I don’t care about hard counter match-ups. I don’t care about riot overbuffing everything. I don’t care about champions having too much in their kits. I don’t care about bruises, tanks, assassins, ad carries, mages, supports, and all of their sub-classes respectively. I don’t care about summoner spell diversity lacking. I don’t care about keystones brings disproportionately favorable to offense. I don’t care about the entire inspiration tree in general. I have gotten to a point where I accept these things for what they are, because I have a choice: enjoy the game or don’t enjoy the game. If I wish to enjoy it, I need to put up with the downsides....
Because: I enjoy playing top lane. I enjoy playing my small handful of champions I enjoy. I enjoy playing with my friends whenever I can. I enjoy the good games that come around when they do. I enjoy the rush of competition I’m still able to get at the tender age of 31. I very much enjoy playing against an equally skilled or even more skilled top laner, because the challenge is a thrill to me. I like thinking about creative ways to win lanes, survive lanes, or all out just be functional and whatever that results in, it results in - even the uncertainty can be thrilling. I enjoy the champion interactions, and though I am not nearly as invested in lore as I once was, I still enjoy those dynamics of the game that I’m familiar with.
But, after all these years, I have one great frustration. It persists through every season, and since I am a top laner you can probably guess where I’m headed. Understand that I’m not attacking this playerbase, because your frustration very well may be greater than mine.
What am I still greatly frustrated about? The importance to d the jungler. The higher that you climb, the more it matters. And again, junglers, I am not attacking you guys. I have to imagine the idea of needing to gank non-stop is probably a great frustration for you, too - after all, clearing is a breeze for most champions. Then you have nothing to do but gank, and that’s what frustrates me as a solo laner.
It’s not even about my jungler being incompetent (or me being incompetent for that matter). My jungler could do everything right and still lose because the other jungler did everything slightly more right or simply played the better champion. And while the difference in performance may have been marginal, the results are anything but. That’s because once a jungler gets one gank off, it becomes easier and easier to get more off. And they are incentivized to play like this, because there really isn’t anything to punish them if they don’t. They can always go back and clear, and often times they may have already cleared and simply have nothing better to do. And it doesn’t matter where you are: under tower, in the middle of the lane, overextended - you can be ganked just about anywhere at anytime. And this is, in my estimation, the single greatest frustration of most laners.
Let me pull back a little though: I am not suggesting the role be removed. I understand that the jungler in solo queue will always be the most important role. Ganking will always be a part of the game. However, laners have very little tools now to combat this and junglers are encouraged to gank because of how rather meaningless farming can be. As a laner, I have limited wards. Yes pinks exist, but that is a luxury that you often can not afford. And when you do have them, junglers are overloaded with ways to creep through terrain, stealth, jump around vision spots or just flat out run you down even when you see them coming. There’s a popular saying in solo queue: the better jungler wins. And that’s true, though the sentiment may not necessarily be - a jungler that is actually more skilled could lose because of one simple botched play.
What I want, what I would dream for that is, would be for the jungler role to be significantly reduced. That is, encourage farming early so laners can actually get on their feet. God help you if the jungler starts on your side of the map in top lane - you can’t play the game for the first 3 minutes. Most junglers used to spike really hard at 6, so that gave a lot of champions some time to get their feet wet before a jungler could live in a lane without punishment (and back in past seasons, that would’ve been a bad strategy). Can we please have a feature where jungler camps are reduced in EXP, but they respawn much faster early and slowly but surely respond slower over the the course of the game. This does two important things: it prevents afk clearing junglers scaling for free (I mean, the camps will just stop spawning at some point so you’ll hit a wall where you can’t just farm if you want to continue scaling), while simultaneously punishing junglers really hard for attempting to gank a lot early (they don’t get a whole level off of one camp to make up for lost time, for example). If they want to stay up in levels, they need to farm some. This makes it necessary for junglers to selectively choose when and where to gank rather than just say “ah fuck it, I’m gonna piss top off - he looks like the kind of guy that punches toads.”
I realize this comes with some problems, but please...something has to change. This is maddening, and it makes the game super unfun for most people when you have an even marginal difference in junglers.