Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Support Lanes 101: How to Pick your Support

By Jerrod "Thousand Eyes" Steis 

EDIT: Wow it's been a year and this is still routinely checked on. I'm gonna update this as of 10/16/2015 or so to make it a bit more relevant.

My general goal here is to talk about different supports and what playstyle you can expect from them. Knowing what they’ll do will help you as a player to decide the best strategy to either win or survive lane, depending on other factors in the game. This guide is going to be very basic for those who are experienced in playing support lanes, or just playing the game in general. I’m trying to be focused towards those new to learning the game or bottom lane playstyle and not everything here is set in stone. LoL, as a game, has a lot of variability. As the series goes on I’ll cover a multitude of topics. First off though, let’s find out who you want to play.

Picking the support you want to play is a bit different from a lot of other positions. In top and mid lane you pretty much pick what you’re comfortable with, or pick to avoid or counter the enemy laner. Jungle is very similar, but it can depend on your team composition more and may have an impact on it if you pick a farm or gank-centric Jungler. ADCs are mostly comfort picks with some slight counter picks in terms of range or escapability. Supports, I find, can be the most dynamic alongside Junglers and maybe Top laners. Not only are you picking a champion that will be facing two opposing champions in lane, but you have to take into account your partner ADC in lane as well. Generally any ADC/Support duo will work, but there are a few out there that have increased synergy and work very well together.

(*click to enlarge)

Above is a chart taken from ranked games amongst all levels of play. Granted this doesn't cover absolutely everything, but it gives a very nice visual representation of synergy. Brighter green means a better win rate compared to blue which is a lower win rate. The larger the circle, the more that composition has been played. One thing this chart doesn't explain though is why each one works or doesn't work.

Now one thing to keep in mind here is that this is solo queue data, meaning a lot of these games have bottom lanes that have never played together and have limited communication. This is shown pretty clearly through the win rates of different supports. Champs like Blitzcrank and Leona have very high overall win rates no matter who their ADC is. This is because generally they do one thing. It’s very apparent to their teammate what is going to happen in their lane. Aggression.

Meanwhile, take a look at Alistar. I would attribute this to Alistar’s versatility ironically. Alistar can be a very aggressive or a very passive support, depending on the person playing him and their ADC partner. He can jump on enemies, or he can sit on his own ADC and protect them from harm. How many times have you gone into a solo queue game and heard the support say exactly what they were going to do when fights broke out? For champs like Blitzcrank, it’s obvious. Grab squishy people and let the team blow them up. Alistar players might decide to dive deep into the fight, while their ADC is thinking they have a big bulky support peeling for them. Does this mean you should only pick champions with one playstyle? Absolutely not, but what it does say, is that you as a support need to make it apparent to not only your ADC but your team as a whole what you intend to do.

So back to the original question: How do you pick your support? First off, you need to think about how you play the game as a whole. Are you a more reactive or engaging player? Do you generally play tanky champions or mages? These are things to think about as you decide what support champions you want to learn. From here on out I’m going to list out supports, and rate/group them on different points.

Thresh: Engage/React; Tank; Spikes: Level 2, 3, 6, 9
Pick potential 8/10; Peel potential 7/10; Utility; 10/10; Sustain 2/10

Thresh is the all-around great support. He can do it all, pick people off, peel for his ADC, save people who are overextended, get junglers past wards and into ganks. The amount of things his kit can do are seemingly endless. A good Thresh will be able to lock a person down until they’re literally dead. However, while he’s the jack-of-all-trades, he’s the master of none. His weakness comes from his lack of one gigantic strength. He can peel decently well, but if multiple people are on his carry he’ll have a lot of trouble getting them all off as his only hard CC can stop one person and has a lengthy cooldown. He doesn't have any way to sustain outside of items, and his base stats are lackluster in an attempt to keep him balanced.


Lucian: Ironically Lucian works really well with Thresh considering their lore. Lucian already has the ability to be pretty mobile on his own and with Thresh’s lantern he can be impossible to catch out. Both of them work well in short range skirmish fights also.

Draven: His pick ability along with early game Draven damage makes for a scary early level fight. Thresh also helps his low mobility out by pulling him in and out of fights. If they stagger their mild CC it makes for a devastating lane and late game.


Morgana: Her Black Shield will negate Thresh’s hook, and a good Morgana will be able to cast shield on whoever you hook. For other supports this isn't as big an issue because they either have lower cooldowns or more magic damage built into their kit that can break the shield first. Without his hook, Thresh loses a large part of his kit.

Lulu: She can poke out Thresh pretty well and if she doesn't get hooked, if her ADC gets hooked she can polymorph the enemy ADC and chase them off from following up. Her ult is also a nice way to counter Thresh going in.

Leona: Engage; Tank; Spikes: Level 2, 6
Pick potential 9/10; Peel potential 8/10; Utility; 2/10; Sustain 1/10

If you’re an aggro tank player, here’s your support. Leona specializes in causing fights. She dives in crowd controls everything and sets them up to take a bunch of damage, all while negating a bunch of damage done to herself. Her passive is a mark that pops on any bit of damage done by an ally of hers for a flat amount of damage. Early game this hurts, a lot. She has the ability to gap close through minions, which is the qualm of other engage supports like Blitz and Thresh, since her E only causes her to dash in if she hits a champion with it. Leona has a clear weakness, her short range and no sustain. Without her E or ultimate she has zero ways of engage. Poke her down before she goes in and she can’t do much. However, she can catch those same pokers out of position if they aren't smart about it.


