Playing From Behind As Support
Sun 29th Dec 2019 - 5:00pm
Not every game can be an easy fifteen minute victory. Sometimes games must be won through attrition and resolve. When looking at the role of Support, often considered the deciding factor of Bot Lane, it’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel if you or a teammate executes this role poorly.
But I’m here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even after an abysmal start, you can achieve that cherished Victory Screen. So, today, we’re going to break down a few pointers on how you can go about correcting an off-game and rebuilding a loss into a victory.
1. Threat/Goal Assessment and Making a Plan
Supports are afforded the luxury to play a slower and more impact focus role on the team. Thanks to the less micro-mechanics of their position, they can take the time to analyze a game state and pick apart what it is that needs to be handled to move towards victory. When the game starts to slip away from your team, stop and assess the deterioration and come up with a plan to stifle the enemy’s snowball by utilizing the high impact your kit.
Is your Mid Laner losing their 1v1? Well, a cleanly executed roam can apply pressure and turn the tide in their favor! Has the enemy Jungler snuck an early Dragon out from under your nose? They’re likely to do it again, so let’s keep that area warded up to spot them out going forward. Has your enemy taken a CS/Item lead over you? Let’s play passively until we have the numbers advantage alongside our Jungler.
As a Support, regardless of class, you possess high map impact and have high impact abilities. So, by isolating the threat or goal of your enemy, you can move to execute plan to turn things back in your favor. And if you’re unsure of what to do, simply moving forward with any sort of concerted plan will certainly favor you more than idling and waiting for your opponents to slip up.2. Execute Your Champion & Play Around Spikes
Every Support has a goal. Vanguards want to engage and start fights. Wardens want to peel for their allies. Enchanters want to shield and heal their allies. Catchers want to pick off and isolate their enemies. Mages want poke down and blow squishies up.
When you make your Champion selection, you must have a clear mind and sure goal for what it is your want to accomplish with your Champion. Catchers, Vanguards, and Wardens, in particular, possess heavy and high impact crowd-control effects. Blitzcrank’s hook, Leona’s stuns, and Galio’s taunt, for example, are abilities that do not need item stats to allow them to be utilized effectively. Instead, the skill, execution, and the threat of these abilities is far more important that any statistical advantage that items might apply. For these classes, stats are typically defensive and nature and only offer survivability. Yes, survivability helps with execution, but keeping your eye out for big hooks, taunts, or combos can turn a game into your favor.
For Supports like Enchanters and Mages that scale more with items, communicate with your team and look to be more aggressive around certain item spikes. Redemption, Ardent Censor, or Shurelya’s are all great items for Enchanters that offer a fight turning effect. Luden’s, Zhonya’s, or Morello’s are all power points for Mages and their team. And remember, with these two classes, you truly care about the item stats. So, the longer the game drags, the stronger you get and the easier it is to execute your kits effectively.3. Adapting Your Role
But, there is a counter to my previous point. When you’ve executed your role efficiently (won lane), and the game is still declining, you must make moves to overcome the deficit. So, threat assess and make a new plan.
Let's imagine you’re playing Blitzcrank. He wants to catch and isolate enemies so that his team can pick them off to create a numbers advantage. But, in a situation where the enemy team doesn’t have to respect Bltizcrank’s hook potential due to a lead or superior teamfight composition, what can you do as Blitz to help your team climb back?
First, shift your goals based on the enemy composition. If your enemy possesses a lot of tools to access the backline, think of Talon or Zac for example, let’s shift our goal from looking to pull carry targets into our team to looking to peel for our carries. If the enemy comp possesses great frontline, like Leona or Darius, hold your hook for peel and counter-engage. If we can keep disruption or threat away from our damage, often times we’ve disrupted the enemy just enough to turn an advantage over to our team. Especially, in situations where an entire kit has been aimed at our allies only to be disrupted by a well timed hook, knock-up, stun, or fear.
