An Indepth Guide to Supports for Newbies (to the game or to support playing)

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Obzidian

Member

02-26-2012

Table of Contents
I. What is a support?
II. What makes a champion a support?
III. What are the duties of a support?
IV. Traditional Support Champions
V. Non-traditional Support Champions
VI. Support Items

a. Consumables
b. Gold per 10s (Gp10) items
c. Aura Items
d. Clicky/Activatable Items
e. Purchase Order
VII. Support Summoner Spells
VIII. Support Masteries
IX. Support Runes
X. Support Strategies
XI. Support Streamers
XII. Special Thanks

What is a support?
In the current popular meta game on the Summoner’s Rift map, characters traditionally break down into the following roles:
  • solo top--> generally a bruiser, someone who can farm and sustain well alone in a 1v1 lane
  • jungler --> generally an assassin or a bruiser, kills jungle creeps and sets up harassment/ganks on the lanes to get early game kills and help lanes get ahead
  • ap carry --> mid lane mage
  • ad carry --> bottom lane physical based dps character, predominantly ranged, must farm and harass enemy
  • support--> bot lane character that supports their team through abilities, wards, and auras

While many can and do play outside of this current game style, it is the most popular style and is set upon maximizing your team’s general potential. This guide is about playing supports, which are often the most underplayed and under-appreciated roles on the team. Glory moments for support players are rare and praise is even rarer. This is a role to play if you want to quietly help your team to victory. Your actions and choices as a support can have a profound but often unnoticed and understated impact upon the game. It is exceedingly hard to carry a team as a support but a support can change a game from a loss to a win.

What makes a champion a support?
The core aspects of a support character that they have a way to buff their allies in some way and the ability to perform their job well with low gold income or few items. (Blitzcrank is the exception as he provides enemy debuffs via CC as his support mechanisms.)

What are the duties of a support?
  • primary warder/counterwarder--> keep dragon and the bottom river warded early game and then place wards across the map later to keep track of the enemy team. Pictures of good ward placement later in the guide
  • take no creep kills or 0 cs (creep score) --> allow your other teammates to take as much gold from creeps as possible
  • harass and watch the map --> with no need to focus on getting creeps dead, supports can provide important harassment on the enemy bot lane and can monitor the map more closely for all allies
  • keep carries alive
  • seal kills --> every support character has some form of cc. good supports use these abilities to seal kills for their carries.

Traditional Support Champions -- these are the most frequently seen characters in the support role, predominantly because they have a form of heal/sustain
  • - Alistair – 585 RP or 1350 IP – tanky melee support with two CC abilities, an aoe heal and self damage reduction ultimate
  • - Janna – 585 RP or 1350 IP – ranged support with 2 CC abilities, an AD buffing shield, and a aoe CC/heal ultimate
  • - Sona – 975 RP or 3150 IP – ranged aura based support damaging aura, healing/damage reducing aura, and movement speed increase aura with aoe skillshot stun ultimate
  • - Soraka – 280 RP or 450 IP – range ultimate sustain support with single target heal/armor buff, single target mana increase or silence/nuke, personal based aoe mr shredding nuke and global heal ultimate
  • - Taric – 585 RP or 1350 IP – melee tanky aura support with dual target heal (self + target), armor aura that activates to shred armor, single target stun and ultimate that inflicts damage and increases nearby allies damage


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Obzidian

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02-26-2012

Non-Traditional supports – these generally break down into mage or tank based supports and are generally used in more offensive lanes where you are attempting to get early kills

