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How to Ride Pigs
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Support is a very important role, no matter the ELO or even if it is a simple Normal game. This role is often overlooked because supports barely deal any damage and one more DPS on your team looks much more useful. But is another carry really that effective? A support not only boosts your carry's damage by babysitting but also greatly improves the overall team's survivability. Which is better? Having a 4 DPS when one of them will get focused and die in the first seconds of a team battle or having 3DPS that will stay alive much longer? To me it's obvious the second choice is the best. A support brings CC, auras and heals that will synergise with each member of the team, boosting their ability and enabling the DPS to do much more that they could even dream of doing by themselves.
In this guide I will explain the very basic concepts of playing as a support, it is pretty simple but has a few tricks to it.
12/06/11 - Unarchived the guide.
12/06/11 - Completely changed to babysitting chapter.
25/05/11 - Updated the Roaming chapter.
24/05/11 - Updated babysitting's experience sub-section.
20/05/11 - Added the warning in the babysitting section.
18/05/11 - Published the guide.
Minimap and Misses
The simplest way to keep track of the opposing team is looking at your minimap. This takes about a second, and whenever you know you're safe take that one second to look at it. You should be doing this several times per minute.
The second easiest way to track your enemies is by calling in misses. Whenever a champion leaves your lane he becomes a potential threat to your team mates, so you need to warn your team about it so they play more defensively in case there is a gank. If the champion returns then you also need to let them know, so they can continue their normal play without the need to be extra defensive.
In the EU you call a miss by saying "ss bot", "ss top" or "ss mid". In the US you call it by saying "mia top", "mia bot" or "mia mid". In both servers you announce a champions return by saying "re". Providing a champions route is also very helpful, just ping three times along his plausible path.
The last basic rule of map awareness is keeping track of dead champions. Whenever a champion dies hit the tab button and check the respawn timer. Enemies don't take as long to spawn as we would like too, and at the beginning the timer is almost non-existing. It's not that uncommon to see people getting killed because they thought the champion was still dead.
This might seem trivial to the vast majority of the players but it is often overlooked or forgotten. A team that calls all misses will have a big advantage over one that doesn't.
Warding is a must in every single game, and as a support people will count on you to get most wards. Whether roaming or babysitting, you'll always need to start with a Sight ward to protect bot lane/dragon. After the initial phase, whenever you go back to your base you should get one or two wards with the money you have left. Do not spend all your gold on wards or you will severely delay your build, which is never a good thing. There are several warding guides on any LoL fan-site, so feel free to check them out.
I will, however, show you my favourite spots to ward. These spots are the ones that provide the most visibility, and since your team will probably not buy wards just focus on these 6 places:By warding each of these places you'll be able to keep an eye on all the buffs and take advantage of the moment the enemy team tries to kill the monster to gank or steal the it. Most players often kill these monsters alone and separate themselves from the team in order to grab the buff, it is the perfect chance to strike and take one out.
You'll also be able to see very often used paths and be able to both prevent and facilitate ganking.
You should aim to have 2 wards up, that means you use 150 gold every 3.5 mins which is easily compensated by 2 Gp10 items. I suggest you use them wisely and keep track of when the buff monsters spawn and are killed and be ready to ward them before they do.
Golem and Lizard spawn at 1:54 and respawn after 5 mins. Dragon spawns at 2:30 and respawns after 6 minutes. Baron Nashor spawns at 15:00 and after 7 mins. By warding each place before the monster spawns you'll be able to keep an eye on it without needing to keep a ward up all the time.
I advise you to check out in-depth warding guides such as Panglot's Warding Helper.
If you know that your enemy is also warding the map then it is counter productive to just keep warding, since any ganks on your part will be prevented and your gold will go to waste. Your enemies can also move much more freely around the map without the fear of getting ganked, enabling them to exploit other tactics such as backdooring with ease.
You have 2 options if you want to counter their wards. The first is getting Oracle's Elixir and roam through the map in order to destroy any wards. It is very effective but it'll cost you 400g if you end up dying. This also works against Teemo's Noxious Trap or Shaco's Jack In The Box.
The second option is using Vision wards to destroy their wards, which is cost-efficient if they only ward a few places like Baron and Dragon. This way you don't risk wasting 400g by dying in a team fight when all you used it for was destroying a couple of wards.