Should we not threat assess and not adjust the gameplay goals of our Champion, we may find ourselves continuing to suffer. More of the same in a losing situation doesn’t create victory. It instead relies on an enemy to execute poorly, and though players across all ELOs get cocky with a lead, you must give your opponents the benefit of the doubt and adapt your gameplan to their strengths.
4. Shadow the True Carry
The true carry isn’t always your lane partner. The true carry is the one that’s popping off. Be that your Jungler, Mid, Top, or Bot Laner, the person that is popping off the hardest should get your support. So, if that’s your Mid Laner, look to roam up and generate more pressure onto the enemy Mid. Continue snowballing their lead or clear the vision to and fro to Bot Lane to allow them easily roam and turn your lane into a 3v2.
If your Jungler is popping off, secure deeper vision into the enemy jungle to give him the info about where his opponent is. Clear sneaky routes for lane ganks, which are far more easily executed now with the Bot alcoves. Roam with them into the enemy jungle to pick off his opponent or a crossing enemy laner.
If your Top Laner is popping off, try and call for them to come to objectives. You want their lead present for big fights and Support kits can enable Fighters and Tanks as equally as they can Marksmen or Mages. If your Bot Laner is the carry, be their bodyguard. You peel or engage for them as the situation calls so that their DPS can continue to be pushed.
5. Don’t Make Bad Situations Worse
When down in game, one of the worst plays to make is a forced one. Yes, you want to look for opportunities for picks or number advantage fights, but you never want to force the issue against a leading team. Especially if they are denying you map control.
If a dragon is spawning, even if the effect would be great for you and your team, don’t go looking to ward for a steal or teamfight. If your team doesn’t have key items or if you’ve lost vision control of the area, it’s better to concede the objective in favor of the gold/resources that you can pinch across the map during this moment. Times when the enemy is clumped in one area are times when your team can farm safely or generate pressure for the next play elsewhere.
Looking to contest an objective simply to show that you’re willing to contest an objective, is a foolish endeavor. Assess your team, your true carry, and your win condition and make calls and plays around your tempo and not the enemy’s.
6. Take Small Victories
When you’ve played to your tempo by appropriately threat assessing and planning against the right targets, you can truly feel the gameflow come back to you. But don’t get caught up in this energy. Your overconfidence can be your weakness.
Take small victories. Turn the shutdown gold into an immediate reset for items. Give props to your Jungler for stealing dragon, don’t follow in with him for a fight. Get one plate and run away quickly instead of forcing for two plates.
Small victories will catch you up slowly but surely. Staying around to force a fight, a plate, or turn a pick into a teamfight may lead to your downfall if your team hasn’t been able to turn your incremental advantage into effective items. Always consider items, health, and cooldowns before being aggressive following a winning situation.
7. Stay Mentally Strong and Communicative
One of the biggest mistakes all players fall into is tilting and convincing themselves that a game is lost after a few mistakes. As a Support player, your impact can be high, so never let your team convince themselves that it’s over. Instead be encouraging and inform them of what you’ve isolated as your win conditions. They may not agree, they may continue to tilt, or they may shut down communication entirely, but if you’re positive and convicted about playing around this condition, they’ll follow suit once they see it working.
Further, always communicate opportunity. Type out Flash timers and Ult usage. Let them know when big abilities or items are on cooldown, continue to constantly pump out information. Knowing is half the battle, so always look to communicate and win that half of the battle for your team. And much of this can be done through the ping system alone or through extremely shorthand phrases. You don't need to type out “Morgana’s, E, Black Shield is down for 12 seconds,” instead you can drop it to “No shield” alongside a ping.
1. Isolate the biggest threat or goal of your enemy. Plan to directly affect that person or objective.
2. Play to your Champions strengths and know their power spikes.
3. Adapt your role to fulfill what your team needs at a given time.
4. Pocket your biggest carry and further snowball their lead.
5. Play to your win conditions and don’t force plays.
6. Turn small victories into immediate items and stats
7. Stay positive and always communicate
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