Some champions in League of Legends are just flat-out stronger than others.
For top laners, there are three archetypes of champions that fluctuate ahead of one another as the meta changes. There are splitpushers, which are champions that have 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. For splitpushers, it’s all about drawing aggro so your team can take objectives unopposed around the map.
Then there are the support-style top laners. These are the beefiest tanks in the game, like Sion, Maokai, 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 teamfights. Their crowd control and utility make them great playmakers and protectors for the team’s carries.
Finally, we have the top lane hyper carries. These champions 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. They build a bit more resilient than mid lane or jungle assassins, making them oddly hard to kill for how much damage they throw out.
Some of the best top laners can fill more than one of the three archetypes, allowing them to play a more versatile style depending on what the team calls for. Others, however, fill one role so well that they fit flawlessly into certain team compositions.
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’s our top lane tier list for League’s Season 8 solo queue.
Champions in this tier are the strongest in the current meta, and it doesn’t take much effort to carry yourself through the ranks of solo queue with them.
Pantheon’s point-and-click poke was only rivaled by Quinn for a while. But after nerfs to Electrocute this summer, he regained his title as the King of the Cheese. His Q ensures that he can poke almost any top lane champion away to safely farm or get a quick kill, so as long as you pay attention to wards and jungle position, you shouldn’t have much issue getting out of lane unscathed. With your ultimate, you’re a terror around the entire map, too.
Jax hasn’t been buffed recently, but he still packs quite the punch. He just sort of snuck up to the top of the.. top. It’s possible that this was because his competition was nerfed, but honestly, we think he’s been in a pretty good spot for the past several months, and players are just starting to take notice. He hits pretty hard early on despite being a late-game hyper carry, and overall he’s reliable and strong.
Garen is an enigma, because he went through several years of absolutely no popularity and then quickly became one of the strongest top laners in the game. He was buffed, but several patches before he actually saw any play-time. That’s not terribly uncommon, but even after some nerfs this summer, he’s still performing very well. He may just be the easiest but most effective champion in the top lane.
The second most powerful top laners take a little bit more effort to play well, but when executed properly, they can carry a game just as hard as the best.
The Duke of Dunk is a very strong pick in the meta simply because of how much raw damage he deals—if you’re a melee champion. If you’re ranged, or a Pantheon, he’s going to have a tough time getting close enough to you to deal damage, but there aren’t many melee champions that can match his power early in the game. He has one of the best level one damage outputs in the game, and he’s excellent at getting an early snowball rolling to run away with the match.
Gangplank is currently one of the most popular champions in League thanks to his potent combination of split-push power and map pressure. That’s also a very unique combination, as most split-pushers have difficulties impacting the map as a whole, with exceptions in Shen and Pantheon. The only issue with Gangplank is that he requires some practice to really master, but once you’ve got him down, you can carry with the best of them.
Quinn is slightly weaker than she was at the start of the summer thanks to some rune nerfs, but she’s definitely still strong in solo queue. She excels as a high-damage lane bully that falls off a bit later into the game, but as a marksman, she still does pretty well. She might be even more attractive as a pick now, because she’s banned a lot less and there’s less risk for upcoming nerfs.
This is an interesting tier because champions at this level aren’t exactly strong in the meta, but if you can learn how to play them well, you can still make them work to carry games. It might require a bit of extra effort to get there though.
Irelia has been repeatedly nerfed since her rework in April thanks to how damn powerful she became. Fortunately for her fans, she’s still pretty darn strong and a perfectly fine hyper-carry option to pick in the top lane. Now, she struggles a bit more until she gets a full item or two, but if you can manage to snowball your lane a bit with the help of a flashy outplay or help from an ally, you’ll have all you need.
Fiora has had a very on-again-off-again sort of year, but right now, she seems to be somewhere in the middle. Just like Irelia, she excels at pumping out way too much damage in a one-on-one fight, but she’s less mobile, and she’s more of a split-pusher than a roamer. The tradeoff is that she deals slightly more damage than Irelia with less items, but she deals less damage overall. We’d still recommend Irelia over Fiora, but Fiora is a great option if Irelia gets banned or if you don’t want to sink the time into learning her.
Sion is never terribly far from the top of the ladder, and right now he’s in a pretty decent place. After some significant buffs to his permanent health stacking, he ends games far tankier than before without sacrificing any of his damage or big, flashy engages. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t too many pure tanks in control of the top lane meta at the moment, but Sion is still doing just fine.