In a game with a meta that’s constantly shifting, the ability to adapt from patch-to-patch has become one of the most important skills in a professional League of Legends player’s repertoire. The role that has arguably seen the most variation with regard to the meta (at the competitive level) is the top lane. Just over the past season and a half, we’ve gone from the hypertank meta of Dr. Mundo, Renekton, and Shyvana in early Season 4 (with Trundle soon thrown in as the hypertank-killer) to the tank-nerfed meta featuring the resurgence of Jax and Kayle with some Lulu sprinkled in; then, we had the AP-heavy meta starring Ryze (RIPeronis), Lulu, Kayle, and even some Rumble – if your name is Balls, of course.
The only Top-Laners Played in S4:
Finally, patch 4.12 hit, and it brought along several champion reworks and buffs, bringing Maokai, Nidalee and Alistar to the top of the list. During this time, the top-lane summoner spell meta went from chiefly running flash/ignite to flash/teleport, then back to ignite, then teleport again after some buffs to the spell.
Now, in Season 5, the top lane meta is as diverse as it’s ever been; we see tanks like Maokai and Sion being played alongside mages like Rumble and Kennen, and hybrid carries like Irelia and Gnar being played, along with newer picks like Morgana, Lissandra and Hecarim. Some teams swap their ADC and/or support to the top lane, and some teams don’t. Strategic diversity is certainly at an all-time high in the top lane (although the jungle is a different story).
With constant change in the top lane, the players consistently mentioned as the best in the LCS have remained, well, consistent. Balls and Dyrus are the most common names, both renowned for their ability to adapt to the meta. ZionSpartan is a popular name as well, often referred to as a “carry” top-laner – someone who can play more than just tanks, who can routinely carry their team to victory from a role often considered as less important than the others. If you watch the North American LCS, then you’ll hear CaliTrlolz, of Team 8, often referred to as a carry top laner. Then we have the exciting imports – SKT T1’s Impact, Samsung Blue’s Gamsu, and Helios’ brother Avalon. The forgotten name, though, on the list of NA’s best top laners is Team Liquid’s Quas.
The Top-Lane Carry
Quas is still a relative newcomer to the NA LCS, having joined Team Curse prior to Season 4. Now in his third split with the team (rebranded as Team Liquid), he is finally reaching his stride. After an unremarkable rookie split during which Curse finished #ForeverFourth, Quas stepped his game up for the Season 4 Summer split. He has shown the ability to play tanks, mages, utility tops and also more carry-oriented champions. He has also proven that he can excel in lane swaps – no easy feat. In his first two splits, he mainly stuck to the meta, playing a lot of Renekton, Mundo, Lulu and Jax. In the S4 Summer split, he only played eight champions, all of which were higher-priority meta picks, and he amassed an incredible 4.58 total KDA, highest of all top laners.
Now, over halfway through the Season 5 Spring split, Quas has played a total of ten different champions. For comparison’s sake Balls has played seven champions, Dyrus seven, ZionSpartan eight, and the other “carry” top laner CaliTrlolz has played nine. Quas has played TEN! His KDA was in third at 3.32, behind Balls’ 3.83 and ZionSpartan’s 4.95(!) KDA prior to this week, but after two very rough games on Kennen it has dropped to 2.78. His skill on tanks is still not as refined as it could be, but the best part about Quas’ game is his incredible champion diversity. He has played Gnar to moderate success (although he has recently fallen out of the meta) along with Irelia, but he’s played top Morgana, Kennen, Fizz, Lissandra and even Swain, although his Swain performance was one of his worst of the split. Team Liquid is currently sitting in a tie for fifth place, but Quas has been an important part of their success, while the case can also certainly be made that much of their failure is a result of a lack of team synergy with Piglet. This isn’t to say that all the blame should rest on Piglet’s shoulders, but the team is 2-6 with Piglet, 5-1 with KEITHMCBRIEF.
Here is a week-by-week breakdown of Quas’ performances:
- Week One: Game one was Quas’ lone win on Gnar this split, which was an impressive 7-3-6 performance against Team Impulse. Liquid ran a protect-the-adc composition around Keith’s Kog’maw with great success; Quas provided the initiation with some clutch Gnar ults. Game two was another solid game from Quas – this time on Renekton. Team Liquid shut down CLG, although FeniX and Keith were the standouts of this game, but Quas more than held his own against Benny’s Rumble, going 3-2-9.
- Week Two: Definitely a week to forget for Team Liquid. Piglet’s return amounted mostly to disappointment, with the team going 0-2 and performing atrociously across the board. Quas played Gnar both games, going 0-3-2 versus Balls on Irelia, and 0-2-0 against Dyrus on Lissandra. Piglet forgot his masteries in game one, and game two didn’t go much better for him or the team.
- Week Three: Quas goes 2-0-3 on Lissandra against Coast’s Cris on Sion. It was a near-flawless performance against an inferior team. At around 24 minutes in, Quas gets caught split-pushing by Cris and Impaler’s Jarvan, then proceeds to get a 1v2 kill on Impaler and escape with his life; it was one of the best plays of the season. In game two, Quas underperformed on Maokai in a 3-6-5 effort. He was caught by a few clutch Morgana bindings from KiwiKid, and his carries simply didn’t have the damage to back up his initiations.
