Deep Dive: An In-Depth Support Guide for League of Legends
Sat 2nd Nov 2019 - 10:00am
In the 2v2 battle of Bot Lane, there’s the Marksman or Mage that serves as the carry and then there’s the Support. And regardless of whether you’re casting spells or shooting arrows, the Support’s going to be doing the heavy lifting until turret plates fall off. So, we’re going to take a big look today on the Support role in its entirety. We’ll be covering a lot about the role through this guide and I promise there will be something in here for everyone. Be you a seasoned Support veteran, just trying out the role, or someone glimpsing over from another role to get an idea as to how Support players think, this guide is sure to give you a little bit of insight.
1) The Basics of the Basics - Champion Classes and Starting Items
Before we break down warding or roaming, we need to get down two key concepts to understanding the Support role. The first concept is the class system that supports are designed around. The second concept is gold income and the starting items that all champions playing the Support role should take.
We'll start first with the classes. You may not know that League of Legends has an underlying class system that Riot utilizes to present Champions. The class names will sound familiar to you if you've played any RPG over the past few years. Those classes are Controller, Fighter, Mage, Slayer, Marksman, Tank, and Specialist. These classes are typically broken up into subclasses that further define the niche that a Champion is aimed to fulfill, and two Champions, like Morgana for example, can cross through multiple classes to embody a complete kit. But, we'll start with the first class of Champions that most consider whenever they imagine the support role, the Controllers.
Controllers are Champions with utility spells and heavy crowd-control abilities packaged into their kits. These are your truest picks for the Support role and they’re further divided into two subclasses. The subclasses break down the approach that each of the controllers wants to take in-game and serves to separate their playstyles. Those two subclasses are Catcher and Enchanter.
Catchers specialize in the concepts called Zoning and Engaging. The Champions in this subclass thrive on the massive threat of their abilities, poor positioning by their enemies, and as their class name implies, catching enemies in isolation. Their abilities are the threat and until those abilities are on cooldown, opponents cannot safely approach an area to contest or trade. This inability to contest action is called Zoning and when they’ve picked an enemy with their abilities they’ve opened up an engagement opportunity for their allies.
The weakness of Catchers is typically their high cooldowns on their abilities and their generally low mobility. Catchers are about taking a pick and turning into more, so if these abilities whiff then there’s an open window for enemies to turn aggressive against them.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Blitzcrank, Thresh, Bard, Morgana, Lux, Rakan, and Zyra
Enchanters specialize at buffing up their allies kits through stat boosters, shields, and heals. Unlike their Catcher counterparts, Enchanter crowd-control abilities are often more defensive and take the form of knock-ups and slows versus long-range hooks or bindings. The primary concept that Enchanters focus on is Peel. Peeling is the process of mitigating incoming damage and Enchanters more defensive kits are designed to protect their squishy carries.
The weakness of Enchanters comes from their low base stats and their low mobility. Enchanters thrive in lanes designed to be more passive or are focused around short trades. When lined up against champions, Catchers specifically, they can have a rough time as their lack of mobility can be easily abused by their counterparts.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Janna, Lulu, Soraka, Nami, Yuumi, Taric, Sona, Zilean
Tanks are the second class that offers up a true support playstyle. Champions in this class are designed to soak up damage and dish out powerful crowd control ability against their enemies. Tanks are divided up into two subclasses: Vanguards and Wardens
Vanguards are the aggressive Tanks focused around the concepts of Zoning and Engaging, like their Catcher brethren. These guys want to be in the thick of the fight locking down enemies and soaking up as much damage as they can. Vanguards are typically designed for large teamfight settings and are often set with kits that excel at starting those fights off right. But that also means, like Catchers, they can excel and locking down single targets and removing them from being a threat before the fights start.
Vanguard weaknesses center around their low mobility and their ability to get peeled. Just like Catchers, once a Vanguard's abilities are on cooldown or have been whiffed, there’s little they offer beyond soaking a few extra hits. When laning against an Enchanter, Vanguards typically suffer. Their abilities are often mitigated by an Enchanter’s and their health pool can be easily chipped off through failed engages allowing for open windows of poke.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Alistar, Leona, Malphite, Nautilus, and Sion
Wardens are your defensive tanks. They are the stalwart wall that defends against an enemy's approach and once an enemy has entered into their battle lines, Wardens will lock them down and expose them before their allies. Wardens, like Vanguards, have the ability to soak up a ton of damage, but their kits are inherently designed to focus around peel vs. engage.
