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A new way to look at Supports

[ Warning: There is no TL:DR. Either read it or don't. ]

Updates:: April 4, 2012
Expansion on Orianna.
Added Nidalee, Galio, Leblanc

Support is a class of characters in which I feel the most comfortable with, and feel inclined to say that it is probably one of the powerful and overlooked role in League of Legends. As a support you do not get many thanks, or praises, since it's merely your job to benefit others to carry out the more valorious duties that win games. It's more or less a thank-less role, and most consider it boring. But I suppose that's what gives it more character.

My only disappointment with the role of support is most often refered within three core supports. Soraka, Sona, and Janna. While I certainly have no issue, or problem with the power these characters bring to the table, and certainly do not desire any sort of change to them, I feel that having only three main core support champions in a game that is slowly reaching the 100-champion mark-line isn't so promising to the game's future. These characters are classifed as the core of "true support", offering the most utility to the team without the necessity of items nor the danger of needing to take CS away from the AD carry they are protecting to achieve that level of support. I am aware of other such support characters like Lulu, Taric, Blitz, Alistar, Leona, etc, but I'm focusing much more on the fact that the most "ideal" support characters are centered among the previously mentioned three.

This sort of limited pool of characters inspired me to preform the experiment of trying other 'non-ideal' characters for the support/AD lane. While most characters do not exploit the vast potential that "true supports" give, I think the matter of support goes beyond the simple task of Exploring the potential of other characters and how well they synergize with other characters often overlooked within the rostor is half the fun, and can bring surprising results. As a note, this is a MAJOR W.I.P. and is still an ongoing experiment. If there is any sort of information you'd like to share, please leave me a message or let me know within comments below. ^_^

Note: I will refrain from the ideas of "Kill Lanes". While it's certainly a viable strategy, the variables are too numerous, and I do not wish to completely alter to current meta, as much as make it less close-minded. I may referrence such potential of "Kill Lanes" for some champions, but otherwise, I wish to avoid it.

Note2: No doubt you guys will ask me about how I'm able to built these characters as more 'support' roles over their more ideal positions in the lane. If this blog brings good views, I'll gladly share such information.

Note3: I diliberately avoided some of the support picks, particularly those that are common or those that are seldom, but are often "viewed" as being "only" support champions like Karma or Zilean. That's another matter of the meta entirely. I suppose the best way to start is from the top....

- I've been playing Ahri as a support bot champion with a moderate amount of success. Ahri works well with AD carries that can abuse the assets she brings in the lane. Like most of my experimental support characters, Ahri should be built as a Support in lane, and transition to an AP character within Mid to Late game. While it's certainly not among the best of othordox, I'm fairly confident to say that Ahri has potential to be a good support champion for 2 main reasons.

1. Charm is a hard CC that can be very optimal in the lane since it's easier to land against two-character lanes [Particularly within certain 'zones' of Bottom lane where the passageway rather narrow], and the quality of the CC is much better than simple stuns, Snares, or slows.

2. Foxfire is a very mana-efficent harrass. And I mean VERY cheap in mana for how much damage it does even at level 1. With 2 potential targets, the over damage output is better than it seems. Of course, you run more risk of pushing the lane, being harassed yourself, and the fact that you're an aggressive support makes it slightly harder for your AD to follw up. However I think her passive really makes up for it since Foxfire scales better with Spellvamp due to its mechanic.

I think the major problem with Ahri is her transition to Mid and late game from a support. Building support items do not allow much luxury for Ahri to built what she normally is as a semi-beefy AP caster. I built a Philospher's and Kage's for the necssary gold.

- I've had very rare oppurtunities to test Brand as a support. When I do, they come to be mediocre to good. Blaze is a powerful passive in lower levels, and since Bot lanes linger in the lower levels longer, Brand's damage potential is much greater. This is best utilized when using his E as a cheap form of harass to proc his passive. Brand's Ultimate is also VERY powerful since it has two targets to bounce off of. However I feel that Brand runs out of mana too quickly in the lane, and missed Spells garter more punishment due to long CDs. Brand offers little protection if the lane finds themselves in trouble by junglers or mid ganks, since long CDs on spells make him too vulnerable. And if he's open, so is the charge which he's left to protect. Definitely requires more testing.

I built Brand with very little support items, and tried to focus on mana and ability power for the land. Brand supports do better with just pure damage I believe. I run Gold quints, and a Philospher's for necssary mana regen and gold income.

- Another seldom experiment. Cassiopeia offers one thing that most supports do not give, and that is a free zone. This alone can make or break the bottom lane. Q spams and long-range safety is very deadly to a typical bottom lane, and the constant damage that she gets out of a single spell can zone the enemy completely out of EXP range. The major flaw is that doing so makes Cass run out of mana quickly, and Q spams often push the lane, which is something you don't want to do unless you know you have complete control of the lane, as well as the jungle around. Once level 6 though, the lane can be more aggressive. Definitely requires more testing.

I built Cassiopeia more typically akin to her solo built, though built a Philospher's Stone to get gold for wards, while taking occasional CS to fund for later transitions.

*new* Galio

- Galio runs as a hybrid of tank, support, and AP caster. This doesn't really change being a support bot. I find Galio to be a good support, but at the same time, very limiting. Galio has two ways to play, being aggressive or being passive. The former, I find to be less effective, since Galio's harass comes from his spells, and thus drains mana quickly. However, rushing a Chalice can remedy this, though a constant supply of wards may be hard to come by, running a lot of risk to zone the enemy lane. The latter, I find to be the most effective way to play Galio, only supporting your carry for them to farm, and using spells to stop enemy advances or jungle ganks. Basically, just like his character is in the story, he's probably one of the better unothrodox support characters in terms of actually 'protecting' his charge. Particularly at 6, where his ultimate can tower bait enemies, or self-sacrifice himself to peel off damage from his carry.

