Positioning: How Not To Be An AFK Support In Lane
Thu 30th Jan 2020 - 8:13pm
There are lots of things that people hate in League of Legends. Junglers that don't know how to Smite, top laners that waste Teleport (or don't take it at all just to end up losing lane and have no map pressure), laners who don't make MIA pings when their enemies roam, and ADCs who don't autoattack in teamfights - all of these things are just a few of the many things that can be written on a list if you take a survey of the League community. Some are varied in terms of how severe they are, but one thing is for sure, one of the absolute worst things that you can have on a team or in your League games is a support who is AFK in lane, both literally and figuratively.
Today we're going to cover supporting and how to not just take up space in your lanes.
A Class-By-Class Analysis on How to Play Your Lanes
As a tank support, you primarily pressure the lane by abusing the lack of cooldowns on the enemy laners and having engage/dive potential over your enemies.
Even though they are retreating, Blitz positions himself between the enemy Ashe and I, not only to ensure her retreat, but also to watch for open windows to engage.
In the case of the tanks that can engage, you play proactively by trying to force and bait cooldowns (either with your positioning or by catching the enemy out of position) in order to alleviate the pressure on your lane and to pressure your enemies. This will allow your ADC to farm the lane and let your jungler use the priority you have in the bottom lane to create pressure in other lanes or reinforce your lead with an increased threat on your enemy laners, who now have to play safer because they're behind and/or lack cooldowns. You'll also want to call and prepare dives with your ADC, as your natural engage and bulk will not only allow you to effectively initiate but tank in a tower dive.
Despite being pushed in, Braum continues to stand by the side of Ezreal, ready to jump forward in his defense at a moment's notice.
For tanks that have no direct hard engage, you want to defend your ADC for as long as possible, weathering the storm and protecting them in times where the enemies may be aggressive. The priority here is to defend the ADC as they move up to farm, but also to punish missteps by the enemy. You will also want to be positioned between your ADC and the enemy laners, or directly parallel to your ADC. Assuming your ADC is positioning correctly, you should never be behind your ADC, even when retreating. If you have spells for poke, you should be using them whenever available and trying to get catches whenever you can to throw damage down. Shorter skirmishes are generally your best friend, as you can quickly defend your carry and then, if the enemy makes a blunder, you can transition it to a full-engage. In the case of enemy ganks, your priority is making sure your ADC can get out. If this is not possible, leave.
Enchanters play a similar role to defensive tanks, however, with how fragile they are, it's almost certainly best that you never be in front of your ADC, but parallel to them. With enchanters, it's also sometimes okay to be behind your ADC, as your job is to bolster and protect them with your spells. It's hard to do that if you are the center of attention. For instance, a Soraka is more useful when she is free from threat and able to constantly spam her healing spells, not when she's the center of attention and forced to run away from everything. A Janna has an easier time disengaging for her team when it's not her being engaged on.
Nami's aggressive positioning allowed her to land a key spell on the enemy Jhin, incapacitating him for what would soon be a kill.
To optimize your lane as an enchanter, you should be looking to autoattack the enemy as much as possible and use your offensive poke spells, but mostly using your buffs and defensive spells to reinforce your ADC when they look to trade or play aggressive, as well as when the enemy is looking to damage your ADC. In the case of enemy ganks, your priority is going to be disengaging. Ideally, you want to do the disengaging to prevent the engage altogether, but if you can't help it, then you need to be leading the retreat while using your spells to protect your ADC as they go.
Like with other supports, you should always be moving, but never in the line of sight for skillshots and engages. Allied minions are your best friend. Use their cover wisely.
Ultimately, you should be playing for the late game, as that baby that you're nurturing in the botlane (your ADC) is going to grow big and strong - all because of you. If, by chance, you're supporting a more early-game dominant ADC (think Draven, Kalista, or Lucian), simply reinforce them as they play aggressive and use your disengages to cover them when they slip up.
Mages are gifted with a lot more autonomy than other types of supports, as their job is simple: do as much damage as possible to pressure the lane. They are also fortunate in that they can do this completely independent of the ADC without ever raising a question unless they are interrupting the wave or killing minions. You want to be as in the enemy's face as much as possible while respecting their zone of control in order to not only zone them away from minions, but to deal enough damage to them. As a mage support, you are entering the lane with an aggressive mindset, but under no circumstances are you to ever get caught or engaged on.
Let me repeat: If you cannot safely deal damage, do not risk dying to risk damage.
