Hey, here are some things that helped me; maybe they'll help you, too!
As a note, the quality of the tips here vary a lot depending on how much experience I have with the champ. I've played Darius and Zed a couple of times each; on the other hand, I play Riven and Vayne in the majority of my games. If you want the good stuff, look at those!
On my mission to play ALL the tops, playing this guy was inevitable. I'll start by saying that I don't like him outside of lane: his teamfight presence is heavily dependent on someone else with a strong initiate. Heavily. As in "you can't hit things if they have freedom of movement". I'm not keen on it. Anyway, here's some things that might make you better at Darius:
- Don't play Darius in team comps without good initiate; otherwise, you're going to be quite frustrated with how easy you are to kite. Maybe run Ghost or something? I've got to try that.
- Your cripple thing is an AA reset; use it as such.
- If you're not teamfighting, there's not as much emphasis on using your ult for the reset. Go ahead and blow it for the gapclose if it'll help secure a kill.
- Start getting beefy before teamfights start; your engage is "wade into their team", so expect to absorb a lot of damage. Your base numbers are high enough, anyway.
When I play ranked, I often support if I'm not ADCing or Rivening just because I think bot lane is one of the most important and also the most fun to play (unless I'm Riven), with its dynamic poke and engages: a constant, ongoing skirmish. A lot of people don't recommend Leona in Bronze because it's not infrequent that you'll end up with an ADC that just doesn't know how to play with a Leona, which isn't really like any other support. That said, playing her is a fun and rewarding experience; if you want to go for it, go for it. Here's some tidbits to help you on your way:
- I generally start bead, 2 wards, and 4 pots. It lets you trade a lot more in lane, and you're pretty high on the bush-control ladder, so they will be warding bushes to get you out of them; not so much the other way around.
- Your E does respectable damage, and so does your passive. Getting pushed to turret? E a minion wave so it'll clear faster; also stops you accidentally stealing CS with W and having to wander around in enemy minions until it procs.
- You can win trades while tanking minion damage. Unlike most champs, you have strong defensive stats early on, and your W turns tanking minions from "you lose trade gg" to "not ideal but not at all prohibitive". Try to get an AA in so you take minion aggro for your ADC; they don't have Eclipse and you do.
- W before you E.
- If you can, stagger your spells so that your passive gets procced after each one, rather than burning all your spells before your ADC can follow up with their damage.
- Your ult gives vision. If your target is trying to avoid death by weaving into brush, ulting the bush might give the vision (and CC) your ADC needs to pick up the kill. Cheaper than throwing a ward in it, at any rate.
- If you're maintaining bare-minimum vision (river and nearest enemy jungle exit), it's more cost-effective to rush sightstone on Purple side and gp10 on Blue side (since the nearest enemy jungle exit on Blue is on the river, so you can cover both necessities with one ward. If you're getting ganked from your own tri, tell your mid and/or jungle to ward properly; they shouldn't be able to get into your jungle without being spotted).
- If you start E, you can blind-steal blue buff if you're on blue side (or feel like running across the map). Takes about 7 seconds for the enemy team to clear the camp, depending on their comp. Also, make sure you don't just throw Zenith into the camp; you want it to hit the golem and NOT any champs.
I used to play Riven a lot just because I wanted so badly to be good at her, but it never seemed to work out. Like, I used to be the worst Riven (my page still says so!), but then I picked up a couple of things that have made an enormous difference in my Riven games.
- Run AD reds and quints. You don't need LS for sustain because you are going to kill your lane opponent and go B; I tried LS and it's just not worth it. CDR blues are also nice, but not necessary; some people like scaling MR. Personally, I like more Valor and more... everything else.
- Your Q does so much damage. It's fucking retarded. 90 + 210% bonus AD (which is a fuckton because you're going to start dBlade like a boss) at level 1? Who thought that was okay? Because your Q is goddamn broken, you're going to do it whenever you want (read: as much as possible) and you're going to come out ahead in every trade where you land Qs. Seriously. It does all the damage. Just be confident in it. Trust me. It hurts so much. I used to play Riven a lot more conservatively, but just going recklessly balls-to-the-wall aggressive wins games: I shit you not, in my last match, I 1v2d a Singed and Trundle and came out with 1-for-0 in my favor. Match before that, I got 4-man ganked and got a double kill against an 8/1 Ezreal (and someone else) while I was 0/0 (he goddamn melted). Seriously. You kill everything. YOU are the scariest motherfucker on the map. Have faith in that.