  • Blitzcrank – 975 RP or 3150 IP – tanky melee with 2 cc abilities, a run speed boost, and an aoe silence ultimate
  • Galio – 975 RP or 6300 IP -- tanky melee + ranged with an aoe damage/slow ability, a targetable shield that gives the target MR and armor heals him based upon damage the target takes, a nuke that speeds allies who run through it and an aoe taunt/nuke ultimate
  • Gangplank – 975RP or 3150 IP -- beefy melee dps with a passive slow, single target nuke, cc removing self heal, aoe attack and movement speed boost and a global damaging/slowing aoe ult
  • Karma – 975RP or 3150IP – ranged mage/support with a cone based nuke that heals when an ult charge is used, shield that damages when ult charge is used and a tether that slows enemies or hastes allies.
  • Kayle – 260 RP or 450 IP – melee/ranged hybrid with single target nuke-slow, single target heal/movement speed boost, ability that converts melee to ranged and a targetable damage immunity ult
  • Leona – 975RP or 6300IP – melee tank with single target stun, charge/root, short term armor/mr buff that does aoe damage when it expires and a stun/slow ultimate.
  • Lux – 975RP or 3150 IP – ranged mage/support with a dual target root, an aoe slow/nuke patch that grants sight, a skillshot shield and a long range laserbeam nuke ultimate that grants sight on its way.
  • Nidalee – 975RP or 3150IP – a two formed ranged/melee hybrid with a percentage based skill shot nuke, a trap, a targetable single target heal/attack speed haste and an ult that turns her into a cat and transforms her abilities into melee attacks
  • Nunu – 250RP or 450IP – a melee/ranged tank with a single target slow/attack speed nuke, an attack and movement speed haste for a target and self, a smite-type devour ability that heals self and an ultimate that slows and then nukes all targets in an aoe area.
  • Orianna – 975RP or 4800 IP – a ranged mage with a ball that can be sent to shield, nuke, or slow enemies and haste allies with an ultimate that knocks up enemies, pulling them towards the ball
  • Shen – 975RP or 3150 IP – an energy based melee tank with a dagger that allows self and allies to proc heals, a self shield, a dash that taunts all enemies hit and a global ultimate that shields an ally and teleports Shen to them.
  • Zilean -- 585RP or 1350 IP -- mage support character with a bomb ability, a haste (ally) or slow (enemy) ability, a self -cooldown reduction ability, and an ultimate that prevents the death of an ally target and instead revives them with health


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Obzidian

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02-26-2012

Support Items

Consumables

  • [*]Sight Wards (wards) – 75g– places an invisible ward at a target location that reveals that area of the map for 3 minutes. Buy at least a few of these at the start of the game. Supports are the primary purchaser and placers of wards. While the rest of your team should also buy and use them, it is predominantly your role to ensure map visibility. See further in the guide for a ward placement guide.
  • Vision Wards (pink wards) – 125g – places an invisible ward that reveals surrounding area and stealth units in the area for 3 minutes. These are particularly useful in countering the enemy’s wards and in countering stealth or invisible trap based champions (Evelyn, Twitch, Shaco, Teemo)
  • Oracle’s Elixir (oracle) – 400g -- when consumed, grants stealth detection until your champion dies. This item can be risky because it has a very high gold cost and can be lost very easily if you’re not careful. However, with this you can shut down enemy wards. Its also almost a must-have when fighting an enemy stealth champion. Each killed ward is worth 25g so in 16 wards, this item pays for itself. An early oracles, particularly if the enemy team does not have clairvoyance, can completely shut down the enemy’s map awareness. Sometimes, it is better for your jungler to get this.

Gold Per 10 (Gp10) Items
  • Heart of Gold – 825g – builds from Ruby Crystal, builds into Locket of the Iron Solari or Randuin’s Omen – provides 250 health, 5gp10. While the most expensive Gp10 item, this is also one of the most solid because supports often need the extra health it provides. It also builds into the Locket of the Iron Solari, an amazing support item or Randuin’s Omen, a great defensive item. Many high end support players grab this as their first Gp10 item. It should be your first or second.
  • Kage’s Lucky Pick – 765g – builds from Amplifying Tome, builds into Deathfire Grasp – provides 25 AP and 5Gp10. While this is the least expensive of the gold items, most top end support players consider this item to be worthless. There are indubitably situations where it is useful (perhaps on champions with spectacular AP ratios) but you generally will not buy it.
  • Philosopher’s Stone – 800g – builds from faerie charm and regrowth pendant, builds into Shurelia’s Reverie or Eleisa’s Miracle – provides 18 health regen & 9 mana regen per 5 seconds, 5Gp10. This is a core support item as it builds into Shurelia’s Reverie, arguably the best support item in the game. Mana and health regen are also great for the laning phase. This should be your first or second gp10 item, depending upon the situation.
    NOTE: High end support players suggest only buying 2 GP10 items.

