I'm Bored of Enchanters! An Engage Support Guide
Tue 30th Jun 2020 - 6:00pm
Thresh, Leona, and Nautilus are three strong, fun champions that lockdown the enemy team and can engage fights that win you games. When mastered, the pressure you put on your opponents will strike fear into their hearts, and you can start climbing the ranked ladder with ease.
When to Pick an Engage Support?
Engage Supports such as Thresh, Nautilus, and Leona are best to pick when your team lacks utility and crowd control. If you don’t know the enemy bot lane yet and need to pick first, I would recommend Thresh especially since he doesn’t have many hard counters and can synergize with many team comps. It’s important to look at are the enemy team’s bottom lane as well as which champion you’ll be supporting. For your bottom lane, you synergize well with champions that have a lot of burst potential and can benefit from the enemies being locked down. Some bot laners that play well alongside Engage Supports are Miss Fortune, Aphelios, Syndra, Kalista, Tristana, Draven, and Lucian.
You can pick these supports into any enemy bot laner but it helps if they are less mobile and have no abilities that help them escape, so picking an engage support into champions like Kog’Maw, Aphelios, Ashe, or Varus is a good idea. Perhaps more importantly, you want to pick a support that counters the enemy support. Avoid picking engage supports into champions like Taric or Maokai since they can often nullify your engage and counter engage on your bot laner. Also be careful of mages who can harass you out of lane such as Brand, Zyra, or Zilean, as they can poke you down and force you to recall or force a bad engage.
A particular champion to watch out for is Morgana. Since her Black Shield can completely nullify your engage on any champion, she is a good champion to ban when you know you’re picking an engage support. Once you’ve looked at both bot lanes, always consider if your pick will benefit the team. If you have lots of champions that have hard crowd control but no magic damage, it might be better to pick a mage that can fill the gap in your team. If the enemy team has a Master Yi and you have no champions that can lock him down, Leona or Nautilus would be a good choice because they can reliably CC him in a late game team fight.
Resolve with Demolish, Bone Plating, and Overgrowth for the primary tree will usually be optimal. Font of Life can be useful if you want your team to get that little bit of extra healing for less pushing power provided by Demolish. I will usually take this on Leona because her Q, E, and R can each proc it, giving your team a ton of extra healing. Unflinching is also something to consider if the enemy team has a lot of hard crowd control. If playing Nautilus, Shield Bash is often a better choice over Demolish choice since you can activate it easily with your W, giving you a lot of extra fighting power but sacrificing pushing power.
Inspiration with Biscuit Delivery and Cosmic Insight is what I always take for the secondary tree. You can swap these out for any combination of Hextech Flashtraption to go for more hard engages from brush, Minion Dematerializer helps secure cannon minions and control the minion wave, or Perfect Timing to help bait the enemy team into thinking they can kill you or to survive turret dives.
I always take one adaptive force, one magic resistance, and one armor rune shard.
Flash is a must have summoner spell. The utility and flexibility it gives is too good not to have.
Ignite is what you should take most of the time for your second spell, it gives a lot of kill potential and will often be the difference between winning and losing a 2v2 fight in the early stages of the lane. It also acts as a direct counter to Heal due to it applying Grievous Wounds. Try to Ignite the enemy AD carry before they use Heal, as it will significantly reduce its effectiveness.
Exhaust is another option for a second summoner spell. I choose this if the enemy team has a lot of assassins looking to one shot your AD carry (Kha’Zix, Talon, Rengar, etc.)
Heal can be taken as a second summoner spell if your lane partner isn’t taking it. Otherwise, Ignite or Exhaust are usually better picks.
All other summoner spells aren’t currently viable for you in the Support role.
Thresh has many skill maxing options but I always max Q>W>E to first get more hooks then more shielding power. For Nautilus, max Q>W>E as well. Leona should max W>E>Q to prioritize her tankiness in fights. You can play around with what skills feel better to max, but I would recommend these skill orders to play safe.
The build paths for these three champions have been very similar for a long time, so they will be easy to remember. The items you want to consider are Zeke’s Convergence, Knight’s Vow, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Redemption, and Locket of the Iron Solari. Situationally, you may also want a Mikael’s Crucible or Shurelya’s Reverie. For boots, Boots of Swiftness is the best option right now for its price, but Mercury's Treads, Ninja Tabi, and Boots of Mobility are also viable if you need more magic resistance, armor, or mobility respectively.
