Monday, September 29, 2014

The Mid-Game Power Spike: How Important Is It?

It’s a phrase you’ve heard the analysts say dozens of times before a game starts, when they predict what strategies we’re likely to see being used. For those who are new to the concept of champion power curves, a mid-game power spike is exactly what it sounds like: a large increase in the power of a given champion relative to the other champions in the game. Power spikes usually happen after one or two key items are bought, or after a certain level is reached (to unlock an ultimate or max an ability).

The Theory

It’s simple: these spikes are so important because in most professional games, the midgame is when one team really starts to develop a lead. It’s also when the real team fighting starts, so you can see why being powerful at this time is so vital.

The Practice

This all makes sense in theory, but how applicable is it to actual competitive League of Legends? Well, as it turns out, the answer is a little bit complicated. In terms of raw statistics, in Groups C and D, the team with more champions with mid-game power spikes won 52% of the time. That doesn't sound like it makes much of a difference, but the team with fewer mid-game spikes actually only won 20% of the time. These numbers may not seem to add up, but in 28% of the games, both teams had the same number of mid-game champions.

However, some games made it very clear that these champion picks are very important. In the game with the most mid-game champions, Samsung Blue’s crushing victory over LMQ, four out of Blue’s five champions all had considerable power spikes after they completed a core item or two. Sure, Blue is a better team in general, but in the other meeting of these two teams (where Blue didn't have four mid-game champions), the game was much closer.

You can actually also draw conclusions from the games in which both teams had the same number of mid-game champions. The first game between Fnatic and LMQ, for example, was decided largely because LMQ’s mid-game champions had a much greater impact than Fnatic’s did. Ackerman on Rumble went 4/0/7 and XiaoWeiXiao on Yasuo went 4/0/8, compared to sOAZ’s 0/1/3 Lulu and Cyanide’s 1/6/4 Jarvan. Fnatic’s victory over Samsung Blue happened in much the same way. Most notably, Rekkles had an impressive 8/1/5 score while Dade went 2/5/1 on Zed, one of his signature champions.

The Odd Case of KaBuM

Now, it is sometimes the case in any competition that some teams just massively outclass others. For almost the entire set of games in Group D, this was the case for KaBuM eSports. They would stand up to any team for the first few minutes of a game but fall behind before too long. This isn't to put down any team - it’s great that KaBuM made it to worlds and got to play against some of the top regions, but for the sake of analysis, let’s see what happens when we don’t include KaBuM’s losses in our sample. Not much really changes; the team with more mid-game champions still won 55% of their games.

But here’s the really fun part: KaBuM upset Alliance on the final day of the group stage. Each team had two strong mid-game power spikes: Fizz with a Lich Bane and Twitch with a Blade of the Ruined King for Fnatic, against Ahri with a Zhonya’s Hourglass and Ryze with a stacked Rod of Ages and stacking Tear of the Goddess for KaBuM. LEP was not inspiring on Ryze this game—1/3/1 at the 16-minute mark—but some unconventional itemization from Minerva’s Jinx made up for this: the second item he bought was a Hexdrinker. An item rarely seen in professional matches at all, the Hexdrinker has been almost exclusively purchased by top-lane bruisers. However, a 4/1/1 Fizz with a Lich Bane is a scary proposition for any AD carry, especially an immobile one such as Jinx. The usual response to this would be a late-game Banshee’s Veil, but Minerva wanted safety from Fizz right then—and rightly so. Hexdrinker is a much cheaper item, and gives very good protection against burst magic damage. In purchasing this item, Minerva created an artificial mid-game boost in power on a champion who traditionally has a milder version of Tristana’s U-shaped power curve: fairly strong early laning, a dip in power mid-game while farming up for items, and then an explosive late-game as she approaches a full build.

In short, the mid-game power spike is a very useful tool which can really impact the outcome of a game, but a team has to set it up starting from champion select and continuing with their itemization, and then know how to use it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Season 4 World Championship Quarterfinals Preview : Samsung White vs Team SoloMid

by Nathasha Ng

Now that the group stage in Taiwan has come to an end, it’s time to take a look at the teams from Groups A and B that will be advancing to the quarterfinals. After a weekend full of exciting games, here are the final seedings :

With their perfect group stage, Samsung White will be advancing as the first seed of Group A into the quarterfinals to face off against North America’s Summer Champions, Team SoloMid. StarHorn Royal Club, Group B’s first seed, will battle it out with their regional opponents Edward Gaming, second seed from Group A.

Team SoloMid vs Samsung White

Samsung White are the clear favorites in this match up. They are considered by many to be the best team in the world, or second best behind their sister team Samsung Blue. This year, unlike last year where they got overconfident, they actually lived up to the hype. In the six games they have played so far, they have shown no weakness, and have easily beaten Dark Passage, AHQ and Edward Gaming to go undefeated in Group A.

