I am mcjagger on NA, I’ve been playing the game since s1 and started maining support in season 3. I reached Diamond 3 in s3, took a break during s4 to focus on school, and just hit Diamond again this season. I have played the game at nearly every level through my solo queue experience and playing Ranked 5s.
If you love the support role and want to carry while playing it, then this guide is for you.
The first thing I’d like to say is that if you have decent mechanics and game knowledge, then you will carry yourself out of lower ELO (Bronze – Silver) faster by playing any other role. The potential to carry from support relies on enabling your team to make plays. In low ELO, it’s unwise and often frustrating to rely on your teammates to carry and close out games. So it’s my official suggestion you play a different role if you’re playing anywhere from Bronze 5 – Silver 3. For that, the same old advice applies: You should have 1 or 2 champs in every role that you can play at a decent level. You should have 2-3 champs total that you really like to play and should play them as often as possible. Avoid playing champs where their power comes from utility they bring to a team (Orianna or Lulu for example). There’s countless other tips for how to carry you can find elsewhere so I won’t go on about that.
How to carry as support
The answer is really the same no matter what ELO you’re in: you are there to enable your team to make plays. This is commonly done through Vision Control but there are other ways to accomplish it based on who you are playing and how your team is playing.
Let’s walk through some decision making:
You are playing an engage/all-in support (Leona, Thresh, Blitzcrank, Alistar, Nautilus, etc)
First way to win is to try to snowball your lane. Look for a chance to hit level 2 before your lane opponents and go all-in. This opportunity presents itself VERY often in lower ELOs. (It takes 6 melee and 3 ranged minions to hit level 2 in bot lane). Communicate with your lane partner that you are going to look for this opportunity. However, don’t force it. If you are Alistar and you flash Q under the enemy tower, you probably just gave first blood. Be smart and perceptive.
As the lane progresses, you want to feel out the other 3 laners, how well is your AD csing/trading/avoiding harass? How aggressive are your opponents? You can usually tell at this point who the dominant ones in the lane are. If you are a heavy engage support and your ADC never looks for chances to harass, they will most likely not be useful if you engage. Many supports in lower ELO think that just because they landed that engage ability, it means they won but if your ADC takes 1.5s to respond, then it really didn’t do anything but put you in a bad position.
At this point you want to look for chances to start favorable trades, you want to try to keep harass off your ADC (remember you have 3-4 health pots and he only has 1 so you taking harass is definitely preferable), and you want to communicate summoner spells and wards to your jungler. If your jungler comes to gank, YOU have to engage before he shows. Learning how not to telegraph this is a skill that comes with experience. Oftentimes it can be as easy as letting the enemy support land an all-in CC on you. Baiting a thresh into engaging when you have a jungler coming into gank is often a way to get a double kill.
Let’s say your ADC is hopeless or you’re simply not syncing with them well, your job now is to dominate the vision game and look for chances to roam. If you just backed and you know the enemy top-laner has no summoner spells, just go roam up there and get your top a kill. Supports have some of the strongest CC in the game, they function very well as secondary gankers. Many lower ELO supports fall into the trap of thinking they are there to babysit their ADC the entire game. !!!You are the support for your team, NOT just your ADC!!!
In the late-game, if you are the only source of engage, then you are the frontline. This is not desirable since you won’t ever have the gold to be tanky enough to frontline alone however you need to look for chances to pull the trigger when you have a lead. Flash ulting as leona or flash Qing as Alistar can be a risky play but if you are the only one who can start a fight, then you need to look for those chances to do so.
If there is another better suited frontliner, then your job is to either assist in soaking up damage, CCing enemy carries, or peeling for your carries. Your role in teamfights is usually decided in the moment based on the positioning of everyone involved. Assuming you have a carry that is doing very well, do your best to peel for them. It’s very easy to tunnel vision into some bad decisions during a teamfight.
Remember throughout the game that you’re biggest job and greatest impact on winning comes from dominating the vision game. Sightstone is mandatory, even if you’re super fed. Upgrade to red trinket as soon as you buy sightstone. You may have 1000 gold but suck it up and buy the pink ward instead of the giant’s belt. Politely remind your team that 250g to upgrade their trinket is a small cost to pay for the largest impact on your chances of winning.
You are playing a lane bully AP support (Lulu, Zyra, Nami, Sona, Brand, Annie, Morgana, etc)
I personally hate playing these types of supports right now because of the double TP-meta. These supports are there to win the lane and snowball as secondary mages and strong mid to late game engagers. If you don’t win your lane playing these guys, then you have made yourself nearly useless. They are all also very squishy and typically easy to gank. Hence why this double TP meta is so hard for them.
