How to Play Vayne Top Lane in League of Legends and Win
Why has Vayne top lane been a thing for the better part of a decade now, and why is it worth learning? In this guide, we’re going to cover all of that and more, because Vayne top lane is a powerful choice for solo queue and can easily win games without much more than knowing how to play Vayne in general!
What makes Vayne top an exceptional pick is that she has more control over her lane and how she wants to progress into the mid and late-game, while simultaneously taking advantage of a good matchup. Because let’s face it, if Vayne is going top, she is likely going to be in a good matchup!
Since the majority of meta top laners are melee, they will struggle to gain lane priority against a Vayne without dedicated jungle assistance or the Vayne truly messing up big time! Enjoy your higher win rate.
Having Vayne start in the top lane instead of the bot lane will help her progress into her late-game hyper-carry image that players have in their minds when they see a Vayne locked in on the enemy team. The solo lane experience allows her to get levels faster, and the ranged against melee matchup means that Vayne actually has winning lanes when she’s in top lane.
The biggest reason however is that she is easily punished as an AD carry throughout the early game when played in bot lane. Because of her low range in comparison to most other Marksmen and Support, she is easily poked and zoned.
Yet, instead, when paired against tanks and bruisers in the top lane, her true damage and growing attack speed essentially ignore the stats that make the Champions powerful throughout the game! In this case, you often have the range advantage.
One of the tricky things about playing Vayne top is that a lot of the thinking involved happens before the game even starts! Vayne top has so many options for how she can strategize. Yet, unfortunately, it pretty much needs to be decided in Champion Select.
The Summoner Spells and Runes are generally pretty straightforward. Tough, to get the most value from them, you should already know how you want to play out the game. With that in mind, let’s go over her primary options.
The most common, and best all-around option for Summoner Spells is Flash and Ghost. Since Vayne is a ranged Champion and will be picked predominantly as a counter, she should nearly always have priority over the lane.
As a result, Vayne should be looking to hold a freeze throughout the laning phase. The combination of Flash and Ghost allows Vayne to have insane mobility throughout the game, but just in the early game using Ghost in such a long lane can pretty much guarantee a kill every three and a half minutes!
The other common option to assert your dominance over the lane is Ignite. While this is a good option for early dominance, it’s not as useful in the late game. For players that really lack the ability to gain advantages through wave manipulation, freezing and Ghosting to chase down the enemy for the kill is not so easy. Instead, Ignite can be a viable alternative for that early game potency.
The final option that is still relatively common is Flash and Teleport. When Vayne finds herself in a particularly lackluster matchup where she will need to match split push and likely rotate for teamfights, Teleport can have value.
However, when picking Vayne top, there needs to be forethought to know when a team fight-oriented playstyle is more appropriate than a split pushing playstyle. Picking teleport is basically putting yourself somewhere in the middle, which is generally not advisable.
Before moving onto the Runes, we can quickly highlight some situation Summoner Spells for very specific vayne counters that you may feel necessary. If Vayne is picked against a matchup that has unavoidable crowd control and the enemy team has overwhelming crowd control, Cleanse is worth considering. Additionally, if Vayne is against a matchup that is damage-heavy, and the enemy team has several assassins, Exhaust is a good option. It helps you clear some space solo or in team fights when jumped on.
Moving on to the rune sets for top lane Vayne. There is clearly a top priority choice, with two other less appropriate options for specific circumstances. The keystone that is going to be the best all-around option is Lethal Tempo.
The less appropriate option that sometimes has value is Press the Attack. Press the Attack is only a good option against ranged matchups or when only short trades are valuable in the lane. Jax and Camille are two examples where short trades are ideal because you can bait out Jax’s Counter Strike just by auto-attacking twice, and with Camille you want to avoid overaggression.
The last option that is minimally acceptable is Fleet Footwork. The problem with Fleet Footwork on Vayne top is that it’s nearly impossible to tell when it will be valuable until you are already in the game! The best piece of advice is to consider it when there’s an awkward matchup and you have a clear hyper carry Marksman with several supportive Champions that can keep them alive and almost guarantee they carry. In this situation though, it’s just better to pick a different Champion that will have more value, but obviously, that’s not always an option.
Regardless of the keystone chosen, the best options in the Precision tree are Triumph, Legend: Alacrity, and then either Cut Down or Last Stand. The rule of thumb here is to take Cut Down against a tankier matchup and enemy team, and Last Stand against a squishier matchup with more damage-heavy team compositions.
For the secondary tree, the two main choices are Domination with Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter, or Sorcery with Nimbus Cloak and Celerity. Clearly, the Domination tree is for more damage and sustain, whereas Sorcery is for more utility and maneuverability. The last odd-ball option for very few situations is the Resolve tree, however, the two choices are completely dependent on the situation. Now let’s start talking about what to do once you’re in the game!
Well, we aren’t onto the gameplay yet, unfortunately! First, we need to talk about the Vayne build options because as a Vayne top player, you should know exactly what you’re building for your first two to three items from the start of the game just based on both team’s compositions.
Let’s start simple with the first item options. The three options to start the game with are Doran’s Blade and a potion, Long Sword and a Refillable Potion, or Cull and a potion. The main questions to consider are the following:
Is your opponent any risk to you without a gank and/or you poorly playing your lane? If not, start with the Doran’s Blade. If yes, is your opponent a risk to you because of their heavy damage and gap-close, or because of their gank setup and risks for being chased down or dove under your tower?
