Support in LoL S6: Sustain/Harass/All-in

A master guide to understanding, preparing, and executing support in League of Legends.
Support match ups, rune pages, masteries and basic strategies.
13 Apr 2016

Support in League of Legends Season 6: Ultimate Guide


The path of the support is a hard one. Luckily, Houdini, the elusive teacher that works magic with League is here to provide you with an updated support guide to season 6, with a focus on match-ups, decision making, and the meta of support. Kick back, relax, and enjoy another gem from Houdini’s Cornucopia of Extremely Helpful Guides.


To really begin to delve deep into the role of support, one must first look at the different types of supports out there. For the purpose of this guide, and categorizing supports, we’ll put them into groups.

Hint: There’s three types:

  • Basic Tank Supports
  • Mage Supports
  • Savior/Healing Supports

I’ll spend a short time going over the basics before moving onto more advanced theory and how to build a foundation of knowledge that will assist you and your win-rate.


Champions that fall under Tank Support are items_AlistarSquare Alistar, items_BraumSquare Braum, items_LeonaSquare Leona, items_TaricSquare Taric, items_ThreshSquare Thresh, items_TrundleSquare Trundle, items_NunuSquare Nunu, and items_BlitzcrankSquare Blitzcrank
A tank support should have something similar to this mastery page, and this rune page, as shown below. This is a general standard, because it provides you with the most “tankability” you can possibly get. That’s your purpose, that’s what you want as a tank support. The most effective builds on these champions include Armor and Magic Resist in the form of items_set1_14 Frozen Heart, items_set1_32 Randuin’s Omen, and  items_set1_60 Locket of the Iron Solari. Boot choice generally tends to enhance the tankiness of the champion in the form of items_set0_56 Boots of Swiftness or in some cases against heavy crowd control  items_set1_15 Mercury Treads can be built.


Rune page for tank support

9x Armor Reds, 9x Health Seals, 9x MR Blues, 3x Armor Quints


Tank Support Mastery Page



The next support type on the list is the Mage Support. This support style thrives on doing damage or providing crowd control to peel, and often times spends their time in the back-line. Champions such as items_BardSquare Bard, items_KarmaSquare Karma, items_MorganaSquare Morgana, items_ZyraSquare Zyra, and items_FiddlesticksSquare Fiddlesticks fit this role. Here’s the standard rune and mastery pages you should run on these champions. If you see an enemy champion run a page like this, know that they will be hoping to rely on their own damage to keep you from deadly all-ins, and thus keep themselves alive. The aforementioned tank page on a champion can likely survive this page’s damage early on. You’d only need to look at once instance, imagine a random one, say, Leona and Zyra. The likelihood of a Tank-Leona defeating an AP Zyra support as long as Leona can gap-close is high. The most effective builds on these champions tend to be items that provide utility and AP,  items_set1_42 Zhonya’s Hourglassitems_set0_77 Zeke’s Harbinger, and  items_set1_20 Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. Boot choice tends to vary, but items_set1_43 Lucidity Boots and items_set0_58 Sorcerer’s Boots. items_set1_21 Boots of Mobility are among the worst effectiveness on these champions, as they tend to lack mobility and harass more often then not. Hybrid Penetration Reds can be a good alternative to champions that interweave auto attacks with abilities, such as Bard, but are expensive in terms of IP and fairly aggressive in their very nature.


Mage support rune page

9x AD Reds, 9x Armor Yellows, 9x MR Blues, 3x AP Quints


Support Mastery Mage Page



Last but not least is the support Savior type. This support’s focus is on keeping team-ates alive through shielding, healing, buffing and other crowd control with a focus on peel. Champions that fit this style are obvious;  items_SonaSquare Sonaitems_SorakaSquare Sorakaitems_JannaSquare Janna, and items_LuluSquare Lulu are such champions. The standard setup for supports such as these goes like this. Often times items such as items_set1_67 Mikael’s Crucible, items_set1_60 Locket of the Iron Solari, items_set2_41 Ardent Censor are most easily built on these champions. Since of the innate safeness the back-line provides,  items_set1_43 Lucidity Boots tend to be the better of the boot options. items_set1_21 Boots of Mobility are viable due to the passive not breaking from casting defensive spells, but even then a focus on roaming, grouping, and warding over aggressive plays must be followed for efficient use.