Warden weaknesses come from their low mobility and damage output. Wardens aren’t designed to be a source of damage, and though their kits may come packaged with a little pepper against enemies, they certainly won’t be mixing it up with their foes for long before being wiped out themselves. And, like other supports, mobility is a concern for them. Once they’re in the fray, they don’t typically get out unless their allies help them out.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Braum, Galio, Poppy, Shen, Tahm, and Taric
Mages, a class that typically finds itself home to Mid Lane, can find great success from the Support role. Mages excel with their reach, area of effect abilities, burst, and crowd control. When you take away the responsibility to farm and instead reward them for landing their spells, then some become a natural fit for Support. Mages themselves come with three subclasses and there are unique champions from each that are more designed to fit optimally at Support than others. Those three subclasses are: Artillery, Battlemages, and Burst Mages.
Artillery Mages are focused around the concept of Poke. By harassing enemies from afar thanks to their long-range, Artillery Mages chip and poke away at their enemy's health pools until they are more than ready to be engaged upon. Their poke is also typically on a low cooldown, so this makes navigating the lane phase without taking unnecessary damage kind of like navigating a minefield blind while under suppressive fire.
Artillery Mages fail against champions designed to sustain through their poke or against those that don’t care and just go-in constantly. So, against certain Vanguards and Enchanters, they have a miserable time.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Lux, Vel’koz, Xerath
Battlemages are Mages that get into the mix of teamfight and wreak havoc with instant zone suppressive abilities and threat. And though their poke isn’t as strong as Artillery Mages, they’re okay at playing back and sneaking in a few spell casts here and there for chip damage.
Their weaknesses come from their low range, high cooldowns, and inability to really deal with tanks. Battlemages have to exist within the range of both Wardens, Vanguards, and Catchers that can easily abuse them. And outside of Morgana, from the featured champions, most Battlemages are what I consider ‘minimally functional’ for the support role.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Morgana, Anivia, Malzahar, Karthus, Taliyah
Burst Mages focus on single target obliteration. They lock down opponents with a full front-end rotation of spells that typically results in the enemy being killed outright or pushing them so close to death that they have to leave a fight entirely. Even on a Supports income, these Mages can utilize their CC and front-end damage in a Catcher-esque fashion. And when the items start rolling their way, they start bursting down their opponents as if they were outright Mid Laners.
Weaknesses for Burst Mages come from their heftier cooldowns, their shorter than desired range, and aggressive enemy frontliners. Burst Mages don’t fare well against Vanguards that can easily close the gap against them, or against Catchers that can easily isolate them. They’re better served against Enchanters or Wardens that allow their poke and are easy targets for their all-in.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Annie, Brand, Lux, Karma, Neeko, Veigar, Orianna, Syndra, Zyra
Specialists are champions that do a little bit of everything or are champions with kits that don’t allow them to fit into a neat paradigm. This category is full of wild card champions, so there are only a few champions within this odd-ball class that fit into the Support role. The two champions that are here certainly have their niches to fill.
The following Champions are in this subclass: Fiddlesticks and Zilean
Before we get into Warding and all of the bits that you’re looking to digest quickly to dominate your foes, we first need to discuss income as it comes for Supports. 70% of your early game income and ability to carry is tied up into your starting item. Which should be Spellthief’s Edge, Relic Shield, or Ancient Coin. Each of these items offers a bit of passive income, but also rewards their uses for playing a certain way.
Relic Shield is typically picked up by Catchers, Vanguards, and Wardens. This starter item gives a bit of HP and has a unique passive that executes minions when they are low on health. When the wielder of Relic Shield executes a minion with the item’s passive stack up (denoted by a blue orb around the character) the income that the minion would give is then distributed to the wielder and a nearby ally. Further, both allies are healed for a small percentage of their missing base health. This item is perfect for most melee Supports as it gives them a bit of extra health to shred off as they go for high priority minion kills. (Cannons and Melee) The passive stacks restoring a bit of health to them after assuredly receiving poke for their efforts is a more than a welcome bit of sustain that doesn’t typically come packaged into their kits.
Spellthief’s Edge is the go-to starting item for most Enchanters and Mages. It rewards the wielder from poking down enemies with abilities and auto-attacks and can stack quickly if you hold the range advantage. This item also gives a bit of mana-regen to help keep up in the poke department.
