Hello everyone :) ! Just came back from Dreamleague, and I have to say I really enjoyed casting games over there. The casting crew and the production were really nice and easy to work with. The overall ‘production value’ was quite high, the experience was just chilled and fun! I wrote that article during my spare time there, and on the way back.
This article is going to highlight a role in particular, the support role. I have always played support, and although I often get to try other roles/heroes, it still remains my favorite position. Playing support is about embracing the strategy you or your captain designed. It’s about being smarter than the opponent support, it’s about anticipating how they want to play the game, it’s about reading their minds.
The topic of today’s article will be rather simple : How to practice and improve, as a support player ?
This is a question I have been asked plenty of times. Answering in a sentence or two is actually impossible. I will try to give a lot of inputs in that article, share what I do to practice supporting, and hopefully you guys find the answer you were looking for.
Team practice :
Obviously, the first type of practice that comes to mind is the team practice. Play with your team, and create the conditions of a real match. Scriming other teams can only be useful. You get to see how people react to your plays, your warding, and you also get to watch the replay of the opposing team’s supports, which can sometimes be very helpful. Practicing in those conditions is going to require that you stay very focused and most importantly stay away from laziness. You have to think about what you do, and how you do it. You have to try everything that comes to your mind, to innovate. It is always a better idea to push your limits during ‘fake games’ than during an official. It might just not be a risk you’re willing to take on behalf of your team the D Day. There is not much to say about team practice, it is rather obvious.
I want to jump to the second part of my article, which is definitely the one that you will find the most interesting.
Individual practice :
There we are, individual practice. This is definitely the most important part of practicing the support role. Let’s start from the most obvious, to the least obvious.
Solo games :
So first of all, you go for games in which you practice your mechanics with the heroes you play. You get used to the range of your spells, the way they interact with other spells/items, you try itembuilds, you get to know the damage you can deal, the position you need to have in fights, etc… In other words : you try to improve your mechanics and your knowledge of the hero in question.
There is more that you can do when you just play solo games, of course. You can practice your warding/dewarding. Warding depends on two mains things : the playstyle of the opposing players/teams, and the strategies/heroes they are running. Some players, for example, are aggressive by nature, thus their warding will be completely different from a very safe team. The same reasoning applies to strategies : if they run a line-up that relies heavily on getting Roshan, they will obviously ward differently than if they would be running a 4 protect 1 type of line-up. It is important that you keep those two aspects in mind when you try to analyze someone’s way of warding. Last, but not least, the real-time situation. Indeed, do not underrate the importance of that. Often you ward just because a fight was about to happen, and by observing that, you can’t get any intelligence that will be useful outside of that precise game. It is very important for you to learn how to make the difference between ‘reactionary’ warding or rotations overall, and ‘strategical’ ones.
Replays analysis :
This part is probably more important than the solo games. I would say than the solo games are useful to secure the basics, but looking at replays Is truly what will start to make the difference. You can either analyze your own replays, or others. When you look at your own replays, it is mainly to get more detailed information about how the opposing team reacted to your support plays, or to understand better what you did wrong/right. Obviously it is also very important to ask yourself what could you have done better in that game. The classic reaction is usually that if the game was won, there’s very few things to look at, but that is completely false. You can win a game although you played horribly, and vice versa. As a support, it is very important to understand what your role exactly is, what are the limits of your role.
Let me take an example : if you played really well, pressured the midlane for instance, and allowed your midlane to really dominate his matchup. The safelane was secured as well, and overall early game was a great success. Nevertheless, your team lost the first big fights, and the game got out of control extremely quickly. You might have that tendency to, if you get to play that type of game again, try to get a bit more farm or space. That is just a mistake. It will only reduce the quality of games you play. It is important to know the limits of what you have to do. The rest usually comes down to your core’s decision making, or your team calls. Trying to do too much will actually get you to neglect the basics. You often see supports trying to get 25 kills in 10 minutes in early, forgetting the very basics that are warding, being ready to counter-gank etc…
The most important part of replays analysis is definitely the analysis of other players. Replays are like a gold mine, it is the access to people’s brain and geniality, so why not use it? Look at replays, try to understand what they do, and replicate how they do it. Obviously, once you understood it, you need to try to replicate it, and do it until you’re confident you mastered it. But this is probably the best way of improving as a support. Don’t copy everything, every player has his weaknesses, try simply to spot his strengths and adapt them to your way of supporting.
General practice :
This is the last point I will tackle in this article, and probably the one you’ve never heard of yet. Is it something I use a lot in order to improve as a support player, and it really helped me so far. I called it general practice, so what do I mean by that ? Well it is quite simple : it is to try to increase your general knowledge of the game. Practicing other roles, other heroes, so that you can understand them better, and thus, counter them better. Whenever I feel like I lack knowledge about a certain hero or playstyle, I actually practice it on my own to make sure I understand it to perfection. Let’s take spectre as an example. You’re a support player, and you keep facing spectre. The best way for you to learn how to counter spectre is to study spectre players, or play it yourself. By playing spectre a decent amount (until you’re good at understanding how the hero works and what he needs), you will realize many things about the hero, his strengths and weaknesses. For instance : spectre is a very slow farmer. You played spectre yourself, and you actually wanted to fight all the time, you were pinging your team “Haunt : READY” because you were dreaming of getting that roaming support kill. You realized how crucial your manta was, or you started going for easy targets in fights. You abused the manta ‘one shot’ move, where you just spot a hero that’s a bit far from the others in teamfights, in desolate range, and you always jumped him first with manta activation. Long story short, you know all there is to know about spectre.
So next time you play support against spectre, you are going to mess with him like never before. You won’t give him the kill he desperately needs, you will place the ward where you know you would farm with spectre, etc. It is also a great way to practice support roles, learning more about other roles. You’ll only be able to help your midlaner effectively if you understand his match-up, the timings, etc. Same goes for the support duel in a game. If you do not want to get completely out maneuvered by the opponent Tuskar, or Bh, you need to understand how that hero is played. Because if you don’t, even if you are the best spirit breaker in the freaking world, you will get outplayed. There are several ways to approach that type of practice, either you play the heroes yourself, or you watch good players playing them, or last, you discuss a lot with your team mates, ask them many questions about what annoys them when they play that hero, what helps them a lot, what are their timings, etc.
If you manage to keep all that in mind when you play support, you will be very effective, and improve very fast. It requires a lot of work, and focus, but it is doable. Also always keep in mind that it is better to practice effectively two hours, while you are still focused and in good shape, than to just play 10 hours in a row, being tired and lazy. Quality > Quantity. When you feel like your plays are becoming a bit sloppy, just chill, or go watch a replay.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your read, and most importantly that the article helped you in your tough support life. If you’re a core player, you now understand the amount of things a support has to take into account before being effective. Remember, this is nothing but my personal opinion/experiences. Cheers!
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