Health Sustain Part 3: Top Lane Problems

Top laners

Health sustain in the top lane can result in some really imbalanced match ups, especially if you end up behind through jungle ganks. This was the lane that actually inspired this blog series after I played against a few Yoricks, Renektons and Vlads who made my day a living hell because I just couldn’t keep up with their healing and ultimately ended up zoned from the creeps.

Thankfully this doesn’t happen every match up, but there are quite a few that can prove problematic in the overall poke game that occurs potentially sapping additional potions every back just to keep yourself in a health enough position to CS/threaten the opposing laner.

As we stated before, sustain can come from:

  1. Sustain from your champion’s or allied champion’s kits
  2. Lifesteal or Spell Vamp from Quints or Masteries
  3. Lifesteal or Spell Vamp from items
  4. Health Potions
  5. Health Regeneration

Sustain from a champion’s kit can take many different forms. Some examples include Nasus’ lifesteal, Vlad’s Q or even Riven’s shield. We’ll discuss these later.

Lifesteal and spell vamp quints/masteries have their place in top lane but aren’t vastly common with many preferring the raw offensive power of AD/Armour Pen/AP. However if you end up in a match up against one of the more sustain heavy champions you might want to consider a switch to pick up some early sustain.

Much like sustain from quints or masteries there are some champions that take advantage of an early hextech revolver or vamp sceptre. Again, if you end up in a match up with a sustain imbalance these can help you stay in lane longer but do require you to hit the creeps/enemy champion in order for them to take effect.

Health potions are very much a staple of top lane, much like the jungle, and should be used as often as needed. They can be used as a replacement for sustain if you champion lacks it in other parts of your kit. I would personally advise 1-2 on every back if you intend to dominate the lane but use your judgement on how heavily your opponent is harassing.

Health regeneration is still a woefully underrated stat because you can’t really tell the difference between 10 hp5 and 20 hp5. We’ll look at the outliers to see if there’s anyone you should be overly weary off but it’s unlikely to be the deciding factor of sustain in a lane.

Meet the Champions

In the blue corner, weighing in at… yeah i’m just kidding. I’m trying to look at a broad spectrum of champions but many of them find a home in different lanes. If they are common picks top as well as mid, for example, then i’ll list them here. But i’m going to leave the Zeds and Kha’zix’s for the mid lane because while they can be played top, the list of champions that could potentially find a home here is far too large.


Shields come in many shapes and sizes but are primarily on the mana less champions. This makes tehm very powerful because you can use them on cooldown with few downsides. A trick when playing against a champion like Rumble or Riven who can use their shields to mitigate any harass is to attempt to bait the shield and then all-in them with heavy damage once the shield is down.

  • Lee Sin – Safeguard grants Lee Sin a shield for 40/80/120/160/200 + (80%AP). It requires 4 applications of the shield to equal a health potion worth of additional HP
  • RivenValor shields Riven for 70/100/130/160/190 + (100% Bonus AD). Requires just over 2 applications to mitigate a health potion worth of hp.
  • Rumble – Scrap Shield shields Rumble for 50/80/110/140/170 + (40% AP) or 62.5/100/136.5/175/212.5 (50% AP) if used while in the danger zone. Requires 3 applications at level 1 to mitigate a health potion worth of damage.
  • Shen – Feint shields Shen for 60/100/140/180/220 + (60%AP). Requires 2.5 applcations to mitigate a health potion worth of hp.
  • Udyr – Turtle Stance shields Udyr for 60/100/140/180/220 + (50% AP). Requires 2.5 applications to mitigate a health potion worth of hp.

The first thing I noticed when writing this list is how insane Riven’s level 1 shield is. It’s a full 30 better than Lee Sin’s level 1 safeguard but it doesn’t have strong base stat scaling. Rumble is in a similar boat, having equivalent scaling to Riven, but he is unlikely to build a significant quantity of AP to augment his shield like Riven does.

