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supports

Finally we are here to talk about the Top 5 Supports. Probably the happiest group of Champions coming into Season 3, and I have to say that even with the unfortunate evolution of the Giant’s Belt, Supports are still ridiculously happy. Wards are cheaper and more accessible, gold acquisition seems better, even with less Gp5 items, and health comes easy in the form of Sightstones, Kindlegems, and Aegis. There are some Supports that have fallen completely out of favor, like Soraka, some that have made the transition from Mid to Support, like Zyra, and some newcomers like Nami and Thresh. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 and see why they all deserve to be there.

Top 5 Supports and Why?

I am going to rate the supports, again in a soloqueue perspective, based on what they bring to their team and the ease/risk in which their abilities can be used to greatest effect. My list is actually going to be organized by the styles of supports and by which Champions I think are the best for that style of play.

#5. “All-In” Aggressive Melee:  Alistar and  Leona

The “All-In” Melee Supports are my least recommended for soloqueue. While they have the greatest snowball effect if executed properly, they also have the greatest negative snowball effect if you fail to capitalize on your aggression. If there was built-in Voice Integration in the League client, or you are duo queueing, then these supports could possibly be the best to play, but the reality is that you are going to be playing with an ADC who is more concerned about farm then about aggression. You ping a million times on the opposing carry, land a perfect “Headbutt/Pulverize” or “ZenithBlade/Stun” and the ADC is sitting in the brush auto attacking minions. Now you are stuck in melee range with all your skills on cooldown as two people + minions take away chunks of your HP. This happens over 50% of the time and I wish that was a made up statistic. These two Champs do have a great team fight presence, but if you die early in lane too many times due to uncapitalized aggression you will be underlevelled and underfarmed and only be able to get your cooldowns off once before you die in a big fight. Coordination is just something I would never count on too much in soloqueue and that’s why I think the Melee Supports get the bottom spot. Alistar gets the edge over Leona because he can use Unbreakable Will to escape more situations than she can and also because Pulverize is an AoE stun compared to Leona’s single-target stun and hard to hit Solar Flare.

#4. Aggressive Casters:  Zyra  Lux and  Nami

These are the Supports you want to pick when you want to be really aggressive in lane. They all have crowd control spells and are all ranged which means you make no commitments if you mess up your aggression or your ADC doesn’t follow up. Despite their extreme volatility in lane, relative safety, and ability to transition into a pseudo-AP/Support Champs in the late game; they do provide the least amount of “support” to their team in a general sense. Additionally, all their aggressive abilities are skill shots with long cooldowns which means once you mess up your aggression you are extremely vulnerable. If you are very practiced in the art of bush-control and skill shots then I would recommend them as they add some much needed spice to the Support play-style, but if not I would recommend some of the higher up supports due to their ease of play. Zyra gets the edge because her Seeds/Plants can double as wards. Lux comes in seconds because she has a shield and more damage than Nami. Nami is on the list because I think she deserves a spot; she’s incredibly underrated and actually has a unique kit. She bring an AoE cc that is akin to Alistar’s Pulverize and provides some good spell damage in team fights with her bouncing heal and Ultimate.

#3. Peelers:  Lulu and  Janna

These are the Supports you play when you aren’t quite comfortable with being overly aggressive in lane and instead want to focus on giving your ADC a strong farm lane, and incredibly strong team-fight defense. They are both safe picks; Lulu having the superior laning phase and Janna having the superior team fight. I call them “Peelers” because they both provide the most spells to protect their ADC. Lulu has slow, shield, polymorph/speed, extra HP/Slow Aura, and her passive provides extra dps. Janna has Tornado CC, a slow, a shield, a Knockback/Heal, and her passive provides MS. They are also the safest warders because of the speed their spells/passives give them, and the amount of cc they have. Lulu gets the edge over Janna because of her superior laning phase.