Ancient Coin is the inbetweener of the two previously mentioned items. Coin is taken in matchups where you expect to lose as its income mechanic is the safest to farm up when compared to Relic’s or Spellthief’s. Coin is also a great selection in lanes where scaling and passivity are in the focus of both sides. Concerning its income mechanic, throughout the lane phase when minions die, coins will be dropped due to Ancient Coin’s passive. These coins can be hovered near to collect. Dropped blue coins restore mana and gold coins give gold. The position of these drops can be RNG based, but they last for a good moment and are safe to secure within given windows.
Regardless of the item, each has a benchmark when it comes to income. Earning 500 Gold with the item and upgrading to its second-tier turns this item into an entirely new item with a unique ‘Warding’ activation. As you know or can guess, this activation drops Sight Wards (Green/Yellow Wards) for us to utilize throughout the game. At Tier-2, you receive three stacks of wards and at Tier-3, you receive 4 stacks of wards. Typically, this item is upgraded second after your first rush item and boots are completed. But, don’t be afraid to upgrade this item early if you can as the extra vision provided is always helpful throughout any phase of the game.
Speaking of phases, we’re about to break the first of those in the next section as we transition out of the basics.
2) The Early Game - Power, Invading, Warding, & Roaming
Early game is where Supports possess their most power. Supports are inherently designed to work more off of the effects of their abilities alone rather than the damage or effects of their ability alongside items. This is doubly so for Supports that fall within the Catcher or Vanguard subclasses. Items won’t change how Thresh’s hook operates, they’ll only change the damage output of it. The damage of this ability isn’t the focus of what Thresh can do as a Champion anyway, so he and his brethren with his class are considered early-game/feast style champions.
Enchanters hold a little less power early as their crowd-control, as mentioned, is typically softer and defensively minded. So, they won’t be styling with big crowd-control plays early. Instead, they’ll look to utilize their higher base damages on their abilities to chip in poke and set up their carries for all-in fights at key level spikes.
Mages definitely scale better with items and as the game goes on. As mentioned, Mages in the Support role are typically suited for carrying from Mid Lane. So, by affording them time and gold, they’ll naturally improve over the course of the game and get to the point of extreme poke, lockdown, and delete that they thrive off of.
With design in mind, let’s talk about Invading. When you’ve selected a Champion with a strong level-one ability like Blitzcrank or Morgana, you have the potential to invade and secure First Blood or at least blow a Summoner Spell. Naturally, this can be planned ahead in the Draft Phase or aggressively pinged out once everyone has spawned in. But, before you go for the invade, consider the enemy’s composition. If their level-one is equal to yours, then it might be best to prepare a defensive line through warding or stacking for a counter-engage. If their level one abilities are weaker, you can always go for the aggression if your team is 100% behind it.
So, what are your invade paths?
We’ll start with Blue Side, featured on the above map. Route-A and Route-C are longer paths to set up, but they come with the advantage of providing a bit more Fog-of-War/Bush coverage. Route-B is your fastest route, but it’s best executed if your team is all on the same page from spawn. This route is also extremely dangerous as the Red Team typically gets here first, and if their level one is equal, then you’re surely walking into a scrap. Slowly trickling into this route doesn’t mean success, so if you’re all not down to go from the jump, then back off.
Invading from Red is much easier than invading from Blue. Route-A is equal in safety and set up to Blue side. Route-B is again fast, but from Red Side, provides great coverage due to Fog and brush. Route-C takes more time to set-up and requires wall-hugging, but it comes in at an angle that often catches enemies off-guard.
Regardless of whatever side you’re on, invades can be countered. By being alert on spawn and warding out Pixel or Tri-Brush, you can easily ping out the invade before it happens. Or, you can call for a stack. Meaning, if you call for your team to stack in a brush along any of the typical invade paths, you can catch the jump on the leading enemy for the clapback kill. Stacks are riskier than simply warding though, but if you’re the roll-the-dice type, this call can payout with a great early advantage.
Vision equals control and information in League. Having your flanks, key-objectives, and jungle paths warded lets you dial in on the line to victory and keep it clear. This duty is equal to the responsibility to perform well in lane and, even when you’re down, it’s up to you to maintain this aspect so that your team can perform well around it.
