Four things I never want to see a support doing

Hi everyone. I’m a little sad no one filed a missing 2hp report but I am extremely thankful that so many of you continued to check out the blog and let me know that my posts were missed.

A new season is upon us, and even if you don’t main it, you just know you’re going to end up playing some support. So, as a support main with some years and a tiny bit of success under my belt, let me point out a few things that I never want to see a support, myself included, doing.

-Not Building a Sightstone. I don’t care if you’re playing Thresh, Velkoz or support Riven, if you want to win games on support you should have a Sightstone in your inventory. Trinkets simply aren’t enough and you really can’t rely on any other position to adequately ward for you. You will be amazed at how many fights you will win, even if your team is super far behind, simply because you have enough wards to get a pick or snipe that pesky ADC hiding in bush.

-Farming out a lane. League of Legends conditions you to want to kill those creeps. I mean, why else would they keep track of how many you’ve killed, right? But when you’re on support, I don’t ever, almost ever, basically never, want to see you farming a lane. Just because a lane is empty doesn’t mean you should be in it. In fact, if your ADC is gone that means it’s a perfect time to go drop your wards or go for a nice roam to the mid lane.

Rarely will you ever seen high level support players farming out a lane. Instead, you’ll see them ganking or expanding their team’s vision. You might think support is boring, but I promise you that the other team’s midlaner won’t agree when you hit them with a surprise gank. Just remember not to leave your ADC alone in lane if it means that they will be unable to farm. That is still your priority.

-Rushing that big AP item. Another mistake I see a lot of support players make is rushing a damage item like a Haunting Guise, Deathcap, Zhonyas, etc. This might be tempting, especially when you’re ahead on mage supports like Annie, Vel Koz etc, but don’t do it. Even with those big ticket items, you will never do as much damage as your true carries.

Instead, use that extra gold to rush support items that can keep your carries alive. Mikael’s Crucible, Righteous Glory, Runic Bullwark etc are all fairly costly items that will make a huge difference in your ability to protect your team, and the earlier you can get them the better. They’ll allow your team to keep winning fights which means you will eventually end up with the gold you need to buy that Haunting Guise anyways, oh, and win the game.

-Leaving your carry in a team fight. So many times I see supports pretending to be top laners as they chase after enemy carries. Some supports like Leona and Thresh make it especially tempting to go headlong into a fight. But once again, this simply is not the best course of action. Your primary function is to protect your team’s damage dealers so that THEY can do the damage.

You might think they’ll be fine on their own, but even fed carries can die one on one to champions that are better suited for dueling than they are. So try throwing your Leona ult on to the enemy team and then stay standing beside your ADC to deal with anyone who comes near them. I promise you that you will start to notice that you are winning more team fights and more games.

If you look back over my suggestions, you will notice that none of them really require much in the way of skill to execute. They are all things even the least skilled support player can do that will still make a big difference in how your games are going. Yes, they might not seem as fun as the alternatives, but they will get you wins. And, ultimately, that is what most of us are trying to do.

And as always, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t leave you something fun to watch. So check out this video of some solid peeling by a Janna. Nothing flashy, just keeping her Vayne alive so her team can win the game (because a fed Vayne is GG, noob).

Patch 4.5 and Supports

Hi everyone and welcome to 2Hp’s 4.5 Bot lane  update. Let’s talk about who you should be playing, what you should be building and what champs you should be watching.

The best three champs in bot lane are… Thresh, Leona, Morgana.

This list really hasn’t changed in a while, though if you haven’t followed Morgana’s rise than it might surprise you that some would consider her better than Annie. With the nerf to Annie’s stun duration, I just don’t believe that Annie has the same high level of strong CC and utility that my big three listed above have. In my opinion, Annie, along with Zyra, is now on a list of mid lanes who became supports but are now poised for a return to mid lane as soon as long range poke and assassin mids fall out of favor (so basically, when they nerf Nidalee).

Also, I received a comment on Nami play and I want to address this directly. I believe Nami is a perfectly fine support with a great kit. Like Thresh, she was one of the first champions designed specifically to fulfill a support role. You will not, and should not, see Nami played anywhere other than the bot lane.
The problem with Nami is the skill curve involved in playing her. Yes her abilities are great, but to use Nami effectively requires a great amount of practice and coordination. Basically, her bubble (Q) is one of the toughest skill shots in the game to land. Her problem is that other supports like Thresh, Leona and Morgana are just as effective as Nami is but require much less skill to use effectively. If you are willing to take the time to master Nami I could see you having a lot of success with her. The problem is that most people don’t have the patience to do this.

