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What Do Supports Do?

Creator: Pyrocumulus February 16, 2016 8:12am
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Feb 16th, 2016
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Hey Guys! I'm playing League as a former (current?) DotA player. In DotA, I main support and offlane (DotA equivalent of top). I want to stick to these roles in League, but I have one problem: What do support do?
In DotA, this is simple. Buy courier and wards, ward runes, deny creeps, pull, harass the enemy (enemies),get items like mek, etc etc. In League on the other hand, I'm not sure what to do. I ward and harass a bit, but I just feel like I'm stealing xp from my ADC. So, do you have any advice for a support to be?
Roguish Bard
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Feb 11th, 2016
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Take not, an ADC's farm. Bolster their strength, guide their aim. You are their leader, their protector. Keep your allies aware of the danger they face. The path of a true support.

And if all that fails, just sing a happy tune. It usually works for me.
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Dec 19th, 2011
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Supports used to be somewhat more unique in previous seasons. However, they still are quite essential for a team. The following assumes a basic understanding of League mechanics (I assume DOTA has similar ideas too, being of the same genre) and some understanding of League terminology.

Things all supports are generally responsible for:

Vision Control
- Warding ( Sightstone and its upgrades)
- Counter-warding ( Vision Ward, Sweeping Lens, and Oracle Lens)

Protecting/helping the ADC in lane
- Harassing enemies
- Absorbing damage from enemies for the ADC
- Providing CC to help acquire kills or escape from losing situations (ganks, bad trades)

Protecting/helping the team after laning phase
- Providing sight for the team (See Vision Control)
- Engaging/disengaging fights
- Using your CC on enemy carries to neutralize them quickly
- Alternatively, using your CC to peel for your carries so that they live to do their job

Know your champion. Supports fall into three broad categories. The listed champions are examples, this is by no means a comprehensive list.

Tanks - Leona, Braum, Poppy

These supports tend to have a lot of CC and innate durability. Leona, for example, has Eclipse, which provides her with a large amount of durability while active. They tend to be melee champions and are usually excellent at engaging the enemy for an "all-in".

During laning phase, their ability to openly trade with enemies on their own is terrible, but when coordinated with their ADC, their abilities usually produce massive amounts of damage. After laning phase, these supports tend to engage teamfights. They can peel, but they truly shine when they use their CC to lock down enemy carries.

Utility - Janna, Lulu, Soraka

These supports shine in the CC category. They also tend to have heals and/or shields to further protect their teammates. While supports are generally not the most durable, due to their low gold income and lack of items, these tend to be the squishiest. Usually these champions are ranged. Depending on the specific champion, they can either be excellent at staying in the back and using their abilities to support their teammates, or they are quite good at trading damage with enemy champions.

During laning phase, these champions tend to be decently strong at trading with enemy champions. When working with their ADC to poke at enemies, they can pull off surprising amounts of damage, or at the very least, mitigate most of the enemy's damage. These supports often follow their carries around, in order to protect them and make the most of their utility. After laning phase, their job doesn't change. They can either use their CC to help initiate teamfights, although they often excel at disengaging from the enemy and peeling enemies off of their carries.

Kill - Thresh, Blitzcrank, Annie

These supports usually sport a lot of damage coupled with CC. Burst damage and lock-down CC is the name of the game for these champions. Whether it's a Blitzcrank Rocket Grab or an Annie's Pyromania enhanced Summon: Tibbers, these supports are the best for going all-in on an enemy. They can be either ranged or melee and are usually fairly fragile.

During laning phase, these champions are monsters. One misplay by an enemy can result in a nearly instant kill. However, these supports also tend to be weaker if the enemy team is smart with their playstyle. Depending on the champion, they can either be good at poking, or strictly an all-in style. When they catch an enemy out of position, that enemy tends to die. After laning phase, their job carries over. They are responsible for "picking" enemies who are out of position with their CC to get quick and easy kills. Alternatively, they can just use their damage to help burst down enemies in teamfights.