Your starting item should Steel Shoulderguards on Thresh and Relic Shield for Nautilus and Leona. Your first core items should be Zeke’s Convergence into Knight’s Vow into Gargoyle Stoneplate almost every game, although if you need more tankiness and are willing to sacrifice some utility, you may want to build the Stoneplate first. You want to finish your boots either before or right after you complete your first core item. Movement is incredibly important on supports so don't build two full items without finishing your boots. After the first three items, you need to look at the enemy team composition and determine what you need. Redemption is great on Thresh and is a great pickup if you are having long drawn out teamfights or are looking to siege. Locket of the Iron Solari is great if the enemy team has a lot of teamfight ultimates and burst (Malphite, Orianna, Ziggs, etc.) and you are looking for some Magic resistance.
You should also be buying Control Wards throughout the game, placing them on your side of the map so they can't be easily destroyed. A good place to put them early in the game are the brushes next to the river when heading towards Dragon.
Thresh and Nautilus hooks are very useful for invades, so look to invade the enemy team if you can pull it off. It’s an easy way to get at least a flash from the enemy team early. Early in the lane you want to look for the level two power spike. If you push the first two waves of minions early you and your bot laner will hit level two before your opponents. For Thresh and Nautilus, think carefully before using your hook at level one, because if you miss the enemy can harass/engage you for free. Your hook also won’t be up in time once you hit level two, which is when you really want to fight. If you engage on the enemies when you’re level two and they’re level one, you’re guaranteed to have an extremely favourable trade, and will often result in a kill.
You usually want to go on the enemy bot laner, but because they will often play further behind it might be easier to engage on the enemy support. If the enemy support is particularly squishy like Sona, Janna, or Senna, then you want to engage on them to burst them down and at least force them to flash away. If the engage looks like it’s going well and you think you have potential to kill someone, make sure to Ignite them BEFORE the enemy bot laner uses Heal, as this can often make the difference between a winning and losing trade, or getting a kill or not.
Even if the enemy support is trying to harass you, it’s important not to stand behind your bot laner. This means they will take all the harass, and you will be too far away to engage on them when an opportunity presents itself. Try to at least be parallel with your bot laner or in front of them and wait for a good engage opportunity. Often the threat of engaging on someone will be enough to give your lane some priority, but you need to find a balance between threatening them and avoiding getting poked down.
Continue to look for engages when the enemies are pushing into you or when their spells are on cooldown. Be sure to keep the river and brushes warded as you don’t want to commit to an engage if the enemy jungler or mid laner is roaming bot. Every time you are about to recall and every time you come back to lane, look mid to see if you can roam there and get a gank off. Don’t do it if it’s too risky, but if it looks like you can get a kill, ping mid and try to engage on their mid laner. It is often a good idea to bring a control ward with you so the enemy mid laner can’t see you with their wards. At the very least, you should be able to ward the area. Try to keep vision control, especially of dragon, placing deeper wards if you are ahead and more shallow wards if you are behind to limit the risk of death while warding.
This is also where checking the minimap becomes essential at all times, since you want to look of engages when you outnumber the enemy team in fights. Once either turret is destroyed bottom, you may want to leave the bottom lane, usually to help push mid or go for a gank top lane. Doing this early can be surprising for the enemy team, and with good vision control should be a safe play to make. If your team destroyed the bottom turret, you are usually free to push mid and take a dragon. If your turret is destroyed first and the enemies are pushing mid or top, help your bot laner push the wave until you can get the enemy bot turret. If you’ve won the lane, it’s important to try and snowball the other lanes, so don’t be afraid to go for more aggressive engages if the enemy mid or top laner is fed. It’s your job to help your team shut them down before they snowball out of control and overpower your team. If you lost the lane phase, ward defensively and be patient when looking for picks. Engage supports are excellent at shutting down turret dives so it can be good to bait the enemy team into engaging a fight under your turrets.
Late game you want to decide whether it is best to protect you bot laner or engage the back line of the enemy team. If your team wants to just burst down a Vayne, it might be better to use all your spells on her to eliminate the enemies’ main damage source. If winning team fights is more dependent on your bot laner doing damage, keeping bruisers and assassins away from them should be your primary objective. Vision control is always important but is particularly useful for engage supports as you can potentially get a free engage on an enemy who isn’t aware of your team’s location. A good engage on an enemy carry can often mean the difference between winning and losing a game, so always look for picks, but be sure not to waste your crowd control on enemies who aren’t a priority.
Engage supports are a fun type of champion to play and are always relevant in the meta. They give tons of utility to your team and let you set up for that big wombo combo you and your team have always dreamed of. They are simple to learn but difficult to master, as the laning phase and optimal chain crowd control mechanics have many nuances that become essential as you climb the ranked ladder. Have fun with these champions and be sure to hit your hooks!