How Not to Support

Three kinds of support players you don't want to be: Heal-bot, Nonwarder, and Kamikaze.

Of all the roles in League of Legends, supports get the least love.  They can’t carry, they usually aren’t very flashy, and when most of them do their job right they aren’t actually even noticed except when they use their ults.  Sometimes even a support’s ult doesn’t attract much attention, such as Taric’s ult or Soraka’s.

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Despite the drawbacks, these champions are still some of the most important champions in the game.  Even without any of the fancy excitement of the other roles, they are all capable of having a huge effect on the game.  Some dominate their lane, others provide their team with limitless sustainability even in drawn-out tower sieges (making those sieges possible) and still others can incapacitate entire teams long enough for everyone else to do their jobs.

… If they are played well.

Every role in the game is difficult to play, and all too often I see players picking Support because they think it’s the least important role on the team and therefor has no pressure attached to it.

There are an infinite number of ways to mess up, naturally, but let’s go over a few of the more obvious.  This is how not to play support.

Heal-Botting

It hurts to say this, because Soraka has always been one of my favorite supports, but most Soraka players in solo-queue do this.  In League of Legends, the Heal-Bot is the summoner who actively avoids participating in their lane.  They do not harass, they do not fight for positioning, and in many cases they don’t even fight to protect their carry.  They sit as far back as they can and still throw their heal onto their carry.

This is the easiest way to lose the lane and get your carry fed off of.  It effectively forces your carry, who should be focused on farming, to fight a 2v1 for the entire length of the laning phase.  If they are very good and both of their opponents are bad, they can win the lane this way.  If they aren’t Chaox or Doublelift, it isn’t going to happen.  Support does not mean heal, it means support whether your heal is on cooldown or not.

Non-Warding

This one is the most obvious one and the one most likely to get your entire team yelling at you.  The support is the champion who is least likely to need items to be able to perform their intended role over the course of the game.  Bottom lane is also the lane at which a gank from the jungler is most likely to be successful, since three people can kill a champion a lot faster than two can, even if those three have two champions to deal with.

Wards are essential.  That isn’t arguable.  In League of Legends there are many ways to get wards for a support, with Sightstone being arguably one of the most powerful items in the game now for the sheer amount of long-term map-visibility it gives to your entire team.

As a summoner who spends most of his time jungling, I can say from personal experience that hearing that bottom lane isn’t warded feels like Christmas.  It’s practically free kills and giving the team’s carry a lead in farm at best, even if not the actual kills.

Even past laning phase, having wards all over the map can and does win games.  Seeing that the enemy is attacking dragon can get your team a free Baron kill.  Spotting the enemy sneaking into your jungle can avoid someone getting tower-dived and can turn into an easy kill, instead.

Wards support the entire team.  Incorporate them into your build.

Kamikaze

This one is most common in bad Leona or Amumu supports.  The Kamikaze takes my words about not heal-botting in League of Legends too far.  A skilled Leona who communicates well with her carry can dominate the laning phase and feed their carry kill after kill.  A bad Leona will just feed the other team kills, even if they don’t get their own carry killed in the process.

Harassing mindlessly or jumping on top of the enemy randomly or without your carry means you are fighting the 2v1 that a heal-bot forces their carry to fight, only as a support you generally have a lot less damage to actually inflict, meaning you’re far less likely to scrape up a kill from it.

If you’re feeding, it means you are leaving your carry alone in lane for extended periods of time, causing the same problem as the heal-bot, with the addition of having fed the enemy.  Communicate, learn to work with your carry instead of trying to carry them into fights.

Now get supporting

League of Legends is a dynamic game.  Avoiding being any of these three players is sometimes difficult.  It’s easy to default to heal-bot, for instance, if your opponent gets an early lead and tries to farm you.  Don’t let anyone’s rage get the better of you, but be honest with yourself about what you are doing wrong, so you can tell yourself proudly, as SivHD famously put it, “I am Support!”


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Wokendreamer
Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.