10 Tips to Become Top-Tier Support

"Support is a very difficult role in competitive play because the only two skills that transfer over from solo queue to competitive play are the laning abilities and team fight abilities. All of the warding and map rotations are totally different making it a little bit of a challenge for a lot of new supports. There is definitely room for people who are in the master and low challenger realm to improve just a bit and challenge LCS players." ~ Silver

Want to improve your support play in League of Legends? Whether you like to play Janna, Alistar, Bard - or even less traditional supports like Gragas - in this guide you get 10 universal tips to become a good support player.

Tip #1: Learn One Champion at a Time

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you when learning support is to take on one champion at a time. This means you should become very comfortable with one champion before proceeding to learn the next. Learning how to play all the support champions at once is inefficient as you fail to learn the ins and outs of each champion. The ultimate goal is to have a champion pool of four to five support champions, where you are very comfortable on two to three of those champions. These are the champions you main for support.

Here's some advice from challenger support Lohpally:

“Find champions that fit your style and are comfortable and just focus on getting better at those first before branching off, don't overwhelm yourself with champion mastery.”

Here’s some advice from challenger coach Silver:

“Try to focus on one or two larger ideas and once you master those, move on.”

Tip #2: Learn the Specific Capabilities of Each Support Champion

The champions in League of Legends designated for support can be categorized into different groupings. There are a few different kinds of supports, in terms of method and role. Many of these champions may be capable of doing different roles, but not all champions are able to do them equally. Let’s go through a few different types of supports.

I like to call champions such as Soraka, Sona and Janna “dedicated supports” because they allow their ADC to farm safely, help set up potential kills, and they  make sure that their ADC is healthy. They generally rely on the strength of their raw abilities. On the other hand, champions like Zilean, Karma and Morgana can be referred to as “AP supports” as they focus on winning their lane by using their abilities to contribute damage to the enemy lane. Play to the strengths of each type.

Tip #3: Identify Your Mistakes as a Support

I find lower elo players ask questions like, “I main support but I just can’t get out of Silver elo... what do I do?” Well, the first step to improve is identifying what you’re really struggling with. You have to realize that every champion for the role of support is powerful in its own unique way, and you have to make sure you’re playing these champions right without making mistakes. For example, knowing when to engage with a champion such as Alistar is necessary in order to win your lane. Engaging at the wrong time can give the enemy bot lane a double kill and put your ADC along with yourself behind in gold.

One of the best ways to recognize your mistakes is to watch replays of your gameplay. “The main tip I have for people improving in solo queue in almost any role is to look at your own play before you start blaming everyone else," says challenger coach Silver. "95% of the time there is something however small that you can improve on that would have made at least a little bit of a difference in the outcome.”

Tip #4: Vision Control

A big mistakes I see with low elo supports is a lack of vision control. Many low elo players believe that putting out wards and maintaining good vision is not necessary. Ggood vision around the map is one of the biggest factors in winning a game. If you recognize that you do not have good vision control as a support, force yourself to put more wards on the map.

Tip #5: Keep in Mind Cooldowns of Your ADC and Opponents

While it is difficult to know the exact CDs of your ADC and lane opponents, top-tier supports have a good idea of when the abilities of their ADC and opponents are on cooldown.  Knowing the CDs of your fellow teammates and opponents can help you recognize when to initiate and when to play safe.

Tip #6: Melee Support vs Ranged Support

When you play a melee support against a ranged support, try your best to hit level two first and then use this advantage to immediately engage. After this first engage, be cautious when trying to engage, and ward the opposing bush to have vision of the enemy support. Avoid getting poked down, and try to all-in when possible.

Tip #7: Observe Lane Patterns

Depending on the enemy lane’s champions and play-styles, they may choose to play the lane aggressively or passively. It is your job to recognize this pattern. If the enemies are passive for the majority of the time but they suddenly begin to play aggressively, be cautious as there is a good chance that your lane is getting ganked.

Tip #8: Harass as a Ranged Support

It is vitally important to harass the enemy ADC and support if you are playing a ranged champion such as Nami or Morgana. Even if it means harassing the enemy champions with just auto-attacks, taking that bit of health away from them will relieve some pressure off your ADC and help your lane overall. Your spells can be very effective as well.

Tip #9: Summoner Spells

Summoner spells are very important. Having your summoner spells up while the enemy bot lane doesn’t gives your ADC and yourself a huge advantage in a two vs two. Keep note of summoner spells and try to force a fight if you have this advantage.

