The "most-top-laner" top laner in the LCK would be Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon of DAMWON Gaming. Whoever watched last year’s Worlds would have seen Nuguri and his obsession with Kleptomancy. But Nuguri of today has changed a bit coming back this year and entering the Summer Split. After one of DWG's wins, Nuguri joined Inven for a video interview to discuss what he thinks of the top lane.
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When do you feel proud as a top laner?
When we get the Rift Herald due to my performance or when I make a "tasty" situation for the jungler and he gets the kill. Or when I have a good laning phase and we have a teleport difference. In that case, if we benefit from my performance, I feel good.
What hurts your pride the most then?
Exactly the opposite of what I just described. [Laughs] When the enemy top did all of that.
What bothers you the most during solo queue as a top laner?
Communication is lacking in solo queue and when I get ganked or roamed it gets on my nerves. But when I don't manage that situation well, that's the most annoying. If I die from a mid roam when there was no "mid MIA" ping. Especially when it's a critical death, I get a bit mad. If it's a minor death, there's not much difference, but if it's a big death, it's extremely inconvenient.
When do you dislike your jungler?
When... they don't move as I thought they would? When it feels stuffy.
If you describe "my team jungler" in one word?
One word? A random box? [Laughs]
What do you think of making the top lane into an island?
Then would we only be able to go there through Teleport? [Laughs] If it becomes an island, I think only champions like Rumble would appear. Pushing in the early game, using teleport to join the team. If we can't contribute to the Rift Herald or wards or anything, maybe champions like Kayle could be strong. I don't know.
I think only champions that are really strong or late game champions would be played. I'm not sure if it would be fun.
"Blaming the closest lane could make yourself feel at ease for a moment, but in the long run, you should avoid that, and look for what you did wrong."
What was the best patch as a top laner?
[Sigh] They patch the game so often. The most recent one that I liked was when they changed Blade of the Ruined King. I think that was a very big change for top lane.
What's the worst combination (Rune, Item, Champion) that you don't want to face in top lane?
Karma with Iceborn Gauntlet and Grasp of the undying is really annoying. Rumble is also very strong. If he buys a shield or something, it's really strong. And Renekton with a shield or a sword? These are the most pressure. The champions with strong laning and the ones that are hard to make variables against them, like Rumble or Renekton. They’re hard to gank as well.
When do you feel picking top lane was a good choice?
This could be embarrassing, but if I play other lanes... I really suck. When I see myself suck, I get to think I picked the correct lane.
What praise makes you feel good?
I like it the most when my teammates praise me. If I do well, my teammates go like, "Wow Nuguriiiiii!!!" and praise me a lot. That feels quite good. Especially when it's a situation in which I made a super play. Then, those reactions from my teammates feel really good.
Wouldn't it be a praise if the opponent swears at you?
Oh, that also feels good, but I like it better when my teammates praise me.
You know, when they hit the "survive pings" in situations I did well, in a positive way. That also feels good.
What's the mindset a top laner should have?
The ideal mindset… I think a top laner who knows how to look at the whole situation is a good one.
You mean, looking at the big picture is more important than winning 1v1?
Oh, yeah winning 1v1 is also important, but as a top laner... I may have changed recently, but understanding the situation and playing through that is a good mindset to have as a top laner. That looks more attractive to me.
"If you learn to read the whole situation and find what you lack, I believe you can become a good top laner."
What should you do when you meet a top lane that's way better than you?
If there’s nothing you can do, watch the replay of that game, or search that person's nickname. If they're a good player, spectate them and learn how they play. It'll be good.
What's the mindset a top liner should avoid?
Blaming the jungle and mid. Blaming the closest lane could make yourself feel at ease for a moment, but in the long run, you should avoid that, and look for what you did wrong. Sometimes, it's inevitable as a top laner, but even in those situations, there's something you can do. It's more important to find that.
What mindset should "our team's junglers" have?
Junglers should always know what their laners are doing. I think junglers are always busy. They need to know the counters and if the laners create good gank conditions, they need to have the ability to see that right away.
A word to the top laner prospects?
The prospects? Ummm… There are some that picked top lane because of the "lunatic top" image. It’s alright to have that mindset, but as I said earlier, if you learn to read the whole situation and find what you lack, I believe you can become a good top laner. So... Fighting? I hope you keep Fighting! [Laughs]
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