North American Position Rankings Week 2
Hi, I love League of Legends and as such decided to start a ranking that rates the strength of each player in comparison to those of his fellow competitors that play the same position.
Before I get started, I want to say that these rankings will only count how the players are performing THIS SPLIT. All games that took place prior to this split will not be measured. For instance, a player such as Quas has historically been a good top laner, performing at a level well above the resources he received. So far this year, however, his performances have not yet been up to his usual standards and as such his ranking will reflect that.
Also, in the case of two players swapping out for one position on the same team I will rank the player who has played the most games. For instance, zig has played 8 games, whereas Brandini has only played 1. Therefore, zig will be ranked instead of Brandini. These rankings will fluctuate throughout the season, especially early on. So without further ado here we go:
Coming into season 6 top lane was considered by many as the weakest position in North America by a wide margin. However, with a few key imports and rapid growth from multiple players, the position has now turned into a position of strength. These players can play a variety of roles: glass cannon (Huni), split-pusher (Darshan), hard-initiation tanks (Impact), I-have-no-idea-what-an-effective-teleport-looks-like (Lourlo) and carry (Hauntzer). This variety can make ranking these players difficult, making it necessary to reflect the strength of each top laner on this patch.
The players in this range have shown a mastery of the top lane so far this split. Whether it be in their diverse champion pools, 1v1 mechanics or team fight prowess these player will always find a way to excel.
1. Hauntzer (TSM)
Once again, Hauntzer has found his way to the top of these rankings after yet another strong week, one over-powered Trundle aside. The TSM top-laner went toe-to- toe with two of North America’s strongest top laners this week and came out definitively on top. Although his KDA (6.60) has fallen well below Season 3 Summer Split MVP Meteos’ Ego status, it still rests head and shoulders above the competition.Outside of one missed Fizz ult, he outclassed new upstart Ray in both games of the Apex set this week and a day later reaffirmed his title as best top laner against Immortals’ top laner Huni. Time will tell if Hauntzer can maintain this level of play, but for now here retains his spot at the top.
2. Seraph (NV)
Seraph is another repeat performer on this list. As the shot caller of TeamEnvyus he has continued to pace this team to an undefeated record. The NV top laner earns this position for many reasons. With 8 different champions played through 2 weeks of competition, Seraph is leading all players, not just top laners, in champion pool flexibility. Many League fans will point to game 2 of the Apex series as proof that Ray is the superior player, however, it was game 1 in that series that better illustrated the difference between the two players. Facing Ray’s split-pushing Shen, Seraph chose to go for a direct team fight build on Irelia. Although this cost him a few lost skirmishes inside lanes (nothing major, just forced backs) Seraph was ultimately able to carry the team fights and lead his team to victory.
Team-first, victory-clenching performances such as these have quickly become the norm for the NV top laner, proving that he belongs among North America’s best.
The players in this segment have demonstrated the propensity to completely take over a game and carry their team to victory. The difference between S-tier and A-tier is not the quality of top-tier performances by each player, but rather the quantity. The players in this range have not shown the same consistency that the players above them have.
3. Huni (IMT)
The Immortals’s top laner continues his stay at number 3 with an up and down performance in week 2. On the one hand, he displayed massive carry potential on Irelia, scoring 25 kills on the Ionian Blademaster. On the other hand, Huni’s weaknesses were clearly exposed this week.
Huni played only one champion this entire week, Irelia. While she is certainly very powerful in the current patch, it is a worrying trend when Huni has played the least amount of champions of all top laners so far. If all else fails we know he can pull out a top lane Lucian in a pinch, but what does he play when the enemy team bans his go to champion and locks in Maokai? And excluding a mid laner trying to pass as an ADC (otherwise known as the xPeke effect), Huni is leading the entire league in deaths along with deaths per game (4.09).
This is further exacerbated by his penchant to fall behind and tilt in the laning phase (see game 1 of both the TSM and NRG series). Huni requires a substantial amount of attention from his team to be effective in the game. However, he has proven that investing resources into him will usually pay huge dividends. Huni is the prototypical boom or bust player with the highest ceiling of any player on this list, yet also one of the lowest floors. If he can improve his consistency and finally diversify his playstyle then we could see him begin to climb quickly.
4. Impact (C9)
Oh Impact, the most difficult player to rank in this entire list. In some instances he looks like a clear S-tier caliber player. Yet, in other moments, Impact will lose duels in the early laning phase and illustrate skills more in line with an average C-tier player. As a whole his contribution to his team is likely somewhere in the middle. At first this may seem disappointing, but when scrutinized in greater detail is actually incredibly impressive.
Due to the high carry, high resource needy players occupying the other roles on his team, Impact has made due with less than 20% of his team’s available resources (19.6%). To put that in perspective only Quas has a smaller gold share than Impact so far this season. Instead of needing gold and subsequent items to be effective in late game team fights and 1v1 duels, Impact uses his underrated mechanical skill and his undervalued game sense to outshine his opponent. Add in the fact that Impact has the second highest KDA of all top laners (5.43) and you’ll find that his play has truly been underappreciated so far this split. And besides, there’s just something about North American top laners with a fondness for pillows.
Players in this section are here because they are wildly inconsistent. In one game they may single-handedly destroy the enemy team’s nexus, the next they may feed and cost their team the game. Still, the potential for each of these individuals is there to outplay any other players on this list.
