I distinctly remember back in 2014 when Samsung White’s Looper was considered one of the last carries in the top lane. They went on to win the World Championship in no small part due to Looper but mainly to the total and complete ineptitude of their opponents, but that is neither here nor there. Nowadays, it feels like all of the best top laners have the potential to put their teams on their backs and shape the outcome of a game by themselves, and the LCS is no different.
1. Evil Geniuses’ Jeong “Impact” Eon-young
The 2013 world champion has not lost a step and it’s the most impressive thing I’ve witnessed in professional League of Legends. He had a game a couple of weeks ago on Gnar against Team Liquid where he died five times before 15 minutes. From there, he never died. In the final 17 minutes he racked up six kills and 10 assists and was awarded the game MVP. The mental fortitude it takes to stay in the game like that combined with the general dominance he’s exerted over his opponents makes him still an elite top laner when three of the players from his world champion team have long since retired.
2. 100 Thieves’ Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho
Ssumday was thrust into a very unique position with 100 Thieves this year, where all of his new teammates were all on the same team last year without him. As such, he’s mostly left to fend for himself and does just that. What makes his play so interesting this year has to be his play on Renekton, a champion that notoriously gets leads early but falls behind late due to his lack of scaling with items. With all of the long, sloppy games that 100 Thieves have played this year, it might surprise you to hear that Ssumday’s Renekton is 9-1. He’s innovated with more high-damage builds to kill priority targets and has consistently made opposing teams work hard to overcome the wall he presents in top lane.
3. TSM’s Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon
Is it a coincidence that the three Koreans in the LCS top this list? Probably, because Huni is having a bounce-back season to remember. He first rose to prominence in 2015 with Europe’s Fnatic where he was a World Champion semi-finalist. In 2016 with Immortals, he finished first in Spring and second in Summer, barely missing Worlds. In 2017 he was a Worlds finalist with Korea’s SKT, and it was downhill from there. From his 2018 return to the LCS through 2020, he finished second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth. Now, his performance largely influences TSM being 10-5 and tied for second place, obtaining wins on five different champions. He has a good knowledge of the meta and how to continuously be a level above his opposition.
4. Team Liquid’s Barney “Alphari” Morris
When Misfits first took the stage in Europe in 2017, they shocked the region. In their debut year they had back-to-back second place finishes, going to Worlds 2017 where they made it to quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion SK Telecom T1. When Alphari came over to North America this year, he was left to fill the shoes of Impact, and he has done just that. He shouldn’t even be considered a step down from Impact whose performance this year is one of the best in recent memory. Alphari has shown good comprehension of the meta, going 5-0 on Renekton and Gnar while also picking up wins on Camille and Gangplank. Even in Team Liquid’s losses, the blame is more easily pointed elsewhere. He wins lane in an oppressive style and brings that same proficiency to teamfights where he shines.
5/6. Cloud9’s Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami + CLG’s Finn Wiestal
Whether or not Finn or Fudge go above one another is based on what performances you want to focus on. Finn has been really solid throughout the year, being a lone bright point on a vastly struggling CLG. There are games where he plays and you root for him because he truly deserves success. Meanwhile, Fudge has stepped up hardcore the last few weeks. Fudge has played 14 different champions in 2021, winning 11 of them. He’s arguably the best Camille that the league has to offer.
7. Dignitas’ Aaron “FakeGod” Lee
It feels almost criminal to put FakeGod this low after his player of the week performance. Dignitas’ 3-0 week was in no small part due to him, but it could have easily gone to their bot laner Neo as well, who had an extraordinary week. Still, FakeGod is nothing if not reliable, proving to be one of the better Gnar players in the region. He doesn’t really play to win his lane, but instead spends his time catering to his jungler Dardoch’s naturally aggressive playstyle and the team as a whole is better for it.
8. Immortals’ Mohamed “Revenge” Kaddoura
Revenge leads the bottom of the barrel for North American top laners, mostly due to his potential. It feels like ever since the clinic he put on in his first game where he took down Alphari and Team Liquid, he’s been in constant search of that next great performance. So far, it hasn’t happened, even as Immortals hovers around the middle of the pack. The knowledge is there that he can truly pop off, but he will need to do that on a consistent basis to start rising in the ranks.
9. FlyQuest’s Eric “Licorice” Ritchie
Licorice is like Revenge on a larger scale. From winning rookie of the year on Cloud9 in 2018, he was a truly elite top laner with his tenure on the team before he joined FlyQuest for this year. Since then, he’s been a shadow of his former self. Sure, the team is struggling so it’s hard for him to look particularly good but he hasn’t even been serviceable. He’s shown no advantages over any of the top laners in the region, furthering the narrative that Cloud9 as a system just worked very well.
10. Aiden “Niles” Tidwell
Don’t get me wrong; if I could put multiple blank spaces before Niles I would. His performance has been abysmal. He plays downright disrespectful towards his opposition and is constantly punished. Every first mistake gives way to multiple others and he never recovers. I think he could be good given time and a good environment, but as it stands he’s in a league that’s too good for him.