The top lane pool for the 2022 LCS season is similar to that of 2021, but the changes, while few in number, are quite significant. Star top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris has left Team Liquid to return to the LEC to play for Team Vitality, Thomas "Jenkins" Trans was signed as Counter Logic Gaming's new starting top laner after impressing as an alternate for Alphari, and Cloud9 top laner Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami has vacated the role entirely to play mid lane in 2022.
Whether these players will thrive in their new environments will have to wait to be seen, but with new faces joining the LCS and familiar faces reprising their roles from last season, it's undeniable that the competition for the title of best LCS top laner will be fierce.
Here are Inven Global's rankings of the best top laners competing in the 2022 LCS season.
5: Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon — TSM
Huni will be reprising his role of TSM's starting top laner for the second season in a row, which marks the first time in his career that he will be on the same team for two straight years. In 2021, Huni impressed his doubters by showcasing surprisingly strong weak-side play early on in the season before becoming TSM's primary carry in a more top-centric meta down the stretch.
Huni proved his versatility in 2021, but TSM's 2022 roster may need more of the traditional carry style from the South Korean star. Huni's talent and ability to carry is undeniable, but his one-dimensional tendency to push heavily during the laning phase, even after falling behind early, could be heavily exploited if TSM isn't able to establish a reliable secondary carry laner in either rookie mid laner Zhu "Keaiduo" Xiong or AD carry Edward "Tactical" Ra.
4: Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho — 100 Thieves
Despite winning his first LCS title in five years last summer, Ssumday had arguably his worst individual North American season in 2021. Ssumday's play was far from poor, but it was not the best-in-class, oftentimes otherworldy form that had come to be expected from him since joining 100 Thieves in 2018. Still, Ssumday was more than enough to lift the LCS trophy as part of a supercharged 100 Thieves roster and is retaining his starting role with the organization 2022.
Only time will tell whether Ssumday's 2021 was indicative of a further decline or an anomaly, but with former 100 Thieves Academy top laner Milan "Tenacity" Oleksi joining the LCS roster as their sixth man, it's clear that 100 Thieves has their sights set on the future of the top lane role while retaining the same players in every starting position. Ssumday could have plenty left in the tank, but a potential platoon situation and continued decline from the veteran bar him from ranking higher.
3: Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau — Team Liquid
After a rollercoaster of a 2021 season, Bwipo is on a new adventure for 2022. The longtime Fnatic top laner roleswapped to jungle before the start of the 2021 LEC Summer Split, and while the results of the team improved and a Worlds 2021 appearance capped off the year, Bwipo has opted to return to the top lane across the Atlantic Ocean with Team Liquid.
Bwipo had a rough first half of 2021 as a top laner compared to his expected level of play, but the dysfunction present in Fnatic throughout the year may be more to blame than his individual ability. Still, adjusting to a new region while roleswapping once again may be a new obstacle for Bwipo as he returns to familiarity on a star-studded TL roster.
A Bwipo who thrived as a top laner in 2021 arguably tops this list, but after sixth months of jungling and a tough spring 2021, the Bwipo we have is still a top 3 top laner coming into LCS 2022. Whether he will climb higher than that will have to be seen in the coming weeks.
2: Jeong "Impact" Eon-young — Evil Geniuses
Impact missed the 2021 League of Legends World Championship for the first time since 2015, but individually, last year could be argued as his strongest performance in seven LCS seasons. Impact continued his rock solid weak side play that he made his trademark on Team Liquid from 2018-2020, but EG's aggressive playstyle allowed Impact to show he had plenty of steam left as a carry threat, particularly in the 2021 LCS Summer Split where Impact was a big name in the MVP conversation.
Due to Alphari's period of absence in the middle of the season, it could be argued that Impact was the best top laner in North America in 2021 despite missing Worlds altogether. He certainly has the potential to retain that status in 2022, but to do so, his familiarity will have to be a superior strength to the absurd talent of a new face in the LCS this season.
1: Park "Summit" Woo-tae — Cloud9
Summit has the most individual talent of any top laner in the 2022 LCS, and in context of mechanics, it may not even be close. As a member of an up-and-down Liiv SANDBOX, Summit's statistics weren't exactly eye-popping, but if the top laner can retain the same individual level of play he was able to showcase regardless of his team's form, he should have no issue establishing himself as the best top laner in the LCS this season.
However, the question is whether Summit will be able to make that transition seamlessly. He will be joining a team outside of South Korea for the first time, and while Cloud9 has a coaching staff well-prepared for a mixed-language roster, that doesn't account for the personal adjustments Summit will have to make in living for the US for the first time.
Summit has a fair amount of competitive experience under his belt, but an adjustment period to familiarize himself with his new environment and his new opponents would be an entirely reasonable need. This is also exacerbated by the fact that Summit will miss the LCS Lock-in due to visa issues.
Impact and Ssumday have garnered praise for being the rare case of a South Korean import becoming arguably better or at least remaining as good as their early years in the LCK. If Summit wants to build a legend similar to Impact and Ssumday for himself, surpassing them would be one hell of a way to start.