Aura Items
  • Abyssal Scepter – 2650g – builds from Blasting Wand, Negatron Cloak – provides 70 ap, 57 mr, aura reduces mr of nearby enemy champions by 20. This is not an early game item. However, all support champions scale on AP. This can be a nice item for your team if you have a lot of AP champions and your enemy team is building MR. While expensive, it has both MR and AP, which are useful to a support late game. It is, however, exceedingly situational.
  • Aegis of the Legion – 1925g – builds from Ruby Crystal, Cloth Armor and Null-Magic Mantle – provides 270 health, 18 armor, 24 mr, aura that gives allies 12 armor, 15mr, 8 ad. This is a core support item and can have significant impact upon team fights. While not the first or perhaps even the second aura item that you buy as a support, it should be up there. Make sure, however, that your allies aren’t purchasing it first as tanks sometimes purchase it.
  • Frozen Heart – 2775g – builds from 2x Cloth Armor, Glacial Shroud – provides 99 armor, 500 mana, 20 CDR, aura reduces attack speed of nearby enemies by 20%. This item is great for teams with a lot of physical/autoattack based damage. It is useless if fighting a team that is AP heavy. While very expensive, the stats are nice for most champions, excluding Shen. Again, coordinate with teammates about purchasing this item, especially if you have a Ryze as it is a core item on his builds. This will always be a late game/situational purchase.
  • Locket of the Iron Solari – 2225g – builds from Heart of Gold, Emblem of Valor – provides 300 health, 35 armor, aura nearby champions gain 15 health per 5 seconds, active shield yourself and nearby allies for 5 seconds absorbing up to 50 +10/level damage, 60 second cooldown. This is an amazing item, especially for non-sustain supports. The shield is great to counter aoe damage and it provides a nice amount of health and armor. It also builds off of the Heart of Gold, a core support item. This is, in my opinion, one of the top support items. NOTE: When a locket is used, there is a debuff applied to allies reducing further locket shields by 50%. It lasts 8 seconds. This means that if you have multiple Lockets on your team, you need to wait 3 seconds after the shield naturally fades before using a second one for maximum effectiveness.
  • Soul Shroud – 2285g – builds from Kindle Gem, Ruby Crystal, Mana Manipulator – provides 520 health, aura of 10CDR, 12mana/5. This item is extremely situational. While health is always nice, your team will often build the mana regen and CDR they need. CDR maxes out at 40%. You should check with your team and ensure that the item will actually be useful for everyone or let them know you plan to buy it early on before you get this item.
  • Will of the Ancients – 2100g – builds from Amplifying Tome, Hextech Revolver – provides 50 AP, “stacking” aura that gives 30 AP and 20% spell vamp to allies. This item is also very situational. It’s a great item for an AP heavy team, but many AP casters already purchase it. This aura will stack up to two times, once for holding the item yourself and once for having a teammate in range who has the item. AP casters often buy this item so it is important to find out if your allies will be purchasing it. However, it is a strong and relatively inexpensive ap/utility item.
  • Zeke’s Herald – 2145g – builds from Kindle Gem, Vampiric Scepter and Dagger – provides 250 health, 15CDR and aura that gives nearby allies 12% lifesteal and 20% attack speed. While not purchased by most supports, this item is still very useful if you have an ad heavy team. You should coordinate with your team (and watch your own CDR) as occasionally junglers/solo top will purchase this item.

Activatable Items
  • Deathfire Grasp – 2610g – builds from Kage’s Lucky Pick, Fiendish Codex – provides 60 AP, 10 mana/5, 15%cdr and an active that deals magic damage to a target equal to 30% of their current health +3.5%/ability power with a minimum of 200 damage on a 60 second cooldown. You will not often find yourself getting this item on a support. However, it can be useful on occasion because it builds from a Gp10 item, provides three stats useful for supports (ap, mana regen, cdr) and provides a great nuke if you’re facing an enemy team that is full of high HP champions. Do not build this at all if you are going against a bunch of squishy characters.
  • Randuin’s Omen – 3075g – builds from Heart of Gold, Cloth Armor, Warden’s Mail – provides 75 armor, 350 health, 25 health regen/5, 5CDR, 20% chance on being hit by an autoattack to slow the attacker’s movement and attack speed and an activatable that slows the movement speed and attack speed of surrounding units by 35% for 2 seconds plus 0.5 seconds for every 100 armor and MR you have with a 60 second cooldown. This item used to be a favorite of supports because it was the only item the Heart of Gold built into. However, now it is more of a tank item, given both its high cost and its benefits. It is a good item if you are getting focused a lot in fights by autoattack champions.
  • Shurelia’s Reverie – 2200 g – builds from Kindle Gem and Philosopher’s Stone – provides 220 health, 30 health/5, 15mana/5, 15% cdr and active that increases allied champions movement speed by 40% for 3 seconds, 60 second cooldown. This is a core support item and is often the first completed support item. It is great both offensively to chase down enemies or get around the map and defensively to help your team flee after killing a tower or to escape a fight you’re not prepared for. GET THIS ITEM!

