League of Legends: which top laner is best to main?

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

If you’re wondering which top laner you should use to climb in League of Legends, we’ve done some statistical analysis to help answer the question!

Choosing a main in League of Legends is hard. A lot of it boils down to being comfortable with a champion’s kit, being able to find a style that works for you, and putting in the time.

Our tier lists are designed to give a snapshot of what champions are strong or weak at a given patch so that our readers can understand and adapt their gameplay to changes in League of Legends at large. The problem is, these individual tier lists cannot tell you how consistently strong or weak a given champion is.

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We’ve collected and normalized data from different tier lists to give you the overall opinion of which champions are strong or weak in a certain patch. Now, we are taking those results collected over 12 patches to answer one question: which champions are worth sinking time in?

We’ve ranked every top laner to ever be on our tier list, giving them an average rank. However, we also looked at how much champions varied in their ranking from Patch 8.24 to 9.10, to see whether they get particularly stronger or weaker with changes to the meta.

Champions that have high variance, even if they are strong, would not be advisable to sink a lot of time in, because they can get much weaker if they are nerfed or if the meta changes. Instead, we’re recommending those champions who have remained around the same strength (and above average strength, obviously) throughout the last 12 patches. While this is not a guarantee that these champions will always be this strong, it’s a decent indication that they won’t fall completely out of the meta.

To that end, we also looked to see how many times those champions received direct buffs or nerfs to see if they are either at risk for big changes in the future. Champions that get a lot of adjustments cause us to be wary, especially if they have high variance. However, chances with a low amount of changes that are weak would also concern us, because that indicates that Riot has forgotten about them, perhaps until they are reworked.

To that end, we created a graph showing where each champion stands as far as its strength and volatility. We’ll provide more context as to which tier they fall into and how much they’ve been buffed or nerfed, but in very broad general terms you can see which champions are good and bad to main by looking below. Please note, this is based on data from Platinum plus, meaning that these rankings will not necessarily be as strong for players below Gold elo.

The Blog of Legends top lane main guide chart.
The Blog of Legends top lane main guide chart. /

As you can see, those champions in the upper-left quadrant are those that have both a solid average rank over those 12 patches, with very little variance. These champions would be those that would be considered good to main, particularly those that are higher up and closer to the left-hand side. Champions in this quadrant include:

  • Riven (S tier)
  • Jax (S tier, high nerfs)
  • Darius (A tier)
  • Kled (A tier)
  • Kennen (B+ tier)
  • Garen (B+ tier)
  • Teemo (B+ tier)
  • Illaoi (B+ tier)
  • Jayce (B+ tier)
  • Renekton (B+ tier)
  • Camille (B+ tier, high nerfs)
  • Pantheon (B tier)

Moving along, in the bottom-left quadrant are those champions who are weaker than most, and tend to stay weak. These would be champions that are not advised for maining because they have been consistently weak for the 12 patches we have tracked (some, incredibly, despite receiving many buffs). They include:

  • Rumble (C tier)
  • Poppy (C tier, no buffs)
  • Malphite (C tier, no buffs)
  • Tryndamere (C tier, multiple buffs)
  • Neeko (C tier, multiple buffs/nerfs)
  • Shen (C tier, multiple buffs)
  • Singed (C tier, multiple buffs)
  • Swain (D tier, no buffs)
  • Cho’Gath (D tier, multiple buffs)
  • Dr. Mundo (D tier, multiple buffs)
  • Ryze (D tier, no buffs)
  • Gnar (D tier, multiple buffs)
  • Nautilus (F tier, multiple buffs)
  • Malzahar (F tier)
  • Trundle (F tier, multiple buffs)
  • Karma (F tier)

Next, in the bottom-right quadrant, we have weaker champions with high levels of variance. These are champions who can swing wildly from strong to weak, but overall tend to have big issues. Champions here like Akali, Lissandra, Viktor, Sylas, and Aatrox demonstrate that, as they have all been incredibly strong in the last 12 patches and received hefty nerfs that took them out of top lane for a time (by the way, if you had Sylas as your “most buffed/nerfed top laner since Patch 8.24, come up and get your prize)

  • Rengar (C tier, no buffs)
  • Quinn (C tier, no buffs)
  • Wukong (C tier, no buffs)
  • Vayne (C tier, high nerfs)
  • Cassiopeia (C tier, high nerfs)
  • Aatrox (C tier, high nerfs)
  • Sylas (C tier, high nerfs)
  • Mordekaiser (C tier, no buffs)
  • Lissandra (C tier, high nerfs)
  • Maokai (C tier)
  • Akali (C tier, high nerfs)
  • Olaf (C tier, no buffs)
  • Volibear (D tier)
  • Ornn (D tier)
  • Heimerdinger (D tier)
  • Tahm Kench (D tier)
  • Viktor (D tier)
  • Karthus (D tier)

Finally, we have the upper-right quadrant that has high volatility and high strength champions. These champions are ones that would be fine to learn and know, as they’re usually quite strong, but you’ll have to pick and choose when you play them because there will be some times where they are incredibly weak or not viable. A champion like Hecarim demonstrates that, as he wasn’t even a top laner for most of the season until some buffs and a Conqueror rework brought him into the top meta.

  • Irelia (A tier, high nerfs)
  • Urgot (A tier, high nerfs)
  • Hecarim (A tier, high nerfs)
  • Vladimir (A tier)
  • Nasus (B+ tier)
  • Yasuo (B+ tier)
  • Yorick (B+ tier, high nerfs)
  • Gangplank (B tier)
  • Fiora (B tier)
  • Sion (B tier)
  • Kayle (B tier, high nerfs)

Any of this information interesting to you? Do you plan to main one of the best champs like Jax or Riven?