LOL: 10 TIPS FOR SUPPORT PLAYERS

Submission 2013-04-25

Editors Note: This was originally published on TheMittani.com by Seminole Sun

League of Legends has five different positions that someone can play. The support role (or, more specifically, the 0 CS support role) is generally the least-desired (with jungler as a close second). It’s a position that focuses less on raw mechanics and more on game knowledge and map awareness, which are inherently harder skills to show a mastery of.

In the current meta, the support player goes with the ADC to help them stay safe and allow the ADC to go balls-to-the-walls offensive with their itemization. Given that, here are 10 tips for getting better at support:

1: Understand your itemization options. I cannot stress enough how important itemization is for supports. Yes, some supports (like EdWard for Gambit Gaming) run boots, Sightstone Wards and very little else, but the vast majority of supports are going to be buying some other items during the game. Understanding your itemization options while still warding correctly can make you significantly more useful.

2: Buy Pink Wards (and use them correctly!). This isn’t to say you should buy exclusively Pink Wards. But Pink Wards can make a tremendous impact on a game. Knowing where to pink ward is also critical. These are the four places I put pink wards in and why:

  • River bush: Placing a pink on the top part of the river will catch any wards the enemy has there and also most wards up to dragon. Then let your jungler know they have a (probably) clear gank path.
  • Far side lane bush: Giving a top lane teleporter a clear target is a powerful option. If you can get a Pink Ward into the side bush nearest the enemy tower, you give an alert player a safe surprise to teleport to. If they do this right, you’ll almost always get at least 1 kill (and usually 2) from the TP gank. Note that players still have visibility on these TP ganks unless placed just right and teleported into when the lane is pushed … but they may not notice as quickly.
  • Baron/Dragon: You want to place a Pink Ward in the mouth of the Baron/Dragon pit. This will give vision over the entire pit as well as a big chunk of the river.
  • Matchup specific: Twitch, Eve, and Akali are all champions that get pretty well smashed by Pink Wards. Having one to throw down for when Akali throws her shroud can completely change a team fight late in the game.
3: Keep an eye on the mini-map. When your ADC is pushed up trying to get a kill or a tower, it’s your job to make sure that you know what’s coming upriver. Ultimately, it’s your job to die for your ADC as well if you need to. I will often ward river while my ADC is hitting the pushed tower. He’s likely to see the threat coming from in front of him but the chance of the jungler coming down the river and ruining our day is too high to ignore.

Likewise, you’re the person (aside from the jungler) with the most downtime. You’re not laser-focused on last hitting or winning trades. You should be the one that tries to keep track of dragon and other buffs if your jungler can’t. Many teams also have their support as their primary shot caller once laning ends (typically it’s the jungler before that point).

4a: Try not to kill steal unnecessarily. Ideally your ADC will get the kills in lane with you picking up an assist. If their player is completely trapped and can’t escape, try your best to let the ADC get the kill. If Caitlyn ults and it’s obviously going to kill the person, hold off for a second. However…

4b: Kill Secure > No kill. There will be times when you’re just not sure whether the ADC will get the kill. Sometimes you’re closer. Sometimes your ADC has low health or tower aggro. Sometimes there’s other people in the fight and you can’t take the chance. Don’t be shy. Some ADCs (many?) will get pissed off at this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen, “Why Sona?” in chat. Here are some of the responses I’ve personally given lately.

  • “My bad. My Q hits two people. I wasn’t going to stop trying to kill the Hecarim beating on your face to try to preserve your kill on the Twitch running away.”
  • “My bad. He flashed the wall. How did YOU expect to kill him?”
  • “My bad. [Tristana,] You shot him over the wall. I didn’t have time to check your rocket jump.”
  • “My bad. Your Ult was going to get blocked by their support.”

I always lead with a “my bad” because it helps to defuse things. Even if it’s not your fault, it keeps people calmer. Feed your ADC. But getting the kill for the team somewhere is the most important thing.

