The Janna top with Smite strategy has recently reached some of the world’s top esports competitions, showing up everywhere from Solo Queue, to the League of Legends Championship Series and other leagues around the world with a high win rate.
The famous Spanish streamer, who previously competed for Team Queso, Rosendo “Send0o” Fuentes Bóveda, popularized this strategy by playing it in Solo Queue. The strategy is simple: a player takes Smite, leaves top and doesn’t touch it again. They then focus simply on helping their jungler and the rest of their lanes. Janna doesn’t need gold or XP.
To get to the bottom of how this strategy works so well in competitive settings, Upcomer spoke with both Send0o and Cloud9 coach Marius “Veigar v2” Aun, as well as French and Spanish ERL coaches. The vast majority agreed it was a useful pick and, to play it, you need to be red side. In addition to not playing against a split pusher carry on top, you also need to play with a champion in the jungle that can carry to get enough advantage with this.
How did you come up with the idea to play this strategy with Janna top with smite?
Send0o: Basically, I had four days of Solo Queue that I couldn’t catch a good streak. I was playing Akshans and Gwens 1v9, and I was playing against the other top and winning easily. But he managed to win the game by going 0-5 on the line without even half farm most of the games. I was very depressed, like I didn’t care what I was doing.
So, out of total frustration, I locked Janna smite top (I had seen a HappyChimeNoise video on YouTube of someone doing it on low master) without even knowing how to play and proceeded to win like four or five games in a row. That’s when I realized how useless the top lane is and that this strategy can be better.
Do you think it is better to play this kind of strategy than a normal top?
Send0o: In Solo Queue it surely is. In team, there are certain compositions where it can be better, but it would have to be explored for the situations it could be better than a normal top laner. In competitive, they have already played this strategy four times and with 100% win rate so far (Once in Superliga, twice in LCS, once in LCK CL).
How can you counter the strategy if the enemy picks this?
Send0o: Countering this strategy is hard but, basically, you should take advantage because you have no enemy in line. You should focus on scale and destroy enemy turrets (demolish could be a core rune to counter this strategy) and pray that your team doesn’t suicide and give up. Your bot lane and jungler should play safe and Herald should be an easy objective to get. You cant get drakes if you are against this strategy
If you were Riot, how would you nerf this strategy?
Send0o: The problem of this strategy is neither the bounties nor the teleport nerf. As many say, they are factors that help it to work. But the big problem is the support item and the incredible scaling that enchanters have (champions like Janna/Karma/Lulu/Sona/Seraphine) with only a minimum of gold and experience.
I played a lot of games where we couldn’t get advantage with this strategy, or even at a disadvantage, and they came back easily. It is very easy to deny meta top laners in teamfights with 100% enchanters and, besides that, contribute to your team.
People think you have to take advantage and you are playing against the clock when you opt for this strategy, but it’s not like that at all. To sum it up: Riot should nerf the gold you get for the support item and/or make the enchanter items worth more. They offer too much for the low price they currently cost.
Janna top in competitive League
We have already seen it in competitive. Do you think it will continue to become more and more popular, or will players find ways to counteract this?
Send0o: I think so. The irony is there were quite a few competitive players on Solo Queue who complained about me playing this strategy, like Comp the most, and now I may have it against them in the next LEC game or even take it out themselves. People will learn to play against this so it will lose the surprise factor. But it really is a strategy that, when well-executed, is not able to be countered. It is not so easy. Riot has already announced they are planning nerfs for the support item in solo line.
How strong is Janna top in the higher levels of competitive League of Legends?
Veigar v2: I think Janna top with smite is very strong. If it’s used properly around timed camps, you can easily set up timed invades, like around 4:10, for enemy respawned second camp, as if it was a semi-funnel.
What should you play against this strategy?
Veigar v2: To play into it you should play a scaling range champ like Jayce, or heavy split push like Yorick. I think a Hullbreaker, split push champ can counteract this strategy. You need two or three people to defend it … We have already seen it played against Antonio “Th3Antonio” Espinosa in the Spanish Superliga, as he is the perfect player to play this strategy against.
The future of the strategy
The Janna top strategy is one fans can continue to see in both competitive League of Legends and Solo Queue. It is a difficult strategy to counteract if you know how to play it well and, even if it’s nerfed, many things would need to be nerfed to make it disappear completely.
Riot games has already announced a nerf to the support item for this strategy. However, it’s not certain how effective this will be. Currently it is a better pick in Solo Queue than a conventional top laner. But it should not be picked in any situation as a blind pick, since a top laner carry or split pusher could win the game alone.