#2.Aggressive Auras:  Sona and  Taric (pre-nerfs)

This is an interesting tier because Taric might disappear after the upcoming nerfs. Right now though I would say these are the safest and best supports to run in soloqueue (before bans). They both provide incredible team utility with their auras. They have heals in lane for good trade/sustain. Sona has great harass with her poke and Taric has unique aggression for a melee support; the fact that he has a ranged stun and an armor aura which doubles as a damage spell make him a force to be reckoned with if you find yourself out of position. I give Sona the edge over Taric because I feel she has a SLIGHTLY weaker lane phase but the fact that she has an AoE CC Ultimate and remains a relevant Champion through out the entire game for damage, heals, and speed, compared to Taric who literally becomes a walking stun/armor aura, that she is more valuable overall. You can make as many arguments about the fact she has weak base stats but that really hasn’t changed the effect of her presence in the League in both soloqueue and pro scenes.

 

#1. Game Breakers:  Blitzcrank and  Thresh

I think that even if I was writing a “pro-scene” Top 5 list, the #1 spot would remain the same. If anyone watched the OGN Winter Championships then they know how powerful Blitzcrank can be, as displayed by Madlife. Actually one of the keys to Najin Sword’s victory over Azubu Frost was banning Blitzcrank all three games. It’s crazy that we haven’t seen more Blitz in LCS but he might not be as good anymore because it’s hard to burst a 3k hp target down off a random Hook. I am also surprised at the lack of Thresh but have no idea why he is so under-represented by the pro teams. Anyways, the reason that I have these Champions in the “Gamebreaker” tier is that because their kits are so unique that even if you are significantly behind you can break the game wide open by landing a clutch Blitzcrank Grab and sometimes even a Thresh Hook, or saving someone with Tresh’s Lantern. It is important to note though that Thresh carries SIGNIFICANTLY less weight than Blitzcrank; he requires coordination or awareness from your team, which usually isn’t in abundance in soloqueue games. Thresh does fill the “traditional” support role better than Blitzcrank, though because you can still shield people and cc them decently well with all of his spells so he is worth picking up and learning because he usually slips through the bans, and there is always a small chance you have a killer Fizz or Akali player that actually knows how to use the shield. Blitzcrank on the other hand is much harder to get a hold of in soloqueue unless you can manipulate the bans in your favor.

What Happened to Soraka?

I don’t know. She is in this really weird spot right now where supports are getting more aggressive in lane, which makes her early levels (1-4) much harder to survive through. That is unless she just maxes Starfall and Silence, in which case you could pick any of the other supports listed above and be in a better spot. Her heals are also on such a long cooldown and there are so many healing reduction effects flying around that her kit just gets slaughtered before she even steps onto the Fields of Justice. Shields are superior because they are found on champions that build AP, have short cooldowns, and aren’t reduced by grievous wounds. Soraka seems like she would be right at home in the HP meta because she restores health but she would need to see some significant tweaks to her kit to become viable again. I think Riot has done such a good job phasing the game away from heals that they may need to rework Soraka again because people don’t even use Summoner Heal. When was the last time you bought Elisa’s Miracle… the last time you picked Soraka? Correlation? I dont know…

 Nunu

I almost forgot about this guy. There isn’t much to say about Nunu. I think the nerfs sent him back to the ice age (LOL). He used to be imbalanced which is what drove his popularity. Now that he is balanced, or perhaps underbalanced, he has no place in the meta anymore. I would honestly rather have a Support Ashe in place of Nunu. She does similar things to Nunu and it would be a nice way to get Ashe back into the bottom lane.

Love, Dcgreen

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Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles:

Making Sense of Season 3

Dominion: Helping You To Win More Lanes and Games

Developing Your Killer Instincts: Why to be Aggressive in Season 3

Working With Your Team to Win

Countering Health with DFG

Reviewing the New “League System”

Why Losing is Just as Important as Winning

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Junglers

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 AP Mids

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Top Laners

The Stale Meta: Top 5 AD Carries

adc

In the last article I talked about how Giant’s Belt has changed the landscape of top lane, strengthening Champions that can make use of buying it on their first back and putting champs that want to focus on offence at a disadvantage. Bot lane is in a much more fragile spot; Giant’s Belt is warping the landscape by making AD Carries pretty much useless until they can get 3-4 major items. Let me explain, as there are a few factors that play into this phenomenon.

