The support role in League of Legends can often be a thankless job. A good support can go by relatively unnoticed during the game, but playing poorly gets you ruthlessly flamed.
The types of supports in League can be split into three categories: Enchanters, engagers, and poke supports. While there are some champions who crossover into multiple categories, it’s a pretty safe golden triangle to go by.
Enchanter supports, like Soraka or Nami, focus on keeping the bot lane carry alive through the laning phase with heals and shields. Enchanter supports usually go well into poke supports because they can out sustain the poke, but struggle into engagers due to a lack of mobility and relative squishiness.
Engage supports, like Alistar or Leona, look to all-in the enemy bot lane during the laning phase with crowd control and high early game damage. They can capitalize on enchanters during the laning phase because of their lack of poke, but can’t deal with poke supports effectively as they whittle down your health before you can even think about engaging.
Poke supports, like Zyra or Brand, succeed by annoying the enemy laners as much as possible with long-range abilities, forcing them to waste their potions or heals. If an enemy gets greedy, they also have a fair amount of burst in their kits to delete them from Summoner’s Rift. Because of this, they can deal with engage supports, but enchanters can usually out sustain a poke support’s mana pool, rendering their poke ineffective.
With this in mind, let’s break down the top five supports for League’s Patch 11.8.
- Well-rounded kit
- Lantern acts as an engage or escape tool for teammates
- Can deny dashes with properly timed flays
- Flexible buildpath
- No escape ability
Thresh will always be one of the best supports in League. He’s never really out of the meta since his Death Sentence hook can change the flow of a game immediately. His early laning damage with Flay makes trading with him almost impossible, while he can bail out his allies with a well-timed lantern.
He can have a huge impact across the map once he gets Boots of Mobility and any of the newly released Mythic items. You benefit from most of them, so it’s a matter of game state to see which item is better for you.
The Resolve tree is essential on Thresh because it makes you tankier, which is crucial for any melee support. Aftershock gives you additional armor and magic resist when you throw some crowd control on an enemy, which you have plenty of in your kit.
As with every melee support, you’re going to have issues with taking towers, but Demolish is here to help you. It allows you to get some early tower plates if you get close to the enemy tower and give some additional income to your ADC. Bone Plating alongside Overgrowth’s goals give you additional health as the game goes longer and make you harder to kill for assassins and during the laning phase where you’re vulnerable.
The Inspiration tree gives some additional early sustain via the Biscuit Delivery rune and the additional item and summoner spell haste is always welcome.
Thresh’s skill priority is: R>Q>E>W. The reduced cooldown on Q will allow you to pick off targets more often or keep a tank target locked down for a longer period. The E max over W will grant you additional damage and more opportunities to deny dashes or bring targets closer for your teammates to damage them.
Thresh is a melee support who excels at locking targets down and bringing his jungler from the fog of war for a surprise gank or saving his carry from a dive with a well-timed lantern. His goal is to engage most of the time, but in teamfights, you should analyze if it’s a good idea to engage or be the peel your carries need. A well-timed ult alongside Flay and hook will allow your carries to survive longer and deal the damage you need to win teamfights.
Always look to roam and help your top and mid laners to ensure they snowball and have enough support from you to allow them to carry the game. Remember to communicate your game plan with your jungler to ensure that you’re on the same page. This will help you win more games in the long run.
- Infinite scaling
- Strong utility
- Global ultimate
- No dash
Senna’s kit is unique since she’s a mix between a support and marksman. She has high poke and all of her abilities offer protection and aggressive plays. Senna may be squishy, but she can lock down an enemy while keeping her team alive, which is an amazing combination to have. She is currently being played mostly as a support or as an ADC who funnels gold into her support. This tactic allows her to have a large amount of passive stacks to increase her damage.
The Inspiration primary tree is essential for Senna. Glacial Augment makes her obnoxious for enemies to deal with and buys you enough time to keep doing damage or run away from the enemy. Biscuits will grant you additional sustain during the laning phase, while Approach Velocity alongside boots make you more mobile. The secondary Precision tree grants you the needed mana to spam your abilities, while Alacrity grants you the attack speed you won’t get from items.
Senna’s skill priority is R>Q>W>E. Q max will grant you both healing and damage required to poke and sustain through the laning phase. It’s the perfect two-in-one combined ability. W second will let you follow up with a root more often on your Glacial Augment proc to get a pick or run away from enemies. While E is powerful in coordinated play, it’s often rarely used by your solo queue allies, so it should be maxed last.
Senna is an infinite-scaling ADC support. She gains more damage and stats as the game goes on. Your goal is to poke early on and try to pick up souls to get to your power spikes as soon as possible. Use Glacial Augment to get easier W procs on enemies and allow your ally to poke without retaliation. If the enemy jungler comes to gank, use your E on yourself and your ally to escape safely since you can’t be targeted by ranged champions under the shroud.
Always keep an eye out for teammates with your ultimate once you reach level six. Act like a primary damage dealer once you get some items and stacks. Aim to pick up Kraken Slayer before you decide to group up for teamfights. The item will allow you to have a huge damage output as a support and take over teamfights while your teammates are getting pinned down.
- Great initiator
- Innate tankiness
- Lots of crowd control in her kit
- Relies on follow-up from teammates
- No get-out abilities once engaged
Leona is the epitome of an all-in champion. Once you’re in, you can’t back out. You get dragged into the fray with her Zenith Blade and if it was a bad engage, you’ll pay the price. But her presence is terrifying and her crowd control gives you an opportunity to keep enemies at a safe distance from the carry. Leona is the kind of support that can play the lane both aggressively and defensively. Her mere presence in the lane can force enemy laners into playing safer.
