Top Lane Strategies and Champion discussion with Crumbzz



Mon 24th Sep 2012 - 5:57pm

I sat down with Alberto 'Crumbzz' Rengifo to talk about playing top lane, and to cover some of the most popular champions. He covers some basics and more in-depth insight on how to play these champions and why they are so strong. Crumbzz is currently playing top lane for Team Dignitas. 


Top lane has some of the most variety in the game. What champions should a player focus on to be the most effective and efficient?

Crumbzz: Top lane focuses on 3 main types of champions -- Initiators, bruisers and mages. There are assassins and other kinds but these 3 are the main focus. Having a wide selection of champions it the key to mastering top lane. The most important champions from those 3 groups would have to be Malphite, Irelia and Vladimir, learn those three and you are already ready for some top lane games.


How difficult is top lane in comparison to other roles? Why?

Crumbzz: Top lane is quite difficult, it is the longest lane in the game (as is bottom) but it has no ward coverage from the support and it has no one to help you. It is a separate game up there. This lane and its champion pool leads to hyper aggression and with it being the easiest lane in the game to gank it can create a warzone. You need to have superb map awareness and predict the enemy jungler to survive in top lane.


When is the best time to roam?

Crumbzz: You want to roam when your wave is pushed, making sure that there are more creeps in your favor, that way the enemy top lane has to stay top as well to farm that wave, or miss out on a lot of experience. This way you can always guarantee a one man advantage when roaming.

When should you choose Teleport and what’s the best way to use it?

Crumbzz: You want to take teleport to apply pressure in other lanes or to 2v1. The fear of you teleporting behind an enemy, for a gank or for dragon is a powerful thing. If you are laning against a weak laner that you need to kill to keep down such as Vlad you should probably not take teleport. Same goes if you are laning versus a champion with high healing or regeneration -- having teleport will make killing him incredibly hard, for example a Singed.


How can you help your jungler set up a gank?

Crumbzz: You want to either bait your opponent to go aggressive and have him extended more and/or use cool downs so that he is more vulnerable and further from his tower. That, or coordinate with your jungle to go hard and simply use summoners and fancy moves such as double flash ganks out of nowhere to catch your opponent off guard and secure a kill.





We’ve seen a lot of Rumble play lately, especially from you. What’s caused his dramatic increase in play?

Crumbzz: Rumble is a very strong mage, with high burst, sustain damage, mobility, cc, a massive range ultimate and being manaless, makes him one of the best top lane ap's in the game. Especially once the magic penetration stack build became popular, this paved way for Rumble to be the best top laners for a while, and still is arguably. He snowballs incredibly hard which makes him an opponent to fear. But he does have his weaknesses and is also not the easiest champion to play. I think he's fallen off with the nerf of abyssal scepter as well as the drastic increase in Irelia players improving their mechanics.


Who matches up best against him and why?

Crumbzz: Irelia would be the best against Rumble. But then again Irelia is the best versus almost anything. She has sustain which he does not. She can guarantee a stun almost every time since Rumble will usually be the one to initiate the 1st damage dealt through flamespitter. The key to beating rumble's aggression is with more aggression. If you let him harass you without consequences, he will face roll the game.


How do you use his ultimate effectively?

Crumbzz: You don't want to engage with Rumble's ultimate. It’s not an actual CC and should be used for damage purposes. You must 1st learn to smart cast it to use it quickly. Once your team has used a CC to keep the enemy in place for a good amount of time, or when you see the enemy formation solidify in an engage, use the ultimate to damage them in said formation, forcing them to split up and damaging them as well as breaking their team composition apart.


We’ve seen you go for early spell penetration on him very early. Why this build instead of the traditional Hextech Revolver?

Crumbzz: The idea behind rushing magic penetration is that the enemy has low amounts of magic resist early in the game, and with the high base values on rumble's skills, you can maximize your damage this way, instead of building flat ap and losing some of your damage to conversion of ap ratios. Magic penetration makes for a more aggressive lane since it increases your damage and adds no sustain. This increases the pace of the lane and the game.



I’ve heard you say that Irelia is one of the strongest if not the best top lane champion. Why? Do you still stand by that?

Crumbzz: Irelia is a champion that has it all. Sustain, CC, burst, mobility and end game scaling as well as being strong in every phase of the game, and is very skill reliant. She deals massive amounts of burst damage which is very hard to itemize against because a majority of it is true damage. This makes surviving her burst a difficult task because she also possesses large amounts of physical damage. She also forces the ad carry to take cleanse or to die to you, and her teamfight is quite strong due to her cc reducing passive.


What’s the best to max after W?

Crumbzz: You max E second, it increases the stun duration and is magic damage, this further amplifies your types of damage since the enemy you are laning against will most likely have high armor values or buy armor items.


Most builds on her suggest rushing Trinity Force into Guardian’s Angel. Do you agree? What after that?

Crumbzz: That build is quite strong, with the faster pace of games it makes your middle game very powerful since you will have two lives and will be able to tank to great lengths. After those two items it is all situational. If your team has enough damage you can choose to go a more tank oriented build with Warmogs and Randuins and items of the like.

Although I prefer items with actives over Warmogs. Typically if you are going against a team with a large amount of magic damage. you want to have Wit's End or Maw of Malmortius, if not both. These two are great damage items, although Bloodthirster and Last Whisper are great options too, they do not offer any defensive bonuses, so be careful when opting for these item choices.



Why is he banned so often in competitive play, and why is he usually top lane instead of mid?

