How to play top lane - ultimate League of Legends top lane guide
It's been 10 years now since Riot Games blessed us with League of Legends, one of the most popular games of the last decade. Since then the meta was shifting, but those, who play LoL, share the view, that now it is pretty much set in stone. In standard team we have mid lane, bot lane - ADC plus support, jungle and top lane.
Among all roles and lanes top lane is the one for introverts and individuals. 'The Island'. Calm place, where you can count only on yourself and your ability to play League. This is the biggest allure of the top lane, and its biggest flaw at the same time. How to carry from the top? We'll tell you how.
Table of contents:
Which top lane champion should I pick?
Many top-lane beginners often ask the same question - what should I pick?
Before committing to top lane the question is whether you are a leader or a follower. As the leader, you’ll want to play carries, make the shot calling and create the ‘I know what I’m doing' aura. Remember, it’s harder to make others follow, if you lose lane, so you’ll need practice more, than if you went for a tank.
If you are not the Napoleon kind of a player and you rather follow than lead, then picking a heavy CC melee tank is your option. You can still carry while the only sort of damage you’re dishing out are the Sunfire Cape ticks and 20 damage auto attacks. If your ADC remains untouched thanks to your infinite CC, he will kill everybody, even if he has no hands and he kept feeding throughout the laning phase.
Another important question - melee or ranged? Ranged champions have natural advantage over melee. They can harass for free. But they require more skill and training, provide less CC and are generally squisher. You'd need to learn how to kite, cancel auto attack animations, and so on. It’s a price for having that range advantage.
In lower divisions ‘The Leader’ type on top is a little worse than the ‘Team Guy’. The reason for that is simple - in Low Elo 90% of players consider themselves carries, even if they’re hard stuck in Silver. They will pick the carry champion and play for themselves. Even if they go 0/6 in lane. They’re never to blame. It’s always someone else’s fault. Jungler didn’t gank, bot lane kept feeding and enemy mid laner appears to be a challenger smurf. There is not much you can do about it. You can only make sure to win the top lane most of the time.
Many coaches, guides and pro players share the view that it is best to have three or four champs to play in the solo queue. Playing fewer champions increases your proficiency, experience, matchup knowledge etc. For good all-rounded champion pool I’d suggest playing one carry, one tank and maybe one AP champion. This way you will fit into most compositions and you’ll be less scared of getting banned out or counterpicked.
The match begins in the champion select. Here is where you should plan how you will play.
There is a possibility of showing to your team what you wanna play. If you have first pick you can blind pick your main champion if you feel good about it.
If you aren’t so sure or you wanna play for the team, safest option is to just pick a tank. Tanks with a high amount of CC will always be useful. Also crowd control is something that allows you to come back. When you’re behind and you manage to catch enemy fed players, you can turn the tides of the whole game.
Watch the opponents and their picks. After some time spent playing League of Legends you will be more or less able to guess, what you are up against. For example there is a small chance that Malphite or Riven will go any other lane than top.
Another thing you have to ask yourself is the CC of your team. Vladimir mid, Lee Sin jungle, Sivir ADC and Soraka support is not a whole lot of CC. Picking something like Maokai, Sion or Nautilus might fit in nicely.
What are good top lane champions
Types of top laners:
- split pushers - strong 1 v 1 and tower pressure, huge scaling, relatively weak early on (GP, Trynda, Fiora, Yorick, Jax),
- tanks - high HP, durability, CC, strong engage. Very forgiving, as sooner or later they will get insanely tanky and become relevant in team fight. For example as Malphite you can feed constantly until 20 minute mark, but one good ult can obliterate the entire enemy team (Sion, Poppy, Ornn, Maokai, Malphite, Cho'Gath),
- team fighters - they excel in mid-game team fights due to their battle kit (Rumble, AP Kennen, Vladimir),
- lane bully - these will be most likely fighting you. They will beat you and make you cry (Jayce, Renekton, Pantheon, Gnar, Teemo),
- Singed - I believe he needs separate category. Proxy, running away, and being annoying. The most surprising champion, that doesn’t seem to bring anything into the table, but somehow makes a huge difference bringing everything.
Another division is based on the stage of the game certain champions are the best in. This also gives a view on their win condition.
Early game - they are made for fighting, winning lane and snowballing. Usually aggressive early on, strong base damage, rather ability based than auto attack. Perfect examples are Pantheon and Renekton. They both have a way of getting on top of their enemy, high base damage on abilities, often with ignite.