Savior/Healing Support Rune Page

9x Attack Damage Reds, 9x Armor Yellows, 9x Magic Resist Blues, 3x Ability Power


Heal-Shield Support




All supports scale differently in terms of laning, roaming, team-fighting, sustaining, sieging, and crowd control ability.  Knowing these difference, essentially what come to be understood as strengths and weaknesses of each support is vital in understanding support meta. 
Here is a general graph that compares different supports on a scale of 1 to 5. If a support champion as a 5, that means it’ among the best at that particular skill, if a 1, one of the worst.


  Laning Roaming Team-Fighting Sustaining Sieging Crowd Control Warding Safety
 items_AlistarSquare Alistar 4 5 5 2 4 4 2
 items_BardSquare Bard 4 5 4 3 3 5 3
 items_BraumSquare Braum 5 4 5 2 3 5 4
 items_JannaSquare Janna 3 3 5 2 4 3 5
 items_KarmaSquare Karma 4 3 3 1 2 3 5
 items_LeonaSquare Leona 3 4 4 1 2 5 2
 items_LuluSquare Lulu 4 2 3 1 4 3 4
 items_MorganaSquare Morgana 2 3 3 2 4 4 3
 items_NamiSquare Nami 4 2 4 5 4 4 3

This chart is my opinion of the general state of the meta as of 6.7, this should give you an idea of what champion you want to pick based on what strengths you want that pick to have. Here’s the rest of the supports.

  Laning Roaming Team-Fighting Sustaining Sieging Crowd Control Warding Safety
 items_SorakaSquare Soraka 4 2 4 5 5 2 2
 items_TaricSquare Taric 2 3 3 3 3 3 3
 items_ThreshSquare Thresh 4 5 4 2 4 5 3
 items_ZyraSquare Zyra 3 3 4 1 3 3 2
 items_TrundleSquare Trundle 3 4 4 2 2 2 4
 items_Tahm_KenchSquare Tahm Kench 2 2 4 3 2 3 2
 items_BlitzcrankSquare Blitzcrank 3 5 2 1 4 5 2
 items_AnnieSquare Annie 2 4 4 1 2 3 1
 items_SonaSquare Sona 5 1 4 5 5 2 2


The champion you pick can open many doors for you in-game, but can also close pathways you might have had access to with a different pick altogether. It’s up to you to understand and plan.
Remember, this is a general guide to understanding supports as a whole compared to each other. This chart should allow you to make appropriate choices based on strengths and weaknesses, for example, if you wish to choose a champion with a lot of sustain, you would not pick  items_LeonaSquare Leona because she scores a measly 1 in the category. As you can see, Leona’s sustain is not the best, however, her all-in capabilities raise her laning score to a moderate 3. 

This does not inform you how match-ups occur, but does give you a general idea. For example, items_SonaSquare Sona’s laning is rated as a five due to her ability to harass and heal, and items_BlitzcrankSquare Blitzcrank’s is considerably lower at around 3. This does not mean that Sona will 100% beat Blitzcrank in lane, as anyone who know’s their match-ups understand’s Blitzcrank’s Hook is a death sentence for someone like Sona. However, the chart will allow you to theorize what strengths and weaknesses your chosen support and enemy support has. Know thyself, and know thy enemy.

If each type of support can be categorized into three purposes, what are those purposes exactly?

  • Tank supports excel at all-ins
  • Mage supports excel at crowd control and harass
  • Savior Supports excel at sustaining and surviving

In perfect theory, Tanky Supports kill Sustain supports with all-ins, Savior/Sustain supports sustain through Mage support harass, and Mage supports harass tank supports to deter successful all-ins. The triangle between Harass/All-in/Sustain remains a theory that is directly supported through examples, but does have exceptions if proper play is assumed.