- Your passive also does insane damage; use it. It's 20-50% extra AD on hit, and since you're going to be building nothing but AD items for a good while, you're going to wreck face. Oh, what's that, they moved away from you a bit while you were AAing? If only you had four gapclosers!
- Okay, listen up because this one will change your Riven life: your main gapclose is not Q, nor is it E. It's both. At the same time. Your Q can immediately follow your E, so you can gapclose a lot harder and a lot faster than you might've thought (it was way better than I thought, at least). Look at this shit: ; this Riven is a beast. That could be you. You could be catching Scarra off guard. Don't E. Don't Q. Do both.
- If you want to be a monster, the very best like no one ever was, get down a perfectly-executed E -> Q -> W combo. If you do it right, it will seriously look like one move. The E -> Q part is easy; it's almost effortless to combo out of Valor, since it has no aftercast delay. However, in the same way that autoattacks have some unnecessary baggage on their attack animations (which is the foundation of orb walking), Riven's Broken Wings and Ki Burst have some extra animation, too, and you can skip it by issuing more orders before the animations finish. However, whereas Broken Wings cancels the previous animation to do its thing, Ki Burst doesn't, so it is absolutely fucking imperative that you cancel it manually. Click on something ffs.
- This is extremely important for laning against ranged tops like Vlad or pussy Zed, but 100% necessary for playing Riven mid. She's a very viable mid and I play her there about as often as I play her top; I even prefer it because it's so much easier to roam from mid once you've (1) shoved your opponent under tower because they're afraid of you or (2) won your lane (which you will). The new-ish Specter's Cowl is an enormous boon for melee mids; pick one up early and, between health regen and your shield, you'll be able to completely shrug off most harass. Because mids tend to be squishier, naturally, you won't miss The Brutalizer as much as you would buying early resistances in top lane; you can likely 100-0 them at level 6 with nothing but Ignite and a Doran's Blade (that is, if you don't 100-0 them before 6). For mid matchups, I often run armor pen runes because, thanks to Seeker's Armguard, mids are not at all unlikely to start early armor. Do what you want, though.
- Build damage. During laning phase, build damage. Build damage build damage build damage. Don't spend 400g on lifesteal; you could have MORE DAMAGE. Hell, you don't even need boots for a good while. If your final build is Boots LW (you need this) BC (and this) BT (THIS IS OPTIONAL) Hydra (this is NOT optional) Defense (and by "defense" I mean "Zephyr" or "Maw" or "Merc Scimitar"; tenacity and MR are defensive stats!), there are 6 longswords (7 with Maw), 2 pickaxes (or 3 if you actually went for Zephyr/Maw like a boss), and a BF Sword (2 with MS) in that shit. You can ALWAYS get more AD when you back. Do it.
- I haven't done the math, but I'm pretty sure Hydra gives you more burst than a fully-stacked BT (I feel like it does when I play, anyway). Let's do the math, then: you lose... 77.5 damage on Broken Wings and Ki Burst combined (assuming your BT was fully stacked), and another 37.5 on each of 5 autoattacks, assuming you can land them all (unrealistic, let's be honest); that's 265 extra damage, total. If you have more than 265 AD (you goddamn should; that's nothing but BC, LW, and Hydra at level 18), Cleave gives you (1) more total damage (it's 100% of your AD), (2) more of your damage in a much smaller timeframe, (3) more damage even if you miss an AA in your combo, and (4) you never have to B and just not buy anything because you can't afford a BF. You also get passive health regen, (even more) awesome waveclear, and you get to look like a fucking badass weaving item actives into your combo. Also your team will never have to hear you say "be there in a minute; farming my BT". Buy a fucking Hydra.
- If you get ganked, you can seriously kill at least one of them. Try it. If you're even a little bit ahead, you're so much stronger than your laning opponent. 2v1 double kill outplayed.
