A Comprehensive Support Guide with Dignitas Biofrost

We sit down with Biofrost to unpack his knowledge of the entire Support Role. From Warding, Laning, and Teamfighting, we cover it all right here.

League of Legends

Once an overlooked role due to its lack of flash and style, Supports have risen up in community perspective over the years as one of the most powerful and impactful roles that one can play within Solo-Queue. And while it’s still often considered the easiest role to take up out of any position in League, there’s a deep level of nuance and skill that one needs to express from game-to-game so you can walk away with the win.

To guide me along the path of understanding the Support Role in and out, DIG’s very LCS Support, Vincent Biofrost Wang, sat down with me to cover the ins and outs of the role. We’ll be covering how one establishes a Champion Pool and discussing the classes of Support Champions therein, talking about how to best perfect your Early Lane Phase, and what you need to do to establish control over the Mid to Late Game.

The Objective of the Support Role

First and foremost, let’s unpack generally what the responsibilities of Support are:

  • They are the primary controllers of vision for the team. Both in establishing allied vision and clearing enemy vision.
  • Supports, depending on the class/champion, typically swing towards the following gameplay aspects: Engaging, Disengaging/Zoning, Sustaining, and Poking. And depending on your Champion, you may be required to fulfill as a primary source for any of these mentioned angles.
  • Supports are also a large portion of League’s Map Pressure package. Combing within Mid and Jungle as the most likely role to move around the map.
  • Supports are also the primary dealers in in-game information such as timing cooldowns of major spells and abilities and calling for and setting up successful objectives or sieges.

So, our primary concerns are Vision, Map Pressure, Role-Playing, and Information, meaning, we’re adapting our gameplay towards what is needed, fulling the role of an Engage Piece, Disengage Piece, Healer, or Shielder as defined by our Champion or what is needed in-game. We’ll unpack all of these as we move forward to talk about classes, but have these duties in mind as we go forward.

Support Classes, Champions, and Adaptation

Getting into the classes, there are typically a couple gameplay options that you can go as Support. There are Enchanters, which I define as the easiest type of Support to play since you don’t necessarily have to win your lane to be effective. These Champions, like Lulu and Yuumi, can scale really well and provide a ton of healing, shielding, and disruption in the late-game.

- Biofrost

While the terms of Enchanter, Mage, Tank, and Catcher define the overall paradigms of Support play, you can break them down even further into Subclasses. This helps us further define the Champions themselves and get an idea as to how their gameplay loops are intended to play out.

For example, Enchanters can be separated into Healing and Shielding Supports, think Soraka (Healing) vs. Janna (Shielding), with each paradigm providing unique advantages over the others in certain situations. Healing Supports often work great against compositions that feature heavy amounts of poke or when the enemy comp is more about short burst. They succeed due to their ability to mitigate the damage applied by simply regen-ing everything back up with a press of a key.

Next are Melee Supports, which are typically Tanks or Catchers (Hook Champions). Melee Supports are far better at making high-impact plays that lead into early leads thanks to their abundance of crowd-control abilities. And, in almost every case, these Champions serve as the primary or secondary engage tools for their teams to start duels, skirmishes, or fights. I would say these Champions, by far, are more difficult to play since you need to understand when to go in, if it’s going to be a good fight, and there are generally more things to consider. Finally, there are Mage Supports like Zyra and Lux. These Champions are defined by their poke and damage, with their gameplay often coming down to punishing positioning mistakes with damage over acting as a primary source of peel/sustain, or as a point of engage.

- Biofrost

Tanks can be separated into Engage and Disengage focused characters, like Leona (Engage) vs. Braum (Disengage). Catchers come in Hook and Mage flavors typically with Champions like Blitzcrank repping the hook-champs, while Champions like Morgana display the Mages. Beyond their Catcher subclass, Mages also break down into their subclasses from their designed role of Mid, Battlemage, Artillery Mage, and Burst Mage. Champions like Swain, Vel’koz, and Lux represent each of these subclasses, respectively.

