Ranking best players in EU LCS: Top Laners
Today, I'm going to start a series with my opinion on who are the best players in EU LCS in their own role. Series will start with top laners, to be followed by junglers, mid laners, AD carries and supports.
Top lane is one of the hardest lanes to judge a player, especially in this meta. The difference is very small, mostly based around CS leads, and who will get more tanky for their TP. However, things are looking to change with champions such as Gnar, Lissandra and even Azir entering the top lane meta. These champions should bring back a little of that carry top lane style which was so prominent in the early League. So without further ado, lets get started with ranking our top laners.
1. Fredy122 - SK Gaming
This one I feel most people will agree with. Considered one of the better EU top laners in the Spring and the Summer regular split, he really raised his level in the Summer playoffs, where he demolished opposing players (we all remember that escape with Aatrox against Wickd and Shook), and he probably would be MVP of that playoffs if SK had won it. He continued with his good performances at the Worlds, but SK couldn't do much after that Svenskeren ban.
He is also one of the players that will profit from new champions entering the top lane meta. With his standard Aatrox, alongside Renekton and Shyvana which were his main picks during last season, he looks to add Azir and Gnar to his champion pool as those are the champions he is playing the most in solo q lately. He proved to be a strong Azir player in solo q with 66% win rate with that champion (biggest win rate amongst his most played champions).
Fredy is a player that always pulls pressure from the enemy team. As ROCCAT jungler Jankos once described it, you can gank him and kill him in lane, but he will come back and again be ahead of the opposing top laner and pushing in the wave. He likes to split push and always gets CS and XP leads against the enemy. He also shows a knowledge in when to engage, which can be seen when he plays Aatrox or Shyvana, when he serves as a primary engage in his team. He will be the top laner to beat this season, and it will be interesting to see him battle it out with some very strong top laners entering the EU LCS this split.
2. Vizicsacsi - Unicorns of Love
The Hungarian overlord himself. He joined Unicorns of Love in the january of 2014, and he kept improving ever since. He gained a lot of hype when he brought out Poppy against MIllenium in the Promotion Tournament and simply destroyed them. He also brought out Gnar in IEM San Jose where Dyrus proclaimed Vizicsacsi is the best Gnar he had ever seen.
He started off as an Irelia main, but is known for many exotic picks like Poppy, Yorick and Hecarim. He also played a lot of Maokai in Challenger series and Promotion Tournament. He uses Poppy as a counter pick to tanky top laners such as Mundo or Maokai who can't bully her lane, and she scales much better into the late game than those champions. His Yorick is also famous as he once almost got a double kill on his own against Odoamne and Trashy of H2k with an incredible play.
Vizicsacsi is mostly known for his weird picks, but he also showed prominent play on standard champion such as Irelia and Maokai. He can sometimes play over aggressively without proper vision and get caught out because of that, but we also have to take into consideration that he played a long time with a more passive, late game jungler in Gillius, whereas Kikis is a much more aggressive jungler, and Vizicsacsi seemed to play a lot better with him. EU LCS is getting a top laner to watch.
3. Mimer - MeetYourMakers
First seen in the LCS as a part of the NiP team during 2013 EU Summer split, he joined SHC before the EU 2014 LCS. In the spring split he didn't look that impressive as his team was not as good. However, with some roster moves SHC looked a lot stronger in the summer and Mimer did as well, boasting the best KDA ratio out of all EU top laners in the summer split. His team didn't go far in the playoffs, but he can be hardly blamed for that as he played really well against both SK and Millenium.
Mostly known as a Renekton main during the spring split, he didn't bring him out once in the summer, and instead mostly played Shyvana. And it worked out really well, having 62.5% win rate with that champion as well as a very impressive KDA of 7.6 (exceptional for a top laner) and proving to probably be the strongest EU player on Shyvana. When his Shyvana is banned out he falls back to Mundo or Jax, but those picks weren't as successful as Shyvana.