Purchase Order
At the start of the game, the general support purchase order is faerie charm + wards + pots. The amount of wards and potions is based upon if you have wealth or not and if you are trying to buy a pink ward or not. With wealth, you can buy a faerie charm +3 wards + 1 mana pot + 2 health pots at the start of the game. Alternatively, with wealth you can buy a faerie charm + 1 pink ward + 2 wards + 1 health potion with 25g remaining. Other than that, item order varies based upon the game.


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Carados

Senior Member

02-26-2012

Kinda okay guide. Don't suggest Soul Shroud though, it's one of the worst items in the game, if not the worst.


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Obzidian

Member

02-26-2012

Support Summoner Spells

  • Clairvoyance (CV) – available at level 10 – reveals a small area of the map for 4 seconds, 6 seconds with Summoner’s Insight mastery, 70 second cooldown (59.5 with Mastermind mastery).
  • This is a core traditional summoner spell. It is incredibly useful for finding/tracking enemy players on the map. It has both offensive and defensive uses. A well placed CV can allow your team to see an enemy as they flee. It can be used to track junglers and check locations. CV particularly shines when your team is behind and you are unable to ward or your enemy is using pink wards/oracles to drop your wards. It is the most common support summoner spell.
  • Heal – available at level 1 -- restores large portion of health to self and 50% of that to allies, scales with level, 10% more with Summoner’s Resolve mastery, 600 range, 270s cooldown (229.5 with Mastermind mastery), all targets healed will have a 50% reduction in heal amount from other summoner heal spells for 20 seconds.
  • This spell tends to be used more by AD carries than supports these days. However, it is still a favorite of the non-traditional support characters. Occasionally you will see traditional supports using it at the cost of either Clairvoyance or Flash.
  • Exhaust – available at level 1 – reduces enemy champion’s movement speed by 40%, attack speed by 70% and ability and item damage dealt by 35% for 2.5 seconds, debuffs MR and armor by 10 with Summoner’s Wrath mastery, 210 second coolodown (178.5 with Mastermind mastery)
  • Used predominantly by non-traditional supports, this ability should only be taken if you are expecting to have the advantage over your enemy and to attain ganks with it. This is favored by Nunu/Leona supports instead of flash.
  • Flash – available at level 12– teleports your champion towards your cursor, cooldown reduced by 10 seconds with Summoner’s Insight Mastery, 265s cooldown (250 with Mastermind mastery, 210.25 with both Insight and Mastermind).
  • This is an excellent tool for both offense and defense. On some champions, such as Janna, it is absolutely necessary for maximizing efficient use of abilities. Most of the time, all traditional supports will run with flash as one of their summoner spells. You often see tanky non-traditional supports dropping flash in favor of other spells. Flash is a great tool that you cannot go wrong with using. It is the second most common support summoner spell.

Support Masteries
Support masteries vary based upon the champion and situation. The default is to go 0/9/21, picking up the MR and Armor, health per level and health in defense and then in Utility grabbing the mana regen, greed, experience, CDR and Mastermind masteries. You should always pick up the summoner masteries for the summoner spells you have if at all possible. Generally speaking, Scout is considered worthless. Here you can find a link with images showing why. Many support players like Wealth and pick it up, but some players don’t like it. Very few supports pick up Sage at all.

A risky alternative is to go 9/0/21, dropping defense to pick up the AP, CDR, and magic pen in the mr tree. This is really only effective with strong mage type supports.

