5 Tips to Improve Your Support Play Ft. Bakery
Tue 24th Oct 2017 - 10:15am
James “Bakery” Baker is the Support player for Team Dignitas. He is acclaimed as one of the best Support players in Europe and has earned a lot of attention for miraculous plays on his trademark heroes, Kharazim and Uther. Bakery didn’t start out as a Support player. Before playing Heroes of the Storm, Bakery played Top Lane in League of Legends casually but found Support was his favourite role when he played more competitively. Bakery switched over to HotS and played Carry because he found it to be the most fun. He wanted to form a team with Snitch and adrd, and so he decided it was time to get back into the Support role.
“I wanted to play with Snitch and adrd who would both be Ranged,
so it was an ideal moment to switch to Support,
and it was great that I did because it all went really well.”
- Bakery on why he plays Support
Support can be a tricky role to play because supporting does not always mean healing. Depending on the level and style of play, a Support player can be more of a utility hero, healing but also aiding the team in other ways. As someone who spends a lot of time analyzing Heroes of the Storm and takes his role very seriously, we sat down with Bakery to figure out the important parts to excellent Support play.
1. Pick the Support best suited for the situation
When picking a Support, you need to consider the situation. This largely depends on the battleground and the rest of your team’s composition.
Bakery says, “There are two main categories of deciding factors. Most Supports have a healing type and healing amount and then they also bring some form of utility, maybe that’s waveclear, damage, movement speed, backline pressure, or CC.”
So any Support you pick will have a specific way in which they heal, whether it’s burst or healing over time, and then a utility which they can offer.
Bakery explains how he analyzes Support heroes, “Whenever you look at a Support hero, you can usually break them down into ‘low/medium/high’ amount of ‘sustain/burst/general’ healing. For example, Rehgar has medium general healing, and he brings a lot of waveclear and some damage threat. While a standard Kharazim build brings low general healing, a lot of damage, and a lot of backline pressure.”
2. Your positioning is very important
As a Support, you are extremely vital to your team’s survival in teamfights. Your positioning needs to respect the situation your team is in. If you step out too far without your team, you risk getting focused and you make your team much weaker in the teamfight if you are killed at the wrong time. Remember, Cleanse is not an ability you can cast on yourself!
Bakery says, “One of the best ways to learn to Support, although a bit risky, is to play one game where you sit as far back as possible and avoid getting initiated on. Then the next game, you play 100% in the frontline, hyper aggressive. This is especially relevant to melee supports like Uther, Kharazim, and Rehgar, but this also applies to Brightwing. Somewhere in the middle of these two methods is that perfect balance that is going to allow you to be backline enough that you will never be able to lose the fight instantly from dying, and also get value from playing aggressively enough to land Entangling Roots or Feral Lunges.”
Try to make use of your damage abilities if it’s safe to do so and learn the balance between safe and aggressive positioning.
For Bakery, this balance becomes more advanced by knowing enemy cooldowns and team cooldowns and being able to play around them.
Bakery gives an example, “If there is an E.T.C. on your team and he has W (Face Melt) and Q (Powerslide) up, then there is little chance you can die, as E.T.C. can save you with these abilities. When you see that your team, especially your Tank, have those tools up, then you can play more aggressive.”
As well, your battleground positioning and awareness can really make a difference.
Bakery says, “A really common mistake Supports make is they won’t be with their team, or that they are always with their team. The middle ground is definitely where you want to be. Whenever there is a skirmish or fight, you want to be there, because a team with a healer is almost always going to win that fight.”
You need to be very aware of the map, in terms of what your team is doing and what the enemy team is doing.
If there’s downtime, where lanes are being pushed, objectives are close, or you know the enemy won’t force a fight, look for other opportunities.
Bakery gives a great example for Rehgar: “He is super fast at clearing camps and pushing waves. So with Rehgar, it’s important to think about your team and if they need you in a fight. If not, can you get value from shoving a wave out really fast or getting a camp? If yes, go do this and be sure to ping and let your team know.”
Supports can offer a lot of utility if they can properly manage their time and know when to be with their team and when to be getting an advantage before an objective or teamfight.
3. Think about your synergy with other heroes
Anytime you are building a composition, you need to think about how certain heroes work together. So as a Support, decide how your utilities and healing style will help the rest of your team.