With this being said, you almost always are looking to make the fights unfair. If you are fighting 2v2 with the enemy botlane, they should never enter the fight with full health, because you should have been poking them down prior to that.
Ultimately, your job as a mage support is to utilize the high base damage and range on your spells to pressure the enemy lane so that (1) you have lane priority and (2) your ADC has complete and uninterrupted control of the minions.
Roaming: When and How to Do It
You should look to roam when you have lane priority. The best time to do this is when your wave is crashing. Other than that, you should be in lane with your ADC. Leaving your ADC to roam while they're shoved under tower isn't going to do anything for your team except get your ADC potentially tower dove and your teammates tilted, no matter how safe you told them to play. They might also lose experience, which negatively affects your duty as a support to get them as far ahead as possible in gold and XP. Incorrect roam timing is worse than dying in most cases, as for that time in which you are gone, your ADC has to completely give up their control on the wave, no matter where it may be. This is especially detrimental when the wave is frozen against them.
To sum it up, if your wave is not pushed against the enemy and crashing into their tower, more than likely it's not a good time to roam.
Other General Tips
1. Utilize Motion. Motion itself is a way to cause pressure, as it forces the enemy to react to your movements. The first way of applying pressure in a lane isn't with spells or damage, it's simply where you are on the map and how you are moving.
2. Autoattack. You don't only have to use your spells in order to deal damage to the enemies. Your autoattack damage adds up, especially if your enemies are taking repeated hits.
3. Ping Important Cooldowns. Information is power. This type of stuff helps junglers with ganks, top laners with teleports, mid with roams, and your ADC with playing aggressive or defensive. Part of your support duties is supporting your team with correct, effective, and timely information to enable them to play smarter around your win conditions.
4. Ward Aggressively in Winning Matchups. Don't sit there warding the same tri-bush when you are ahead and have lane priority. Yes, you should be warding to protect yourselves, but also use that lead in lane priority to aggressively ward around objectives and in the enemy jungle on your side of the lane. This can help jungle and mid to coordinate roams and ganks bot, dives on your enemy laners, and invades against the enemy jungle - all of which help you out a ton.
5. Ward Defensively in Losing Matchups. Don't sit there just under tower doing nothing either when you're losing lane. When losing, your job is to ward for dives and play as defensively as possible. Do this all while keeping track of where the enemy support and jungler are, as they will definitely be looking to move around the map to press their lead.
6. Always Communicate. You are a pair. You and your ADC are a team from the time you press "Accept" to the time you see "Victory" or "Defeat" on your screen after a Nexus falls. Act like one. Make decisions together. Synergize champs together. Work towards a win condition together. Keep each other involved in the decisions you make and always look out not only for your own best interest, but the interest of the team.
7. You Will Not Be Winning 100% of the Time in Every Game, So Play Accordingly. Sometimes you will have the matchup disadvantage as a result of counterpicks or picks that are weaker early. You know what you do at that point? Suck it up and play to minimize your losses while absorbing as much pressure as possible. You know what won't help? Crying to your teammates or tilting. Trust me, most of the time, they're trying their best to win and do the same thing so as not to be a burden to you, so do the same for them and play based on your lane. Not every lane has the same win condition, and you don't have to win the lane to win the game.
8. Never Abandon Your Duty. Far too often do I see in low elo the trope of "support disappointed with something the ADC did or how a play turned out, so they leave the lane to go 'support' another lane, permanently leaving the ADC to fend for themselves." By doing this, you are literally drilling a hole into the ship that is your team's chances at winning. Imagine botlane as a marriage in which divorce is not possible. Your only options are to work it out or lose. Yes, it's okay to leave the house every now and then (roaming), but ultimately you need to make sure things are okay at home before you pursue other ventures (assist other teammates). While yes, you are technically the support for the team, your job duty in the initial stages of the game (and throughout most of the teamfights) is to pave the way for your ADC. So support your team by helping your ADC do their job. Through thick or thin. How would you like it if someone were quick to give up on you after things went bad? Imagine if pro players did that. They'd be gone in an instant.
Supporting is one of the most rewarding and influential roles in the game, but it requires nearly as much time management and action as the jungler in the early game. Though it is the ADCs job to manage the waves and their positioning, you pretty much manage everything else. Supports dictate the flow of laning phase in the bottom lane, whether you like it or not. As former Dignitas ADC and now former world champion support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in would say, "You can't afford to be snacking around. This isn't snack time." Get to it.
Hopefully these tips help you to better take responsibility for your lane, stop snacking around, and start feasting on victories and LP.
Best of luck. I'll see you on the Rift.