On the other hand, Team SoloMid, the fan favorites, have gone 4-2 in their group, losing to China’s StarHorn Royal Club and Europe’s SK Gaming. TSM have had mixed results so far. During group stage, they have shown dominating performances, but have also shown weaknesses, such as being unable to close games and doubtful shot calling . For example, in their last game of group stage, which could have potentially put them at a tiebreaker with Royal Club for the first seed, TSM finally lost after a bad team fight in SK’s base.

Who has the edge?

Without a doubt, Samsung White will take this series.

TSM usually wins games where they mechanically outplay their opponents, or just get ahead during laning phase, which will be almost impossible against Samsung White. First of all, everyone on White is mechanically equal or better than the players on TSM.

Samsung White’s bottom lane, Imp and Mata, are probably one of the strongest duo lanes in the world, while WildTurtle and Lustboy are still trying to build up their synergy. Dandy is also widely considered to be the best jungler right now. While Amazing has had moments of brilliance, he struggles to find consistency and efficiency on champions other than his famous Lee Sin and his reliable Elise. Dyrus has been playing phenomenally thus far at Worlds, and his Rumble is definitely a big threat, but he can easily be put on tilt. Samsung White will know that, and they will definitely try to take him out of the game by camping top, or even lane swapping and 4-man tower diving him. The only lane that could potentially go in favor of TSM is the middle lane. Bjergsen has really shown proficiency on multiple champions, from mages like Orianna and Xerath, to assassins like Syndra, Zed and Fizz. He has a wide champion pool, and could most likely hold his own against White’s Pawn.

Another thing that sways this match-up in favor of White is their tremendously-wide champion pools. For example, their ad carry Imp has played five different champions in six games: Lucian, Corki, Tristana, Vayne and Twitch. If we take a look at the top lane, Looper has also played five champions: Maokai, Ryze, Rumble, Kayle and Alistar. What’s even more impressive is that their mid laner, Pawn, has played six different champions during group stages: Talon, Katarina, Fizz, Zed, Yasuo, and Zilean. Not only are they able to bring out so many champions, they have also shown us how solid they can be on all these champions. Their wide champion pools give them the ability to play different team compositions, and use different strategies every game. The ability to adapt between games and switch up your strategy in a best of five is crucial.

This situation is scary for TSM because they will never be able to ban out Samsung White, as well as banning the ‘’OP‘’ champions, such as Nidalee and Alistar. TSM is known to do well in games where the pick and ban phase goes their way, but they struggle immensely when they are surprised by the other team’s composition, or are forced into a composition they don’t necessarily want to play. The preparation coming into this best of five will be very important. Not only do they have to prepare different team compositions for pick and ban phase, they also need to be able to adapt quickly as the series goes on. Little adaptations between games can easily be the difference between victory and defeat. Luckily for TSM, they have shown in the past that they are able to adapt throughout best of fives, and they do not let losses bring them down. For example, during the North American playoffs, they always bounced back after defeats and even though they were often a win down in the beginning, they persevered and won all their series.

While the odds are in Samsung White’s favor, it will all come down to who shows up on game day when it really matters. Anything could happen, and all the teams can beat each other on any given day, and this is what makes eSports so exciting.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Alliance Save their Worlds hopes with a Flawless Victory over Najin White Shield.

by Reece "SabrewoIf" Dos-Santos 

It had been a long time coming for Alliance but the EU Super team finally hit the pinnacle of their potential and really hit the ground running with a perfect game over the heavily favoured Najin White Shield from Korea.

Coming into this game, Najin White Shield were undefeated in Group D and easily one of the favourites for the whole tournament considering their complete domination of the Korean playoffs gauntlet - taking out KT Bullets and the heavily favoured KT Arrows alongside the Season 3 World Champions SKT T1 K. Alliance showed promise in their first game against Najin Shield but were unable to convert their early game lead into a win due to a reluctance to push hard and fast before Shield’s hyper carry protection comp began to scale into the late game. All the right components were there in Alliance’s arsenal to take down Najin Shield: strong laners, tight synergy and the ability to not get out-rotated. Unfortunately, vision control was rather lax and that lead to an eventual loss of map control and the game.

This time, however, Alliance had come off the back of a very convincing win over Cloud 9 (which earned Shook a respect ban from Shield on Rammus) but clearly they did not respect him enough. Shook ran the map solo queue style, making huge plays and picking up the first three kills for Alliance and he proceeded to never let go of the stranglehold he had over Shield and the map. While Alliance destroyed ten towers and picked up fourteen kills, Najin White Shield were unable to pick up a single kill or objective, including Dragon and Baron, for themselves.  By the end of the game Alliance had amassed a 24k Gold lead and not once had the tide ever shifted in favour of Najin Shield. This was clearly a victory that was gained through hard consideration of what went wrong for them the first time, as more vision was both invested in and controlled (32 vision wards placed by Alliance compared to 16 by Najin Shield) alongside the fact that Zefa’s Tristana never had the time or the opportunity to scale up and become relevant in the game.

