Competitive Top Lane Meta for Worlds
This article takes a look at the possible strengths of top lane champions coming to competitive on patch 6.18, the "Worlds patch."
Tier 1: Shen and Ekko
Tier 2: Gnar and Gangplank
Tier 3: Kennen, Yasuo, and Poppy
What I Highly Rate
Champions who can be independent in the top lane are very strong currently in the Meta, as many people will call the lane an island. Allowing self-created pressure top side opens up opportunities towards prioritizing the bottom lane. If you can get bot priority then this will also spread across top side along with earning more objective and dragon control. Overall this increases your snowball potential and chances to win a game. Champions who can be self-destructive are moved towards Tier 3, while champions who have some characteristics of Tier 1, but just aren’t as dependable are in Tier 2.
Shen has progressively become higher and higher priority on patch 6.15. He is a good duelist, he basically has two teleports, and can survive in several 2v1 situations. The main issue that was occurring for Shen players was failing to execute on his 2nd global while getting put behind. The main antagonists were Gnar and Gangplank. Gangplank can match Shen’s global and Gnar could hard punish Shen in lane. However, with Gnar and Gangplank getting nerfed along with nerfs to the Frozen Mallet damage, some of those problem areas for Shen are gone in those match-ups. Shen also happens to counter Ekko, who is the other Tier 1 in this list I have created.
Note: Shen does get nerfs to his Q damage and shield, but it isn’t enough to hurt his standing.
Ekko is my other choice for Tier 1. Again, the Gnar nerfs with Frozen Mallet means that when Gnar chases you down in lane, you won’t be taking as much damage and you will have a lower chance of dying. This also allows Ekko to take a few more chances on shoving the waves in to produce pressure. Ekko has been used previously against Gangplank for shoving power and out trading him early on, and the Gangplank nerfs will just put this more in Ekko's favor during the laning phase. Overall, Ekko is very independent in the top lane if he must be left alone while also having great impact in team fights. It is hard to punish Ekko due to the champion being able to use Chronobreak to go back to lane from base. Lastly, Ekko’s low Q cooldown enables him to clear waves rather quickly, which comes in handy if he needs to rotate or defend tower in swap scenarios.
Gnar will be weaker on 6.18, but he will still be a lane bully. The main difference to me for Gnar is that he won’t be able to punish you as hard for overextending. Shen and Ekko will escape this problem more often. Now this doesn’t mean Gnar is useless against these two champions, because he can still snowball a lane if he gets a few kills and is utilized properly. It’s just the opportunities for this to occur are lower. I would also add that Gnar is the main top lane champion who can safely hit towers when split pushing due to being ranged. Teams that look for this attribute in a top laner may prioritize Gnar more.
The first thing to note is Bandit did not get nerfed, which means Gangplank can continue to amass gold during laning phase for high damage output in the mid and late game. However, what does hurt him is his HP nerf and ultimate nerf. He can’t fight 2v1 as well as he once could, and is now more susceptible to early trades against the likes of Ekko, Shen and Gnar. Nonetheless, Gangplank will still be good if you can afford some top lane bans or draft maneuvers that lure the enemy’s attention to somewhere else to increase his chances of successfully escaping the laning phase.
Kennen is currently viewed as a counter pick into Gnar. He is ranged and can harass a lot of the melee champions in the top lane, while also bringing strong team fighting. Sadly, he runs the risk of if he gets killed in laning phase and falls behind then his usages drop dramatically and it is hard to get him back in the game.
Yasuo became a counter to Shen and partial counter to Ekko in the North American region on patch 6.15. The pick definitely works into these two champions on 6.15, but the recent nerfs to Yasuo will lower some of his damage. I do believe Yasuo will still be good into these two picks, though, on 6.18. The Frozen Mallet nerf does not affect Yasuo as much as it affects Gnar, while his main strengths still hold as being a lane bully and split pusher. I still list Yasuo as Tier 3, though, since he runs the risk of becoming useless if used improperly.
This may seem like a strange one to some people. Poppy has gained a few buffs over time now and with all the nerfs to other champions, she can start performing against the current Meta picks. The main pick I am viewing her to be good against is Shen. Poppy can stop Shen’s taunt easily. She can most likely go even in trades thanks to her Q damage and Shen Q nerfs. Finally, Poppy has some AOE with her Q which can let her dictate the wave. In team fights she has the ability to control the impact of Shen’s ultimate with Keeper’s Verdict. Playing Poppy against Ekko is where I will be unsure. We all remember the constant Ekko vs Poppy in Spring Split. The lane constantly went back and forth, but with all the changes from then I am unsure how it plays out now.
What is your tier list of top lane champions? Will a different champion bust into the meta with all of the changes to the current meta champions? Let us know in the comments below or on our Twitter - @GAMURScom.
Images credited to LeagueofLegends.com