If you are confident that you are better than the people you are playing with, then you can definitely carry playing a support in this category but if you’re that good playing a mage, you should just be playing mid, to be honest.
While laning, you need to be consistently hitting your harass and winning favorable trades against the enemy ADC. If you are wasting your mana harassing the enemy support or missing your abilities then you are not doing anything useful. The enemy ADC needs to feel pressured throughout the lane. The biggest risk here is that you often end up pushing when playing an aggressive lane like this and make yourself very open to getting ganked. I’ve lost lanes like this many times even when we’ve had the enemy ADC at 20% hp while we’re both full. Early ganks can be devastating.
Don’t be afraid to take kills. Remember that if you do well, you essentially function as a secondary AP carry. I’ve hard carried games playing Brand and Lulu support many times because once they get slightly ahead, their harass becomes oppressive to the other lane. You can force an ADC to back with 2-3 well placed harass abilities and stubborn ADCs will often give up kills by staying in lane.
Again, your role in teamfights really depends on your teamcomp and how your team is doing. If your ADC is doing okay or better, then do your best to peel for them while throwing out some damage. If your ADC is hopeless, then just focus on your role as a secondary mage and try to blow up the carries on the enemy team.
Remember throughout the game that you’re biggest job and greatest impact on winning comes from dominating the vision game. Sightstone is mandatory, even if you’re super fed. Upgrade to red trinket as soon as you buy sightstone. You may have 850 gold but suck it up and buy the pink ward instead of the fiendish codex. Politely remind your team that 250g to upgrade their trinket is a small cost to pay for the largest impact on your chances of winning.
You are playing a Utility/Peel Support (Janna, Soraka, Lulu, Thresh, etc)
Editing in this section just to clear up some confusion and because I think its a distinct archetype of supports.
These guys provide a lot of safety and sustain for their lane partner in the early game, they are usually meant to avoid being in the fray themselves but empowering their allies who are.
They fit very well into “protect the carry” compositions and tend to scale side by side with their teammates. So a hypercarry like Vayne tends to make a pick like Lulu more valuable.
Playing a support in this category is often good for giving your teammates more room to make mistakes and not be punished as harshly. The quintessential example is thresh lantern being a get out of jail free card.
Raka ult has global presence for her team and can easily turn around a fight anywhere on the map.
To carry playing a Utility/Peel support, you want to once again have great vision control, good map awareness, and you want to be in the best possible position as often as possible to use your abilities wisely. If you’re playing Soraka but are always getting engaged upon, then you are most likely not positioning well. If you are playing Janna and you fail to knockup enemies with a Q, then your usefulness as a peeler is diminished and mistakes like that can end up costing you the lane or the game.
Do not make the classic mistake of thinking that your job is to shield/heal and that is it. You still need to apply pressure in the lane. Even lowly Janna’s auto attacks can hurt with her AD boosting shield. She probably has the easiest and safest method of trading with the enemy ADC because she can usually afford to auto the AD twice before backing out. Obviously its preferably to shield your ADC before they harass or trade but if they are getting punished too much in lane to risk it, then you can take pressure off of them by harassing yourself.
Remember throughout the game that you’re biggest job and greatest impact on winning comes from dominating the vision game. Sightstone is mandatory, even if you’re super fed. Upgrade to red trinket as soon as you buy sightstone. You may have 600 gold but suck it up and buy the pink ward instead of the forbidden idol. Politely remind your team that 250g to upgrade their trinket is a small cost to pay for the largest impact on your chances of winning.
Summoner Spells & Items
Flash is mandatory as a summoner spell. Exhaust and Ignite are really your only other two choices.
I always take Exhaust against hypercarries like Vayne/Trist/Jinx or assassins like Zed/Fizz. Exhaust is my preferred secondary summoner spell in most cases.
Ignite is mandatory against Soraka and a great summoner spell if you’re playing an all-in support like Leona. It’s not as useful when you’re playing longer range AP supports because the ignite range is usually unsafe in many cases for these supports.
Before getting into items, quick note that Ruby Sightstone is a negligible buy. If you’re full build and have 1200g, then go ahead and buy it but in other more realistic situations you are better off just getting an elixir.
Tanky Support Items
Start relic shield 3 health pots, 1 mana pot. If you’re up against a poke lane, upgrading to Targon’s Brace before getting sightstone will immensely help your ADC sustain in lane. Otherwise, get sightstone first then targon’s.