Twitch: I like Twitch a lot with Leona. There’s two main reasons for this, one Leona’s passive procs on any allied damage, meaning that Twitch’s passive poison ticking on the enemy will proc it as many times as possible whereas other ADCs have to work a lot harder to keep Leona from stacking her passive unnecessarily. The second reason has a lot to do with how Twitch’s damage is done compared to other ADCs. He’s very bursty and this works well with Leona and can effectively add to her ability to “pop” people.

Ezreal: Ezreal might seem strange at first glance seems strange, no burst, already able to peel himself with his E, etc. However a change in playstyle can make him a great ally for Leona. Ezreal’s E let’s him focus on farming while Leona zones out the enemy. If Leona dives him Ezreal can shift forward and follow up immediately. In a solo queue environment this is really useful and nice. Late game fights Leona can focus more on diving deep since Ezreal has a crazy amount of self peel.


Thresh: Thresh’s main way of countering Leona is in his Flay. He just sits on top of his ADC and as soon as she dives in a quick Flay will interrupt her dash and keep her from comboing her target. It takes a little bit of time to get the timing right, but it’s very potent and on a similar cooldown to her E. If that doesn't work there’s always the Lantern.

Alistar: My go to pick against Leona. If she goes in, knock back the enemy ADC and keep them from popping her passive. Plus his CC removing ult and damage tanking ability counters her burst. Throw in a nice little heal and the ability to knock Leona around if she goes in at the wrong time and you’ve got a nice champ to stop her aggression.

Blitzcrank: Engage; Tank; Spikes: Level 1, 6
Pick potential 10/10; Peel potential 6/10; Utility; 4/10; Sustain 1/10

Blitz is the god hand. The butt touch from hell, and a good Blitzcrank will be as close to the devil that any ADC will see. He has one of the most potent displacement CCs in the game and can single-handedly turn around games in both a good and a bad way. If you grab a squishy target you can give your team an easy win, but if you grab the tank you’ve just given the enemy a free engage. He’s more potent in his hook than Thresh, but he also is more all in. You can’t throw back who you grab. He bursts similarly to Leona with his extremely low cooldown ultimate that adds a silence as well in an AoE around him, but he’ll bring the fight to you. His passive isn't damage oriented meaning he trades off some CC to get that similar damage. With Blitz you live and die by the hook.


Draven: Damage on top of damage. Once Draven gets a good start he’s hard to stop, and Blitzcrank has a great way to get Draven going. It doesn’t take long to get a kill in this lane, and the nice part is that rather than Leona, Blitz’s damage is almost completely front loaded. This means Draven can almost always cash in on his passive and there’s less kill stealing.

Corki: Similarly to Lucian, there’s a lot of burst here. Corki’s Phosphorous bomb isn’t too hard to dodge, but if Blitz knocks the target up, it’s a free shot. Compared to Draven lanes where you’re almost guaranteed a kill with a hook, this lane is more focused on forcing a lane advantage after a hook and using Corki’s post 6 poke to dominate lane.

Leona: Basically saves you a skill if he hooks you in. Blitz is hard countered by tanks and Leona is one of the best at this. Just sit in front of your carry and bait him into a hook. Blitz can be scary, but if you’re prepped with a W on Leona before he grabs and silences you you’ll be fine.

Braum: Yet another tank to keep Blitz from throwing hooks all day in lane. Best part about this is that you can still do your job as Braum even if you’re silenced since you just need to get an auto attack off and have your ADC follow up. Wall up, jump back, and watch your passive work wonders.

Nami: Reactive/Poke/Sustain; Mage; Spikes: Level 3, 6, 9
Pick potential 6/10; Peel potential 8/10; Utility; 7/10; Sustain 7/10

Nami can do a lot with her kit, and unlike a lot of the more popular supports, she has a potent heal. Her heal also can function as a poking mechanism too making her pretty strong in lane against a pair with little to no access to sustain. One of the things that separates a good Nami from a bad Nami is familiarity with the bubble. It’s an awkward skillshot that takes a bit to adjust to, but the potential lockdown it brings is crazy. It’s the same length as Sona’s Crescendo and if the enemy groups tight enough you can hit two or maybe even three people with it. Her passive is great for chasing and more importantly helping immobile ADCs peel tanks off themselves as well making her very versatile in terms of playstyles and compositions. She’s much better as a disengager, but she can make picks in the right situation.


Vayne: Let’s you give Vayne more ability to chase her target through an auto attack slow and more move speed towards the enemy. If you can hit bubbles and focus on keeping her alive, Nami and Vayne are a scary duo that can get through even tough lanes ok and be a menace later. Nami strengthens Vayne's good points and covers her weaknesses so well.

Kog Maw: Once again, a late game focused champ that can take advantage of Namis ability to play defensively. Kog makes really great use out of Nami’s E when he gets the extra range from his W. Kog's W already adds more damage and range and with Nami you’re getting more damage on top of that and a slow. You’ll want an extra tank to keep the enemy busy but Nami can peel for Kog pretty well late.


Leona: She can engage faster than Nami can stop her. The best Nami can do if she’s not the one being focused is bubble the enemy while they’re not watching her and try to stop the oncoming follow up. If either you or your carry get hit by Leona in lane, you’re gonna be spending a lot of mana healing back up or a lot of time dead and contemplating your next purchase.

Braum: One word. Wall. Braum brings enough damage to be a threat to Nami, while also being able to stop her ultimate with a regular ability. Neither one of these supports really try and force fights as well as they avoid them, but braum will negate a lot of Nami’s impact during teamfights and has the chance to bully her in lane with good use of his passive.

