A Guide to Bot Lane Part 1: Picking your support
Fri 6th Jun 2014 - 10:55pm
This article will give you insight on how to determine the optimal pick that will benefit your team.
Standard laning meta places an ADC and a support champion up against another ADC and support champion. The ADC is usually a glass-cannon damage dealer while the support is a supplemental member of the team who sacrifices gold income and offensive stats (most of the time) to place his team in a better position than the enemy team by peeling, sustaining, shielding, or initiating for his team.
The support role is a flexible role with many champions to choose from to play. Common picks like Thresh, Morgana, Leona, Lulu, and Karma usually outshine other champions, however if played correctly, any champion could technically be a support. In my eyes, the more utility a champion has the better a support they are. Thresh is a perfect example, he can not only initiate, but he can peel for his team with all his abilities and use lantern to save others if they are in a bad position. I see support as a role that allows great versatility in your play style, allowing you to adapt your choice of champion based on any pick to supplement your team or protect it. When choosing a support ask yourself the following questions:
Does their lane counter my choice at all?
When it comes to bot lane, every matchup has a chance to beat every other matchup, but some lanes are more difficult for others. An example of this is in lanes with Morgana, the threat from CC is very low as long as Morgana has her black shield. Champions like Leona, Thresh, Blitzcrank, and Alistar have a difficult time breaking the Black Shield due to limited magic damage.
How does my pick fit into my team composition?
There are several core-concepts that different team compositions use:
Siege/Poke: Generally this team plays to get ahead by forcing objectives, but 'dancing' before starting them and getting damage slowly onto the enemy team. This team composition almost always included a mid champion that had a ranged skill shot that can either be spammed or does a lot of damage, e.g. Nidalee and Ziggs. Because this composition's main goal is to not take damage before either completely killing or forcing back one or more enemies, a support that has a long range lockdown or the ability to disengage will flourish here. Suggested picks for this composition are:
Thresh worksboth ways here. He has box to disengage, lantern to save, and his hooks can lock targets down for poke.
Morgana has her Dark Binding to allow her to not only lock someone down but to prevent engages. Her ultimate has some use for disengage but Morgana must be close to use it. Black Shield is a great spell to prevent someone from being caught out.
Sona can not only disengage but also heal, increase damage, and increase the movement speed of her allies which makes her a safe pick for this composition. In extended sieges Sona's heals will give her team back health especially if she has a mana regeneration item such as Mikael's Crucible to keep her mana higher.
Janna's passive grants movement speed to your team and her two disengages, her ultimate and Q, allow her to keep your team safe and reset fights if you have to. The ability to shield targets and grant them bonus AD is great for sieging towers with a long range carry like Caitlyn or Jinx who can hit the tower when your team pokes back the enemies.
Alistar is all disengage with the ability to sustain all those around him somewhat and two abilities that allow him to disable targets and then head-butt them away, Alistar is a good pick for protecting your carries although you may find yourself dead if you are not careful with head-butt.
Nami works great in Siege/Poke compositions. Not only do her abilities grant movement speed when casted on your team, but she has two great disengage tools: her Aqua Prison and Tidal Wave. Both of these abilities can hit multiple targets or even just force your opponents away allowing you to retreat. Her sustain also can be used on multiple teammates if it hits enemies, allowing not only for more sustain but poke and additional movement speed.
Lulu brings a lot to the table with Poke/Siege compositions including a slow, a speed up, a shield, and a knock-up that grants your teammate health while slowing enemies around them. She is a generally safe pick for this type of composition as she can give an ally a ton of health, a shield, and a speed boost or slow down her enemies and polymorph them.
Karma is a poke champion herself but offers very little crowd control if you get hard engaged on. Her Mantra and Shield speed up or Mantra and Q poke allows your team to get away, but if the enemies attempt to hard engage then the only thing Karma has to help are shields, snares, and a slow so you must play safe as Karma when poking.
