Support is a role that is often coveted by the pros and overlooked by the common viewer. Due to the current support meta of initiators and frontliners, many support players have very low lane proximity and strong presence on the map. Despite getting the least farm, support players often dictate the tempo of the game through ward coverage, well-timed initiations, and unexpected early rotations. It may not be the flashiest role on the Rift, but support players often play a key role in their team’s victory.
Here is Inven Global’s ranking of the best supports going into the 2021 World Championship:
10. Vsta (HLE) — 1.29/10
9. Kaiwing (PSG) — 2.14/10
8. Life (GenG), Kaiser (MAD) — 3.00/10
7. Hylissang (FNC) — 3.71/10
6. CoreJJ (TL) — 4.57/10
5. Crisp (FPX) — 5.86/10
In a meta dictated by rotations and low lane proximity, Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song’s strength comes from winning lane and giving Lin “LWX” Wei-Xiang room to breathe. Due to the strength of Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang as a 2v2, Crisp doesn’t necessarily need to rotate mid as much as the other support players at Worlds 2021. It’s not as if Crisp can’t play roam-heavy initiators. Rather, it’s more a matter of whether or not he needs to.
For instance, if DoinB picks a mage like TF or Orianna, we’re more likely to see Crisp play a hard engage support like Leona or Alistar. However, if DoinB drafts Irelia, Galio, or another melee bruiser, Crisp is likely on Thresh or Braum. This makes Crisp the flexible player FPX needs to support their insanely aggressive playstyle.
Additionally, Crisp’s affinity for counter-engage supports allows LWX to pick the immobile ADCs he seems to prefer. Considering Aphelios and Varus are LWX’s most played champs recently, Crisp’s peel-focused playstyle fits well with what FPX want to draft. However, Crisp’s obligation to keep his volatile ADC alive may cause him to get outpaced by other support players.
4. BeryL (DWG KIA) — 6.71/10
Cho “BeryL” Geon-hee is a player that has received his fair share of criticism over the last year. He’s one of the most aggressive support players in the World, but this reputation comes with the caveat that he got caught out. A lot. His Spring was rough, and it felt like DK's topside carried their team to MSI. DK's roster woes during Summer further led many to question whether or not BeryL was still the right fit for the team.
By the end of Summer, BeryL shook aside all those notions and put himself back on the map as one of Korea’s best supports.
On paper, BeryL’s hard-engage playstyle fits the meta pretty well. He favors champions like Rell, Nautilus, and Leona. He wants to get in, stay alive for as long as possible, and be an unavoidable nuisance for the enemy team. When BeryL isn’t on the same page as the rest of DK, it looks like he’s inting; but when he's in sync, he one of the most fearless initiators on the Rift.
Lately, BeryL’s been in peak form. If he’s able to maintain the level of play he showed through the LCK Summer Finals, he could be the best support player at Worlds 2021. If not, he may tank DK's chances of title repeat.
3. Meiko (EDG) — 7.29/10
Expectations are high for EDG going into Worlds and they have a real shot at the title. However, with players like Park “Viper” Do-hyeon and Lee “Scout” Ye-chan on the team, Tian “Meiko” Ye's importance to EDG can get lost amongst the highlight reels.
Meiko's greatest strength is his ability to be exactly where he needs to be at any given time. If there’s a fight in top lane, he’s prepared for it. If there’s a gank in mid, Meiko’s ready to peel for Scout. If there’s a fight topside over Herald, Meiko’s usually there seconds before the other support. Additionally, Viper’s careful and calculated play makes it easy to leave him alone in lane for an extended period of time.
To all this, Meiko has been with EDG for almost seven years, a tenure matching Faker's loyalty to T1, and it’s no surprise that over half a decade worth of experience gives Meiko such a wealth of game knowledge. This seasoned veteran is no doubt looking to take his first World Championship title after seven years of trying.
2. Ming (RNG) — 8.43/10
When one of the main carries on a team is the top laner, support becomes an infinitely more important role. Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao’s tendency to pick champions like Lucian and Jayce can make building up RNG’s frontline difficult, and the responsibility of initiating is often put in the hands of Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming. Chen “GALA” Wei and Xiaohu can’t carry without a tank to rally behind, and Ming fills that role perfectly.
Ming plays Nautilus, Rell, and Leona like most aggro support players do. However, he also has a particular affinity for Sett and Alistar. You’ll almost never see Ming on Thresh and Lulu, and his win rate on backline-focused support champions is pretty underwhelming. Ming has to be the one that starts fights for this team, and he’s a crucial part of RNG’s overall teamfighting.
That said, RNG tend to do poorly in games where Ming gets focused down. If he gets shut out of the game, RNG seem lost without the ability to start fights. Ming’s skill in this role makes him someone RNG depends on, to the point that RNG’s reliance on him could be a possible weakness.
1. Keria (T1) — 8.71/10
Ryu “Keria” Min-seok is a very clear step above every other support on this list by standing out in two criteria: He’s not afraid to think outside the box, and his mechanics are better than some teams’ carries.
For instance, Keria will sometimes run Unsealed Spellbook on certain supports. It does give him a lane disadvantage, but it also means he can TP to top or mid lane for an early gank. It’s really hard to out-rotate TP, and this is the sort of strategy that could catch even the most seasoned rosters off guard. Keria also tends to be at the forefront of the meta, and he’s always trying to figure out how the newest flavor picks can fit into T1’s draft. This level of flexibility will come in handy at the World Championship where the meta is constantly fluctuating.
Additionally, Keria’s incredible mechanics grant him the ability to play any support he wants. He gravitates toward Braum and Leona in most cases, but he isn’t afraid to pick something unusual in the right situation. Keria is willing to pick champs with a small margin of error if it means T1 will ultimately benefit from what that champ brings to the table, and Keria’s stellar mechanics allow him to look good on whatever he picks.
Keria will likely be at the forefront of the World Championship 2021 support meta, and he’s certainly a player to watch on T1. Even with stars like Faker and Park “Teddy” Jin-seong on his team, Keria could very well be the MVP for T1 at Worlds.
All images via: Riot Games
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.