Braum: Reactive; Tank; Spikes: Level 1, 6, 9
Pick potential 7/10; Peel potential 9/10; Utility; 8/10; Sustain 3/10

Braum is a beefy friend for ADCs. He was created as a champ to protect his team through stuns, damage reduction, and skillshot blocking. While he’s similar to Leona in that he’s a tanky CC monster, Braum tries more to focus on keeping his friends alive than engaging on people. 2 of his abilities scale on his tankiness as he builds making it very effective to stack health and resistances on him. His passive stuns people after they take a 3 auto attacks after he either hits them with his Q or an auto himself. He can place this on multiple enemies and if his ADC is with him he can stun a lot of people. The reason I’m rating his utility so high is because of what he brings to his team. He can block damage for his ADC and  give them resistances in addition to the CC he gives.


Graves: He’s a short ranged ADC already so the extra beef and peel is great, plus Graves already has a lot of tankiness, adding more to it makes him hard to stop even if they can get to him. All in all if you can cause a lot of skirmishes with a Graves you’ll usually come out on top due to the high resistances.

Lucian: This is a crazy matchup and one that is usually kept away from pro teams, if Lucian is strong at the time. Lucian’s passive gives him an extra auto attack after using an ability. So if he auto attacks, uses an ability, and auto attacks again, he gets off three auto attacks for the purpose of Braum’s passive. Really quick activation of the stun and with an ADC as bursty and short range as Lucian is, it’s scary.


Lulu: Just like before, Lulu pokes hard and can do it very safely. Worst case scenario if Braum is able to put his passive on someone Lulu can polymorph him or the ADC to keep them from adding auto attacks to the passive. Braum has a tough time dealing with poke and if you can keep him down early he never has the chance to get tanky and protect his allies late.

Zyra: Probably the pokiest support there is. Not only does Zyra have a great base attack range to proc spellthief’s off of, but her plants are extremely long range as well. She can harass Braum and force him on the defensive while barely ever putting herself in a bad situation. Plus, her ult is a great way to counteract Braum ult if he tries to engage with it.

Alistar; Engage/Reactive; Tank; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6
Pick potential 7/10; Peel potential 10/10; Utility; 4/10; Sustain 6/10

Alistar is the original beef tank support. He’s been around since beta, and his abilities are still some of the most potent in the game. He has one of the scariest level 1s outside of Blitzcrank and he even beats out Blitz in a multi-man skirmish. Alistar excels more in getting people away from his team, but he can use Headbutt into Pulverize to engage if you’ve got good timing. The one thing that makes him a little more appealing to some people is that he’s one of the few tank supports that has a heal, albeit a small one. It’s cooldown is reduced as friendly minions die, meaning if you're getting shoved in you'll have sustain. recently Riot buffed his ultimate and made him an amazing mid game tank by giving him 70% damage reduction from everything but true damage on his ult. He is a tower diving beast come level 6 and is to be feared if he’s played well.


Jinx: Giving her the ability to sustain out lane, and protect her in the fray, Jinx feels right at home with Alistar. If you’d want to play aggressive Jinx can follow up on a Headbutt/Pulverize by tossing traps down as Alistar knocks them up, giving them time to set up and open. In teamfights later on Alistar can knock up any group of people that get on top of her and headbutt them away leaving her with her minigun to kite backwards from who ever is left.

Vayne:  The lockdown potential here is nasty. Alistar can set up an enemy to be in prime position for Vayne to condemn them into a wall and stun them. Plus she’s another hyper carry late game that can use the protection in 5v5 fights.

Morgana: Alistar doesn’t have the base damage to break through Morg’s shield. She can just shield anyone that he tries to engage on, and if she wants to help an assassin get through and end your ADC she can put it on them before they go in. If you just try and play defensively she just pokes you down and makes picks on your team. It’s a tough match up.

Janna: Unable to really do anything offensively. This forces Alistar to be a one dimensional support, and Janna is one of the few supports that beat him out in terms of multiman peel. Janna harrasses a lot better than him as well whether it’s through Zephyr or shielding herself for auto attack harass. She can make the game rough for you.

Morgana: Poke/Engage/Reactive; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 6, 9, 11
Pick potential 7/10; Peel potential 6/10; Utility; 6/10; Sustain 3/10

Morgana is a champion that I hate that has become popular as a support. She was usually played as a mage until people realized the possibilities of her shield  Her Black Shield basically says “screw off” to any spell effects until it is broken or wears off. Making her ability to counter single target CC immense. Plus she can make picks with the long term bind on her Q. If a slew of enemies jump on you and your carry you can pop ult and the enemy has to make the decision of trying to stick on them and kill them before the stun comes in or back out making her really able to get people off her carry if her ultimate is up. If you can bait out her shield on the wrong person and she has no ult she is pretty much useless though.


Varus: Varus is pretty immobile so the peel post 6 with Morgana is great, Pre-6 they have a nice poke composition, if Morgana hits a binding it’s an easy follow up arrow from Varus. Lot’s of lockdown with their ults and if Morgana can keep her shield ready for Varus it makes for a deadly duo both early and mid game.

Jinx: Once again an immobile carry. Rather than poke oriented, Jinx makes Morgana a pick champion. Similarly to Alistar, If Morgana hits a binding and Jinx is in range for chomper follow up you’re stuck sitting there and taking damage. The peel and shield helps with her lack of mobility until she can get a kill and then she can go back to the aggression.