But just because a Champion has a Class-Subclass design philosophy doesn’t mean there isn’t any flexibility in terms of play pattern. We mentioned above that Role-Playing is perhaps one of the biggest requirements for Support, and by Role-Playing we mean adapting to what the game needs and presents to you. For example, if you’re piloting Leona, intending to be the team’s primary source of engage, and your team drafts Malphite and Rammus right after, then you should be considering how you need to adapt your mindset for the game. Yes, Leona’s design intent is to be an engage focused Support, but there are no hard and fast requirements to that.

So, with Champions like we mentioned before filling your team, you might consider adjusting your style to fit towards that of a peel-focused mindset. The same can be done if you’re the more peel-focused Support in Braum. Though his engage tools are less reliable than Leona’s, he still has the capacity to do so if needed, he just needs to be more considerate and deliberate in his setup.

Melee vs. Ranged Discussion

While understanding the design spaces of Champions is important and can help you get an idea about how a Champion is supposed to work and play, I think it’s more important to consider things from an attack range perspective, so Ranged vs. Melee, Melee vs. Melee, Ranged vs. Ranged.

For example, talking about Enchanters, say you’re locked in to another Enchanter matchup. You both have similar goals in mind in that you want to scale up and get out of the lane phase. What the ranged vs. ranged-enchanter vs. enchanter matchup should do for you is put more of an emphasis on you to win your lane. Because some Enchanters outscale other Enchanters. Yuumi outscales Lulu, for instance.. Sona outscales Lulu… So, Lulu needs to win lane to be effective, otherwise she’s losing. Let’s say you’re an Enchanter vs. Melee, then the Melee Support is on a timer to make things happen because they will inevitably get outscaled. However, the Melee Support has the advantage in the early-game because they have a lot more play making ability, they’re better roamers, and in all-ins, they’re just generally better. A lot of times though, in Solo-Queue, what happens is the Ranged Support pokes out the Melee Support because they’re just bad, but ideally that’s not supposed to happen.

- Biofrost

So, depending on your ELO, you can probably get away with playing Enchanter vs. Melee and still win lane, just because the enemy is bad and they keep getting poked out by you. But, as you climb in ELO, the Melee Support and the ADC are better at just giving up CS so that they have more pressure in opportune all-in situations.

Looking at the Melee vs. Melee matchup, you’re both playmakers. You’re both looking for opportunities to punish last hits, cooldowns, and numbers advantages. The scaling in these situations is usually equal, minus a few more nuanced matchups. So, again, understanding when to go in, understanding your lane’s power relative to your opponent’s current power (items, health, mana, cooldowns, etc.), and being aware of numbers advantages in terms of both Champion presences (are the Junglers near) and Minions, is important in factoring how Melee vs. Melee matchups (and in some cases Melee vs. Ranged) play out.

Establishing a Champion Pool - Methods and Mindset

There are tons of resources out there that help you when it comes to establishing a Champion Pool to climb and improve with. But, there are typically three schools of thought that most players gravitate towards:

  • One-Tricking - Playing a Single Champion regardless of situation, matchup, and team needs.
  • Meta Picking/Counter-picking - Playing what is considered top-tier in the Solo-Queue Meta regardless of familiarity, rounding out what is needed for your team composition, or picking a counter-pick for the sake of countering the opponents picks regardless of familiarity.
  • Picking To Comp - Rounding out your team with whatever is missing be that Engage, Disengage, Healing, Shielding, etc.
  • The 3-to-5 Pool - A method that promotes familiarity over perceived Champion strength, however, unlike one-tricking, you are maintaining an enclosed pool of 3 to 5 Champions that overlap or cover an area of gameplay that you need. For example, having a main Enchanter, Tank, and Mage would cover the three major paradigms of Support play. Or you adapt 3 to 5 to mean overlapping styles of play, so maining Sona, Janna, and Soraka as an Enchanter Main, for example.

The general consensus of top-tier Solo-Queue climbers is that One-Tricking almost always shows the most immediate results in terms of Rank and LP gains. However, many players find this strategy boring and tedious to pull off. Additionally, if the Champion they want to play isn’t currently strong in the Meta, then they find the uphill battle to climb with them more difficult than it is worth it, so they adopt one of the other strategies to climb with. But, have no doubt, should you devote yourself completely to one Champion, you’ll learn the ins and outs of every matchup and know how to play them in every condition that League presents you to, always giving you the advantage over your opponents.