1. The most obvious one is that attack speed was nerfed across the board while health was buffed.

2. Bloodthirster has become a more common first item for ADC’s because of how good it is in lane and when you have to farm an extra ten minutes per game to get to four items, you need to be able to go toe-to-toe with the other ADC who is also farming. This has lead to a decrease in rushing Infinity Edge, which gives more consistent damage due to higher base AD + Crit.

3. Last Whisper does not pack as much of a punch as it used to because of the lack of armor stacking.

4. Positioning yourself to do the small amount of damage you do is harder because of the amount of common Bruisers with gap closers and cc (Vi, Amumu, Hecarim, Jarvan, Xin Zhao, Malphite, Renekton, Shen, Elise, etc).

5. Blade of the Ruined King does not provide as much damage as BT if you rush it unless your target has 2500-3000 hp.

6. The last factor is that while AS was nerfed on items, AS reductions were not nerfed on items or spells.

ADC’s are definitely between a rock and a hard place right now and a lot of pro players have spoken up about this being a problem; some even saying ADC’s may get phased out because Bruisers are just that good. Could adding two more Bruisers to the team, instead of the ADC and Support, really be a net benefit to team composition? Only time will tell…

The Best ADC’s, for now, and Why.

Right now I feel that Range and an Escape are the biggest factors for soloqueue success, so I will use that to determine my rankings. Remember, this list is constructed for the ease of the soloqueue community and is not intended to mirror the competitive scene.

#5. Kog’Maw and Vayne

Why are the two Champions that have built-in HP% damage at the bottom of the list in the stacking HP meta? Well I am sure it is no surprise that Kog and Vayne have the weakest laning phases of all the other ADC’s. They are champions that are high risk/high reward, which is something you can’t always count on in soloqueue. If you don’t get counter-picked by the opposing ADC or Support, get camped and ganked all day by the jungler, and manage to get a decent CS. If all this comes to pass, then these champions are absolute wrecking balls to the brick-wall Bruisers running all over the place- but that’s counting on a lot of things to go your way. Throw in the fact that Kog has no escape and Vayne has Tumble, which really isn’t an escape either, your mechanical skills need to be through the roof for you to pilot these champions to a win. While they have a lot of adversity I feel they outshine the other ranged champs without escapes like Ashe and Varus.

#4.  Graves and  Twitch

Ok, why do you keep listing two Champions at once? Well I feel that ADC’s are all virtually the same right now. They don’t have a lot of niche versatility. They do damage at range and hopefully have an escape for repositioning. Graves and Twitch share the same tier because I think they are the most ability-aggressive ADC’s at the moment. Pairing them with a Taric or Leona should yield good results. Graves has a true escape and provides utility with Smoke Screen, while Twitch has stealth, true damage, a slow, and long range. I feel like it’s splitting hairs trying to decide which is better than the other, so I stick them in the same place; especially since they both fall short of the next 3.

#3.  Ezreal

Ezreal is just all around a solid ADC. He has good range and poke with his Q. He can buff his team’s AS with his W. He has the best true escape because it goes over walls instead of through them, which gives it less fail potential; his ultimate is global and just overall a solid skill. There is nothing wrong with this champion. I have heard Doublelift say time and time again that Ezreal has no weaknesses and that he is solid through and through. I am a firm believer of this. He’s a safe pick and a good one at that.

#2.  Miss Fortune

Miss Fortune is still living off the royalties from the League of Cleavers. She is in a unique spot because her ult lets her bypass the Attack Speed hindrance that all the other ADC’s suffer from in the early game. Bullet Time does incredible AoE damage to the entire enemy team from a massive range, all in two seconds, allowing MF to see immediate results from her item purchases. This gives her a unique/excellent early game and allows her to transition into a traditional ADC later on. The range on Bullet Time combined with the MS from her passive also allows her to position well and remain relatively safe till a fight is over. She also pairs well with any support with a cc (Sona, Leona, Zyra, Lux, Nami, Taric) and can almost always get a kill at level six in lane.