Karma: The best counter to Morgana is not getting hit by bindings. It’s such an integral part of her kit, that if she doesn’t hit it there isn’t anything she can do besides put her shield on one person. Standing behind minions is the best bet, but if your carry won’t do that you can help them out with a speed boost from Karma’s shield. The other nice part of Karma’s kit is she can poke Morgana out hard. Morgana’s only sustain is on her self and he shield is on a long cooldown meaning you can get a lot of poke either on to her or her carry and force them out of lane.

Sona: Sustain lanes are where Morgana fails to keep up. Sona is a risky pick into Morgana and you have to be confident in your ability to dodge bindings and play smart. If you can though you have a lot of poke potential and the ability to get her poke off your carry while her carry needs lifesteal to do the same. Another small but nice point is your ult can hit multiple people and Morgana can only get one person out of it.

Lulu: Poke/Reactive; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6
Pick potential 6/10; Peel potential 9/10; Utility; 10/10; Sustain 5/10

Lulu is my favorite support to play because her playstyle is all about making her team strong and giving them the tools to succeed. Auto attacks are painful because each time she attacks Pix follows up with some extra damage, her Glitterlance is a potent slow that hurts early on even without items. Her shield is a useful on ADCs because it adds Pix damage onto whoever you shield. Her ult is incredibly versatile on both tanks and squishy teammates, Ult a tank that flies in and use the knockup to keep people in the area, or if an assassin gets past your mid line keep your carry safe with both the CC and health from it. Finally my favorite ability is her Whimsy/Polymorph. Whimsy helps everyone get around the map quicker. That can mean the difference between a won or lost fight/objective, missed pick, dead teammate, etc. is one of the few hard ways to stop assassins and ADCs easy in the craziness of a teamfight. It not only silences, but also keeps enemies from auto attacking as well. A silence isn’t too great against and ADC in an early skirmish, but if you polymorph them in the middle of a trade, you’re almost guaranteed to come out on top.


Caitlyn: Very poke oriented lane, in a lane like this you want to focus on trying to harass and use your Glitterlance range and shielding Caitlyn to make use of your passive on top of her range. Late game you may want to try and use your abilities on other teammates since Caitlyn herself is pretty safe and sound, but early you should be able to dominate

Vayne: This one works a bit differently from the Caitlyn matchup. With Vayne you want to get in the fray and duel. Make use of Vayne’s great dueling potential and enhance it even further. Polymorph the enemy and shield Vayne giving each auto attack more damage. Follow up with a Glitterlance to make Vayne a chase down monster. If you’d really want to make the chase potential high, Whimsy her chase them down. Lulu’s ult is a nice way to fix a bad engage as well since Vayne can sometimes put herself into bad positions with her short range.


Soraka: Lulu finds a lot of in lane power from her poke both through auto attacks and Glitterlances, but she has no sustain herself. Soraka can outheal Lulu’s poke and basically make her useless in lane, giving the enemy ADC free time to scale up while you get slowly whittled down. Soraka’s silence can also screw up any good baits or saves you plan on doing as well. She’s basically equipped to make you ineffective.

Nami: Nami is able to poke back a bit with Lulu and (surprise surprise) out sustain her with heals. A good Nami can also force Lulu into a purely defensive support through her massive disengage potential. While Lulu can still function well as pure defensive, Nami does that job better and making Lulu one dimensional really limits her in a match.

Sona: Poke/Sustain; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 3, 6
Pick potential 3/10; Peel potential 5/10; Utility; 8/10; Sustain 7/10

Sona is one of my other favorite supports. She has the potential to absolutely destroy people early game. If you start out the game with a Q and a power chord auto attack, you get all 3 stacks of your Spellthief’s off and chunk out the enemy level 1, which is huge if they have no sustain. She is another support that really emphasizes making her team strong over herself being strong. Every ability she uses has an aura that relates to the spell. Extra damage with Q, a shield with W, and more movespeed with E. Smart use of power chords will separate a casual Sona player from a good one. Don’t always use the extra damage after Q for your power chord, the chase potential with your E power chord and dueling potential with empowered W are not to be underestimated. She’s very very squishy though, so you can’t blind pick her as any kind of hard engage will destroy her. Come teamfights she can start or stop them with a well placed Crescendo and fits well into wombo combo teams if you can get a tank elsewhere.


Caitlyn: Extremely safe lane and mid-game, this lane is made to just sit on the edge of ranges and poke hard while negating any kind of return poke. One of the most obnoxious lanes in the game when played correctly. If you’re really on point with each other you can time Caitlyn’s passive shot with extra damage from Sona’s Q aura and really load damage on to one shot.

Draven: This synergy isn’t as inherently obvious until you play it really. Draven and Sona are both really strong at quick trades and Draven front loads so much damage on to his auto attacks with Sona. The strategy is to go in, hit a few times and then back out and heal up, the level one damage in this lane is crazy. Continue doing that until you hit 6 and if Sona hits an ult on both bot laners, Draven has an easy follow up with his ult.


Leona: Hard engage ruins Sona badly. The thing that makes Leona so potent against Sona is the fact that you can’t even use minions to block shots from her, she can dive straight through them on to you. If you don’t poke Leona out level 1 you’re absolutely boned. Once Leona hits level 6 the lane is over the range you had on her is gone and if she wants to kill you she will. One of the hardest matchups as a support and you’re basically done lane before it starts unless they monumentally screw up.

Thresh: Once again his ability to start a fight pretty easily on you. Not only with his hook, but his lantern as well. Another example of a champ that if you don’t poke out early you’re going to have a rough time. The nice part is you can creep block his hook, but if he pulls in a jungler that can initiate or flash->Flays on to you, you’re pretty much either burning flash yourself or you’re dead.