5: Be on the same page as your ADC with the creep wave. If your ADC is simply last hitting, let them. Don’t shoot the minions. On the other hand, if your ADC is trying to push the lane (auto-attacking constantly) throw some auto-attacks at targets he’s NOT shooting. Don’t screw up his rhythm for killing the creeps. But you can throw some auto-attacks at a siege minion or a couple at each back line caster minion, for example, without screwing them up. This will help the lane push a lot faster.

A corollary to this is that you need to be aware of what the other team’s ADC is doing. If your ADC is only last hitting and suddenly theirs starts pushing, you probably need to throw a few auto-attacks (again, at targets you’re in no danger of killing) so that the lane doesn’t push too hard. Your situational awareness will almost always be greater than that of your laning companion, so it’s on you to try to rectify the problem in the short term.

6: Your death in exchange for killing their ADC is a good trade. Support characters make excellent bait. Some of them are squishy (Sona), some of them are always in the front line (Taric), and some of them are just so cute they’re naturally bait (Lulu). If you can entice the ADC to overcommit (because, for example, your jungler is on the way), trading your life for taking out the ADC is almost always a good trade. The result is that the remaining support will probably get zoned out and your ADC will get precious free farm time while their ADC loses both gold and experience.

7: Get on Skype. Your ability to communicate with your ADC is critical. Being on Skype with them is amazingly helpful. It’s worth trying, even in solo queue, to see if someone can hop on Skype with you. It also has the added benefit, I’ve found, of reducing toxicity. People are significantly less likely to rage against you when they can hear your voice. It reduces anonymity that critical amount.

8: Practice several different supports. I love Sona. I feel like she’s the best support in the game right now. But she’s a giant liability when playing against Thresh or Blitzcrank. As a result, I’ve got two or three other supports that I’m competent with. Personally, I like Nunu and Blitzcrank. I’m also good with Taric and Zilean but don’t really enjoy playing them. Nami is also one to look out for, though she requires some very careful mana management skills. Ideally, you’d like to have 3-4 champions (of any position) which you are sufficiently comforable with.

9: Speaking of comfort, do what you’re comfortable with. I am not good with Exhaust. I take Clairvoyance instead. Since my two primary roles are jungle and support, I have a pretty good sense for where junglers are going to be in certain places at certain times, and Clairvoyance allows me to sometimes protect top and mid lane without actually being there. It’s also great for checking on Baron/Dragon without sticking your face into certain death and for spotting out level 1 invades. That’s not to say that it’s necessarily better than Exhaust. But it’s better for me.

When I cave and take Exhaust or play Lulu support because someone asked or build Aegis first over Sightstone it invariably ends badly. Maybe that’s me and my inability to be sufficiently flexible. But it’s still me knowing my limitations and trying to play within them.

10: Don’t steal CS and buffs. I played with a support Lux just last night who came over to mid lane and farmed a double wave in mid and then went and took blue buff. I looked at her build and realized she had no sightstone and 6 full slots with no wards. Her build was all damage (no Aegis).

That’s the wrong way to play support, people. The player had actually called mid in champ select, but at fourth pick, went “support” when someone in front of them went mid. It was pretty clear that they didn’t know what they were doing as support (or didn’t care).

Sure, clear a wave that’s about to hit the tower. No harm in that. But you’re a support. You should build and play that way.

That’s not to say you’ll never carry as a support. There are games that go so badly that you need to build more aggressively. There are games that random things happen and you magically get fed. I’ve gotten triple kills with Nunu’s ult before after my ADC had already died. Sometimes that happens. Buy some AP and do some damage. But that shouldn’t be your attitude going in and if things change, you need to let your team know. “Hey, I just got three kills, I’m going to build a bit more AP than normal.”

Even in those situations, I’d suggest building hybrid tank/damage items. Things like Rylai’s, Athene’s, and Iceborn Gauntlet all become excellent choices. Any support character with Deathfire Grasp and Rabaddon’s is probably doing something wrong.

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