- Riven is not a strong teamfighter if she is there when the fight starts. You can't jump over a wall of tanks like Kha'Zix, you can't kill them unless you've snowballed out of control (which is very possible) and you're not tanky enough to just run through them. Go push an objective; no one can deal with you 1v1. If they send 1 person back, kill them. If they send 2, kill one/all of them or leave; your team has a numbers advantage now and, let's face it, they won't catch you because you have 4 dashes, a shield, an AoE stun, and can jump over walls. If they don't send anyone back, either take the objective (you're good at towers because you have 900 AD or something stupid, right?) or hit the teamfight from a direction they don't want you to be in and blow up all of their squishies. You can probably kill at least one person in a single burst. It's not okay.
- Alternatively, if you have Flash up, just flash into the middle of their shit and go ham.
- Like anyone else with weak initiate, it can be compensated for by especially strong initiate on someone else. If you have a Hecarim or Sej or something, that's all the initiation your team needs.
- Roam. If you do not roam, you are wasting your time. Riven naturally pushes her lane and, because you're going to be a beast, your opponent will likely be afraid of you (or they'll not learn proper respect and will feed you, instead). They're quite likely to hug tower, and waiting around outside of their tower range isn't really productive, is it? Go clear their jungle, maybe pick up a kill on their jungler. Go clear your jungle if your jungler's on the other side of the map (don't be a dick). Gank another lane. Hold a lane for a bit while a mate bluepills or picks up a blue buff. If your lane opponent wants to waste all your kill power in a boring farm lane, go win other places, instead. Just be sure to get home before tower starts stealing your CS; you need that shit.
- You can First Blood with a 100-0 at level 1 if your lane opponent doesn't feel like Flashing. Let's do some math:
- Ignite (70) = 70 true damage; you gain +5 bonus AD from the mastery.
- 3 Q hits: (30 + 0.7*[32+5])*3 = 167.7 physical damage; you gain 3 charges of Runic Blade.
- 3 empowered AAs ([86+5]*1.2)*3 = 327.6 physical damage.
- Total raw damage: 495.3 physical damage + 70 true damage = 555.3 damage. You deal 2% more damage on that, an an additional 5% more when they're below 50%; we'll be conservative and suggest that that averages to a total of 5% additional damage from 100-0; this adjusts your physical damage to about 520.
- Worst-case realistic scenario, your opponent has 55 Armor at level 1 (cloth-armor Darius with a full defense tree); after armor pen and all that, you're looking at 346 physical damage and 70 true damage for a full burst of about 415. That kills most things at level 1 outright. One more autoattack ought to finish it; better still if you AA them before you start your combo. Also, I'm assuming that cloth is the best thing against this damage; Doran's Shield might be better.
- Obviously, this assumes you land all of your damage; it ain't easy, and the early Ignite either (1) gives away your all-in intent or (b) baits them by making them think you're terrible ("ignite is for securing kills, noob!" "Oh, but I DID secure a kill!").
I don't play Sona a ton, but I tend to do okay as her. Here are a couple of things that help me in being okay.
- Your W is a resistance buff. If you use it before your AD takes damage, they take less damage. Obviously, don't bother if they're at full health (unless you're a god and can time it so that your heal arrives after the poke), but whenever else they'd take harass, mitigating the damage is as effective as the heal; you're wasting mana if you're only paying for half of that.
- Obviously, timing greensong is less important if you're already playing greensong. I really miss the on-cast extra buff.
- W is more important than Q. Fuck you, it is. There's a reason there's an Aegis in every game and a Zeke's in not-so-many.
- You want some points in E before midgame. The mobility it provides is arguably Sona's best attribute (yes, better than Crescendo), and no one gives a shit about your 30-something AP Q poke when the real damage dealers are around. Pinksong helps your heavy hitters engage and stick to targets, helps your team get around the map, essentially peels for everyone at once, and your slow secures kills. Oh what's that, "Pinksong sucks in lane?" Bro, do you even jungle gank? You want this.