Soraka: Reactive/Sustain; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 6, 9(kinda)
Pick potential 3/10; Peel potential 4/10; Utility; 8/10; Sustain 11/10

Soraka breaks the scale on sustain. Her constant heal is unbelievably frustrating to lane against and completely changes fights. She's no longer just the health and mana battery she used to be. Now Soraka is rewarded by constant healing and poking. Keep in mind though that Soraka's heal costs a % of her max health. It effectively punishes you for building health.

As Soraka in lane your goal is to just keep your ADC buffed on health and able to farm and trade liberally. You don't want to be inside the fights you sit back and pump health into your lane partner. Poke with Q to get your own health back up, but watch your mana as it will drain your mana pool if you keep poking.

Post-lane and in teamfights Soraka performs about the same in lane sitting back and healing throughout. You can roam as the "wahmbulance" with your passive that speeds you towards allies that are low health(Also useful for running away if you're in a bad spot and a low health ally is back and safe.). Use the silence if an assassin jumps on your carry and watch all over the map for chances to use your ult to heal


Tristana: Tristana is all about the tower siege game. This usually can involve dealing with poke on your team and constantly trying to pressure an objective. Soraka works well with this by providing her team with health to keep the pressure high. This matchup is all about persistence.

Corki: Corki excels at trading with his spells early and scaring the enemy off in order to back off and regroup while his cooldowns are down. Soraka plays right around this with her poke on her Q. If you get in and get out to heal with this lane you’re in a good place. Make sure to sit back well in this lane, if you get engaged on by the enemy Corki will pop all of his spells and run off while you can't do the same.


Leona: Basically similar matchup to Sona, Leona will jump all over you given the chance. This is basically true for any hard engage supports, but just like last time I feel Leona excels because minion blocking isn’t effective here. The nice thing here is Soraka can sometimes make clutch saves with heals whereas Sona’s heal is on a much lesser scale and impact. Neither is a great matchup, but I’d take Soraka over Sona.

Blitzcrank: Now I know this is another engage support and there really isn’t much to add here, but let me explain why I consider Blitz a harder counter to Soraka rather than another engage champion like Thresh. Blitz and Leona have the ability to add burst to their engage and end the fight quickly. A long fight is exactly what Soraka wants because it lets her lower the MR of her enemy and gives her heals more time to come off cooldown and give her team more effective health. If someone gets bursted out Soraka has no time to do her job. The only thing you have to diffuse this is your ult.

Janna: Reactive/Poke; Mage; Spikes: Level 2, 6
Pick Potential: 6/10 Peel Potential: 10/10 Utility: 8/10 Sustain: 6/10

Janna is probably the fixer upper of supports. What I mean by that is that she can fix any mistake your teammates make. Her disengagement skill is insane and she has the ability to give her ADC more damage in trades with her shield. She is the support to play in today's solo queue meta, and I'm surprised it took her this long to get popular. She is amazing at sieges with her ability to interrupt at range and she can keep her carry alive for days. She can counter them as well with all of her interrupt and even the ability to shield towers. Her ult has the possibility to be game changing if used correctly, either for sustain or regrouping your team during a bad engage. She can erase a mistake all on her own.


Lucian: Such a scary lane level 1 and 2, Lucian has great base and decent scaling so a level one all in with shield on and you can chunk out and zone from there. Later on in the game Janna can use her peel ability to make Lucian safe despite his short range. This is an extremely underestimated lane that can dominate if given the chance.

Draven: High scaling on his abilities and slight immobility (no dash/jump) makes Draven a prime candidate for Janna to protect. She basically covers his weak points and enhances his strong points, exactly what you want a support to do. Throw your shield on him when he wants to run in and poke with his Q active and watch people get chunked. Correct play around both of your cooldowns can make Janna a very aggressive support with major peel capabilities.


Sona: One major weak point Janna has is her inability to heal outside of her ultimate. Sona can poke more often than Janna can keep her shield up and whittle you down. You can try and poke back, but Sona can top off her carry and herself pretty easily. This isn’t a lane you’ll typically lose extremely hard, but generally you’re left worse for wear if Sona is allowed to play aggressively. Try and figure out if she wants to poke you out or your carry and time the shield accordingly or predict her move path to knock her up and take advantage of her squishiness.

Zyra:  Zyra is a counter to Janna in two ways. One we went over with Sona, she can poke extremely well. While Sona usually has to get in range of your abilities to hit you and then heal back up, Zyra can sit back farther and use her plants and auto attacks to be a nuisance. Not only that, but Zyra has a root that hits through minions. Yes, Leona can do the same thing, but Leona’s E makes her dash in to follow up with a stun. A quick reflex will let you interrupt that with a Howling Gale. That won’t work with Zyra root. Zyra can burst pretty hard with a little bit of AP too, which makes her hard to stop.

Karma: Poke/Reactive; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 3
Pick Potential: 3/10 Peel Potential: 5/10 Utility: 6/10 Sustain: 2/10

Karma is in a weird place, I don’t think she’s strong enough to be a mid lane mage, but she isn’t versatile enough to be a good support. She’s stuck in limbo between the two. One of the biggest issues with this is the power of Orianna, who basically takes over her role of support-mid lane mage. There just isn’t a need for both. Support Karma’s biggest spikes are in the early game. She lacks a true ultimate, but she has access to it at level 1, which can make her poke as you get into lane absolutely insane. With the right runes and masteries you can take out ¼ of the enemies health right as they walk into lane. However, the longer the game goes the less impactful she is. Her saving grace late game is her shield which can function as a mini-Talisman active if she uses a mantra charge with it. Her poke falls off very hard unless you build AP on her which isn’t optimal considering the gold income you’ll have and her only heal is on a mantra charge and heals her not her ally. I love Karma, but she needs some work if she’s gonna excel in the support role.


