As the 2017 World Championships have come into fruition, the Play-In stages have given us a few insights as to how exactly the picks and bans will shape up for the later stages of the tournament. Many different champions that everyone has suspected to crop up have, but one that has been a particular sight to see is Galio in the top lane. Featuring both the highest presence and the highest win rate of all top laners so far, Galio has been a stable presence that has seemingly moved his viability to the upper parts of Summoner’s Rift.
Galio has seen a resurgence in the top lane in part through his ability to lane against other tanks with ease. As Lucian and control mages make Galio’s life difficult in mid lane, Galio can scale more easily in the top lane against picks such as Maokai, Cho’Gath or Shen, who don’t have kill pressure on him unless he misplays horribly. This is best demonstrated in the lane phase of Young Generation’s Galio versus Fnatic’s Cho’Gath.
Coupled with this is Galio’s ability to have greater global presence than most. In the current top lane meta, only Shen can match him with him own global ultimate. This allows Galio to swoop in and affect other lanes much more readily than most. The crowd control available to Galio is also immense and greater than most other options, save Maokai.
Galio wave clear sets him apart from all these other picks. His Q, E and passive give him access to what is easily the least mana-intensive, least item-reliant wave clear of any meta champion in the top lane. That, in combination with his affinity for all the above aspects makes him probably the most versatile top laner available.
For team and players, it’s also easier to execute tanks in a team setting. And, in this meta, tanks can most comfortably gain farm and experience to outscale carries in the early game in the top lane. This is because jungle experience is gated and many kill threats exist in the mid lane, as mentioned previously. As tanks scale earlier than carries if even or ahead, and can get ahead more easily through earlier access to crowd control, picks such as Galio can actually allow teams to completely snowball the game quicker through proactivity and dives.
Galio's ultimate gives flat damage reduction on cast, and new builds have focused on his own ability to tank rather than relying on high base and percent damage. As he doesn't have that anymore, his kill pressure is muted, so top lane is more appropriate as he can provide crowd control for aggressive junglers and roaming mids. In combination with Righteous Glory and Abyssal Mask, Galio can give his team added utility beyond his skills. Like the more off meta Galio support, Galio in the top lane also frees up the mid lane to be a heavy damage carry.
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.