Support is an often overlooked role. While it doesn’t require the same level of mechanics as a standard carry role, there’s a lot of general macro and decision-making that lies on the support. With tank supports being so prevalent in the meta, support players often dictate the pace of the game. It’s their job to find fights and opportunities to tip the scales in their team’s favor from the very first minute of the game.
These five players make magic happen for their team, and can turn around even the worst fights by keeping their carries alive.
5. Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in
It’s been a minute since CoreJJ took his World Championship title, but he hasn’t slowed down at all despite having an almost decade-long career across two roles. Remaining a relevant pro player after such a long time is rare, but most common in support. CoreJJ’s long tenure brings wisdom and experience that far outshines any mechanical skill a newer, younger player could bring to the table. CoreJJ’s ability to create the perfect fight for his team is near-unrivaled.
Hard-engage supports are a great fit for CoreJJ’s playstyle. He’s the sort of player that is at his absolute best when he’s leading the charge. And with Steven "Hans Sama" Liv coming to Team Liquid in 2022, this bot lane is likely to be at the top of the region. Additionally, CoreJJ has put a great deal of time and effort into improving the North American scene. Between his contributions to the Players Association and the in-houses he’s been running through the off-season, CoreJJ is a support in more ways than one.
4. Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov
Fnatic didn’t fare well in 2021. Just when they finally had everything together and found their stride in Summer, things fell apart at Worlds. Now, with only their bot lane intact after the off-season, Fnatic’s future as one of Europe’s most iconic and powerful organizations is uncertain. However, if there’s one player that can keep the fiery playstyle of Fnatic alive, it’s Hylissang.
The way this play unfolded shows how distinct Fnatic’s playstyle is. Hyli waited patiently in tri-brush, knowing that MAD would expect them to be on dragon already. Could Fnatic have used their bot lane prio to take dragon and leave? Sure, but going for the kill when possible is the kind of call Hylissang will always make. The fact that he has an unusually high number of deaths would normally be bad, but it just goes to show how far Hyli is willing to go to force fights. His playstyle lies at the core of Fnatic’s identity, and I hope we see that shine through in 2022.
3. Fu “Hang” Ming-Hang
Support in pro play is often a role occupied by seasoned veterans, players that have spent years refining their playstyle and learning how to lead. In stark contrast, Hang is an 18-year-old with a ton of potential for growth. While his play is nowhere near flawless, Hang’s playstyle is a pitch-perfect reflection of what a support player should be doing.
Hang operates on the philosophy of “first man in, last man out.” He does his best to set up a fight for his team and subsequently sticks to the biggest opposing threats as long as they’re a danger to his carries. Hang positions in a way that makes him too much of a problem to ignore for the enemy team. The downside to this playstyle is that, if Hang’s team isn’t doing well, he’s going to sink. That said, Hang initially seems to have great synergy with Lin “LWX” Wei-Xiang, and FPX’s bot lane has been lethal through the Demacia Cup thanks to Hang’s heads-up play. He’s got a bright 2022 ahead of him.
2. Lee “Effort” Sang-ho
Effort has grown a lot since he was picked up by T1 in 2017. T1’s rigorous training and constantly rotating roster tend to birth some of the LCK’s best talent, and Effort is no different. He is good with your typical frontliners, but especially strong with displacement. Champions like Thresh, Alistar, and Gragas make Effort an exciting player to watch due to their ability to push and shove the opponent where they least want to be. He’s capable of playing like a typical frontliner, but Effort is at his best when he’s controlling the battlefield.
The man is a bit of a tactician. He picks his fights carefully and he puts thought into which targets he CCs as well as where they end up in the fight. Through the chaos of this topside engagement, Effort didn’t let Alistar deny his CC. Effort’s strength lies in his ability to keep the enemy from forming any semblance of a front-to-back fight. Between that and ward coverage/usage that dwarfs other LCK supports, Effort has one of the greatest minds in the role.
1. Ryu “Keria” Min-seok
League of Legends is known for how flexible roles can be. Almost any role can carry a game in a variety of ways, but it’s particularly difficult for a support player to stand above the rest of their team as a true carry. However, if there’s any support player that carries games consistently, it’s Keria. He truly has it all. Better mechanics than most pros, a wide champion pool with clutch pocket picks, and meta-defying build/rune paths are just a few of the things that make Keria stand out from the crowd. He’s just that good.
Keria somehow dived bot lane, backed, swapped Exhaust out for Teleport with Unsealed Spellbook, TPed back in, and proceeded to dismantle Liiv Sandbox’s attempt to create a fight. All in around a minute. Keria isn’t afraid to try new things and pioneer new meta moves. Going into whatever the 2022 season brings, Keria will likely be at the bleeding edge of the support meta. It’s hard to find a support player with the raw mechanics and innovative ideas that Keria brings to the table.
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Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.