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 10.7.
- Strong kit
- Free item upgrades
- Can burst down squishy champions
- High skill floor
- Mana issues early
Ornn is one of the best tank champions to play. His kit is good for a tank. He has mobility, slow, burst damage, damage based on maximum health point of enemies, and a lot of crowd control. While all of this sounds great, the best thing about Ornn is the free item upgrades, which are valued between 500 and 2,000 gold. While you need to reach a certain level to upgrade you and your allies’ items, it won’t be a big problem since Ornn can easily farm and scale into the mid to late game.
The Resolve tree is core on Ornn since it grants him additional health, damage, and tower pressure. If the enemy backs without proper timing, you can get a fast lead by taking tower plates by using Demolish. The Inspiration secondary will grant you additional lane survivability via biscuits and the free Stopwatch can be used to save you from a sticky situation and later convert it into a Gargoyle Stoneplate.
Ornn’s skill priority is R>W>Q>E. You want to max W for the maximum amount of damage, wave clear and lane pressure. Afterward, you want to max Q to clear waves in the mid game and have terrain to collide with more often. While his E is his primary mobility spell, the scaling of Q and W is much more efficient and should be maxed first.
Your goal as a tank in the top lane is to not lose the game, scale into the mid game, and purchase your core items. You can bully people in lane if they’re aggressive, but overall as Ornn, you should sit it out and farm to reach level 12 as soon as possible for the free item upgrade. Once you get your ultimate at level six, look for a teleport play around mid or bottom lane to secure objectives.
Remember to communicate with your team and insist they purchase upgradeable items so that you’ll get maximum efficiency from your passive.
- Strong sustain
- Lots of crowd control
- Exceptional team fighter
- High mana costs
Maokai appeared in the meta out of nowhere. After being away from the Rift for multiple matches, he is back in action. His counters were nerfed into the ground and his item build was buffed up. The most significant buff was the Bami’s Cinder, which received a significant buff without any trade-off. The item deals a lot of AoE damage if you crowd control a champion, and Maokai has plenty of it.
He is quite simple to pick up and can also be fun to play due to how his abilities work. He has a great laning phase due to being able to set up ganks for your jungler with his high CC capabilities, though he is quite a mana-hungry tree so prepare to run out of mana if you don’t have any mana runes or items.
The Resolve tree is core on Maokai, it grants him additional damage and sustain via the Grasp of the Undying. Demolish will help you to take towers since your tower-taking capabilities are quite low with your kit. Conditions alongside Overgrowth will make you harder to kill by granting you additional armor, magic resist, and health.
The secondary Sorcery tree will fix your mana issues and the additional cooldown reduction will allow you to use your crowd control more often.
Maokai’s skill priority is R>Q>W>E. Your Q is the easiest ability to farm with so it is maxed first. W is maxed second to have a point-click crowd control more often, which allows you to get onto carries more often or help set up ganks for your jungler. E is max last. For it to be effective it needs to be placed in a bush. In team fights you will most likely not have a bush near you, so you’ll lose a lot of utility if you max it.
Your goal as a tank in the top lane is to not lose the game, scale into the mid-game, and purchase your core items. You can set up ganks for your jungler quite well with all the slows and roots in your kit. Pre-level six you can flash – W then follow up with a Q to allow your jungler to secure a kill easily. After level six, you can initiate with your ultimate then follow up with your basic combo.
In team fights, look for flanks to surprise the opponents, throw your ultimate to cut them in their tracks, and engage with your W followed up by a Q. Remember to auto-attack often to proc your passive and get healed up frequently in team fights.
- Strong one-vs-one fighter
- Strong objective control via her E
- Slows cripple her
- Weak early
- Needs excellent orb walking mechanics
Kalista is emerging as a counter to meta top laners in this patch. With the latest buffs she received alongside the newest lethality item, Sanguine Blade, which gets enhanced in a one-vs-one matchup, she’s insanely strong. While her early game isn’t the best and can be countered by an early jungle camp, she’s still emerging as one of the best ranged top laners on this patch.
The Domination tree is important for Kalista. It allows you to do three swift attacks with Hail of Blades, which forces your opposing laners to play defensively unless they want to get chunked down heavily from early levels. Taste of Blood alongside Ravenous Hunter will grant you the sustain needed until you get your core lifesteal items and Eyeball Collection is the most reliable rune to get additional AD from the remaining options. The Precision secondary is great since it grants you Overheal to make you tankier and more lifesteal via Legend: Bloodline.