Also, of the 5 shields listed above, only 1 of them has a mana cost. Lee Sin’s and Shen’s have energy costs, while Rumble’s has a heat cost, but only Riven has a truly ‘free’ shield. However I would class them all as ‘spammable’ because they all have a low cost and relatively short cooldowns. They are all essential in lane if you want win trades so ensure you’re using them intelligently. Know your enemies damage potential.

Passive Healing

Passive healing usually comes from a champions passive ability but can also be a passive effect on an active ability, like the healing from Irelia’s Hinten Style. These effects tend not to be very large in the short term but this isn’t where these abilities shine. They tend to be small increments that build up over a longer time. I’ll try to compare their effect to a potion usage so you can attempt to justify when you’ll need additional potions to fight an enemy laner.

  • FioraDuelist regenerates 7 + champion level health over 6 seconds whenever she deals physical damage, stacks up to 4 times against champions. At level 1 it will take 19 applications of this passive to regenerate a health potion.
  • GarenPerseverance Regenerates 0.4% of his max hp every second if he’s not taken damage for 9 seconds, minion damage excluded. Garen has 551hp at level 1, so this passive provides him with 11hp5 at level one. It takes ~70 seconds to gain a health potion worth of health.
  • Irelia Hiten Style heals Irelia for 5/7/9/11/13 health every time Irelia auto attacks. Interestingly, a single level in this skill provides as much healing as a Doran’s Blade. It’ll take 30 auto attacks to regenerate a health potion worth of health.
  • NasusSoul Eater passive grants Nasus 14%/17%/20% life steal. Nasus needs to do 1071 damage that is affected by life steal to regain 1 health potion worth of health at level 1.

As I said in the previous articles about health regen (link at the bottom of the page) passive healing isn’t meant to be much in the short run but will add up to a lot over a large time period, such as the laning phase.

The passive healing for top lane is actually fairly strong. Fiora can double her passive health regen just by keeping her passive up when she hits level 3. If she can get it up to 4 stacks, by attacking the opposing laner, then she can get 32 health back over 6 seconds at level 1. That means you’d get a health potion worth of healing in just under 30 seconds!

Garen in lane is to stop his passive from allowing him to heal. If he’s out of combat for 9 seconds he gains 2% of his max health per 5! However good Garen players will know when to hang back to regenerate health and when to move in for last hits. If you can’t pressurise him to stop the healing then ensure you’re not missing CS while he’s being zoned.

Active Healing

Active sustain is, unsurprisingly, sustain that comes from the active use of abilities and can vary from bonus spell vamp to direct healing. Many champions in our list have active sustain as a key part of their kit and its one of the reasons they are so dominant in the laning phase. However this isn’t always the case and many use their active sustain as burst healing to help keep themselves alive during a gank or lane fight.

