ByFrank Fields, writer at Creators.co
Storyteller. World builder. Bant loyalist. My life for Aiur, Magic, and esports.
Frank Fields

The 2016 World Championship is still dictating a lot of what we're seeing in the top lane, but there have still been some balance changes to shake up the top lane meta.

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We're going to focus this article on Solo Queue, rather than professional play, but it's very hard to talk about one exclusively without influence of the other.

With that, here are our Top 5 Top Laners for Patch 6.21:

5. Kennen

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Play rate: 46% | Win rate: 50.88%

Strengths:

  • Manaless ranged harass in lane
  • Massive area effect damage in teamfights
  • Strong mobility and crowd control

Weaknesses:

  • Low defensive stats
  • Vulnerable to all ins
  • No innate sustain

Kennen has always been pretty strong, but what really put him over the top were his buffs in Patch 6.9, reducing the cost on his Thundering Shuriken (Q) and Electrical Surge (W), as well as the tweaking to his passive (Mark of the Storm) and ultimate (Eye of the Storm, R).

Of course him being a teamfight staple at probably didn't hurt his popularity.

Kennen deletes the enemy team with Slicing Maelstrom [Credit: Riot Games]
Kennen deletes the enemy team with Slicing Maelstrom [Credit: Riot Games]

Kennen's strength in the early game is certainly an asset, but what makes Kennen really shine is his ability to almost single-handedly win teamfights in the mid game, especially after he finishes his Hextech-Protobelt and Zhonya's Hourglass.

What's Changed Lately?

  • Mark of the Storm (Passive) adjusted - nerf
  • Thundering Shuriken (Q) cost reduced - buff
  • Electrical Surge (W) range reduced; cost reduced - change
  • Slicing Maelstrom (R) changed significantly - massive buff

4. Irelia

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Play rate: 19.01% | Win rate: 51.09%

Strengths:

  • Great sustain in lane
  • Repeatable conditional crowd control
  • Mobility on low cooldown

Weaknesses:

  • Almost no ranged abilities
  • Very weak before level 3
  • Sustain dependent on offensive abilities

Unlike the other champions on this list, Irelia has been nerfed more lately than buffed. So how does she make it here? Her kit is just suited for any meta game.

Irelia out-sustains the enemy Riven in a long fight [Credit: Riot Games]
Irelia out-sustains the enemy Riven in a long fight [Credit: Riot Games]

Because of her sustain, crowd control, trading, and all-in potential, it's hard to imagine a situation where Irelia is not a top lane meta staple. But Irelia is particularly relevant right now because of the popularity of Kennen and Jarvan—two very strong matchups for her.

Great Irelia players understand her moments of strength and opportunity and capitalize on them to build a great lead, and an Irelia with a lead is an unstoppable God of top lane.

What's Changed Lately?

  • Ionian Ferver (Passive) Range reduced; Effect tweaked - change
  • Transcendent Blades (R) cooldown increased - nerf

3. Jarvan IV

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Play rate: 2.08% | Win rate: 53.63%

Strengths:

  • Low cooldown crowd control
  • Insane mobility for a fighter
  • Outstanding burst damage

Weaknesses:

  • No sustain in kit
  • Weak sustained damage
  • Hard to play from behind

Jarvan has been climbing in popularity since his changes in Patch 6.5 where his Golden Aegis (W) cooldown was reduced to 12 seconds at all ranks, and his ultimate (Cataclysm, R) mana cost was reduced.

Jarvan IV surprising enemies with his burst damage [Credit: Riot Games]
Jarvan IV surprising enemies with his burst damage [Credit: Riot Games]

But what really makes Jarvan stand out now is his change in standard item build. For a long time players built Jarvan as a tank, but his more aggressive item builds with armor penetration have left him in a good spot—especially for the very snowbally nature of top lane Solo Queue.

Jarvan IV using everything to one-shot kill an enemy Sivir [Credit: Riot Games]
Jarvan IV using everything to one-shot kill an enemy Sivir [Credit: Riot Games]

Jarvan has very few bad matchups, has a lot of outplay potential, and is great throughout the early and mid game. Even in situations where Jarvan would fall off or become ineffective, Jarvan can simply become an assassin and use all his cooldowns to kill an enemy mid laner or ADC from full health.

What's Changed Lately?

  • Demacian Standard (E) attack speed increased - buff
  • Golden Aegis (W) shield reduced; per champion bonus increased; radius increased - buff

2. Jayce

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Play rate: 12.65% | Win rate: 51.2%

Strengths:

  • Near unparalleled all in
  • Diverse kit with six abilities
  • Adept at both range and at brawling

Weaknesses:

  • Very mana dependent
  • Susceptible to enemy all in
  • No sustain in kit

There are few times where the strongest Solo Queue champions and professional champions align, but Jayce is one of those times.

Jayce received what at the time was thought a small buff in Patch 6.17 that decreased the mana cost on his Thundering Blow (Hammer Form, E) at all ranks. The perhaps unintended side effect was that players stopped building Tear of the Goddess on him.

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Tear was a necessary evil to building a Jayce as a strong mid game poke champion that played more like a mage than a fighter. He was occasionally able to all in squishy champions in the mid game, but largely stayed as a backline threat.

Jayce is able to assassinate targets even when behind in a game [Credit: Riot Games]
Jayce is able to assassinate targets even when behind in a game [Credit: Riot Games]

Now that players are going straight for Hexdrinker or Serrated Dirk on their first Recall, Jayce has the ability to all in or go for aggressive trades very early in laning phase. It's giving him a huge advantage in matchups that previously were hard for him, such as Irelia or Riven. Jayce has now become a champion who dominates all other ranged top laners, and packs a much stronger all in against melees because of his six ability kit.

What's Changed Lately?

  • Thundering Blow (E) mana cost reduced - buff
  • Hammer Stance (R) bonus damage changed from AP to AD - buff
  • To the Skies! (Q) damage increased; cost decreased - buff

1. Kayle

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Play rate: 2.76% | Win rate: 54.19%

Strengths:

  • Insane sustained and area affect damage
  • Great survivability and sustain
  • Versatile kit with great utility

Weaknesses:

  • Railroaded into CDR and Attack Speed
  • Extremely cooldown dependent
  • Very mana dependent

No buffs. No nerfs. Doesn't matter, Kayle is great.

It has taken players a while to realize why Kayle is such a Solo Queue stomper, but really it just stems from her versatility. She has incredibly strong harass by virtue of her range, she can rapidly clear waves just by auto attacking, she can trade effectively, and she can survive all ins because of her ultimate (Divine Intervention, R)

[Credit: Riot Games]
[Credit: Riot Games]

Reckoning (Q) is the key to Kayle's power: She can use it as an offensive trading tool or as a disengage from unfavorable engagements. This is augmented by her ability to survive ganks and sustain because of Divine Blessing (W) which both heals and grants movement speed.

Kayle is able to time abilities to counter enemies all in and then counterattack [Credit: Riot Games]
Kayle is able to time abilities to counter enemies all in and then counterattack [Credit: Riot Games]

Kayle subjugates melee champions to the point where they are barely able to lane against her, and even against champions who out range her, she is able to trade and sustain through—it's very hard to feed as Kayle.

For now she's the queen of the top lane, and unless her kit gets reworked or other top laners get buffed, she'll probably be relevant for some time.

What's Changed Lately?

  • Nothing

Play and win rate statistics in Platinum+ games.

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