When and Why to Pick Every (Common) Support in the game!
We have quite a few supports in the game now and each one comes with their own strengths and weaknesses. But when do you pick Janna over Nami? Lulu over Leona? I want to go over every common support you see in games and let you know the pros & cons for each support. Supports need love too!
I've used it before, but when it comes to supports it just feels too appropriate
What Supports are common?
So I should first define what supports are the common supports. These are supports you will see players in the LCS pick, common solo queue picks and ones that are generally regarded as "non-troll" picks. There are some supports that I would call "uncommon" that will not be included. But that isn't because they cannot be supports, but because someone else usually does the same job better.
There's the list. I am aware of other supports you might want to mention but I want to play with some of them to see if they are decent general picks and not just niche picks. And I left Alistar out for a reason. I will talk about him later. Now let's get started.
Janna is the highest win rate champion in the game and has been for a long time. Yes, a support has the highest win rate in the game. Her suite of abilities fix stupidity and carelessness from teammates.
Laning Phase: Janna's laning phase is only so-so. When you play with Janna, she does not really win lanes. But what she can do very well is not lose them. Her tornado is such a powerful CC that it can prevent a lot of engagements by itself. Leona has a hard time getting in with a tornado ready to knock her up. Her shield can make trading with the enemy AD easy. Her real downside is the lack of additional damage she can add to a fight or trade.
Team fights: Behold the high queen of support team fights. Her ultimate alone wins fights and disengages when your teammates are caught (very important in solo queue). It is really hard to overstate just how strong her ultimate is. She can basically make it so that an AD carry just has to attack move and kill things. Imagine someone blowing their abilities to get in and you just shove them out. Now what? Flash? Janna exhausts you, knocks you up, or slows you. All without the AD needing to do anything.
When to pick Janna: Janna is a fantastic solo queue support and a good general pick. She works great in poke comps for the heavy disengage she offers or just when you need to protect your AD carry from melee.
This precious little yordle is basically Janna's cousin. She acts similarly to Janna but offers a bit more offensive utility. She is also adorable.
Laning Phase: Lulu's laning phase is ok. Her poke has been toned down a lot since her release but her passive still adds a deceptive amount of extra damage. Her E also acts as a dual shield and damage source so you do not have to choose between offense or defense when leveling skills. Her ultimate is such a giant bait for players. Most see blood when a health bar gets low but Lulu knows it is just ketchup. If Lulu has not blown her ultimate, be careful about diving for that kill.
Team Fights: I consider Lulu the second best support at team fighting. I am biased as Lulu is my favorite support but I believe I can make a real argument for it. Her ultimate basically makes anyone into an initiator and tank. So a Shyvana dive into Lulu ult works wonders. Her Q is a massive AOE slow which can completely neuter offensive attacks. Finally her W, while technically a silence, prevents auto attacks. Diving an AD with Lulu's W and Exhaust is very difficult. And of course her ultimate is always available for that too.
When to pick Lulu: She is a great general pick and is probably the best support in the game for saving an AD against assassins. Akali can bypass Janna's knock backs and slows, but she cannot easily burst someone down with a large amount of extra health and Lulu's CC.
Nami is a support that requires practice to really learn. She doesn't strictly fit into a certain mold but offers a nice "all rounder" set of skills.
Laning Phase: Nami's laning phase is pretty good. Her Q's extremely long range allows for stuns well outside Nami's basic area of control. If you follow it up with her E for extra damage + slow and W for healing + damage, the trade is likely to be heavily in Nami's favor. She also excels at chasing and escaping.
Team Fights: Nami's ultimate is one of the few ultimates that can be used to initiate a team fight like a tank. Basically, you throw out the wave and it is a giant sign that says "GO!" to engage the enemy. The move speed boost from her passive is just a bonus. It can also be used for disengage but works if used before the enemy is on you. Nami doesn't really have the power to save an AD quite like other supports, but she is highly flexible and does a bit of everything.
When to pick Nami: Nami works well in lane and works well in team fights. Some supports do each role better, but she offers a good laning phase to go with good team fight potential. Hard to go wrong with picking Nami. Just do not expect her to be the best at saving her AD from melee or assassins.