Clairvoyance is an amazing spell all supports should take. It is exceptionally useful in so many occasions. With it you can track junglers and enable your team to steal his buffs or gank. You can prevent ganks by illuminating the most likely path an enemy took when he left a lane. Enable ganks and prevent disastrous team fights by checking if an enemy is indeed baiting or is just badly positioned. Prevent champions from running away by looking into the bushes, not letting them pull any tricks on you by going our of line of sight.
The spell has a 42.5 second CD if you specced into the Utility mastery tree (which you should have) and last for 10 seconds. It has an incredibly short CD and long duration. I suggest you talk to your team and decide on a code for you to use it, like pinging on the map twice or just saying "cv". You should be using it whenever possible unless there's simply no one missing on the map, and often your team mates will know where it needs to be used better than you do. I also suggest you say whenever your CD is up.
A support doesn't scale very well with items and doesn't need them to be useful in a team fight. A carry, however, scales exponentially with gold and will become several times stronger by being babysat.
When babysitting you'll want to take the bottom lane, since top is left for solo and bot needs 2 people in order to control the Dragon. If you have no jungler/roamer then it doesn't matter which lane you take.
Gold is gotten by last hitting enemy minions, and it is usually shared unequally between both laning partners. Our aim is to stop the sharing and give all the gold to your carry so he puts it into a good use.
Even though you should leave the gold to your carry he will not be able to get every single kill, so if you are in minion range and know that your carry won't be able to get a particular kill then it's your job to take it, it's better for a support to get the gold than for it to go to waste.
In order to make up for the lack of gold gotten in a lane you will need to gold/10 items or settle for a cheaper build, preferably both. Your base sources of gold is the passive 14g/10 seconds, the 150g from each turret destroyed, the gold for kill assists (300g divided by all assisting players), the 190g for Dragon kill and 300g for killing Baron Nashor. It is simply impossible to finish a 9k+ gold build while relying solely on these means to attain gold.
Keep in mind that champion kills should also be gotten by the rest of your team, not you. Try to not Kill Steal as much as possible, but if it means risking an enemy escaping then don't be afraid to get the last hit.
Kill Steal is bad, Kill Secured is good.
Positioning is very important, it is the difference between surviving and dying or getting a kill and letting the enemy escape. Your postition is determined by where your ally is, which is in turn determined by where the minions are.
When an enemy minion dies every enemy champion within range will get an equal 55% of the experience. So, if you move out far enough you'll end up losing experience, but if you get too close you're putting yourself in danger. You need to find a balance between the two, and unless you are going to gank or harass there's no need to move closer to the enemy. You can support from a distance, and that's exactly what you should do.This screen shot illustrates the distance between you and the minion in order not to lose XP. The current minion experience range is 1250.
Note that Eye of the storm has 800 range and Sivir's auto attack has 425 range. If you know your spells' range and your ally's range you'll be able to estimate how far away you need to be. In this case I'm just outside of XP range, which is bad.
Another thing that you should always use is the bushes. If you are in a bush you can be closer to the enemy without being in danger yourself, and since you have no need to attack (unless your carry fails to last hit) you can stay hidden for a long time. Even though you are invisible there's no need to move to the end of the bush, you can just stay on the back. If you need to harass you can easily move and then go back, but if you always stay in the front you'll be prone to getting hit by skill-shots or ganked from behind.
There are two very important things you can do regarding your lane control.
The first is not pushing your lane past the safety zone. If you bought a ward you may be able to push the lane since you can see the river, but the enemy can go through your jungle and evade the ward, effectively ganking you. In order to prevent this you should not push the lane past the first bush. If the enemy minions are relatively close to the tower you will not get ganked, so keep them close and don't push.
If you can see every single one of the enemies then there's obviously no problem in pushing and harassing since there will be no ganks, but if they tower hug it'll be very hard to harass.
The second is to not let the minions get in your tower range. It is considerably harder for your carry to last hit when a tower is attacking the minions, since it deals a lot more damage. If the minions are getting too close to your tower then you need to push them back a bit. Make sure you only deal damage in a way you won't prevent your carry from dealing the last hit but the lane is still pushed.
Each turret has different damage, but they all have around 1000 range. Once again, you can estimate the tower range by using one of your skills as a measure.This image illustrates where the creep wave should be in order for you to be safe and to help your carry last hit properly. This is where the creep wave should be, not where you should be.
However, roaming is not always the best choice. If, for example, you leave an AD carry in a solo lane he will get easily harassed and prevented from gaining XP and gold by forcing him to stay away from his minions. So, unless all your lanes can hold on their own, refrain from roaming, or you'll end up handicapping your own team.
I advise you to coordinate ganks with your jungler in order to boost your chances of success.