They need to stomp the opposing lane and end the game before 30 minute mark. They fall off badly in late game and become pretty much useless.
Mid game - steady or strong lane, not very expensive build, winning lane is based mostly on how the laners play and their overall skill. Relatively early power spike. Prepared for taking turrets and roaming while pushing other objectives.
Late game - usually melee auto attack based, crit champions. They share the same need of time, levels and gold. If they manage to survive first 20 minutes without giving away 8 kills, after 3-4 items they become relevant. For example Tryndamere, Gangplank, Jax or Nasus. If you don’t stomp them early game and destroy their Nexus around 25 minutes, they will take over the pace of the game.
Late game champions usually share some assets, which allow them to excel the later the game goes in:
- they need farm not only for gold, as Nasus needs stacks, Gangplanks needs Silver Serpents etc.,
- insane tower taking (especially the Trinity Force users, like GP, Jax, Fiora),
- strong 1 v 1, capable of outplaying 1 v 2 later on.
Let’s look at Tryndamere for example. Tryndamere can give 8 kills early, build two items, and just push the lane over and over again. Enemy team has to constantly watch their other lanes, as taking that single dragon can turn a quite steady game, into a stressful experience without the top inhibitor in a matter of minutes.
What are the best top laners in LoL? Tough question. With Riot Games changing the meta it's not clear-cut. But for now:
- mobile champions with roaming potential (Taliyah, Twisted Fate) are better off mid,
- Phage users (Black Cleaver or Tri-Force) are decent in top due to long lane chase potential,
- champs designed for ADC or Support should stay at bot,
- jungle shares the most champions with top lane (Jarvan IV, Jax or Camille)
- tank with lots of CC will always be fine,
- any form of sustain is useful at top lane.
Some games you will have a chance to select a counter pick. Some games you will be countered. You must understand, that It’s not like picking a counter will automatically win you lane. It only makes the laning easier for you.
There are champions that naturally counter other champions. For example Shen due to his Spirit Refuge ability will counter auto attacking top laners, as it blocks all auto attacks. Fiora counters tanks thanks to the true damage. Vayne counters dashing top laners with her Condemn.
Look at the enemy team. Let’s say they have Camille top, Zac jungle, Ahri mid, Lucian ADC and Pyke Support. That’s a lot of dashes that can be cancelled. Go for Poppy, or for someone that can dive the backline, as in this teamcomp Lucian has close to no protection.
1 v 2
Certain champions if played correctly have the potential to not only survive the early gank, but also win the encounter. While almost any champion can do that, these are the most reliable, with a high chance of outplaying 2+ enemies.
His Q got buffed. Now it heals him for 15% missing HP up to 45% if he hits three champions. He’s got ridiculous damage in the early stages of the game and provided that the player knows what he’s doing, he can get a kill during a gank and run away.
He will kite around his turrets and watch how enemies are getting low and dying.
If you play League in the jungle sometimes - never gank Heimerdinger without a proper setup.
His sustain allows him to stay at high HP. He’s quite mobile and dishes out decent damage, so ganking him can be risky.
Those of you, who have played League for some time, will agree, that Illaoi is a 1 v 2 goddess, especially with her ultimate. Don’t ever gank Illaoi if you aren’t sure, whether she has her ult or not.
Skilled Fiora player will dance around you and your jungler popping vitals, healing hearself and gaining movement speed. And Riposte can be devastating if she manages to read your Crowd Control, or main damage ability.
After his rework, Morde can bring any 1 v 2 into a 1 v 1 with his ultimate.
Which Summoner spells should I take in top?
If you are not taking Unsealed Spellbook as your keystone, you are choosing between Flash, Ghost, Ignite and Teleport. Your summoner spell choice is strictly based on a team comp, lane matchup and game plan.
Blinks your champion into targeted location allowing to engage or disengage.
Key summoner in fighting for lane dominance. Missing flash is an invitation for enemy jungler. Play accordingly.
Gives you the ability to move through units and increases your movement speed.
Extremely useful if you want to stay on top of your opponent. Recommended for champions that has no built in gap closer and when you pay bigger attention to your own success rather than relying on team.
Often used on champions that are dangerous but relatively easy to kite, like Darius or Olaf.
Sets your opponent on fire, dealing true damage and applying Grievous Wounds. Recommended for more kill pressure, aggressive top laners and to counter high healing champions like Vladimir, Aatrox or Tryndamere.
You can combine Ignite with Teleport if you picked champion, that doesn’t really need Flash or Ghost, like popular lately Hecarim or Fizz.
