As the North American League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split pushes past its midway point, the battles in the NA LCS top lane have become a must watch in almost every match. A clear point of contention, CLICKON eSports examines the strengths of every top laner in the league.
In the purest 1v1 of any lane, the battle in the top lane is always a mix of mechanical skill and laning prowess. As with any duel, the potential for a highlight play is constant. With an ever-shifting meta that seems to include new picks almost every week, top laners must have the flexibility to adapt and quickly master new champions.
With two world champions and multiple star players, the top lane is a loaded position for the NA LCS. A mixture of Korean legends and young NA talent, the top lane has become one of the most contested lanes in the region, as teams desperately search for a player who provides both carry potential, and the ability to serve as a front line for their team.
After an off-season that brought multiple new faces to the top lane of the NA LCS, the teams have settled on the faces of their top lanes. With a variety of strong personalities and storylines, CLICKON eSports takes a closer look at the NA LCS top lane:
The Identity Of Every Top Laner In The NA LCS
The Top Laners Of The NA LCS
CLICKON eSports examines the players competing in a loaded top lane in the NA LCS. With a variety of personalities and backgrounds, each player brings something unique to the role.
Darshan: The Original Split Pusher
If a player is off solo pushing a lane, chances are it may be CLG's Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaya. Once known as the premier carry out of the top lane, Darshan's play had dipped in recent years. With the new split however, Darshan has reemerged as one of NA's elite, a key ingredient in CLG's rise towards the top.
Lourlo: The One With Potential
Samson "Lourlo" Jackson has had a very up and down start to his young career. After a blistering start to the 2017 Spring Split, Loulro has cooled off considerably. While he still shows flashes of brilliance at times, he has been plagued by an inconsistency that has limited Lourlo from reaching his potential.
Impact and Ray: The Shield And The Sword
Cloud9's two headed monster of Jeon "Ray" Ji-won and Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong is a unique dual threat in the NA LCS. While Impact has been a steady force for many years, Ray brings an aggressive style that can give an extra edge to Cloud9. No matter who plays, opponents must pay attention or risk having either player take over the top lane.
Seraph: The Trailblazer
Shin "Seraph" Woo-yeong was the original Korean import, an experiment by CLG to bring a talented Korean top laner to NA and see how it would pan out. Although he would be quickly replaced, his arrival opened the door for many others to follow, evidenced by the high number of imports represented in the NA LCS top lane. Although he has shown a few glimpses of a carry top laner, Seraph has probably past the prime of his playing career as his play continues to be nothing more than average.
Balls: The Veteran
An "Balls" Le is one of the longest standing members of the NA LCS. As an original member of the Cloud9 squad that took the league by storm in their first split, Balls has tallied NA LCS titles and been to multiple world championships. Still, despite his wealth of experience, it is easy to see his play has dipped significanlyt, making fans wonder if it may be time for Balls to finally take a well earned retirement.
Zig: The Quiet One
Derek "Zig" Shao is rarely the first player mentioned when you think of the Phoenix1 roster. Still, he showed immense growth in the last split as a starter for P1, almost single-handedly introducing Kled to the NA LCS. While the team focuses on getting their bot and mid ahead, resources are rarely funneled into Zig, a role he seems to thrive in.
Flame: The Legend
There are few players whose name carries as much weight in League of Legends history as Lee "Flame" Ho-jong. Once regarded as possibly the best top laner in the world, Flame's path has been a twisted road that has finally brought him to the NA LCS. After struggling in his first split, he has emerged as a much improved threat for the surging Immortals roster.
Ssumday: The Hyper Carry
There is no player in the NA LCS as likely to carry from the top lane as Dignitas's Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho. Already a decorated top laner in Korea, Ssumday has grown into a possible MVP candidate with his dominant play this split. When Ssumday is placed on a pick such a Fiora, the question is no longer if he will carry, but when.
Looper: The World Champion
Echo Fox's Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok was one of the off-season's biggest signings, a former World Champion with Samsung White who had revitalized his career with a strong showing as a member of the LPL's Royal Never Give Up. After a disappointing first split, Looper will need to quickly improve his play to justify an import slot on a team lacking of talent.
Hauntzer: The MVP
TSM'S Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell asserted himself as one of NA's best top laners last split, and could easily have been crowned the NA LCS MVP. With the ability to play both tank and carry picks, Hauntzer's flexibility and consistency from the top lane has allowed TSM to employ multiple strategies. With aspirations of international success on the horizon for TSM, Hauntzer will be a player they look will rely upon moving forward.