Sivir: This is actually a really fun lane. Take advantage of Sivir’s duel potential and Karma’s low cooldown damage to bully the lane early. Once Sivir hits level 6 your engage/disengage potential is absolutely disgusting, you decide whether or not there’s a fight, not the enemy. Sivir can pop her ult, You can Mantra->E your whole team, and for bonus points build a Talisman of Ascension and use that. Your team can go wherever they want to around the map and swarm objectives.

Ezreal: Lots of poke and mobility in this lane. Even if Ezreal shifts at a bad time you can save him with a shield. If a gank comes in you can shield yourself as Ezreal shifts back towards tower. It’s basically a fool-proof lane in exchange for late game damage.


Nami: Has one of the few ways to fully stop your engage with a Mantra->E in her ult. She’s also able to not only heal off your poke, but bring some of it back onto you. This is a bit of a problem since you have no way of getting rid of that poke without sacrificing your ultimate and it only works on yourself.

Janna: A battle of shields, but where you’re the one putting damage out in a poke war, Janna will shield her ADC who can walk all over you if you move up too far. Janna will stop any attempt at you to play aggressive, and while she may not have a heal herself she can rely on, you’re going to put a lot of mana into trying to run her out of lane and leave yourself and your carry helpless.

Zyra: Poke/Reactive; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 3, 6
Pick Potential: 5/10 Peel Potential: 7/10 Utility: 2/10 Sustain: 1/10

Zyra is probably who most people would consider the most poke heavy support there is. Her range is absolutely massive on both her abilities and auto attacks. She may pop like a balloon, but she’s going to stay far away from you at almost every stage of the game. Her level 1 isn’t all too scary as her kit is so cohesive that she needs other abilities in order to do what she does best. However once you have access to seeds, you can pop plants all over lane and zone the enemy out hard. This is devastating if they have no sustain and will let your carry farm in peace. Once Zyra hits level 6 she can basically stop a bum rush on her team with her ult either blocking off a massive area of the map or knocking up anyone foolish enough to try and run through it. the trick is to either run her out of mana or cooldowns and jump her before she has time to whittle you down.


Caitlyn: Highest base range duo lane in the game and good use of it is hard to stop. Doesn’t require a whole lot of communication either which is a plus when looking at solo queue possibilities. Just sit at the edge of both your auto attack ranges and harass from afar while staying safe yourself. You yourself need to watch your position more than Caitlyn though, She can net back if in a bad spot and leave you hanging out to dry if you were there with her. Zone is the name of the game here

Miss Fortune: This lane is going to want to wait until level 6 in order to fight here. MF can poke decently well and work with Zyra to an extent, but the true strength of this lane comes from their ultimates. If Zyra knocks up the enemy she can force them to tank all of Miss Fortune’s ultimate which gets progressively stronger the longer you’re in it because of her W passive. It’s a bit of a change from the Caitlyn lane but strong nonetheless.


Soraka: Not as much a counter as much as a way to negate Zyra’s impact. All Zyra’s good for is poke and if a fight breaks out a disengage with her ultimate. You’re not going to force a fight with Soraka, and you can heal off all the damage Zyra tries to put out. A good Zyra can still pick off some people with Grasping Roots, but that’s basically all she can do at that point.

Alistar: This one needs to be played right. Zyra isn’t countered by a champion as much as she’s countered by smart play. Alistar has a spammable heal that can keep you and your carry topped off, and if your ADC gets trapped in a root, you can Headbutt the enemy ADC away and negate a lot of the damage. The nice thing about Alistar is that he can be aggressive too. If Zyra starts getting too comfortable and puts herself in a bad spot she’s liable to get picked off by a Headbutt->Pulverize and at that point she’s toast.

Taric: Engage/React/Sustain; Tank; Spikes: Level 1, 2, 6
Pick Potential: 6/10 Peel Potential: 4/10 Utility: 7/10 Sustain: 7/10

I’m going to be a bit biased here because I love Taric and I haven’t been able to play him as much as I wish I could. Taric is a hard AD counter with awesome single target lockdown potential and a brawler to the bone. His passive makes extended fights turn to his favor as long as he has the mana to keep using abilities. Every auto attack lowers his cooldowns by 2 seconds, this is including his ultimate, which already sits at a low cooldown. He has a bit of everything in him and was the jack-of-all-trades support before Thresh came along. Stun, Heal, Tank. Did I mention his W scales in damage with more armor? Oh it also gives his teammates around him more armor similarly to an Aegis would with MR. On top of all of that, he can trade off that team tankiness in order to shred off the enemies armor in an AoE around him. If you pop that in addition to his ultimate he lowers enemy armor and buffs his teammates AP and AD, all while doing a good bit of damage as well. Taric is a wonderful support and not very mechanically heavy. Probably one of the best and most forgiving supports to start out on.


Graves: When both of these guys were in their prime, this was one of the scariest lanes to play against. The amount of burst potential here was immense and Graves was already tanky before you added Taric’s W on top of all of that. One quick stun followed by a Shatter to shred armor left the enemy wide open to all of Grave’s up front damage and before you knew it the person caught out was waiting to respawn. With Graves starting to get popular again, Taric could start to follow in his footsteps

Draven: Works just like Graves does with Taric. Lots of upfront burst with flat armor reduction will always scare off people, Draven can speed himself up to follow up with Taric pretty nicely as well. If you can stun a target Draven will at the very least be able to chunk someone pretty well. Heals are also very nice on ADCs with no dashes since chances are they’re gonna tank a few more skillshots than an Ezreal or Lucian would.


