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 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 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 outsustain a poke support’s mana pool, rendering their poke ineffective.
With this in mind, let’s break down the support tier list in League for season nine.
Supports in this tier are strong in solo queue and competitive play, with the ability to single-handedly carry games.
Pyke is a roaming support that can single-handedly bring an advantage to your team. He’s not too difficult to play, and with a strong laning phase, he’s the most reliable support to pick. Although he’s vulnerable to poke, he can pull the enemies toward himself and zone out the ADC for an easier kill pick up. He also shares gold income on his ultimate and has the potential to flank a lane with his stealth. He does struggle in some lanes and relies on getting ahead early, but Pyke becomes almost unstoppable once he’s in the lead.
Thresh will always be one of the best supports in League of Legends. 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 one-vs-nine any game.
Do you like watching your enemies rage over three-second long snares on an insanely short cooldown as they inevitably die of old age? Then Morgana is for you. With a get-out-of-jail-free card in her Black Shield and great zoning ability with her bindings and crowd control, Morgana is infuriating to play against and super rewarding to play.
Grabs, pulls, and hooks allow for zone and lane control. Pair that with Nautilus’ sustain and crowd control, and you got yourself a support that can be played against almost any matchup. Nautilus presents great pressure in lane while at the same time being decently easy to play. If you’re looking to peel for your ADC and take engages upon yourself, Nautilus is a great choice for you.
Before Patch 9.19, Blitzcrank was getting outclassed by his counterparts. But the Worlds patch increased his grab’s range, making picking off enemies one-by-one easier and more dangerous. Even though he’s relatively easy to kite in the late game and becomes predictable, the range his grab offers pushes him to the top of the list. A skilled Blitzcrank can easily find an opening through the frontline and pull your carry directly into the enemy fire.
Tier two supports are incredibly strong, but lack in a few parts of their gameplay to truly dominate on the Rift. But mastering these supports will still help you on your climb to the top, and all of them have the ability to carry games.
Yuumi has a lot to offer as a support. In fact, her kit barely works if she’s not supporting. Yuumi will provide you with in-lane stability and will be even stronger later in the game with her heals and untargetability. Her ultimate allows for some game-changing plays, too. But she needs a team that understands how to play around her. Otherwise, it just won’t work out.
Nami is one of the biggest lane bullies in League across all roles right now. Her poke is obnoxious, she has lockdown potential with slows and stuns in her base kit, and her passive gives her allies movement speed. She can bail teammates out of engages before pummeling the enemy with a barrage of spells, bursting them into oblivion. She’s also incredibly strong in the late game, being one of the best marksmen enablers in the game—Nami is a great all-around support.
With the rise of hypercarry marksmen comes the rise of Soraka. The best enabler of hypercarries in League, Soraka’s healing power is second-to-none in the game. Her laning phase is no joke either, with Equinox having the ability to deny most engages while Starcall is great for harass. If you can keep yourself safe and keep your team up, you’ll win most of your games on Soraka.
Brand brings one of the highest damage outputs from a support in the game—but a lack of utility and squishiness sets him a bit behind others. Brand’s poke and damage can be frustrating to your bot lane enemies and set you ahead in trade-offs. And while he can decimate an entire team with a well-placed combo, he’s extremely vulnerable to dives, especially pre-six. If he gets a lead, however, Brand can become a blazing inferno tearing down Summoner’s Rift.
Leona is the epitome of all-in champions—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 on the safe distance from the carry. Leona is the kind of support that can play the lane both aggressively and defensively.
Janna is back on the Rift in full force. Even though her ability to keep a carry alive in extended trades is weak, her poke ability is insane. Her kit also features three types of CC and gives movement speed to your teammates, but she focuses on staying in the backline and protecting carries.
Tier three supports are situationally strong, but have glaring weaknesses that can be easily exposed.
Sona is a rare type of support that can fulfil enchanting, engaging, and poking. In lane, her Q spam and passive are almost impossible to outsustain. Her ultimate, Crescendo, is a key playmaking tool for both engaging and disengaging, while her movement speed and healing songs have strong base stats. Just don’t be too aggressive—Sona is one of the squishiest champions in the game and can’t really deal with enemies diving on her before six.
Zyra’s plants provide great cover in lane while also being a handy poking tool, but she burns through her mana quickly. Stranglethorns is a great area denial tool in the late game, but she just doesn’t hit as hard late as she used to. She still has some situationally-great matchups, though, so don’t write her off too fast.
Rakan was heavily nerfed at the start of season nine, but has found new life as more of a counter-engage support opposed to pure engage. His base stats are still relatively weak, but his teamfight utility and mobility are second-to-none in the role. He can help his allies in lane with heals and shields, but sometimes struggles to keep himself alive. If Rakan can survive the laning phase, his mid game is extremely strong and can change the tide of any fight.
Bard isn’t strictly terrible—in fact, a good Bard can one-vs-nine any solo queue game. The problem with Bard is that he gets demolished by both enchanters and engage supports if the enemy plays properly, while his ultimate more often than not makes a good fight bad. He does output a lot of damage in lane, but becomes relatively useless in the late game aside from popping Redemption or Locket. It’s Bard’s ability to roam that can give your team an early-game advantage that will scale throughout the match.
Vel’Koz can present a lot to the bot lane with his high range and poke damage. He does provide a little bit of peel with his CC, but he’s very squishy and immobile. Besides, channeling his ultimate leaves him in a vulnerable position from which he can peel for the ADC. If you’re confident you’ll land all of his skills so the poke will be worth it, go for it, but there are better choices than Vel’Koz.
Tier four supports are champions who have counterparts that just do the same job better. While they can still be played, you’re much better off picking someone higher up on the list.
Karma packs a punch in the laning phase. Her Mantra can add unexpected power to her early game trades, but Karma suffers from an identity crisis. While she can be played as both a poke support and an enchanter, she doesn’t really excel at either compared to some of her counterparts. Furthermore, her impact in the late game is negligible aside from giving your team shields. If you can win early, though, she’ll dominate the mid game.
Tahm Kench has gone from an apex predator of the river to a humble creature. The nerfs made his laning phase a lot weaker, and his ultimate can’t be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card anymore. His Tongue Lash is a bit stronger than it once was, but Tahm Kench is no longer the king of support and only works in certain situations.
Taric has risen in popularity when the Sona and Taric duo overtook the League community and even showed up in competitive games, but he still remains in a relatively weak place. His tank/enchanter hybrid playstyle often leaves him stuck at a crossroads in investing into one or the other and not excelling at either. His ultimate can swing the tide of a fight if timed right, and he can trade decently in lane with his passive, but he’s vulnerable to dying early in fights and not popping his ultimate in time.
Lulu has decent crowd control with her polymorph, and a decent peel, but she’s often beaten out by her enchanter counterparts. She’s also quite vulnerable with relatively-weak base stats at the moment on top of low mobility. Lulu might be an amazing lifesaver with a strong early game, but she isn’t completely reliable and heavily relies on teamwork.
The original engage support, Alistar is still good at his job. Nothing is more satisfying than landing a massive Headbutt-Pulverize combo to decimate the enemy, while his ultimate gives him a much-needed stat boost to survive in the frontline. If you miss that combo, however, you’re out of the fight. Alistar has no means of escape and long cooldowns.
This article will be updated periodically throughout season nine.