The Holy Trinity of Playing Support in a MOBA
As much as every player of DOTA 2 and League of Legends would like to believe that will carry the team and be the top killer in every game they play – the reality is that every victory comes on the backs of players who aren’t BEYOND GODLIKE. What does this mean? Well it’s kind of my meandering way of telling the world that sometimes, just sometimes, we all have to play support.
Now I’m not unfamiliar to a position shunted out of the public focus which is nevertheless necessary for victory. I played World of Warcraft for going on 9 years, and I’ve dealt with many healers (every group has gotta have one!) who quietly do their work in the background keeping everyone alive. It’s largely a tough and thankless job that a minority of people find fun and the rest of us find tolerable.
And really, MOBAs are no different.
Sure, the support gets a killing spree every now and then. And yes, at the end of the game you might get thanked for proper ward placement or your timely healing abilities (hero depending). But mainly you are a worker bee, slaving away all game for your queen to steal all the glory.
But if you must do something (and believe me MOBA players, you HAVE to play support on occasion) you are better off doing it right. Which is why I wanted to share what I like to call the Holy Trinity of playing support – three things that if you do right, you should never get any complaints.
First up, focus your auras.
Now this is more of an item build strategy (unless your hero has a few auras built in) but still is fairly crucial in ensuring success for your team. Largely your carrys (or main killing heros for anyone who has stumbled in here by accident and has no idea what a carry is) will be building items that boost their personal performance. Stuff like crit, stun and slow which work great for them but don’t really add much to the rest of the team.
So as a support you need to be doing the opposite, focusing on items which provide a shared benefit to other heroes within close proximity. Obviously you also need to be focusing on things which boost your survival (those auras are useless if you die the minute your team starts a fight), but necessities aside you should be looking at your team and seeing what buffs you can bring to the table that will offset their killing potential. A well timed Mekansm has saved many a game of DOTA, much like an early Ring of Basilius can help prevent your lane turning into a disaster (apologies for the DOTA item focus, I have been neglecting LoL lately).
Remember to ask yourself before building an item on a support hero “What does this do for my team?”. If you find it a hard question to answer, odds are you are building a carry item out of habit that can probably be replaced.
It should go without saying, but unfortunately this is such an issue for most games that I have to dedicate an entire section to it – Ward people, buy and use the damn wards. Wards win games.
Really I think most of the issues here stem from people being scared of using wards improperly, or called out for using wards in a weird way. Either that or people actually are stingy enough to worry about a couple hundred gold on a support hero (in which case, there is no helping you).
Anyway, wards. Wards should be kept up at virtually all times in the game when you feel that the match is in contest (as in, not already won or lost). There are two different areas where wards need to be placed, but the second is more ambiguous than the first which was what leads to the most confusion in game.
Basically you want to be warding the river (for the bonus runes which spawn there) and the jungle.
Now immediately I have to clarify when I say jungle, because the jungle is a massive place (basically spanning everywhere that isn’t a lane). Wards in the jungle are placed to either stop a potential gank or to offer the opportunity for one, so when you are warding the jungle you want to be warding likely places to see enemy heroes. I’ll say that again, ward somewhere you are likely to see an enemy hero.
This means early game you ward near your lane to stop yourself getting ganked, late game you ward their jungle or an entrance way to the river in order to facilitate a gank (warding just out of sight of your towers sometimes works too as that is where enemy heroes will sit since they know they are out of visibility).
Sidenote before I finish this section: Support also should buy invisibility revealing items like Dust of Disappearance or Truesight Wards. This is your job in addition to normal sight-producing wards.
And the final leg (leg?) of the trinity, Crowd Control.
I’ll do my quick idiot test here. For anyone who didn’t know, crowd control (or CC) is a term for anything which puts a hero out of action for a period of time. This means when they are stunned, silenced, polymorphed, teleported, phased, disarmed or anything else which stops them doing damage as per normal.
Now most support should have this baked in, in fact I can’t really think of any support hero without so much as a slow or knockback to keep heroes off their back. But even if you do have a skill like polymorph or silence built into your skillset, this is no reason to rest back on your hackles and build something else – stacking your cc can make you invaluable to your team.
I’ll give an example. Shadow Shaman in DOTA 2 has two kinds of CC built in, he can shackle an enemy hero for a couple seconds while he channels (this stops the enemy hero moving or doing anything) as well as being able to sheep a target for a couple of seconds which does virtually the same thing but with a bit more movement and no channel. Now despite already having two sources of cc, by building a sheepstick or a Eul’s Scepter of Divinity he can expand his skillset and disable 3/5 heroes on the other team virtually all at the same time.
Your carry heroes will be at their best when they are hitting a target that is impaired in some way, whether it’s a slow or a silence. So by ensuring you have as many forms of cc as possible, you can ensure success for your team.