The Top Lane is usually regarded as one of the more laid-back roles in League of Legends. It’s the one where you pick your best Champion and bat it out with the enemy player in a duel, and both of you scarcely give a damn about what’s going on elsewhere. People tend to pick lane bullies and early game peak Champions that don’t require too much mechanical intensiveness and skill to utilize properly. Well, in this list, we’re going to talk about the polar opposite of that.
Some Top Laners are intensive, and that’s putting it lightly. These Champions require many hours and games to learn, let alone master. Some of them are even among the most difficult Champions to learn/master in the entire game. It will take you a lot of your time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears to harness the true power these Champions hold.
So, I won’t bore you with the pre-lude for too long. Prepare yourselves as we begin with our 5 Hardest Top Laners in League of Legends.
Yasuo is one of League’s most hated Champions and widely thought of as an overpowered, unbalanced, and sometimes downright ridiculous character. Though all of this might be true, and the very reasons I still don’t own him 8 years later, he isn’t exactly the easiest Champion around. And, that much I can certainly say. I’ve only ever played him a few times, and it was in troll situations and not even on my account.
Despite the circumstances I found myself using Yasuo in, it was enough to make me realize that it wasn’t that easy to pull off those combos he’s widely known for. His kit is basic enough for everyone to understand initially. But that kit, though basic it may be, has such a complex and varying use scenario that it sometimes amazes me.
Stacking his Q is easy, but timing the Tornado isn’t. Wind wall needs a very trained hand to be used in split-second moments to prevent that Jinx rocket just as it’s about to hit you. The E is easy to use but has a lot of potential for combos. His R is perhaps the only actual easy spell in his entire kit.
Spending time to learn and master Yasuo is one of the most fun and productive things a League player can do. I speak this as one of the biggest Yasuo haters around, and I really, really hate him from the depths of my soul. Even so, I still see how good and powerful the Champion might be in the right hands, and you should try him out.
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Illaoi is also one of my most hated Champions to face in the Top Lane. I’ve been a Top Lane Main ever since I started off in the game. I find the role relaxing, and as I’ve always had a knack for individual gameplay, it suited me very well. And it continues to do so, though I have migrated a bit towards the Mid Lane with my recent re-introduction to the game during Season 12.
But I digress. Illaoi is a Champion that can either be very overpowered or weak depending on who’s behind the keyboard and mouse. She can pummel her opponents on the Lane and outside it without too much effort if things are done correctly. The soul-stealing is one of the most annoying spells and mechanics of any Champion ever made, and it really can take its toll on the opposing player’s mentality. I know it does on mine whenever I have to take a stand against her.
She has a lot of damage, CC, and sustain, meaning she can remain within the Lane and be dominant for quite a long time. Sporting a Teleport on Illaoi can make her even more omnipresent, and she only gets stronger as time goes on. Her Ultimate is one of the strongest team fighting spells in the game, and the tentacles can haunt your very existence. If she lands her Ultimate and uses its full potential, getting a Pentakill is an afterthought for this sea monster of a Champion.
It will take you some time to learn how to do this, though, and having your tentacles exactly where you want them will prove a tedious effort. If you manage to master this Champion by chance, you will rarely find yourself in the losing position on the Lane, and likely even on the Rift in general.
Shen is a Champion that I rarely see on the Lane, or in the game for that matter. Some time back, he sort of had a power spike, and his pick rate and win rate peaked. That was a long time ago, though, and I’ve not seen him so prevalent in the Lane since then. His difficulty is likely the cause of this issue, as Shen can get quite tedious to play with after you get bullied out of the Lane a few games in a row.
Shen has a lot of potentials and can be one of the most powerful Tanks in the entire game. He can pull in the important targets using his E, block a lot of damage with his W, and even slow enemies with his Q. His Q also empowers his basic attacks, meaning that Shen can hit like a truck early on and later in the game. This empowerment makes him one of the strongest early-game duelists on the Top Lane and can turn Shen into a bit of a Lane Bully.
Shen is a widely known pick due to his Ultimate ability, a global cast that applies a shield to a targeted ally and teleports him to them after a duration. The shield is usually substantial and can be lifesaving in highly chaotic situations for your ally. Getting teleported to them means that you can join the fight and likely turn the odds in your favor. Being a Tank, he is a stone wall that protects his allied Champions at all costs, and he can be very difficult to take down as the damage reflection he gets on his W also applies to his allies.