AoE: These compositions usually involve a lot of burst damage and sometimes more than one AoE CC ability to lock down the entire team. The point of this team is to fight in enclosed areas like the jungle or objectives such as dragon or baron when the enemy stacks up. They are also good at defending versus dives and make it hard for enemies to fight even when ahead if used properly.
Leona excels here. With an AoE stun ultimate, or slow if you don't hit them in the center, as well as the ability to snare multiple enemies she can force a fight hard. Her ultimate also adds a proc for extra damage which could increase burst.
Zyra is similar to Leona, but her ultimate is larger and tenacity does not affect knock-ups. Her snare allows you to root multiple enemies allowing for greater AoE CC and damage. Some variants for her builds give her AP allowing her to deal additional damage in fights and help bring targets down faster.
Sona is the original AoE CC support and was the staple for most champion pools competitively for a while. Her speed up allows her entire team to close gaps, and her auras give additional combat stats to give your team the advantage they may need. It is not uncommon for Sonas to sometime flash Crescendo targets to give her team the intiation that they need.
Nami's kit allows her to get multiple-person bubbles if they are close enough while locked down. Her heal will bounce in team-fights healing teammates and her E will allow your initiator to slow targets and stick to them easier. Tidal wave is a great AoE ability as it is wide enough to cover most of a lane and will more than likely hit targets, especially if they are locked down already.
Annie is a great pick for AoE compositions. Annie's passive allows her to proc a stun on her next ability after four spells. Combining flash and Tibbers or flash and E allow you to hit multiple targets with your stun. Annie can also be built with AP to allow her to deal damage in fights and possibly kill squishies by herself.
Morgana is an okay pick in AoE compositions. Her ultimate allows her to slow enemies on the first portion and stun enemies if they stay close enough. She can use her ultimate combined with Zhonyas Hourglass to allow her to enter the middle of the enemy team and force them to back away or die. Black shield on a champion who initiates like Jarvan or Wukong allows them to avoid any initial CC or magic damage.
Lulu is another okay pick in AoE compositions. Her ability to speed up a target, give them a shield, and use her Q off the shield to slow enemies can force initiations quick and easily. Her ultimate will make your initiator tanky enough to stay in the middle of the enemies for longer as well as add an additional knock-up to lock them down longer.
Thresh is another all-around good pick for AoE compositions. Having his hook he can grab an enemy, go in and pull a friendly with a lantern to start a fight. The lantern can also shield his entire team if it lands on them all and a 99% slow from his ultimate allows your team to get their abilities off and gives a greater chance for any AoE CC to land, and if that wasn't enough he can flay enemies back into himself to hold them down longer for the CC.
Brawl: Brawl compositions are exactly how they sound, you fight and you don't stop fighting. They use two or more tanky champions to get on the enemy squishies and prevent them from doing damage to the carries. The composition usually relies on a midlaner and support who can toss out shields and buff the brawlers to give them temporary stat boosts.
Soraka's ability to have two heals and give armor during fights makes her a good pick for brawl compositions. When your team is diving, you can use your W to make the initial tank beefier. Because of her passive, which makes her heals 1% more powerful for each 2% health or mana missing from the target, the longer the fight goes the better it is for you. When Soraka gets the chance to use her W more than once in a fight it boosts her utility, allowing her team to re-engage if they get low and beef up their armor for a short duration. Diving with Soraka is possible due to the two heals and armor buff given from her W.
Taric is the man for this kind of composition. A target stun, a heal, additional armor or if you use W additional armor shred, and an AoE damage ultimate that boosts ally offensive stats. Taric himself can get very tanky and when in the middle of a team fight his abilities being used in conjunction with his passive, which gives an on-hit effect of dealing additional damage and reducing his cool downs after spell casts, will cause him to be a menace. Tanking towers and diving with Taric is easy, as his additional armor, improved heal (when healing himself he gets more health back), and targeted stun cause him to be a big threat.