Alongside with Flash the most popular summoner spell in top lane. In 4 seconds it will teleport you to chosen location - a turret, minion or a ward and couple other things that can be placed by other champions.
Teleport grants invulnerability to the target (except for a turret), which is useful e. g. during turret pushing. If you teleport to a minion, that currently has turret aggro, it can tank more turret shots than normally.
It allows you to get back to lane to maintain minion wave control or after a failure.
It is recommended to use teleport before 10 minute mark only for getting back to lane, and post 10 minute save it for matching enemy top laner teleport or global abilities (Shen, Pantheon). Don’t get tempted to teleport to bot lane, because if anything goes wrong, you give up lane control. Especially after patch 8.23, since Riot Games decided, that you cannot cancel teleport.
What’s more, if you picked a split-pushing champion, you should take Teleport. This allows you to create pressure across the map. E. g. when your team is approaching Baron you should split bot lane, and if there is fight over Dragon - split top. Your enemies are in a bad situation. If they commit to the objective you can join the fray or you can keep pushing forcing them away from the objective.
You can cancel enemy teleport with hard CC. Playing Rumble or Fiora will leave you pretty hopeless vs TP.
Tip: if you have a good jungler, you may pull off ‘The Hashinshin Special’. After gank and killing/forcing back your opponent, your jungler should stay nearby and wait for your enemy to teleport back to lane. Then kill him again. This puts you line competitor even further behind and gives you control over the lane. Also in most cases it results in your enemy tilting.
Rift Herald - how to play around Shelly
After changes to Rift Herald he’s a viable objective to fight over. Since top lane is the closest to Rift Herald pit, your role as a top laner in contesting the buff is huge. This is where lane control becomes important. If you are able to force your opponent out of the lane and your jungler is at least decent, you can quickly grab yourself a turret destroying crab-tank.
When Turret Plating was introduced, Rift Herald is even more useful, since its charge deals true damage to structures ignoring bonus resistances.
Split push vs team fight
I do not recommend split pushers in lower division for a couple of reasons
1. People may not understand how split push works, and they will constantly call you to group, even if you're useless in teamfights.
2. You need pressure on the other side of the map. And this depends on your team. DO NOT depend on your team.
3. Split pushing leaves your team in a 4 v 5 scenario. They need to stay alive, avoid fighting and wait for you to create pressure. In lower divisions community share the idea, that winning a battle is the only way to win a game, and top laner should play tank. Split pusher is usually a powerful duelist (Fiora, Jax or Illaoi) who can 1 v 1 anybody, so enemy team need to send multiple people to deal with you. If they do, that is when your team need to use numbers advantage. Don't expect your teammates to know how the split push works.
4. In low divisions teamfight is how you win 9 out of 10 games, so picking a team fighting monster is how you carry. Virtually any tank with good CC and durability or champion with AoE damage should work just fine. Although do not pick something that is hard to play, like Rumble or Gnar.
5. Split push requires you to be able to beat down your opponent in lane. If you fail in lane, it will take a lot of time to get back into the game.
6. It also requires knowledge of when to push and when to back away.
7. If enemies have global or semi-global abilities (TF, Nocturne), they can constantly gank you, which in lower divisions will rather make your teammates tilt, as they don't know how to act, when jungler is camping one lane.
8. Sometimes you may need allies to cancel enemies recall. DO NOT depend on your team.
One advantage is that enemies will also have no clue, how to stop you. Maybe you will manage to reach that level, where your team begins to support you, and while you're in battle with three enemies, they take dragon or Baron in the meantime. Or maybe enemy team will ignore you and you'll be content of clapping their Nexus?
How to carry as a top laner
Now that you have your champion picked, you chose summoner spells, and recognized win conditions, it’s time to realize your plan.
You have couple of options here. You can:
1. Crush the opponent
Strong, aggressive early game champions (Pantheon, Renekton) and lane bullies (Jayce, Teemo, Riven) share the concept of winning lane. You keep harassing your opponent, forcing him back or killing. This is how you keep your enemy away from gold and experience, slowing down his progress and scaling. In extreme case you may be content to watch them rage quit.
Certain champions can survive in lane for a long time, even after losing a trade. Champions that are not using mana are better for this, since the only limitation for them are cooldowns. Good examples here are Vladimir, Garen or Tryndamere. Sooner or later you will find yourself in a significant HP advantage giving you kill threat and lane control.
Almost every tank shares this approach as they have relatively low damage compared to other champions. They will most likely get bodied in the lane, especially as melee into ranged, but as long as they don’t feed like crazy, they will become relevant.