#1.  Caitlyn

My reasoning behind Caitlyn being #1 is simply because her range is 650. She is incredibly hard to catch as an opposing Bruiser or Jungler. If you can play Caitlyn well and make it to 30 minutes, you will carry your team. She has 100 range over all the other carries (which is a huge deal) and she has a true escape, a snare, and can even contribute to a fight from great distances with Ace in the Hole when she has been chased away. Her kit is a bit under par compared to others, not sporting any kind of AS steroid, magic damage, or debuffs, but she is literally impossible to get to and if she is running Cleanse (which she will be) you can just go into the kitchen and start sticking forks up your ass because that is literally the only recourse you will have as she shoots you with a net and proceeds to kite you into oblivion. Even since Nunu got nerfed, she’s still an obnoxious bitch and I think she shines the most out of all the ADC’s lategame, which is the only point in the game they shine right now. Pick her, win your lane, farm it out, and carry hard.

Honorable Mentions

My Top “5” list has 7 Champs on it but we can squeeze a few more. These champs all do really cool and unique things but at the end of the day their kits kind of detract from what an ADC does and wants to do. Having four cool skills is awesome but when you do 99% of your damage with an auto attack, it’s kind of hindrance to your design. These champs are listed in a specific order.

#6.  Draven – Pair him with an aggro support and you can snowball soloqueue.

#7.  Tristana – Late Game her range can rival Cait’s, she just has a much more fragile early game + mid-game slump.

#8.  Ashe – 600 range + global stun. Her ult can out-right win games, but again she has a weak laning phase.

#9.  Corki – True escape makes him better than Varus.

#10.  Varus

#11.  Sivir

 

Love, Dcgreen

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Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles:

Making Sense of Season 3

Dominion: Helping You To Win More Lanes and Games

Developing Your Killer Instincts: Why to be Aggressive in Season 3

Working With Your Team to Win

Countering Health with DFG

Reviewing the New “League System”

Why Losing is Just as Important as Winning

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Junglers

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 AP Mids

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Top Laners

top lane

Today we are going to be talking about the Top Lane which is, in my opinion, is one of the lanes that got the most warped by Season 3’s stats re-evaluations. As you should know by now I feel that the re-evaluation of HP has changed the game for the worse. Early in Season 3 I preached about how many old champions would now be viable in all lanes, but ever since the evolution of the Giant’s Belt meta this is simply not the case. In Top lane you deal smaller amounts of damage over long periods of time due to auto attacks, ad skills, and shields/high hp regen. Because of this, buying straight HP absolutely wrecks buying anything that increases damage. Before we look at the champions that I list as Top 5 lets take a look at some champions who we used to see all the time in Season 2 and some champs we hoped would become viable in Season 3.

 Riven: A major Season 2 contender now forced to live in the shadows. Someone who wants to dump all their money into AD items simply gets outclassed by a bruiser that can spend that first 1000g on a Giant’s Belt. She does a have crazy good early game and very high snowball potential but risking an all-in vs lanes that commonly start with two wards and nine pots is not as easy as it used to be.

 Wukong: I put a lot of money on Wukong being a force to be reckoned with in Season 3, with the introduction of Flask getting rid of a lot of his early lane problems. Again though Wukong fits more into the role of AD caster/assassin and can simply not contend with someone who can buy a Giant’s Belt on their first back. He can function well in the mid lane.

 Darius: A common pick/ban in Season 2, the axe man has stepped out of the spotlight in Season 3. Don’t let the PBE nerfs fool you, this is mainly to alleviate the complaints of the community that don’t know how to combat his ultimate. I don’t believe there is one recording of a pro player ever complaining that Darius is op. While Darius actually doesn’t mind stacking HP, he can easily buy a Giant’s Belt first buy, his ultimate actually gets weaker from OTHER people stacking HP. Also, he really wants to build some early damage and not being able to makes him a bit weaker overall. In Season 2 when resistances were king his true damage was a strong counter, but Riot has stated time and time again the best counter to true damage is flat HP; enter Giant’s Belt.

