Often, players avoid support because they feel they can’t carry games. It seems like a passive role whose only job is to facilitate the ADC’s farming. While it’s true to some extent – the support should help grow their ADC – farming passively is not the only way to accomplish that. As a support and jungle main, I believe that playing agressively and objective oriented is the best way to reliably win solo queue games. This guide should help you be a better aggressive support, with a focus on roaming.
Note: be sure to read the comments afterwards for further analysis. There’s good discussion that I didn’t quite touch on in this guide there.
Goal of roaming
Roaming is your reliable way of carrying as support. It lets you create immense pressure on the map, allowing you to act as a second jungler. Your ganks should aim to get kills, and more importantly, objectives. Remember that LoL is a strategy game centered around objectives like towers and dragon. Map pressure is the best tool to get objectives, and roaming gives you pressure. So, remember your goal:
Roam to get kills, create pressure, and take objectives!
Champions to roam with
You want to roam with aggressive, tanky supports with lots of CC. Some good candidates include:
But, there are some other champions that can accomplish this, like:
In general, you should be playing champions from list 1 if your goal is to roam. This guide is written assuming you’re playing them, but not much is different if you aren’t. So, feel free to play what you’re best at, as long as the champ has great CC.
Based on comment feedback, I also want to note that you should not always play aggressive supports. If you are laning with a Kog’maw or Vayne, for example, it may not be appropriate. In those cases, go with Nami, Sona, Thresh, etc.. But, again, the rest of this guide will assume you’re playing an aggressive support.
When and how to roam
Kiwikid was asked on stream once, “What do I do if my ADC sucks and I can’t do anything?”. He answered with “Just leave lane and go do other stuff”.
Be aware that every choice in league has consequences. Roaming, naturally, does to. You should only roam when it makes sense to roam. A lot of this comes with experience, and you can gain that by critically watching pros play, but I hope to outline some of the logic for you here.
- If your lane is winning hard, roam
If you won lane hard (like you got a double kill early, denied large CS waves, and are 1 or 2 levels up or so) you can roam pretty freely. Your ADC will be able to farm without much pressure. Note that leaving lane does mean you can’t keep killing them though, so you have to decide if you have larger kill pressure in bot or with a roam. The best course of action is to push the wave up, ward for your ADC and in their jungle, and roam mid. If you go back, consider a random roam to top lane (they never see it coming (Lemon, in particular, is good at this)).
- If your ADC is passive or useless, consider roaming
If your ADC is passively farming and not doing much, you should roam. Try to make sure he won’t die by dropping wards, and be sure to come back to lane to keep pressure on the enemy botlane. If the enemy botlane is pushing, a great tactic is to gank bot through river with your jungle. The problem with playing with a useless ADC and roaming is that there’s a risk he’ll die. There’s not much you can do about this, but if he’s hugging turret and you warded to make sure he won’t get 3-man dove, he should be okay. It takes a pretty big misplay to die 1v2 while hugging turret, so it’s a reasonble risk to take.
- If you got crushed in lane, roam
If you and your ADC are the ones who got rekt, you should roam. Tell your ADC to freeze (probably at tier 2 turret) and go make plays around the map. Remember that you’re support, and so you’re comparably not much weaker than if you won lane because your gold income isn’t as tied to CS as your ADC’s. Since you can’t win a 2v2, you’re a lot more useful randomly showing up in top or mid and getting kills, or applying pressure. If the enemy bot lane is pushing hard, try to coordinate a gank or just show up to make sure they don’t take your tier 2 turret.
- If your lane is even, but your ADC isn’t useless, consider roaming
The trickiest scenario is when things are even and your ADC is playing well. In this case, it’s pretty much up to you and the lane matchup because roaming or 2v2ing both have pretty equal chances of success. Here are some things to consider: – Do we have the better, or worse 2v2? – Does mid have kill pressure? Does the enemy mid have an escape? – Is top a champ worth snowballing? – Will I give up drag if I leave lane? – Can I safely ward the enemy jungle? These questions rely on a lot of variables. The best way to be able to answer them is to practice and watch pros. Try to ask such questions while you analyze games.
You may wonder — ok… when should I absolutely NOT roam? Well, I don’t think there’s ever a point where you should not even consider roaming (assuming you’re playing a champion that can do it). Often you must work through the decision calculus yourself, and decide if it’s the right choice or not.
*How to play the roam*
- De-ward your path
Use your red trinket and pink ward on common spots the enemy may ward. Try to communicate with your laners to figure out where wards are.