A simple to play and highly effective support that everyone should know
Laning Phase: Sona's laning phase is good. Her poke with her Q is simple and highly effective. The sustain she offers can be infuriating if the enemy team doesn't keep trading with her. That isn't even mentioning the invisible power of her Auras! Finally her ultimate is one of the most powerful in the game. Who doesn't like a wide area stun?
Team fights: You would think I would mention Sona's teamfight power as extremely strong. But the reality is a little different from that. It has potential to be among the best support team fighting power, but it all depends on your ultimate. All of Sona's power for team fights is in her ultimate. Without it, she just isn't that strong of a team fighter. Her abilities just do not have the same punch as other supports. So when it comes to team fights, Sona is all or nothing on her ultimate. So it is strong, but there are qualifiers. Janna and Lulu do not need their ultimates to save people, Sona kinda does.
When to pick Sona: Pretty much any time. Sona works with just about any AD carry and team composition. You just cannot go wrong with Sona if you're not sure who to pick.
The first support we probably all played with and the one that has been the target of Morello's anti-healer rage.
Laning Phase: Soraka is built to do 2 things. 1. Poke. 2. Sustain. That is it. Soraka's E allows for a lot of poke. Either from Soraka herself using it offensively or using it on her partner for mana. Then as your side trades, Soraka heals it back with her W or uses it to prevent a strong trade. Her Q is not very effective and short ranged. As a result, it ends up just not doing very much in lane unless you're ahead and leveling her Q to keep the other side down. Her ultimate makes her global laning phase strong and sends a powerful message to the other team: "I can heal from anywhere." Unfortunately, the cool-down is very long. So while you can use it to save your teammates on the map, you end up putting your lane behind in abilities to use in fights.
Teamfights: Soraka's team fight power is lackluster compared to other supports. Her abilities are not terrible, but they are not hard CC like other supports. So as the game goes longer and longer, the full value of her heals diminish as the relative damage and health goes up. The armor buff is still good, but how much does that armor really mean to an AD that has not really built health to back it up? Or the fact that the assassin has built Last Whisper?
When to pick Soraka: You pick Soraka when you want a mana battery for your bottom lane or want her ultimate to help counter Karthus. My honest opinion is that there are often times better picks for winning your lane or saving teammates. But if you want to play a heavy poke/trade game, Soraka would work well.
The most fabulous champion in the game. Taric is basically a giant wall with some tricks.
Laning Phase: Taric's laning phase is pretty strong. The extra armor from his W makes it difficult to lose trades against physical damage. Add in the heal from Q, armor break from the offensive W and his E's stun for hilarity that is hard to stop. Taric's only real downside is his short range and travel time on his stun. Other than those, Taric is just a beefy brick. There just is not any real nuance to Taric. Walk forward, stun, press W for more damage, heal and win trade. Add Ultimate as needed for more damage. It just works.
Teamfights: Taric's team fight power comes primarily from the invisible stats he offers. His W and Ultimate contribute a lot of extra stats to his whole team with a little bit of damage thrown in. His stun is valuable for catching people and stopping dives on his AD carry. But overall his power comes from the passives on his kit in team-fights.
When to pick Taric: Taric is great for catching AD carries that cannot run from him in lane and his W helps against heavy physical damage lanes. Taric works well against lots of physical poke like Caitlyn and he helps with burst AD's like Graves.
Chain lord Thresh is basically Blitzcrank with less all-in but a lot more poke.
Laning Phase: Thresh's laning phase is very strong. One well placed hook can earn an easy kill like a Blitzcrank. Unlike a Blitzcrank, Thresh has actual poke to do beyond setting up a hook. Thresh's Lantern is one of the most hilarious abilities in the game for saving people and for setting up ganks. His laning phase is powerful but beware laning against a duo lane with even more all-in. Sure you're the mighty Thresh, but Leona will butcher your AD before you can finish sneezing.
Team-Fights: Thresh's team fight power is pretty good. Hooks end games, period. Beyond that he can control a lot of space with his box, making it difficult to get away from him or to his AD carry. Then, should he even get to your AD, you can save him with your lantern. Assassins are hilarious with Thresh. Dive in, get saved by an undead monster. What is not to love?
