Brick Wallin’ – A Rundown of Tank Supports
Tue 3rd Jul 2018 - 8:48pm
Tank supports are all the rage right now in the competitive League of Legends world right now. Every region is seeing some tank picks to supplement the utter craziness that has been the almost complete departure of marksmen from the bottom lane carry role in favour of the bruisers and mages, with picks such as Taliyah, Yasuo and Vladimir being very popular. In this list I’m going to rank the tank supports that we have seen in pro play as a serious pick (sorry Sion, you’re not game here).
Now Ornn is at the bottom of our list despite him being the king of the top lane in recent patches but he has been flexed to support in recent patches and this role-swap heavy meta (albeit this has mostly been in Korea’s LCK Summer Split). However, his qualities as a tank are still strong and his teamfight initiation through his ultimate, Call of the Forge God, is still a valuable asset to any team composition. However, he does all this far better from the top lane position where he has access to a much large gold share and it is that fact that drags him so far down on this list.
The Great Steam Golem is probably the champion with the greatest displacement spell (bar maybe Alistar) in his Q, Rocket Grab, and this makes Blitzcrank on the best pick supports in all of League of Legends. Now, these qualities are all great things to have a support but Blitzcrank has the glaring weaknesses of being extremely linear in his gameplay and, as a tank, not scaling as well as the others on this list.
Thresh, the Chain Warden, is the second member of the ‘Hook City’ trifecta to appear on this list so far and is probably the champion on this that has seen most play over all of League of Legends' lifespan. However, the Chain Warden has fallen on hard times, despite his ability to never go down to further than a fringe pick at minimum due to all his usefulness, and this is mainly due to current support tanks having one big job where he is always outclassed by another pick in that one job
Leona has a great engage kit via her combo of Zenith Blade and Shield of Daybreak (her E and Q) and this alongside her W, Eclipse, makes her early game very difficult to deal with as she is an early game tank with a mountain of CC. Leona engages all day but does not do much else and while this can, and quite possibly will, win you games flat out on its own at times, as games progress, she can be peeled easily removing her win condition. So, while Leona will always be a tank she may not be what you need.
6. Tahm Kench
Tahm Kench, the River King and the biggest nope to single target crowd control, has been a lot more prominent in pro/competitive play given his defensive nature that is highly effective in a format where everyone is syncing via 5-man communication and understands the team's key strategy (like the LCS). Solo queue has none of this as it usually five random people playing together and so the fact that TK is so defensive is a huge detriment. This is why he's on the lower half of this list, as the ability to win lane that TK doesn’t have is just too much to ignore.
Nautilus has only just begun to see competitive play this season as of patch 8.12 (most prominently by C9’s Zeyzal in the NALCS). So, why is the third and final member of the ‘Hook City’ on the higher side of this list? The answer is simple; he is a tank whose kit enables him to win lane in bot more often than not thanks to his enormous amount of hard CC. This is all while his tankiness doesn't fall off all that hard. A combination that is very hard to ignore, hence his top five finish.
Shen has been a staple in the support meta over the last few patches and its easy to see why. His ability to save carries in multiple ways via his shielding Ultimate, Stand United (that also brings him to the ally that needs peeling which he can do with his taunting E, Shadow Dash [which can also be used offensively or as a mobility spell]), and auto-attack cancelling with his W, Spirit's Refuge. All of this combined with inherent tank stats makes Shen a superb tank support and deserving of a fourth place spot on this list.
Alistar is the quintennial tank support who defines the high CC tank frontline role. All three of his regular abilities have hard CC (meaning he has multiple ways of using the very powerful keystone of Aftershock too). Combined with the damage reduction from his ultimate, Unbreakable Will, he is a very effective frontline for almost any team and it is this that pushed the Minotaur to the lofty heights of third here.
Taric is most definitely at the forefront of the meta right now (on Patch 8.12) due to his part in the very obnoxious funneling strategy with himself and Master Yi (most recently executed by Griffin to obliterate SKT in the LCK). However, his power as a tank support is immense even without Yi, as his basic abilities allow him to keep a single target alive with healing and shielding (this also enables power enhancing via Ardent Censer too) and his AOE damage negation from his ultimate, Cosmic Radiance, makes Taric’s teamfight potential one of the best in all of LoL. A well-earned second place here.
Why is the Heart of the Freljord the king of the hill here? Well, it's due to three things. The first is his ability to both be aggressive and defensive. It is almost impossible to kill a carry from range if there is a Braum there to deny damage with Unbreakable (his E) while he can push up and get on the face of a carry after (especially with the slow on his Q, Winter’s Bite). Secondly, he counters mobility carries (like the remaining meta marksmen of Lucian and Kai'Sa) with his passive which uses undodgeable auto attacks to proc a stun which shuts them down which is very powerful. Finally, his ability to destroy projectiles is unique to his role via his E. Unbreakable is a game-changer and should be respected for its immense potential. These things together make Braum the powerhouse he is and why he is mostly definitively the kill of the hill when it comes to tank supports.
To conclude, tank supports are very viable and have been so for some time now for a plethora of reasons. If you want to pick one up to your pool, learn it in non-ranked queues first as that way you learn how to use these meta powerhouses in way that’s correct and fun for all on your team. With that, I leave you with the thoughts of GL, HF, and GG
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