If they have inherent damage concerns, then start the Long Sword with Refillable Potion.
If they just have gank setup and the enemy jungler is frightening, start with the Cull. It’s worth noting that the Cull start is considered greedy, however, it should be coupled with the mindset that you’re just trying to focus on controlling the wave to prevent a dive, and scaling to a mid-game power spike. Cull should also be paired with Cut Down so the increased damage will still make your trades in lane notable.
Moving onto the Mythic Items. There are three options worth considering, Immortal Shieldbow, Kraken Slayer, and Trinity Force. If your role on your team is to be a split push threat, then Trinity Force is the main option because you’ll want to also build Hullbreaker.
Otherwise, if you are more so a hedge to your bot lane carry and need more sustainability and survivability, Immortal Shieldbow is fantastic. Lastly, if you just need more damage against enemy champions, Kraken Slayer will work well.
So, when you have your desired Mythic Item in mind, what’s the core build? For Trinity Force, it’s Hullbreaker, Berserker’s Greaves/Plated Steelcaps, Trinity Force, and Sterak’s Gage. This three-item combination makes you a potent Champion when left alone in the side lane because of the insane damage to turrets and enemies, and the survivability you have in Hullbreaker and Sterak’s Gage!
When aiming for Immortal Shieldbow, Vayne should start with Blade of the Ruined King, Berserker’s Greaves, Immortal Shieldbow, Guinsoo’s Rageblade. The three item combination makes for one-of-a-kind on-hit damage that no tank can withstand and also makes her sustain insanely high!
The final option is to start Blade of the Ruined King, Berserker’s Greaves, Kraken Slayer, Phantom Dancer/Guinsoo’s Rageblade. The option is there for Phantom Dancer or Guinsoo’s Rageblade depending on how the game has progressed to that point. If Vayne needs more critical strike damage and movement speed (i.e. kiting potential), Phantom Dancer is perfect. Otherwise, against tankier opponents where the on-hit value combines with the critical strike damage for insane tank shredding, that’s the better option.
In terms of the optional items from then on, there are a variety of combinations that can work optimally. In short, against heavy magic damage, there’s Force of Nature, Wit’s End, and Maw of Malmortius for each of the builds respectively. Against heavy attack damage, the main options are Guardian Angel, Randuin’s Omen, or Frozen Heart.
The other traditional Marksmen options for standard situations like Mercurial Scimitar, Infinity Edge, and Bloodthirster still apply. Yet, if you want to learn how to play Vayne top with a split push strategy, some reliable options to consider are Death’s Dance and Anathema’s Chains! Alright, let’s start talking about how to actually play Vayne in the top lane.
Regardless of your rune setup, first items, and summoner spells, the laning phase premise is simple. Get as many minions as possible, while trying to keep the minions colliding on your half of the lane. If you can manage to do that, try to take advantage of auto attacking the enemy Champion as they move to last hit a minion and slowly whittle them down.
Eventually, you can commit to the kill either when the enemy jungler is seen elsewhere and you can kill them yourself, or when your jungler is ready to gank you. Otherwise, you should be perfectly content continually punishing them for each last hit and essentially minimizing their gold income in the laning phase while maximizing yours!
In terms of trading patterns to use, the most undervalued is literally just a single auto attack! Consistently getting in an auto-attack when appropriate is going to lead to no retaliation and essentially net you a free trade. Keep aiming for that, and if the enemy is overaggressive, you can commit to two auto attacks with a follow-up Tumble into a third auto attack for a burst of damage as the Silver Bolts proc!
Just make sure you don’t get carried away when you Tumble forward and get baited into a trap. Luckily, if you do, Condemn is a pretty reliable tool to escape most situations you encounter. Aside from that, you’ll just want to keep the wave on your side of the map, and when the enemy recalls or roams in an effort to gather gold some other way, push to the enemy turret for a plate, or if there isn’t enough time to do that safely, then just recall to match theirs!
The mid and late game for Vayne top can be grouped together because they are quite similar. The main difference is that Vayne is just that much better at whatever she wants to do in the late game!
Ultimately, your goal should be to commit to the role you’re providing your team. If you’re the main source of damage, of course you’ll need to group with them and look for team fights and avoid getting flanked or caught out in fights.
Otherwise, if you’re playing the Hullbreaker-Trinity Force option, you’re basically just permanently away from your team and forcing the enemy team to send multiple players to deal with you to alleviate some pressure off your teammates elsewhere on the map! Especially when you’ve got Hullbreaker, you don’t want to be with your team all the time! Just sit in the side lane and destroy their turrets and any challenger that approaches to stop you!
In the late game, if you have built her kit correctly, your high attack speed, crit damage, and silver bolts damage will shred any and all opponents. Just make sure to not get hard cc'd in team fights, or you'll be done for.
Overall, Vayne top is an incredibly versatile and powerful solo queue pick that is truly a masterpiece for counter picking most top-lane Champions. While she is certainly an option for picking blind because she is clearly a flex pick, this will not let you pick your matchup and your enemies might be onto you!
Regardless, Vayne should be able to get through whatever strategy the enemy comes up with to suppress her scaling with a good pilot! So, make sure you take the time to understand both how Vayne works, and how top works and enjoy the LP! We hope you have enjoyed our complete guide on how to play Vayne in the top lane. If you'd like to dig into the staregy of some other gream LoL champions, check out our advanced guides on how to play Sett as a brawler and how to dominate the jungle as Nocturne.
Images Courtesy of Riot Games.