Article By Matt “Homelesscouch”
Support Your Way to a Better Game
Everyone is looking for some way to improve his or her gameplay. The support position provides ideal circumstances for improvement through a diverse number of viable champions and the option to be an active or passive member of the team. While playing support you have the opportunity to play a passive or active role during the laning phase, which is a suitable time to focus on improving at fundamental mechanics of the game. This guide will lay out the basics of these fundamentals in detail and then explain how you can use the support position to improve your play.
The first step in any kind of training is to determine which areas require improvement. The fundamentals are the best place to start; these are mechanics that must be utilized in every role in the game in order to be successful. The fundamentals covered in this guide include: vision control, positioning, skill shots, last hitting/cs, and map/objective awareness. Without mastering each of these skills, you are destined to fail against someone who has mastered them.
Vision control & Map/Objective Awareness
These two core game mechanics are related to one another. Through vision control you are able to obtain greater map and objective awareness. In the past, vision control was viewed more heavily as the duty of supports, especially in the later stages of matches. Thanks to riot implementing vision trinkets and removing sight wards from the shop, the embarrassment of a visionless map now falls on the team as a whole. This makes learning and mastering vision control an even more important skill for every position in the game.
Knowing where opponents are on the map and what they are doing throughout the game can provide your team with a tactical advantage that enables you to make plays such as taking objectives or securing picks. In each game the warding priorities differ based on each team composition and the pace of the match. It is important to know which areas of the map your team needs vision of when entering a game by understanding the early objectives each team will be focusing on taking. For example, certain jungle champions excel at early ganking/counter jungling, so when playing against these champions you need vision of routes the jungler would take to complete these tasks.
The easiest way to improve at vision control is practice, and the support role has the highest ward drop rate of any position. This fact and the ability to leave lane more often to roam are the reasons support is the best position for improving at vision control. When playing support to improve, focus on keeping vision of bushes and gank paths early, as well as objectives when in game timers indicate they will be active. It is vital for success to use these timers to inform your team when objectives will be activating and ensure you have vision prior to the respawn. This not only applies to major objectives like dragon, rift herald, and baron, but should also pertain to minor objectives like enemy buffs, ward placement, and champion respawn timers.
Once your team acquires vision and begins concentrating on securing kills and objectives, positioning during team fights and skirmishes becomes the most vital mechanic in the game. This is why the support role excels as a training role. Because the support position caters to such a diverse champion pool, every role in a team fight can be practiced through support. The easiest way to improve is through understanding your role in the team fight. For example if you are playing Braum, your roll would be to either engage or counter engage using your ultimate then peel for the carries. By being in the support position, not only can you chose which part of the team fights you want to practice, but you also have the opportunity to watch how other people position during fights. This enables you to learn from the success or failures of others as well as your own play.
A skill shot is a skill shot, no matter which position you play. It is true that each champion varies slightly in the execution of their abilities, however the majority of skill shots follow two patterns. These are straight line abilities (Lux’s q/w/r) and frontal cone abilities (Chogath’s w) or detached AOE spells (lux’s e). Landing skill shots is one of the fundamentals that is easiest to develop while playing support. As a harass support, you spend the first 10-20 minutes of a game almost solely firing skill shots at the enemy lane. Because of this, you can chose a support with a similar style skill shot to a champion played in another role you would like to improve your accuracy on, and practice landing your abilities. Through repetition you will develop an increased competency for predicting your opponents’ movement and reactions, which will be beneficial for landing skill shots in any lane you choose to play.
You probably read last hitting and cs and thought “this Homelesscouch guy is off his rocker if he thinks a support should be practicing last hitting”. On principal you are correct, however securing gold through killing minions is one of the most important aspects of the game, and I can’t ignore that when listing fundamentals. It is true that playing a champion in a solo lane or adc role would be the ideal area to focus on your last hitting, but as support you are presented with an even greater challenge than the other positions. You must understand when to last hit and complete that task with almost no bonus AP or AD.
For short periods during the laning phase and for greater lengths of time later in the game, your carries will not be able to secure 100% of the cs because they will be warding, shopping, roaming, or fighting. During these moments minions are going to die, and you may be the only player around to last hit them. In order to secure last hits on entire minion waves as a support it may be necessary to utilize tactics like pruning waves so that they freeze nicely while your carry is away. This will prevent you from being zoned off the wave by opposing players. Another important aspect of generating cs as support is understanding how to properly last hit under tower when enemies push in waves. Supports do so little damage that this can be difficult without practice, so work on this skill, as it translates to each other lane position in the game.
Bringing It All Together
To practice the entire spectrum of concepts covered in this article, take a diverse range of champions into games as a support player. Training while playing the role that focuses the least on combat will allow you to channel your efforts towards the development of your fundamental game mechanics. After concentrating on these core mechanics for a meaningful amount of time, you will be able to notice an overall improvement throughout every roll in the game.