Naturally, there are key locations, timings, and patterns that you should be aware of, but we’ll focus on the lane phase first before opening up into a wider view of mid/late-game vision control. So, assuming we’re not having to drop invade-wards, what are the most important locations to ward throughout the lane phase?
Point-A is key to having our lane-phase start off right. Having vision in our opposing lane bush helps us weave in poke and stay on top of the positioning of our opponents. When against Catchers and Vanguards, this vision is critically important because we can play move defensively against their aggression AND take a guess on the location of the enemy Jungler based on how they’re moving. Ff we do not have deeper vision into the enemy jungle, we can guess sudden aggression means that they are near. If we do not have control of our lane, move Point-A back to your side of the lane and keep it warded for defensive positioning.
Point-B is standard when you have control of the lane and are pushing. Many Junglers will hop the opposing wall or path directly down river and this brush spots that out. You can typically call this spot for a ward around the 3-minute mark from your Carry or drop it yourself if your next stack is up.
Point-C is defensive in nature and is best occupied by a Pink Ward following your first back. The constant vision here is great because you never want to be caught with your flank open when pushing. When playing under turret, a Pink in this bush opens up a route for your Jungler to come down and easily alleviate pressure.
Point-D’s ward should be positioned so that it covers both a bit of the lane and the dragon pit. Typically you look to ward this position yourself after your first back, and transition to relying on your Carry’s wards for closer to lane coverage until your trinket stacks up.
Point-E is my favorite ward. When positioned cleanly along the curve of the wall, you have the vision of the enemy clearing their Blue Buff and Gromp. This ward provides valuable information to everyone on your team by calling out the enemy Jungler’s position allowing them to take aggressive acts, invade, or go for their own ward coverage safely.
Point-A remains the same here. We want control of this brush for vision for poke and positioning.
Point-B follows the same logic as Blue-Side but, on Red-Side, this point is our flank when pushing. It’s harder to maintain this point with a Pink Ward, but keeping it in your control will help you press safely.
Point-C, as mentioned previously, typically is home to a Blue-Side Pink Ward. When in control of the lane, pushing, clearing, and keeping vision over this lane with our wards helps you maintain aggression or retreat as necessary.
Point-D follows the same logic as Blue-Side, with the advantage that it’s awfully more safe to ward as retreat is far easier here.
Point-E is needs to be covered by a Pink Ward when you’re pressed into turret and there’s no signs of relief coming in. Keep this bush covered helps prevent dives be affording you time to back off, and when positioned at the edge, helps clear any ‘over-the-wall’ coverage that the enemy has placed forward.
Point-F is the point that I commonly refer to as the ‘Nocturne Ward’. Coverage at this point is helpful against a few particular champions that can gank from long range or have the ability to quickly speed past coverage. Nocturne, Hecarim, or Zac to name a few.
Generally speaking though, this is a helpful location to ward as it provides coverage of the Krugs and offers information on pathing. Keep this spot on your radar when you have a dominating lead in bot-lane and can easily advance to maintain coverage of it. You’ll also want this brush warded before setting up for any dives. A Jungler sneaking out from this position can easily ruin what would otherwise be a well-executed play.
Yes. Supports can roam. Many of the highest-rated Support players in each region achieve their status by basically becoming a second. But there are appropriate times to do this and there are certain lane opponents that you want to roam more or less against. Typically, there are three situations that you can look to roam in, and we’ll break each of those down.
When your Carry is dead or not in lane.
Though soaking up experience and getting what gold you can through last hitting is important, Supports are generally better served when they, y’know, support someone else. As we mentioned, Supports are powerful during the early game as their abilities are typically high-impact and their base damages are higher earlier rather than later. If you hold to a lane to soak experience or get gold, you’re doing little to take advantage of your role’s early potential without a partner, so roam if it’s safe to do so. Mid is your easiest avenue to gank or you can always move in association with your Jungler to secure deeper vision in the enemy jungle. You’ll collect gold and experience passively over the game, so don’t sweat missing a wave if it means getting a kill or securing objective control elsewhere.
Mage Supports can take this advice with a grain of salt. If you’re playing a non-traditional Mage Support like Syndra or Veigar, sticking to a lane and collecting gold to get to your item spikes would be a bit more beneficial to you. But, do not sleep on the advantage of blowing up an over aggressive and overextended laner if your team is calling for help.
When your lane is frozen and your Carry is not at risk.