I always encourage people to find Champions that they enjoy playing, because realistically, if you’re picking for comp, you need to have a big champion pool. You need to understand what the combos are in Bot Lane, when to pick certain Champions over others, and that means you typically need to know 7+ Champions at a relatively high level. And generally speaking, the average player isn’t going to have 7+ Champions mastered to the point where they are consistent unless you’re playing many-many-many games a day, or if you’ve been playing League for an extended time.

- Biofrost

Regarding Meta play, there’s always a discussion to be had about it. And it can often overlap and bend the 3-to-5 climbing condition. So, for example, the season meta starts off with your top three Champions in the S or A-tiers across various tier lists. These are typically the tiers people want to pull their Champion pools from and are often regarded as the defining tiers of strength, usually floating around 51-53% win-rates. Starting your initial climb with focus on these Champions is a naturally great idea since they bring something to the table that’s clearly defining play at the moment, and you’ve already taken the time to learn them.

But then, the adjustment patch drops and one of your picks gets nerfed or one of their biggest counters gets buffed up. What’s the call? Do you drop them in favor of the next pick up? Do you learn an entirely new Meta-focused Champion? Do you persist in playing them because they’re a comfort option? These are questions that you have to ask yourself at the moment, and our general encouragement is to still play what you enjoy, but I’d temper that with regards to tiering.

Say you’re a Karma Main and she starts off in the S-tier of the season, but adjustments bring her down to the B-tier. At this point, I’d completely bench the pick in favor of the next Champion up since whatever adjustment Riot made dropped her two whole tiers. Maybe watch her results post-nerf out of the corner of your eye just to see if the adjustments made really address what was strong about her, but I’d begin to pick up a secondary option in Normals if you’re needing to learn an entirely new Champion or look down the Support pool and dust off your next highest rated Champion.

Meta Picking often overlaps with Comp Picking since a lot of the times the Meta defines itself around the strongest picks of Solo-Queue, almost giving you a template for how the composition folds out. But there are occasions where Meta Picking can create disadvantageous compositions if non-traditional picks are strong in an off-role. Often in Solo-Queue, this usually means the Tank gets left out of the equation since players enjoy their Bruisers, Assassins, and Enchanters across all the roles… And Riot hasn’t figured out a way to release a Tank ADC yet. So, it’s not uncommon to see comps like Yone Top, Evelynn Jungle, Zed Mid, Zeri ADC, Janna Support, which feature no super solid forms of engage or beef in terms of frontline.

Supports, luckily, often have the benefit of being able to alleviate the compositional woes of Solo-Queue since their primary classes cover a lot of needs for a team comp. But, depending on your chosen pool method, the Champions you like to play, or what’s prominent in the Meta at the time, you might have to drop or learn new Champions if you’re looking to be a player that can fit into any team comp.

So, for me, the higher ELO you get to, the more I think it’s important that you pick for your team composition. Unless you’re -really- good at the Champion and are a successful one-trick, it’s not really worth it to screw over the entire comp. But, in lower ELOs, composition definitely matters less since the games are far more chaotic. Truly, I would say it only starts to matter towards Masters, but again, One-tricking or playing things you’re unfamiliar with isn’t going to be optimal. I generally like the 3-to-5 rule because you can, for example, pick Leona for your engage-tank piece, and Lulu for your Enchanter, then you have Thresh in for fun or blind pick situations. And then you can kind of slot those Champions in and out depending on what’s presented to you in draft. It helps you pick to comp while still picking what you’re most likely comfortable with.

- Biofrost

Warding Up the Rift

So, we’ve got our Champ Pool figured out, but before we load into the Rift, we want to know our ward spots. A fine thing to want to grasp since warding is vision control is one of those primary responsibilities that we mentioned before. Luckily, we don’t have to spend a ton of time on that here, because we’ve already covered warding with Biofrost in a previous piece!

Here’s our Pro Level Warding Guide with Dignitas Biofrost. Be sure you read up on that for all your ward concerns, we cover everything there from lane-phase to the Mid-to-Late Game objective takes!

