For most of the 2019 seasons, no League of Legends role has been more controversial than that of the support. The marksman’s partner in lane often dictates the pace of the bottom half of the map, and secures key vision around objectives for the rest of the team. However, thanks to increased income options, frankly overtuned base damages, and a tendency to influence the rest of the map through unpunished roaming as early as three minutes, maybe the saltiest of midlaners’ claims that support is overpowered could hold some credit.
League of Legends pros rely on support players to win titles
One only has to look at the most recent World Championship to see some of the impact that the support role can have. Fnatic, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, and other western dynasties all have top tier support players renowned for their aggressive positioning – to say nothing of their eastern counterparts.
China’s FunPlus Phoenix – the reigning World Champions – effortlessly snowballed their way to a Worlds title thanks to their support’s tendency to be everywhere on the map. It didn’t matter that FPX marksman Lin “Lwx” Wei-Xiang had an uninspiring group stage, when he and the rest of FPX could depend on Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song to establish complete dominance of the map.
Crisp, in particular, demonstrated that the new generation of support wasn’t to be weighed down by lane constraints.
Infamous for his roaming on playmaking supports, the notorious gank machine effectively functioned as a second jungler – often appearing in the top lane of all places as early as the five minute mark. Crisp’s roaming was a thing of beauty, setting up the rest of his team while Lwx chilled back and farmed – to say nothing of his offensive vision control.
Denying the enemy vision is another key part of playing support, and securing some of your own is just an added bonus. Crisp’s masterful manipulation of the fog of war allowed FPX to both get the jump on enemy teams forced to face check, as well as secure objectives simply uncontested.
Engage? Disengage? Damage? Crowd control? Support can do it all
When the Season 10 experience changes came through, as well as an emphasis on regular – and more important – neutral objectives such as Drake and two Rift Heralds, power was thought to have shifted back to the solo laners.
This has already proven to not be the case, with both solo queue and professional play seeing supports roam mid either immediately after their first recall or even before. One only has to look at the LPL’s opening game of FPX vs Invictus Gaming in order to see Crisp strut his stuff towards mid as Leona at the three-minute mark, locking down the enemy midlaner for a quick first blood.
Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black – now support for Team Dignitas – gave on-stream advice to simply roam midlane in solo queue as support after buying Boots of Mobility. Almost every game that this happens, it results in a quick first blood – and if it doesn’t, it at least blows a Flash.
On that note, heavy engage supports such as Nautilus and Leona are very much in vogue at the moment. Roaming mid with hard crowd control that can be launched from two screens away has never been easier, and with their defining ultimate abilities (Depth Charge and Solar Flare, respectively) being on a far shorter cooldown than Flash, it is easy to convert kills. The sheer amount of base damage supports currently have also helps tremendously when it comes to securing some rather questionable kills.
Damage supports like Vel’koz, Zyra, Brand, and even Pyke and Senna have all been popular in solo queue. The issue is that in their current state, engage supports do what they do – but better.
- Nah 65%, 11 votes11 votes 65%11 votes - 65% of all votes
- Definitely 35%, 6 votes6 votes 35%6 votes - 35% of all votes
Supports and the objective game
As we mentioned before, supports excel at securing and denying vision alike. The removal of gold being necessary to upgrade your warding items is a huge buff to vision control early, and while it is a hit to supports that depended on these for income later on, you can compensate for the loss of passive income by regularly securing kills.
In addition, support items are still ridiculously cheap. In order to make up for the lack of later income, most engage supports opt for the typically jungler-favored Gargoyle’s Stoneplate. The sheer amount of base statistics granted alongside what most of these frankly overloaded champions already have makes for a frustratingly unkillable crowd control monster from as early as the fifteen minute mark.
Kills have never been easier to get with the heavy emphasis on objectives in Season 10. Simply deny the enemy vision and force them to face check into a Dark Binding, Rocket Grab, or similar.
Supports are, at the end of the day, still the driving force behind the tempo of a game. Roam early? Get ready for a snowball-y bloodbath. Do nothing? Looks like we’re farming for a late 5v5, no doubt engaged by a support. Dictating the pace of the game is always nice, as are ganks – but maybe these are responsibilities better left to a jungler.