When waves are frozen and you’re playing against a relatively low-impact lane, you can roam to follow the same early focused impact of our previous point. But, when you leave from a freeze, consider first the safety and power of your lane opponents. If you’re laned against Blitzcrank-Lucian combo and you’re leaving a Jinx behind to catch the wave, it might better serve you to be in the neighborhood of your Jinx. When you reveal yourself away from your lane against aggressive enemies, you’re asking for your Carry to die or blow Summoner Spells just to survive.
When you are coming back from fountain following a back or respawn.
When coming back to the action, it’s the perfect opportunity to gank. Running it down Mid and calling for a bait engage or sweeping through to check for vision and clear wards is the perfect opportunity to set up a cheeky gank onto the enemy. This mode of roaming becomes less effective as the game transitions to Mid Game. But for the first 15-20 minutes, it’s a clean way to gain an early spike heading into the transitional phase.
3) The Mid-to-Late Game - Transitioning, Warding, & Duties
Mid Game is considered to occur around 15-20 minutes, or when the first tower has fallen. When ahead, holding to lane puts your lead in a precarious position as you open yourself up to more varied gank pathways. Typically the best call to make is to transition your lead to another lane and help secure objectives.
How do we evaluate what lane to transition to though? Well, look at your map. What is the biggest neutral objective available? What is the easiest objective for your team to take? What lane is at a disadvantage?
If our neutral objective is Dragon, moving to the mid-lane is ideal. We want our leaders to be positioned near the objective that our team wants priority for. If Rift Herald is our neutral objective, we can move our pressure to top lane to secure the turret and be in safer pathing conditions to contest the objective. If no neutral objectives are available, let’s look at the strength of our enemy laners and turret health. If one of the enemy laners is behind, and their turret is close to falling, securing the turret there and opening up the map near their location would better serve our team. If lanes are neutral or enemies have leads, matching those lanes and utilizing numbers against them can easily drop those off if executed correctly. But, again, factor what neutrals are up before taking this route. The ideal situation is to open up Mid as it opens up access to both sides of the jungle and allows for deeper vision control to take place going into the late game.
Ward coverage during Mid-to-Late Game depends heavily on what objectives your team is contesting. Again we’ll look at both perspectives and talk about the logic behind the ward placements. But first, we’ll start with a look at contesting Dragon.
On this map, Red-Side wards are denoted in red and Blue-Side wards are denoted in blue.
Blue Side has weaker access to Dragon, and it’s for this reason that their vision must be deeper and provide a wider coverage of approach. Retreat paths when fighting for Dragon are not optimal for Blue Side, unless they were scouted and secured ahead of time. So, when moving to secure this objective, be sure you take thirty seconds before your team moves to scout your escape route, typically towards Bot, and then begin securing your ward coverage.
Point-A on Blue-Side gives excellent coverage of the curve leading down to the Blast Cone on Red Side and casts vision into the Red jungle to alert your team of the enemy approaching.
Point-B, when positioned towards the tip of the curve-bush, grants vision of the bush and deeper sight into the jungle to see enemy encroachment.
Point-C, is a bit riskier to secure but the position of the ward here is flexible. When hit directly in the crossroads of the jungle walls, you have views of all the pathways leading towards dragon for encroachment and chasing. But, if this position is too hot to secure, you can move this ward towards the curve of the wall opposite of Point-A to acquire vision over Blue Buff and Gromp. (My favorite ward spot creeps up again!)
Point-D is for your Pink Ward. When securing dragon from Blue-Side, you’ll utilize Scryer’s Bloom or Oracle’s Lens to secure your approach and clear vision in and around the pit. But, there are sneaky wards called ‘Gate-Wards’ that come into play. As their name implies, these wards are placed just shy of the objective’s entrance and often times are missed through standard sweeping. By dropping a Pink in line with the jungle entranceway, but mid-river, you can typically catch these wards hiding out and deny any desperation vision that your opponents might drop.
Point-E ties well into Point-B’s defense and offers full coverage of the pathway from Mid-Turret to the river.
Point-F is the Pixel Bush. This typically is the ‘Mid’s Ward’ and provides pathing information and coverage as they go through their lane phase. At the point of contesting dragon though, this is an okay spot to secure when it’s too risky to press for deeper vision. This is a minimal coverage ward though, and offers little time to Blue Side when getting aggressed on by Red.
