Babysitting Your Carry: How to Play a Protect-The-ADC Composition



Sat 17th Jun 2017 - 11:21am

The Protect-the-ADC composition is a terrifying, powerful strategy when executed correctly, but it requires strong coordination within one's team. Each team member needs to fully understand both their role and the roles of other team members in order to ensure the team's success. Everyone needs to be on the same page not just when building the team in draft phase, but within the game itself. When executed properly, however, this composition makes for a dangerous adversary.

General Strategy:

Protect-The-ADC compositions are primarily late-game oriented, teamfight compositions where the ADC is the primary damage threat. Because of this, the team needs to play around the power spikes of their ADC. The team needs to focus on ensuring the ADC does not fall behind, as that places the team at a severe risk as they will not have the damage to fend off strong mid-game teamfights.

The main focus of the composition is to protect the ADC during fights so that they can focus on dealing the maximum amount of damage to the enemy team without being burst down. Because of this, there are several roles that the composition needs to have.

The AD Carry:

The AD Carry is the main damage threat on the team, and in most cases the only true pure damage member. Because of this, the AD Carry should be a hypercarry. These champions are strongest in the late-game, requiring the completion of several items before they come online.  Once they’ve reached their power spike, however, they can rip through the enemy team, frontline or backline, with ease.

AD Carries should play the early game passively, focusing on farming up as much CS as possible. They should not actively push for advantages unless a clear opportunity arises, often with help from the rest of their team. Once they’ve achieved the necessary items, then they can be more aggressive as long as they have protection.  In teamfights, they should position to damage the enemy team, but be sure they do not stray too far from the team and get caught.  There is only one AD Carry per team.

Examples of Hypercarries: Twitch, Kog’Maw, Jinx.

The Support:

Contrary to what one might think, the support is NOT exclusive to the bottom lane. Support in this example means any champion that provides protection and buffs to the AD Carry, as well as crowd control to keep back the enemy team. These champions can be in the mid lane, jungle, and/or bottom lane depending on where the champion picked is strongest and how they fit into the draft as a whole. They provide the main bulk of direct protection to the ADC. This is done by negating damage with shields or healing, or by providing speed boosts and crowd control to prevent them from taking it in the first place.

Supports should position themselves near the ADC in fights, so that they are always in range of their spells and able to receive protection. If a support is cut off from their ADC, then the ADC is more vulnerable to enemy damage. If the team is splitting into a 1-3-1 or 4-1 composition with a splitpusher, the supports should stay near their ADC to provide protection. There are usually two supports per team.

Examples of support champions are as follows:

Jungle: Ivern.

Mid: Orianna, Karma, Lulu

Bottom: Karma, Lulu, Nami, Soraka.

The Tank:

The tank refers to a frontline champion that itemizes heavy defenses and health, as well as providing strong, hard crowd control. Typically played in the top or jungle position (though they can be played in the bottom lane as well), their job is to prevent the enemy carries from getting to the ADC and damaging them. Their other main job is to engage fights. Since these champions provide strong crowd control, they can be used to set up fights for their team and keep targets locked down for the ADC.

Tanks should actively position themselves at the front of fights. This allows them to either engage on vulnerable enemies, or disrupt engages from the enemy team. If the tank has a teleport or other strong map movement ability (Such as Shen or Galio), they can split push to draw pressure away from the rest of their team, but must be ready to join a fight should one break out.

Examples of tank champions are as follows:

Top: Shen, Galio, Nautilus.

Jungle: Gragas, Sejuani.

Support: Braum, Alistair, Thresh.

The Secondary Carry:

The secondary carry is the team’s other damage threat. They can be a hybrid from another role (such as a mage in the midlane that provides both strong damage and supportive qualities) or a pure damage threat themselves. They are usually strong in the early to mid-game, and are used to help cover the weakness of the ADC in the early stages of the game.  They provide a second damage threat for the enemy to focus in teamfights, stopping the ADC from being the enemy's sole focus. As well, their early strength can be used to create early advantages through strong ganks, especially alongside the jungler.

The secondary carry should be actively looking for kills during the laning phase. Either kills in their own lane or on other lanes in order to make themselves more powerful. If they can create an advantage in the bottom lane and speed up the ADC’s power spike, then the team will be able to come online sooner. In the event of an early deficit for the team, the secondary carry should be enough of a threat to dissuade from fights or to make picks and turn the game around. If the carry player is using a hybrid champion such as Orianna, then they have the role of a support as well, and must focus on protecting their carry, as well as making aggressive plays. There should be only one per team.

Examples of pure carry champions:

Top: Rumble, Kled.

Jungle: Rengar, Kha’Zix.

Mid: Syndra, LeBlanc, Zed.

Examples of hybrid champions:

Jungle: Lee Sin.

Mid: Orianna.

Composition Example:

A good example of a standard Protect-The-ADC composition is Phoenix1’s draft in Game 2 against Team EnVyUs in the 2017 Summer Split.

Here, Derek “Zig” Shao’s Shen plays the role of a tank. He provides hard CC with Shadow Dash, protection from damage with both Stand United’s shield and the autoattack block from Spirit’s Refuge.