When you go to a lane it is very important you do not push the lane or steal minion kills or you'll be endangering and hurting your own team mate. So, just like with babysitting, you will be starving for gold the whole time since all the creep and champion kills go to the rest of your team. For this reason I suggest getting at least 2 gold/10 items.
When roaming you usually become under-levelled. While this is expected you cannot afford to lose too much experience or you'll be easily targeted and killed during ganks. In order to make up for the lack of experience most roamers will use flat runes instead of per level ones, improving their stats early game. While roaming you also have to extend your stays in top and bot lanes in order to get some experience, if you're always moving around and trying to gank you will not be able to keep up with the levels.
Counter-jungling is also an easy way to get experience, but if you're not fast you'll be risking your life.
In order to roam efficiently a champion needs survivability and CC. For this reason not many supports can roam, there are only that can.
Alistar is great because he is practically ungankable and combined with flash his CC combo is deadly, not to mention his heal that is always helpful to a lane.
Blitzcrank also has excellent roaming capabilities since he can get an enemy out of place easily and unexpectedly, as well as amazing survivability and mobility.
Moakai abilities let him gank very effectively by teleporting to the enemy, stunning and slowing him down. The saplings also provide some map control for a short period.
Taric isn't as good but his ranged stun which is very reliable for ganks, his useful armor aura and his heal make him a strong roamer.
Janna can also roam easily since her abilities let her outrun any ganker and provide her with amazing CC for ganks.
The best way to support is to CC the right enemy. A good stun or disable can completely change the tide of battle. If you catch an enemy out of place you can CC him and your team will finish him off 5vs1, making the following team fight 5vs4.
During the fight save your CC for the champion that deals more damage or is most troublesome during the fight. If there's an Ashe and Malzahar on their team and Ashe is focused first, then be sure to CC Malzahar to prevent him for using his ultimate or silencing your whole team. Disabling the right champion for only 2 seconds is crucial to win a team fight.
There are also several champion abilities or items that provide auras that boost your team or cripple your enemies just by being present. Some of these are incredibly good for a support to have while others are merely decent.
Taric's Shatter, Soraka's Consecration and Sona's Song of Celerity are good examples of such aura abilities. Those are also the only 3 supports that have auras. Champions like Janna or Zilean provide bonuses to every champion, no matter the range.
Aura items include Abyssal Mask, Frozen Heart, Soul Shroud, Aegis of the Legion, Zeke's Harbinger, Will of the Ancients and Shurelya's Battlesong. All of these auras are UNIQUE, meaning that a champion cannot be affected by two of the same aura. The only exception to this is that if you own the item, in which case you are affected by your aura and a nearby friend's aura.
Heals and Shields
The most common way of support, however, is healing and shielding. These skills range come in a variety of types and shapes. They include single target heals like Divine Blessing, multi target heals like Wish, weak shields such as Eye of the Storm and resurrections with Chronoshift
Almost all supports have at least one of these abilities and is what characterizes them as supports. Blitzcrank is the only one who lacks a heal/shield but can compensate with his extremely good CC and utility.
When using these spells you should save it for who really needs it. Sure, your tank is under half HP, but will your 400hp heal be useful on him or should you wait to use it on your carry? My guess is use save it for your carry. Tanks might get focused at the start of the fight but the focus will be quickly switched. Just like when CCing, pay attention to the most important members on your team and decide your target and timing to use your heal. Some cooldowns are very small and you'll be able to keep spamming it. Other cooldowns, like most ultimates, are only usable once in each fight and require you to be focused while using it.
An often overlooked aspect about supports is that you are usually pretty though, at least tougher than your carry. This means that you have a higher chance of getting hit by a skill shot like Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Dark Binding or Bandage Toss and surviving/managing to escape. So, if someone aims for your carry a viable strategy is to be a human shield, step in the way and intercept the ability, saving your team.
A carry is very valuable to a team fight, specially since you've been babysitting him during the whole early game, since he can unleash a steady heavy amount of damage and is not dependent on long cooldowns like a caster. As long as he stays alive he'll keep dishing out tons of damage and possibly kill the entire enemy team.
You, on the other hand, have probably used your important cooldowns already and won't bring that much to the team fight after that. Using your own HP as a shield or offering yourself up to get focused instead will help your team a lot. The cooldowns wasted on you and the time it takes to bring a support with over 7k effective HP all the way down to 0 is enough for your team to finish some of their DPS.
Don't be afraid to give up your life for your carry's, but don't try to sacrifice yourself for no need.