Point-G is an okay ward to see movement from Mid. You’ll want this ward positioned closely against the wall on your side so that it’s riskier for the enemy to clear.
Point-H is your desperation ward. Often the placement of this ward is simply to try and allow your Jungler vision enough to steal a Dragon that you’ve lost control of.
Red Side has easier access to the Dragon pit and because of this, their focus is more on denial vs. control. But that doesn’t mean Red-Side gets off the hook and doesn’t have to ward to pick up the Dragon.
Point-A is the Blast Cone/Anti-Steal Ward. Typically if the Blue is looking to make a steal, they’ll come from some angle around this area and Red Side can ward this from over the Dragon pit wall safely.
Point-B coincides with Point-A as a steal-point, but also offers coverage of the curve bush alongside Red Buff’s walls. This ward, if placed a bit towards the tips, can give either deeper vision towards Mid or to the Blast Cone.
Point-C offers pathing coverage from Mid and should, again, be placed closer to the Red Side wall to make clearing the ward riskier.
Point-D operates much like it does on Blue Side, but on Red Side it’s a more vital denial spot so it’s worthy of a Pink Ward when securing dragon. But, if you’ve only one Pink in hand, save it for the pit.
Point-E, is where you’re dropping your Pink more often than naught. You’d like Pink coverage split between D & E, but to have true vision denial of the objective, getting a Pink into the pit is ideal.
In Solo/Duo-Queue, Rift Herald is rarely contested within the context of a teamfight. This objective is more often than naught secured in response to something happening on the opposite end of the map or following a successful gank.
Warding for Herald usually takes the form of a Gate or Pixel Ward. Around the time that Herald becomes a true objective in the eyes of the map, Supports are still down in Bot with their carry and s often opt for their Oracle’s Lens to aid with their vision denial and ganking.
Herald is still an important objective though, and it’s one of the reasons why we transition our Carry/Support topside. We want to secure this objective for its pushing power and ram it down Mid to open the map as fast as possible. When Mid is already open, this objective should be that much easier to take, as we can secure deeper vision around by mirroring our Baron wards. (See Below)
As a Support, your ward placements in and around Bot and your communication with your team covering the enemy ’s pathing is vital in the securing of this objective. As mentioned, this is often a ‘response’ objective. If you’re ganked down Bot and your team can sneak the Herald, don’t hesitate to call for it in response to your gank through a vicious amount of pinging.
The quicker Mid or Top can be opened up through the use of this objective, the quicker their influence can spread to your lane in Bot. The quicker you secure your turret Bot, the quicker you can help influence this objective to take it to the other lanes. Think of Herald as a massive tempo or snowball play. It’s one that you should constantly look out for, but never push yourself for this objective as Baron can later supply the same effect if your team cannot safely lock Herald down.
In comparison to Herald, Baron Nashor is far more deadly. This neutral boss applies a debuff that makes downing him risky when the enemy team is near and he comes package with a few raid boss-esque mechanics that you should dodge.
Beyond this, vision for this objective often ramps up. At the time you move to take this objective, teams should be in full Mid-to-Late Game teamfight mode and ready to tear each other apart the moment the first crowd-control hits. With that said, let’s break down the warding points that you should be aware of, again, starting with Blue Side.
Blue Side has a much easier time to secure and contest Baron as their jungle naturally flows towards this objective. This offers for excellent engage and retreat routes, and it’s these routes that Red Side will have warded to watch out for approach.
Point-A, much like for Dragon, this spot gives vision of movement between Mid and river. This should be warded closest to your side to increase risk for your opponents as they clear it.
Point-B is, again, typically the responsibility of the Mid Laner to keep warded. But, we know how those guys can be about buying Pinks. When contesting for Baron, this point is key turf to engaging and disengaging from the risky objective, so if deeper vision cannot be secured, always drop a ward in this bush.
Point-C is our Gate Ward. Taking the form of either a regular Green/Yellow (Vision) Ward or Pink Ward, we can slide vision just off the pit’s entrance, but close enough to just see the enemy if they move to secure the objective. Pink Wards in this spot allow for clearing of opposing gate vision.
Point-D is our Pink Ward spot when securing Baron. Throwing a Pink into the pit, keeps wards disabled and hopefully prevents a cheeky steal when we move for this objective.
