Life as a support isn’t easy but it sure is rewarding. Being a support is a very broad term as far as team fighting is concerned and can fill many different roles. Most popular supports have some type of CC however they vary among more AP style build paths and more tanky style build paths. Supports are much more crucial to team fights them some may think. Properly played, they can be complete game changers.
The lane phase job of the support is a bit different than the role of the support in team fights. We’ll be focusing on the team fighting role right now.
The main difference between supports is deciding when you should be helping initiate or not. Your decision should be between taking in a few different factors:
1. Are you playing someone who is tanky?
Examples of this are champions such as Braum, Thresh and Leona. People who can stand in front of the team and soak damage for the team are always viable to engage. If you’re going to die after three hits you have no business standing before your team.
2. Do you have hard CC?
Generally hard CC constitutes things such as stuns and knock-ups. Champions such as Sona and Nami have good initiating CC. If played properly a great a flash + Ultimate combo from Sona can lock down whole teams. Nami on the other hand can use her ult to divide the enemy team and slow them letting your team run into them smoothly.
3. Is your carry doing okay?
This was addressed in other pages as well. As the support, the carry is the equivalent of your best friend. You do your best to not let them die. If your carry is getting bombarded by the other team consider staying back and helping your carry. While it’s first and foremost their priority to keep themselves alive, sometimes they may need some help
4. Does you team have another source of initiation?
If you’re the only tank on the team with a reliable source of initiation you have a tough decision to make. Generally, if your team has another initiator other than you, you should let your other teammate take care of starting the fight while you protect. However, if you’re the only one who can initiate the fights you must rely on your team to take care of the carry – or rely on the carries to take care of themselves. Regardless, always be on the look out for how your carries are doing
Reasons why you shouldn’t be initiating:
1. You’re far too squishy with no hard CC
If you have no automatic lock down on the other team, and you’re very squishy don’t be initiating the fight. Some champions are meant to help peel for the adc, such as Janna. These champs work much better just sitting in the back line rather than trying to stir trouble.
2. If you haven’t built to be a tank
Sounds a little redundant to the point before, but it makes a little bit of difference especially when you wander into grey area champions like Thresh; champions who can be built with a lot of different items. If you haven’t yet built tank items you’ll be very prone to death still making you more useful for peeling.
3. You don’t have hard CC at all
If you don’t have lock down you just don’t have use in the front line. Stay back with the carry, peel and help disengage if needed.
4. Your ADC is dying, but is fed
It’s important to note the point here that your carry is fed. If your carry has been dying/feeding the whole game, they’re not worth protecting. While it is possible for them to eventually get kills and become strong enough to be worth protecting, when they’re not, they’re not worth protecting. Focus on killing the enemy carry if you can.
Itemizing For Supports:
This is a little bit more of a tricky maneuver considering how many different types of supports their are. First thing you need to consider is choosing one of the three support items. The difference between the three can be found here under support items.
The rest of your items depend largely on what you are going to decide to do during team fights. First and foremost, no matter who you play as support you should be getting a sight stone. This is so valuable that it should generally be bought on your first recall if possible. At that point, if you started with the yellow warding totem, as you probably should have, you should be swapping for a red sweeping lens.
Next is the boots you choose. Unlike other roles who have one set type of boot to buy – mages buy Sorcerer’s Boots, ADCs buy Berzerker Greeves, etc, – you have have a wide variety of boots to choose from depending on what you want to do and who you’re playing.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity: These boots give a generous amount of cool down reduction. They’re good for champions that rely a lot on casting a lot of spells rather than hitting one or two really well timed skill shots. I really like these on champions such as Janna and Sona who do well pumping out a lot of spells. Just be careful when you get these that you don’t run over the cap 40% CDR or else you’ll be wasting money!
Boots of Mobility (also referred to as Mobos): These boots give nothing but movement speed stats. However, they lose the bonus speed stat upon engaging in combat. This makes them a good buy for champions that need to get in front of the team and make a really well timed skill shot in order to engage. Keep in mind what else you’re building when you buy these; just as an example you wouldn’t want to combine these boots with Sunfire Cape.
Ninja Tabi: These boots are really versatile; though they are mostly for the tankier champions as they give bonus armor. Even though they give the extra tank stats, squishy champions that are meant to stay in the back shouldn’t be getting attacked much anyways. If you feel like you need to tank, or if you’re in the back and feeling especially threatened by the opposing team’s amount of AD feel free to get these.
Mercury’s Treads: These boots actually give two useful stats: magic resist and tenacity. This again, is another item that is more for the tanks. However, if the enemy has a really strong amount of AP or CC these boots can come really in handy; even more so if you are required to be shielding or healing for your carry. Getting locked down for too long can mean death for you and your carry.
Your last three items:
There’s now two basic paths to go: either tank or not.
If you’re going to go tanky follow this guide on itemizing for tank stats.
If you’re not, then we’ll take a look at the remaining options and support style items.
Mikael’s Crucible – Typically, if you’re not going as a tank-style support, you’re getting this item. The active of this item is what makes it so amazing, you just have to remember to use it. The active will free an enemy of any one CC, it also heals them for 10% of their max HP; which makes this a double life saver.
Ardent Censer – This item really isn’t worth it to you unless you have a heal or shield. The passive effect increases the attack speed of an ally you heal or shield by 25%. This cannot be used on yourself. Fun fact: Janna’s shield (Eye of the storm [E]) can be casted on towers and Ardent Censer will still trigger on the turret. This means that Janna is the only champion in the game that can actually increase the speed of turret aggro.
Twin Shadows – While not seen consistently, this item has a few different cool uses to make you consider it. First off, if you’re behind on wards or your team comp requires you to make picks – meaning you rely on killing one person before the team fight even begins – this item can be a big help. The active of Twin Shadows sends out two little scouting ghosts that find up to 2 enemies in a certain radius and then give you vision on them; if no one is found by a ghost, it will return to you and the cool down of the item will be reduced. This makes warding adventures much less dangerous as you can scout ahead of yourself. Additionally, the ghosts of Twin Shadows can pop Banshee’s Veils. Thus, if the enemy team is building a large amount of Banshee’s Veils to counteract your team you can use this item to counteract them.
Zeke’s Herald – This item gives bonus life steal and AD as an aura. This makes it useful if you have an AD heavy team or if your ADC is really fed.
Building Damage on Supports:
A lot of the times you’ll see supports who forego one or two of the support items and instead opt for building damage. The only times you should be considering going for pure damage over supports items is if:
1. You’re not building as a tanky support
2. You’re confident that you have enough utility to make up for the lack of item utility.