How Supports Carry Games; Read it you "I Don't Play Support" Guy!
Season 3 is upon us and I almost want to call it "League of Legends: Rise of the Supports!" These guys have been dramatically improved with the new additions to the game and are by far more fun to play. But, there continues to be people who claim "I don't have runes for support" or claim that they don't own any. To which I say, "Bullshit." Season 3 has brought with it a large number of great changes for supports that make them so much more fun, interesting and engaging. I admit that supports were not as interesting in season 2, but that does not mean they are in season 3.
If Sona and Cho can have Tea together, you can play support!
Supports in Season 2
Before we talk about season 3, lets talk about season 2. In season 2, supports were lucky to get something more than an aegis during a game. By being the biggest source (only in some cases) of wards, drained support gold to such an extent that a typical support build would be boots 1, philo stone, Heart of gold and wards times infinity. Supports were responsible for map control and it was the job of your teammates to really be able to use that to their advantage. If they do not, it goes unused and that is very common in solo que for your teammates to not utilize it. As such, supports were considered ineffective in many games, as their job would go unused in many cases. One common cry was that if you had a fed support (rare case) it would do nothing for your team. Well, it would lead to map control though earlier GP10's, more pink wards and a tankier support due to to earlier items. But that doesn't mean much if your teammates must have a MIA to avoid someone coming to their lane.
When team fights come around, supports were often the first to die or be targeted. In Solo que, people often target the first thing they can see or what they know they can kill, and anyone could kill supports. Due to lack of items from buying a bijillion wards, supports were squishy compared to any other role apart from maybe AD. Normally this was not the biggest issue, as you generally could use your ult and abilities, essentially doing your job before you died. But, you did die if anyone wanted to kill you, especially if you found a wild Xin as you were warding. This no doubt frustrated many people and made them dislike support more.
Basically, you had to support someone else, you had a job to do that people didn't always take advantage of, you were squishy as heck and never got to play with cool items. Which leads us to...
Supports in Season 3
Riot has done a lot to help out supports and addressed almost everything I mentioned as an issue in season 2.
1. Enhanced gold makes you almost a tank so you can stay alive and do more.
Gold savings have been dramatic for me and for those supports I have seen in tournaments. Math and numbers are one thing, but stories work very well when talking to others.
I have had multiple games where I had an Aegis, Zeke's, Ruby Sight stone and Shuryelia's in my inventory. As a result, I ended up being one of the tankiest members of my team. So much so, that I actually flashed into the middle of an enemy team, ulted myself as Lulu, slowed everyone and manged to WALK AWAY from the enemy team. Reckless? Silly? Foolish? Probably all of the above, but I did it and got away with it. In season 2 that would have never worked. And those who thought I was fragile and would be an easy kill in season 2, cried as my team murdered them in season 3. Supports are not an easy target anymore. In fact....
At the TSM invitational on 12/8/2012, Lemonnation was playing lulu against Curse.NA. Lulu was the last one left alive and 4 members of curse dived him under his turret. In season 2, this would have been an easy kill, but that little yordle lived for a very long time under their attack. He had multiple health and defensive items making him a borderline tank. All while being a very useful member of his team.
Math and numbers will tell you that supports get more gold, but now you see what that new gold actually does for you.
2. Sightstone is amazing and makes bad supports actually work on warding the map.
This is your best friend and will give you most of the map control you need for your lane and upgrading it will give you enough wards for general use till you need to blanket baron in wards. I would say it would be enough if everyone on your team always had a couple wards but lets be realistic here.
As I said, the support usually had the job of map vision, this item does that and gives health. The hallmark of a bad support was someone who never had a ward in their inventory. Now, they always should have a ward in their inventory. No more do they have to make a choice for going for items but not doing their vision job. Even if you never buy another ward past sightstone, you will have wards to use for your team and save your teams rear. Playing support got a lot easier for everyone.
3. Cool, New effective items to buy
In season 2, even if I had gold to buy items, it would probably be the same set of items every time. Aegis, Zeke's, Reverie. Now I have Twin shadows, Shard of true ice, Runic Bulwark, Sightstone, Mikeals Crucible and if a team comp wants it, I could get a WOTA. Suddenly the idea of a fed support is actually scary to the enemy team in more ways than just map vision. I could get an early Zeke's herald, giving me everything I want and putting my team ahead with my other role filled by sightstone.
Now I can carry in a more traditional sense of the word by having a more visceral impact on the game. No one thanks for me placing a team fight starting ward, but I do get thanks when I cleanse something off my carry or take pressure off my teammates. Now that I do not die to a stiff breeze, I can get in closer and actually take risks.
Further, I have more decisions I can make to impact my team. If someone is getting CC'd, I have an item for that. If my AD is behind and needs help, I have an item for that. If we have problems with the enemy doing magic damage, I have an item for that. These are decisions I can make independent of my teammates allowing me more direct impact.
I am sure there will always be "that guy" who refuses to play something other than carry. But the arguments for supports not being able to carry games was not true in season 2 and almost impossible to argue in season 3. Being tougher alone made my impact in team fights so much more, well, impactful. But with so many other positive changes for supports, I truly believe supports are vastly more powerful and fun this season. There is no longer any real argument about just accepting what happens when you play support because you have no impact. You do, learn support and get ready to really show you can carry games.