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How to Climb in Low ELO as a Top Laner

The Top Laner’s Guide to Climbing Low ELO

The top lane is one of the loneliest roles in the game where neither team seems to help you out. This is why it’s vital that you learn how to play alone and learn how to win lane and improve without relying on your Jungler to help you win your lane.

In this Mobalytics guide by PicklePants, we will discuss some ways you can carry and win more games as a Top lane main in low ELO League of Legends.

This is part of a bigger series so if you’re reading this as a player who mains another role, we’ll have specific articles for all the other roles as well. Our last post was on the Support role!

Tf blade GPI

Before we begin for Top, let’s clarify what ranks we’re talking about here. Now, you could ask 50 different players off all ranks and ask them what they determine to be high and low ELO.

Some players will say anything below Gold is low ELO, anything below Diamond 2 is low ELO, or anything under top 200 Challenger is low ELO!

In this guide, we’re going to go with anything below or around the lower end of Gold is low ELO, and anything above or around that is high ELO. You may disagree with this statement, but that’s what we’re going with for the context of this guide. If you do disagree, however, that’s okay. Everyone’s definition of what low and high ELO are is different.

Learn how to play from behind

You can’t win every matchup. Sometimes, you will be placed in a game where you’re going to have a very unfun time. For example, playing as a squishy champion into an early game monster like Darius or Renekton. In these matchups, if the enemy gets a kill, they might be able to snowball heavily and kill you over and over again.

cho gath scailing pic

Cho’Gath is weak in the early game, so when he’s playing against an early game champion, he needs time to come online and must play as if he was behind in order to scale.

By knowing how to play from behind, you will have a higher chance of getting back into the game, and approach the mid-game in a much healthier state (by not being very behind in comparison to the enemy laner).

There are many ways you can do this. For example, by being prepared to sacrifice some gold for XP which will allow you to stay in lane for longer as the enemy will be unable to bully you down or start a fight when you try to last hit.

You should also be looking to avoid fighting or skirmishing with the enemy.

Now I know how much you love to fight the enemy laner, but when they’re ahead, you must not fight them unless you have a small window or advantage to fight them with such as when the enemy’s key damaging ability is on cooldown.

In most cases, fighting an enemy that is stronger than you isn’t very clever to begin with.

They’ll deal a lot more damage to you and your health bar will diminish quicker than theirs if you decide to fight when they have an advantage in terms of health, cooldowns, or items.

We have made a separate guide on how to play from behind in the top lane which talks more about playing from behind in the top lane.

There are tons of things you can do when playing from behind and it’s important that when you’re behind, you try your hardest not to fall even further behind otherwise you’ll have no chance of getting back into the game. Play safe, relax, and avoid fighting the enemy.

Note that you don’t have to be physically behind in terms of kills and deaths. To some extent, you can be behind if the enemy is stronger than you early.

In these scenarios, it’s important that you play respectfully and do not put yourself behind by trying to fight.

Learn how to play against each champion and champion class

Now we’ve helped you learn how to play from behind, we need to help you actually win lane and carry. Winning lane depends heavily on the champion you’re playing and the champion you are against.

There are 3 main types of champions you’ll find in the top lane:

  1. Fighters which can be hard to deal with as they want to play aggressively constantly.
  2. Tanks who don’t really want to fight too much early but will look to fight once they’ve completed their first item
  3. Mages or other ranged champions who are usually lane bullies who need time to scale.

When laning against each one of these champions, you’ll need to adapt your playstyle accordingly to beat them. For example, you can be a little more aggressive when playing as a bruiser against a tank, while you’ll have to be a little more passive when playing as a tank vs a bruiser.

lane against renekton tips

Luckily, we have a few unique guides that cover different scenarios of the matchups you’ll find in the top lane. For example, here’s how to lane as a tank into a bruiser like Renekton. We also have the opposite of that guide to learn how to play bruisers into tanks.

Once you know how you should be playing against each champion archetype, you’ll have a much easier time in lane as you’ll know what you can and can’t achieve.