When to pick Thresh. Thresh is a more well-rounded Blitzcrank. He has less straight up kill potential, but gains a lot of utility. He is a great general pick for a person that likes to play aggressively.
Who would have thought a plant could be so murderous?
Laning Phase: Zyra's laning phase is strong. The very fact she has a root that does not stop when it hits minions is useful. Sight vision from seeds, slowing plants and a skill that grows in damage based on level to get a support that plays like a mage and hurts like one with little AP needed. Zyra just has so much offensive potential and her utility is through the roof. Her ultimate basically creates a "DO NOT ENTER" zone for enemy players. The fact it makes those plants hit harder is just icing on the cake. I like her with a early game AD to maximize her early damage potential.
Team-Fights: Zyra has great team fight power for just her ultimate. She makes it nearly impossible to dive her team with her ultimate down. Her E maintains all the usefulness it had before and if Zyra does happen to die, she can offer some extra damage. It does help!
When to Pick Zyra: Zyra is a good general pick. She works with a lot of lanes but I prefer an AD with a strong early game. Her abilities make it hard for someone to dive into a team and so she helps counter assassins or melee that want to run past the front line. She also works well in lane against melee dependent supports like Leona.
The original hook master. There are good reasons he is banned in normals and low ELO.
Laning Phase: Blitz's laning phase is complicated to say as good or bad. It can be disturbingly good against players who do not know how to play against him or are not playing carefully. Then, if the Blitzcrank is really good, he just crushes players for bad positioning. Hilariously. The downside is that when there are just no hooks present, he ends up doing very little. He can run up to someone to knock them up, but ask an Udyr/Shyvana how well just running at someone can work. He can also have issues against slippery AD's like Ezreal. He does snowball a lane really hard.
Team-Fights: Blitzcrank's team fighter power is theoretically high but like his laning phase. If he cannot get (good) hooks, what good is he? His E is useful for knocking people up and his Q can be used as a peel, but an AOE silence does not prevent auto attacks from melee on your AD. Hooks end games, but bad hooks end games too. It takes a lot of effort to be good at Blitzcrank.
When to Pick Blitzcrank: I would say the best time to pick him is against squishy AD + Support with low mobility for laning. Team comp wise, he adds a form of hard initiate for your team.
Leona is considered a protector of teammates but the truth of her as a support is that she is a killer. Leona has the most all-in offensive power of all supports and when you pick Leona, you're going for a kill.
Laning Phase: Leona's laning phase is exceptional against the right opponents. AD carries that are very slippery like Ezreal or Trist can be difficult to catch and supports like Janna can make it even more difficult. But in the right situations, she completely decimates certain lanes that do not have the power to stop her from getting in. She is pretty much the epitome of high-risk, high-reward in the support role.
Team-Fights: Leona is one of the few supports that offers team fight initiation. Leona was originally made to be a tank for the lane but was moved to support by the community and her kit still has that air of tankiness. Her ultimate is a long range, hard to land stun. But when you do land it, someone is likely going to die. The CC she has and her passive makes her great for teaming up with someone to go diving an enemy carry.
When to Pick Leona: Leona is great when you want to crush an enemy lane or want to have CC and initiation on your team. Beware that when ahead, she gets really ahead in her lane. But when behind, she gets really behind.
The master of fear! Seriously, that skill is dumb.
Laning Phase: Fiddlestick's laning phase is really strong. His Q alone is terrifying, pun intended. An instant "stun" is just not fair. At least you can Flash Taric's with the slow missle speed. Then there is the fact that it lasts almost 2 times as long as other disables. Throw in his W for self-healing + tankiness and E for a silence to get a potent combo. When Fiddlesticks is level 6, the kill potential in lane is massive. Ult unto AD, fear, and your AD follows up for the kill.
Team Fights: Fiddle has decent team fight potential. His ultimate has extremely high base numbers so unlike other damage ultimates, he really does not need much AP to get decent damage. Then there is his fear and a 3 second disable is stupid.
When to pick Fiddlesticks: Fiddlesticks has some decent utility but overall I like him for the extra damage he adds. If I feel like my team is lacking damage, I can pick Fiddle. You could also argue that he adds initiation to a team as well with his Ult + fear combo. He works great at protecting AD's against a single target that might dive them as well.
