Current Affairs: Can support be engaging?


When I’ve queued for ranked games recently, I’ve often been one of the last two picks on my team. For me, that has meant being pigeon-holed into playing support, a role that I utterly loathe. What could be less interesting than standing around in lane and occasionally cast Clairvoyance and a heal? Not much. Not for me anyway. I know a lot of players share that sentiment, but there are players that enjoy support. One such player made a post defending the support playstyle (albeit, calling Riot out for not releasing more support champions), and I think RiotStatikk’s response was pretty interesting.

I’ll leave you to read through his post on your own, but his basic points are these. First, bottom lane lacks diversity. This one is sort of inarguable. The subset of champions that play in bottom lane is very small, and that needs to change. Second, supports do not make interesting item choices. As Statikk sees it, “Currently bottom lane Supports function purely off of how powerful the Gold per 10 passives are.” I actually take issue with this one, because we definitely can’t peg this all on the gold-per-10 items. There’s another serious problem that allows the gold-per-10 stack to work.

The reason support players stack the gold-per-10 items is two-fold. First, gold-per-10 gives them the cash to buy wards and elixirs, performing the role they were designed to play. Second, supports can perform their role without any items. This is the big one. The base values on support spells are simply too good. You may remember a while back that the scaling values on heals got dramatically reduced in favor of stronger base stats. I actually think Riot should have done the opposite: reduce the base stats, maybe even by a lot, but allow the spells to scale well with items. Why? Because it incentivizes support players to actually build items. In their current form, support players have no reason to buy items like Deathcap or Rod of Ages. The items don’t provide enough benefit for the cost and they starve the support of ward money.

What if support couldn’t be effective without a moderate farm? What if they needed a few items in order to really support their team? Would we still see ranged AD/support in bot lane? Probably not. Ranged AD characters are typically only successful when they have a big farm. If support takes some of that farm, the Ranged AD becomes much less effective. There are characters that can still function with a moderate farm: the Tanky DPS. That’s right, all those characters that typically hang out top and have cozy little farming competitions with one another can also perform fairly well without a monster farm. They do tend to get a big farm in top lane, but you’ll notice a lot of them also take a gold-per-10 item or two. The reasoning is pretty simple – they can generally farm and avoid dying without the help of powerful items.

I think aggressive support and Tanky DPS could make for some very interesting skirmishes in bottom lane. That combination could also open the door for double-stun combos, high-burst combos, and maybe even some push combinations. Driving ranged AD up to mid or top lanes also makes for more interesting matchups in those locations. Junglers have more susceptible gank targets and the lane matchups can be more varied. Ranged AD doesn’t typically play well against a bruiser, but there are all sorts of counters between the various assassins, ranged AD, and AP carries out there. Those matchups become a lot more interesting if we force the support champions to farm a bit and drive the Tanky DPS out of top lane.

I actually enjoy a number of the support champions in the game, I just really don’t like their playstyles. Sitting in bot lane and watching the enemy jungler run in circles is not interesting gameplay. Aggressive play with a focus on buying interesting items? That’s a playstyle I can totally support.


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