As a Season 4 and 5 Challenger player that has now retired and plays a bit casual, I’ve decided to create an in depth toplane guide since every guide I see is pretty basic.
Throughout this multiple part guide, I will be covering the importance of:
- Runes and Masteries
- Knowing when to freeze.
- When to push in
- How to make a successful roam
However, I also want to highlight that I used to be one of the most aggressive top lane players in the game and have decided to retire due to the current tank meta. I still prefer playing with Ignite but seeing how the current meta shifted to Teleporting toplaners, that sadly isn’t an option anymore. I guess I’m one of those grumpy old guys that keeps saying; “In my day, things were way better!”.
When some champions like Maokai came into play around mid Season 4, I was known for even playing him pretty aggressively. Going for Blasting Wand over Catalyst as first item in the RoA build path, that was my playstyle. That said, I also have a couple of notable tournament victories (in the Benelux region) under my name. Some of those are:
Fun fact: I also used to play in the Challenger Scene as GSI Gaming with some notable players like Taikki, PerkZ, Steeelback, Krislund (P1noy) and Hiiva.
Anyhow, this being said, let’s get this guide started!
The basics: Runes and Masteries
First off before we go into the laning phase itself, we will be talking about Runes and Masteries. Choosing these wisely has a huge impact on the game. More than some people realize actually.
Note that the champions that I mainly play and will focus on are Irelia, Jax, Hecarim, Aatrox , Fiora and Yasuo.
Basic runepage for Attack Speed reliant champions versus AD champions. 1 Armour Quintessence has great value of tuning down the damage you will take from minions and AD champions while the Health per Level Seals will scale well into the mid game together with MR per level Glyphs. Finally, add 9 Attack Damage Marks and 2 Attack Speed Quintessences to finish off this page.
The next runepage is great against AP toplaners. It offers the ability to punish them without taking a lot of damage in return while still scaling well into the mid game with Health per Level Seals. When laning versus AP toplaners, you’ll want a lot of Attack Speed and a champion with a gap closer since mages are focused on doing one spell rotation. The longer you can stick onto them, the more favorably you will come out of the trade.
The following page is a risky one to take but it’s great when it works out.
Remember you have to play aggressively with this one. You will be investing into flat Health Seals, flat Cooldown Reduction and some flat Magic Resistance. For more damage, you will be teching into 2 Attack Speed Quintessences and 9 AD
For masteries I mainly play 18 points into Ferocity and points into 12 Resolve since this will give you the maximum amount of damage potential together with some sustain and defensive stats. The decreased cooldown on summoner spells (Insight Mastery) is also too good to pass on.
Imagine you counter a teleport gank of your opponent but he doesn’t use the Insight Mastery, halfway through the game you see a great opportunity for a Teleport gank of your own but your opponent might still have his Teleport on cooldown. Because of this, he will not be able to respond or arrive late to the party.
Now moving on to the actual gameplay!
One of the most important things that you have to know is what your champion is capable of at which level and what your opponent is capable of at the same level.
Knowing at which point in time, based on levels or items is the stronger champion is 50% of the laning phase. However this is not something that I can learn people in a guide this is something that you have to learn through experience. Don’t worry, a lot of people in challenger still don’t know the full potential of their champions in certain matchups.
The most important factor in having a successful roam and holding control over the lane is freezing. Often I will see punishing laners like Renekton push the opponent inside of the tower at all times.
However this might seem like a reasonable thing to do since the opponent will have a harder time farming and you will slowly whittle down the opponent’s tower. Most of the time this is actually the wrong way of playing, especially when you are playing a champion that has a lot of dominance like Renekton or actually any champion whatsoever as long as you know when you are stronger than your opponent.
If you freeze the lane in the center, your opponent will be forced to move away from his tower to take the last hits. By doing so, you even avoid the risk of getting ganked yourself. You can show dominance by standing behind the opponents creep wave. This way, they will need to pass through you to reach the creeps and will make it nearly impossible for them to get any gold income without entering an unfavorable trade for them.
Advanced: Pushing in
In the perfect situation, you will have control over the lane and the creeps will slowpush towards your own tower. Once this happens and you manage to keep the freeze going without letting the opponents minions reaching your tower, the opponent will become desperate and will be put in a huge deficit if he won’t call his jungler for a lane shove to reset the lane.
In other situations, they will start roaming! Tell your other lanes to be aware once you are in this situation. Most of the time your opponent will become so desperate that they will try to get the farm anyway. This is why I like playing champions with a lot of mobility and attack speed. Once they are driven to your side of the lane it will be nearly impossible for them to escape once they enter an unfavorable trade. This will also put them into position for some easy ganks from your jungler especially if you have a reliable form of Crowd Control, then you can call your jungler to do a lane gank.
With the perfect timing of using your Crowd Control it will be impossible for the opponent to escape the situation!
Next up is roaming. This is the most important part for a toplaner to be successful in solo queue since you are on an island up in the top of Summoners Rift. You are reliant on your team to do well most of the time. But hey, why don’t you just lend them a hand?
The first step of roaming is being in the dominant stage of your own lane. If you are the one getting bullied, forcing a roam is a really high risk thing to do. The opponent could follow you and overpower you with a countergank. Or he could just call that you are missing and shove the lane in making you fall even more behind and thus you achieve nothing with your time spent.
When you are in the dominant stage of your lane you will obviously want to push out to the enemy tower. If you are playing a champion with great waveclear, you could even proxy a wave in between the towers before you make your move. This will make the opponent stick longer under their tower or they will lose an entire wave. And you won’t lose anything from your roam either.
One of the strongest and in my opinion favorite ganks, are ganks with champions that have a gap closer and are able to go over walls like Aatrox , Jax and Lee Sin (Rip 2009-2014).
For this roam to work, your midlaner needs to shove in the tower. They rarely expect a gank like this to happen because everybody feels comfortable under their tower.
Another way of ganking that a lot of midlaners can’t see coming is moving through the opponent’s jungle and coming in from behind if they don’t have vision in their own jungle. The usual river ward won’t spot you and when they try to run back to their tower they are forced to come into contact with you.
This was part 1 of my in depth toplane guide. If I see that people liked the read, I might start part 2 soonish. I will give some handy cheese tactics for Dynamic queue, hand out more tips and tricks when it comes to roaming / freezing / pushing, teach you how to effectively Teleport gank. And I might even discuss some of the questions you guys might have when it comes to the toplane!