 Jayce: Like Riven he hinges on buying items like Blood Thirster early. We sometimes see Jayce mid because he functions better as a carry rather than a bruiser and is allowed to thrive in a lane where both parties want to stack damage and not HP.

 Attack Damage Nidalee: Nidalee benefits in no way from stacking HP. Typical top lane Nidalees used to get Trinity Force and poke, kite, and split push top lane. Now with equally scary champions lurking in top like Renekton, Shen, and Elise she has found her way to mid lane where she benefits her team more by stacking AP.

 Irelia: Queen of the nerf bat has actually not been touched in Season 3 but her presence has dropped off completely. She can stack HP like any other bruiser but her kit really thrived on being able to build a mix of HP/AS/DMG and Resistances, the hallmarks of bruisers in Season 2.

  AP Champs: except Rumble, Elise, Akali, and the occasional Katarina have all but disappeared as well. When was the last time you saw Vlad top? Some other top laners who used to be first pick/ban worthy in Season 2 and have now become more niche picks are Yorick, Jax, Lee Sin, and Cho’Gath.

 The Best Top Laners and Why.

 

Pro’s constantly say that the reason Bruisers go top is because they are the only Champions that can; top lane has such an unforgiving dynamic compared to the other lanes. It’s so far away from anything that no one gives it any attention, which means the Champs that reside there have to be tough and self-sufficient. It’s also the easiest lane to gank, which means champs need to be able to handle the pressure of constantly being monitored by the opposing jungler. Today these champs are defined by how they best maximize stacking Giant’s Belt items like Warmogs/Randuins/Sunfire Cape, and then being giant damage dealing piles of HP. Their job is to be a brick wall that punches back at anyone hitting it. They function similar to junglers, but play more of a backseat role when it comes to initiating and cc, and take the front seat when it comes to dealing the damage.

Please note that I will not include any champions on this list who I included in my jungle list. It is true that Jarvan IV or Xin Zhao are more than capable of going toe to toe with any of these champs in the top lane. However, I believe they are better suited in the jungle as they function equally well while building items like Madred’s and Locket of the Iron Solari. Bruisers want to be able to afford two Giant’s Belt items and therefore it is better to stick them in the top lane which has a steady cash flow.

Also this list is more heavily biased towards success in Soloqueue and not necessarily meant to coincide with the frequency of picks being made in the LCS. My goal is to try and provide you with advice you can use to gain LP.

#5.  Malphite

Malphite rounds out my list because in soloqueue he is picked or banned 90% of the time. I don’t think he packs as much of a punch in Season 3 compared to Season 2; he was mainly utilized because of how devastating the combined AoE damage of his ult and E were while providing an AS debuff for the enemy ADC. He was also innately tanky which allowed him to build damage items like Abyssal Scepter and Sorc Shoes. With HP stacking his ult has lost a lot of its UMPH, however, its disruption aspect is still very relevant and can be used to turn the tide of skirmishes and team fights and he still has his AS debuff. He also has a very safe laning phase with his passive shield and the ability to speed himself up and slow down his pursuers.

#4.  Olaf

Olaf got beaten badly with the nerf bat recently, but like any Viking worth his salt he is still standing. While his laning phase was neutered the most, his team fight presence is still incredibly scary. He feels right at home in the stacking HP meta as he scales off HP and does not need damage thanks to the Armor Pen from his ult and True Damage of Reckless Swing. His presence has all but disappeared in the pro scene but I still think he is an incredibly strong pick in soloqueue and I would make the argument that a late game Olaf is the strongest champion in the game.