Lulu's ability to speed up, shield, slow enemies, and make the brawlers have more health while knocking up enemies gives her the edge in brawl compositions. With her E on a 10-second base cool down, cool down reduction will give her the ability to get it off multiple times in a fight, saving your team or allowing you to dive towers.
Leona is pseudo-brawler in the sense that she is tanky enough to be in the frontlines herself, especially with her W giving her magic resist and armor that lasts longer if it hits enemies. Her constant CC and ability to AoE stun and snare multiple targets allows her to stay with the brawlers and assist them, giving her team the ability to hold down the enemy while the carries hammer away at them. Just be wary that your E will bring you to the last target hit so you may find yourself going in deeper than you expect.
Karma's ability to constantly throw out shields, slows, and snares at the enemy allows her team to push forward in fights while killing the enemy. Using Mantra with her E gives your team an AoE shield and movement speed buff to push forward and keep going for the enemy while throwing out her Q to slow groups of enemies. Her shields allow for dives after she uses her Q to poke targets down.
Sona's heals and ability to throw out movement speed buffs allow your team to pursue and catch enemy targets, especially landing a Power Chord with your E to slow a target. Crescendo’s lockdown in team fights can hold the enemy for your entire team to do damage or dive hard. Just be careful yourself as Sona as she is squishy if not built with any tank stats.
Nami's passive is a greater tool in brawl comps. Speeding up your brawlers while healing them or giving them a slow on their auto attacks allows your brawlers to stick to carries and while they are slowed and locked down you can land your bubbles or Tidal Wave to continue the push.
Pick Compositions: These are the more difficult of any composition as they require teamwork, vision, and no hesitation. Pick comps require CC and the ability of your team to follow up on any CC you land, as well as the ability to disengage or be mobile. The purpose of this comp is to catch out a target, kill them, and then force a fight that is disadvantageous for the enemy.
Karma has the ability to speed herself up, slow a target, and then snare them. This makes her good for pick compositions as she has the kit required to catch out a target. Her ability to AoE speedup her team allows for a fast conversion onto a target or a quick disengage.
Blitzcrank is the master of pick compositions. He has the ability to grab a target and pull them to himself, knock them up, and then slow them down. A smart Blitzcrank will always go for squishy targets to make killing them easier, as a target with tank stats or an initiation can easily be pulled in to initiate on your own team, helping the enemy instead.
Thresh's ability to land a hook, go to the target, bring a friend with him, flay the target back towards him, and then set up a box so they can't run or he can engage proves useful in pick compositions. It is not uncommon to see a Flash and then throw out a hook to pull off a pick, but this brings more risk as if it misses he will be down a summoner spell.
Nami can slow and stun a target, allowing her to catch out anyone who is unsuspecting. However there is a risk when playing Nami, as she is relatively squishy and if her team doesn't react fast enough she may die.
Morgana's bindings and ultimate allows her to catch out targets who are far away, close the gap and follow it up with a slow and a possible stun on a target. Her Black Shield makes sticking to a target easier as they cannot CC her and try to run away.
Taric's targeted stun gives him the ability to catch out champions and his ability to heal himself allows him to stick to them more. An Iceborn Gauntlet on Taric will provide slows needed to hold a target still for his team to catch up and pick them off.
Lulu's slow and polymorph allow her to hold a target downs down, or if a friendly catches a target her shield plus Q and ultimate's knock-up can hold a target in place long enough to prevent escape. Sometimes you can use her W to speed up a teammate to catch someone out, but using it to CC them is optimal as you can prevent escape.
Alistar's ability to combine his Q and W give him the chance to catch out targets easily, however his optimal combination is a Q and then a W to launch targets towards your team. If you have to, flash and then Q and W can catch targets, however this leaves him very vulnerable to being caught out himself. Alistar can knock targets through walls if done correctly, allowing you to pick off targets who think they're safe.