Tip #10: Try Lead the Team

“Support players are the leaders in lane and not enough people realize that,” said challenger coach Silver. As a support, it may be effective for you to make the calls in solo queue on when to engage, which objectives to go for next, etc. Helping the team be organized can lead you to victory. I often find that teams in solo queue need a leader who can step up to the plate and make the calls. In addition, make sure that you keep a positive mindset throughout your games as a support because a negative atmosphere usually leads to defeat.

Found these support tips helpful? You will like Summoner School, the complete guide to become a dominant player.

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8 League of Legends Tips to Be Higher Ranked

The majority of League of Legends players are stuck in low tiers with no idea how to climb up.

20.76% of players are in Bronze while 45.27% of players are in Silver. On the other hand, 2.43% of players are in Diamond and only 0.02% of players are in Challenger.

If you are currently placed in Bronze or Silver, and you are looking for advice on how to become a better player so you can rank higher and escape league hell, then you have come to the right place. With the following tips, you will drastically improve your play in solo queue and reach higher ranks.

Tip #1: Develop Patience

You must have patience before anything. You will not attain the rank of Diamond from Bronze within one day; it requires patience and dedication. Too often I see players rush their solo queue games with sloppy plays because they want to reach tiers such as Platinum and Diamond within a few days when they are just Bronze or Silver. You have to give every solo queue game 100% of your attention, and by no means should you rush the games as it leads to misplays most times. Patience will let you slowly improve as you finally reach that ranked goal of yours.

Tip #2: Pick One Role

Mastering one role, and preferably one champion for that role is very important if you want to reach Diamond and Challenger tiers. Although you won’t be as well rounded, your solo queue win rate will increase if you start constantly practicing one champion for your favorite role. You will eventually become very comfortable with that champion and role, and you will be able to easily defeat and punish those who are not as comfortable. It does not have to follow the meta either, it can be any champion you enjoy playing for any role. Just practice it and get comfortable with it. The cheese tactic can work. For instance, I know one guy who reached Diamond by playing support Shaco.

Tip #3: Improve Map Awareness

This issue seems to be present among lower ranked players the majority of the time. They tend to not look at their map, as they are too focused in the game. However, this is a habit that needs to be broken because it can lead to deaths and lost games. If you are too busy focusing on farming, you will not see the enemy jungler approaching your lane for a gank, causing an avoidable death. Ensure that you are constantly paying attention to your map. If you have issues looking at your minimap regularly, do a minimap flip. Although it may be awkward for the first few games, you will soon be able to watch the map and your lane at the same time. Warding is also important. Every player on the team including yourself needs to ward, not just the support.

For more help with map awareness, Summoner School covers everything you can know.

Tip #4: Do Research

Pro players, such as Meteos, constantly make guides for different champions. Find guides created by Challenger players for your favorite champions and take time to read them. These guides are created by knowledgeable players who have reached Challenger, and they know the best strategies for each champion. Listen to their advice, and apply it to the next game you play. You will notice a difference in your gameplay, and you will improve if you regularly read updated guides for the champions you play.

Tip #5: Accept Your Mistakes

Learn to accept your mistakes if you want to reach higher ranks. Everyone makes mistakes, even high elo players. But you have to learn to recognize these mistakes and use them to improve your gameplay. For example, if you notice that you lose one game due to a lack of wards, then communicate with your team the next game and make sure everyone wards around the map, including yourself.

Tip #6: Take Breaks

I'm sure you've had days where you just keep losing, and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to win. Don’t worry, we have all been there. The best thing to do is take a break. Your motivation is low when you lose 3-4 games in a row, and continuing to play won’t do you any good. Whether it’s going outside on a walk, or taking a nap, just step away from your computer and take a break. That’s the best thing to do when you find yourself on a losing streak.

Tip #7: Watch the Pros

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give you is to watch pro players. Whether it’s watching them stream, or watching the LCS, you will truly improve a considerable amount by watching these professional players play the game. You will be able to learn new strategies, and recognize certain mistakes that you tend to make. You can then apply these new strategies that you have discovered the next time you play and you should notice a difference.

Tip #8: Don't be Toxic

Focus on yourself in solo queue, and make sure you are not rude or toxic to other players on your team even when they make certain misplays. If others on your team are toxic, the best course of action is to mute them and continue focusing on the game. Muting toxic players on your team will allow you to focus on your own play rather than arguing with the rude individual.