The Rest of Them:
Alistar: I have not played with or against an Alistar in months. Alistar is hard to play and that is probably part of it. But I feel like the diversity of supports has gotten to the point you just do not need his combination of skills. He is still a great linebacker, but if I want to save an AD, I have better choices. If I want to get into an AD's face, I have better choices.
Morgana: Zyra does it better. Black Shield is not enough.
Lux: Please, just don't.
Nidalee: High poke, good all-in at 6. Just no CC to be useful later.
Edit: Elise: As some have pointed out, Elise has been used as a support in pro games. My personal view is that she is great for snowballing a lane really hard. But unlike lane Elise, she does not have the gold for tankiness or for magic pen. The only way she does is if she gets kills and when do we want kills going to the support? Even a fed Elise support is usually only even with a laner who has decent CS. Her team-fight power without items just is not anywhere near as good as other supports. She is by no means bad, but I feel like I would need a lot more time playing with her to really grasp when she outperforms other choices.
I think I covered just about anyone, but maybe I missed one. What do you think RoGer's? Are there more supports to add? Disagree? Let me know!
About the Author, Emeraldw:
- Loves psychology and philosophy. Then tries to apply it to even simple things like League of Legends.
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WTWatch the CJF game from champions summer groups where madlife back Alistar (against a nami iirc) and tell me Alistar isn't strong. He also works so well with the fast push meta. Id LOVE to see a Caitlyn Alistar TF Nasus Yorick team. 20 min inhib ezpz!
That was a one-time fringe pick. Sure, Madlife did great with Ali, but Madlife could play support zed and wreck with it. The point is, Alistar was picked one time (as far as I know) in the OGN. One single time. That might as well not even count. Alistar is still not strong.
Things I wanted to mention:
Thresh HARD COUNTERS Leona. I don't know why everyone keeps saying Leona counters Thresh. One of the reasons Janna is considered to counter Leona is because you can completely negate her gap closer by knocking her up when she casts E. Thresh can do the exact same thing with Flay. Both Thresh and Janna can also continuously auto the Leona while kiting her. Janna moves faster and can shield the AD so he wins their trades, but Thresh hits a lot harder (with no mana cost) due to his Flay Passive. A Thresh who is range leashing Leona can infinitely harass her until she is forced to retreat behind her AD who has range to actually trade back with Thresh. Then there comes the problem where Thresh is incredibly tanky and can outtrade a lot of ADs due to Flay Passive again. Additionally, once Leona is pushed back, it leaves the enemy ADC a lot more open for Thresh to make plays on, and Thresh is really good at making plays. I have never lost lane to a Leona as Thresh, and find it to be one of the easiest match-ups. At level 6, Leona has the POTENTIAL to pinpoint an ult on the ADC, which opens up a chance at winning a 2v2, but The Box is still an incredibly powerful tool for disengage (99% slow is ridiculous). However, it should be noted that Thresh Ult CD is incredibly long (which I complained about at first, but find this to be a great balancing factor to make him slightly less broken in lane.
You pick Taric against high AD team comps, because he passively spreads armor to your team. You pick Thresh to make plays. You pick Janna anytime you want, but mostly when you need a lot of peel. You pick Nami to have a powerful laning phase. You pick Sona to actively win lane by poking and outtrading the enemy with heals. I personally also pick Janna whenever I have Udyr because he benefits from her passive in the dumbest way.
Although I do not play Lux support, I have always considered her underrated. I do not believe in Nidalee support at respectable levels of play, however it should be mentioned that Nidalee's heal is also an attack speed buff. I occasionally play Morgana support for fun. Her bind is just a snare, so it's not really effective at winning an all in, even if you do hit it, especially since her W does not add a magnificent blast of damage. However, it should be said that Morgana's is pretty much better than anyone else in bot lane, because Black Shield to Soul Shackles pretty much wins any 2v2 situation. User ImplyingImplications mentions using Morgana to counter Taric in the Taric meta. I also found success with this.
Alistar (who I also don't play for similar reasons) is good when you need peel that can also be engage. In my opinion, Alistar's peel outclasses Leona's quite significantly. As I said though, I don't play Alistar.
