Support types – Choosing the Right Champion in LoL
Thu 7th Nov 2019 - 10:48pm
When it comes to having a selection, League of Legends really doesn’t lack in that department, having over 140 Champions to play with or against as of this writing. That makes for a huge amount of content when it comes to how games will play out but that also means having a lot of tools at your disposal to help you reach that victory screen on the Rift. To a summoner, choosing the right champion to play into a match can be just as, if not more important than the skill you put on display.
Every champion you can possibly choose has strengths and weaknesses that will affect your team in some manner, and this can make a world of difference to how you intend to win. Support specifically has a respectable selection of champions that are in the meta currently. What you bring to the bot lane can determine just how you’re going to play out your lane and your job when it comes time to fight with your team. This article will be giving you a summary of each major type of support you can commonly play as and give you a easy-to-learn but still effective champion you can try your hand at so you improve your abilities as a general LoL player.
When it comes to this role, there are multiple ways of thinking about jobs for champions. To keep it simple, I’ll be writing with a small system. Every support will be split between three big categories: sustain, poke, and engage. These categories then split into subcategories of Tank, Utility, Damage and Healer. Keep in mind, though that some supports can easily blend between categories, one way or the other, depending who exactly we’re talking about.
Sustain - The Traditional Support
Taric is a Sustain/Tank-Healer who is an Adonis in looks and heart. His capability to withstand loads of damage while having a stun to engage with and a heal you can actually spam if you utilize his passive correctly make him a great option to fall back on if you need something sturdy but also keep your allies safe. Best against High AD teams.
Sustain support champions are akin to what you would typically think about when it comes to supporting in a video game. The healers, the White Mages, the people who are not meant to hurt others but rather keeping others alive with spells and buffs. Sustain supports are typically passive during laning aside from the occasional poke and it’s their job to help ensure their teammates stay alive and well for as long as possible. The ideal times to go for a sustain support when you notice you have a hypercarry of some sort (Vayne, Jinx, Jax, Fizz, Etc.) and want to make absolutely sure they'll stay alive, especially in the late game.
The strengths of a sustaining support are normally the fact that due their abilities to keep themselves and others alive. They normally are capable of outlasting others in lane, which leads to more gold and experience for you and your bottom laner to gain the upper hand. The drawback, however, is that they’re usually squishy or vulnerable due to their lack of high offensive and cannot deal with being hit a lot or sustaining burst damage, so typically engage supports have an advantage of these champions (For example: a Leona will make a Soraka's time bot horrible if one isn't careful). To a support like this, items like Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari are your best friend and you don’t build damage, rather anything that gives you additional healing and general defense Great examples of sustain support champions would be Soraka, Nami, Lulu and Taric.
Janna is a rather straightforward Sustain/Utility support that excels at disengagement and shielding. One of the best choices for those who want to get into supporting or League as a whole due to how simple she is.
If your team is needing a source of healing and safety, and you aren’t used to the role of support or just want someone simple but still strong to use, Janna – the Storm’s Fury is the girl for you. It can never be overstated just how viable and effective Janna is as a whole; it’s near absurd she hasn’t been hit with massive nerfs directly. Janna is passively faster than the typical champion due to both her normal passive as well as W passive, meaning she can weave in and out of range to either poke or save someone else just in the nick of time.
She can dish out a surprising amount of damage in lane with her W, while also having one of the best shield spells in the game that not only protects your carry but also increases their AD making them hit hard. She is practically the Queen of Disengage, with her Q that is both long range if you let it charge and fantastic CC with an ultimate that pushes away all enemies in a circle around her while healing anyone in that ultimate area for a large amount. Her very easy but strong kit makes her one of the most consistent supports in all of League of Legends, as she’s never once been out of the meta and is almost never banned, meaning normally available to use.
Poke - For the Frisky
Lux isn't the only support champion who can pop people with support items you know! Karma is a Poke/Utility-Damage Support that isn't given as much credit as she honestly should be, especially in the lower elos. Her R - Mantra makes her a rather good champion for a pleathora of situations even at level one.
A poke support means that champion is best at... well, poking most of the time. What I mean by "poking" is the act of harassing the enemy with damaging or debuffing abilities. This could be a good old burst of damage or passing out CC like slows and snares to make the opposition hate their time putting up with them. The goal of these supports is to win the fight before the actual battle even starts, whittling down the targets so they'll have a huge disadvantage if an actual trade or teamfight breaks out. A good time to go with a poking champion is when you notice your team has good sustain and means of engagement but not enough damage or harassment on your team. Most poke champions have a use throughout the game and can be used with most bot lanes. Just remember you’re forsaking defense to double down on offense (Typically; as you could end up with something like Swain or Garen bot occasionally) and avoid stealing too much farm with you harassment.
Poke supports are generally good through early and mid-game and can be powerful late game, their strength being typically able to damage others without the need to commit or go all-in The trade-off however, is that they can easily be focused down in a teamfight due to the bulk of these kinds of supports being mages, marksman or anything else that is normally considered at least somewhat fragile. That said, sustain supports normally beat these kinds of supports due to their kits normally being able to negate or just heal back any damage they'd inflict (A Nami can normally have an easy time putting up with say a Brand or Lux). Unlike sustain supports, poking champions can go more damage-oriented if they so wish but remember you're still a support; items that can help others like Twin Shadows or Rylais Crystal Scepter is never a bad idea for your cause. If you wanted to go full-on damage with no worries about about helping others, remember there are solo lanes to learn as well. A few examples of the poking category of supports are champions like Bard, Karma, Morgana, and Yuumi.