A third alternative is to go 0/21/9 (1/21/8 if you have exhaust). This tends to be favored by the tankier/engage type supports. The exact composition of the defense tree varies, but the health and armor/mr and damage reduction are the most important parts.

With a wide array of supports, masteries tend to be specific to both champion and player playstyle.

Support Runes

The core support runes are flat armor marks, armor seals, MR (either flat or per level) glyphs and then flat HP or Gp10 quints. Krepo recommends using flat HP if the enemy team is a strong/aggressive lane comp and Gp10 if they are a passive lane. Other useful runes are Gp10 seals, mana regen seals or glyphs, mr marks, ap glyphs or movement speed quints. There’s a small article HERE.

Support Strategies

Ward Placement – this is important from early game to late game
Since TSM’s Xpecial has already done an amazing job of illustrating this, I’m just going to link his image.
http://i.imgur.com/9Z6xUh.jpg

Gank paths – be aware of jungler gank paths and jungle paths. This will help you keep an eye on your enemies and determine how safe it is for your team to gank or push a lane.

Early to mid game you should focus predominantly on harassing your enemies in your lane and setting up opportunities to get a kill. Ensure you have vision over your river so that your lane is not ganked and you can watch dragon as well as your own jungle. Be prepared to leave your lane and go help others if you need to and if your ad partner can handle the lane alone.

Mid to late game you should focus on warding the enemy jungle and protecting yours as well as keeping dragon under control and keeping an eye on baron.

In teamfights, use your abilities and your items as best as you can. Try to keep your allies alive. Watch your position carefully.

In general, I cannot emphasize wards, map awareness and communication with your team enough.

Try to keep track of the times when jungle monsters die. This can help predict enemy movements. One helpful way to do this is to note the time that the monster dies, then add its respawn timer and type the time and monster name into chat. Ex: If Baron was killed at 15 minutes, you'd type "22:00 baron" in chat

Camp Timers
Baron Nashor -- 7 minutes
Blue & Red -- 5 minutes
Dragon/Drake -- 6 minutes


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Obzidian

Member

02-26-2012

Support Streamers
CLG.eu’s Skumbag Krepo http://clgaming.net/live/1578-krepo-high-elo-stream
TSM’s Xpecial http://www.own3d.tv/live/10953/TSM_Xpecial
Sk’s Nyph http://www.own3d.tv/live/115491/SK_Nyph
EPIK’s Nhat Nguyen http://www.own3d.tv/live/10955/Nhat_Nguyen
Spellsy http://www.solomid.net/livestream.php?s=674

Special Thanks
Special thanks to both Xpecial and Krepo. Xpecial’s guides were the ones I turned to as I was first learning the role of support and much of the information in this guide is obviously a direct result of that learning. They are still excellent guides and this is, in a fashion, my homage to Xpecial. On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot from watching Krepo’s streams and he’s been ever patient answering my multitude of questions. He often streams as a support and talks about what he’s doing and why. He welcomes questions and feedback about his decisions during his games. I really enjoy watching him. Thank you to both of you!

I welcome commentary, critique and feedback. I made this mostly because I wanted both to help new players and to make playing support a little easier for people new to the role or just picking it up on the fly.


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Obzidian

Member

02-26-2012

Carados, thank you for your feedback. I actually do not particularly recommend soul shroud. Like I said, it is extremely situational. That being said, there are some team compositions and support champions that it works well on and some support players really like it, so I felt the need to include it for the sake of being comprehensive.


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Carados

Senior Member

02-26-2012

It's not situational, it's just plain bad. There isn't any team compositions where it would be good, due to the mechanics of CDR auras.

Only spells cast within the short radius actually get the CDR. So, for example, Amumu ults will never get the CDR.


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Obzidian

Member

02-26-2012

Regardless of your opinion, it is still an item included in many support guides and some players like it. Therefore, it was important to include it, especially in a list that showed it in comparison to other aura items and their respective gold costs and benefits.


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Carados

Senior Member

02-26-2012

People may like it. That doesn't make it good. The purpose of a guide is to help someone get better. As is, including it as an option is making anyone who reads it worse.

Also, using the word "opinion" to refer to an objective fact is hilarious. Soul Shroud is objectively bad. This isn't an opinion. It's a fact.