How to improve at playing the support role in League of Legends

Many League of Legends (LoL) players seem to have some preconceived notions about playing support. I’m here to explain that the support role in LoL is arguably one of the most vital in the game. Supports control much of the map and the overall flow of the game. If you’re the type of player that likes being on the defense or needs to feel like you’re really helping your team, then playing support will be a fun and rewarding experience. When I encounter players that struggle to work in a team or are down on the support – many are intimidated by or simply don’t understand the support role and feel the support just kind of stands around not contributing, I recommend they play a few games as a support themselves to help them learn the benefits of good teamwork and how important the support really is. Supports control the ward coverage and thus your map awareness and ultimately map control. They also protect the carries and can bring needed utility to team fights. There’s a lot going on for a support that others just don’t see but they’ll know the second they don’t have a good support player because they’ll be losing. Playing support can be tricky because you need to have your eyes on just about everything going on in the game and you HAVE to protect your team in all situations. The learning curve to do that can be steep so here are some tips, tricks, things to avoid, and some sage advice from a couple of world class support players to help you out.

Tips and tricks for playing support

  • Use defensive runes and masteries. Supports need all the durability they can get – they’re squishy (killed easily). Armor runes and masteries will help keep you from dying and feeding the enemy. You have to stay alive to be able to support your team.
  • Support your ADC. Make sure you’re not running around going commando on the enemeies in the bot lane. Watch your Attack Damage Carry (ADC) and protect them like a guardian angel. Engage when they do and keep them from dying.
  • Never take minion kills (unless you have certain items that allow your adc to also benefit from you killing them). The ADC gets the minion kills so they can get as much gold as possible so they can dish out TONS of damage in the late game phase. If your ADC is in the base, then you can take some last hits but that’s it. Any other time and you’re taking Creep Score (CS) from your ADC and your setting your team up to lose.
  • Ward the enemy wraith camp early. Right from the start of the game, ward the enemy wraith camp so your team can have eyes on the enemy jungler. Doing so affords your team the ability to judge when to be aggressive with setting up kills and when to fall back to prevent them.
  • Always ward the river. As a support player it’s your job to make sure the river is warded to prevent river ganks. As you get more comfortable in your support role, you can assess when it may be appropriate to forgo a river ward in favor of conserving it for later in the game – like when your lane is being pushed and the threat of a river gank is slim to none. Saving the ward in that case may be beneficial.
  • Always control the dragon. Dragon gives your team a global buff. Pink wards not only give you vision in an area but also the ability to see enemy wards (and stealthed characters) and destroy them. Deploying pink wards to the dragon not only gives you control of the dragon but also blinds the enemy to potential ganks by your jungler. If the enemy counters your dragon wards with pinks, then make sure you go back and do the same. NEVER lose control of the dragon.
  • Counter enemy wards. Use Oracle’s and pink wards as early as possible to counter enemy wards. This will give your team a big advantage since destroying enemy wards hampers their map awareness and can cripple them for the rest of the game.
  • Do NOT take free damage! Always be aware of your position and never leave yourself open to take damage. When you do take damage, you always want to trade hit for hit – make every hit on your champion cost the enemy something.
  • Learn to time abilities, wards, and neutral monsters. Learning to time the cool downs can give your team an edge and can really make a huge difference in a game. By timing cooldowns I mean writing down the time when certain things happened. For example, when you see the enemy support player place a ward then you know that it will go down in 3 minutes, so you can time this and ask your jungler to come and gank in 3 minutes 10 seconds when the ward has expired.

 

Common mistakes from inexperienced supports

Mistakes can be good, it is important to make mistakes so you can learn form them. Pro players have made many mistakes while they were learning but that is why they are the best. Do not be afraid to experiment and make risky plays. Risky plays are how you will best learn what your character can do. It is how you improve as a player. If a risky play works then remember it for next time, if it fails then think what you have learnt from it then move on (ignore any flaming teammates)

 

  • Dying too much. I know that seems obvious but it happens a lot and it’s like support 101. Don’t die – it feeds the enemy. Supports are very squishy so you need to setup those armor runes and masteries and avoid dying.
  • Raging at the team. Raging loses games – period. It’s easy to get frustrated playing support. You’re often under-appreciated and over worked. Yelling at the ADC every time they miss a last hit or every time they die is counter-productive – you’re there to support the team not chew them out.
  • Not enough warding. You need map awareness to win games. Wards lead to vision which leads to map control which leads to winning. Make sure you always have a few wards in your inventory and don’t be afraid to use them.

 

Pro players advice

LemonNation: “Good oracles play will allow you to control the game, and should be bought early and often. Get oracles and mobility boots and take full control of the map and force your opponents to play scared. Removing wards will also force the opponents to group up out of fear of being caught out; leading us into teamfighting.” Get more advice and information from LemonNation’s iBUYPOWER Game Blog at http://blog.ibuypower.com/blog/author/daerek-hart/
Aphromoo: “Being a support player you NEED to not be quiet, ever. Support requires an immense amount of communication being relayed to all other teammates. You must communicate with your lane partner so that you’ll be able to get them through lane trading while at the same time saying when you’ll use your spells to trade and when to back off, alerting your ADC when the jungler is near because he’s focused on CS.” Checkout more from Aphromoo’s iBUYPOWER Game Blog at http://blog.ibuypower.com/blog/author/zaqueri-black/

Practice playing support!

Don’t just play one or two games and then get discouraged. It takes a long time to learn how to play support well. Just like an ADC must learn to last hit well, a support must learn how to harass, how to ward without putting themselves in danger and how to use their moves to save and protect their teammates. It is hard and it takes a lot of experience. Play a few games with every support hero so you understand everyone you are up against. Play some games as every ADC so you know what they can do. Understand good lane combinations and pick strong lanes. For example, when Graves was first released then Graves + Taric was a brutal lane that had such high armour they could steamroll most other lanes (this isn’t the case nowadays).  There are lts of combinations and supports must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each one.

Hope this guide helps!

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