The 10th League of Legends World Championship starts Friday in Shanghai, and with it the best players in the world will showcase their skills. We've come up with lists of who we think are the top five players at each position on the Rift -- top lane, jungle, mid lane, AD carry and support -- and today we're taking a closer look at top laners.
Zhang "Zoom" Xing-Ran (JD Gaming)
Due to the prowess of JD Gaming jungler Seo "Kanavi" Jin-hyeok, Zoom was frequently overlooked as a crucial member of JDG until he returned from quarantine and the team went on a win streak that took them all the way to a spring LPL title. Zoom's more recent summer statistics aren't as impressive as his other LPL top lane counterparts on this list, so even after watching his impressive teamfight micro, it's difficult to quantify just how good Zoom is at League of Legends, and he is very good at the game. It has been a long time since League has had a top laner who can do so much for his team on tanks (specifically Ornn), which has led to some assuming Zoom can't play more carry-oriented picks. His play throughout the playoffs has hopefully helped dispel this impression. He can play whatever JDG needs him to play to win.
-- Emily Rand
Bai "369" Jia-Hao (Top Esports)
Outside of having a gamertag that reminds Western viewers of a line from Lil Jon's "Get Low" and a strong debut performance in last year's Demacia Cup, 369 has remained relatively unknown outside of the LPL until recently. During the Mid-Season Cup in May, he finally got a chance to impress viewers outside of China by being on an international stage. Unlike Zoom, 369's laning prowess is evident from his statistics during the summer split, when he was first among all LPL tops in experience differential at 10 minutes (229) and second in both CS differential at 10 minutes (8.5) and CS per minute (8.4).
Jang "Nuguri'' Ha-gwon (DAMWON Gaming)
In a league that has become famous over the years for producing stable, all-around top laners, Nuguri has been a special talent in South Korea's LCK since becoming a pro at the beginning of 2019.
While a majority of his contemporaries were playing Ornn throughout the year, Nuguri has only played the mage-assassin-bruiser-burst-tank four times the entire calendar year. He has vastly preferred champions he can gain early leads on and break the opposition by split-pushing in a solo lane. He's one of the leaders in the region when it comes to solo kills. How much is Nuguri's game about going on the offensive? He produced the highest damage-per-minute average (571) among top laners in South Korea this summer by a wide margin -- almost 100 points more than the runner-up -- which puts him No. 4 overall in the region, only behind three AD carry players.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Martin "Wunder" Hansen (G2 Esports)
Wunder returns to worlds after a finals appearance in 2019. While G2's back-to-back LEC championships might not show it, it has been a more difficult year for the best team in Europe. The team experimented with a role swap between mid laner Rasmus "Caps" Winther and Luka "Perkz" Perković but failed. Then Perkz's father died, which led to him taking a leave of absence, and G2 struggled to find an identity while Perkz and jungler Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski failed to perform at the same level as last year.
Wunder has been a constant in their success. He has shown all season that he is a cut above the rest of the top laners in the region. Wunder has picked up some of the carry boots on G2 -- playing champions like Jayce, Lilia, Vladimir, Kayle and Akali -- but also experimented with more supportive top lane champions. Along the way Wunder made it clear he's the second-best player in all of Europe, behind just Caps in that regard, and one of the best top laners in the world.
-- Jacob Wolf
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Chen "Bin" Ze-Bin (Suning)
Top lane is a bit of an odd position to rank at this year's worlds, and it will be interesting to see if there's a meta shift, especially if bot-lane meta rumors are true. It will be a particularly interesting test for Suning top laner Bin since his champion pool hasn't been tested as much as his LPL counterparts. Bin is a bit reminiscent of where 369 was at this time last year. While watching Bin in the LPL regional finals, one of my friends over voice chat coined "the duality of Bin," which means that sometimes Bin will execute amazing, mechanically stunning plays, and at other times he'll mistime a flank or initiation. Bin is a talented rookie top with a lot of promise, and worlds should offer him a stage to make a name for himself.