#3.  Renekton

Renekton has seen the biggest resurgence of all the Season 2 Champs for top lane. He has a gap closer which shreds armor, a heal that does AoE damage, a wicked stun, and his ultimate gives him damage and, yep you guessed it, lots and lots of HP- oh and he’s manaless. If Renekton can farm 1000g in lane without losing lane too hard, he becomes incredibly difficult to deal with. With his level one ult and a Giant’s Belt he gets 680 HP… WITH A HEAL! That’s menacing. Good luck fighting that. Once again Renekton shows us that the dark side always prevails in terms of power. I’m looking at you Nasus, you sandy bitch! Renekton is also a huge monkey wrench in team fights because he actually does a TON of damage over a prolonged engagement. This leaves your team with the tough choice of killing the 3k HP crocodile that is destroying your face, or killing the guys behind him who are destroying your other face.

#2.  Shen

Ok get ready for another TF-esque rant! Shen is another Champion that I harbor nothing but hatred for. I feel like he is such a poorly designed ninja! Who the fuck was like “Ninja Champion! Wait for it…. He’s a tank!” That makes no sense what so ever. Ninjas aren’t tanky, that’s Samurai… Shen is also the loudest fucking ninja in the history of the world, louder than Chris Farley in Beverly Hills Ninja. His sword makes so much racket when he Ki-Strikes, he makes noise when he dashes, when he casts a shield, and even when he is coming to save an ally. None of his skills really make sense for a ninja either, and I also hate how he has to repeatedly draw his swords. A ninja is always prepared, have that shit drawn and ready. Ok, so he throws his swords… give him shuriken? He has a shield? Ok that kinda makes sense assuming he’s a master of inner-chi or something. He dashes forward and it taunts people… wait, what? Oh, and he can teleport across the map… that’s actually pretty fucking awesome, except it’s a defensive move that he uses to save his allies. Bitch, ninjas don’t look out for anyone, not even other ninjas! Good Job Riot! A white guy definitely designed him *cough* Guinsoo *cough* At least they got it right with Zed.

Ok, so what makes Shen good? Well lets start with his scaling off HP. Now that that’s out of the way, he also has global presence, like TRUE GLOBAL presence, meaning he can go from Nexus to Nexus if he has to. His ultimate can save lives and turn fights which has crazy snowball potential at all levels of the game, pro included. He does physical and magical damage which makes him a bitch to fight in lane; although this was a bigger problem in Season 2 because he was hard to itemize resistances against. He has a heal and a shield. He’s a lane bully in all senses of the word, but he can bully all the other lanes also. Did I forget to mention he’s probably the worst designed ninja champion ever? Ok, just making sure.

#1.  Elise

Strictly speaking soloqueue here, this bitch is fucking broken. I have never won a game against an Elise or lost a game playing with one. She is the new “purple team must ban this or we’re fucked” champ. No one knows how to counter her. She does damage based on HP%’s which means stacking HP doesn’t really work against her. She is ranged and melee, has a stun, a gap closer, and a crazy escape that makes Fizz look like a flounder. She can also readily stack HP because she gets free defensive stats AND MOVESPEED from her Spiderform. She’s ridiculous. It’s actually crazy how underpowered people thought she was when released, then Riot buffed her ever so slightly and now she rapes people’s nightmares. She’s really strong and I wish I didn’t sound so uneducated about her and what to do against her, but I don’t really play top lane and, like I said, I have never beaten a team with an Elise.

Honorable Mentions

These champions function well in the top lane but are less of soloqueue stompers than the five listed above and better suited in the hands of pro players who know how to get them through their delicate laning phases and into late game. The only champion that I think deserves a “pro spot” on my list is Singed who I think would replace Elise as the #1 spot, leaving the rest of the list unchanged. The champs are listed in alphabetical order.

Akali

Cho’Gath

Darius

Jax

Lee Sin

Rengar

Rumble

Singed

Yorick

This list was actually pretty difficult for me to come up with because I know very little about top lane. I believe though from my observations that this is fairly accurate. It is definitely my most subjective list and because of that I will make no effort to defend it in the comments like I have on some of my others.

Love, Dcgreen

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Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles:

Making Sense of Season 3

Dominion: Helping You To Win More Lanes and Games

Developing Your Killer Instincts: Why to be Aggressive in Season 3

Working With Your Team to Win

Countering Health with DFG

Reviewing the New “League System”

Why Losing is Just as Important as Winning

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Junglers

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 AP Mids