Follow up with boots and then finish Face of the Mountain into Mobis.
After that, get Aegis.
If you’re against any hard CC engage champs like Ashe or Annie, rush a Mikael’s before finishing Locket.
Any item after this is situational.
Armor Items to consider are Frozen Heart if you need to peel more, Randuin’s Omen if you’re going to be taking a lot of damage, Dead Man’s Plate if you’re really far ahead, and Zeke’s Harbinger if your ADC is doing well and you don’t need to frontline in teamfights.
Magic Resist Items to consider are pretty limited. Banshee’s Veil and Mikael’s Crucible are the only ones I recommend and they are both strong choices for final items. If the enemy team is pretty much all magic damage, you could buy Mercury’s Treads in place of Mobi boots.
AP support Items
Aggressive AP supports will always want to start Spellthief’s +2/2 health/mana pots. More peel oriented supports like Janna or Soraka will want to start Coin + 1/3 health/mana pots but this really depends on your style of play.
Get sightstone first item, then make a judgement call to either get boots or upgrade your gold item.
Tier 2 boots varies on champs. Typically you’ll either want mobis or cooldown boots. In some cases, sorc shoes are a great pick (fed Annie or Brand). I’m a fan of swiftness boots to be honest but they suit my personal style of play pretty well. Supports like Annie or Morg that rely on Flash engages should get the distortion upgrade on their boots pretty quickly.
After this get a Zeke’s. It’s amazing on this category of supports.
You’ll almost always want to sell your spellthief’s/frostfang and get Talisman when you can afford it. It’s a much more reliable item. The exception could be if you’re doing very well as a secondary mage support.
If you’re a fed AP support start building damage. Supports like Brand or Zyra do very well with a Liandry’s, Zhonya’s, Rabadon’s, Void Staff.
If you’re behind as an AP support build traditional support items: aegis into either locket or banner, twin shadows, mikael’s.
You can build Mejai’s on champions that are really not intended to be in the fray. The only supports I build mejai’s on are Janna, Soraka, and Lulu. Even then, I only build the item if I’m doing very well and I’m pretty sure I won’t die.
No matter which support you are playing, CDR, health, and aura items are always safe choices with good value.
Roaming is one of the best skills to learn in order to carry games as Support.
EDIT: For a comprehensive guide on roaming, check out This guide
You’ll most often want to roam when you’re ADC is doing well in lane and the lane is pushed towards your tower, smart opponents will do their best to engage when they see you leave. If you’re bot blue side, make sure tri is clear if you’re going to roam up to mid through it. Having sweeper when roaming is pretty important so you can cancel ward vision at the mid river bush. Tell your mid laner you are coming, ask about summs/wards. Don’t roam towards mid if you have no clue where the enemy jungler is. If you get caught you’ll be dead.
If your ADC is absolutely helpless, you can feel free to spend a lot of time roaming. You will almost certainly fall behind in levels but it’s better to put that pressure on other lanes than just sit in a losing lane. Your ADC can still be useful late, but focus on getting your other teammates snowballing so you don’t just lose.
In a more typical game, you’ll have probably 2 or 3 opportunities tops to roam before your team should begin grouping. If you’re roaming any more often, you’ll most likely fall behind.
While mid will be your most likely roaming target, don’t be afraid to walk up to top after you back and try to secure a kill for them. Just ask your teammates to communicate about summoner spells and wards beforehand and definitely do not do this if Dragon is contestable.
Another opportunity is to roam into the enemy jungle with your jungler. Having good vision control is extremely important when it comes to roaming, no matter your target.
The guide shows many of the best and most common places for warding and explains many of the situations where they’re useful. If you aren’t sure where to ward, definitely do yourself a favor and watch this guide. I started playing support in s2 when you could buy a billion wards and just place them everywhere but things have changed. You need to make good decisions on your wards and this video has some really neat tips you may not have know existed.
Many supports have trouble knowing when and where to ward in the late-game. The answer is to ward around your next contested objective. If Baron is coming up in the next 2 minutes, go light up that area. If your team wants to push down t2 mid turret, then getting deep wards in the enemy jungle will give the best knowledge. Never go warding alone if you think you could get caught. This is the easiest way to throw a game.
Wrap It Up
Support is a very fun role but people often believe it to be the “easiest” when in fact, if you are doing your job right, it is certainly the most mentally challenging role in the game. As you play more and get better game knowledge, you will begin to see the opportunities to make game winning decisions more often.
I hope this guide was helpful. Please feel free to respond with any questions or comments.
Take care and soldier on, my fellow support player!