Top lane is one of the harder lanes to play as you are alone, sometimes against two champions. If the other team has a Jungler, you know that you will get “ganked” a lot. Most of the time you should be playing a melee champion that has a lot of sustainability and damage.
There are three priorities for a Top Solo player. The first would be not to lose a tower. Your towers are your most important assets; they will more often than not keep you alive. The second priority would be to farm and gain experience to level up. Your last priority would be to take as little damage as possible. By taking too much damage you are setting yourself up for a “gank” by the enemy Jungler.
Beginning of the Game:
There are three different starting combinations you can go for. The first would be Cloth Armour and five Health Potions, this is very good against ranged Attack Damage (AD) champions. The second is a Mana Crystal and two Health Potions, this will allow you to rush Catalyst which will let you lane for longer amounts of time. The third way you could go is buying Doran’s Shield or Regrowth Pendant and one Health Potion, this lets you play more defensively.
You need to know who you are up against when you are in Top Lane; in saying this, you should never “face-check” the bush. Wait for them to show themselves. Once you know who you are up against you need to know what Summoner Spells they have so you know if you need to play defensively.
Early Laning Phase:
Last hitting is essential as it gives you more gold and doesn’t let you overextend your lane before you are ready to take on the “gank”. Killing the first wave of creeps as fast as possible does not make the next wave come faster. If you’re under your tower there is a strict method to last hitting. For melee creeps, let the tower hit it twice and then you can auto-attack it for the last hit. For ranged creeps, auto attack once, let the tower hit then auto attack once more to get the kill. For cannon minions, there is no precise method, just make sure you last hit it as it gives you the most gold.
Mid Laning Phase:
If you are against two champions, by level three you should have a level advantage over them. You will need to keep an eye on your creep score (CS) to ensure that you do not fall behind in gold.
By level three you should have “poked” your enemies to get their life down a little. At this level, your Jungler should have Red buff and start “ganking”. If the enemy Jungler has just got Red buff they will be hesitant to “gank” you if you have been “poking” the enemy champions down.
When you need to recall, you should use as many spells as possible to try and push the lane, to keep them away from your tower when you are at base. Once you are back you should have a level advantage and an item advantage. You should try to play aggressively now and try to communicate with your Jungler to set up some “ganks”.
Champions That Can Solo Lane:
Essentially anyone can be played Top Lane if you have good map awareness and lane control. The champion traits that are important for an effective Top Lane would be:
Area of Effect (AoE) spells which will give you the ability to clear waves quickly if you are being pushed.
Regeneration will allow you to survive in the lane for longer periods of time.
An escape mechanism will allow you to avoid ganks.
Gragas is one of the best examples of a Top champion, as he as all those traits that make you a good Top Laner.
If you are still a little confused, here is a 16 minute video from team Dignatas’ Top Solo: Crumbzz.