Morgana: The single target stun is great, but it travels extremely slow and and Morgana worth their salt will save their shield to stop it. Sure it’s a long cooldown until she has it again, but constantly trying to run up to hit a stun puts you in a bad position and Taric isn’t the quickest of champs. One binding on you and all of your mana is going to focused into healing.

Lulu: Able to protect her carry or herself if caught out and stunned. Post-6 you’ll have a hard time trying to get a kill here and the best you’d be able to do is force her out of lane. Her poke is annoying if you stun the ADC and try to follow up she can polymorph you and keep you from popping Shatter.

Zilean: Poke/Reactive; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 6
Pick Potential: 4/10 Peel Potential: 5/10 Utility: 8/10 Sustain: 3/10

I didn’t want to have to write this….I’ll be honest. Zilean is a support that fits in the same vein as Morgana to me. A mage who didn’t have enough burst who got bumped out into the support role. Zilean basically functions in 2 distinct ways. His early level bomb harass, and his mid to late game ability to save someone from death. Sure he can speed up or slow down someone, and don’t get me wrong that’s extremely useful in some situations, but it’s not what you pick him for. Zilean’s age is showing, and I don’t mean his character, I mean his kit. His mana levels are deplorable to the point of needing to build a Tear and a Chalice just to have mana in fights. 

His passive is a local increase in experience for his team, which makes you level faster, this can turn fights and give small advantages, but even in lane this doesn't let you get to level 2 faster, which is probably the most important level spike in the bottom lane. Plus one of his abilities is literally only to lower cooldowns on all of his other basic abilities. This used to be stupidly strong when it applied to his ult, but now his ult has a lower base cooldown and isn't affected by his W.

Zilean is a cool concept that either is too strong or too weak for the game.


Kog Maw: Zilean literally quickens the time it takes to reach late game with his passive, so any late game carry is going to pair well with him. Kog Maw is especially good because he can add to Zileans poke with his W and his ult once he has it. The fact that Kog Maw has no defensive skills isn’t even a problem because you can just ult him and bring him back if he’s caught out or about to die.

Vayne: Vayne needs time to farm up and Zilean’s early game bomb damage can zone people out and let her do just that. Level 2 double bombs can basically scare off anyone. If she needs to chase someone down and her passive isn’t enough you can speed her up too. Vayne has to deal with her short range, but the enemy now has to deal with her coming back to life even if they can reach her after getting poked down and chasing her increased speed.


Soraka: With Soraka you can at least counter the Time Bomb harass with heals and if you’re smart and mirror Zilean you can actually silence him before he can even get it off, Infuse is a longer range than Time Bomb. He’ll run up to bomb your carry and get nothing but bullets to the face. Zilean can save a teammate, but your heals can save a whole team.

Blitzcrank: If you can hook Zilean he’s made of paper and explodes. Thresh hook has more of a windup and is easier to dodge, especially with the increased movespeed from Zilean’s Time Warp. Blitz is a quick shot and after pulling him in you can silence him. Even if you pull in someone else and he saves them with an ult. That champion is probably so far displaced that by the time they get back up they’re going to go straight back down anyway.

Bard: Poke/Reactive/Utility; Mage; Spikes: Level 1, 4, 6
Pick Potential: 5/10 Peel Potential: 6/10 Utility: 10/10 Sustain: 4/10

Bard is an interesting champion that's extremely hard to play. He has massive game changing abilities, but they are almost entirely void of damage and have the possibility to hurt your team more than help sometimes.

When playing Bard you want to make good use of his passive, it lets him run around the map and not fall behind on experience. Of course doing this leaves your ADC alone and vulnerable so use caution. It also increases your Meep count and damage, making your autos stronger as the game progresses. You can usually collect chimes quickly with the speed boost that getting them gives in addition to using your Magical Journey to cross the map quickly.

Bard actually has a pretty potent level 1 with his Q. You can stun two people for a good amount of time if you aim it well. This is huge if you do it while the enemy is tanking your minions attacks. It usually gives you complete control of the lane and let you collect more chimes and roam to other lanes. Generally though, Bard's role in lane is to just be annoying.


Tristana: Tristana is a safe ADC with her growing range, this is awesome for Bard since you have less of a chance of running off and then hearing your ADC dying. In addition, Tristana is a pretty good ADC late game and Bard is pretty decent at peeling since it makes his Q easy to hit. You also have a good disengage while siegeing with the ult

Corki: Corki is once again a nice and safe ADC that can follow up pretty well with your stuns. He also is an ADC that wants levels since he's pretty heavily spell based, and getting more points in the spells helps his damage. Late game you still just want to siege and roam. Bard doesn't really pick to synergize with his ADC as much as bring pressure around the map.

Shen: Shen can take a big advantage with you gone and feel completely safe about going in. He doesn't even really have to go in as much as just zone out your ADC. Now sitting in lane you can't do much either because he's just so tanky and can heal up your poke. Even if you're able to get a successful roam off he can just show up with his ult and counter you again. Really frustrating.

Morgana: Bard's biggest thing is his utility, and Morgana can negate a whole lot of that. She can black shield and keep you from getting a good Q off and even just brush off your ult. If you try and use Magical Journey to run away from her ult she can follow you, and her bind locks you in place enough to take a lot of damage.