I think the best concept of Galio is that he can make sure that his carry is well farmed, and because of his kit, Galio's usefulness can never really fade at any stage of the game, save for the beginning when he doesn't have all of his spells yet.

I ran Galio as a support tank, which isn't too far off of his typical path anyway. Because of this, he has very little trouble transitioning throughout the game, and does his job well regardlessly. I built a philospher's stone and ran Gold Quints to afford wards as needed.

*new* Leblanc

- I must admit that I'm a little bias toward Leblanc since she is perhaps my most used champion, but I'll be as critical as my ego will allow me. Leblanc is heavy geared to the Kill-lane aspect, or is often viewed to be. This isn't incorrect since Leblanc's damage is very high, even in a bottom support. The key aspect that is majorly different about Leblanc to other AP casters for support lane is that Leblanc is much less handicapped with the lack of CS than other AP casters such Leblanc's scaling is massive during the early to mid game.

In the support lane, it's hard to really chose which skill order you should follow, and I just go for what seems logical for the lane. What you play on Leblanc is not just for her damage, but her utility, which is actually quite vast once she hits 6. Her Q, combo with E can be very damaging, and against support lanes without good healing, this alone can deal good damage and psychologically make the enemies play less aggressively. Of course, sustain lanes make her fall out of the lane very hard, and reliance on skillshots can murder her damage and utility since her E is kind of the substitute to her W to trigger marks of her Sigil. Her natural late-game demeanor also works against her, since she falls off harder due to an eventual lack of gold to hold up her damage, though once again, you play her knowing that her utility is her best aspect, not her damage.

I build Leblanc is very few support items. I get a Kage's and Philospher stone to fund for wards, but otherwise run Leblanc as a typical caster.

- I've had tremedous amounts of success with Lux. The utility she brings to the lane is massive, though most people already know that. However, I think the general consent of people's opinions view her too much as a solo-mid character and don't often see what Lux does as a whole. At level 1, a 2 second snare is massive. Combined with her AoE slow, and shield, she can protect her AD carry with no trouble at all. Utilizing her massive range and her early game damage abuse from her passive makes her more aggressive than typical supports, but I feel that Lux also does very well shifting to more defensive measures on the fly, making her very verstatile.

Lux also acts as a good burst mage after recieving her ultimate. Against a bot lane without heals,Lux does much better against.

I built Lux as a support for the laning phase, and move to mid and late game as an AP nuke/support easily with only a Philospher's and a Kage's to buy the necessary AP items. Lux has probably one of the easiest transtitions in the game since the natural utility of her spells make up for any damage she lacks for not being in the solo lane.

*new* Nidalee

- I've played support Nidalee before with mixed results, though I see great potential with Nidalee due to the utility is can provide in the lane. A thing to note is that Nidalee plays best as a pushing, aggressive support rather than passive. Her heal provides a very good buff that punish opposing lanes for aggressive behavior, and her spear can be a very powerful poke if used in bushes and such. Her traps provide a semi-natural ward which can foresee ganks to clumsy junglers. Combined with normal warding, Nidalee provides powerful tools for her carry to farm.

However, Nidalee also has a few weaknesses that are pretty obvious and almost too hard to ignore. Utilizing all of her abilities drains her mana very quickly, and her scaling is very poor in the sense that as the game continues, and her lack of levels and gold due to being a support makes even leveling of her abilities very weak. This pushes her to focus more on one aspect of her abilities rather than the general utility that all of her abilities provide. Such as, if Nidalee focuses on heals, she can sustain her carry well, but now loses her power to zone due to weak spears. And vice versa. The other major trait is her lack of an ultimate. Or more specifically, her lack of a USEFUL ultimate for her carry or lane in general.

I built Nidalee as Support in the lane, and move on to an AP caster/support during the mid to late game. Natural wards allow her to be more aggressive in the lane, and play better safety due to its utility. I built a Philospher's stone and Kage's utilizing an semi AP-hybrid built to maintain big heals and do great damage with her spears.

- The results are pretty good for Orianna, and I feel she is a viable support, if not just a little bit quirky from typical support characters. I feel that Orianna is like Sona is many ways that Orianna can support the team by doing a little bit of everything from buffs to shields, to initations, Chain CC, and even damage. However, unlike Sona, Orianna can do everything ONLY if she has the mana to do it. Orianna's major flaw is the fact that if you want to utilize all of her potential, you'll run OoM very quickly. I feel this makes Orianna one of the best supports in the game, but only for a very short burst of time. This can be remedied, but doing so makes her fall out in one area or another.

Orianna is also among the most versatile of unorthodox support since depending upon your carry, and who you are up against, you can mold your skill order to the needs of the lane. Her Q allows for a more agressive laning phase with constant poke. Her E, being a very defensive, passive ability, but her W, if maxed first, provides a mixture of both offensive and defensive properties that hold interesting results.

One thing that Orianna has that other supports do not have is The Ball. A very important aspect of her character is that Orianna can use the ball like a ward. Supports often use wards to cover the bottom bushes to see for sneaky jungle ganks from the lane, or just to see where the support characters are [since most hide in the bush]. Orianna does not need to sacrifice the gold necessary for wards in such cases, as the The Ball can be used as a make-shift ward for that purpose, and thus only needs wards to cover ganks from river or the jungle. This makes Orianna unique in a way that most people overlook.

Orianna is like Lux in that transitioning from the laning phase to mid-late game is generally very easy. I play Orianna with gold quints, and suffice with a Philospher's stone. However, occasionally, adding a Kage's can rush AP items earlier, making use of her damage sooner if necessary.

[To be Continued...]

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