For example, take items_MorganaSquare Morgana, items_BlitzcrankSquare Blitzcrank, and items_SonaSquare Sona as prime proponents of each type of role. Sona tends to do well against a champion like Morgana, as she can sustain through most harass that Morgana attempts. Blitzcrank is more effective at providing presence against Sona, as he force all-ins with his hook before long-term sustain can really factor into the equation. Finally, Morgana especially, deters Blitzcrank’s ability to all in with heavy crowd control,her bind, and a black shield to boot, that prevents him from achieving proper positioning to hook. From this information, you’re able to make a good decision even before the game begins, and set yourself up to win your lane. 

Let’s look at another example in items_LuluSquare Lulu, items_ThreshSquare Threshitems_SorakaSquare Soraka. Lulu can provide a hefty amount of harass, but champions such as Soraka can sustain through that easily. Thresh’s all-in is going to be more effective against a champion like Soraka, as a Thresh with full health can engage and not risk dying. A Thresh that has been harassed by Lulu cannot engage easily. Keep in mind that Thresh can still engage upon a Lulu if he can make up for his lack of sustain with items_set0_33 Biscuits or items_set0_31 Health Pots. In this case, Lulu’s ultimate ability and shield can even out the playing field, even if Thresh gets an optimal engage, this sort of hybrid utility is fairly unique among supports, as Lulu can be played Harass Heavy or focus more on shielding to be more of a savior support. This type of predictive theorizing is key to learning and improving as support. Make a habit of doing as such.


The match-up can be very vital in some cases, but choosing the right support for your team, and more importantly your carry, can be essential in turning the tides of a team-fight, and thus the game. If you happen to be against champions that heave heavy, unavoidable crowd control such as items_NautilusSquare Nautilus, items_ViSquare Vi, or items_FizzSquare Fizz, your ADC can benefit greatly from a  items_MorganaSquare Morgana pick. If you’re facing assassin’s that have high burst potential such as  items_ZedSquare Zed or  items_TalonSquare Talon, picking items_JannaSquare Jannaitems_Tahm_KenchSquare Tahm Kench, or items_LuluSquare Lulu could greatly turn the tides in your favor. During a game, you must make the best of what you have. Presume that you have a sub-par pick against preventing assassinations, it’s still certainly possible to win, but less options are available to you. While protecting an ADC with items_Tahm_KenchSquare Tahm Kench is as easy as pressing a button, you might have to work harder with a champion like items_ThreshSquare Thresh. If you happen to be playing against a items_ZedSquare Zed as items_ThreshSquare Thresh, know that when Zed uses his ultimate on your ADC you can either hook Zed, or lantern your ADC. Understanding, and reacting appropriately to enemy goals is paramount. In most cases, it’s all down to prediction. Since most supports have a slight delay to their crowd control, whether it be cast-time or travel-time, it is not enough to simply have good reaction time in League of LegendsA good support knows his win-conditions, goals, and actively spends time thinking about the next play required to gain an advantage.


The qualities often attributed to support mesh quite differently when compared to other roles. While ADC might be known for mechanical ability, support is known more-so by aspects regarding game knowledge, decision making, warding, and map awareness. It’s all well and good to know that items_ThreshSquare Thresh can beat  items_SorakaSquare Soraka in lane, or that  items_ThreshSquare Thresh stave off items_LeonaSquare Leona’s aggression, however it is not enough. The foremost principal of support is to never fight battles you cannot win. This boils down to a binary situation at heart. Essentially, if Thresh hits his hook against Soraka he is likely to kill her with his ADC’s assistance, if he does not land his hook, he will not kill Soraka. Any and all attempts to continue a chase will likely result in failure, as the hook-win-condition had already failed once the hook itself did not hit. Regardless of the fact that Thresh can defeat her, you must know what conditions allow for victory. This may seem simple, but often engaging and disengaging as support comes down to knowing when a battle can be won. This gets more and more complicated as new champions get added to battles and skirmishes. A fight with all ten players can be very hectic.The more knowledge a support gains about what chain of actions will lead to victory, the more likely those actions can be taken and victory achieved.


