The best top lane champions in League’s Patch 11.4

These are League's top-tier top laners for this season's solo queue.

Image via Riot Games

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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 11.4.

Gragas

Image via Riot Games

Pros

  • Flexible build
  • Exceptional sustain
  • Scales well throughout all stages of the game

Cons

  • High mana costs

Gragas became popular recently after multiple top laners received nerfs. The champion provides a lot of crowd control, while also having enough sustain in this burst-heavy meta. With various viable build paths, you can pick Gragas into any composition. If you need a frontline, acquire defensive items and be a great tank. If your team needs additional damage, go for an ability power-oriented build instead to provide huge area-of-effect burst potential.

Item build

Screengrab via Riot Games

The primary rune page you should take as Gragas in the top lane is Resolve. It gives you access to various great runes such as Grasp of the Undying, Demolish, Second Wind, and Overgrowth. Three of them will increase your healing or health, while Demolish is taken to help you pick up early tower plates for a gold lead. It also scales well into later stages of the game when you’re split pushing to allow you to take down towers faster.

The secondary rune page is Inspiration for the Biscuit Delivery and Time Warp Tonic. Both will help you out early on and improve your mana regeneration which is a major problem due to your high mana costs. If you don’t want to start with a Corrupting Potion, you can opt for the secondary Sorcery tree for Manaflow band instead.

Ability priority

Gragas’s skill priority is R>Q>E>W. You want to max your Q since it is your primary waveclear ability and poke. Afterwards, prioritize E for the additional mobility and to be as annoying as possible in teamfights to enemies. Lastly, max W, which is a great ability by itself, but has less utility compared to Q or E. 

Game plan

Gragas is one of the most powerful top laners right now. You have a great sustain and crowd control and clear item power spikes. Before you load into the game, it’s important to talk with your team about which build you need to go for since your plan will drastically change.

If you go for a tanky build, look to play safely during the laning phase and acquire the tank items such as either Sunfire Aegis or Turbo Chemtank. Keep up with a good farm and aim to split push and teleport in teamfights when your team needs you. Don’t look to go for impressive plays since the lack of damage will be a huge burden with this build. Instead, rely on your team to do the damage.

If you go for an ability power-oriented build, look for early trades to try to get a lead. After you push your lane, look into roaming to other lanes as well to help them build a lead and help you reach your power spikes faster. Don’t play safely since you’ll get outscaled compared to other champions with the AP-oriented build. Try to finish the match before it gets to late game.

Aatrox

Image via Riot Games

Pros

  • Strong sustain
  • No resources required for abilities
  • Exceptional team fighter

Cons

  • High cooldowns
  • High skill-floor

Aatrox’s passive healing and high damage can be painful to fight against. Additionally, Aatrox has strong wave clear and excellent engage potential. His healing and CC allow for outplays all around. He isn’t simple to play due to his dependency on skillshots, however, and he struggles against some of the strongest picks in the meta, like Pantheon or Darius. But if you put in an effort to learn how to play Aatrox, it’s likely going to pay off.

The recent Mythic items impacted Aatrox positively, especially Goredrinker, which allows you to be unkillable when combined with the sustain from the new items and runes.

Item build

Screengrab via Riot Games

The Precision tree is core on Aatrox. It grants you adaptive force via Conqueror stacks, which you can stack quite easily. The tree also grants additional healing with Triumph and Conqueror when fully stacked, Tenacity to reduce crowd control, and Last Stand to do increased damage when low on health. The secondary Domination tree will improve your sustain and allow you to be deceptively tanky in teamfights even without tank items.

Ability priority

Aatrox’s skill priority is R>Q>E>W. Your Q is the bread and butter of your kit. It allows you to poke, clear waves, knock up enemies, and is the most flexible ability of your kit. You should invest time in learning its sweet spot to receive maximum benefit. E second will grant you additional mobility to either stick on your target or run away from a fight. W is maxed last since the ability has a delay before it is activated, and maxing Q and E is much more powerful overall.

Game plan

Try to poke your opponent with your passive and Q when not on cooldown. Learn to combo your dash with your Q for surprise attacks. Don’t be afraid to fight the enemy in a one-vs-two situation if the enemy jungler comes to gank. Aatrox is beefy due to his self-healing capabilities and combined with the runes above is deceptively tanky. Once you get your core items, you should focus on split-pushing since you’re a great duelist, look for teleport flanks on the enemy team, and focus the backline.

Renekton

Image via Riot Games

Pros

  • Strong sustain
  • Strong duelist
  • Good split pusher

Cons

  • Falls off late game

Renekton is back in the meta after falling off due to the latest item rework. He synergizes well with the Goredrinker Mythic item, which allows you to unleash havoc in teamfights and be a beefy frontline, while also dealing a lot of damage.