His playstyle is based around split pushing and gaining small leads in lane so he can bring more pressure than the enemy top laner. There is a concern on how strong he will be when the meta inevitably changes, and leaves Shyvana as a weaker pick. Still, he was one the best top laners in the past split, and I'm sure he will do fine, and bring out something new.
4. Odoamne - H2k-gaming
Part of the hyped H2k roster, Odoamne was one of the main part of his teams dominance in the Challenger series. He joined Cloud 9 Eclipse in the early 2014. Even though they were dominant in the Challenger series (only rivaled by that incredibly strong team of NiP) they failed to capture their form in the summer qualifiers where they lost to rising team of SHC. C9E was picked up by H2k and they once again dominated the Challenger series, and yet again played poorly in the qualifiers, this time against CW. Finally, they cruised through the Expansion tournament with some very strong performances by Odoamne.
An Irelia main (surprise, surprise) he falls back to Mundo, Rumble and Gnar when Irelia is banned or taken away. He is one of the best Gnars in Europe right now, having great success with that champion in solo q and that is quite important as Gnar seems to be flavor of the month in the top lane heading into the season. He also played Kassadin with a great effect in series against n!faculty.
Certainly one of the brightest upcoming talents in the EU LCS, Odoamne brings that very aggressive style that wants to get kills in lane. Although sometimes it can backfire, usually it works out, and his synergy with loulex is very good. His champion pool is something that can be worked on, because it mostly consists of Irelia and Gnar and a little bit of Rumble right now. How successful will he be in his first LCS split relies heavily on the mid laner H2k get as a replacement for Febiven, but his individual play will certainly be something we can look forward too.
5. Cabochard - Gambit Gaming
Another new name to the LCS (except that weekend he played as a sub for Gambit), this French top laner first caught eye when he was picked up by NiP in the summer. He proved to be one of the best top laners in the Challenger scene, but NiP were defeated by UoL for the 3rd place that led to 2015 Spring promotion, and that team was disbanded soon after that. After a month or two, he was picked up by Gambit Gaming (team he subbed for in 2014 LCS Summer). He had a strong showing in the IEM Cologne, which Gambit won, outperforming strong top laners such as ZionSpartan and Gamsu.
Another Irelia main, and another quite strong Gnar player, his champion pool is very similar to that of Odoamne. However, he is also a proficient Jax player, and has been playing Azir in solo q lately (he even brought out Azir in series against Dignitas and played very well). His champion pool is very good, which can be related to the fact that plays solo q a lot, having played over 2400 solo q games in Season 4.
Comparable in a lot of ways to Odoamne, he seems to be a bit more passive player compared to him, but has a more diverse champion pool. Gambit as a team seems to be improving and Cabochard will benefit from that. They also finally have a gaming house in which Cabochard, niq and P1noy will be constantly, and Diamond and Edward will be there when they can because of visa issues. Part of the new wave of European top laners, expect Cabochard to have great success in this season.
6. Wickd - Elements
Yes I know, Elements, sounds weird to me too. Anyway, we finally got to the father of all EU top laners. Part of the super team Alliance, he finished 4th in the spring split followed by a convincing stomp to take the first place in the summer split. After a disappointing worlds (and his dismal play with Kayle) Alliance lost to C9 in IEM San Jose in the semifinals. Although I must add that that series was practically a real final of that tournament, and Alliance would have probably won against UoL if they went through.
His champion pool, subject of debate a lot last season, consists mostly of Irelia, Irelia and Irelia. Nah I'm just kidding, even though that's his main champion and he will always be one of the best Irelias in the world, he is also quite strong on Shyvana and his Maokai is solid but nothing more than that. His Kayle has been very lackluster, especially in worlds, and I hope he won't bring it out again.
You might be wondering why is he so low in the ranking. The reason is, I think his inability to adapt to different metas, which has always been a problem of his, will strike now more than ever. The champion pool for top laners is now consisting mostly of Gnar, Maokai, Lissandra and Rumble and Wickd was never the guy who would come out with a new champion. Sure he will still be able to play Irelia in this meta, but teams will usually ban Irelia against him, and then he will be in a lot of trouble.