Although without jungle pressure they may have a really hard time farming.
Of course we’re talking about situations, where you are matched with an opponent, who is at least decent and plays to his strengths. Otherwise you can show your enemy, how to play top lane.
4. Shove and roam.
Some champions share abilities that will allow them to wave clear fast (Ekko, Illaoi). This also applies to Tiamat users.
Pushing the wave into opponents tower forces him into a lose-lose scenario:
- stay and farm,
- follow your roam.
If he decides to stay and catch the wave, you are able to roam, pressure jungle, take Scuttle control, gank mid, help your jungler and so on.
If he matches your roam, he’ll lose the gold and experience.
However you need to be aware of the enemy jungler, since you’ll be over extended most of the time. Maintain vision, follow enemy jungler on the minimap and you can be content farming.
This is something that practically does not exist in lower divisions. Players are hitting minions, maybe trying to last hit them or ignoring them entirely and the wave acts
Why is wave management so important in League of Legends? Correct wave setup gives you lane control and freedom to do stuff on the map. You have three main options here:
It means using your abilities and auto attacks to push as fast as you can and crush the minion wave onto the turret. It causes the wave to reset and bounce back to you. It is recommended to shove in the minion wave when you are about to back. This way while on your way back to the lane, you will lose less creeps.
Also when your lane opponent leaves, hard shove the wave in and punish him for leaving. When minions are killed by the turret, your enemy won’t get any gold or experience from them.
This technique keeps the wave frozen near your tower. It’s good when your opponent is not really in a position to fight. It forces your counterpart to over extend and expose himself to ganks or give up CS. It’s also keeping you safe, closer to your tower.
Works perfectly especially against the low Elo nightmare - Nasus. Typically Nasus wants his stacks. With wave frozen near your tower he can’t get to them. He can only CS with his E, which will cause the wave to push into you and make him burn a lot of mana.
You can use freeze to force enemy teleport. If he decides to hold on to his TP, he will lose a lot of farm.
Freezing is useless in mid to late game, as it’s waste of time, and when you’re against ranged opponents. In mid game already you want to make pressure.
In order to slow push, your job is to only last hit creeps. This results in a big wave of stacked up allied minions. Works well in the early game when your lane opponent leaves and you don’t know where enemy jungler is. Big wave of creeps is your protection. Two waves of creeps are basically another champion in lane, which would help you in a 1 v 2 scenario.
When you are pushing giant wave into enemy turret and you see a possibility of solo diving, it’s ok to go 1 for 1 in a trade. You die, he dies, but he loses lots of gold and XP.
You also want to slow push, when you are preparing a dive. However I don’t recommend diving in low divisions, as you need coordination.
Tip: In the later stages of the game when the wave is on your side of the map and you expect some action to take place on the other side, good thing is to set up a slow push. You simply kill all caster creeps in enemy wave and leave melee minions intact. This will cause your wave to stack up huge. Such stacked wave can take towers by itself. That’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes you will setup a huge wave, and after a teamfight - enemy adc will have a huge wave to farm up. You have to time it properly.
You also have to know exactly, how the minion wave is going to behave, whether it’s pushing towards you or not. If the wave has more minions than opposing wave, it will push.
How to 1 v 9 in top lane
The ultimate question: 'How to win League of Legends games, when my team is feeding?'.
By the time you realize, that you must be the carry, you don’t care about anyone else. You take all resources possible. You take farm, jungle camps, Blue and Red Buff. Yes, your 2/8 ADC and 0/5 jungler will probably cry about it, but you shouldn't care. If you want to win, this is the only way. You don't care if they go AFK. The game was already nearly lost when they started underperforming, it can't be lost even more. But at some point of the game they will understand, that you are the carry boosting them, and they have to use it to win. Who knows, maybe they will start to play better? This way you can cheat the Destiny.
You must show your enemies, that you are the boss here, focus their attention on yourself and play around it. Especially in low divisions enemies will do everything to kill you. At this point when it takes four of them to deal with you, for the rest of your team simply pushing is enough - just like bots eventually they will reach the Nexus, while you are keeping your opponents busy. If you manage to survive, maybe your teammates will start to cooperate. Dragging the game longer and stalling gives your team time to catch up.
How to trade in top lane
No, it’s not about buying or selling items (although you can check MMOAuctions for some cool stuff). It’s more about trading blows and fighting in lane. This is key aspect of winning the lane. You have to recognize when to trade and when not to.