- If someone needs to go someplace fast, taxi them. They're (1) more important than you because you're Sona and (2) will be more effective when they get there because you're Sona. For example, if your ADC goes back in lane, go back with them so they can get there faster. I mean, what are you going to do in a lane by yourself? You can't even waveclear.
- Your Q is a rubbish spell. It's not mana-efficient unless you're hitting two things (by which I mean champions, since minions don't care about being poked) and it does crap damage because you're not building AP.
- That being said, play the blue song if your ADC is CSing or if you're pushing a turret or if you've got a gank incoming (and your pink song is already played); the damage boost does help a bit when your allies are being aggressive.
- If you plan on building Zeke's, you probably don't need CDR boots; think ahead and get Mobis or something.
Vayne is my most-played champ by far and probably my second-favorite (to Riven, of course). Here are some tidbits I've picked up on playing her:
- If you want to trade early to establish lane presence, run flat AD as opposed to AS. With your "AA reset" in Tumble, you can put out sort-of-respectable damage early. If you do run AS, you'll ideally be able to outscale your opponent before the end of laning phase; to help in this, you can build the two longswords that go into your Cutlass before your lifesteal; your bonus attack speed makes your AD scale harder during laning phase. If you do this, though, you'd better be ready to commit to an all-in (or at least hard harass) unless you have a sustain support (Why? You're Vayne.), since your lane opponent will out-sustain your pansy-ass harass with ease.
- Don't start boots unless you are terrified of their early engage potential (e.g. Shaco jungle). Without Doran's, you can be bullied with the most ease, and between Tumble, your summoners, and support peel, you ought to not have too much trouble with staying alive.
- Don't trade unless you can proc your W (exception being level 1). You're not a strong laner and you'll lose trades without proccing W and Q; your AAs are weak shit.
- Tumble for minions. CONDEMN for minions. You scale better than probably any champ in the league. If you go even in CS, you win. CS is your #1 priority forever unless your support initiates a winnable trade or all-in.
- If you're considering using your ult, use it. It's sometimes tricky to know exactly the right moment, but if you're contemplating that, it's probably a good enough moment.
- Don't just run. Because of how Tumble and Furor work (Tumble doesn't go on CD until you hit and Furor doesn't... do anything... until you hit), you'll move at about the same speed AAing while retreating as you will just straight-up running. Punish them for chasing; who knows, you might even turn it around.
- BotRK first item. No exceptions. If the shop is running a discount on iEdges, you skip that shit. BotRK always. You can build a Zeal after Cutlass, or pick up a BF on a back, but you need BotRK in the biggest of hurries. It loves you and you should love it back.
- You have BotRK (or you'd better, ffs!); use the active always. Oh what's that you need to escape? BotRK's got your back. Need some CC to secure a kill? BotRK. Oh, you need some CLUTCH HEALTH TO SAVE YOUR ASS? Motherfucking BotRK does it all. If you see someone stacking health and not armor, it will heal you for a fuckton. 'Sup, Zac?
Zed's another top champ that I've played a bit, recently, just because I wanted to get better at top lane in general. I don't claim to be great at him, but I've got a few small things that you might find helpful!
- If you're against a melee champ (we're talking about top, here) that you can trade with in melee (e.g. not Darius or Riven), max E before Q; it does more damage and you're not at a disadvantage if you trade with it. Free harass with Q is nice, but then you lose if they try to all-in you and/or if they can dodge skillshots. W hurts and it's guaranteed damage on top of more guaranteed damage (the slow) or an escape opportunity. Also, when you're ulting to kill something, do you really want to rely on hitting triple Q for all your damage?
- Like Riven, boots optional. Getting ganked? Slow/Shadow away!
- A lot of people like BotRK for the burst damage, but I personally find the attack speed kind of meh; by the time you've built it, you're likely done laning (unless you rushed it, but then... why?), and you don't want drawn-out smacking contests past your laning phase. If you're looking for push-button-receive damages, try a Hydra.
- Pay attention to your passive: if you drop a foe below 50% health in lane, your AAs fucking hurt. If you go for a kill and they don't die to your ult combo, don't stick around and lose the trade with your crap sustained damage; go back to farming and put your passive to work to force them out of lane.