Volibear has been flat out ignored by most teams for the last few years. After being nerfed into the ground in season six, it’s taken a slow stream of buffs to see him rise back up the ranks. While Volibear has historically been a top laner or jungler, teams are picking him up in a completely new role—support.
Volibear support has finally hit the mainstream, with its first top-level game being played by Gen.G support Kim “Life” Jeong-min in the LCK today. It was the first time Volibear had been picked in top-level Korean leagues since Champions Spring 2013.
The origins of Volibear support in competitive stem back to one game in the Latin America South 2015 Opening Cup playoffs. It lost pretty convincingly and has never really seen play since. In fact, out of the 148 pro games listed on Leaguepedia that include Volibear, he’s only been played in support six times. Four of those games happened in the last month, too.
Yang “Moonlight” En-Jian, the support of Bilibili Gaming Junior, has brought it out three times in the LDL this season. Volibear was used as a counterpick into Yuumi for Bilibili, who were able to take down WE Academy and Triumphant Song Gaming with the surprise pick. It makes sense—if the Volibear can flash onto the bot laner while Yuumi is attached, both players are flung into Volibear’s team, allowing for easy pickings.
But today, Life’s innovative pick dominated the game against Griffin from the start. Life surprised Park “Viper” Do-hyeon early in the game, flashing on top of the Kai’Sa and flipping him into the arms of a Sejuani waiting to gank.
In the mid game, Life chased down targets to start fights with Righteous Glory, putting key Griffin players out of position and peeling for his own carries with clutch flips. Griffin were clueless and Gen.G ran away with the game.
The reason why Volibear support works is because of his ability to chase targets and put them out of position. By rushing an early Righteous Glory, Volibear can combine the move speed buff from the item with his Rolling Thunder to power into the enemy backline.
On top of that, Volibear’s E, Majestic Roar, received a nice quality of life buff in season eight, allowing Volibear to interrupt enemy dashes by timing the ability correctly. This means that Volibear can engage and stop Lucian, Vayne, and other slippery AD carries from getting away. It can also be used as a handy disengage when Leona, Nautilus, Thresh, Rakan, or Yuumi are jumping around the fight.
The ability to flash out of a bush early in the game and put an enemy carry out of place allows Volibear to play aggressively to find picks, especially when backed up by a Kalista or Lucian. For more lane dominance, branching out into Inspiration to take Hexflash allows Volibear to surprise enemies from the bush again and again, giving him a bigger window to keep finding picks.
While it’s unconventional, Volibear support could be the key to seeing the out-of-favor champion receive some more play time. It’s a niche pick, but everyone will be keeping their eyes out for it in the future now that it’s worked in a top-level league.