First of all, your opponent will not always be willing to go all in. You need to punish him, when he’s going for CS or when his key abilities are on cooldown. For example if Riven used her abilities to clear the way, this is your time to jump on her. Also trading is not an all-in. Usually these are short trades, where you go in, hit once or twice and fall back to the bush to drop minion aggro. Good trades will give you a health advantage, which you can use later on to force your opponent out of the lane or kill him.
When to trade:
- you are stronger,
- you have more minions than your opponent,
- you see enemy jungler on the other side of the map,
- you see your jungler/midlaner coming top,
- you are about to recall and get back with teleport(so called ‘exit trade’, leaves your enemy with health disadvantage when you come back with full HP and fresh buy),
- you have your ‘steroids’ up (Renekton fury, Tryndamere rage, Jax and Irelia passive etc.),
- your opponent has no mana,
- there is a low HP cannon minion - your enemy will have to go for CS and accept the trade or retaliate and lose it.
When to not trade:
- you are weaker,
- you have no mana/cooldowns,
- enemy has minion advantage,
- you are over extended,
- you don’t see enemy jungler/mid,
- your jungler/mid is on the other side of the map.
Tip: wait for the right moment to go in. You don’t want to trade with Irelia or Jax, when they have their passive and/or Conqueror stacked up. When you see Renekton bar going red, back away. Same with Gnar, Tryndamere and Vladimir.
Single target abilities and auto attack will make minions change their focus. For low Elo players minions don’t matter. They are just some funny, little creatures jogging down the lane, dying to tower and hitting each other. More advanced players know, that if one caster minion will do 1o damage per second and there is 8 of them, they will do 80 damage per second. Early levels champions will have 500 - 600 health. You can do the math.
Best situation is when you pushed into enemy tower with two waves of allied minions stacked up. You can come close to your opponent and ‘fake pressure’, which is just running next to him. If you bait him into hitting you, all your minions will focus him immediately. It’s like hitting him with an auto attack without pulling turret aggro.
Some champions can trade in minions waves. Jax can block auto attacks with his Counterstrike, Amumu E cooldown is lowered for every hit and Renekton will heal off of them thanks to his Q. Also Olaf won’t mind trading blows early on. The lower he gets, the more attack speed he will have and in first levels your auto attacks are your main (if not the only) source of damage.
As a beginner player you will have no clue, what is the cooldown on Renekton’s dash, Vladimir pool or Gangplank Orange. But beginning players are using their abilities randomly, not knowing exact numbers, features and purpose.
These applies to summoner spells cooldowns.
How to play top lane from behind
First of all - do not tilt! If you do, you may as well hit the Alt + F4 and go out. You lost the duel, you got killed, you died, but it doesn’t mean that you need to instantly seek vengeance and retaliation. Since you died and gave away 300 gold, your opponent is stronger than you in wealth and experience department. Winning with him would require major mistake from him, like diving under tower without wave or failing combo.
If you remain patient and calm, you may have a chance to grab the shutdown and get back into the game. But if you will try to magically outplay stronger enemy right away, it may lead to a feeding chain reaction. So stay back, try to farm, do not seek immediate revenge and capitalize on your enemies mistake.
Let’s say, you are Pantheon who was supposed to dominate against Jax, but you got ganked, died once, and died second time in 1 v 1 later on. So you are one level behind your counterpart, not to mention the gold. Still after level 6 you can jump bot lane.
Let’s say your Gangplank, and you got dove before level 6. Still with three items after level 13 you will be huge.
Let’s say you play aforementioned Malphite and enemy was farming you like a cannon minion. One good ult around Baron 25+ minutes into the game can give you a win.
If you fell behind as a carry, focus on farming and avoiding fights. Get scuttle, maybe some jungle camps (Krugs and Taptors + Buffs mainly), CS under tower, don’t engage. With time you will catch up, especially if enemy top laner starts to roam. Patience is your friend.
If you play from behind as a tank initiator it’s much easier. You can pass on the CS and maintain minimum farming just to progress with defensive items. In this case playing around your major cooldowns and leaving creeps for a carry might be your way to go.
Don’t ask for jungler help when behind. You are weaker than your opponent and a gank may give you nothing, and even result in 1 v 2 outplay for your enemy. Instead try to slowly get back into the game.
How to cheese your opponent in top lane
There are some tricks, that can win you the game (or at least lane) even before the minions arrive.
If you want to have early push, you can hide in the brush closest to enemy base, and as the minions approach - step out. Enemy minions will head onto you, which will force the push into you no matter what.
