The support role in League of Legends can often be a thankless job. A good support can go relatively unnoticed during the game, but playing poorly can get you ruthlessly flamed.
The types of supports in League can be split into three categories: Enchanters, engagers, and poke supports. While some champions cross over 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 outsustain 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 since 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 outsustain 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 11.16.
- 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.
- Strong sustain
- Lots of crowd control
- Exceptional teamfighter
- High mana costs
Maokai is a great tanky support who provides a lot of crowd control and is useful even without his usual tank items. He can lock down champions for long periods of time, giving your teammates more than enough time to kill them.
He’s quite simple to pick up and can also be fun to play due to how his abilities work. He has a great laning phase with the ability to zone out enemies from the bushes. Though he can be mana hungry, that issue is fixed when you get your Imperial Mandate Mythic item.
The Resolve primary tree is core for tanky engage supports. Aftershock is the best keystone since it lets you absorb more damage in the first couple of seconds after initiating. Shield Bash allows you to have a bit more pressure during the laning phase alongside Bone Plating, while Unflinching provides additional Tenacity and Slow Resist.
The Inspiration secondary is designed to give you more sustain in lane and increase your mana cap, since your mana costs are quite high. Additionally, the increased summoner spell and item haste allows you to engage more often.
Maokai’s skill priority is R>E>Q>W. Maxing E is a priority due to the poke it provides. You can spam the ability in bushes so you get the increased damage effect. A couple of saplings and the enemy will be forced to back. Q is maxed second for the area-of-effect crowd control and W is maxed last for the single-oriented crowd control.
Your goal as a tanky support is to be the frontline for your team. You have a lot of lockdown in your kit, which should aid you in your mission of snowballing your ADC. Pre-level six, you can flash in with W and follow up with a Q to allow your carry to easily secure a kill if the enemy is low enough. After level six, you can initiate with your ultimate and follow up with your basic combo.
In teamfights, think about which carry is stronger. If the enemy team has the better carry, focus on locking them down. If your team has the better carry, peel for them instead. Adapt your playstyle to your team’s needs and you’ll be successful in achieving victories.
- 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.
- Easy to play
- Game-changing ultimate
- Can run out of mana quickly
Sona is the latest support to become a contested pick in the current meta. She was quite weak before, but Riot’s latest mini-rework made her much more powerful, propelling her to one of the highest presence rates in solo queue while also boasting a high win rate. She is here to stay due to how strong she is, but experienced opponents can exploit this pick by going for engage-heavy champions.
The Sorcery primary tree is essential on Sona. It grants her increased poke potential throughout Summon Aery and Scorch, additional mana that she heavily requires via Manaflow Band, and ability haste via Transcendence, which is always welcome for a champion whose job is to spam her abilities on cooldown.
The Precision secondary will give you access to Presence of Mind to increase your mana regeneration and Cut Down for additional damage against champions with more health than you.
Sona’s skill priority is the following: R>Q>W>E. Q is your bread-and-butter ability to poke during the laning phase. The second ability to max is W for the additional healing, and E should be maxed last due to its lower utility compared to Q or W.
Sona is a powerful enchanter in the bottom lane that can poke out laning opponents with ease. But she comes with a huge downside in that she’s quite squishy, making her a target for the opposing bottom lane. If you maintain a good distance and spam your abilities on cooldown, you should be able to build a decent lane lead.
Unlike other meta supports, your roams are quite weak, so make sure to stick near your carry and group up with your team in teamfights to buff them up. Try to land a good Flash ultimate in teamfights whenever enemies are stacked up to increase your chances to win.
- Lots of CC
- Strong utility for teammates
- Easy to play
- No dash
Lulu’s rise to the meta is a result of recent nerfs to other supports who were dominating the bottom lane, in addition to some buffs to her kit. Speaking of her kit, it elevates the power of your carries and allows them to take on risky plays, knowing that you can protect them from imminent death. She synergizes really well with the new items, making her one of the best support picks in the current patch.
The Sorcery tree is core on Lulu since it grants her additional healing and damage via the keystone Aery. Manaflow Band allows you to keep your mana topped up and keep on damaging or assisting your allies. Transcendence will give you a lot of ability haste as you level up. Scorch is taken to increase your poke potential during the laning phase, but Gathering Storm can be an option as well.
Inspiration is taken secondary for the additional ability haste and biscuits to help you out during the laning phase. If you need additional utility, you could go Domination for the Zombie Wards as well.
Lulu’’s skill priority is the R>E>W>Q. E is maxed first to have the maximum amount of shield potential to ensure the safety of your team members who will carry. W is maxed second due to how strong the targeted polymorph can be on enemies. Every second matters in a team fight so having the additional duration helps you and your team out tremendously. Q is maxed last because you don’t really need the additional damage compared to the utility on E and W.
Lulu is one of the best utility supports that amplifies the power of your carries. She excels in composition with hyper carries such as Jinx, Vayne, or Tristana, who become monsters with the power of Lulu behind them. While she indeed has a strong utility kit, she is prone to dying often due to how squishy she is. You need to be extra careful especially during the laning phase not to waste your abilities.
Once you get going and finish the laning phase or you get your first core item of Shurelya’s Battlesong or Moonstone Renewer, Censer, you should look to roam and help your other lanes as well when you see a possibility. If the bot lane is pushed and going down won’t do much then try to look for an opportunity on another lane for a surprise gank alone or with your jungler.
Remember to keep acquiring Control Wards as a support and give your team a lot of vision around the map. This will be crucial in acquiring a victory.