowered abilities in the game, and is a great final ability for Malphite. He is simple, with two tanking abilities (passive + W), three damage abilities (Q, E and R), two crowd control abilities (Q and R) and an ultimate that makes anyone ganking you think twice. Malphite’s kit works amazingly well, and the fact he gets banned in so many games is testament to just how powerful he is! LEARN HIM! For a full Malphite guide, check out MakNoon’s winning build, Dolphin Trainer’s Guide!
There are many top lane champions I haven’t talked about to today; like Jax, who is the next champion I suggest you play but didn’t make this list due to serious mana issues if you don’t know what you’re doing. Or Renekton who is very powerful right now. Also champions like Pantheon who will help you stomp soloqueue and Yorick who simply has no direct counter. I haven’t talked about these because they are more difficult to learn. They have more skillshots and modified abilities which require a higher skill level to be able to play successfully. Once you have used the three champions I have outlined, I suggest you move on to the other champions in this list and truly master the top lane.