Point-E, when placed just off the curve of the Raptor Pit, can slide vision towards both Mid and into the enemy jungle. Depending on your wave status Mid, you can slide this ward towards either direction for deeper vision.
Point-F is your Blast Cone ward. Like on Dragon, steals typically come from this side, and if your carry is long-range enough, you can always pop the Blast Cone to make sure that entryway is down for any sort of contest.
Point-G is a deep encroachment ward. This ward is typically placed when taking a reset away from Mid. But, if you can sneak this ward in safely, it can be key to catching the pathing of the enemy team’s approach.
Point-H is another steal-spot. Typically this bush isn’t a high priority to ward, but in the event that Point-F is clear, try your best to land that Scarra Ward to prevent any sort of cheeky steals from that angle.
Point-I, on the Blue Side, is an approach ward. When you lack vision control over Baron, as you make your approach typically you want to hit a ward here just to make sure you’re not face checking into an enemy team camping around the curve of the wall.
Red has tougher access to Baron, and thus their wards must naturally be deeper into the enemy positions as their retreat paths are unsafe. Typically, a retreat angle for Red moves towards Top, so securing vision and having your waves pushed out here makes this much safer for your if on Red.
Point-A for Red can be the middle of the crossroad just beyond Blue Buff to give vision of all approach and retreat lanes, or it can take the form of the Blue-Gromp Ward if the area is a bit too hot to ward safely. (Again, my favorite ward coming into play!)
Point-B is a deeper approach ward, and one I consider vital for Red to secure. With this ward in place, you have more than enough time to process your Baron decision and make the call to disengage or engage onto the approaching enemy team.
Points C&D, operate much as they do to their mirror on Dragon side. With the ward at D placed towards the tip and C being in the middle of the curve, you’ll have full coverage of movement between Mid and river.
Point-E, same as Point-A for Blue. Keep it warded for vision between Mid and river. Ward it close to your side for extra enemy risk.
Point-F, much like this bush is for Blue on Dragon side, is a minimal defense ward. If you can’t make a deep push for vision, this must be warded to give you a minimal amount of response time to your enemy.
Point-G is your Pink Gate Ward. This disables Gate Wards just shy of the pit entrance and catches any desperation vision from over the Blue Buff wall. If Pink Vision isn’t possible, securing a Yellow/Green ward at the gate can give info on the enemy.
Point-H is a rare ward to drop, but in the event that you cannot clear the Blast Cone at Point-I, dropping a ward here can help prevent any sort of sneaky Blue Team movements.
Point-I is another Blast Cone ward. This ward catches vision of the cone around the corner and is a ward that gives minimal response time towards enemy approach. But, in the event that Point-A is hot, you can get coverage here to save yourself from a little risk of deeper vision.
Your Duties as Support Mid-to-Late Game
Your ‘job’ at this point, greatly depends on your champion, the enemy team, and what it is your team needs within this given phase. If you’re on a Catcher, like Blitz or Morgana, your vision may be moving in and around Dragon or Baron early to secure picks on the enemy team to set-up your own Dragon play. If you’re on an Enchanter or Warden, like Janna or Galio, you may be protecting your carries from a sudden all-in from by an Assassin. If you’re on a Vanguard, like Leona, you may be looking for that opportune time to drop your Solar Flare to get the teamfight going.
Again though, this depends on what your team needs. You might be playing Leona, whose primary objective is to engage, but you may need to be the peel for your carries since you already have an Amumu or Malphite looking to engage for you. You may be playing Blitz, but their team may have Amumu or Malphite just asking for you to pull them in to make access to your backline that much easier. Your role at this phase, and throughout the mid-to-late game, is conditional based off the champions around you.
Never be afraid to ask your team what it is they want you to do. If your Vayne thinks she needs just a little more peel, turn that hook around and give her that little bit of peel. If your carry wants that delicious Nami wave near while they float to clear vision, don’t be afraid to help.
4) Picks to Practice
You may be thinking to yourself, “Damn. That’s a lot.” and you’d be right. Though Support may be the least micro/mechanically demanding position, it’s sway over macro/map-wide plays is heavy. So, how do you go about digesting all of this and the extra resources out there for you? Well, it’s simple. Pick a champion.
