Is It Meta? Miss Fortune in Support
Tue 4th Dec 2018 - 8:29pm
Two years ago in the 2016 League of Legends World Championship Semifinals, ROX Tigers took two games off of SK Telecom T1 with some surprising (yet effective) tech: Miss Fortune support. A niche counterpick even then, MF support has rarely been seen in pro play or solo queue since that era. With the new preseason changes upon us, however, I think MF stands a chance to have time in the limelight once again. In this article, I will explore three main reasons MF could be effective right now, as well as leave you with a mini-guide and some further thoughts on the pick in general.
1) The State of Poke Runes
In Patch 8.16, Aery, Scorch, and Celerity all received significant nerfs. (Arguably the Celerity nerf was not that significant, though now it has been reworked to give no adaptive stat bonus at all.) Previously, picks like Morgana and Soraka could easily proc these runes with their instant AoE poke, making for some pretty dominant laning, but no longer. In addition to that, the preseason now gives players the options to pick up 12 MR via "stat rows," which further reduces the effectiveness of poke strategies. Of course, it is only the preseason, and these runes may be changed to suit the new ecosystem, as Scarra notes in his Preseason Patch Rundown (he spends a lot of time talking about the introduction of 12 MR in general, though much of it is with a mid lane perspective.)
Poke is arguably not in a great spot for a lot of enchanters and other traditional supports , but what about for Miss Fortune? While she, too, is not immune to the addition of extra MR or the nerfs to scorch, she has a few other ways to keep her harass high. First of all, Miss Fortune has the ability to dish out a lot of damage with Arcane Comet due to the instantaneous slow on her main harass tool, Make It Rain. Additionally, she makes great use of Absolute Focus (which was also untouched in 8.16), since she can abuse its massive range to poke without taking retaliatory damage. She's also one of the few supports that can rack up damage in the three digit range with Cheap Shot, thanks to it being a near-guaranteed proc on any Make it Rain. With these relative advantages in mind, MF sticks out as a tantalizing option when looking for a lane-winning support.
2) Turret Plating
Poke lanes can be very effective. With enough safe, consistent damage at your disposal, you can easily obtain lane priority and open up a number of plays, from invades to dives to dragons. You also can build up a nice CS lead on your opponent via trading stance by making them give up CS to not take damage, or waves lost if you get them so low they have to take a bad recall. One way to snowball the game from such a position of power in the past was to take the enemy tower first (off of a forced back or successful dive, for instance) and then make rotations around the map, such as aiming to take dragon and laneswap top to force down another tower.
This happens a lot slower now with the new turret plating system, and the defenders have a chance to stabilize if they can withstand early lane pressure. On the flipside, turret plating offers a new type of snowballing by offering a significant amount of gold as a reward for establishing early lane dominance. In addition to many poke supports having significant setbacks in terms of damage output (due to rune changes), not a lot of them are particularly adept at whittling down a tower even if they do manage to get priority. MF in contrast is equipped with an AS steroid and small damage boost from her passive that could make the crucial difference when looking to snag that sweet 160g off a plate.
Lastly, MF has been considered a counter to Zyra from the Season 6 semis onward, and Zyra seems to be in a good spot for solo queue. Zyra has been hovering around the top of Lolalytics' support tier list for some time now, with an impressive 54.5% winrate and 6.7% pickrate at the time of writing . As far as the counterplay goes, it's extremely easy to mow down plants from safety with Make It Rain, and you may even get value out of Double Up or Love Tap when looking to control and punish her plants (you can find other angles suggested in the VOD linked at the beginning of the article as well as in the reddit thread linked in this sentence.) This is probably the most situational reason to pick support MF in the current meta, but perhaps a useful one to keep in mind anyway given Zyra's apparent strength.
MF Mini-Guide: Build and Strategy
For runes, I recommend going Arcane Comet, Manaflow Band, Absolute Focus, Scorch, Ultimate Hunter, and Cheap Shot with 20 adaptive damage and 15-90 scaling health. Ultimate Hunter lets you get a very low cooldown on Bullet Time when paired with your items, with the rest of the options selected for maximizing poke potential. You can alternatively swap Hunter out for Ghost Poro for a completely pure poke build, and Eyeball Collection offers some scary snowball potential too.
There's an argument for going Domination/Sorcery instead of Sorcery/Domination and picking up Dark Harvest instead. It is obviously exempt from the poke nerfs in Patch 8.16, like Comet, and is probably the only other strong contender for your keystone. From my limited testing, I've gotten lower numbers on Harvest than with Comet (maybe unsurprising since Comet is more poke-oriented), and in some lanes it can be hard to stack up much. It has felt oppressive when ahead, though, and it doesn't impact the build too much if you choose to tech into it for the added burst instead. For this path, you simply cut Manaflow Band and add in your choice of Ghost Poro or Eyeball Collection.
