Synergising your Support
Picking a support champion that synergises with your ADC is one of the most important things you can do in team select.
A great team isn’t just a composition of five competent players controlling their five best champions; a great team is one that selects champions that work together, champions that synergise out in Summoners Rift through abilities that can work in harmony to provide results greater than the sum of their individual parts. This week’s article, my first for News of Legends, is about why the champion you pick to Support with is incredibly important for the outcome of your game. This piece is part of my new series of articles aimed at the relative beginner to ranked play, for those hoping to climb up the ELO ladder and maximise their League potential. When Xpecial is choosing his champion he isn’t going to simply pick the one he’s most competent with, but the one that works best to counter the enemy team and the one that works best with the rest of his team.
Why is synergy important?
Have you ever been in the situation where your team lacks the right initiation? Or perhaps once you’ve initiated you lack crowd control? Or maybe you simply don’t have enough sustain in fights? Or even that you’ve got no one peeling and your Carries are getting burst down leaving you to die in a horrible mess each team fight. This is caused by poor team synergy. In soloqueue it’s perfectly understandable that you can’t be responsible for your whole team and even if you’re first pick it puts you on the back foot for trying to synergise, as you don’t know what your team is going to pick or who you’re playing against. At this point discussing team composition in champion select is your best bet, along with choosing a champion you’re most competent with. However, in premade 5s or being last pick in soloqueue you are more than able to pick a champion to synergise and avoid the awful situations where your team just doesn’t gel because you’re missing one key component.
Synergy is the concept of using two or more Champions abilities to provide an added bonus in combat, a key example being Leona’s Zenith Blade and Corki’s Valkyrie. Both Champions can go from nowhere to the midst of the battle in less than a second. Using Leona’s Zenith Blade then Shield of Daybreak (E -> Q, or Q -> E if you’re confident you can land the E so not to put Q on cooldown without hitting anything) to dash in and stun the enemy ADC or Support allowing Corki to Valkyrie in and clean up for kills works incredibly well in bottom lane. The same is true for Leona and Tristana. Every ADC and every support will have a champion that they synergise best with and that will give you the best chances of success. Finding this bottom lane combination is one key in a series to unlocking the door to dominating your bottom lane.
So how do I synergise with my team?
Finding a support that synergises with your ADC and your team is something that after time you will come to know. You will come to know what support best counters the enemy kill lane, or which support you need to pick to help your team in the late game the most, but in the meantime there are several utilities available to anyone learning the support role. While it is not possible for me to cover every single Support and ADC I can hopefully point readers in the right direction for learning how to do this.
On the very basic level this page developed by Reddit user Nebu based on information provided by another Reddit user Spellsy allows a Support player to input allied ADC, as well as enemy ADC and Support which returns the optimal Support you should play, as well as providing some reasoning behind it. This is a great little web app for those learning the basics of Support Synergy however some champions like Teemo, often seen in the ADC role at lower elo brackets, are not featured, as well as uncommon but not unseen support champions like Zilean and Fiddlesticks. It is also very important to remember to take anything with a pinch of salt until you learn from experience.
ChampionSelect is also an incredibly useful tool to get the basics of counter picking and team synergy, listing full counters for ADCs as well as the Supports they work best with.
To get a more detailed view on what Supports work best with certain ADCs we need to look at the professional levels, and what TSM bottom lane partners Xpecial and Chaox are doing. In this video by Xpecial he explains in detail during the loading screen why one would pick Janna to counter the very aggressive support of Leona on the opposite team. Janna is chosen due to her ability to use Howling Gale (Q, commonly known as Tornado) to knock back Leona after the engage effectively resetting the fight. While Leona and hopefully the enemy ADC are knocked up and unable to attack, his Ashe ADC will have 0.8-1.1 seconds (dependant on level) to free attack the enemy if all abilities are timed correctly. Xpecial provides a great example of why team synergy is important. It is also worth noting that Janna’s other abilities work well to counter Leona. Her Eye of the Storm (E) allows her to protect the ADC when Leona uses Zenith Blade as well as using Zephyr to slow the enemy ADC lowering the amount of time it has to attack your team. All of these factors would have been taken into consideration during champion select, and is something that any player aspiring to climb ELO must also think about.
To gain a clearer understanding of why Xpecial chose Janna to counter Leona and to better understand why who you pick is important, we can look at what the situation would have been like with a Support who does not synergise well in that team composition, most notably, Sona. If we take the team composition and situation as exactly the same but replace Janna with Sona, and have Leona use Zenith Blade on to either the ADC Ashe or Support Sona the situation is completely different. In that situation Sona’s only truly effective form of defense would have been to use her Ultimate ability Crescendo, which with a cooldown of 140/120/100 seconds compared to Zenith Blade’s 13/12/11/10/9 cooldown puts her on the back foot for a large chunk of the game. This would allow Leona to re-engage the fight very quickly, stun locking either the ADC or Support allowing Vayne to Tumble and Condemn one champion very easily, most likely securing a kill. Sona would have very little in the form of defense against Leona’s stun, as her Song of Celerity or Aria of Perseverance with a stacked Passive wouldn’t be enough to help her escape or heal through the damage respectively. In a situation with Leona and Vayne fighting a Sona and Ashe, the odds are ever in the favour of Leona and Vayne, for the reasons explained above.
Learning what support to pick to synergise best with your team, or even what champion to pick if you don’t play support is something all players need to learn. It will come with time and it will come with practice. It will also be hard, as you may have to reevaluate how to tackle champion select, and you may often have to move away from the champions you are most comfortable with and move towards ones that are better for your team. In the long run however, you will become a far better player and your team will thank you for it.