If this is what Alliance can pull out, it's clear that they are a team that should not be as overlooked as they were coming into this tournament. Shook and Wickd have shown that they themselves are now more than worthy of target bans towards them and should be wary of bans coming in on both Lee Sin and Irelia, but with this consideration it also frees up the possibility of Froggen, Tabzz and Nyph having bans less targeted towards them. What this victory has definitely done is changed the mind-sets of many people: Alliance is no longer just the Froggen show; it’s a true Alliance, a true super team of mechanically world class players.

Froggen built this team to challenge and overcome the best teams in the world, With this flawless victory over Najin White Shield, his team has done just that and can look forward to the possibility of doing so again. 

NWS Take Commanding Lead of Group D With Win Over Cloud 9

by Matt “It’s Pure Luck” Lee

Coming into a crucial match with group favorites NaJin White Shield, Cloud 9 knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. In a post-game interview after defeating Alliance the previous day, Meteos told Sjokz, “Hopefully we can beat KaBuM later today and going forward, maybe we will beat NaJin White Shield. I don’t know, that one seems a little bit ambitious, but number two out of the group would be good” 

It turns out Meteos wasn't far off. In stark contrast from their earlier game versus Alliance, NaJin was in control for the vast majority of this contest. It began in picks and bans where NWS threw C9 for a bit of a loop. NaJin took Syndra away from Hai and then opted to forgo their final ban as they could not agree to one. By doing so, it left one extra “stronger” champion open and forced Cloud 9 to make a decision on what champion they did not want to face. C9 opted to remove Lee Sin from Watch, and NWS came back immediately with a first pick Zed lock-in for Ggoong. Here are what the rest of the lineups for each team looked like.

NaJin White Shield (1st pick)

Zed (Ggoong) – Ryze (Save) – Thresh (GorillA) – Corki (Zefa) – Elise (watch)

Cloud 9

Tristana (Sneaky) – Kha’Zix (Meteos) - Lulu (Balls) – Nami (LemonNation) – Talon (Hai)

The first few minutes saw the lanes playing fairly aggressive against each other. Hai and Ggoong had vicious trades early on, dropping both of them to under half health before the game was three minutes old. Shortly after that occurred in mid, GorillA showed why he continues to play Thresh and often sees it banned against him. A hook onto Sneaky saw the C9 AD carry dropped under half health and the lane was suddenly in NWS's control. Meteos paid a visit bottom but without having vision of Watch, all he could do was drop a ward down in the river bush to help out Sneaky and LemonNation. The risks were too high otherwise with Sneaky so low on health.

NaJin were slightly ahead in each lane except for top at this early point in the game. To try and relieve some of the early pressure Balls was putting on Save, Watch went for a gank top and forced a flash out of Balls who promptly returned to base to buy. With his lane shoved towards his opponent’s turret and flash no longer available, Balls did not teleport back to lane and saw his previously struggling opponent take the lead in creeps.

Right as Balls returned back to lane in top, the game saw its first major skirmish. Cloud 9 were caught without any wards in the river and paid the price for it. Right when Watch was coming out of the river, GorillA made a beautiful flash flay to catch LemonNation who would attempt to flash away only to immediately be cocooned and focused down. Both top lanes began teleporting bottom at this point. Watch flashed away to escape and Sneaky attempted to rocket jump and finish him off to get a reset…only to be thwarted by Zefa’s summoner heal.

This turned out to be a critical mistake with Zefa and Watch, both barely escaping alive. GorillA would fall for NWS in the fight but Save was able to flash over the river wall and finish off Sneaky for a two for one in favor of NaJin. Ggoong engaged onto Hai in the river to then allow Save to escape while just surviving himself. NWS found themselves with a one thousand gold lead and even more importantly is the early game disadvantage Save had was all but gone.

The lanes looked to start to slip away from Cloud 9 a bit after all of this transpired. The creep score leads for both Save and Zefa seemed to be growing slowly but surely. The surprise was that Hai was holding his own versus Ggoong in the mid lane in a very tough matchup. He was making very good use of his ultimate on Talon to keep pressure on Ggoong so he would not have to deal with the deadly all-in from Zed.

Cloud 9 continued their attempts to shut down Save with a successful gank at ten minutes but NaJin would simply respond by taking dragon for themselves. Gorilla began to roam a bit with Watch in an attempt to make a plays elsewhere on the map as well as place deep wards in the jungle of C9. They managed to force a flash out of Hai and immediately headed into the C9 jungle as a ward spotted LemonNation heading back to lane.

In a very aggressive play, Watch and Save nearly did get a pick on LemonNation with a clever lantern gank between the inner and outer turrets. He managed to just get out alive, but once again the top lanes were teleporting down to join the fray. NaJin went a bit too deep here as they were a bit scattered during this turret dive. They managed to pick up kills on both Sneaky and Balls, but Watch and Save would be dropped in return with one of the kills going over to Hai. Gorilla just barely managed to escape with a sliver of health and for a brief moment, it looked as if Cloud 9 was still in the game.