For build path, I stick fairly close to ROX Gorilla's route from Season 6, building a Frostfang, Black Cleaver, and a Last Whisper item first. Instead of Boots of Swiftness, I opt to get Lucidity Boots in between Frostfang and Cleaver in order to improve my lane harass and cap out my CDR. I am still experimenting with the last two items in the late game, but I'm currently liking Rylai's Crystal Scepter to make your ultimate stick more (and provide a little extra CC, which you sorely lack), and Locket of the Iron Solari in order to improve the tankiness of you and your allies with all the health you've acquired in the build thus far.
Two other options I have experimented with are running lethality or more AP. Lethality seems too slow, with Black Cleaver offering similar damage potential for yourself and more for your allies , but it could be a viable option for rounding out the standard build instead of grabbing Rylai's and Locket at the end for utility (I'd lean toward Youmuu's Ghostblade and Edge of Night.) For AP, you can substitute out The Black Cleaver for Luden's Echo, which also caps out your CDR and gives you great poke potential. In my experience this ups your total damage thanks to your harass, but it feels lackluster in teamfights (this makes sense to me, since your AD ratios are much better in your burst combo and your AD allies are missing out on the shred from cleaver.) Still, these options don't seem to perform drastically differently, and may merit further theorycrafting and experimentation.
For strategy, you want to play as a poke-oriented lane bully. I've already outlined some of the available tactics for you once you have lane priority, with cashing in on turret plating being one of the new available goals. After laning phase is over, you can still do a fair amount of safe poke thanks to your range, so being the poke element of a poke-siege scenario is a potent option (like in laning phase.) Since you are squishy and don't have hard CC, be especially wary about gaining and contesting vision. Use Make it Rain and Farsight Alteration when you don't have enough information on your enemy's position to safely explore in fog of war. In general, I think your goal is to slowly apply pressure through sieging, and only call for an actual objective take when it is very safe to do so. Otherwise, play to your team's win condition and make sure your map awareness and positioning are clean; when one team pulls the trigger on a fight, you should be poised to unleash your ultimate from safety and gain a significant advantage in the ensuing battle.
While I think there are clear motivations for testing this pick, it remains unclear to me as to just how well MF actually accomplishes what she appears to excel at. I do find myself regularly getting a health advantage and lane priority with her poke, but it doesn't feel completely overbearing all the time in the way some picks have in the past. Moreover, I've found it can be tricky to translate this lead into turret plating gold. A gank (or the threat of one) or one false step around the tower (some enemy poke or catch) can quickly quash ambitions of sieging off a plate.
It's a bit of a no-brainer, but I think lacking hard CC or strong peel tools is why advancing this gameplan feels somewhat fragile, and these deficits can easily cause problems after laning phase too. However, pairing up with a self-peeling ADC (e.g. Ezreal) should ameliorate these issues to some extent, and you can easily top the damage charts too (meaning you don't lose all of your teamfight damage if your ADC gets zoned off or picked.) I can't promise you this pick is the closet OP of the preseason, but if you're a lane/poke-oriented support player, I would definitely give MF a shot!
1. There certainly seems to be a lot of hype around Dark Harvest, but I'm not convinced that it's the best choice for most poke supports. Enchanters notably tend to fall off a lot in their ability to dish out heavy poke after the laning phase ends, and do not really pack much kill potential. Thus Dark Harvest mostly seems like a lane-bully only tool, and is probably just inefficient compared to still running Aery. Other supports such as mages, however, are much more obvious candidates for Dark Harvest.
2. For search filters I put in Global, Patch 8.23 All Days, and Platinum+, finding similar results with other rating thresholds as well.
3. Compare The Black Cleaver to Duskblade of Draktharr, for instance. You would primarily build Duskblade (or a lethality item in general) to boost your own damage by ignoring enemy AR, but Cleaver can do that with its unique passive too. Cleaver will do better against high armor targets, with its percentage armor shred, but will not fare as well against low armor squishies (generally the carries.) So, let's suppose you are level 11, facing an enemy ADC with 56 armor. Then, Duskblade should ignore 17.73 armor on them, while (a fully-stacked) cleaver only ignores 13.44 points of armor. Cleaver in this situation is roughly 76% as effective, but your ADC (who is ahead in resources and likely building raw damage) gets to benefit from the 13.44 points of armor shred too! Of course, lethality grants you the benefit right away without having to be stacked up, so the type of fighting situation you are in matters. The other differences include an extra 100 gold to build cleaver, and it grants 400 health, 10% more CDR points, and 15 less damage (and no special lethality item passive). My hunch is that cleaver is just a better bang for your buck, and more on gameplan, but there is a lot more to be considered in terms of play patterns and the mathematics of MF's build path for sure.