First Minute: Top Lane

I thought the First Minute: Jungle thread was really helpful, so I wanted to start one for the other roles too. This one’s for top lane. :sunny_happy_2: :vgroles_carry_top: :sunny_happy_1: I don’t think there are that many openings that top laners use, but let’s list them and discuss a bit!

For me, I’ll usually start by hustling out of base up toward the healer camp, and if I don’t spot the enemy bot laner or enemy jungler nearby, I’ll start it (and take it if my jungler doesn’t show up, which they usually don’t), then head up to lane. If I spot the enemy jungler, I’ll leash my camp back toward top lane (away from the river) and cautiously take it. Sometimes this leads to a small skirmish or contest for it. If the enemy jungler is a very strong early game hero, like Koshka or Grumpjaw, and if they seem to focus me rather than the jungle camp, and especially if the enemy bot laner comes to help them, I might just retreat. The worst thing is to give up an early kill, so I’d rather play a bit safe and focus on lane farm, defending the top turret, and soaking up enemy pressure so my team can leverage some map control elsewhere.

If I’m top laning with a hero like Cath though, who benefits from cooldown and burst (i.e. Stormcrown), I’ll start with a stormguard banner and be a bit more aggressive in contesting those camps.

Some priority vision spots for me in the first minute are the enemy bush on the top side of the dragon pit (great for spotting the enemy jungler coming to steal your healer), although this gets cleared easily if both the enemy bot laner and jungler are nearby. Checking early gives your roam some warning, at least, to be aware of potential invasions. The other spots are dependent on how far I’ve pushed the lane. If I’m turtled under my turret, I don’t bother with vision for me - I’ll just play safe - but I might put a cam in the bush at the top lane/river junction, in case my teammates are rotating and need to be aware of possible ambushes. If I’m in normal farming position (midway in top lane), I’ll put that same cam down, but for me this time, to spot the enemy jungler or roam headed my way. If I’m way up, I’ll put one in the enemy bush separating top lane from jungle, but this is rare in the first minute, and usually not a cam I’ll place until later in the match.

95% of my top lane matches start this way; it will sometimes change to follow my teammates into a red buff invade. How about everyone else? Where are priority cams? What are your main objectives in the first minute as a top laner?

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My openings have changed with time, but the one I do currently is pretty standard and I think is probably the best. Its really simple, actually. Just do the top side treant camp as soon as it spawns at 40 secs. Start with the small bear then kill the treant. The small bear dies faster and its less damage taken.

I don’t find myself getting invaded on this early, but if I do, I either ping my team to help if they can, contest the last hit, or try to kill my opponent if possible. The priority is to last hit the camp above all else. Or leash it for long enough that they lose interest and go back to lane. If they come with their jungler its not worth contesting at all. The gold from this camp isn’t what’s important, its the XP. It’s vital for the early levels that I try to keep some parity with my lane opponent in XP or risk falling really behind really fast and a 1 level lead can really snowball.

If my lane opponent starts in lane while I’m clearing the healer, then I play safe and let them push the wave. It’s not even worth freezing at this point, just cs when possible and avoid damage. My focus is on cs if it gets pushed under turret. More often than not, the jungler will show up and the botlaner may feel comfortable enough to stay. This is fine as long as I’m cs’ing well because staying as close to even as possible at this point is important. If my lane opponent starts their treant, I usually try to get lvl 2 ASAP and go for an early trade. If I lose the race to lvl 2 then I back off.

Priority cams are going to be the river bush if I’m getting pushed in, and the bush that separates the lane from the jungle if I’m past the river. My main goals in the first minute is securing that treant and avoiding as much damage as possible. Staying safe is how I avoid dives and ganks. Eventually I want to bounce the wave, recall, and attempt to freeze or slowpush while they’re recalling themselves.

What do I do if I’m getting camped or my lane opponent is being fed jungle? Play even safer. I don’t even bother putting down cams if I know the jungler is there. Its just gonna get cleared anyway. I don’t really play tanks anymore, but if I have to, my goal is to lose as little as possible, and above all else, don’t ever die.

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You guys pretty much hit the nail on the head. Top doesn’t have much variety in the first few minutes. Generally you just want to place 1 cam - I usually place mine on the enemy side of the river - and wait a bit to see if enemy is going to rush your jungle and try to take your healer, or whether they’re going to contest the lane. The difference in top and other lanes is you have a few seconds before minions start fighting compared to other lanes so taking the small bear is usually a good idea, to avoid enemy last hitting the healing treant.

The most important thing in top is controlling the minion wave flow. It is less important to gank the enemy turret yourself and more important to let minion waves create pressure. It’s the safest way to actually take the turret, and creates pressure on the enemy bottom laners to distract from fighting you, or to leave other lanes/their jungle.

Also in top I usually go for items that will help my hero stay in the fight longer rather than going for raw power, so energy items on cp heroes that need it and defensive items on anyone else. The biggest thing to me is to be a constant wave clearing nuisance so the enemy can’t chip at my turret, rather than going for kills, as top is so unsafe.

As you guys stated, it’s really important to be conservative with your cams in top, as you need them more than any other lane. If you see the enemy has a habit of checking the bushes near river, just plant one at your jungle and be safe. It helps much more to save them and just not explore as much, than it does to try to push into anyone’s jungle and risk running out of cams when you really need them. This depends on your hero somewhat anyway, as tankier heroes benefit a lot more from risky pushes into enemy jungle, if not to actually get anything, just to distract the enemy and race back to your safe zone.

The best thing top can do is force enemy players to come help try to take that lane as the distance and effort they have to make can open other lanes up to lead to easy wins, but the thing about top is you have to be good at defending it.

One wrong move and your top gets taken first, you’ve gotta expend a lot of energy trying to make headway, and if the rest of your team has to help you defend it, it wastes valuable time for your teamates.

So in summary, just make sure you keep your minion waves clear and your turret protected until your teamates can make gains in other lanes, and only take the enemy turret if you can. Play defense as much as possible, and always keep cams on hand to cover you from jungle invades.

Another last tip is letting top fall if you need to. If you are struggling in top or see your ally struggling, sometimes it’s best to just let top go, at least first turret. It’s not worth the effort.

One thing I will add is if your first top turret gets taken, your primary goal is to take their first top lane turret, best through minions but if you have to be risky, sometimes it helps. The reasoning around this is that you do NOT want your second turret taken. Usually enemies will only take this out of opportunity, but if they make a concerted effort to take the second top turret, defend it at all costs -besides death-. This is because top is the easiest back door to your base and crystal -many access points from jungle- once your second turret is taken, and it’s not hard to take the second turret if multiple enemies are trying. This is why it’s so important to be good in top lane; once you start losing there, it drags down your whole team for the rest of the match, compared to other lanes, where you don’t have to travel as far to help.

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