- Week Four: A perfect performance on Rumble against Team 8, netting first blood and a double kill on a clutch teleport bot lane en route to going 4-0-6. He nailed his ultimates and teleports in an awesome all-around team effort. In game two, Quas underperformed, along with the entire team, on Swain – one of the champions he’s most well-known for playing. Although the game was close into the midgame, Team Liquid was ultimately outplayed in every facet, with Quas the victim of an early dive by Saintvicious and Hauntzer, then later getting solo-killed by Keane’s Zed. Keane and BunnyFuFu carried this game hard, making play after play in teamfights. Quas ended the game with a disappointing scoreline of 0-5-6.
- Week Five: Quas breaks out the AD Fizz and goes 3-2-1 in a loss, starting it off by solo-killing Avalon on Maokai. He was effective split-pushing, and made a few more nice plays but had little followup from his team. The CC of Winterfox ultimately was too much for Team Liquid to handle, with Imagine’s Annie often leading the charge. Game two was very nearly the WildTurtle show, but TL held on to beat TSM in one of the longer matches of the split. Quas (on Irelia) completely dominated Dyrus, getting an early gank from IWDominate to secure a kill on Rumble, later teleporting in for an excellent dive on WildTurtle and Lustboy, and getting another solo kill on Dyrus. WildTurtle got two pentas* (*Well, Scumbag Dyrus stole a kill on the second penta so that he wouldn’t have a kill-less game, but I’m giving the penta to Turtle in spirit) while defending his nexus, but thanks to a heroic play by FeniX’s Lissandra during a baron fight, IWD and Quas were able to get in and destroy TSM’s nexus without any resistance. It turned out to be one of the most exciting matches so far this season. Quas ended up at 4-5-10.
- Week Six: Quas’ Kennen was INSANE. He made play after play, securing kills with clutch teleports and perfect ultimates, leading to a quadrakill 28 minutes in, and ultimately ending the game. A perfect example of what he can do when he sees a bit of early attention from his jungler, leading him to a score of 8-2-2. In game two, Quas broke out the top-lane Morgana against CLG and performed flawlessly. The entire game was super close, leading to another of the longer and more exciting games of the season. Quas landed several bindings and nailed a few key ultimates. CLG simply didn’t have enough CC to hold Keith in place, and Quas managed the role of supportive top laner well, going under the radar at 1/1/16 while Keith took all the glory (and kills).
- Week Seven: The return of Piglet, and the return of disappointment. Quas played Kennen both times this week, going 1-5-4 and 0-4-3 in losses to Team 8 and Team Impulse, respectively. To be fair, Team 8 and TiP have both been on a tear of late, so this week could be considered a product of a team in transition running into two teams that are just hitting their stride. At any rate, in game one, TL inexplicably gave Slooshi his LeBlanc, so he decided to do what he does best on that champion – carry the game. He soloed Quas, and made plays all over the map, helping his team secure victory. Things looked to be turning at 38 minutes, with Quas landing a key ultimate and Zhonya’s and helping his team win a key teamfight that led to a Baron, but TL proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot immediately after by giving up the 5th dragon to T8 without a fight. Slooshi ended up with a triple kill, leading to an ace, and ultimately the end of the game. Week seven was Rush’s coming-out party, with an excellent game one on Lee Sin, followed by another excellent game on Vi against Liquid. He, along with XiaoWeiXaio on Karthus (again) performed flawlessly. As did the rest of the team, really. Quas’ play wasn’t as bad as his score might indicate; he was landing great ultimates, catching several TiP members in his Slicing Maelstroms, but his team was simply never able to follow up. TiP was just too ahead. 28 minutes (and one superb Ron Swanson reference by Phreak) later, Liquid was 0-2 for the week and left with two weeks to reflect (with IEM Katowice forcing the LCS to take a break until March 21st).
Quas has performed very well for the majority of the split, and in the games where he’s had the least impact, the team has lost. They haven’t performed well with Piglet – whether that’s due to a lack of synergy, succumbing to pressure, or any other possible factors, the one truth that I think you can take from this analysis is that Team Liquid performs best when Quas gets off to an early lead. Perhaps IWDominate feels extra pressure to get his bot lane fed when Piglet is playing, so he camps his lane a bit harder. When Keith plays, the pressure is off, and the team allows Quas, FeniX, or Keith to carry, which seems to be far more successful. Based on the stats, it stands to reason that the team will perform better as a whole if IWD puts a bit more focus on getting Quas ahead early, and relying on his key teleports and teamfighting prowess to get the rest of the team ahead.
It is rather late in the split, but it’s not over just yet; with games left against C9, Coast, Winterfox and Dignitas, Team Liquid’s fate is far from sealed – they have plenty of extra time to analyze their games and practice until the LCS resumes play. If they are able to come to the same conclusions about their top laner, then it’s much more probable that we see a strong ending to the split.