General Guide by Sevresth
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
So, you want to play a support. That means that you're going to go bottom with your AD carry and help them be a powerhouse that wins the game for you. But which one is the best? Which one counters which? Are some supports better at some things than others?
All of these questions and a few others are going to be discussed, so sit back, relax, and learn how to successfully and effectively select, strategize, and play as a support.
Now, last thing I'm going to say is that the supports I've mentioned and are discussed are the ones most commonly played in the current meta. That doesn't mean that there aren't other champions who can play support (I like to play support/carry Fiddle a lot), this is just a rundown on the more common ones.
Note on the builds: These are just some stuff I came up with without much thought. They include my recommended GP/5 items and core starting items, my recommended boots, my recommended skill order, and some input as to what is (kind of) important when considering your runes and masteries. If you want more in depth information about the specific playstyle (and not how they pertain to their specific role, what makes them special, and other basics), or more info on build information, I encourage looking them up in specific guides.
Thanks for reading!
What's the Support's Job?
So, it's not a big secret that the AD carry gets tons of kills later in the game by doing tons of damage. But it's also not a secret that this doesn't happen by magic.
Most AD carries don't have a very strong early game, often doing sub-par damage with low defensive stats and maneuverability.
That's where you come in. You, with a variety of unique abilities, help to heal, buff, protect, and otherwise 'support' the AD carry through this tough period during the early game where they can not defend themselves.
You are also an extra source of income for the bot lane as a whole, investing in consumables like sight ward so that the carry can focus that income towards completing their build.
This is often an overlooked position, but an extremely important one and one that can either make or break the game for your entire team.
One thing to mention about supports is that they do not necessarily need the extremely damaging abilities that other characters do, so that leaves their selection open to a few other options that otherwise would not be feasible. That being said, there are still some spells that are better than others depending on the situation.
A lot of your decision will be based on a few factors: team composition, team chemistry, and strategy.
: This spell is good if the enemy team (or your team) has a versatile jungler capable of taking several different routes. That way, you can use if offensively to gank the jungler or defensively to see if it's safe for your jungler to steal a buff from the enemy jungle. Clairvoyance is most useful if your team is coordinated because it allows for complete dragon and dragon control. So, if as a team, you decide that that is the strategy that you want to take, this is a good spell to take.
: This is a very rare summoner spell to see on a support champion just because most carries will rely on their basic attacks more than their mana. But if that is not the case (maybe your laning with an AP champion), than this is a viable pick for the early game. However I advise against it just because it tends to fall off late game as mana pools grow and most people with mana problems itemize for mana regeneration.
: This is a pretty general utility spell that lowers the speed, damage, and defense of an enemy champion, effectively taking them out of a fight. This is best used when you are trying to counter-pick a specific champion who is notorious for their immense damage output because now, instead of necessarily counterpicking the champion, you can drop the Exhaust on them and insta-gib them. The other use for this is when your strategy as a team is to get the carry fed (most commonly seen in a protect the AD carry team composition). This is because it gives your laning partner a distinct advantage during the early laning phase since it lowers the other AD carry's damage and defense, which opens your partner up for a kill, which leads to a gold advantage. Which is always very nice.
: This is a pretty classic summoner spell since it fulfills one of the quintessential roles of the support, keep your carry healthy. This is best used when the support of your choice doesn't have a healing mechanic ( Janna) but yet you feel you need one. A word of advice though. Heal gives more HP to the actual caster than to the surrounding champions. Thus, a better strategy is to actually let your AD carry get Heal, that way they can heal more and you get another summoner spell (such as Exhaust). That way, more healing will be given where it's needed while your other summoner spell will still be fully effective, regardless of who casted it. Now, if your AD carry decides not to do this (maybe they like Cleanse), this is still a viable pick.
: This is an interesting summoner spell because it is either completely useless, or fantastically brilliant. This spell is useful is your team strategy involves split pushing; basically pushing down more than one lane at a time. By popping this on a minion at say, top lane, you have a creature that is stronger than the other minions, allowing it push through the enemy minion wave and it is significantly more durable, allowing it to take several more turret shots than the average minion. This pushes the lane and adds as a 'stopper', allowing your minions to bunch up which means massive and extremely effective minion pushes that break towers quickly. This damage can be taken as is, or capitalized by a high mobility champion ( Hecarim, Twisted Fate, anyone with Teleport) or a champion with high tower killing ability ( Jax, Master Yi, Fiora). While this is going on, you apply pressure mid or bot and force the enemy team to pick which turret to lose.
