The Demon has Ascended: A Swain Support Guide
Sun 26th Jul 2020 - 8:22pm
When to Pick Swain
Swain is a mage with natural sustain and burst damage with his basic abilities and passive and can be a monster in teamfights due to his AoE ultimate. Swain generally does well against engage supports like Nautilus, Leona, Pyke, and Thresh. Swain tends to struggle against enchanters such as Lulu, Karma, Nami, and Soraka. Swain can also struggle against poke mages who outdamage his sustain such as Zyra or Brand, but these are skill matchups and depend more on who can hit their abilities more often. Swain is a great option if your team has no magic damage and needs someone who can catch people and help with longer teamfights.
Avoid picking Swain if your team is too squishy and would benefit more from an enchanter or a tank. Swain often pairs well with bot laners who benefit from his burst damage and and ability to do damage at medium range. He synergizes well with lane dominant carries like Draven and Jhin who allow him to snowball into his core items quickly by pushing your lead throughout the laning phase.
In the Domination tree, take Electrocute with Cheap Shot and Eyeball Collection. You are free to choose between Ultimate Hunter for more ultimates and Ravenous Hunter for more healing, but I usually recommend Ultimate Hunter as having your ult off cooldown is what allows you to win more teamfights. For the secondary tree, take Inspiration with Perfect Timing and Cosmic Insight. If you feel you’re going to get harassed too much in lane, swap out Cosmic Insight for Biscuit Delivery. Take two Adaptive Force and one Armor attribute, or one magic resistance if their bot laner does magic damage.
Flash and Ignite are nearly always the best options. Switch Ignite for Exhaust if the enemy team has a lot of assassins or burst damage and you need it to survive or save your bot laner. Other summoner spells won’t be worth taking.
Start with a point in E, max Q > E > W. You can choose to max W second for more burst damage, but I prefer maxing E second to get more opportunities to get picks and engages.
Spellthief’s Edge is usually the best starting item, as long as you use your abilities and auto attacks to harass the enemy lane frequently. Rush a Rod of Ages into Sorcerer’s Shoes, then Zhonya’s Hourglass into Liandry’s Torment. Finish off with any combination of Morellonomicon, Void Staff, Rabadon’s Deathcap, Banshee’s Veil, or Spirit Visage. Get Morellonomicon early if they have a lot of healing, Spirit Visage if your team needs some tankiness against magic damage dealers, and Deathcap if you just need more raw damage.
In lane, your main ability to start fights and get your burst combo off is E. Rooting and pulling the enemy with your passive will let you easily land your W and Q for high burst damage. As soon as you see you’re going to hit an E, use your W where they will end up after you pull them. This way, they are pulled and hit by your Q and W simultaneously. This is your standard all-in combo when you see an enemy overextended. It’s important to go for your full combo every time you hit an E to maximize your damage, but also to ensure you proc your passive with both the pull from E and hitting your W. This way you will be healed from the damage you take from the trade. A good way to pressure the enemies in lane is to cast a W on them, and cast your E where you think they’ll run to dodge the W. This way, you force them to choose between getting hit by your W or E, which can both lead to you using your Q on them and getting follow up damage from your bot laner.
If you want to play the lane more safely but still harass, just use your Q to poke. You can also use W but its long cooldown and ability to slow can make it useful to save for important situations. Similarly, if you just want to poke your opponent, I’d avoid using E since it can be a good tool to prevent an enemy engage or gank. If the enemy knows your E is on cooldown, they are much more likely to look to engage on you and take trades that are bad for you. Swain relies on getting items early, so playing aggressively is usually the best call as long as it's safe to do so. If your lane doesn’t get any kills early, it can be difficult to do damage and snowball your lead into the mid and late game.
Once you’ve finished your first core item, you get big power spike and should look for fights. You will be much stronger than most other supports at this point in the game, so look to force leads by going for objectives like Dragon and Rift Herald, or sieging towers since Swain can help poke enemies down when trying to defend and attack turrets. You don’t want fights to happen without you being there, since your pushing power is weak, and you want to continue snowballing to afford more items. Without items, Swain won’t scale, and you’ll lose your burst damage potential.
Once you’ve completed your Zhonya’s Hourglass, be sure to use your ult before you use it, as being invincible while your ult is doing damage is very good in the middle of teamfights. Always use the second part of your ult, and if you are close to death, be sure to use it because it’s not worth risking dying without dealing the damage from your ult's explosion. Remember to also use the range and vision power of your W. You can use W to steal jungle camps and check unwarded and unsafe brushes. You can also use it to stop enemies from recalling or from going through small corridors such Dragon pit.
Late game, Swain tends to fall off as a damage dealer. Unless you are very fed and have lots of items, you won’t be able to burst down everyone as much as you can in the early and mid game. To compensate for this, you need to start focusing on hitting important targets such as carries with your E and sustaining lots of damage in teamfights with your ult and Zhonya’s. Although the damage from Ignite in the late game is less noticeable, the Grievous Wounds it applies can dramatically reduce an enemy’s healing, so be mindful of who you want to Ignite in late game teamfights.
Build items according to what your team needs as always, as you can choose between a more tanky style or a more damage-oriented style just based on your last couple of item picks. By the late game, your ult will have a very short cooldown, so use it at the start of every single fight you have it available, since each second of damage and healing it does can make a big difference. Although you can still die quickly, you can bait an engage from the enemy team by engaging with your E W Q combo, ulting, and using Zhonya’s to bait out the enemies’ important cooldowns.
Swain is a fun, unique champion who can snowball a lane and take control of the game. If you’re looking to shake up your support game, try him out and become the Noxian Crow General you’ve always dreamed of being.