League of Legends: How to Support Like a Real Pro

League of Legends how to support
These are just some of the faces that make the ADCs job possible.

Support: The Heroes of League

So, you don’t just want to play support, you want to be the power behind the ADC, catapulting your team to victory again and again. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you are playing a healer like Soraka, a CC monkey like Thresh, or a tank like Alistar, this guide will give you a foundation to build the skills of a true master. If you want to learn to support like a real pro, read on!

Tanks vs. Other Supports

If you are playing a tank support, you want to be up and in your enemy’s face, all the time. For other kinds of support, you generally want to stay back. “Kill the casters first” applies as much in a MOBA like LoL as it does in any other video game, and you don’t want to wind up being focus-fired just because you are the healer or the CC monkey.

Creep Score

You’re playing the support; what creep score? You need to leave the minions to your ADC; they need that precious gold and XP to carry your team. Instead, focus on the alternative earning methods open to support characters through items. That said, you should always be nearby when your ADC is farming, because you don’t want to leave them vulnerable to ganks.

Communication

Communication is important for all roles, but as the support, you need to be sure that you are keeping your team in the loop, and encouraging them to do the same for you. Nothing is as frustrating as making a tower dive, thinking your support is right behind you, only to discover that they have wandered back to base for a shopping run. Don’t be that player.

Tower Fallback

Generally, you should be out with your ADC while they are laning or diving, but if you ADC has to run back to base, you should immediately fall back to the furthest-forward tower in your lane. Even if you are a hardy tank, hanging out in-lane by yourself is just begging to get tag-teamed by the enemy ADC and their jungler, who will no doubt be told about your vulnerability as soon as it is known.

Focus on Income First

Money talks.

As a support character, you need to focus on your income item first. While other roles will never even purchase one, you are going to be depending on one to have any viable income since you shouldn’t be stealing creeps from your ADC and you won’t be hunting in the jungle. Most will want the Ancient Coin, but if you are a caster, go with the Spellthief’s Edge, and if you are a tank, go with the Relic Shield.

Wards, Wards, Wards

As the support, you need to keep wards up all the time. You won’t usually have many opportunities at taking enemy wards down, but you should make sure that yours stay up and refreshed as often as possible. Focus on bushes, the borders of the jungle, anywhere that is likely to conceal someone who is just waiting to jump out and surprise you and the ADC.

Focus on Spec Items Next

Depending on what kind of support you play, your next item build should be either something to ramp move, lower cooldowns, or improve sustain. For many supports, building the Ionian Boots of Lucidity is a perfect second pick, because it boosts both movement speed and cooldown reduction, allowing better chances at outplay. For tanks, focus on the sustain; your main job is to get beat on so your ADC doesn’t have to, so make sure you have the gear to survive the experience.

CC Like A Boss

Make sure you have at least some CC in your kit, whether through an innate ability, a champion spell, or an item. Not only can crowd control abilities prevent you or your ADC from taking hits, it can also help to secure kills for your ADC to feed themselves, and buy you some desperately needed breathing space in the event of a gank. There’s a reason why the current meta is full of CC monkeys in support; it’s because they work.

Choosing Summoner Spells

 

Summoner Spells are generally pretty easy for most; default selection should be Flash (not just on a support character; most heroes want it in their kit for it’s amazing utility on both attack and defense), and the second spell for most should be Ignite to help pick up the occasional extra kill or assist. The main exception is healers; they are so squishy that they should probably pick up Barrier to buy them time if they are caught with their tactical pants down.

Do... Not... Stray!

As the support, your job is to make sure the ADC can stay in-lane long enough to do their job. That’s it, and you can’t do that job from across the map. So, stick tight with your ADC, unless a developing crisis or a heal/shop run mandates leaving their side. And even then, make sure your ADC knows that they are going to be running solo for a minute.

Shopping and You

One of the challenges of support play is the general shortage of gold; even with an income item, you usually lag behind. When you get enough gold for your next upgrade, it can feel like you have to base run to shop immediately. Do NOT do this; check in with your ADC, and give them time to get to the cover of a tower first, at least. Nothing will get your own team to flame you like dipping out unannounced; don’t be that player.

What Champion to Play

Picking a support champ is tricky, because support isn’t one role, it’s three: tanks, healers, and CC monkeys all play a little differently. You should experiment during your early leveling and ELO time to figure out what suits you best. Due to the high risk of being hit with the ban-hammer on many of the top picks for support in the current meta, you would do well to master at LEAST two support champs, preferably of different specs, if you want to be a pro support main (or a pro main for any role, actually).

Supporting as Thresh

No, I don't care what your plans WERE...

Lots of people play Thresh for support, for one reason: he is a near-flawless CC monkey. Not only does he have incredible utility, but he has surprising sustain for a non-tank/non-fighter. Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, Dark Passage gives him some hefty ability to defend team-mates and manipulate positioning on the field of battle. He has a medium-high skill ceiling, but it’s worth the time to master him; being stuck opposite a good Thresh player is sure to make your opponents feel like the ELO gods have forsaken them.

Supporting as Alistar

What do you mean, "smile for the camera"? I AM smiling.

“Mess with the bull, get the horns,” as they say, and Alistar is certainly a good champ to master if you want to prove the wisdom of those words. Playing the minotaur means being tanky as hell, plowing into the enemy line with shrugging off damage thanks to his ult, Unbreakable Will. As if that weren’t enough, he’s constantly dishing out stuns and knockback (what else did you expect from a cow in a ‘roid rage?) Note: Despite how counterintuitive this might seem, remember that Alistar deals magic damage, and is an APD character, not an AD character.

Supporting As Soraka

Two missing limbs, and been dead for three weeks? Don't worry; I've got you.

Soraka is still the reigning champion (pun intended) when it comes to healing. To make her shine, make sure your kit focuses on boosting AP, reducing cooldown, and improving mobility so she can get out of the line of fire when needed, or to her ADCs side when they flag. The goal is to make sure that you can spam your heals as often as possible, and make them restore as much life as possible per pop. If you do it right, you can out heal all but the most concentrated burst damage.

Conclusion

Support is a somewhat diverse role, due to the specific specialties to be found within it, and paying attention to the tips and tricks here will get you well on your way from being a casual to being a pro. Always remember, the key to being good at any task is practice; this guide will give you the foundation, but if you really want to be a pro support player, play support, study your games for good plays and places where you can improve, and play support some more.

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Hailing from the barren wastelands of Massachusetts, this grizzled grumbler has spent his entire life neck-deep in gamer culture, and will happily talk about any and all geekery, any time.
Gamer Since: 1988
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Siralim 3
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dungeon Defenders, Guild Wars 2, League of Legends
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