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At higher levels one can see more and more junglers. That means someone has to solo lane top. Which champions are a good choice for solo laning? Which ones should be avoided?

Thanks

edit: as pointed out by Raven Dreamer - I forgot to mention I was thinking mainly about 2v1 situation

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5 Answers

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First off, nearly every champion can solo top with the right masteries/runes and first item.

The first item has to bring you sustain, it really depends on your champion but usually recommended:

Ranged AD - Life steal! Either Doran's blade or (better - vampiric scepter) Non ranged - Regrowth pendent > Philosophers stone AP ranged - Regrowth pendent > Philosophers stone

I understand those items are really generic, but if you play defensively they can keep you in lane indefinitely.

As for champions, some are obviously better than others, and as already mentioned, sustain is THE main thing you need, along with an ability to help you last hit.

Do NOT pick a champ that can be ignored at a tower

So Leona, although tanky, isn't really an option because her damage is so ignorable. Same applies to champions like Soraka etc.

Recommended top lane champs for me are:

  • Irelia - very tanky, hard to gank, in built sustain through life steal, especially post level 6
  • Trundle - passive gives sustain, great anti gank + gank aiding skill
  • Nidalee - really excels top, heal, big poke nuke, hard to gank post 6, hard to harass
  • Swain - Hard CC, great sustain post level 6, hard to harass
  • Vlad - Great sustain, very hard to gank, hard to harass
  • Warwick - Great sustain, harassing is futile, nice lane to gank post 6.
  • Singed - Good farming and sustain with the right set up
  • Gangplank - Amazing farming, free cleanse, nice harass, global ult
  • Pantheon - Great farming, can help gank mid quickly, hard to tower dive
  • Shen - Quite weak at the moment, but global ult makes him a great top
  • Jarvan - Similar to irelia with a little less sutain. Very hard to gank, dangerous when getting ganked
  • Anivia / Annie - amazing farmers, nasty CC, nice harass, hard to harass
  • Gragas - sustain from heal, nice harass, hard to gank
  • Maokai - great sustain from passive, needs mana regen to effectively harass, great farmer
  • Blitz - dangerous grabs under tower, hard to tower dive, good lane to gank.
  • Yorick - good harass, built in life steal, hard CC (slow) for over extended enemies (good lane to gank)
  • Galio - good harass, good farm, hard to tower dive (post level 6), good lane to gank (post level 6)
  • Orianna - Low mana costs if you just use Q, good harass and farm, hard to harass due to large zoning skill, good lane to gank (post level 6).

I think I covered most of the good solo tops, but to be honest it falls down to either tanky champs who can handle the harass and are hard to push out of lane, damage dealers with life steal that are hard to harass or casters with inbuilt sustain.

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I think also Galio could be a good solo top, great harassing abilities and great farming. Ulti is also very good to help ganking or defend under tower against more enemies –  Drake Aug 15 '11 at 11:55
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Your list is fairly nice, but I would suggest Yorick as one of the best 2v1ers. Beefy with ranged harass and a built in lifesteal. –  TheQ Aug 15 '11 at 15:03
    
Agree with both, sorry I probably missed off a few more too. I will add them to the list. Yorick is a particularly good example. I should probably add Orianna too... –  theorise Aug 15 '11 at 15:31
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You've got a couple criteria to think about.

Sustain

Ideally, a top-lane solo champion will be mostly self-sufficient, farming minions non-stop (and avoiding ganks!). This usually means they have a) an easy way to last hit without risking harass, or b) a way to recover or mitigate damage, such that they can stand up to an opponents harassment and keep farming anyway.

For instance, Vladimir makes a good solo champion, because careful use of his Q will keep him healthy for the majority of the time.

2 vs. 1 Potential

If the enemy team does not have a jungler, top lane is usually going to be stuck facing a 2 vs. 1. This is harder for certain champions / matchups than others. An ideal solo champ needs to be able to either sustain well enough, or provide enough counter-pressure by their lonesome to avoid losing fights. The one advantage you'll get when you're 2 vs. 1-ing is an experience advantage.