Tahm Kench: Utility/Reactive/Engage; Tank; Spikes: 2, 6, 11
Pick Potential: 7/10; Peel Potential: 9/10; Utility: 7/10 Sustain: 4/10

Personally I love Tahm Kench, He's a tanky peeler, but instead of getting people away from the carry, Tahm Kench gets the carry away from people. He's another support that doesn't provide much in lane, but brings so much safety to the team. If you're playing with an immobile ADC against an assassin this is the guy to get.

The biggest power spike Tahm Kench gets is when he hits level 6, but not because of the active part of his ultimate. More actually because it unlocks his scaling on health. The more health Tahm Kench builds, the more damage his autos and Q do. The Q starts to hurt at that point and Kench can poke decently well.

You can really use Tahm Kench offensively too, The slow on the Q is potent enough to let you catch up and get more stacks of his passive and eat people up, and the base damage on eating people is insane. His E is strong too, but only for him. Save it until you're about to die and basically make the enemy kill you again. Awesome for denying resets, be careful though, getting CC'd keeps you from activating it.


Jinx: Jinx is probably the best ADC with Tahm Kench, she's immobile and makes great use of getting out of sticky situations. She follows up on the slows pretty well too, letting her get in position for the chompers. Late game Jinx is almost impossible to get to and hurts like crazy. Keep your eye on her and pull her in to you if she's about to die or target by something.

Kalista: Kalista is one of my favorite ADCs to lane with. Good follow up on the Q and getting in your face and 2v2ing is what they both want to do early, especially with Kalista's W passive. With the level 6 you're both incredibly safe because each can save the other, and if you're able to eat an enemy and get ulted and shoot backwards you take the enemy with you. Extremely funny and powerful.

Sona: Sona is able to poke and get away from Tahm Kench and keep him out of range, it's a painful lane to sit in. If you're somehow able to get into her face, you'll win usually, but she has enough speed and disengage post 6 that you rarely get that chance.

Janna: Once again another matchup that Janna forces to be one-dimensional. Similarly to Alistar, Tahm Kench can work as a pure disengage/peel champ, but it limits him. Granted I would much rather play Tahm Kench into Janna than Alistar. Plus Janna has the range advantage in lane and getting auto'd constantly is rough. You're forced to just sit back and wait.

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

Annie came to prominence in World’s last year and for a while into season 4. She was part of the holy trinity of supports along with Thresh and Leona, back when early advantages were key to winning games. Popular ADCs at the time were Corki and Ezreal and they paired well with Annie in different ways, both of which involved making use of Annie’s insanely long auto attack range. Times have changed however, leaving burst mages to go back to the mid lane. Burst isn't as powerful now with hyper tanks like Mundo, Maokai, etc sitting in the front line and hyper carries like Kog'Maw and Twitch need better and more constant peel throughout a fight. Annie has her place, but meta changes have phased her out pretty well. Admittedly though I should have included her in my original article if not for the fact that at a point she was one of the contested supports.


Corki: Huge magic damage in a lane that is usually known for it’s AD power. Annie’s AoE stun makes for an easy follow up for Corki. This lane should dominate early levels up until 6 in damage and then focus on being more poke once Corki gets his ultimate. Annie has the auto attack range to harass from afar, although not as much as other supports can.

Ezreal: This one works out a bit differently. This one relies on Annie’s long auto range in order to work. The general idea here is to poke out the enemy and zone with Annie’s stun potential. Once the enemy is poked out enough you can go in and use Annie’s burst in order to counteract Ezreal’s lackluster damage in comparison to other ADCs. The real reason this match-up works is during teamfights. Annie can peel, but not very well and it takes a long time for her to prepare another stun after using one. The nice part about Ezreal is he can peel for himself. This let’s Annie use her abilities in a more aggressive way, which suits her style. You could say Lucian would also work in a similar way because of how mobile he is.


Karma: Annie doesn't have any sustain in any way shape or form. She really doesn’t do anything outside of stunning for her ADC and increasing their damage. Karma can sit outside of Annie’s range and decimate her from afar. Unless Karma mis-positions, there isn’t much you can do in this one

Morgana: As hard a counter but still pretty good. Annie works well when you group up and as long as Morgana keeps away from her carry it’s pretty obvious who Annie is going to target. The only way Annie can actually fight Morg is if she either baits out the shield before going in or finds a time when they’re grouped up enough that she can hit both. The saving grace here is that Morgana can only save one person at a time.

Small thing you can try and do in this lane is go up and attack Morgana without a prepped stun and try and break the shield as you build your stun up. Smart Morganas won’t fall for it, but not everyone is that intelligent.

I wrote this article/guide for two reasons. One, I wanted to have a nice little blurb on almost every support so people who weren’t proficient in the role could either look at what they should pick with or against different champions. At least give someone a chance to look at what each support excels at and pick one that sounds like it would fit their playstyle.

Two, I find myself not following my own advice in some of these scenarios and rather than analyzing each part of a champion I focus on one or two things. This leads to me being cocky and not taking everything into account like I should. The point isn’t to look at counters and just say “Oh, X champion is counter by Y champion because of this small thing.” At that rate, every champion is countered in some way by another champion. What you should do is understand what makes each champion strong, what makes each champion weak, and adjust your playstyle to match and beat out your enemy.

Learn why it’s strong, not what is strong.

If you're looking for more unconventional supports look at "How to Pick your Support 1.5"


*Head on over to Lolking to view this chart in its interactive form.

Be sure to check out my other articles in the series:

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