Sona is a Poke/Damage-Healer support champion that, while extremely simple to start playing, actually has mechanics to master to truly make the most with.
If there was ever a support that kind of exemplifies poking while being stupid easy to pick up, it'd be Sona - Maven of the Strings without a doubt. Sona is a support that is so simple, the only skillshot in her entire kit is her ultimate, and even that has a very wide width to it making it hard to miss with! Sona provides constant harassment with her Q that can be used with minions in the way, meaning that the enemy can't just hide behind their soldiers to avoid damage. Her W while fairly weak compared to other heal spells is AOE, meaning anyone near her gets some of the heal while providing a small shield to those around her aura. Her E speeds up herself and anyone around her meaning you can use it to escape, close in for some quick poking or chase down an opponent, while her ultimate is a great hard CC spell that stuns anyone it hits for almost 2 seconds. She has quite a variety to her kit and while she isn't excelling in anything compared to other supports, is a very good champion to take up if you want to get used to League while still feeling like a threat. Just remember she's very fragile and has no real escape tools, especially before getting her ultimate at level 6.
Engage - Going in Hard
Thresh is an Engage/Utility-Tank that has been one of the absolute best supports ever introduced to League for being a support who has a little of everything that makes a support valuable, plus a unique mechanic that lets you pull along allies to you for engaging or saving their lives from a horrible situation. While one of the most technical supports out there, he is well worth the investment of learning and he is absolutely never a bad selection to take when played right.
Engage supports are supports who have the ability to pull the trigger on fights. They're the ones you think of who can set up everything to establish a kill or at least spark a fight with their abilities (normally hard CC like knock ups, stuns, hooks or a combination of these) and try to make sure you won't be getting away. Those champions you cringe at when you see the enemy chose because they have the grab that yanks you right to a grey screen, these are those guys' class as a support.
Engage supports are never a bad idea, especially in this meta, with most of them consisting of tanks. Honestly speaking, I encourage you learn at least one Engage champion and put it in your roster of champions; it's that important to the game. There is never a situation when a support with a lot of abilities to hold a target still is going to be seen as a bad thing. The only way a Engage support is a "bad idea" is if you have a team full of tanks already and no one does good consistent damage to actually win the fight (DPS - Damage per second is what most players would call this); even then it wouldn't be your fault!
The Engage supports are typically best at establishing an early dominance in lane with their intimidation factor of easily jumping right onto the target and setting them up to get chunked or even killed (sometimes even at level 1!). Ideally, you'd want to make the enemy scared to step forward to farm or attempt harassment freely, and making sure that your partner in lane can get all the minions to themselves. While doing this, a great engager is always ready to capitalize on the smallest openings and snagging a kill, getting your lane ahead and making things easier for both your lane and the jungler when it comes to the bottom side of the map. The issue, however is that if an engaging support is constantly harassed with significant damage constantly to whittle them down or is met with an enemy that can stop them in their tracks, they could just as easily get themselves killed by trying to go in for an attack.
For this reason, poke supports are typically an engager's headache (Morgana and Brand can easily disable or even kill a Leona if they get even slightly careless). It should go without saying that if you're going to be in the brunt of the fight, you should be gathering as many resistances as possible. That includes armor and magic resistance to keep yourself alive and in the fight. Locket of the Iron Solari is a fantastic choice, as it covers all your bases of tanking while having an active that shields both you and your allies. The bonding items Knight's Vow and Zeke's Convergence are also mainstays for the typical engage support. Just remembering you aren't invincible so always make sure that if you go in, you have a chance to get away with it or at least it won't be in vain if you die doing so.
Nautilus is an Engage/Tank support that is one of the four "Hook" champions in League that is the best amongst the four to spread out his CC to more enemies.
Wanna become a terror in the bot lane while being instantly hard to avoid or kill? Dip into the colossal boots of Nautilus - The Titan of the Depths. This gigantic ship of a man is insanely unused in lower elos, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. He's got a Q which like fellow hookman Blitzcrank, can drag unfortunate saps right over to him and a passive that roots anyone he hits the first time he swings his anchor; rooting the target not once, but twice! His W shield is pretty generous and with shield bash is pretty painful to be smacked with coupled with his E which can easily chunk people around him while slowing them. Lastly his R is CC that knocks enemies in the way up-up, is a point-and-click allowing for easy targeting (evening with others in the way) and locks onto the target! That is a ton of CC on one guy! Pick up this champion and you will understand just how powerful you can feel, while not actually having to kill anyone.
Learn Your Roster, Master Your Style
Keep in mind: even though I'm going on and on about strong champions in the support role, this can all be disregarded if you just jump into ranked without knowing how to actually use the character you're playing. Imagine going to a competition and not knowing everything about the sport you're playing, never-mind what your position or tools are. Comes off as a little foolish, right? Go play in normals or even bots, try some champions you wanted to test out, figure out what champion clicks with you. Who knows, you might just learn you're the next prodigy for playing something really unplayed or seen as very complex like Poppy or Pyke Support!
No, seriously: there are a ton of options you can take into the supporting role and have a good chance of success if you know what you're doing! Branch out and take some of them for a spin in normals or even bots if you don't feel confident enough! There is no shame in learning at your own pace!
To master your champions is the mark of high-elo player in the making, so understanding of who you're strongest on and honing that to the point that you can easily see opportunities others probably would is a must if you intend to climb the ladder! Head to the practice tool or normals and give some of those 100+ champions a try, you just might find someone you didn't expect to be naturally skilled at, even in the support role.