5. Ray (APEX)
I was all set to move the Apex top laner up this week after watching his performance against NV and Seraph on Friday night. After all, Ray managed to distinguish himself while simultaneously sending a message to ADC’s around the world that heads will roll when he locks in the Prince of Demacia. Glorious cross-screen cataclysms aside, I just couldn’t justify moving a player up when his combined score in 4 out of the 5 games this past week was 3/17/5 (0.47).
Still, 2 weeks into the season and Apex looks mighty enthralled with their new shiny toy in the top lane. So much so that the team has adopted a strategy to funnel all their resources into the top lane resulting in Ray having the highest gold share of any top laner in North America at 21.8%. Teams are starting to adapt to the former EDG substitute as TSM made it a priority to shut him down in the early game.
Ray is going to have to learn how to be an impactful player when he is not carrying the game. His ceiling is second only to Huni, though, so if he can develop in a Hauntzer-like growth pattern then expect to see him join North America’s elite very soon.
6. Darshan (CLG)
Seriously, what is going on with this guy? The CLG top laner moves up one spot in the rankings, but not due to his own merit. Darshan is constantly being caught out of position and has yet to really impose his dominance on any games like he has in the past. The Cloud 9 series this past week really showcased his entire early split in a nutshell. In game 1 he required constant jungle attention just to stay even with Impact in a lane Meteos largely ignored, eventually leading up to him getting caught in the river and costing his team the game. In game 2 he required constant jungle attention just to get a slight lead on Impact only to throw it away by overextending. Then, after a tough fight to get back in the game, he gets caught in the river to cost his team the game (sound familiar?).
The feared PVE Darshan split push strategy looks like it might be a thing of the past. In fact, if it wasn’t for another player plummeting down these rankings Darshan wouldn’t have moved up at all. CLG’s performance as a whole has been largely underwhelming so far and Darshan has no doubt contributed. But, they are the defending back-to-back NA champions for a reason so it’s too soon to give up hope on him now.
The players in this range have displayed some truly dismal performances. Fortunately, all three of them have showcased an ability to not only contribute, but to also dominate this season. Unfortunately, the former outweighs the latter for these three players so far into this split.
7. Lourlo (TL)
Oh what a difference a new week, and jungler, can make. Lourlo looked like a completely different player this week and while a small part of that should be contributed to the return of fellow battery mate Dardoch, more consideration needs to be given to the fact that Locodoco finally allowed his top laner to return to his comfort zone: carry top laners. Armed with champions such as Irelia and Trundle, Lourlo put on a mechanical clinic, even solo-killing Darshan once.
In fact, if Locodoco wouldn’t have forced his top laner onto Maokai in games 2 and 3 of the CLG series, Lourlo would have probably moved up even higher. Unfortunately for Lourlo, he plays with a jungler who excels on high damage champions. This forces him to fulfill the tank role for his team, which is currently not in his wheel. And as I said with Huni last week, Lourlo is going to have to play tanks if his team is going to succeed at the highest level. Still, the Team Liquid top laner showed tremendous improvement in the past week and if that continues Chef Lourlo should find himself climbing these rankings rather quickly.
8. Quas (NRG)
NRG might just have turned a corner with that series against Echo Fox. Game 1 of the series marked the first time Quas ended up with more gold than his jungler all split and he rewarded his team with a 4.67 KDA. In game 2 Echo Fox took away his fabled Maokai and unleashed a monster in the process. Placed on Illaoi, the first person to ever play this champion in North America, Quas put on a vintage performance reminding fans everywhere of Curse’s former star top laner. NRG really went crazy in that game as Quas ended up with the highest gold and a 4/0/2 score line.
NRG is at a crossroads right now similar to CLG in 2014. The team can leave its possibly star top laner to his own devices, or it can integrate him into the team and make him a vital part of its success. One path leads to relegation, the other path to an eventual championship (maybe). If NRG wants to make its playoffs dream a reality then Quas cannot receive a comparable gold share to KiWiKiD the rest of the split.
9. Kfo (EFX)
This week was nothing to write home about for kfo as he plummeted down these rankings. Outshined by both Quas and Lourlo, kfo looked nothing like the player who showed up at the end of spring split. He looks absolutely lost on champions not named Fiora or Jax, and even those champions failed him this week. Kfo has shown the ability to right the ship so all hope is not yet lost. But, if he continues to struggle against bottom tier teams then Echo Fox may be forced to turn their eyes to Korea yet again to find a new top laner.
So far this player’s performances are indicative of how I would imagine a Bronze V player performing after being autofilled into his worse role against a 3 man Master-tier team, dang you Dynamic Queue. His performance has yet to live up to LCS standards, but he’s still raw and may develop into a good player yet.
10. Zig (P1)
Zig's stats of note; he is currently in possession of a 1.31 KDA while receiving the 5th highest gold share of all top laners. Calling Zig a disappointment would be the understatement of the year. It might be time for Phoenix 1 to stop putting him on meta champions and instead start letting him play comfort picks to help him gain some confidence.
Instead, it looks like the team might be moving on as fellow rookie top laner Brandini received his first playing experience this week and put on a much better performance. Fortunately for zig, his Tinder profile will have a really cool caption to entice girls to swipe right: “I come with free front row seats to all LCS games. Open to open mid and chill.”