He’s one of the best top laners in the game currently due to his ability to impact the early game pressure and create room for his jungler to gank or take top side crab alongside Rift Herald.

Item build

Screengrab via Riot Games

The Precision Tree is core on Renekton. It grants you access to Press the Attack or Conqueror. Both keystone runes amplify your power both in and outside the lane. While Press the Attack is usually taken to dominate the lane, Conqueror is taken to have better scaling into the later stages of the game.

Other notable runes are Triumph, Legend: Alacrity, and Last Stand. All three runes sync well with your kit and teamfight presence, increasing your damage the lower your health gets.

The secondary rune page is more flexible with some players preferring to go for Domination while others favoring Resolve. Resolve has two great runes that allow you to increase your lead in Demolish and Bone Plating. Considering your plan is to engage on your opponent as often as possible, Bone Plating ensures you get the upper hand in the trades.

Ability priority

Renekton’s skill priority is R>Q>E>W. His Q is the best skill in his kit, arguably better than his ultimate due to its amount of healing damage. You want to use your fury to empower it and do major damage in trades during the laning phase. Maxing E second is recommended due to the additional mobility you’ll have with its longer uptime. While W is a great ability overall, the utility from Q and E outweigh it.

Game plan

Your goal as a lane bully is to make sure your opponent never goes unpunished for every attempt at last hitting minions. You should try to go for trades as often as possible since your most powerful period is the early to mid game. Once your opponents start scaling, you’ll most likely fall behind.

Try to aim for a Goredrinker as soon as possible since it grants you everything you need and can extend your lifespan significantly since it can be used in combination with empowered Qs to gain a lot of health back. Once the laning phase is over, look to split push and maintain pressure over the map.

If the opponent sends one member, you can usually farm up well against it and keep pushing to get a tower or an inhibitor. If two or more members try to come for you, you can usually take them down if you’re farmed since your kit relies on fighting multiple opponents to fill your rage bar so you can use empowered abilities. Use your teleport to aid your team and not tunnel on split-pushing. Your tankiness will come in handy during a teamfight, since you can usually soak damage from the opponents, giving your team enough time to do damage and kill enemy champions.

Malphite

Image via Riot Games

Pros

  • Great kit
  • Scales well
  • Rewarding to play

Cons

  • Squishy ranged form
  • Needs time to scale

Gnar has become one of the most popular top laners in League after buffs in Patch 10.13. His great kit and scaling make him one of the best champions to fit into most compositions in the game. While he might be hard to get used to at first, Gnar is rewarding to play if mastered. He has a huge skill floor and ceiling, so players who are looking for easy wins without investing time into understanding the champion should look to play something else. In the later stages of the game, your combo of R into W stun can be devastating to opposing teams and can help you turn the tides of battle in crucial moments.

Item build

Screengrab via Riot Games

There are a couple of viable rune builds for Gnar, but Resolve with Domination is the most popular one. It grants you access to a lot of sustain and additional tankiness to cover up for the fact that you’re squishy. In the Resolve tree, you want to go for Grasp of the Undying for the additional health granted and damage every couple of seconds. From the basic runes, Demolish is picked up to help you take down towers, Bone Plating to avoid dying early on, and Overgrowth to make you harder to kill the longer the game goes on.

The secondary rune page gives you access to Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter. Both are great sustain runes that should help you reach your power spikes.

Ability priority

Gnar’s skill priority is R>Q>W>E. Your boomerang is your core ability to farm and poke, so it should be maxed first. After that, going for W is a priority since it deals a lot of damage every couple of attacks, which is great to deal with any tanks on the enemy composition. E is maxed last since the utility from it is lower compared to Q or W.

Game plan

Gnar is one of the most unique top laners in the game who excels once he gets a couple of items. While you can play aggressively early on and try to snowball, it’s not recommended since you’re quite squishy and can be set far behind to a point where you can’t recover from.

As the game goes by and you start acquiring enough gold to purchase your Mythic item, look to group up with your team if they’re going for a teamfight. Before you teleport in, make sure to build up your rage bar so you can transform into your Melee Form for the crowd control you have in that form. It’s better to delay grouping up with your team for five seconds instead of appearing in your ranged form because throwing boomerangs won’t do that much damage later on.

Once you’ve reached the late game, look to splitpush and continue applying pressure on the opposing team. Your W allows you to easily deal with tanks, so they’ll be forced to either send a bruiser, mage, or ADC to clear waves and stop you from wreaking havoc.

Camille

Image via Riot Games

Pros

  • Great duelist
  • Can dash over walls
  • Game-changing ultimate

Cons

  • 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.

Item build

Screengrab via Riot Games

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.

Ability priority

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.

Game plan

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.