You can see how he has a lot to work with, and using all of this makes Shen very tedious and, honestly, dangerous to learn. It will take you some time to master him, and I recommend doing this in normal games, as it is very risky to jump straight into a ranked match with him if you’ve not learned all the mechanics previously. At any rate, Shen is a great pick, and you should try him out if nothing else.
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Gangplank has been my main Champion since 2017. and he will remain so until I eventually quit the game entirely. That day will likely not come soon, so I’m attached to this Champion for the foreseeable future. Gangplank is by no means an easy Champion and is, in fact, one of the hardest ones to completely master in the entire game. As I often say, the Top Lane is reserved mostly for big brutes and meatheads that are simple yet lethal. Gangplank is a very big break from that mold and is the Champion that stands out the most among them all, this list included.
He is a Control Mage, an AD one, which just adds to his curiosity. He’s not a fighter, a bruiser, or some semi-ranged Assassin like Jayce. No, he’s something completely different, and diving into Gangplank will bring you into a mechanical world that differs greatly from everything you might have experienced so far as a Top Lane player. Barrel placement, positioning, build variety, and many more things are all gameplay aspects to learn and master about this amazing Champion. He’s so adaptive to any situation you throw him in that frankly, I rarely see any other Champion perform as well.
I’ve got a lot to say about Gangplank, perhaps even too much, as I adore the character and the Champion way too much for a single list to contain. But, I have to say to any players wishing to delve into his bombastic ream: Learn how to adapt to different team compositions, builds, and strategies as a player. Having general knowledge of these gameplay aspects that are not directly tied to Gangplank will help you understand him better. After you master that, you can go into the specifics such as learning the combos, when and how to use Barrels with maximum efficiency, the laning phase, matchups, etc.
I guarantee you will have the most fun you’ve ever had in the game when you do use Gangplank in full capacity. There’s simply no other Champion like him.
Though I’ve said a lot, maybe even too much, about the previous Champion, he’s not even nearly as difficult to contain, master, and learn as Riven is. She’s forever going to be one of those Champions that I never managed to fully grasp and use, no matter how hard I tried and how many games I’ve played with her. I didn’t play too many since I found it too much to bear as a seasoned player that’s already acquainted with such a large variety of Champions and mechanics. Learning this rather special Champion proved tedious, but that doesn’t mean she’s tedious herself.
Riven, when properly used, can be one of the most powerful Champions you’ve ever encountered on the Summoner’s Rift. She’s mighty, has a bunch of CC, gap closers, and deals so much damage that sometimes I wonder how she managed to do what she did. Riven mains are some of the most feared players in the game for a reason. People dread to see them play, as they can obliterate entire teams, lanes, you name it – all by themselves.
The laning phase against a good Riven player can be a nightmare, and your jungler will certainly have to get involved. There’s no other way around a Riven that knows what she’s doing apart from ganging up on her and trying to stop her. Keep in mind that this is not guaranteed to work out, as she can easily escape or even kill all of you that are attempting to stop her rampage from sprawling out into the entire Rift.
It will take you a lot of time to fully understand, utilize and grasp Riven’s kit, mechanics, and combos. She’s perhaps the most difficult Champion to learn overall, in my opinion. She’s up there with the likes of Azir and Aphelios, which are, arguably, the most difficult overall. Though her kit is not as complex as the Champions I just compared her to, it has such a large potential, combo variety, and mechanical depth that I simply couldn’t argue against her number one spot in any difficulty contest.
Try her, learn her, you won’t regret it. It might take you time, but it will pay off in the end.
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We can see that, despite its reputation, the Top Lane holds some of the most difficult Champions ever to be developed by Riot Games. Though perhaps not as difficult as some other Champions in other roles, the Top Lane has its brain breakers that can be extremely dangerous and lethal if their kits are fully utilized and used properly.
These lists take a lot of time and effort to do. I sincerely hope you liked it, and I’d love to hear feedback that helps me improve. Keep an eye out on our website for more League of Legends-related content such as lists, guides, and articles.