To help you with that, I’ll give you a recommendation from each of the subclasses, and it’s on you whether you choose to take that pick and learn it. If you feel called to play a mechanically demanding Champion like Thresh or Pyke, go ahead. We all learn in our own ways, and I’m sure your tackling of that Champion will pay off. But, I’m a huge proponent of taking an easy champion quickly mastering them mechanically, and then learning what you have to about the role. The second nature of the mechanics will allow to focus on things like warding, spell timing, poking, roaming, and trading.
Recommended Champion Picks:
Catcher - Blitzcrank
Blitzcrank is THE hook of League of Legends. This robo-boi is the defining mascot of the Catcher subclass and he embodies perfectly what this class wants to accomplish. Roaming, invading, and zoning are all key attributes to this Champion, and getting him down will assuredly help earn you mastery over these areas as you look to expand your pool.
Enchanter - Janna
Janna mains get a lot of flack from the League of Legends community for being ‘brain dead’. And it’s true that Janna’s goals of shielding and protecting her carry are simple. But, when you boil down to how that goal is executed, you’ll find this Champion promotes mastery over some of the finest micro-play that you must learn to be an excellent Support. Janna promotes positioning, trading, and anticipation. Being on top of what the enemy wants to do and being able to outplay it is key to mastering both Janna and the Support role.
Vanguard - Leona
Praising the sun every day, Leona is eager to get into the fray of a fight and lock down her enemies. There’s no truer Vanguard as Leona is always looking for the perfect opportunity to drop down her ultimate, layer her CC, and see that her enemies are turned to ash. She naturally promotes and rewards proper aggression, and for those players looking to break out of their passive shell, she’ll push you forward.
Warden - Braum
You are safe with Braum and that’s all that needs to be said. This champion rewards teamplay, peeling, and proper positioning. He truly embodies the design fantasy behind the Warden class, and there’s no truer champion to protect your team with.
Artillery Mage - Xerath
If you find yourself a Mid Lane convert, or someone that finds reward in playing incremental warfare, then Xerath is your Champion. Though this Mage is perfectly at home in Mid, he’s found a secondary home in Bot as Support. Utilizing Spellthief’s he can focus on poke-poke-poking his enemies to gain gold and as time goes on, he’ll scale up and be just as heavy hitting as his Mid Lane playstyle. This Champion promotes positioning, micro play, and warding as his low mobility is his key weakness.
Battlemage - Morgana
Morgana suits well those that enjoy the Catcher style but want a bit more safety. Her Dark Binding operates as the Catch, her Black Shield works as a safety net, and her Tormented Shadow gives her the ever-persistent poke and push every mage needs. This Champion rewards timely aggression, positioning, and roaming.
Burst Mage - Zyra
Zyra feels more like an Artillery Mage thanks to her plants popping up and poking away at her enemies throughout lane phase. But, it’s when you land those Grasping Roots into a Deadly Spine that you realize this matron of nature is all about burst. She rewards proper spell rotations, positioning, and vision control. Without these, Zyra is nothing more than fertilizer.
Specialist - Zilean
Zilean represents a weird amalgamation of concepts. He holds a bit of Enchanter in him from his ability to slow down his enemies and boost his allies. He’s got a bit of Burst Mage from his ability to hard lockdown and combo his opponents. He’s got a bit of Artillery in him because those timebombs just keep coming. And he’s got a bit of Warden in him because he can quite literally bring someone back from the brink of death with his ultimate.
All that to say, if a little bit of everything is what you’re after, give Zilean a shot. I promise your time won’t be wasted.
Each of these Champions come with a simple to understand and execute kit, and their playstyles promote the ideas of their class. Passively, these champs help you refine the skills that you need to become better at Support overall AND they all have the potential to hard-carry their laning phase which translates into hard carried games. No lane partner in the game would be mad at you for selecting one of these fine Supports, and there’s no shame in calling yourself a main of any of these champions. Yes, even you Janna mains. Be proud.
5) The Actual Conclusion
What have we covered? Well, we’ve covered the Classes and Subclasses of the Support role. We’ve talked about what the Champions in these categories want to do and a bit about their weaknesses. We’ve also got suggested picks to learn the playstyles and patterns. We’ve covered income, roaming, and warding. We’ve covered key points of vision, which in turn gives us key points of vision denial. Overall, we’ve gotten a little bit of everything that we need to begin our path of Support mastery. The only thing left to do is get started.
Thanks for making this far! I typically like to give a TL;DR of my work, but this time I think the information is worth reading through to find. Best of luck on the Rift guys!
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