  • Gangplank – Remove Scurvy heals Gangplank for 80/150/220/290/360 + (100% AP). At level 2 this is equivalent to a health potion
  • IreliaHiten Style active heals Irelia for 10/14/18/22/26 per auto attack. Requires 15 auto attacks at level 1 to equal a health potion
  • Kayle – Divine Blessing heals Kayle for 60/105/150/195/240 + (35% AP)
  • Lee SinIron Will provides Lee Sin with 5/10/15/20/25% Life steal and Spell Vamp. At level 1 Lee Sin has to deal 3000 damage in order to match a health potion worth of healing.
  • Nasus – Fury of the Sands grants Nasus 300/450/600 health. As this is Nasus’ ult its not quite the same as passive healing. However it is health that you’ll need to get through in order to kill him.
  • Olaf – Vicious Strikes grants Olaf 9/12/15/18/21% Life steal. At skill level 1 Olaf needs to deal 1667 damage to gain 1 health potion worth of healing.
  • Renekton – Cull the Meek heals Renekton for 5% of the damage dealt to minions and 20% dealt to champions up to a maximum of 50/75/100/125/150. Empowered Q deals 50% more damage and has the healing values double against minions and champions. The healing cap is tripled to 150/225/300/375/450. For Renekton to hit the non-empowered healing cap at level 1, he has to hit 6 minions and a champion when he has 50 bonus AD. This will allow him to get a health potion worth of healing every 3 applications
  • Renekton – Dominus grants Renekton 300/450/600 health. Like with Nasus, this is hit ult so its not quite healing in the lane but it does provide him with bonus health in a fight.
  • Rengar – Empowered Battle Roar heals Rengar for 40 + (20 x champion level) regardless of whether he hits an enemy. At level 1 for a health potion worth of health every 3 uses.
  • Shen –  Vorpal Blade marks a target and subsequent auto attacks heal Shen for 6 / 10 / 14 / 18 / 22 + (1.5% max HP) over 3 seconds. Subsequent hits refresh the duration. This heals shen for ~ 13.5 health at level 1, requiring 12 applications to match a heal potion worth of healing.
  • Tryndamere – Bloodlust consumes all Tryndamere’s current fury healing him for 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 (+ 30% AP) + 0.5 / 0.95 / 1.4 / 1.85 / 2.3 (+ 1.2% AP) per 1 fury consumed. Max heal 80 / 135 / 190 / 245 / 300 (+ 150% AP) 12 second cooldown. At 0 fury it will take 5 applications to generate 150 health, at max fury it’ll take 2 applications.
  • Udyr – Turtle stance grants Udyr 10 / 12 / 14 / 16 / 18% life steal. 6s Cooldown. At level 1 Udyr needs to deal 1500 damage in turtle stance to match the healing from a health potion.
  • Vladimir – Transfusion grants 15/25/35/45/55 + (25% AP). At level 1 it will take 10 applications of transfusion to equal a health potion.
  • Vladimir – Sanguine Pool heals Vladimir for 12.5% of the done but costs 20% of his current health. In order for Sanguine Pool to heal a health potion worth of health you need ~9 applications
  • Vladimir – Tides of Blood increases Vlad’s healing and regeneration by 4/5/6/7/8% per stack and stacks 4 times.
  • Yorick – Omen of Famine heals for 35% of Yorick’s AD whenever it strikes a champion. Should heal a health potion worth of health every ~15 attacks
  • Zac Cell Division regenerates 4% of Zac’s maximum health everytime he picks up a bloblet.  Zac’s blobs will always restore health at least equal to the amount spent so they are almost always worth picking up if you can.

Active healing is fairly varied across the board from Gangplank’s fairly insane burst healing, at rank 5 it heals for more than Nasus and Renekton’s level 6 ult, while champions like Irelia have low healing that increases the more she auto attacks. Think about the kind of champion you’re against and adjust your play, either to strong all-ins or a more poke centric game, depending on how they recover the health.

Vladimir’s self healing is strong but does require him to keep maximum stacks on Tides of Blood if he wants to maximise his healing potential. It’s not hard to do but can cost you a lot of health early on in the game if you aren’t using it to push/last hit. Vlad definitely needs spell vamp if he wants to keep Tides of Blood up as it requires a large quantity of AP just to mitigate the damage to your health from transfusion.

Against champion like Renekton you want to attempt to not get hit by his Q if you can, though he won’t make that easy for you. You’re technically worth 4 minions worth of healing to him, so try and trade away from the minion line.


There are definitely champions in the top lane who have an advantage when it comes to health sustain. If you end up picking a character who can’t sustain in lane, like Darius, then you will need additional potions if you wish to have an extended laning phase against some of the champions listed here. If you do have a sustain disadvantage and you’re stronger than your opponent then a strong all-in, whether you’re looking for a kill or to drop them low enough to zone them, is usually a good idea.

If you’re on the stronger end of the sustain train (yeah, I did) then you might want to use this to your advantage by skirmishing and then moving away so you can use your abilities to regenerate your health higher than your opponent before you all-in them for the kill.

This is a follow on blog in the health sustain series. The previous article can be found here.

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Esports and Blogs Manager for Cloth5.com. I'm a Plat 5 all around player, I know I should pick a role but it's too much fun playing all of the champions! Add me on Fridgecake or Yawnedeverywhere and i'd be happy to have a game. Currently playing Hearthstone, Gangsters 2, GTA 5 and Football Manager. Follow me on twitter @C5Fridgecake or check out my stream

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