“Skarner,” I wanted to declare in all chat, “If you want to get to my Varus you’re going to have to get through me.” From this statement you might guess that I’m a support, who most people naturally assume would be protecting the attack damage carry (ADC). What might, unfortunately, surprise some of you is that I was not a support. In fact, I was playing a damage heavy Jax.
“What? 2hp you were on Jax? Doesn’t that mean you should have been diving head long into the other team. You were playing an ARAM. There were two juicy ADCs for you to kill. Why were you sitting back, defending your Varus?” Sadly, this is the reaction that you seem to get all too often. You have damage, you’re not playing a support, you should be going for the kill. That is the mindset of many people who play League of Legends.
Something that we all need to remember is that, until the meta shifts significantly, if you aren’t playing the AP or AD carry then you really aren’t the damage. Sure champs like Jax can get some kills and get big, but most champion’s damage will pail compared to the damage being done by the AP or AD carries. What this should mean to many more players than it currently does is that you need to have a way to protect (peel) for your carries.
Most players assume that this protection roll should fall to the supports. I won’t disagree with that. What I will counter with is that some supports are better at pealing than others. Furthermore, supports are not always best suited to be the ones using their abilities to protect the carries in every situation.
Think about support players who use Annie. When a fight starts Annie wants to be using her stun combo to lock down the other team. This is great, but it means that she has no spells to use to stop a counter attack if her team doesn’t fully wipe out the other team. In this situation, and in many others in the game, it is important to have someone else prepared to step up and keep the carries safe. Watch the Vi in the video below position herself to protect her Tristana. Vi isn’t the support, but she keeps Trist alive and sets up an incredible play as a result.
Take my ARAM for example. My team consisted of a Varus, who was doing pretty decent damage, a Wukong, a Gangplank, a Zed and my Jax. We have five damage oriented champs, three of whom have skills that allow them to dash to the opponent’s back line. At the start of the game the Wukong, Zed and I would all dive in together, lock up multiple people and get kills. As the game progressed the other team began to get tanky. We were no longer assured kills with our opening dives. In the meantime, the enemy team had started to send their Skarner in to kill or otherwise remove our Varus from the fight.
What’s the problem here? The damage being done by my Jax, our Zed and our Wukong was falling off. In order to survive the other team’s damage we had to build tank items ourselves or getting popped in fights. The only person on our team with the appropriate scaling (meaning his abilities really benefit strongly from it) to continue to build mostly damage was Varus. The problem was that our Varus was getting rushed while the rest of us were trying to get kills. The other team was killing Varus, and without him, my team did not have the sustained damage needed to kill the other team.
It was at this point that I recognized, correctly, that my Jax was the only champ on our team capable of protecting Varus. Jax is an amazing duelist to begin with, has an area of effect stun and I had rushed a Frozen Fist on him just for the extra slowing when I used my abilities. The other champs on our team had some crowd control abilities but they were much better suited for offensive work.
As the last big fight was about to begin I noticed our Wukong hanging back. He was in voice chat with the Varus and the Varus was clearly concerned that no one was protecting him. The Wukong knew this as well, and it appeared to have distracted him at the start of the previous team fight. I typed into chat that I would peal and that Wukong should continue to dive. His mind freed from any defensive obligations, our Wukong was able to focus on executing a brilliant engage.
Meanwhile, the Skarner was coming for our Varus. Picture the Skarner like a Defensive End who is used to running in unopposed to sack the QB. Well, now he was facing a lineman. Not necessarily the biggest lineman but one capable of fighting extremely dirty. That is exactly what my Jax did. By the time Skarner was able to get his ult off on Varus I had Skarner slowed and stunned, allowing him to move Varus only a matter of pixels. With Varus secured he and I were able to turn up field and lend our damage to finishing off the battle that was raging between our team and the other side.
Just because you have damage doesn’t always mean you should be looking to use it offensively. Sure, I could have used my Jax to kill one member of the other team. But then their team would have either killed me right back or killed my Varus. Instead, by pealing for Varus I was able to use my damage to kill an enemy champion while also saving the life of one of my own, extremely important, teammates. You don’t have to be great at math to see how this is a net gain.
Now if my team had something like a Thresh or a Leona would I have stayed back and pealed for my Varus? Probably not. I’m not saying that if you are playing a high damage champ you should always be the one to protect your carries. What I am saying is that you should always keep an eye out to make sure that someone is protecting them. If you watch any pro game of League of Legends I can promise you that someone is always protecting the carries. Often it’s the support, but not always. It can be any champion who has the damage or abilities needed to disrupt your opponents ability to damage your carries – preferably by killing your opponents.
Pealing for your carries, no matter what champion you are playing, will win you games. Never forget that those are the champions designed to provide your team’s damage, and keeping them alive will make your life so much easier. And trust me when I say that the carries will appreciate the protection too. A happy carry is one who is able to kill and stay alive. If they can do that you will find yourself winning a lot more games.