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How to Play Top Lane in League of Legends (The Basics)

If you're diving into the top lane for the first time or looking to up your game, you're in the right place. This guide is like a GPS for top lane – guiding you through the basics and throwing in some insider tips for good measure. It doesn't matter if you just hit level 30 or if you're a seasoned top lane pro, let's get you geared up with everything you need to know.

The Essentials

  1. Top lane is a role that offers a lot of flexibility and variety.
  2. Top lane champions can be very powerful and carry games if played correctly
  3. Wave management is crucial for controlling the lane and winning trades.
  4. There are many different playstyles that can be successful in top lane.
  5. Being adaptable and able to adjust your playstyle to the game situation is key to success in top lane.

What Makes Top Lane Tick?

Top lane has this cool, lone-wolf vibe that many players love. It's where you'll find some of the heavy-hitters, the champions that can turn the tide of a game and become unbeatable raid bosses. Whether it's your main role or off-role, learning how to properly play top lane is essential to all players that want to understand the game on a deeper level.

Perks of Top Lane:

Learning the Ropes: Top lane is like League of Legends 101 for beginners. It throws you into the mix of a few fundamental skills without overwhelming you.

Low Elo Domination: In the lower ranks, top lane champions can be kings and queens. Your opponents might not have a clue how to handle a fed top laner, giving you the chance to flex your skills.

1v1 Showdown: The beauty of top lane lies in the one-on-one duels. You'll be glued to your opponent's every move, figuring out how to outplay them in all-ins and trades.

Variety Galore: Top lane has the most diverse champion pool. Whether you're into juggernauts, tanks, assassins, or glass cannons, there's something for everyone.

Power Moves: Win top lane, and you become the big boss on the map. If you're rocking a scaling champion and win your lane, get ready for that 1v9 action.

Drawbacks of Top Lane:

Roaming Woes: Other roles can rain on your parade with their roams. Getting ganked without backup can be a buzzkill.

Counterpicking: Counterpicking is real, and losing from champion select is never fun. Some matchups just don't go your way.

Losing Lane: Falling behind in top lane feels like being stuck in a never-ending battle. Not the best way to spend your game time.

If the perks sound like your cup of tea and you've got nerves of steel, top lane might just be your calling.

Top Lane Champions

Let's talk champions. We've got three main categories here: Bruisers, Tanks and niche Ranged picks.


Meet the brawlers – split pushers and team fighters. Split pushers like Jax and Camille own 1v1s but need to play it smart in team fights to provide value, while team fighters like Aatrox and Darius are all about wrecking the enemy team in those 5v5s. Bruisers are the potential raid bosses we talked about earlier.

You're playing Aatrox with 9 kills and 0 deaths at 15 minutes? You're in for a good time, buddy.


These champions are the heavyweights. Tanks are built for team fights, bringing in the crowd control and protection your team needs. They're the unsung heroes of the front line, soaking up the damage while giving your teammates opportunities to deal damage safely. A tank is always useful, even if slightly behind in gold. But once the enemy gold lead gets substantial or towards the mid-to-late game, they'll start cutting through you like butter with proper itemization.

Ranged Top Laners

Here come the sharpshooters. These champions come in handy if your team is lacking damage and already has one or two healthy frontliners. We've seen plenty of Vayne versus low-mobility tanks or even Quinn getting some playtime versus all-in champions like Darius. We'll say it again: counterpicking is your best friend or your worst enemy, literally.

Learning Top Lane

Your champion pool is your crew. Keep it small, covering each other's weak spots. No need to be a jack of all trades – focus on mastering a few champions first and expand your champion pool as you progress. 

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

⸻ Bruce Lee Sin

Comfort is Key

Get cozy with your champions. Know their combos, trading styles, and matchups like the back of your hand. Comfort is your secret weapon for consistently winning your matchups. Another great comfort are the numerous websites and apps that assist you in buying the best items in-game or showing you potential counterpicks in champion select. The standard choice is, but players are always in hot in debate about which is currently the best League of Legends companion app.

Riding the Wave

Wave management is your secret sauce. Freezing and pushing waves at the right time can be your ticket to victory. Master those waves, and you'll be in control.

This video shows you how to use the minion waves to your advantage to drastically improve your win rate:

Planning Ahead

Have a game plan, not just for laning but for the whole game. Know if your champion shines in trades or if it's better to play it safe. Adapt your plan as the game unfolds.

The whole enemy team is building attack damage? Invest in some armor.

Your champion is weak in the early stages but scales into a monster in the late game? Don't risk feeding your enemy top laner early on, or the game will be over before you come online.

Game-winning Plays from Top Lane

Now, let's talk about the plays that turn the game in your favor. You wouldn't be picking top lane if you weren't urging for those insane YouTube viral-worthy outplays. Here's how to enable your champion to reach those levels of gameplay.

Split Push Magic

If you've got a champion that loves the solo hustle, split push is your go-to move. But remember, only do it if you're winning your 1v1s and have solid vision or macro skills.

Teleport Tricks

Teleport is your game-changer. Early game, save it for selfish reasons – like quickly returning to lane after a recall. After 14 minutes, use it to make plays – join your team for fights and objectives or surprise the enemy team with a flank.

Imagine split pushing and suddenly a team fight breaks out on the other side of the map. You can either pray that your team can win without you and keep pushing for a cross-map objective, or you use that teleport to join the fray.

Team Fight Tactics

Understand your role in team fights. Are you diving into the fray, protecting your team, or bringing the damage? Ask yourself these questions to know your game plan.

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it, the beginner's guide to top lane domination. Remember, being adaptable is your secret weapon. Whether you're freezing waves, split pushing, or joining team fights, being versatile is the key to mastering top lane. So, grab your champions, hit the rift, and see you in top lane!

Good luck, summoner!

About the author

Marijn Laros

Spirited, 19-year-old guy hailing from the glorious tulip lands of the Netherlands. I've always been one for adventures, and my current one has taken me across borders where I've been enjoying living abroad for the past month, soaking up new experiences and cultures.

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