Rami “Inori” Charagh’s Ivern plays the role of a support.  He provides hard crowd control with Rootcaller and Daisy’s knockup to lock down targets, as well as keep them from attacking the ADC. Brushmaker and Triggerseed both provide protection to the ADC, making them invisible to the enemy team and providing a shield, respectively.  

Sang Wook “Ryu” Yoo’s LeBlanc is the team’s secondary carry. While she does not have the supportive qualities of the rest of the team, she can easily burst down the enemy backline with her damage.

Dong-hyeon "Arrow" Noh’s Twitch is the team’s hypercarry. The sheer amount of damage he can deliver with his high attack speed build coupled with his poison and Contaminate’s burst allows him to melt the enemy team once he reaches his core build. Combine that with the AoE of his ultimate, Spray and Pray, and Twitch can easily rip through a team.

Jordan “Shady” Robison’s Lulu is the team’s main support. She is the main defensive champion in the lineup. Her Glitterlance provides a slow to keep enemy champions from catching up with her ADC.  Whimsy either speeds up Twitch to achieve better positioning, or polymorphs an enemy so they cannot CC or damage Twitch. Help, Pix! provides both a shield to Twitch and even more damage on his autoattacks. Finally, her ultimate not only heals Twitch, but also knocks up all enemies in Twitch’s vicinity, allowing Twitch to easily escape them.

Overall, this is a strong example of a standard Protect-The-ADC composition. It has all the necessary components to keep their ADC safe, in addition to having a strong secondary carry to help mitigate Twitch’s early game weakness.

In-Game Strategy:

Using Phoenix1's game as an example, we will look at both what a team should, and should not do at each stage of the game.

The Early Game:

The majority of the team should be playing passively within the early game. Only the secondary carry (in this case, Ryu) should be actively looking for kills. At 5 minutes in, Ryu goes for a kill on Jun-Sik "Pirean" Choi’s Taliyah, with Inori positioned to assist. They get the kill, securing an advantage for Ryu, who retains it for the rest of the laning phase. This is exactly how a secondary carry should be playing.

However, after a small skirmish in the bottom lane at 9 minutes, all of Phoenix1’s bottom lane summoner spells are down, as well as Zig’s Stand United. In addition to this, Phoenix1 has very scarce warding around their bottom lane. This requires them to play safe and focus on farming, as Arrow’s Twitch is very vulnerable, and already down about twenty CS.

Despite this, Arrow and Shady decide to engage on Apollo "Apollo" Price at ten minutes in. They do not have the vision to see Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent in the river bush, nor do they see Tae-yoo "Lira" Nam’s Zac waiting over the wall to engage. Arrow and Shady do not have summoner spells to disengage with, and although Ryu does Teleport in, Arrow is already dead before he arrives. Though Shady does pick up a return kill on Hakuho, the fight ends disastrously, putting Arrow even further behind.  A bottom lane with this composition should only go for a fight if the victory is assured. They did not have any support, except for a slow Teleport from Ryu, no summoner spells to disengage with, and no proper vision of the enemy team. All of those things are needed in order to make this a safe play.

The Mid-Game:

Despite the early missteps, Phoenix1 play their mid-game well. After EnVyUs tries to engage at 28 minutes in, Phoenix1 fights back. At this point in the game, Twitch has completed a Blade of the Ruined King, Runaan’s Hurricane, Berserker’s Greaves, as well as boots. Phoenix1 is strong enough to fight, and so takes the advantage.

This fight illustrates exactly how the team should work to protect the ADC. Though Arrow receives a lot of damage from the enemy team, he is protected through strong shield stacking from his team and good juking and positioning, allowing him to survive the fight while he dishes out damage. In addition, Ryu provides strong burst damage to finish off the kills. All this is accomplished while Zig is split pushing in the bottom lane.

The Late-Game:

Finally, near the end of the game, Twitch has fully come online with the completion of Infinity Edge. Ryu gets a kill on Apollo at 36 minutes, leaving him dead for the next fight. Phoenix1 push up the midlane, knowing EnVy cannot defend.

EnVy tries to engage on Arrow with the Zac ult, but the team is able to protect him. This leaves Arrow free to play near the frontline, fully protected by his team, and dish out damage. Phoenix1 can take this fight because their team has reached its major power spike. Arrow is too difficult to kill with the team’s protection, and deals a ton of damage. This is the point in the game where Phoenix1 can play aggressive with their composition, and they do exactly that.

Counters to the Composition:

The biggest counter to a Protect-The-ADC composition is a strong early game team who can put the ADC too far behind to catch up. Because of this, it is best to ban champions such as Caitlyn, Lucian, and Zyra who can bully the ADC/Support in lane, as well as early game junglers such as Lee Sin and Kha’Zix. If these picks do get through, then make sure to play safe and avoid giving them any advantages.

Overall, the Protect-The-ADC composition is a strong strategy when executed correctly. This team composition works best with strong communication, so trying it out with a full or partial premade with voice communication is recommended, but not necessary. It can work just as well in solo queue, so long as everyone knows their role. If everyone on their team knows the duties of their role, along with when the team is at its strongest, they can truly be a force to be reckoned with. Give this strategy a try on the Rift, it’s both effective and a lot of fun to see the coordination pay off. Good luck!

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