Of the big three, who should I play?

This is a fun question, and I think it really speaks to the current variety in bot lane. I think all of these champions have unique strengths and weaknesses depending on what your team comp is like, who your opponents are and how good you are with your champ.

Morgana is probably the safest choice of the three, considering she is pretty effective at countering out the other two. She is very easy to play passively and has a great kit for playing aggressively – once you figure her out aka learn to land bindings.

With that said, there are ways for good Thresh and Leona players to defeat you. If they reach level 2 before you, and you take your binding first (which almost everyone does), then they can catch you out quite easily. If you stand near your ADC than there is a risk that you will shield the wrong person. Leona especially can really punish you if you are slow on your shield or she goes on you or your ADC when you don’t have the shield on. So be careful, but consider Morg a decent counter pick to Thresh or Leona.

Leona, in the right hands, remains the best hard engage support in bot lane. Sure, they nerfed her tankiness a bit. That just means that you can’t afford to get poked as much or launch as many bad engages as before. If you’re smart and pick your engages well you can wreck the other two big three.

Morgana can be tough to play against as Leona, just make sure you pressure her and try to bait out her shield as much as you can. Thresh is a pure skill matchup. He can flay you out of your zenith blade (e), but if you actually get on to him, you will kill him almost every time. Once Leona hits level 6 her engage gets very tough to handle, even for Morgana. Just remember that sometimes it’s better to not follow your ult in and stay back to peal for your ADC, especially in team fights.

Thresh, If you have followed this blog for any length of time you know that this is my favorite champion in the game. The nerfs to his auto attack range have hurt his ability to poke out other supports, especially when they are paired with long range ADCs. What keeps him extremely relevant is the fact that his utility outside of laning phase remains unrivaled amongst supports. No one else in the big three can do what he does in team fights. He can engage, lock targets down, slow an entire team and use his lantern to save allies in a way that no other champion can do.

If you want to beat Leona in lane you need to practice flaying her out of her zenith blade. If you can do that then she is useless against you until she hits 6. Try and poke Morgana as much as possible or max your hook and just keep throwing it at her and her ADC until it works. The way to beat Morg is to pressure her, not sit back and wait for her to bind and kill you.

What should I be building?

Good question. I’m still waiting to see what the pros are doing after the patch changes. Basically, Riot has made it easier for supports to invest into certain items because the build path now contains cheaper items that build into the big item you want while still providing you with significant bonuses in the mean time. Ranged APs, Morgana and Annie, should continue to start with the Spellthief’s Edge because the gold generation is ridiculous. I will upgrade it to tier two but will only finish it if I feel like my team doesn’t need a Talisman to get everyone into fights.

I run Talisman on Thresh and other supports that I feel like can’t use the Spellthief or take advantage of a Doran’s shield. The new item, Forbidden Idol, is a great hold over between the Nomad’s Medallion and the final Talisman. I usually build it first or second after I get my sight stone, if I’m not building a chalice.

You can also start with a Ruby Crystal if you want to rush a Sight Stone. This makes you tanky but does make you vulnerable to poke (fewer pots) and or doesn’t allow you to buy wards. Doran shield is pretty much only good on Leona or possibly Thresh. Only her mana costs really allow it. Pretty much everyone else needs some bonus regen.

I definitely recommend working on one or both of the new mid tier support items and then turning them into whichever of their finished items you think you need. They offer you things like move speed, mana regen and CDR. All of these are valuable on supports. Are they more important than building a chalice and upgrading it to a Mikael’s Crucible? That depends on how much hard CC the other team has. If they are frequently locking down your ADC then I would consider rushing a Mikael’s. Mikael’s is also great if your support is mana hungry.

What should I know about the Rune changes?

The flat armor given by seals has been decently reduced. I would seriously recommend that you consider subbing them out in favor of flat health seals, or a combination of flat health and flat armor . If you’re feeling particularly bold, or like you can survive the early game without immediate armor, the improved armor per level seals make you a beast in the mid to late game. Sometimes I run them with armor quints (which haven’t been changed) to make sure that I still have enough armor to survive the early game.

CDR and mana regen quints and glyphs both received buffs. Both can be worth looking into, depending on your play style, but the armor changes are the big one. I will tell you right now that doing a full regen page will only solve so much of your mana problems. Eventually, you just need to learn to make your abilities count and to manage your mana so that you have some when you need it.