- Ward the enemy jungle
While walking around out of lane, place wards in common places enemy junglers will walk through. Since you’re there anyway, you may as well grant your team some vision.
- When ganking mid, collapse on the enemy laner
If you’re used to jungling, you’ll understand what I mean. For example: don’t gank through mid river bush, go around (up the little cliff) and approach the enemy mid from behind. It’s way harder to escape that way
- When ganking top, be sneaky and patient
Top laners don’t expect the support to show up in their lane. While a simple walk through river can work, another option to consider is walking through lane, into the lane bushes, and waiting for the enemy laner to overextend.
- Use the pressure you create to get objectives
If you get a kill or force a laner out of lane, immediately make a call to take an objective (top tower, mid tower, drag). The point of roaming isn’t to just get kills, it’s to get objectives and force the enemy to play scared.
- Return to lane through ganks, or normally
You have to go back to bot eventually. Sometimes, if the enemy duo is overextended, you can gank them (preferably with your jungler). This is occassionally risky, though, so you can show up in lane normally to get gold, XP, and to reduce pressure on your ADC.
- Communicate with your ADC
Based on some comment feedback, I’ve added this point. You should absolutely ping your intentions. Let the laners know you’re on your way to their lane, and then ping the crap out of the enemy laner you want to gank. This way both your ADC and your allied mid or top laner know what’s going on, and can play accordingly.
Because you’re roaming, you’re going to be in or around the enemy jungle a lot. Take advantage of this fact by putting wards as deep as possible in enemy territory. This nullifies the enemy jungler and keeps all of your lanes (not just bot lane!!) safe. It’s a great way to subtetly carry your games.
One of the best pro players to do this in solo queue is Lemon Nation. Watch him stream and learn about how/where he places wards without getting caught.
Starting build: Relic shield, 2 pots, green ward, yellow trinket
Core build: Sightstone, mobility boots, tier 2 support item, Michael’s Crucible, red trinket, pink wards
There are two main choices for a first-buy: sight stone, or mobility boots. The choice depends on the extent to which you’ll be able to roam. If you have identified that you can roam a lot, mobi boots are a good choice. Otherwise, the safer bet is to get sightstone first. Either way, these two items are your core, and you should get these before any others.
What if you had to back before ~800g? You have three choices: get your tier 2 support item, boots, or a ruby crystal. I don’t think any choice is wrong, but note that upgrading your support item ties you to lane. It delays your core mobis/sightstone and makes you want to stay around for CS more. In some games, though, this is the corret choice.
Also, you should always have a pink on the map or in your inventory. And don’t forget to swap your yellow trinket for a red one when you get sightstone.
After that, you should build tanky. The items that you get are situational, but I’ll provide some commentary on the popular choices:
* Randuins : health and armor is great, but it’s pretty expensive. The pieces are nice though. The slow is good as CC too. If the main damage threat on you is AD, I think this is the most consistently good pickup.
* Aegis : again, never a wrong choice. If the enemy team has two sources of AP, this should be a go-to items for you. It’s not too expensive, and the aura is fantastic. Don’t get this if the enemy midlaner was stomped in lane, causing their AP output to be low, though. Locket also gives CDR, which is cool.
* FH : this is an alternative to Randuins. CDR, mana, and armor are nice stats, but not having health is unfortunate. Get this if their main damage threats are attack speed reliant. If you get this, be sure to pick up some health afterwards. If you don’t have your T3 support item, you should finish it.
* Banshees : banshee’s veil is generally good on every champion. You pretty much always WANT BV, but you can’t always get one. Normally a game only lasts long enough for you to get only one of Aegis or BV. Since you’re a support, you dying is usually less bad than a carry dying, which makes Aegis generally better. But, if you’re getting blown up before you can CC anything, consider BV.
If I didn’t list an item here, it’s usually not built. This generally means the item is bad, but feel free to discuss the merits of unlisted items in the comments.
I’ve always enjoyed the idea of support roaming, but I never had a good example to follow until more recently. The best source to learn about roaming in solo queue is Kiwikid, our R O A M G O D. Watch his stream! I don’t think there’s a player that does it quite as much as him.
Other supports to look out for, especially on op.gg:
If you have other resources, let me know and I’ll add them.
Also, if I’ve said anything wrong, let me know in the comments. This guide was meant to be a collection of knowledge, and not based on my own solo-queue anecdotes, so I believe it to be correct and demonstrably effective based on challenger level play. However, if that’s not quite right, again, please provide feedback.
Thanks for reading!