These categories are not very strict. Some supports fit into both. Taric, for example, is sort of half-way between a Kill and a Tank. His CC is not really that impressive, but his burst damage and tankiness is very good. He also has a heal for utility. The point is, these ideas are just a starting point, they aren't hard rules.

Supports generally build items that are highly gold-efficient, but are usually not incredibly high in stats. Because they do not kill minions for gold, they tend to have less gold and spend items that support the team, rather than just themselves. There are a few core support items: gold-income items, vision control items, and trinkets.

Relic Shield > Targon's Brace > Face of the Mountain / Eye of the Equinox

These items are built pretty much only on melee champions (and Thresh, it's a thing, it would take a while to explain). This line of items are designed for supports who prefer some extra tankiness. It also helps to provide a bit of sustain for your ADC, as it gives a minor, but noticeable, health return when killing a minion while you have a charge.

Ancient Coin > Nomad's Medallion > Talisman of Ascension / Eye of the Oasis

This line of items is the most passive of the three lines. Basically, you get gold and health from your allies killing minions near you. As of right now, this line is not used often, as the current meta is focused on more aggressive lanes. Talisman of Ascension is occasionally built without getting its prerequisites, more on that in a moment.

Spellthief's Edge > Frostfang > Frost Queen's Claim / Eye of the Watchers

Out of the three lines of items, this set is the most offensively focused. Melee supports tend to shy away from this line, instead focusing on the Relic Shield line. Ranged supports, however, make great use of these items. This line is excellent for poking enemies to gain massive amounts of gold, as well as a little bit of extra damage for helping to kill champions. Occasionally, supports will amount a large amount of gold from Spellthief's Edge and then sell it to purchase Talisman of Ascension for the active. Although Frost Queen's Claim does have a nice active, it has been getting nerfed quite a bit in recent patches and in some situations is outclassed by Talisman of Ascension.

Sightstone > Ruby Sightstone / Eye of the Equinox / Eye of the Oasis / Eye of the Watchers

The main job of a support is to provide vision for their team. Games are won and lost on vision. While this is not as obvious in lower-level play, often the difference between a win and a loss in a high-level game is decided by which team has better vision.

Whether to get Ruby Sightstone over any of the other options is a matter of personal preference and is a game by game decision. Having both Ruby Sightstone and a finished item from one of the three lines takes up two item slots. Also, upgrading directly to one of the Eye items is a lot cheaper than buying a Ruby Sightstone. Although you are giving up a pretty good active and some stats, sometimes you just need the extra slot and gold.

Stealth Ward > Sweeping Lens > Oracle Lens

Start the game with Stealth Ward to help with vision. As soon as you can afford Sightstone (generally by the first or second recall), switch to Sweeping Lens. This allows you to get into the other part of supporting - vision control. Having vision is all well and good, but denying the enemy team from having vision is even better. Once you hit level 9, switching to Oracle Lens is an easy step, as it is a clear upgrade to Sweeping Lens.

Vision Ward

On the topic of vision control, these things are one of the best tools of the support. Although you can only have one out at a time, supports are going to be the one buying these the most. Vision Wards are an essential part of vision control, as they both provide vision and help to deny enemy vision.

Every game, unless it ends super early, should give you at least three items. Boots of some sort (usually Mobility Boots, Ionian Boots of Lucidity, or Boots of Swiftness), a finished item from one of the three lines, and a Sightstone. Upgrading to a Ruby Sightstone can be done later in the game, or you can choose one of the Eye items, if you like.

Here is a list of other utility items that supports usually aim to purchase. This is not a comprehensive list, and if you want explanations for most of these, or what to specifically build on each champion, I suggest doing some research. Look at guides, professional players, and ask people specific questions. This post is too general to address stuff like that.

Banner of Command
Locket of the Iron Solari
Mikael's Blessing
Randuin's Omen
Turbo Chemtank
Zeke's Harbinger

These items aren't limited to only supports, but they are items you will commonly see on supports, rather than other roles. Most of them are cheap and have helpful actives to aid your teammates.