The Checklist - An Evolving Game Plan for Early, Mid, and Late Game

One of the more underutilized ways to improve your League gameplay is to create a Checklist of what you need to cover in each and every game. For example, say you’re playing Bard, and you’re trying to improve your Roam Timers. Well, creating a checklist that literally says, “Roam to Mid off Backs and Deaths” can help you improve your overall map presence and ingrain into you habits that improve your gameplay.

On the flipside of this though, the checklist isn’t something that’s concrete. It’s something that’s continuously evolving. Sure, you’ve set the goal to “Roam of Deaths/Backs” on your checklist and you’ve done well by that for a week or two in a row, but it’s not something that’s the end all be all just because you’re playing Bard or another roamer. The Checklist, ideally, evolves with you as you improve and becomes an adaptive strategy from game to game.

So, for example, say I’m playing an Enchanter early game, I’m thinking, “Do I need to win lane?” I’m looking at my matchup and I’m marking that off my checklist at that point and adapting my steps forward from there. So, as an Enchanter, if I’m playing against a Melee Support, I define my goal as, “I can just chill and match.” Matching meaning, if their Support roams Mid, I roam Mid to cover. And I’m kind of just around to make sure everyone doesn’t feed. I’m not around to make anything spicy happen. Let’s say that I’m looking at a Ranged vs. Ranged matchup, “Do I have to win lane?” If yes, then I’m thinking about what I can make happen to make sure I win the matchup. Am I calling for Jungle support, am I playing super aggressive and trading heavily, etc. Because, again, some Enchanters scale better than other Enchanters, and that factors into tempo.

- Biofrost

Late-Game Checklists fold out quite similarly to Mid Game Checklists, but since this phase is near entirely dictated around Picks and Teamfights, you’re being uber-cautious of your movements around the map in relation to where you see your opponents and what tools they have, and you’re defining out the biggest threats on the enemy team and your role in the fights.

Say you’re playing an Enchanter, if your opponent’s Support is a Blitzcrank and you’re Lulu, your movements alone can be high risk due to a hook coming out of nowhere and securing your death. This snowballs into a numbers advantage for the enemy that can lead to Dragons, Turrets, Barons, and more. But additionally, you’re evaluating your and adapting your play towards an opponent to play against in this phase. Maybe the engage threat is Blitz on the enemy team, so you’re positioning to avoid him, but the damage threat is Talon, so you’re saving your big Heals, CC, and Shields to disrupt his flank or follow up onto your primary carry who you’re also playing towards enabling.

Considerations like these form up your checklist, and great players have an ever-adapting checklist that keeps them aware of the tempo and conditions of the game at all times.

What’s the Most Important Thing to Master?

The most important thing you can dedicate yourself to learning is laning. And how to get good at laning is by limiting your Champion Pool down to that 3-to-5 we mentioned, don’t play too many things, and learn the matchups for those. And trust me, if you think you know a matchup, you don’t. Matchups constantly evolve, there’s always something small you can tune your knowledge around, so you can keep getting better. A lot of the time people are like, “I know this matchup so well,” but genuinely they don’t. Even at a Pro Level, people can know a matchup better than another person. So yeah, laning is the most important thing. It makes every other part of the game easier.

- Biofrost

Well, what’s one of the most surefire ways to improve laning? We gain control of Bot Lane’s most important position, the Brush. Brush Control is huge for all Supports since from the lane brushes you truly dictate the tempo and positioning of the lane overall. And by maintaining your body/position in the brush and keeping it clear of allied wards, you’re always threatening damage or a play whenever your opponents make a move.

In a Ranged vs. Ranged matchup, this is a primary consideration to have on your checklist since that’s the trench where you’re going to grind out your major advantages in the form of poke. You having control over a brush establishes tempo allowing you to get your poke without punishment, which leads to your higher income, which leads to your quicker power spikes, which enables your ability to scale and fight in more conditions of the game.

Closing Out

Thanks to Biofrost for again sitting with me and unpacking the Support role. If you’d like to follow Biofrost across social media, you can find him at the following links! Thank you all for reading, and good luck on your end of season push!


Biofrost Dignitas
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