By using the tips and various pieces of advice given in this article, you can improve your in League of Legends and quickly climb the ladder. Remember, it takes practice and dedication to reach Diamond or Challenger, it will not happen in a few days.

If you're after a complete guide to win at LoL even when your teammates feed, check out our full Summoner School course.

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Interview with LCS Team 8 Coach Matt Schmieder

I had the opportunity to interview Matt Schmieder, head coach of professional League of Legends lineup Team 8 who competed in the League of Legends Championship Series.

Q: Hey Matt, for those who don’t know much about you, how about you tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I’m Matthew Schmieder, the head coach of Team 8. I’m from New Jersey and I’m 19 years old. I took a break from studying at Rutgers University to live the esports life. In my free time lately I’ve been listening to music, playing solo queue or 5s with friends, and watching Starcraft.

Q: How did you get involved with Team 8?

A: I became a big fan of Team 8 during NACL Season 2, when they came from out of nowhere and started taking games off LMQ, when no other team was, and I followed them in other tourneys like NACS and Black Monster Cup. Sometime around last April/May I messaged Maple on Twitter, asking if the team was looking for analysts. I showed them some samples of my work and they decided to trial me. Eventually they said I could stay in their team house during the summer, then we made LCS and now I’m here.

Q: What’s the team training routine in the house? In other words, how does the team’s daily schedule look like?

A: We typically have two scrim blocks a day, the first usually starting at 12pm. Blocks can be anywhere from 2-4 hours, and I usually schedule at least an hour break between both blocks. After the second block, we do replay review. Other than that, there isn’t that much structure to our schedule. We tried to implement set sleep/wake-up times, but I think we are all reasonable enough about it that we don’t need it to be set it stone. Additionally, some of us have different sleep schedules so setting us all to the same time might throw some people off.

Q: As the coach, do you advise the players on strategies or play styles?

A: Yes I do advise on strategy. I see my main job as getting the players to be more mindful of overall strategy, as applied to every phase of the game. As for play-styles, every team undoubtedly has a play-style but I also see my job as trying to move our team away from a predictable “style” and instead toward being able to play a multitude of styles as necessary. That’s is a lofty goal which not many teams really achieve, but it’s good to have that final goal in mind.

Q: It’s been a bit of a rocky start so far for Team 8, do you expect that to change for the rest of the split?

A: I do expect it to change. In scrims, I think there’s tangible progress being made in our team-play which doesn’t always manifest itself in LCS games. We obviously aim to place as high as possible, but I think keeping focused on improvement just as much as LCS results will benefit us more in the long run.

Q: How is your relationship with the team? Is it strictly professional?

A: I wouldn’t call it strictly professional. I’ve lived with the team for about half a year now, and it’s hard to be strictly professional when you go through everything together for that long, not that that’s a bad thing necessarily. It’s also important to note that my relation to them previously was as an analyst rather than a coach, so I wasn’t expecting the same level of respect or authority that I do now. And transitioning to a different role has had its own unique challenges.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody that wants get involved in Esports, whether as a player or a coach/manager?

A: It is maybe true that in esports, you need a bit of luck to break into the scene, but that’s not something you can control. What you can control is that you work hard and have a mind toward improving yourself, always. I feel as if Thorin might have said the same once, and that’s because it’s applicable to anything you do.

Q: There is a lot of controversy regarding player imports from outside of the region. Do you think that there is fresh talent in North America?

A: Undoubtedly. I think it’s really on the orgs to give challenger/amateur players the environment to grow, and the right people to guide young talent in the right direction attitude-wise. At the same time, I don’t blame teams for looking overseas for talent .The LCS format is unforgiving in that it doesn’t allow much time for players to learn on the job, whether you’re looking to either compete for worlds or avoid relegation. If you have to choose between an NA player who needs time to learn to play competitive, or a seasoned foreign player (ignoring language issues), isn’t the answer obvious? By that I don’t mean that every imported player is necessarily more seasoned or always the better move, but that it’s important to consider a team’s motivations and needs before criticizing a roster decision.

Q: Thanks for your time Matt. Before we end this interview, do you have anything to say to all your fans?

A: Thanks to everyone who supports Team 8 in a positive way! We appreciate you for sticking with us through everything. Also shout out to my best friend Mike who has always been there for me.

I would like to thank Matt for taking the time to sit down and answer those questions. I wish him and his team the best of luck in the NA LCS!

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