One of the oldest story-lines in League’s history has been that of the carry top-laner. For long-time viewers names such as MaKNooN, Shy, Reapered and Flame will come to mind.
These players mastered the art of being the focal point of a team and leading them to victory time and time again. This was done through incredible mechanical skill, aggressive champions and the mastering of match-ups.
The Old Guard: Flame
This style is best exemplified in Lee “Flame” Ho-Jong. Throughout the course of season 3, Flame would become one of the most feared top-laners in the entire world. Often crushing his opponent to such an extent that it would net him a minion lead in the triple-digits. This would occur so frequently that the action is coined after him and is still known to this day as the “Flame Horizon”
Sadly, Flame would not be seen on the world stage at his peak and it would take until he joined LGD as a back-up for him to make it to worlds. He would be seen in a very limited capacity and would not be played until the team had already crumbled in the group stage. The year after he would return to Korea joining Longzhu Gaming and become their starting top-laner. Not playing up to his old form and amidst a plethora of other issues within the team, Flame would depart and join Immortals earlier this year.
Flame would see a resurgence in NA, merging his lane mastery with team-play and a diverse champion pool. After a trying spring split of developing synergy, the team would surge in summer tying with TSM in the regular split and come in second in playoffs, leading them to a worlds birth.
The New Guard: Khan
For newcomers, many will think to Smeb or Khan, the ones who redesigned what it meant to be called a carry top-laner. There was a time where this art was thought of as a dying breed and that it was no longer a viable strategy at the highest level of play. These two players would shatter that illusion and mix the aggressive, relentless play of their forefathers with the tact and teamplay that had evolved to become a necessity at the top of LCK.
— lolesports (@lolesports) August 26, 2017
Khan in the past six months has staked his claim as the best top-laner in LCK and thus in many eyes, the world. He has shown himself to be one of the most mechanically skilled players out there and as a true carry from the top-lane in an era where it is far less common. He as the leading force of Longzhu have brought home an LCK title and heads into this year’s World Championship as the number one seed from Korea.
On September 12th, these two stories would become forever intertwined, seeing Longzhu and their star top-laner Khan be matched in the same group with the last of the old guard, Flame and his Immortals Squad. This is a very exciting proposition for many old-time fans looking for glimpses of their old hero and for new fans interested to see firsthand what they missed. Moving forward, onene of two things could happen, Flame could retake his place atop the throne and cement his legacy as the best top-laner of all time or Khan could take down a living legend and continue his path to the finals.
Regardless of which takes place we will see history be made in this year’s group stage as Flame and Khan will meet in group B to fight for supremacy and more importantly for legacy.