Against a 2-person top lane, a champion like Cho'goth makes a good solo choice, since the sustain of his passive, his general tankiness, and his burst damage (especially post-level 6!) means even 2 vs. 1, the enemy will be hesitant

Champion Synergy

This category is less "something a solo should have" than "something a solo should not". If your champion does significantly better with a laning partner, they are not a good solo pick. Most support champions fall into this category, as do certain tanky champions, such as Leona.

Threat / Harass

Finally, you need to consider how well your champion can harass the enemy when not last hitting. Some champions will naturally push their lanes while also last hitting (Mordekaiser comes to mind), so in that case, you need to either pressure the opposing champion enough that they won't risk a gank (with their jungler) or have enough escapes / CC that you can foil most gank attempts with the help of a sight ward.

Finally, as a general rule of thumb, Any champion who does well mid will also do well with a solo lane.

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Recommended Solo Lane Choices (assuming you are laned against 2 opponents):

Alistar, Anivia, Blitzcrank, Caitlyn, Cho'Gath, Dr. Mundo, Galio, Gragas, Irelia, Lee Sin, Malphite, Malzahar, Maokai, Mordekaiser, Morgana, Orianna, Shen, Swain, Urgot, Vladamir, Yorick.

Most of the champions listed above make the list because they are tanky and have some survivability. Survivability can include: self heals, cc, natural regen, high hp growth, good base stats and the like. Caitlyn, Malzahar, Morgana and Orianna may not fit that "tanky" mold but they excel against two enemies for the following reasons.

Caitlyn has a long natural range, built in harass with her innate abilty, traps to control the lane (making two enemies slightly less of a problem) and Piltover Peacemaker offers great harass and farming. Another important feature to the solo laner is the rate at which they level up to 6 and get their ult (relative to their opponents). Caitlyn's ult is quite good and makes her a prime choice for any solo lane. Opponents to watch for include Teemo (he can blind you and his poison is no fun when you are on the receiving end) and the other tanky champions with good harass listed above.

Malzahar has lots of aoe damage and replenishes his mana with his Malefic Visions ability (provided it jumps 4-5 times). I tend to build Rod of Ages and Rylai's Scepter on Malzahar (sometimes even a banshees) each of which gives him some hitpoints so he isnt too squishy. Malzahar also has a great ult that can tear down an enemy champion if their lanemate doesn't disable you in time. Watch out for enemies like Soraka, Taric, Sion, Cho'Gath and other with silences or hard stuns as you will find yourself disabled too much to make a difference in your lane.

Morgana and Orianna both have excellent, long ranged, aoe abilities and shields. This combination actually makes them very tough to take down and allows them to farm and harass without much of a problem.

Avoid Soloing as:

Any support champion as you should be supporting someone which you can do if you are in a lane by yourself. Another sub category are the stealth/assassin characters. Evelyn and Twitch are more annoying in a lane with a partner because your partner can keep up the illusion that you are there by applying pressure to your lane while you go off and gank elsewhere. If you are in a solo lane you risk spending too much time invisible and not enough time farming and harassing. Also, you can expect to be jumped on when you unstealth instead of making them panic because they know they have you outnumbered.

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Nasus is by far the most powerful 2v1 I have ever seen. His ability to mass slaughter creeps via Spirit Fire, and his durability, make him very powerful. He also can greatly overpower two champions if he is able to get the level lead.

Nasus is only the answer to this question if he is built tanky. Most players tend to build him as physical DPS though it is important to note that if this is done, he actually deals "less" damage during fights.

If you are interested in playing a competative nasus, please refer to hyfe's guide on leaguecraft. I am very surprised that he was not listed here already.

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Someone with a good AOE is good for solo top, preferable to take ranged so you can keep the distance (you'll have to expect at least one ranged, so melee suffer from being harassed) you need for safe escape.

With Anivia you can wipe out entire waves (cha-ching! lots of gold and exp) and keep your tower safe after level 6.

Personally if you're solo top I'd take Clarity as one of your summoner spells (if you're a mana user of course!), you'll be pushed a lot harder than you can push back, so expect to fight under your tower a lot, at which point you can expect dives if they have a fair number of minions about.

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