Kalista’s skill priority is the following: R>Q>E>W. Your Q is the main ability to help you out during the laning phase. While E does more damage in the long run, you won’t be able to stack it up too much early against good opponents. As a result, maxing Q will give you the raw damage needed for a fast trade on a low cooldown. W max is last since the additional damage from E is much more useful than the small vision granted by your W.
Use Hail of Blades on cooldown. When it’s up, go for a trade with the enemy, hit a Q and stack up some spears, then pop E for a big burst of damage in a small window. Your opponent most likely won’t have enough time to respond and will either try to run away or engage on you. If they try to engage, just run back and wait for Hail of Blades to come off cooldown. You’re quite weak early and vulnerable to jungle ganks, so try to farm up for your core items and you’ll be unstoppable.
- Strong one-vs-one duelist
- Exceptional sustain via passive
- High-impact ultimate
- High mana costs
The Monkey King is back in action after his recent rework. He has ascended to an instant pick-or-ban position from never being picked. The rework has kept the core aspects of his original kit and heavily improved them. The most notable change is the decoy, which did nothing before but now acts as an additional damaging tool, copying Wukong’s abilities and dealing a ton of damage.
His newly upgraded passive gives him health regeneration and makes him a terror both in one-vs-ones and teamfights.
While the reworked Monkey King has been live only for a couple of days, most players figured out the best runes, items, and skill priority. The Precision tree is core since it gives you additional damage via Conqueror stacks, which you can stack quite easily. The tree also grants additional healing via Triumph and Conqueror when fully stacked, Tenacity to reduce crowd control, and Last Stand to do increased damage when low on health. The secondary Resolve tree will grant you additional tankiness via the health gained from Overgrowth and prolonged sustain via Second Wind, which synchronizes really well with your passive
Wukong’s skill priority is R>E>Q>W. You want to max your E to be able to get onto targets more often and since it is the primary CS tool in your kit. Q max is second due to the damage granted and lower cooldown with each level, and W max is last since the increased damage from your clone doesn’t matter if your abilities don’t do damage. The clone will indirectly do more damage if you do more damage with your abilities since it copies them.
Wukong became one of the strongest early game champions after his rework. The new passive, which is much more useful on lane, grants him a stacking armor and health regeneration buff. This buff combined with the runes above will make you extremely tanky and hard to kill, especially if you get 10 stacks of Conqueror.
Once you get out of the laning phase, look for opportunities around the map when your ultimate is up. You can go for a fast combo, pop ultimate, and do your combo again once basic abilities are off cooldown then use ultimate again; this will unleash devastating amounts of damage on anyone.
In mid to late-game team fights, look for out-of-position carries and try to flank them before they can react. Use your clone wisely—you can knock-up enemies with it as well. If you position it properly, you could CC an entire team even if they’re split.
- Great duelist
- Overall great kit
- No dash
- Hard to come back if behind
Garen is a powerful pick in the current meta. After a small rework around his abilities a couple of patches ago, new builds have emerged, namely Trinity Force into Phantom Dancer, which makes him extremely potent in one-vs-one scenarios and a terror in team fights. If most players went for tanky items before and relied on teammates, the current Garen goes for offensive items and is the carry.
The Precision tree is core on Garen. Conqueror directly increases your damage via adaptive force granted, while also making you tankier via the healing received when fully stacked. Triumph will save you in team fights by granting your health back when you get a kill. Legend: Tenacity will make you less vulnerable to Crowd-Control, while the Last Stand makes you deadlier the lower your health.
The precision secondary is needed on Garen since he is not a good tower taker. Demolish helps you get the early plates to snowball while Bone Plating is needed to make you harder to one-shot when you rush into the enemy in a teamfight or laning phase.
Garen’s skill priority is the following: R>E>Q>W. You want to max the E since it allows you to wave clear and do a lot of damage to the opponent if they are isolated. Q max is second to allow you to be more mobile and get on your targets faster. W max is last since tankiness is the last thing you need with this offensive build—damage is more important.
Garen is one of the strongest top laners currently. He scales really well with offensive items after a rework to his E, making him extremely annoying and hard to deal with. You should focus on stacking your W early on and farming for Trinity Force. Look to punish the enemy when he goes for minion kills by doing a simple combo of Q into E 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.
Before the rework, you would be the frontline your team needed and tank most incoming damage. Now, after the rework you act more like an assassin, try to look for flanks and don’t just run into enemies since you’ll get blown up quite easily.