Bakery explains some of the top synergies right now. “Greymane and Uther is a really cool one right now. Divine Shield can be used to enable Greymane to dive the enemy backline with Go For the Throat and just really 1v5 kill the enemy backline. Another great synergy with Uther is Genji. Divine Shield and Dragon Blade can allow Genji to cause some real havoc if the enemy backline is really low. Another cool one which people may not realize is playing something like Arthas, Sonya, or even Stitches, and playing really aggressively with a Rehgar there to give a second life bar with Ancestral Healing can be surprisingly effective in a fight because the enemy team just cannot kill them.”
4. Use your healing abilities at the right time
Knowing when to use your healing abilities varies across the different Support heroes. A Support like Li Li will pretty much spam her Q (Healing Brew) whenever it’s up to heal, while a hero like Uther has a few healing spells that can be used in specific ways.
Bakery explains, “With Uther, because his passive trait gives armor to heroes he heals, you only really want to use your heals in a teamfight. If you are the solo Support, this doesn’t always work. You have to find the correct balance of having your cooldowns up and not wasting time. For Uther, you want to use your W (Holy Radiance) for sustain healing and your Q (Flash of Light) for the burst healing and apply the armor from Guardian of Ancient Kings at level 7. You want to be using your Q when you can get full value. Wasting any healing by overhealing on Uther is a real disaster, especially if you can get value from the armor from his trait.”
Rehgar is another Support where managing cooldowns is important. As Bakery’s personal favourite Support to manage cooldowns on, he has a lot of advice on how to do so effectively.
Bakery says, “Rehgar’s Q (Chain Heal) now hits everyone for the same amount, so the ideal time to cast Chain Heal is when there are three people who all need healing. Getting any less than all three is not optimal value. Since a lot of Tanks in the current meta have some way of sustaining themselves, through self-healing or shields, you can often hold out longer on using your Chain Heal. After Level 13 though, the way Rehgar uses cooldowns is completely different because Earth Shield at Level 13 is a must pick talent. So now you are using your W (Lightning Shield) to prevent damage that would cause you to need to use your Q prematurely. Ancestral is the big thing on Rehgar, so whenever someone needs Ancestral to be used on them, always try to work out whether this hero can survive with a Q and W combo, or does this hero 100% need Ancestral and I should not waste my Q and W. I can then use my Q and W healing combo after the Ancestral or on a different target.”
Knowing how to manage your cooldowns and your healing priorities allows you to dish out more healing and be very effective with it as well.
5. Mana control
Some Support heroes have a more difficult time managing their mana than others. You don’t want to waste your abilities before a teamfight and then have no mana to help your teammates. As well, during a teamfight, you want to make sure you are able to heal just enough so that you don’t run out of mana before the teamfight is over.
Bakery explains, “For Rehgar, because of Feral Heart at Level 4, there’s a lot of cool tricks you can do where in a situation any other Support would need to back, but Rehgar can use what I call ‘commute time’. So you can move from mid-lane to bot-lane on Infernal Shrines, clear a wave, then do the bottom easy camp. The time that you are walking down there, the time that you take to use only your W, and time that you started the camp, all the while most of the time being in Wolf Form, actually gives you a lot more mana regeneration than other heroes. Rehgar can stall out in Wolf Form between well taps and globes from minion waves.”
And now to finish things off, here are Bakery’s current Top 3 Support heroes:
1. Uther - Uther is the best Support right now because he can offer a lot of heals, armor, and utility. He enables very high impact compositions and very high impact heroes. He heightens a team’s playmaking ability by doing this.
He is especially good at enabling super aggressive heroes like Greymane and Genji, and he offers backup for stun chains with his E (Hammer of Justice).
2. Rehgar - Rehgar is the general Support hero who is okay in most situations. He has medium general healing which is pretty standard. A great thing about Rehgar is you can draft him early because the tools he brings in terms of Ancestral, and also waveclear and camp clear, are going to be relevant in every single game.
Whether it’s a double or solo Support composition, Rehgar has viability.
3. Lt. Morales - Lt. Morales is super situational, so you cannot pick her early in the draft. A late pick Morales can basically grant you a free win. If the enemy team has no dive tools, no way to properly deal with her ultimate, Medivac Dropship, or not enough damage to get through her healing, then you just win the game.
She works as a great surprise pick if the enemy composition has no threats.