Crumbzz: Vlad is one of the champions that will always be banned and picked. He has sustain in lane, is not too item reliant but with items is a monster. he is difficult to gank, and encourages aggressive play from the enemy laner, because if you just let Vladimir harass you endlessly you will lose the game. He is also hard to gank, hard to kill in some scenarios and a beast in teamfights with a 12% damage amplifier which is an enormous amount, especially if it hits an entire team.

You usually see Vladimir top because he can lane versus most bruisers, as well as abuse his pool to escape ganks. Putting him top allows you to have another AP in the game with even more magic damage, combine that other AP with Vladimir’s damage amplification skill and you are looking at massive amounts of AOE damage. Perfect for team fights.


After leveling his Q, what ability should be maxed next?

Crumbzz: You want to max your E second always, this is your other damage skill and wave clear, it is crucial to level this skill second, with one point in pool at either level 2, 3, or 4.


How can you avoid getting shut down in his earlier weaker levels against a champion who is stronger?

Crumbzz: You are not that weak early game, you want to use your spells to harass and not to farm, you can also fend your enemy off with a use of Ignite, that should make him think twice about fighting you early on. Normally you want some good jungle presence until you can defend yourself all the time.



What’s a good skill order for him?

Crumbzz: If you picked Malphite correctly and are against a bruiser, you will max your Ground Slam 1st always. This will make laning a breeze as well as team fights. Always R>E>Q>W -- If you are versus a mage you may need to prioritize your Q over E, since its longer range and does more damage.


Is he stronger as a jungler or in top lane? Why?

Crumbzz: He is strong in both roles, when you pick Malphite you don't look to him for any particular strength aside from his impeccable initiate and start fights, his attack speed debuff is a little extra on the side.



Recently there’s been a huge spike in Jayce play. What are your thoughts on him?

Crumbzz: Jayce is quite overpowered in the right hands and with the correct build. He has a long range high damage poke, great mobility, a 20% damage dealing skill. CC, makes his team move faster, low cooldowns and no mana costs. He is the dream of those who enjoy playing less tanky and more utility/damage based bruisers.


Do you have plans to use him in competitive play?

Crumbzz: Time will tell.




What are your thoughts on Darius?

Crumbzz: Darius is a cleanup crew in one. He has a great laning phase one and one, massive snowball potential and an ability to bounce back like no other. He has great burst but versus some teams he is just worthless. Darius is viable but only versus those who do not know the ins and outs of the matchup.


What’s his role in team fights?

Crumbzz: In teamfights he should go for the carries if possible, if not just kill the targets that are at low health, no matter who, if you get a reset on his ultimate then you are doing it right.



Why is he such a common pick in competitive play?

Crumbzz: Olaf just stands the test of CC like no other. He can melt tanks and is affected the least out of any bruiser by armor items since he deals huge true damage. Versus hard engage teams he is king because if your team can avoid getting killed immediately then he will walk all over the enemy. He is best versus enemies with medium to high cooldown CC's or, CC's that they need to survive, such as Malphite and Twisted Fate.


Is a GP/10 build always optimal?

Crumbzz: For the most part it is. The GP/10’s are converted into the active items which are quite good on Olaf because of the cooldown reduction and the increase in his ability to train AD carries with those two items. In lanes that are hyper aggressive you want more items for the laning phase only such as Doran’s shields, blades and Hexdrinkers.



Besides his ultimate, how can you be useful in a team fight?

Crumbzz: He offers minor CC's and can block skill shots. Other than that, unless he has aura items, he is pretty useless in a teamfight unless he is fed and can get to a valuable target and attack him.


What are your thoughts on lane switches with Yorick 2v1?

Crumbzz: They are good, but the goal with that is to do it versus an enemy which needs items and is expected to do a lot in a teamfight, the idea is to lower the items for both 1v2 lanes and yorick to come out on top since all he needs to do is use his ultimate, unlike the enemy who is getting 2v1ed.




In your stream you’ve said that Shen is one of the weakest champions in solo queue, why?

Crumbzz: Shen is a champion that requires an incredible amount of teamwork. A common mistake is using his ultimate for defensive purposes only. This does not do anything but correct the mistakes your team makes and save lives, but you will most likely not gain anything out of it. You want to use his ultimate for ganks everywhere, hyper aggression. Solo queue just doesn't have everyone on the same page to do that. This leads to his entire kit being used in an incorrect fashion.



Why don’t we see him much in top lane anymore?

Crumbzz: The best thing he had top lane was his range, this allowed him to harass like a madman without being in danger of getting jumped on by a bruiser. Now, his range got nerfed and he is always in danger.


Can he still be competitive?

Crumbzz: I don't think we will ever see Kennen again until he gets buffed.



What are your thoughts on Rengar?

Crumbzz: Rengar is Irelia on crack. He is restricted from s2 finals for that reason I think, not because of his recent addition to League of Legends.


Thoughts on AP Rengar?

Crumbzz: AP Rengar got nerfed but is still decent, he is out shined by AD Rengar much more since with AP Rengar. The enemy is able to flash out of your 2nd W which would save them, and you would just be in the middle of a fight, vulnerable and squishy.


Will we see him in tournaments?

Crumbzz: We will see him after s2 finals everywhere.


What underplayed champions do you think are currently the strongest?

Crumbzz: Hecarim and Wukong, their ultimates in a teamfight just scream destruction.


Thanks for your time! Any final shout outs?

Crumbzz: I'd like to thank Team Dignitas and all their sponsors as well as my fans. Even though I have been out of contact for a month now they still stick by my side.