I cannot stress knowing kill conditions enough, but that also goes in reverse. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call these Lose Conditions. A good support should know when an enemy can potentially win a 2v2 against them, and what actions should be taken to stop it ahead of time. If you’re against a Blitzcrank, it’s simple theory, try not to get hooked. In other cases, however, it becomes more and more complicated to calculate the maximum amount of damage an enemy Duo can deal. A good rule of thumb is to look at the total health valuesFor instance, items_LeonaSquare Leona and items_LucianSquare Lucian face up against an items_EzrealSquare Ezreal and items_AlistarSquare Alistar. Leona and Alistar will likely have similar health values, the same will likely be true for Ezreal and Lucian. If Leona engages on Ezreal, and Ezreal and Alistar attempt to focus down Leona, it’s clear to see that the health value that will reach zero first will be Ezreal’s, as Leona simply has more health. Alistar can counteract this by headbutting Lucian away so that they may focus Leona down, or headbutting Leona away to disengage entirely. Too often I see supports react by attacking the closet target, and do not truly understand what needs to be done to win a lane. If a lane cannot be won, do not attempt to play bad odds, concede some farm and wait for a jungle gank


It is important to note that decision-making is heavily influenced by win conditions, kill conditions, and lose conditions. However, those mental calculations change entirely when ahead or behind. If you find yourself ahead in lane, by a mere kill or even an entire tower, understanding what to do from that point is paramount. A floundering support is a lead lost, this can come down to many factors. In most cases, a good support can continue a lead, or throw it away just as easily. A failed engage to an “untimely” jungler counter-gank or top lane arrival can mean the death of a lead. It’s up to the support to watch out for those MIA’s, and act accordingly. Stay farther back in lane to  items_ThreshSquare Thresh lantern, stun an approaching enemy with  items_AnnieSquare Annie’s Tibbers, and prevent chases by zoning the enemy out with items_NamiSquare Nami bubbles. Each and every action you take can lead your team closer to victory, or put you and your team further into the gold-deficit depths. One of the best ways, barring the movement of your champion yourself, to stem the bleeding or prevent the enemy from snowballing is defensive ward coverage. 


Most if not all supports have specific strengths, but now more than ever supports have been catered to team-fighting. The most recent supports released, items_Tahm_KenchSquare Tahm Kench and items_BardSquare Bard have new dynamic abilities that offer options other supports do not. In Tahm Kench’s case, he can “eat” people, and in Bard’s, he can take certain people out of a fight for two entire seconds. items_AlistarSquare Alistar and items_BraumSquare Braum see heavy competitive play, as damage reducing abilities and AOE knock-ups become paramount in winning today’s team-fights. Even Taric’s new re-work a distinct team-fighting focus with his AOE invulnerability ultimate. A support that has influence in a teamfight is a worthy support in the meta, the more influence the better. items_ThreshSquare Thresh has fallen by the wayside, but still see’s play due to his versatility and ability to pick out enemy champions, but items_SorakaSquare Soraka and items_JannaSquare Janna are seeing a rise in play due to the value in keeping all one’s teamates alive rather than killing a single enemy. 


The recent changes to approaching vision means that a support should change their strategy to such developments. Most importantly, the new developments concerning items_set0_40 Sightstone, items_set0_38 Ruby Sightstone and the release of  items_set3_80 Eye of Oasis, items_set3_79 Eye of the Watchersitems_set3_81 Eye of Equinox. Eye of the Equinox is built on tank supports and stems from items_set1_05 Targon’s Shield, Eye of the Watchers is built on AP supports and stems from items_set1_06 Frostfang, and Eye of Oasis is built on passive champions that wish to survive laning phase stemming from items_set1_04 Nomad’s Medallion. Sightstone now only offers three wards, and since a support always wants to have all potential wards out on the map, a support may suffer the consequences if appropriate back-timings are not followed.