Aftershock is the go-to rune for tank supports, especially those who have no way of getting out. Once you go in, you need to commit to your plays. The amount of CC you have should keep a target locked down and allow your team to burst it down. Demolish will help you take towers, while Bone Plating combined with Overgrowth will make you difficult to kill for the first couple of seconds of your engage. The Inspiration secondary helps you have some extra sustain from biscuits and less cooldown on your abilities and summoners.
Leona’s skill priority is the following: R>W>E>Q. Her W is one of the most powerful basic abilities a tank could want. It grants her damage reduction, armor, magic resist, and has some decent damage for the laning phase as well. Maxing E second will allow you to have your engage tool on a lower cooldown. You max Q last since it doesn’t reduce its cooldown with levels. It only increases damage, which Leona doesn’t lack at all.
Try to understand your matchup. If it’s defensive, try to stay in between your ADC and the enemy support and ADC to allow them to farm up safely. If it’s an aggressive matchup, try to look for ways to catch them off guard and engage on them when they go for last hits.
You should aim to get to level six as soon as possible and look for ways to help your jungler gank other lanes or set up a gank in the bottom lane to secure a drake. In teamfights, either be the initiator if required or peel for your carries by sitting behind and locking down divers.
- Fun to play
- Low cooldown hooks
- Ultimate which breaks shields
- High mana-costs
Blitzcrank has always been popular in solo queue due to his basic hook ability. The recent resurgence of support champions that rely on shields, though, made Blitzcrank even more popular due to his ability to destroy shields with his ultimate.
He’s also a great counter to squishy champions since a well-timed hook can delete them and turn the tide of a fight in your favor.
The Resolve tree is essential on Blitzcrank because it makes him tankier, which is crucial for any melee support. Aftershock gives you additional armor and magic resist when you throw some crowd control on an enemy with your Q or E and is easy to enable.
As with every melee support, you’re going to have issues with taking towers, but Demolish is here to help you. It allows you to get some early tower plates if you get close to the enemy tower. Bone Plating and Overgrowth’s goals are to give you additional health as the game goes longer and make you harder to die to assassins and during the laning phase.
The Inspiration tree gives some additional early sustain via the Biscuit Delivery rune and the additional item haste is always welcome. You’ll be able to use your items and summoner spells more often as well, basically providing two great things combined in one rune.
Blitzcrank’s skill priority is R>Q>W>E. Max Q first since the lower the cooldown, the more often you can make game-deciding plays with Blitzcrank. Blitzcrank’s Q can win or lose the game on the spot. If you hook an ADC, your team will be happy. But if you hook in a fed Renekton, your team may have a tough time following up on the engage. Be wary of how you use it, though, since it’s a game-deciding ability.
W is maxed second for mobility. Max E last since it doesn’t increase a lot in power with each level, making it less useful compared to Q and W.
As a melee support, you want to be careful during the laning phase. Try to land some hooks and punish the enemy bottom lane when they go to farm. With Blitzcrank, you’re weak against ranged champions since you have no sustain and a small passive shield on a high cooldown—so every little mistake adds up.
As the game goes by, invest as much as you can into vision and look for hooks across the map. If you see an overextending enemy in the mid or top lane, try to go for a roam and snowball that lane. Don’t stay with your ADC for the entire laning phase since you can easily pick up kills in other lanes if you land a hook.
- Strong crowd control
- Very tanky due to ultimate
- High mana costs
- No disengage
Alistar has become one of the most powerful supports recently thanks to his crowd control and innate tankiness due to his ultimate. He is a great blind-pick champion since he benefits from many of the new Mythic items and can withstand most laners in the current meta.
With a lot of support players prioritizing Leona, Nautilus, and Blitzcrank in their games, Alistar can be a great counterpick to help out your carry in the bottom lane by having a great answer when the enemies attempt to engage. You can easily stop them in their tracks and give enough time for your carry to walk to a safe position.
The Resolve primary tree is the core for tanky engage supports. You want to go for Aftershock for the additional tankiness it provides to ensure that you survive for long enough for your team to back you up. Demolish is taken to help you take the tower plates to snowball, Conditioning for its additional armor and magic resist in the later stages of the game, and Overgrowth to increase your overall health pool.
The Inspiration secondary is designed to give you access to Hexflash when your Flash is on cooldown to be able to engage from unconventional angles, while Cosmic Insight will give you access to your summoner spells and items more often.
Alistar’s skill priority is the R>Q>W>E. Q is maxed first since it’s the most impactful ability in your kit, affecting multiple enemies by knocking them up more often. W is maxed second since it’s the enabler of your W-Q combo, and the reduced cooldown is needed to land your Q. E is maxed last since it’s impact is delayed and predictable, allowing enemies to escape easily.
Alistar is one of the most powerful tanky champions in the game and can provide a lot of utility to his team even without any items. His ultimate allows you to survive for long periods of time against most champions who don’t have a source of true damage available to them. Early on, aim to land W-Q combos on the opposing bottom lane to get favorable trades. Before you engage, remember that you don’t have a disengage tool. If you commit to such trades, make sure your health pool allows you to do this.
As the game progresses, aim to roam to other lanes while putting vision around the map to give your allies ways to see if any enemies are looking for a gank. Look to engage on overextended opponents to get kills and help your team snowball. Always keep a vision ward in your inventory to ensure that you can take objectives any time you want by denying your opponents’ vision.