The turning point however would come at the very next team fight. As the teams converged around middle lane, Balls was chunked down incredibly fast by Zefa and forced to back away. Unfortunately for C9, it happened at the exact moment that Sneaky and Hai went all in to try and take out GorillA. GorillA would die at the hands of Sneaky but the price paid was too steep for Cloud 9. The trinity force Corki ripped through C9 as the trio of Balls, Meteos and Hai would be killed with Sneaky barely escaping alive. A dragon would follow for the Koreans and all of the sudden the gold lead had swelled up to almost five thousand at just over sixteen minutes.

Despite the fact that NWS had a massive power spike with Corki and a substantial gold lead, C9 again took a bad fight in middle yet again. Hai was hit by a hook from GorillA and looked to be able to escape back to the turret with ease. Yet he chose to go in on what was essentially a one versus three. He would be killed by Watch who rappelled right onto him and Balls would also die shortly after. NaJin took the middle outer turret and the gold lead hit seven thousand at eighteen and a half minutes.

NWS wasted no time in flexing their muscle with the mid game power spike they had. They knew the dangers of letting a Tristana team reach the late game stage; they won themselves doing just that versus Alliance earlier in the day. Determined to not let that happen, they kept vision of the jungle in their clutches and rotated around the map taking turrets with Cloud 9 able to do nothing about it. Knowing the game was all but lost, it seemed Cloud 9 wanted to at the very least take out their frustration on Save. They managed to pick up the kill but the problem was it took four of them. NWS would gladly trade this for the top and middle inhibitor turrets and inhibitors themselves.

NaJin would have one small, final hiccup. GorillA would be caught out and killed and perhaps over confidence led to Ggoong attempting to go all in just outside of the final C9 inhibitor turret. In the end it was just a minor inconvenience for NWS as they would wait for the respawns of GorillA and Ggoong. One final brief siege led to the final inhibitor turret falling and NaJin would just rush the nexus and its turrets for a decisive twenty nine minute victory.

Game MVP

            Tough call between Save and GorillA, but GorillA is the pick here. Save did become a ticking time bomb that C9 couldn’t handle late game, but part of the reason he was able to is because Watch did not really have to help bottom out at all. GorillA missed very few hooks and the one’s he did hit early on shifted the lane in favor of NWS. I doubt he will get to play Thresh again in the second meeting between these two teams.

Questionable Decisions

            C9 seemed to have trouble grasping their win conditions in this game. They took too many bad fights in the mid game when Corki is clearly stronger than Tristana, especially once he has a Trinity Force. It’s one thing for it to happen once, but two or three times is inexcusable. They needed to be more patient and wait for Sneaky to have his Infinity Edge before trying to team fight. They played right into NaJin’s hands by repeatedly agreeing to fight instead of disengaging with Nami. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Support Lanes 101: How to Pick your Support 1.5

By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis 

After the success of my last article I had a lot of feedback and I’ve decided to do a small update while I work on the next part of the series. So, many people were asking me about different champions that I had failed to mention and what I thought of their support ability. I’m going to cover what a lot of people would consider “pocket picks” or more “unorthodox” supports. That’s not to say that these aren’t viable, but more that they aren’t usually seen and I hadn’t originally planned on covering them. You guys wanted to see them though and get my opinion.

I’ve also changed the rating material a little bit here. I should have included poke as a rating in my original article. I’ve put it in here after a lot of you mentioned that without it, a lot of supports seemed to have lackluster ratings. I also pulled sustain out of this batch of supports, because most if not all of these guys have zero ways of helping their carry sustain. So basically imagine a crap rating for that if you really miss it.

Keep in mind that a lot of these are supports I don’t play as much or haven’t even tried, so a decent amount of this is theoretical and I could be far off. I’ll look forward to seeing what some people think of each of these as I think there’s people out there that have a lot more experience with these than I do.

Vel'Koz: Engage/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 2, 6
Poke potential: 9/10 Pick potential 6/10; Peel potential 3/10; Utility; 2/10;

Vel'Koz is another intended mage who since release has been basically relegated to bottom lane. He’s got really great range and a passive that makes him hurt without item dependency, so it’s not all too surprising to see him as an aggressive/harass support. His weaknesses are the same that plague him in mid lane though. No mobility and little CC to add to kill potential. His only hard CC is a small AoE that’s hard to hit. Granted if you can hit it it’s an awesome CC and adds a large amount to his damage, but it’s a bit slow. If you’ve got tanks elsewhere on the team Vel'Koz isn’t a bad pickup, but you might wanna reconsider if everyone else is squishy too.