First, we’ll look at the reason the Eye items are built, in short, four wards can make quite the difference. The components that make up the item are staring items, so the most efficient build-paths often times acquire the “Eye” items so Aegis, or more valuable items may be built next, and quicker then a Sightstone + Frost Queens’ Claim, a Sightstone + Face of the Mountain, or a Sightstone + items_set0_84 Talisman of the Ascension combo. To put it in perspective, Talisman of Ascension costs 2200g, Eye of Oasis also costs 2200g. Most importantly, Eye of the Oasis allows you to have four wards, which is inherently more important for vision in today’s meta. If, for example, the enemy supports gets a items_set2_08 Red-Trinket, the effectiveness of that trinket can be completely counteracted by Eye of the Watcher’s 4th ward. It’s also important to note that Ruby Sightstone now gives a 10% cooldown reduction to items. Considering the potential impact of items such as  items_set1_67 Mikael’s Crucible and items_set1_60 Locket of the Iron Solari have, it could be valuable to swap out an “Eye” item endgame for a more potent 6-item build that includes items_set0_38 Ruby Sightstone or decide to purchase a slew of active items such as items_set1_02 Frost Queen’s Claimitems_set1_60 Locket of the Iron Solari,and items_set1_32 Randuin’s Omen to use Ruby Sighstone to it’s fullest effective potential. 


With proper preparation and know-how a plan of action can be made even before a game begins. Among the best tacticians hold true to their heart the ability to prepare for the intricacies of any instance. The “Support” first must learn to help oneself before moving onto any others. After all, if you can’t carry yourself, how can you expect to carry your team? 

Houdini Out


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  1. Sona FTW

    I would give Sona more points in roaming because she has speed aura and nice ults for ganks, in case you want to try to kill an enemy mid laner :o

    1. Houdini

      Yeah, the speed aura from Sona is helpful, but you’re unable to spam it due to mana cost issues, and it likely being the lowest leveled ability.

      The other issue with Sona roaming is that her roaming capability leaves her very vulnerable, especially if she commits to throwing ults out, she has no CC to buffer her escape.

      She simply doesn’t compare to other support’s roaming capabilities.

    1. Houdini

      I suppose if anyone had to have a “1” in laning, it would be all the off-meta supports such as Fiddlesticks or perhaps Trundle. Usually all supports have some sort of CC for safety, or some sort of heal, so supports that can’t provide laning assistance to an ADC just doesn’t make it to the meta. Ex: Renekton, or anyone that’s NOT a support.

  2. Anon

    As a rookie, I wanna ask a few things about the masteries:

    1. Why do you value Recovery > Unyielding (especially for tanks)?

    2. Would 12/18/0 works for Mage supps?

    3. For Lulu, I’ve always built her as a mage supp, since I feel like she rely more on the AP scaling on all her skills. Do you think that’s a good idea?

    1. Houdini

      Hey, Rookie. Heh.

      I prefer Recovery over Unyielding due to my tendency to poke and sit on 90% health to utilize regen fully, especially in lane. In all reality, unyielding is more beneficial for the late-game and the all-in.
      As of 6.17, Unyielding is much preferred over Recovery.

      Yes, 12/18/0 absolutely works. The usual issue is that the flash reduced timer is simply too important to pass up. If you’re playing someone like Annie support a reduced flash timer has drastically more utility then a bit more damage. (You don’t build much damage since you have little gold as a support.)

      Lulu, Janna, Nami, Sona, and a lesser extent Soraka can all build mage support items, even Rabadons. It gives them more utility with their supportive skills I.E. shields and heals. A quick look at high elo SoloQ Janna players, for example, say, JannaMechanics proves that it’s certainly possible, if not a little risky.

      I hope these answers provide you with the information you wished to know,

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