As Olaf you can go head first all-in level 1. Due to reduced cooldown when picking up your axe and attack speed steroids Olaf is almost unbeatable level 1. There aren’t many champions able to outduel Olaf at level 1.
As Jax you may want to hide in the brush closest to enemy base. When your opponent arrives, level up your E and attack him. Your Counterstrike will block his auto attacks and your passive gives you an upper hand. You can do the same thing with Darius and Trundle.
General top lane tips
Unlike support or jungle, in solo lane as a carry you need to know how to last hit. Perfect score is 100 CS per 10 minutes. Pro players, especially AD Carries, can have even more! For you - the goal is to have more CS than your lane counterpart.
Sometimes you will win lane and gain advantage simply by CS-ing better than your opponent.
In order to do that, you need a lot of practice. Go to Practice Tool and practice CS-ing in your free time. Play normal games and focus on killing as many creeps as possible.
Keep in mind everything, we talked about in ‘Trading’ section. Sometimes killing a cannon minion is not worth dying for.
After some time you will get used to your champion’s auto attack animation and you’ll learn to cancel it more effectively.
It’s extremely useful when you get bullied in the lane and you are forced to CS under tower.
Camping - If the jungler decides to camp the crap out of you, it’s not really that bad. Sometimes you’ll die, sometimes not, but focusing all the jungle pressure on your lane, gives other lanes more freedom and invade/early dragon opportunity.
Be careful with Sunfire Cape and Thornmail. Dealing damage to an enemy can pull tower aggro. Remember that Bami Cinder, Sunfire Cape as well as Bramble Vest and Thornmail also deal damage. You can use it to your advantage. Just let your enemy push you into your tower and hit him or step close to him.
Brush using. Especially as melee into ranged. Go into the bush, wait for minions to get low, last hit, back to the bush. There are three bushes in top lane - your enemy will not ward each of them. Also bush allows you to drop enemy minions aggro after a trade.
Don't rely on your jungler. Always go top with attitude, that your jungler will never come top. If he's smart - he'll recognize easy kill and potential to stomp the lane and gank. If he's stupid, he'll come to your lane, die and donate double buff to your enemy.
Watch pro players, esports and streamers. What are the best top laners? Probably you'll find them in Korea. Outside of pro play it can be a good idea to watch SoloRenektonOnly, as he tends to share information about matchups, wave management and is willing to reply to any questions.
Learn from your mistakes. Only by trading and trying on and on you will know your limits.
Watch your own replays - this way you will see your mistakes, learn how to avoid ganks and set up vision around your lane.
Currently the community (with exception of Hashinshin) is content about top lane position. Stable, steady lane, very self-reliant. Rewarding for patience and practice. Sometimes tilting to the point you're thinking about deleting an account, but sometimes extremely fun to play.
One last advice. Play as you feel and have as much fun as you can. If you feel like playing Shen and turning the tides of the game with one godlike ult play for Dragon - do it. If tanks like Shen are not your type of champion and you enjoy crushing your lane opponent - go for Darius and make enemies rage quit. There is no way you can win every game.
What is 'top lane' in LoL?
This is the lane on the top of Summoners Rift closest to the left edge. Often isolated, by many considered the best Solo Queue lane for it's solo factor.
What are the best top lane champions?
The ones you are comfortable with. There is no magic, OP, good-for-all top lane pick. Choose 3-4 characters you feel like playing and learn them.
How to carry from top lane?
First of all you should try to win the lane. Then depending on a pick you should teamfight or split push, draw pressure, play towards advantages, push for objectives.
How to win lane in top?
Recognize your win conditions and trading patterns. Punish opponent for mistakes, going for CS, poor back timings etc. Always be aware of jungle pressence. If you see him elsewhere, this is where you can be aggressive.
How to play top lane from behind?
Focus on farming and avoid trades. After you get some items, you can go for damage check, but don't overcommit. If you play scaling champion, you may still have a way to come back. If not... GG, go next. It happens.
How to improve in top lane?
Focus on fundamentals - trading, map awareness, micro game, staying alive. For matchups check out some pro players and streamers. Each champion has his famous main:
- Riven - AdrianRiven, BoxBox,
- Tryndamere - foggedftw2, Jay Sea,
- Renekton - SoloRenektonOnly, RTO,
- Gangplank - Tobias Fate,
- Garen - Riste, Glacierr,
- Pantheon - Keegun,
- Sion - Tilterella
These are just examples, we're sure you'll find what you looking for.