Miss Fortune: Once you hit level 6, this lane can be scary as all hell. Even before that, you can take a lot of harass. Miss Fortune already has above average range even before you take Double Up into account, and with good poke from Vel'Koz zone control can happen from level 1. If you both hit your ults dead on in team fights, it’s an easy win

Caitlyn: Poke, poke, poke. You should be able to zone very effectively in this kind of lane. Vel'Koz alone has great damage and if Caitlyn follows up there’s no way anyone should get near farm. You need to play smart and not get caught, but playing this lane passively is a mistake.


Blitzcrank: Vel'Koz is probably the definition of a squishy support. No mobility, no defensive abilities and barely any hard CC. This lane will go south fast is Blitz gets his hands on you. Especially after 6 when he can silence you on top of all the damage he can output.

Braum: He can’t block all of your poke and you’ll be able to harass him early, but since his passive can be triggered by him or his carry if they can stay far enough apart to force you to only be able to stop one of them from chasing you down. Plus he can negate a lot of damage from your ult with one of his basic abilities. You might be able to stop him in the first few wave, but he’s going to have a lot more teamfight impact than you will in most cases.

Maokai: Engage/Poke;Tank; Spikes: Level 2, 6, 11
Poke potential : 4/10 Pick potential 5/10; Peel potential 7/10; Utility; 7/10;

Let’s be honest right now, Maokai is a pretty broken champion. He’s so innately tanky that he’s incredibly hard to tank down and his base damage is very high. He’s got a built in sustain on himself, targeted root that puts him right next to someone, a slow/knockup, and to top it all off he can lower damage done to his entire team given the right circumstances. If you pair a Relic Shield on him he will heal insane amounts when using it and his gank set up potential is great because if he walks up you don’t know if he’s gonna try and poke you out with saplings or go all in on you. He is the anti-wombo, and while he causes a lot more problems with a better gold income, he certainly can do his job.


Tristana: OK, OK, I GET IT GUYS. YOU WANTED TO SEE TRISTANA. I heard so many times about how I hadn’t mentioned Trist in any of the synergies sections. This one actually gives me a chance to explain why. Bear with me here as this one gets a little in depth

Tristana has a really weird power curve, not as severe as it used to be, but it’s still different than most champs in the game. Her real early game is pretty powerful due to her magic damage output being so high, but that falls off mid game since as an ADC she isn’t building any AP. Her passive and Rapid Fire however make her late game (what most people consider to be) the best in the game. She excels in long team fights because her damage output is so incredibly high and safe that trying to reach her is stupid hard, and she can pound you harder than most other ADCs at that point.

Enter Maokai! Maokai’s passive makes him heal on his next auto attack after 5 spells are used by anyone. So if he’s in a long fight, he’s auto attacking a lot and in the vicinity of a lot of spells. Maokai is also a very defensive champion as a whole, if he focuses on rooting people that are aiming for Tristana, which isn’t hard to do since his root is targeted, he can make an already hard to reach ADC impossible. Oh yeah, his ult will make her harder to kill too even if you do reach her.

Kog'Maw: Maokai works here well also for similar reasons to Tristana, it’s a protect the puppy strategy. Maokai isn’t exactly weak in lane, but you don’t pick him in order to dominate, you pick him in order to be a nuisance to the enemy divers later. Your role is peel, and Kog'Maw appreciates it and makes good use of it, shredding the enemy with his W. Once Kog hits 6 you can poke pretty well too with your saplings and siege towers in addition to your great teamfight potential

Leona: She has the ability to make fights pretty short with her burst, completely counter to what you want. Avoid fights early because you’re not tanky yet and you can’t use your passive too well. If she hits 6 before you you’re going to want to back off as well since her ranged engage will take you down fast and keep you from scaling. If she goes in on your carry try and target the enemy carry so they can’t proc her passive. If it’s a straight damage fight between you and Leona, your carry should hurt her just as much if not more and you can focus on auto attacking to heal back up while she’s stuck reeling from her lost health.  

Nami: This one takes a bit more skill on the Nami’s part. But the components of a counter are here. Heals to counter your sapling poke. Disengage/kite for her ADC. An ult that is also really effective at negating an engage and helping her team. If you’re Nami in this situation you can almost gurantee a bubble hit anytime Maokai goes in by aiming right behind your ADC since that’s where Maokai will end up going, if the ADC has a dash to peel off Maokai and kite him with Nami’s slow on their auto attacks they’ll get away from you pretty well.

Gragas: Engage/React/Poke;Tank; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6
Poke potential : 6/10 Pick potential 7/10; Peel potential 6/10; Utility; 4/10;

I’m seeing a pattern in top laners that were strong with Rod of Ages here. Gragas is kind of a more aggressive Maokai in the fact that he can poke a bit better and engage from a range to pick people off. They both have similar passive in that they heal a portion of their HP and it revolves around spells. Maokai has to go in and brings a bit more tankiness to his team as a whole, but Gragas has a lot more displacement and disrupt potential than Maokai.