One Rune set up I have been having some fun with is running armor reds (value is now about the same as armor yellows), health yellows, armor quints and magic resist blues. Throw in a Doran’s Shield and you enter lane with over 40 armor and mr and 700 health. You are very hard to kill with this set up and can do a lot of trading with the enemy champs.

What support champs should I be considering playing?

I will give you three of what I consider to be the more obvious second tier supports, who might not be as tier two as we think. I am not including Annie in this list. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe she is a strong support. I just feel that enough has been said about Annie and I would like to introduce you to some supports who have received less coverage.

Karma: Karma has already been seeing a respectable amount of play. You would think it’s her strong poke potential that has made her popular but it has actually been her move speed enhancers. Her mantra enhanced shield actually provides her and all of the champs around  the cast target with a significant move speed bonus. Oh, and did I mention she does a ton of poke damage? Karma is great against Morg and can also be played with some success against Leona and Thresh as long as long as you give them the proper respect and are good enough, mechanically, with Karma to be able to handle an all in from Leona or Thresh.

Zyra: Zyra continues to have solid damage, great poke and some massive team fight AoE CC thanks to her ult and grasping roots. The biggest problem with Zyra is that she remains on the squishy side. It is very difficult for her to survive getting CC’ed by Leona or Thresh.

Sona: There was a time early in the last season where everyone was playing Sona. Yes, she received some slight nerfs at the start of the current season, but I’m not convinced it hurt her that much. What scared people away from Sona was the fact that she needs to be handled with extreme care. Her poke and sustain are amazing, but you have to work your butt off to keep her from getting killed by the likes of Leona or Thresh.
The simple truth with Sona was that it was just easier to play Annie or whichever of Leona and Thresh wasn’t picked. If more people start playing Karma and Morg it wouldn’t surprise me to see Sona make a return. Sona pokes just as hard as Karma and can out sustain both Morg and Karma in lane.

Blitzcrank: I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give some love to my favorite mechanical golem, and quite frankly, I believe the love is deserved. With the slight nerf to Leona’s W and the armor seals, Blitz is becoming one of the last “tanky” supports. At the very least I think it’s getting easier for him to survive against Leona.

If you love Blitz, try and encourage your ADC to play a high early damage champ with some mobility like Draven or even MF. Even Leona can’t afford to be pulled in against these ADCs as they will chunk her down quite quickly. Also, Blitz just has a psychological effect that no other support has. People play differently when there is a Blitz in lane and in the game in general. A good Blitz can turn this fear into a solid win.

In the end, you’ll never really know how the 4.5 changes affect you until you actually play some games. So get out there, play some bot lanes and let me know what you’re liking and what you’re not liking in 4.5.

Random support tip of the day:

Laning against a Blitzcrank can be pretty scary, especially if Leona, Morgana and Thresh have been banned. Instead of picking a squishy support and hoping for the best, get creative with your pick in lane – try running a Lee Sin, Jax, or Jarvan support. What you are looking for is a champion who is capable of immediately engaging or disengaging when Blitz lands a hook. Jarvan, Jax and Lee Sin are all capable of escaping after being pulled or can all rapidly move to fight if Blitz hooks their ADC. This can be a lot easier than picking a squishy caster support and trying, desperately, to avoid grabs.

Leona vs Thresh: Who should you play?

The current bot lane meta is focused heavily around two support champions, Thresh and Leona. Let’s take a quick look at the strengths and weaknesses of each and figure out which of these high powered supports you should look to play.

I think we can figure out a lot about why you should play one of these two champions by doing a quick investigation of the current meta. Season 4 arrives. The new defense tree of masteries is quickly accepted as the strongest tree.

Top laners, junglers and even mids emerge who are running 4-26-0 or 0-30-0 masteries, placing a ton of emphasis on simply being as tanky as possible. Champions like Mundo and Shyvana rise to the top due to their ability to be as tanky as possible while still doing reasonable damage.

This new top lane meta means two things for supports. They need to provide the CC/utility that their uber tanks are lacking and they need to be able to live long enough to use it. Squishy supports like Zyra or even Annie have an incredible amount of CC but they rarely survive long enough to maximize it.

So why Leona? Leona is the last of the old school tank supports. By this I mean the breed of supports like Alistar, Taric, Blitzcrank etc who were naturally very tanky and capable of surviving a lot of damage without having defensive items. Over the seasons most of these champions received nerfs to their innate tankiness. When Taric finally began to be nerfed early last season only one naturally tanky support remained – Leona.