Elise support does excellent base damage even before pen (especially to opponent's who have not yet built magic resist). She has hard CC, great poke, and solid all-in. She is also one of the easiest supports to orchestrate a dive with. Her mid-game speed and safety also make her one of the safer candidates for securing map control, through the use of spider form for MS, Rappel for escapes, and volatile spiderling for brush checks.
I like to play morgana support against a blitzcrank, just because you can easily carry your adc on your back if they're bad at dodging hooks. Easy to block a grab if you have decent reflexes.
Agreed. "Black Shield is not enough" is simply untrue if you're specifically picking Morgana as a counter to the enemy support. I used to pick her to counter Taric back when he was still good (surprised this article didn't mention how shit he is since the nerfs) because I could just catch out his Dazzle on Black Shield and punish him if he tried to run in to Shatter. Yes, Dark Binding doesn't go through minions, but if you have good enough aim it's ultimately a MUCH stronger skill- up to a 3 second root!
For lining out specific champs, your reasoning is disturbingly vague. "Good general pick" and "great for lane and team fighting" doesn't really say anything. For specifics... (caveat: I've been away from the game for a couple of months, but have years of support experience):
You pick Sona for a lane where you want high sustained poke. Q and power chords at early levels makes first blood super easy. You pick her with an AD that can follow up trades easily and a jungler with strong ganks. Laning is all about being hyper aggressive. Her teamfighting is so much more than just her ult -- it is a game changing skill, but that by no means diminishes the effectiveness of the rest of her kit. E is great for comps that need to rush in for a full engage or to help the team follow up a flash ult. Q aura is free stats if you're ahead. W for passive defense in prolonged fights. And for the love of god, don't forget about her passive. Heal + stats + reduced damage has saved my carries countless times. E for ms aura + slow helps clean up stragglers.
Soraka early Q is the world's scariest harass as an opposing support. Other than that, it's a hyper sustain lane for farming or urgot/graves for unlimited harass (or do both with ashe, who unfortunately get's destroyed in current meta?). Her teamfighting is, obviously, strongest in prolonged fights. Passive MR and and silence is strong against traditional mages. The armor buff on W is ridiculously high -- pop a heal on an initiator and watch them last forever. Mana + MR shred is awesome with double ap. She rarely finds a spot in today's meta, but if we're just talking about what scenarios to pick supports, she definitely has her spot.
Leona is a kill lane, but should be picked as a counter as it's pretty easy to avoid confrontation. Pick her against playmakers like blitz or thresh and out-aggro them. Avoid against high poke. She doesn't suffer too badly from a bad laning phase, since her teamfighting is ridiculous. Build aura items and provide a ridiculous amount of utility -- not that gold dependent.
Fid is primarily picked for his strong fear, obviously. He's just still uncommon (at least last time I played) because of the randomness of the mechanics. What's probably more significant is the strength of rank 1 E. AoE silence at level 1 teamfight is broken. Cheap harass that doesn't need to be leveled up in lane helps give you bush control and prevents skirmishes from the enemy. The Ult is great when you hit 6, but come late game it doesn't have much of an effect in terms of damage. It's mostly for ground control and the blink for easy fear + silence.
Idk what your reasoning is, but Lux is a fun support. Play her like a mage for safe harass that can EASILY turn into an all in. You have two scouting abilities that both cc's (for offensive and defensive purposes), a spammable shield that's shows significance in frequent but small skirmishes, and a shitton of burst. I guess you just think a lux pick would be better as mid? Iunno.
tl;dr: do a couple of drafts before publishing things online. And get rid of that MSpaint banner. Photoshop is easy as shit to learn.
I actually find Alistar to be a pretty cool niche pick. I favor him over leona when it comes to counterpicking blitz/thresh. This is likely just personal preference, as I pretty much suck at Leona.
His healing and ability to just simply block pulls for the AD and not just survive but thrive off of the positioning change is what I hold dear. But he is REALLY niche since his nerfs, he'd need buffs to really be competitive with Leona. Of course buffing him would probably allow him to jungle again... *wistful stare* those were the days...
Also, "YOU CAN'T MILK THOSE!" best taunt in League.