Kog'Maw: another brawler that can help Kog be aggressive if he wants or keep him alive if need be, not as crazy with survival, but he can help single someone out pretty nicely.

Ashe: The pick composition is real. You can poke pretty well and disengage early, and once you both have access to ults you can stun into Gragas barrel and split up the other duo. Usually a pretty good shot at a kill if you play it right.


Janna: Janna can bring even more disruption than Gragas, and in a worst case scenario where Gragas catches out only the carry, Janna can flash ult and provide a safe way out. She’ll shield your poke and counter any play you try and make.

Zilean: He has all the tools to get himself or his carry out of any danger they get put in from the displacement. He can either ult as either of them fly around and speed their way out of danger.

Twisted Fate: Engage/Poke/; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6, 9
Poke potential : 8/10 Pick potential 8/10; Peel potential 3/10; Utility; 4/10;

Twisted Fate is a champion I’ve been screwing around a bit with as a kill/roaming support. TF has never been too known as a damage dealer, he does solid damage on his own, but I don’t think anyone would classify him as a burst mage to the same level as Syndra or Fizz. His best part of his kit though is his ultimate. Putting him bottom lane definitely limits him a lot since from there the only real place he could roam is middle, but he can still be surprising. If you really want to take a risk you can gank top lane after heading back, but you’re leaving your ADC very open at that point. Plus, you’re getting next to nothing from his passive. TF support works best with self reliant carries who will be ok with him not being in lane sometimes after level 6


Caitlyn: Caitlyn is almost exactly what I’m talking about by self reliant carry. She has the range to farm safely even if she’s shoved into tower. She also has a dash in her E to get herself out of a sticky situation. The reason I listed Caitlyn over Ezreal here is purely for wave control. A smart team will see TF leave bottom and shove hard into tower. Caitlyn can Q through minion waves and at least keep some control.

Jinx: Rather than list Ezreal as another synergy I wanted to point out another playstyle with TF. Jinx works well because of the CC stacking you can do. Yes it’s obvious to the enemy you’re going in, but it’s also obvious to Jinx who can back you up with Flame Chompers to stick them up for a long time. She can also poke very well with her W in addition to your Wild Cards. If TF ends up leaving her she can farm a bit more safely than other hyper carries because she has the range with her Rocket Launcher at that point too.


Sona: Able to counter your poke with a heal and poke back just as hard. Sona is able to dance outside your range and hit you just as hard if not harder. Sona also has a slightly longer attack range so she can hit her empowered autos while you’re stuck aiming. If you leave your carry her lane dominance will definitely show and you’re going to sacrifice a lot of farm for your carry in order to make plays elsewhere.

Taric: Outside of the ult, he’s kind of a tanky version of TF support, he doesn't have to pick his stun though and he can also heal off your poke. Basically any kind of fight you try and start he can quickly counter with similar skills and while you’re stuck at your health he can back off and re-group. Also Gems>Cards.

Zilean (redo):React/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6, 13
Poke potential :7/10 Pick potential 3/10; Peel potential 3/10; Utility; 9/10;

I will openly admit I screwed up here. I didn’t have a lot of experience with Zilean, and to be honest, I’m still a bit salty at his rise to power. The way his kit was made was balanced around being mana gated. What I mean by that was Zilean’s skills are very strong, but balanced around the fact that he would run out of mana very fast if he used them in succession. Since his release the amount of ways around this kind of problem are too many to count. The Tear/Chalice combination make him basically a manaless champ and he can, when his rewind is at max rank, keep his move speed ability off cooldown almost instantaneously. He also makes fights 6v5s in his teams favor by reviving someone with a massive amount of health.


Kog Maw: Still very strong and fixes Kog Maw’s issues of being slow and short ranged without W being active. If you do kill him on the off chance, Zilean will usually be around to bring him right back. Point still stands that Zilean gives hyper carries the tools to succeed.

Jinx: I’m listing Jinx here this time because after a bit of screwing around I could see Zilean really setting her up for a lot of crazy resets. If you avoid stacking the move speed on top of each other, Jinx can be running at full speed for a long time and either peel for herself or chase people down. Not a lot of early synergy, but once they get going it’ll be very hard to stop them

Blitzcrank: Beep Boop, POP!

Soraka: Still a strong counter due to also being able to save people and having the ability to silence Zilean before he can get in range to poke. Pair her up with someone who wants to have long fights and you’re in a pretty good spot.

Anivia: Engage/React/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 2, 3, 6
Poke potential : 5/10 Pick potential 6/10; Peel potential 7/10; Utility; 6/10;

With Anivia, zone control is the name of the game. Her E doubles in damage if the opponent has been chilled recently (hit by her Q or Ult). This means she doesn’t need a whole lot of items to do enough damage to be a threat. Her auto attack range is also incredibly large and she can harass without using abilities too. Once she hits 6 she can basically control where fights happen and lock off areas before and during fights. If you’re good with the wall you can really dictate fights and force people in to bad positions. As a final point, Riot finally fixed up her wall and let terrain affected abilities work as intended with them.