Hopefully, the above information is enough to get you started and a basic rundown of the support role. There are other concepts and skills out there to learn, such as how to ward and counter-ward; how to zone, poke, and trade in lane; how to roam; and how to teamfight, but those concepts are better learned through experience or by reading specialized guides.

Almost any well-written support guide on this site will have information on those concepts, and there is plenty of video content on YouTube and Twitch to learn more. As a particularly useful source, I recommend Vynertje's Support AMA and Advice Thread.

If you have any questions, or if any of this is confusing (I wrote this at 2 AM, so it is definitely possible), feel free to ask.

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Feb 8th, 2011
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To add on to that, there's a lot of mechanics that are different from DotA to League.

There's no high ground, just walls. Some places may look higher, but that's just a visual thing.
Creep stacking and denying don't exist. Denying is as simple as harassing the opponent with whatever you can, or applying pressure to make sure they can't get the gold for it. As long as it doesn't put you in danger that is.

Thank you to jhoijhoi for the sig, and all the dividers in the guide.

<Crowd Favorite>
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Feb 2nd, 2011
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Most supports are either initiate / engage supports like Alistar and Thresh, or disengage supports like Janna. You have a lot of in betweens and other niche picks such as some supports that are focused on poke like Karma and Vel'Koz, which might seem more in line with the dota support role.

Supports have a huge role in roaming and vision placement / denial to control the pacing of the game alongside the jungler. Supports and junglers both typically aim to secure vision through Sightstone and deny enemy vision through the purchase of scanners
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May 25th, 2013
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Hey Guys! I'm playing League as a former (current?) DotA player. In DotA, I main support and offlane (DotA equivalent of top). I want to stick to these roles in League, but I have one problem: What do support do?
In DotA, this is simple. Buy courier and wards, ward runes, deny creeps, pull, harass the enemy (enemies),get items like mek, etc etc. In League on the other hand, I'm not sure what to do. I ward and harass a bit, but I just feel like I'm stealing xp from my ADC. So, do you have any advice for a support to be?

Hey first of all I think you should take a look at the kind of support champion you want to play (take a look at the ones Jpikachu1999 mentioned). Take them to some games and try to see which category you like playing the most (you do well playing them/it's fun playing them,etc).
Try to look around guides here in mobafire. There are brilliant guides wrote by excellent league players. Take a look at all of them in general to see the main mechanics supports have.
I personally recommend you to ask to Jpikachu1999 here or in Vynertje's support AMA and advise thread. You can express your doubts to him/her (not sure) and he/she will explain and counsel you.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy league!

Thanks to TheSilverDust for this Thresh signature!
*Image done by Z0MBGiEF*
Don't forget to Rep+ if my comment was useful!
Latest Legend
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Dec 7th, 2012
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"They **** around getting freelo by living off their other team members. Most of them can't even properly ward, look at the map or ping. The role is so ****py even I can win low gold games with it.

If they're not busy walking around screwing up your CS, they're getting themselves killed in the jungle. They can't even properly kite for their carries or lock the fed one down or dodge everything. They're a pain, sometimes we even have to adjust ourselves to them instead of them just adjusting themselves to us! Would you believe I saw a support buying a DAMAGE ITEM? A DAMAGE ITEM?! The ****tards don't even know how to bloody last-hit! Bah.


Vision control, lane control, communication, map awareness, usually a lot of CC or other game-changing mechanic (displacements, life savers), they usually spend their time controlling fights. Early game you're probably managing your adc's weak early game or are trying to abuse the enemy carry's weak early game, because supports often have great early game power.
********'s a pretty good fertilizer
<Guide Critic>
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Jan 10th, 2012
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I personally recommend you to ask [...]Vynertje's support AMA and advise thread. You can express your doubts to him/her (not sure) and he/she will explain and counsel you.


Off-topic but does the fact that people don't know mean they think I'm feminine (support main yada yada)? In a game where about 90% of the players are male people tend to automatically assume players are male until there's something suggesting differently.

But yeah, if you (or anyone else) have (has) specific questions hit me up there. There's a lot of in-depth details on support I can give you but the basic information posted here is a start so I won't repeat that.

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