Don’t forget that you’re going to encounter bad matchups where the enemy has the range advantage. If you’re really into playing fighters or bruisers, you might struggle to lane against champions who are ranged like Teemo or Vladimir.

While they’re beatable, there are a lot of things you need to do so the enemy doesn’t poke you down or kill you. Here’s a guide on how to play as a melee champion against a ranged one.

Learn how to get your Junglers help

Junglers cannot gank every lane. There are some lanes that they can gank a lot and some lanes that are harder to gank.

There are tons of different reasons why a Jungler cannot gank you such as they may be low on health, you may be low on health, or they cannot gank unless their Ultimate is up.

You may even have little kill threat on the enemy which makes ganking a lot harder as it may not result in a kill.

We often call for assistance from our Jungler when things are going wrong, but we need to be able to set up our Jungler so they can gank us with ease.

First off, you need to make sure that you’re healthy. You cannot expect your Jungler to gank you when you’re low on HP or are at threat of dying. It’s better for you to recall rather than risk yourself dying and potentially making the trade 0 for 1 in favour of the enemy or 1 for 1.

Secondly, you need to have the wave in a good place most of the time. Unless you can dive the enemy, your Jungler is not going to be able to tower dive or gank when you’re pushing the wave.

This is why it’s important that you keep the wave closer to your side of the map or even if you want your Jungler to gank.

Thirdly, you need to ask yourself “am I playing a champion who can get ganked?” Some champions are really hard to gank, for example, Vladimir as he doesn’t have a lot of damage early on and he also lacks any form of hard CC. If your champion has a lot of early game damage and/or CC, then your Jungler can gank you.

gank opporunities your team

In this case, your Jungler can gank your lane quite easily.

If you don’t know if your champion can be ganked by your Jungler, check out the Live Companion to see the hot spots for your Jungler. If your matchup is red, it might be harder for your Jungler to gank your lane compared to others.

We’ve also made a separate guide on how to set up your Jungler to gank you in the top lane if you’re interested in reading it. It has some other tips which will come in handy if you need more jungle assistance.

Get up to date with the latest builds for your champion

Itemization for each champion is key. You should be purchasing items that benefit your champion, and items that will help you counter the enemy. One of the biggest issues that are holding lower ELO players back is poor itemization.

There are a few things you can do to improve your itemization. Firstly, take a look at our champion pages. They have up to date builds and if you copy them, you’ll be in a better standing to beat the enemy in comparison to just building any item without giving it much thought.

top lane champion pages

You can also use our Live Companion to import builds directly into the client so you get them in the game, or alternatively you can just stick to using the web app.

While learning a direct build path for each champion is key, there are situations where you’ll have to mix it up. For example, when playing as a Bruiser against somebody who has tons of healing like Vladimir or Soraka, you need to adjust your itemization so you have a better time dealing with them.

If your champion benefits from it (champions like Fiora, Renekton and Kled, etc), you need to get an early Executioner’s Calling to reduce the enemies healing ability in lane. First item Executioner’s is really good as it will give you a better chance at killing them and prevent them from out-sustaining you in lane.

renekton 10.12 build

Take a look at Renekton’s situational items. He has a Mortal Reminder in there which is built from an Executioner’s Calling.

There are a lot of other situational items you can buy such as investing in magic resistance if you’re against an AP Top laner, early Ninja Tabi if you’re against a ranged Top laner or even invest into heavy sustain early if you’re against a heavy sustain laner. Take note that these are highly situational and you will only be doing these things when it’s necessary.

The key thing to take away is that you need to constantly understand what items your champion benefits from, and what items they can pick up if needed. If you want to learn what each item does, here are 2 separate guides.

The first is a bruisers itemisation guide, and the second is situational items. Remember, both are key for Top laners to understand, so they know what to buy and when.

Is the champion you are playing not a bruiser? Here’s the category for champion items– so we’ve got you covered if you’re interested in playing mages or marksman.


There are lots of things you can do to help you climb in League of Legends. The lower-ranked you are, the more important it is for you to get the fundamentals down before getting into the heavy stuff.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out PicklePants stream.

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