Vayne: The reason I picked up Anivia support. I wanted to use her wall to create terrain for Vayne to Condemn anyone at any point. Lot’s of damage in this lane and early duel potential. You want to force skirmishes and learn how to make good use of Anivia’s wall. In a worst case scenario you can focus on zoning the enemy and letting Vayne get big anyway.

Twitch: Lot’s of AoE here, Twitch has a surprisingly strong early game if he is able to get a lot of stacks on someone early and Anivia’s wall can force them to walk a long way around an area. The only problem is there’s not mobility here. This is a very vulnerable lane and constant camp will hurt you if you play aggressive.


Leona: She’ll sit on your face and take advantage of your squishiness early. There’s not a lot of protection either. You have to poke her out before she has her full kit and scare her from going in. You can also try and bait using your passive and letting your ADC focus her down as they try and kill you in egg form. Her ult will be a constant flash pop from you most likely.

Zyra: Similar to what you do in terms of auto attack range and long range abilities, plus an ult that zones. Difference here being she can poke a bit easier and more consistently and her ult is a more potent disengage. The root is a bit easier to land as well, this will turn quickly into a dance of trying to avoid a hard engage and dealing poke damage, first to get caught loses.

Lee Sin: Engage/React;Tank; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 3, 6
Poke potential : 4/10 Pick potential 8/10; Peel potential 5/10; Utility; 3/10;

Lee Sin really doesn’t do much as a support besides try and make the lane a kill lane. Without Relic Shield and Sightstone there’s no way he’d be considered a support since he needs a little bit of itemization to be effective. One thing Lee does well though is make plays and be mobile, which is a lot more than can be said for most of the other supports on this list. This probably would have been more potent when Lee still had his attack speed slow on his E, but removing it was the right decision. He’s still much better in the jungle or even top lane, but if played aggressively and used by someone who really understands him and how to be a playmaker.


Ezreal: Ezreal pairs really well with a lot of these supports, because he’s usually considered lackluster damage, and these champs all bring a decent amount of damage to the table while giving up some peel or CC in some way. It gives Ezreal the chance to really focus on just staying alive and doing what he can. There’s a decent amount of poke in this lane and a lot of mobility making it a nice lane to play aggressively and back out it a gank comes out. Ezreal can shift and Lee Sin can dash to him afterwards, basically giving him a free escape.

Lucian: Mobile and lots of early damage here. This is a lane to play incredibly aggressive early. If a Lee Sin Q hits, you want to take it and have Lucian follow up with his great level 1 as well. You also still have a lot of ways out of ganks by utilizing your teams mobility.  If you lose this lane you’re in trouble.

Janna: She’s gonna interrupt everything you try and do. If she’s real quick she can stop your Q and the damage that goes along with it. If you ult aggressively she’s going to take advantage of you mis-position force you to stay there while you take huge amounts of damage. She’s also gonna poke you out really hard in lane and her shield is a hell of a lot more potent than yours is.

Braum: Better poke, better tank, better peel, just all around going to do what you’re doing but better. The only thing Lee Sin has on Braum is individual pick potential, Lee Sin can Insec kick someone back to his team, but even when he does that he’s in a bad spot.

Azir:React/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6
Poke potential : 10/10 Pick potential 4/10; Peel potential 7/10; Utility; 5/10;

I haven’t looked too much into this as I’ve only tried Azir midlane. The possibility is there to be an amazing zoner and completely force people off waves. His range and punish ability is crazy, but he’s pretty limited in terms of a full out fight until he gets his ultimate. He can bring damage until then, but not too much else. Once you get your ult your peel potential goes way up and you can really help out a carry stay alive. Learn your limits though as Azir’s base armor is abysmal and one wrong step will lead to you losing a game changing amount of health.

Caitlyn: Do even have to explain this lane? Crazy range, crazy damage early, and if you’re not sending the enemy back to base to heal you’re not doing something right.I could see this lane working really well, but you’re going to need to find a tank elsewhere since Azir has very little inherently tankiness.

Varus:  Another heavy poke lane, a it riskier though for Varus at least until level 6. The difference between this and  Caitlyn lane though is that once you hit 6 you have a lot of lockdown and kill potential. Your strategy here should be to try and keep the enemy low until you get some solid engage tools and then run headstrong into them once you get your spikes.


Thresh: He just overall does more for his carry while being more tanky. You’ll poke him out early yes, but his ability to force ganks with his hook and lantern makes him more of a problem come team fights, and he can still bring aggression in your face if he plays it right. Basically a good Thresh should be able to make use of your squishiness and avoid your poke.

Soraka: Heals for days to counter your immense poke. It’s a long cooldown, but Azir’s poke is done over a long amount of time, not immediate and bursty. This works in Soraka’s favor as she can take the time to keep her carry topped off. She can also lower your MR and make you squishier than you already are.  