The Equipment For The Job
Ok, you're in game, and you're on the summoner platform about to begin your supporting game. So, the next thing to talk about, is what items to get. So which items are good and which ones aren't? Well, there are several different items that are good in different situations. Which situations are good and which ones aren't? Well keep reading to find out!!
This is a pretty standard setup for a support. This is why. It gives you a little lane sustain with extra mana regeneration from Faerie Charm and this will eventually build into your philosopher's stone (for more on this skip to GP/5 Items later in this chapter). It also gives you sustain and an answer to surprise damage from burst or a gank with your Health Potion and an answer to adjustment from initial spam of your abilities to equalize early game sqirmishes with mana regeneration from Mana Potion. Finally, it gives you a bit of map control with a pair of sight ward. These can be placed a bit up the river, in the tribush, or both and will serve to protect you and your partner from ganks both from the jungler and from mid lane. It also serves as a teleport point for your top player if a teamfight breaks out earlier than expected.
There are times when your team is going be losing. It's just a fact of playing a game. In these game, it's a little bit more difficult to support because there is a LOT to hold up. One thing you can do to help is by giving your team a little bit more survivability. So, if you're in the situation where your team needs some extra durability, get these.
Good job! Your AD carry is super fed at bot and/or your AD bruiser at top has been doing pretty well. So, let's accentuate that advantage and give them a little bit more power to dominate the map and win the game.
Alright, so your mid is pretty fed and/or you have a caster at top who has been doing pretty well. Well, there are a few different items that you can get to help them out too.
Sometimes, your whole team is exceptionally balanced and the game is pretty much even. You don't want to push either AD or AP for risk of underpowering the other or it's early game and you want to give them an edge. Maybe you want to help your team by giving them stuff that they would normally have to buy themselves; thus giving them more gold to invest in damage items.
There a few champions who are a support that can also be considered a tank (Alistar and Taric). When this happens, there are few items that you can get to equalize your tanking and supporting responsibilities.
Anyone who plays a support who has ever seen a support knows the value of these items. You do not get minion kills and you do not get champion kills. So, a significant amount of your income will come from ingame generation. That's where these come in. Increase your passive gold generation and get more money to buy more stuff to help your team. Generally, you get 2 of these, but if your lane is doing really well and you've racked up quite a few assists, go ahead and just get one and focus on getting your first major item.
So, the next question is which one do I get?
kage's lucky pick is mostly for damage and you'll see it most commonly on supports who are both supports and can deal damage. You can also get it if you want your abilities (shield amounts or pester) to become more effective.
Heart of Gold is for a little more tanky support. This is extremely important for the squishier ones since it makes up for your weakness. It's also very nice to get if you are either Alistar or Taric since it will eventually build into a tanky/support item.
philosopher's stone is extremely powerful since it gives lane sustain. The less time you're at base healing, the more time you spend in lane getting experience and helping your AD carry get CS. This is really the best GP/5 item you can get as a support, so I recommend getting this item regardless of which champion you play.
Avarice Blade is not really a very good GP/5 for a support to have since you aren't really basic attacking that much and there aren't really any supports who are necessarily AD based. So, the only true reason to get this is if for some reason there's something freaky deaky in the bot lane that thrives on lifesteal and so you need an Executioner's Calling to shut them down. But even this is a stretch, so really, don't get this item.
Warding is extremely important. It gives map control and alerts you to any plays the opposition is going to make, whether it's something big like Baron or Dragon or something simple like taking their Blue Buff (or even your Blue Buff).
Now, warding is NOT ONLY THE SUPPORT'S JOB. IT IS A TEAM EFFORT. However, other people do have other stuff to buy ( B. F. Sword Needlessly Large Rod) so the PRIMARY buyer and placer of wards needs to be you.
So, as a general rule, always have 2 of them with you. Always. Go back to base and dedicate 150 of your gold to buying 2 sight ward. Use these to put them down somewhere on the map where they are needed. They will not go to waste unless you just don't use them.
Another trick is to use the pink Vision Ward in high traffic or contested areas such as in front of Baron or Dragon to not only provide vision, but to also let you destroy any enemy wards in the area. This is effective, but more costly. My suggestion is to only get one when you have complete control of the area, or are about to engage on the objective yourself. Otherwise it is really easy for the other team to get a pink ward too and destroy yours, thus swinging the gold advantage to their side by 150 (125 for buying the ward and 25 for destroying it).
The next few chapters focus on each support individually. If I leave anything out that you think is relevant or if there is something that just doesn't seem right, leave a comment down below.
And don't forget to upvote if you find the guide useful and leave a comment with a reason if you decide to downvote.
Alistar is a fairly strong champion in that he has a lot of CC and potential to flip the advantage of the lane very quickly. The fact that he is also naturally tanky also allows him to be a bit of a meat shield, taking a few skill shots for your lane partner.
His strength comes for his array of CC, which turns a fight completely in your favor, and his ability to heal both himself and your lane partner, allowing both of you to stay in lane longer and soak up more experience and grab a few more minion kills.
Also, mastery of his Headbutt into Pulverize combo makes an extremely effective initiation tool and completely locks up the opposition. And anytime you can bring the other carry to a halt while your carry delivers a beatdown is a good thing.
AD carries that Alistar effectively counters:
Anyone with a small to medium attack range or whose combo requires a dash in.
AD carries that Alistar works well with:
Ashe, Draven, Graves, Miss Fortune, Sivir, Tristana, Twitch, Vayne
Blitzcrank is probably one of the harder supports to play, but he is extremely powerful if you get good with him.
He brings Rocket Grab, one of the most powerful repositioning abilities in the entire game and can, and will, grant your team first blood if you know how to use it. He also has a knockup and a silence, which is very powerful against anyone because it basically stuns you, which hurts anyone, and prevents AP champions from responding with burst or AD champion from flashing away.
His damage is very powerful throughout the game and only truly drops off around the end of the mid game.
His big disadvantage however is the passive on his ultimate. It is useful at DPS while dueling, however having a chance of killing off a minion that your carry is trying to farm is never a good thing.
AD carries that Blitzcrank effectively counters:
Any champion without a built in escape mechanism or with low to average mobility.
AD carries that Blitzcrank works well with:
Corki, Graves, Miss Fortune
Janna is another fairly difficult champion to master. However, she has very long range with her Howling Gale and the damage is not something to overlook. It is also a great interrupt for messing up the enemy team's abilities or putting a quick end to their DPS while they are knocked up.
Her ultimate, when used properly, can also completely screw over the enemy team and basically give your team a free kill or two while initiating a teamfight that the enemy just can't respond effectively to.
Janna's biggest strength is in her E, Eye Of The Storm. It grants a big shield to protect your carry (damage mitigation is always a good thing), and it grants a huge AD bonus to them. So, imagine this, no matter how bad your carry is farming, they are guaranteed a free B. F. Sword by level 8, typically a feat achieved by about 11-15 minutes in the game. So, even if they are farming well, they get a bonus without having to go back.
The big disadvantage to Janna is her lack of sustain. She doesn't have a heal, nor does she have a mana recover, so any damage done to your side of the map sticks. So, aggression is risky until you get Eye Of The Storm ranked up.
AD carries that Janna effectively counters:
Champions that require dominance around the end of the laning phase ( Corki) or champions who require several basic attacks and chasing to kill targets.
AD carries that Janna works well with:
Corki, Draven, Ezreal, Graves, Tristana, Vayne
Karma is a very powerful support in that she has several factors that make a good support.
She has a heal, a shield, and a speed boost/debuff, all of which help out your carry.
She also has great AP scaling and relatively high base damage on her attacks, meaning that she is also capable of dealing a lot of damage which catches a lot of people by surprise and also means that you have the potential of having a support and an additional DPS in the lane.
However these bonus effects are not always available, meaning that a new Karma player playing solo queue may not be as effective as an experienced player with a premade team.
She also deals a lot of damage, which is a benefit, and a curse because with damage comes the risk of killing the enemy champion, which is the carry's job.
Karma also lacks any hard CC, meaning that if things go south, say from a ganking jungler or if the other carry is fed, she has no way to help other than by attempting to burst down the aggressor and running away.
AD carries that Karma effectively counters:
Champions who lack the sustain from their support and lack an escape mechanism. Champions who rely on lifesteal and attack speed to keep themselves alive.
AD carries that Karma works well with:
Corki, Draven, Ezreal, Graves, Kog'Maw, Tristana, Twitch,
Lulu is an extremely interesting champion. She lacks sustain, she lacks early game buffs (other than movement speed). The only thing she can truly contribute during the early game is extra damage from Pix and a hard CC from Whimsy.
While this is not to be underestimated, at all, it is rather lack luster when compared to other rockstar supports like Blitzcrank or Sona.
So where does Lulu fit in?
There are strategies, and team compositions, when the idea is not to protect the AD carry at bot, but to just let them farm. Lulu deals enough damage to zone a decent amount.
This means that the bot lane is not aggressive and will not secure many, if any, kills. What Lulu is great at, is giving your team an extra AD carry.
In a normal team composition, your support aids the carry completely, meaning that your bot lane is extremely powerful and your main source of damage. If your carry dies or is CCed, the only source of damage is from your AP mid.
Now there's the composition when you play Lulu.
You have an AP carry mid, a relatively healthy, but not really fed AD carry that can still do decent damage. This would normally be bad. But, with Wild Growth, you can turn your Bruiser DPS top into an unkillable monster that deals lots of damage and disrupts the entire enemy team.
This is what Lulu does in a nutshell; let the natural tendency of AD carries to carry late game take its course and let the DPS top do the most damage and carry the team through the mid game where usually the winning factor is team skill and composition.
AD carries that Lulu counters:
Not really any that come to mind. She is more useful during the mid game than the early game.
AD carries that Lulu works well with:
Corki, Ezreal, Kog'Maw, Miss Fortune, Sivir, Tristana
Nunu is a strong support because he is capable of slowing down the enemy considerably, making escape from an aggresive play by your lanemate or from your jungler much less likely.
He also does a lot of damage with that slow, which always helps when getting the kill, and his ultimate is deadly in teamfights if you can get the full duration off.
But what makes Nunu such a strong support is his Blood Boil. The ability to give movement for escape and attack speed for an edge is very large. He's also naturally tanky and can heal himself, meaning that he can take a few hits for his carry.
His big weakness is that his only sustain is for himself only and he can be a bit mana starved if not played just right.
AD carries that Nunu counters:
Champions with a high mobility and rely on that mobility to deal damage and then escape.
AD carries that Nunu works well with:
Caitlyn, Graves, Kog'Maw, Sivir, Tristana, Vayne
As far as supports go, Sona has it all. She has a speed buff, a healing ability, a damage booster, and a buff to armor and magic resistance. She has poke to zone and help turn early game duels and upon level 6, she gets a hard CC that has a wide cone and decent range.
But, she doesn't really have much else other than the ability to support. She doesn't have very much damage as the game progresses and she is pretty squishy throughout the game, combined with limited escape or maneuverability mechanisms, she is very easy to kill.
These characteristics make her a very easy champion to play, meaning that if you're new to supports, this is probably a good pick and regardless of skill level, she is very viable at all ELO levels.
AD carries that Sona counters:
Champions who rely on periodic bursts of damage
AD carries that Sona works well with:
Sona works exceptionally well with every AD carry
Soraka has an excellent poke ability from Starcall as well as a healing ability and a mana recovery ability. This combination is really powerful and means that your partner will not ever have to leave the lane, which means more CS and more gold to carry into late game. She also has a silence, meaning that if you face a champion who needs to rely on a set of combos to deal damage, than she's a good counter. This fact is reliable both if that champion is in your lane or not since even later she can still take out the AP carry for a few seconds. It's also not to be overestimated in the early game since she can silence out the enemy support, meaning that the other carry loses their source of healing or damage boost.
Soraka is also relatively unique in that her Starcall both does a bit of damage and lowers MR of those struck, meaning that she has a damage presence in teamfights, which is unusual for a support (most contribute either a mobile healing station or some form of CC).
Her big weakness is that while effective, her kit is most effective when used against or with a team that can utilize her to the fullest.
AD carries that Soraka counters:
Champions who rely on their support to sustain in the lane or champions who rely on a set combo to deal damage like Graves. She is also effective against Karthus.
AD carries that Soraka works well with:
Ashe, Corki, Draven, Ezreal, Kog'Maw, Sivir, Twitch, Varus
Taric's kit relies on auras to spread the benefits around as much as possible.
He has a decent hard CC, Dazzle, that can turn the tide of an early game duel or a potential gank.
But where he really shines is during teamfights. He has several auras that grant armor, which is naturally a foil to the enemy AD carry and most bruisers in the top lane and a lot of junglers and he has a point blank heal to keep the important person alive and an ultimate that gives that AD carry even more damage as well as helping out anyone else on your team who relies on attack damage.
So, in this sense he is a lot like Lulu in that he is most effective around the mid game, however unlike Lulu, he accents your AD carry instead of your bruiser and is more useful during the early game with sustain and stuns.
AD carries that Taric counters:
Taric is more of an answer to playstyle; he counters aggressive moves extremely well but has trouble making magic happen during a passive lane until he levels his stun considerably.
AD carries that Taric works well with:
Corki, Draven, Ezreal, Graves, Miss Fortune, Varus, Vayne