7. Overpow - Team ROCCAT
Coming from the mid lane, a new challenger approaches. One of the better mid laners in Europe, he had moderate success in 2014. He was one of the main reasons for ROCCAT's success in the spring season where they finished third. His form dipped a bit in the summer, and the play of his team reflected that, finishing 4th and not qualifying for the worlds. After such a disappointment, ROCCAT decided to shake up the roster, and Overpow was moved to the top lane. First time we saw him in top lane was in IEM Cologne, and he didn't look very impressive as his team lost to CLG in semifinals.
Another in line of what seems like Best Irelia EU Tournament, and not LCS. Besides Irelia he can also play Gnar, which we saw in IEM Cologne. Besides that he doesn't really have a strong pick right now (we will forget that Gangplank), and it is something I hope he will work on before the season starts, because champion pool is often a problem when a player swaps roles (though Overpow was always known for his big champion pool in mid lane).
He was one the hardest players to rank, simply because we saw him play in this position only 3 games so far. He had 1 good game on Gnar, but also 1 Gnar game that wasn't very successful. ROCCAT as a team look a lot stronger than last season, especially now with Nukeduck, and as a primary shot caller and a player still learning his position, there will be a lot pressure on Overpow, However, if things go the right way, expect his rank to move up quite a bit.
8. YoungBuck - Copenhagen Wolves
Captain of the everlasting CW team, YoungBuck joined the team in June of 2013. His team was solid in the spring split, clinching spot in playoffs, and then barely losing out against Alliance. In the spring they were mainly carried by their stars, Amazing and Forg1ven. However, in the summer they lost both of their stars and were doomed to last place in the summer regular season. In the promotion tournament, they beat H2k to secure 2015 LCS spring for themselves.
Mainly a Renekton and Shyvana player, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the new meta. He was very good at engaging fights with Shyvana, often getting 4 or 5 man ultimates, and perhaps he will be able to do the same with Gnar or whatever champion will be prioritized at the moment. He was also solid playing tank top laners, playing well with Mundo and Maokai against H2k in the Promotion tournament.
YoungBuck has been a mainstay in this CW team for a long time. The team doesn't look much better than last year, so we should expect them to finish at the bottom of the standings. YoungBuck is solid in lane, and can engage very well, but sometimes he just gets outclassed by opposing top laners, and his decision making can be quite poor. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the last split we'll see from YoungBuck in the LCS.
9. Werlyb - GIANTS! Gaming
Another new name on the scene, Werlyb joined GIANTS! Gaming in the August of 2014. We didn't see much of him in tournaments, but his team managed to qualify for the LCS via Ranked 5v5 ladders, and playing very well in the Expansion tournament. In the Expansion tournament they managed to upset very strong Millenium lineup that disbanded soon after that.
His main is Irelia, and when she is not available he usually resorts to Jax. He is also a strong Renekton player, playing him very well in both series against Reason Gaming. He doesn't play any champions other than this 3 very well (had one disappointing game as Maokai in the Expansion tournament).
He seems to be the only player that values Jax very highly in this meta, split pushing all day long and is very comfortable in 1v1 situations. The problem with Werlyb is that his team will face much stronger opposition in the LCS than before, so he will be left alone and probably won't be much of a problem for the enemy team. We saw glimpses of that in the series against H2k where GIANTS! were simply outclassed.
?. Huni - Fnatic
This player I can't really talk much about, since I never seen him play. In few games he played in Europe, he played Gnar once, and had a good record on it. It seems like all the Koreans that are imported into the West drop their level a bit, so as Huni wasn't even a professional player in Korea, he will be a letdown for an org as accomplished and successful as Fnatic. He is certainly a drop off from sOAZ, but Fnatic did have a good scouting so far, and he might surprise us.
Photo credit: Fnatic, ROCCAT, Dragons, CW, game2day, LOL eSports