Lux: Engage/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6
Poke potential : 8/10 Pick potential 6/10; Peel potential 3/10; Utility; 4/10;

Probably the most hated “support” in the game. She’s been around for a while and while some people can use her to great effectiveness her most recent changes make her very powerful with gold. This means solo lane Lux is usually superior and if you want to hit bindings you can play Morgana and do a lot more for your carry.

That being said, Lux can bring a lot of zone and siege potential to a team. Her level 1 is very scary because her base damage on her passive makes her win trades early on if she backs off after hitting someone. Her ult can help “secure” kills and her burst isn’t to be underestimated. She’s gonna scale harder with gold now that her passive has an AP ratio, but her damage without gold is still annoying.

Ezreal: I’d take Ezreal over any other poke oriented ADC since Lux doesn’t have a lot of ways to help her ADC in terms of peel, but she brings a lot of damage. There’s a lot of magic damage too here and once you hit level 6 the long range clear and pick off potential is awesome.  

Corki: AP bot lane, which means you basically get to bypass the normal runes and masteries of deterring AD damage. Corki doesn’t get a lot poke until he receives his ultimate, so the goal early is to have Lux zone and try and catch the enemy out with a binding while they’re away from their own minions to block you. There’s a good amount of early kill pressure here if you can hit bindings. The lane power swaps to a more poke oriented lane once everyone gets their ults since your enemy will probably have more upfront burst and damage with their ults than you will.


Blitzcrank:  If you’re able to hit a binding, chances are he can hit a hook on you. The worst part about it is that it’s only a bind, meaning even if you do hit Blitz, he can still do all that he does. If you both hit your spells he wins. Small little trick to help combat this is to try and stand in a way that you’re in front of one minion since your binding can hit 2 targets and focus on using that small body block to keep yourself safe.

Leona: Similar to Blitz, she can still dash to you if you hit a binding. Her passive makes it even easier to pop you, and worst of all, she can hide behind minions, while dashing through yours. Poke her level 1, because by level 3 her all in can hurt you really bad.

Fiddlesticks: Engage/React/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6, 11
Poke potential : 8/10 Pick potential 8/10; Peel potential 5/10; Utility; 2/10;

Fiddlesticks is actually really interesting in the support role. He can actually be played two different ways. One way is a hard CC mage that wants to start skirmishes or turn the tides of fights, the other way is an obnoxious poking mage that harasses from afar and sustains himself from any poke receives. It all depends on which skill you decide to max.

If you max fear, it gets longer in duration, but it’s a shorter range than his crows. The fear is absolutely monumental in 2v2 fights though as it will completely disable a champion from being able to do anything. It’s a point and click skill too, so unless you just happen to click a minion you’re never going to miss it.

If you max his E he gets huge poke potential and can silence from a distance making it pretty easy to move in or out to follow up or run away. Combine this with the amazing base damage on his ult and you have a really strong lane that can dominate for a long time.

Fiddle is squishy though, and his fear only hits one target making it a bit lackluster in terms of peel, if multiple people dive in you’re not gonna be able to do much unless you get some lucky bounces on the silence. Also while his poke potential and pick potential are high in ratings, they won’t both be high until level 13 when you have both maxed out. Basically you’re trading poke for engage or vice versa.


Graves: Graves works nicely with Fiddle since he can make great use of the fear time to run up throw all of his burst down and get out. The level 6 here is a huge power spike. Fiddle ult and Graves ult together is a lot sudden burst in a lane usually known for sustained damage.

Ashe: In this lane you could theoretically max either skill. Ashe pokes very well with Volley, so you could play it safe that way. The other thing you could do is max your fear and have a hard engage once you hit level 6. If you stun someone with Ashe ult and time it right you can get people stuck in Fiddlesticks ult for the entire duration with his fear. Issue is Ashe will need peel against a bunch of divers and Fiddle can’t provide that.


Soraka: If you walk up to fear she’ll silence you, if you try and focus on poke (don’t know why you would against Soraka) she’ll heal it all off. The best you can do is try and silence her and move in while she can’t use any abilities. When you hit level 6 you might have a shot at bursting her if you can silence her, but if she gets her ult off you’re not gonna kill her or her carry and you’ll be a sitting duck.

Janna: If you ult in Janna’s view she will stop you. She can just hit a tornado in your direction and stop you. Even if she doesn’t stop you from ulting she can push you away and stall you while it’s going off. Her shield isn’t bad against poke either. Stay up too far and she’ll set up a gank in your direction and get you killed.

I’m sure I’m still going to get questions about a lot of other people as support, but I’m gonna call it here. I don’t want to go through every single champion and I feel like I’ve covered even the strange picks pretty well. Keep an eye out for the next installment where I’ll cover different itemization paths and their strengths and weaknesses.

Be sure to check out the rest of the series of articles: