Rafaela and Estes were my first two main heroes in Mobile Legends since I was in Warrior back in 2017. While I did not use them all the way throughout my 4-year career in MLBB (I’m majority Tank), I used them extensively in my first attempt in Mythical Glory.
Solo queue and lower rank experience are heavily skewed against Supports due to the lack of coordination, communication, and proper drafting which makes it difficult for macro-intensive players (those who are heavily teamplay-oriented) to realize their full potential. This is why solo-queuing as Support is something I do not recommend as it’s less enjoyable and even affects your growth as a player. Also, this guide is aimed at players Legend and above where people are more aware of drafting and improved macros, but even if you’re below those ranks I still wish my analysis will give additional insight.
Estes and Rafaela are the most successful heroes in my Mythical Glory climb (third is Diggie). This is around 95% solo queue, Philippine Server.
I have no guarantees that the Support meta will continue in the same way once the new patch rolls over, but the fundamentals and theories I will outline will be applicable in the future no matter what the change would be.
Introduction: What makes a good Support Play?
If I’m to summarize the essence of supports it’s MAXIMUM SYNERGY. Supports in their essence cannot function independently. This is applicable to many heroes even if I will focus on Estes and Rafaela. . Here are what I believe are the five fundamentals of supports.
Draft – Understanding both team and enemy draft, analyzing pros and cons, knowing how the team will function. This includes knowing your early strength, late game power,
Problem Solving – Now you have understood how two teams collectively fare each other as a whole. Which are the areas that you can help with? Which threat can you mitigate? What is the threat against you? How can you uplift your team?
Objectives – What to do, where to go, what to trade, and if it’s worth it for win conditions. This dictates rotations, zoning and pacing.
Teamplay – What do you do in an encounter and a teamfight? What should you not do?
Economy – What’s the most effective way to build your items given that you are the least priority in gold?
Note how almost none is considered micro, or about skill combos, but mostly macro or game knowledge and map awareness.
Question: How long will healers be relevant? What if this meta dies next season?
Healers usually become obsolete when 1) Assassins are the only viable cores 2) Team can accommodate multiple mages 3) Double Tank meta.
I’m aware of this while I’m writing this guide so I made sure the principles we discuss are applicable for many supports and whatever the future brings. Moreover, healers come back as the seasons come and go, and even if healers do end up sinking in professional play, they are still going to be usable in casual team games.
In professional play, the Filipino casters affectionately describe healer teams as “ube” or “sticky yam” as they rely on sticking together. Estes and Rafaela are force multipliers which means they amplify the overall strength of the team. This strategy, while already seen in previous seasons, is fully realized this 2021 meta under the Blacklist International squad, which placed 2nd in the MSC. Instead of having one or two front-liners take all damage which increases their risks of dying, healer teams spread it over the whole group while ensuring continuous damage output.
For a healer team to work, the draft must be the following:
Continuous damage and sustained presence in teamfights- A healer composition aims to prolong their team’s presence on the map by minimizing recall and by allowing them to fight longer during engagements. Healer compositions do not thrive on pick-offs or stealth but more on face-to-face combats.
Early game capacity – If the team cannot take advantage of a healer’s capacity to snowball via minimized recall, especially that Estes has one of the strongest Level 4 spikes in a game that can turn teamfights around. Rafaela can movement speed boost every few seconds for the entire team and it’s a waste to put her in a team that cannot rotate early.
Durable front liners – If the healer dies first, then the team dies. Healers are not supposed to soak the most damage.
Some samples on how traditional teams vs support-oriented comps compare.
|Classic||Mid Supp Comp. 1||Mid Supp Comp. 2|
|Notes:||The easiest to execute in lower ranks and balanced. Note that if the team opted to pick a Support over a Mage, then there’s extra burden for the Marksman to carry.||Need vision from midlaners, warding, and bush checking.||Mage needs to have wave clear and some form of mobility to dominate solo lane and gank mid if needed.|
Note these are all 1-3-1 team compositions. Due to the small map of MLBB and fast pacing, I doubt 1-3-1 will ever be obsolete. There’s just too much advantages.
If these factors are not realized then we are having a Draft Failure. Note that what I listed are only specific to healer comps, but in the first place it must be a balanced team (Mage, Early, Late, Crowd Control etc.)
Sample of non-traditional tournament compositions involving Supports:
This may not be meta forever, but the principles on how the team works still apply.
Here is a quick rundown on what works for Estes and Rafaela and how to avoid a Draft Failure. This still applies in any meta in the past and the future:
|Support||Ideal Core||Ideal Teammates||Bad/Inefficient with|
|Rafaela||Cores that are DPS – damage per second that are capable of delivering damage in quick successions with low cooldowns. These are mostly marksman and fighter cores like Yi Sun Shin, Granger, Roger.||Good with side laners that have difficulty in chasing like Barats and Argus. Also good with midlaner mages due to her vision. Good with all double support setup.||Burst-type, reaper cores that unsuitable for sustained combat like Gusion, Helcurt, Ling, Karina, Fanny etc.|
|Estes||DPS Cores that he can keep up with due to his slow speed like Bruno, Granger, and fighters like Alpha.||Excellent for sidelaners that have sustained presence in teamfights like Harith, Esmeralda and Barats.||Burst-type, reaper, diving-type cores, particularly those that blink and chase like Claude, Lancelot, and Helcurt. Also bad with midlane mages/support without vision.|
|Angela||Divers like Ling, Aldous, and Claude. Works with any core.||Works with anyone, particularly high damage diving sidelaners like Alice, Lapu Lapu, Harith etc.||Midlaners without vision.|
|Diggie||None in particular, but great as counterpick to heavy CC tanks like Tigreal, Atlas, Minotaur, Silvanna etc.||No one noteworthy.||Enemies without any CC to purify.|
There two things that I highly object to and I find wrong in understanding Supports:
You’re simply a Roamer who builds tank items to prolong your presence. Your purpose is not to soak damage and therefore you are not a tank. A lot of people don’t understand this and the idea hurts the team draft and overall effectiveness of the Support hero. It’s particularly frustrating in solo queue to be switched as the team “Tank” because nobody wanted to tank and they think you’re already a passable tank.
Rafaela can check bushes and generally similar to have tanks are played and positions front, but she is not obligated to take the damage unless it’s the only option to protect the core. Instead, Rafaela dances, evades, maneuvers through smart engages, and disengages. Estes is worse, as once he steps inside a bush with an enemy team in it, he dies as he is neither mobile nor durable. As a healer, ideally you’re even surrounded by your team or beside them, as you are unable to do your job if you’re the open target.
Estes should be surrounded by his team for easy access to his heal. Is that a tank?
Drafting Mid Roamer + Mage means sidelanes will take the frontline tank role. Some of the side lanes that can tank for your team are Gloo, Barats, Uranus, or drafting durable Fighters like Chou, Paquito, Yu Zhong and Lapu Lapu. With new items and nerf on spell vamp in the coming season, we might require pure tanks again rather than double fighters.
2. Mage Rafaela/Estes/Diggie/Angela
Supports can hurt a lot especially early game, but they will never, ever match the damage output of real mages. If the team does not have enough damage and the Support needs to build damage, then it’s already considered a Draft Failure. This is not saying you can’t conditionally build Ice Queen Wand/Glowing Wand on Rafaela and Angela, or that you cannot kill enemies as support, the point is simply that you are valued more due to your utility rather than damage. A lot of times I also play with Rafaelas who do not build tank items and end up feeding.
I highly object to drafting a pure Support with the intent of building them with damage. If you want damage, use a true mage that is supportive like Eudora, Pharsa, Yve, Vale and many more.
What does a Draft Failure look like?
How does Estes keep up to heal Ling and Benedetta? How can this team outdamage the enemy?
Major Disadvantages of a Healer/Sustain Team:
Vulnerable to Area of Effect spells or CC due to the team tightly grouped together (Kagura, Vale, Atlas, Tigreal etc). A successful landing could even result in a wipeout.
Can be neutralized by anti-heal items like Sea Halberd, Necklace of Durance, and the new Dominance Ice (anti-heal for Tanks). Note these items does not necessarily kill a healer team, but it does slow down their offensive and outright cripple them in a losing battle.
Burst damage can eliminate healers before they can sustain themselves, particularly without items or farms. Assassins like Ling and Lancelot can eliminate healers in the backline especially that they have some form of CC immunity. For reference of burst killing sustain, see Blacklist vs Execration Game 2, MSC 2021: Kagura and Eudora were both picked to kill the sustain-reliant enemy team.
Problem Solving, Objectives & Gameplay
While I categorized Estes and Rafaela as healers they are fundamentally different and accommodate different compositions.
|Skill 1||Has damage, slow and vision (revealing invisible enemies in bush or via skill)||Single target heal that provide Estes with extra basic attack damage boost and regen. If there’s no target, it can still heal Estes.|
|Skill 2||Multi-ally speed boost and minor heal, major engage/disengage skill, also useful for helping allies dodge enemy skills.||Area of Effect slow with damage (crowd control) good for zoning or sometimes elimination. Note: It does NOT reveal enemies in bush.|
|Skill 3 (Ultimate)||Area of Effect linear stun (crowd control) good for peeling/protecting ally or set-up of multiple kills.||Multi-ally burst heal lasting for seconds.|
|Passive||Explodes when she dies, can sometimes kill enemies early game. No other use.||Powered basic attack every time his meter fills, can sometimes kill and works on towers.|
|Advantages||Better in aggressive compositions and fast rotations, charging, and retreating. Superior vision than most heroes with the ability to check bushes and higher capacity for outplaying. Overall more versatile support.||Simpler to execute in uncoordinated teams and a properly timed burst can turn a clash completely in your team’s favor.|
|Disadvantages||Severely weakened if the team fails to rotate or utilize her aggressive capacity.||Weakest support at level 1, very slow rotating speed, predictable and played only in one way, more tank dependent, blind (no vision), incompatible with fast team compositions.|
Uses those skills are quite simple and almost no aiming is required except for Estes’ S1 heal and Rafaela’s Ultimate. There’s no use in telling how to use them when they’re “braindead” skills. However, in my solo queue, I noticed a lot of terrible decision-making and bad support habits even above Mythic III. A lot of them are rooted in bad macros and poor understanding of objectives.
What are Objectives?
I will not be going into detail as I expect that everyone above Legend should already know this stuff. Support has the least difficult decision-making of all roles in my opinion and highly reactive/adaptive than active, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have crucial choices. You are not simply being “carried.”
|What Support does|
|Early Game (pre-Level 4)||Zone the resources or focus on reaching level 4 ASAP. If you’re Rafaela, provide vision. You don’t have to hug your Core all the time, but be close in proximity and help clear mid wave as much as possible.|
|Jungle invasions||Highly draft dependent and must have the full commitment of both the tank and support/mage. This requires a whole new guide, but basically if your fellow midlaner doesn’t want to, don’t do it.|
|Sidelane Ganking||Not your call if you do not have any kind of mobility. It’s either the tank, jungler, or midlaner mage that initiates this and you rotate with them. The Supports that can independently gank are Angela and Mathilda. It doesn’t mean you can’t help your sidelane in trouble, but 1) it shouldn’t disadvantage the mid 2) it shouldn’t delay your powerspike.|
|Turtle Contests||Not your call to contest it, but you can help assure a jungler it’s worth taking it. Always be there unless you’re dead or your team traded Turtle for pushing a tower. Take note of the cooldown of your best skills and try to reserve it for the contest than be baited in using them.|
|Lord Contests||Not your call to contest it, but you can help assure a jungler it’s worth taking it by zoning or providing sustain. Always be there unless you’re dead.|
Bad Support Gameplay That Must Die
We are not going to discuss Roam items as the new update will make masks obsolete. Also, note there are always exceptions that are born from unique situations where your discretion is worth more than the advice I put here.
Babysitting and sticking with someone that is perfectly capable of 1vs1 (most commonly Marksman in Gold Lane). This is one of the worst Support gameplay that has no place in Mythic and only works low ranks. There are exceptions to this as some matchups are disadvantageous and need early help (like anyone vs Paquito), but in a normal Miya vs Layla gold lane showdown, they simply don’t need anyone else and should be left alone for other objectives.
Stalking your jungler and hitting the creeps they farm. “Leashing” a core or tanking the Buff depends on the hero, and assassins do not need it. Marksman like Claude, Bruno and Brody may ask for help but this depends on the jungler. Plus, if you have a mid Tank, it’s their job and not yours. Stalking the jungler makes them more unsafe as they lose track of the enemy movement and vulnerable to surprise invasions due to the lack of vision. If they’re pinging Retreat, then they’re annoyed at you.
Spamming skills resulting in unnecessary cooldowns and mana depletion. It’s never, ever your job to kill and a lot of Rafaelas like to “harass” the opponents with S1 at the expense of their mana and leveling, or spamming her S2 heal until its unavailable when the team actually needs to retreat or chase someone. For Estes, do not use S2 to poke enemies for no reason. It has several seconds of cooldown and it’s better to reserve it to actual choke points or for zoning for your carry.
Wandering off alone away from teammates and exposing oneself too much on the map. This is sometimes born of good intentions, like wanting to provide vision or taking the shortest route. But if you’re dead what’s the point? Why give enemy-free food? Being too far from the core, your tank or midlane mage is a very common mistake that allows for pick-offs.
Missing important teamfights because they went to “help” other teammates. This is very common and sometimes born of good intentions. Oftentimes a sidelaner deals 1 v 2, ask for “help” and complain “no visit.” However it’s a matter of trade and objectives. If your team is behind gold or too weak to contest Turtle, your only option is to stick together in numbers, defend and hope for a pick-off. By acting independently to “help” other lanes, you’re further dividing your little strength.
Not present or available to help when the Turtle contest is taking place. Related to the point above a lot of supports help the offlaner just in time for a Turtle contest opposite the map, leaving their core and tank dead or losing the objective because they have the wrong priorities.
Overstaying side lanes and overextending to push. Was the threat gone? Did the enemy retreat? Tower pushed? No more problems? Then what else are you staying there for? Get out of the Exp/Gold lane and leave them alone. It’s not your job to push the lane further, and by straying away from the mid, you lessen your ability to respond and help others.
Not identifying the threat/problem and addressing it when you can actually help. Why is more core always dying? Aha! He must be because he’s stupid! Or what if Natalia is there hunting him and you’re always not there to reveal the assassin? What if he’s always getting dived and your team doesn’t have a tank to protect him? Maybe you can help heal or zone for safety rather than just blame your teammate?
Supporting only one teammate/Not supporting teammates who made mistakes. The worst sin of girlfriend Angela players (with their trash core boyfriends). It pains me to see such a negative stereotype of female players knowing that trying their best while being dragged down by these mediocre Angelas. Even if it’s not Angela concerned, a lot of Support players are harsh to Cores and easily condemn them as stupid or hopeless when they can’t Core themselves. Note Support players: A Core’s job is a lot harder than yours. If your jungler failed to win Turtle or land Retribution, forgive and move on, still do your job and give another chance.
Making it your call to take objectives or invade. Now, this is debatable, because some cores and tanks are indeed not good, and Mathilda specializes in this so she’s an exemption. Sometimes as Support I ping where to go or tell them what to do in chat. But at the end of the day, you don’t have Retribution or the damage necessary to win the clash. A lot of Supports want to lead clashes when their carry isn’t farmed yet or under cooldown. This is especially irritating to Junglers who have their own farming paths for maximizing economy, but the Support initiates a battle and they have no choice but to follow up.
Note this is based on the Advanced Server updates which eliminate Roam Items and incorporates them in Boots. Project Next 2.0 puts the Roam component with Boots. Unlike the Roam Mask where the effects are unlocked after upgrading, Blessings are only unlocked after you accumulate X amount of Gold either from the thriving effects.
Based on Hororo-chan’s and Elgin’s videos, it seems for now only one teammate can have Roam. Because once the Blessing is unlocked, the other Roam wielder is unable to receive any gold anymore and cannot unlock a second Blessing.
This needs more testing when it hits the original server but as a precaution: only one buys Roam it’s either you or the Tank. If the Tank is sidelane, then it’s definitely the Support. Maybe this gets changed by Moonton in the coming weeks or professionals find ways to utilize the mask, but to be safe, one Roam for now.
I recommended Encourage for Estes and Rafaela. Favor is also good but it only benefits one ally while Encourage has an aura that affects everyone else.
This is great to use when you have Marksman Cores or Gold Laners.
My recommended builds although it’s best to manually build them depending on the situation. Note I already removed the Roam items since they will be incorporated in the Boots in the incoming update.
Rafaela build. Mana boots better for solo queue but ideally it’s better to build defense/tough boots.
Estes is always Tank Build although he’s never a real tank.
Estes does not need any Magic Item that gives him additional damage. Only one skill ever hits opponents and that’s his Skill 2.
|Recommended||Conditional||Only for greedy people||Bad|
|Rafaela||Flicker, Aegis||Purify||Flameshot, Execute||Revitalize, Arrival|
|Estes||Flicker||Aegis, Purify||Flameshot||Revitalize, Arrival, Execute|
Support Emblem is the best, although if you ranked up fast and have no other emblems available, I recommend Mage Mystery Shop (10% discount on items).
All Support Talents (Focusing Mark, Avarice and Pull Yourself Together) are viable on Rafaela. For Estes I recommend Avarice/Pull Yourself Together.
My preferred Emblem for Rafaela.
Preferred Emblem for Estes
Learn from the best Support player: OhMyV33NUS.
OhMyV33NUS, Team Captain of Blacklist Philippines and specializes in Supports (Mathilda, Diggie, Estes, Rafaela etc.) and Mages (Yve and Pharsa), or zone-heavy tank types like Kaja and Popol & Kupa. He posts guides on his Youtube channel and while they’re in Filipino, you can check his builds and gameplay.
The one and only Queen of MPL.
I cannot stress how inspiring OhMyV33nus is – whom players honor as The Queen – for defining the support meta for the Philippines and world wide. His team was the originator of the Jungle Aldous meta and the prominence of Estes in professional play in the first half of 2021. With Blacklist International winning the PH’s MPL, and placing 2nd in the 2021 MSC, he further proves that the game isn’t just about speed and complicated movesets.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my guide. I wish to help others realize where their strength lies and value themselves as players. I think it’s a harmful perspective that one has to be good with fast, complicated, hard-carry heroes to be considered a decent player.
And I still DO NOT recommend solo-queuing with Supports only. The best is to be multi-role. Estes and Rafaela are not the only heroes I used to MG but just the most successful. I used Diggie, Jawhead, Chang’e, Yve, Popol & Kupa, Khufra, Tigreal, Silvanna, Alpha, Uranus, Pharsa, Luo Yi, Thamuz, Valir and a lot more.