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I constantly find myself questioning the player base of what is now the biggest eSport. The game I am talking about is of course League of Legends. For those now saying, “what in the world is League of Legends”, I would first implore you to get out from the rock you are under. After you plug into the internet somewhere, I imagine it would be hard to avoid hearing the name of such a wildly popular game. Once you’ve heard the name, downloaded the game, and let go of your own identity to take on the role of summoner on the fields of justice, you’ll understand just how attractive this game truly is to even the most casual of us gamers. Getting back to my question, though, I always wonder why it is that no one loves the very role I have come to (very proudly, mind you) call my own: support.
Before I fully explain what a support exactly is, a crash course in the current meta, or “best” way of playing the game, is in order.League of Legends builds upon the framework that DotA laid using Warcraft III. In it, a player chooses a character out of now over 100 choices, and they, along with 4 other friends or strangers, play a PvP match against another team of 5. The intent is to destroy the enemy nexus, which is guarded by not only the other players, but towers capable of dealing damage, as well as enemy minions, both of which are NPC elements, found in the three separate lanes the main map contains. (For more information, there is a tutorial built into the League of Legends client).
It is within this objective that the professional players do what they do best, and find the most elite and efficient way of playing the game. From this a meta has developed, with brief changes between different areas in the world. However for the sake of this article, the North American focused meta will be observed. In it, there is one character holding top, which is a heavy bruiser character. Holding down the center lane is a character who deals primarily magic damage, using their abilities unique to their character. Helping out wherever help is needed, there is a character who kills neutral monsters strewn across the map. Finally, to round out the team, there is a character who primarily uses its auto-attack for damage and of course, the subject of this article: the support character.
The name of this role is well-fitted, considering that character is there to help their lane-mate as well as the rest of their team by making the most out of nothing. In a game where money is gathered slowly over time, and also by killing minions, they make do with killing a minimum of minions. In this aspect, they are very thrifty, not becoming very rich over the course of the game, and therefore not completing the most expensive of items available through the item store. And yet even though they are crucial to the team in more than one aspect, they are the most panned of every role, never garnering attention or desire from the majority to be played.
It is here that I hope to make a change, by explaining the true significance of this role, and by doing so explain where the true pleasure of the role originates. From those who dislike the role, the main complaint I receive in response to my crusade for popularity of the role is that they do not kill things, and therefore are no fun. While I can understand the logic here, there is a higher pleasure to be found in knowing that without a support character, success is almost certainly lost. Without a knowledge center for your team that is found in the support role, you are forced to play blind. And if one team is playing blind, all it takes is a mediocre-at-best support on the other team to shut down everything through simple practices of placing wards for increased vision as well as buffing their laning partner.
It goes beyond simply the kill-factor though. Many support characters throughout the course of the game may end up behind the rest of the team in levels, and will certainly end behind them in build-completion. To this fact I hear the roar of the crowd scream there is no fun in playing a character who doesn’t have a super build to be finished. To this, I respond as such: making game plays with a severe disadvantage is the greatest feeling achievable in League of Legends. By making the best of a horrible situation, completing a task such as keeping everyone alive in a fight, or setting up a fight in such a way that you twist the negatives to positives makes you the greatest of all summoners.
I can honestly understand why many players disparage the support role, for I used to be one of the blind masses. But after slowly falling into the role, it has become so clear how important it is to be the one with nothing, yet control everything. The support role takes a dying situation and allows it to bloom into something stunningly workable, and even into something truly powerful. And while living within the LoL world, every player will see support characters, I implore them to give it a shot, especially if it is foreign to them. It is only until one truly examines and acts on something that they can begin to understand it, and possibly enjoy it.
Give support a shot in League of Legends. If you don’t love it, then at least you are a bit more prepared for ranked game possibilities. However, if you find yourself enjoying how creative and skilled you can be with as little as possible, trying the role once will be worth it for a lifetime of playing on the fields of justice, the battlegrounds of League of Legends.