INTRODUCTION TO LEAGUE OF LEGENDS SUPPORT 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 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.
UNDERSTANDING SUPPORT’S ROLE IN LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
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.
TANK SUPPORTS IN LOL: BASIC GUIDE
Champions that fall under Tank Support are Alistar, Braum, Leona, Taric, Thresh, Trundle, Nunu, and 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 Frozen Heart, Randuin’s Omen, and Locket of the Iron Solari. Boot choice generally tends to enhance the tankiness of the champion in the form of Boots of Swiftness or in some cases against heavy crowd control Mercury Treads can be built.
RUNE PAGE FOR TANK SUPPORT
MASTERY PAGE FOR TANK SUPPORT
MAGE SUPPORTS IN LOL: BASIC GUIDE
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 Bard, Karma, Morgana, Zyra, and 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, Zhonya’s Hourglass, Zeke’s Harbinger, and Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. Boot choice tends to vary, but Lucidity Boots and Sorcerer’s Boots. 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.
RUNE PAGE FOR MAGE SUPPORT
MASTERY PAGE FOR MAGE SUPPORT
SAVIOR/HEALING SUPPORTS IN LOL: BASIC GUIDE
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; Sona, Soraka, Janna, and Lulu are such champions. The standard setup for supports such as these goes like this. Often times items such as Mikael’s Crucible, Locket of the Iron Solari, Ardent Censor are most easily built on these champions. Since of the innate safeness the back-line provides, Lucidity Boots tend to be the better of the boot options. 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.
RUNE PAGE FOR HEALING SUPPORT
MASTERY PAGE FOR HEALING SUPPORT
FACTORING IN THE LOL SUPPORT MATCH UP
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.
MATCH UPS OF META SUPPORTS
|Laning||Roaming||Team-Fighting||Sustaining||Sieging||Crowd Control||Warding Safety|
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|
COMPREHENDING AND PREDICTING SUPPORT MATCH UPS
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 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, Sona’s laning is rated as a five due to her ability to harass and heal, and 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 Morgana, Blitzcrank, and 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 Lulu, Thresh, 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 Biscuits or 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.
COMPOSITION AND WHAT SUPPORTS IN LOL CAN PROVIDE
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 Nautilus, Vi, or Fizz, your ADC can benefit greatly from a Morgana pick. If you’re facing assassin’s that have high burst potential such as Zed or Talon, picking Janna, Tahm Kench, or 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 Tahm Kench is as easy as pressing a button, you might have to work harder with a champion like Thresh. If you happen to be playing against a Zed as 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 Legends. A good support knows his win-conditions, goals, and actively spends time thinking about the next play required to gain an advantage.
CARRYING AS SUPPORT: BREAKING DOWN WIN CONDITIONS
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 Thresh can beat Soraka in lane, or that Thresh stave off 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.
KEEPING A LEAD AS SUPPORT: KNOWING LOSING CONDITIONS
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 values. For instance, Leona and Lucian face up against an Ezreal and 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.
SNOWBALLING LEADS AND STEMMING THE BLEEDING
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 Thresh lantern, stun an approaching enemy with Annie’s Tibbers, and prevent chases by zoning the enemy out with 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.
THE META OF LEAGUE OF LEGENDS SUPPORTS
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, Tahm Kench and 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. Alistar and 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. Thresh has fallen by the wayside, but still see’s play due to his versatility and ability to pick out enemy champions, but Soraka and Janna are seeing a rise in play due to the value in keeping all one’s teamates alive rather than killing a single enemy.
VISION AND THE META IN LOL
The recent changes to approaching vision means that a support should change their strategy to such developments. Most importantly, the new developments concerning Sightstone, Ruby Sightstone and the release of Eye of Oasis, Eye of the Watchers, Eye of Equinox. Eye of the Equinox is built on tank supports and stems from Targon’s Shield, Eye of the Watchers is built on AP supports and stems from Frostfang, and Eye of Oasis is built on passive champions that wish to survive laning phase stemming from 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 + 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 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 Mikael’s Crucible and 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 Ruby Sightstone or decide to purchase a slew of active items such as Frost Queen’s Claim, Locket of the Iron Solari,and 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?
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