There are two stats that set Leona apart from other supports. She has the highest base armor of all supports, and she has the highest base health regen of any champion in the game. In a bot lane where you are constantly being harassed by everything from minions to the other team’s turret, having armor to resist these attacks is very important. Just as important is the ability to gain back the health you are missing so that you can quickly reengage and press any advantages you may have gained in prior fights.

Of course the above assessment doesn’t even take into account Leona’s W, which gives her even more defensive stats plus a nice burst of AoE damage. Free tank stats + damage? Yes please. And that doesn’t even cover Leona’s fun abilities. Leona has a stun, a root and an AoE stun/slow. All easy to land, all with decent range, all great at starting or stopping fights. You can play even with Leona until she hits level 6, but once she does hit 6, all best are off when you are looking to fight her. Leona is by far the best hard engage support in the game, and if you like to fight you would do well to play her.

So why play Thresh? Thresh is the last of another unique brand of supports. So unique, in fact, that only two of them exist – the hooks. The hooks all started out the same, reasonably tanky with the ability to use their hooks to absolutely change the nature of any engagement in the game. The reason that Thresh has emerged as the dominant hook master is the same reason why you should consider playing him over Leona – his utility.

Thresh’s hook is no longer even considered his most valuable, and exciting, skill. His lantern and it’s ability to take friends out of or into danger is something that no one else in the game has anything like. It is easily the longest ranged escape in the game, and it is also one of the hardest escapes to interrupt (though not impossible). The great thing about this kind of utility is that Thresh doesn’t even have to be winning to use it. You can die 10 times in lane and still wander mid, press w, and save your mid laners life as easily as if you were 10 kills up. There is a definite value in possessing this kind of life saving power.

Oh, and did I mention Thresh still has that hook and two AoE slows? You can’t Flash hook like you used to but you can still Flash Flay (E) a whole team. Thresh’s defensive utility is the best in the game and his offensive utility is no slouch either.

So which champ should you play? Leona is tankier and has better engage, but Thresh has a lot more utility and can be useful in any situation whereas Leona is mostly designed to fight and not retreat.

Here is a video showing a little bit of what the head to head matchup looks like. And yes, Madlife is involved, so please recognize that these are very good players at work.

In a head to head matchup between these champs, Thresh hooks can ruin your day but Leona is one of the few champions who actually has the skill set needed to counter engage off a Thresh hook. If Thresh hooks your ADC all you need to do is dash to his ADC. Leona’s ability to lock down Thresh’s ADC is much more consistent, namely she doesn’t have to worry about landing a hook. Her superior damage and tankiness also means she can apply a lot more pressure to said ADC than Thresh does.

But, and this does rely on some good timing from Thresh, Thresh’s Flay can actually be used to cancel Leona’s dash. This is great early, but eventually Leona will just start using her ult to engage and then there isn’t much Thresh can do to stop her directly. At the same time, if Thresh drops his shield and ult it becomes very hard for Leona and her partner to actually finish off Thresh and his ADC. Ultimately, there is some skill involved in this matchup. I would contend that a good Leona can win the lane matchup, but a good Thresh can be more useful around the rest of the map, helping to nullify the Leona.

What I think this choice comes down to is play style and game understanding. Leona’s abilities are much easier to learn, but learning when to actually use them to start fights is much more important for her and will involve a lot better understanding of the game. Thresh’s abilities take much longer to master, but he doesn’t need to worry as much about when he uses his abilities. Finally, Leona is primarily a champion who is looking to fight. If you are playing Leona and aren’t looking for a way to kill your opponents you’re probably not getting your monies worth.

Thresh, on the other hand, can be played a bit more passively, a bit more in every situation. Of course there is still an expectation by most people that all Threshs should be able to land every hook. I know this isn’t reasonable or even possible, but it is a fact of solo queue that you need to take into account.

Personally, I am a Thresh man all the way – which most of you knew from the beginning. I just love what his hook and lantern can do. More than that, I like the flexibility of not having to always be looking for a fight, and then when I do find one, the hook makes it very easy to let your team mate know you’re looking to fight. Sometimes Leona can enter fights so fast it’s hard for her ADC to keep up if they’re not chatting in real life.

Even though Thresh may be my personal favorite, I will not hesitate to pick Leona when I know I will be fighting a Thresh. She is just so good at counter engaging against him. She is great at taking his offensive utility out of the game and forcing him into a more defensive role than he might otherwise play.

If you’re looking to pick up one of these frequently played supports, I hope this helps make your decision on which one to pick up a bit easier. And if neither of them fits your play style…there’s always still Annie. Or if you want to just cancel both Thresh and Leona out please, please throw down the support Morgana. That spell shield can be just too good.