Alistar can actually function if he falls behind unlike Leona. Leona will just blow up if she falls behind. Alistar has his ultimate.
The only problem I see with Ali is he's just tough to use in Solo Q if your ADC doesn't follow up. I tend to go for the Level 2 kill if against a poke lane, if that doesn't work, start leveling your heal and wait for ganks.
Late game at full CDR he's imo the scariest support to deal with.
Terrible article with several misspelled words. Proofread your posts.
All the people whining about Thresh, meanwhile Janna is the most blatant case of OP supp :) Just because Thresh is more flashy
As long as Thresh has the ability to give anyone on his team the ability to get out of situations only Lee Sin the Magnificient could pull off while still being good at everything else he'll have 1 up on Janna. Also the way they can abuse it to sneak into the baron pit from the back.
Alas, thats the thing. Lantern is what makes Thresh the Chain Warden and its his unique trait, you cant change that without morphing his whole idea. He would become another champion. It would be like taking Shen's ult or Zed's shadow, or Garen's ability to live in bushes and jump out of them. The only idea I have that could work as some nerf to lantern that wouldnt affect skilled play while punishing dummies is to allow enemy team to grab lanterns.
You can click the lantern even while stunned. He is better than Janna. The same could be said about Janna's kit and removing abilities, Janna has stayed relatively the same since day 1. The reason she has a high winrate is because she is a very safe defensive champion.
Janna is incredibly broken I agree (trust me, one of my most played supports), but she's also significantly easier than Thresh, who I consider to be the most powerful support right now. I think Janna does a lot of things to be considered truly easy, but aiming Tornados to peel and pressing R when the enemy engages is not exactly the hardest thing to do. Shielding the ADC when it's up is also not incredibly skill based. Of course, as with all ranges supports, safely poking and winning trades is a test of mechanics, especially with Janna's low range. However, Thresh has 2.5 skillshots (lantern is a skill shot, but not an incredibly difficult one) to utilize, compared to Janna's one sweeping tornado. When Thresh does manage to fully execute his abilities, the plays he enables are virtually unparalleled. I currently think Thresh is the most powerful support in the game if you measure by potential, although Janna will find more success in general play, due to her more forgiving nature and ease of use. But I do agree Janna is incredibly OP.
No. Thresh is easier to play than Janna besides his Q. He has 3 forms of CC and an escape for an ADC. she has 1 skillshot knockup (not very long duration, not even close to as good as hook, lets be honest). A slow which is useful, but its left at lvl 1 so its not the greatest thing.
Timing Janna's shield and ultimate placement is really where the skill comes in. IF you time the shield right you can win trades while the shots are travelling still. If you time it late you waste the shield and it's on CD and you could very well lose the sustain battle. Fuck up an ult and you could lose a teamfight for your team. Thresh is easier to play besides his Q, but you dont need Q to be effective, he is op mostly from his passive.
I agree with some points, disagree with others.
You should max W after E. Increasing Q increases the mana cost for damage, which basically sucks, since you're not looking for damage with this ability. Increasing W actually makes the slow more impactful, and also increases Janna's movement speed per rank, which is extremely important to be that mobile ward bot that never dies. In fact, W is so excellent that Janna players such as myself often do not buy boots, as it's pretty unnecessary when your W grants 16% movement speed at max range (in addition to her passive)
Timing Janna's shield in lane is important, but not the pinnacle of mechanics. Thresh has to micro manage positioning to get the maximum impact with all his abilities, while Janna has more sweeping abilities.
But of course, what is difficult for some might be easy for others, and visa versa. I feel Thresh is a skill based, rewarding, playmaker champion, and I often refer to him as the Lee Sin of supporting. While I would never want to imply that Janna is a skillless champion, I simply think that utilizing Thresh mechanics requires more effort.
Please note that in this comment, I'm not really discussing which champion I think is better. The tl;dr would be:
Max W after E with Janna, not Q, I think thresh is higher skill cap than Janna.
Nunu and Karma?
Morg might be useful if you got a tanky DPS or a melee carry. Black Shield IRELIA GG
Actually, black shield Udyr or Shyvana. Irelia already has so much immunity to CC. Throwing it on them negates their only built in weakness :)