In Focus: Breaking down the Singed Support Debate

When League of Legends first released it fielded a meager 17 champions. The objective focus of the game was simple. You killed creeps, purchased items, killed enemies, siege towers, killed the base. In between those objectives, there is this complex strategy of play that included roles, farming, and mini-objectives such as baron and dragons (drakes). The game still remains the same today, however since its release it has grown to reach critical success, spawning a new culture of gaming and helping mold eSports into what it is today.

Guides and tutorials were created to help players understand the mechanics of the games, the 5 present roles, and the mechanics of summoners rift. It was amazing to see the content creation reach a new height, but it felt even greater to go out there and test that Master Yi mid or that Jax attack-damage carry (ADC). You found a world of good.. and not so good. It helped develop the meta system where players influence a shift in dynamic play-styles to fit into the larger macro end game. Of course with the changes brought on by Riot Games. Done so for many reasons, but mainly to keep the game feeling fresh and vibrant. Nothing to become stale or dull because of the lack of changes or updates. Now the game fields 133 champions. Diverse in every sense of the word.

Always a topic that invokes controversy. We love this game because of the champions' attributes and skills. Don't change them, some would say others would agree otherwise. It's healthy and important to keep it changing or the ecosystem will implode. With all these changes done to the map and the champions you will always find the next savant to introduce or reintroduce a champion into the current meta in a designated or off-meta role. Such as Morgana mid as she was played before or Lee Sin mid. It's healthy to explore options but there is a distinctive difference between something that is good for you and something that is good for the team. Today we're putting the Singed support discussion to an end once and for good (at least we hope!) in this week's In:Focus.

Meta who?

It's rare to introduce or reintroduce a champion into the meta without initial backlash. Some don't understand old champions or they doubt the effectiveness as a whole. Others will doubt its usefulness is such a high-octane composition that is ready for current agendas. As I said earlier, metas live or die by the player with the help of the publisher in this case Riot Games. For the most part we can debate that players make or break them, so witnessing the return of the champions or using champions in new roles can be refreshing. It's done in casual modes, competitive modes and professional leagues. Let's not forget the infamous Miss Fortune support pick used by Korean powerhouse ROX Tigers.

A support so crazy it was bound to work which it did. Her unique slow, damage, and ultimately wombo-combo'd into victory, but not all camps are able to pull off such glamour. I want to reaffirm this stance before I move on to my next talking point. To critique a player in a constructive manner is a challenging scenario, but one I do often in my line of work. We do it because we need to. To give players the opportunity to make mistakes so we can help them fix it so it doesn't happen again. Riot may nudge the meta one way to push it in a new direction, but we as players do most of the heavy pushing.

Singed support: good or bad?

Singed as a champion is rare. An unconventional champion with attributes and skills that are akin to nothing in League of Legends. Synonymous to annoyance and lurking Singed can be useful in many compositions. Relevant to the topic, Singed as a support is viable for many reasons, but circumstances and context mean everything. The reason we bring up Singed is because he is the champion that has a player in hot water. A smite and ghost wielding Singed that is queuing up as a support without doing support duties. Such as vision control, assisting the ADC, helping clear waves, chunking turrets, and helping out during team-fights/objective-fights.

His own little spin. Counter-jungle, attempt to choke off XP and gold gain while roaming extensively. More and more champions are able to roam, including supports but we look at Bard as an example of a support who can effectively roam without hurting his/her ADC. His movement speed, his abilities grant him more by picking up chimes found on the map. For example, every time he picks up a chime his movement speed increases. His E also creates a portal that helps him traverse the map with steadfast precision. A clear roamer, Singed in the other hand is as slow as a turtle. Should a Singed roam extensively? All based on circumstances which are dictated by on-the-fly calls, but it truly takes a team of skilled players who have coms outside of the game such as VOIP (Skype, Discord, TeamSpeak, Mumble) to pull of strategies that cohesively blend play-styles of everyone especially the ADC.

If you have an ADC who can't handle your lack of presence or an ADC who needs more vision, you shouldn't be playing someone like Singed and roam for a quarter of laning phase.

Roles matter

Remember those roles I spoke about earlier? Those 5 roles make up the current meta of who goes where. One jungle, top, mid, and two bottom. One is designated the ADC and the other support. Why? It's.. Just how things turned out. It's done to keep things systematically similar and keeps things simple. You don't expect 3 mid and 2 in top and bottom respectively to begin with. That'll turn into a clown fiesta. So when we account for the roles and who plays what we mainly target champions as an example since some suit those roles better. Tanks are optimal in top lane. Mages are optimal in the mid lane. Bruisers and hybrid damage dealers go in the jungle. Damage dealers and healers/supports go bottom lane.

Simple, right? When you change things up -- you introduce an element of chaos which isn't always the best. Sometimes that chaos backfires and puts you or your team in a vulnerable position. League of Legends is a team based game at the end of the day. Objectively the game can not be played efficiently with just one player. Teamwork is the way to go and teamwork and roles go hand in hand.

Teamwork makes the dream work

5 players in one map can be hard to communicate with especially with the amount of things going on in a live setting. Creeps are being slain, jungle camps are being devoured, plants are being punched or shot at, enemies are visiting Harambe and tower engineers are crying in the after live. With the introduction of pings and functions which help communicating easier you learn to work together by pinging objectives and players. The only thing stopping teamwork from working is you. You alone can make or break teamwork. See a ping going off for baron, but you decide to continue farming and wasting smite? Baron gets stolen and the team gets mad. Your fault. You decided not to help the team and secure a big objective that could have ended the game.

See a ping going off for a mid push for that T2 tower with the team, but you proceeded to recall the last second for that almighty pink ward. The team loses 4v5 and the team loses your T2 tower in exchange. An unfavorable trade because you decided not to help the team secure a big objective that further advances your team. Bring into account champions that don't belong in a certain role and the lack of team work. What does that spell? Not being a team player. Something against the principal of multiplayer games in a team oriented gaming mode. Without it the dream doesn't work even if you don't consciously make decisions that affect your team. It could be something like picking an unsuitable champion and inherently doing bad things which bring us to one of our final points.
Support is a support

There's a lot of hype around the discussions going on via Reddit and LoL forums. People are justifying new champion choices and others are crucifying the Singed support because of his contextual actions. As a professional and a personal player of League of Legends I have to go in favor against the use of unconventional champions if they do unpermittable things. Reason why this caught attention to begin with was because the player received a week ban with the warning about getting harsher punishments if he continued to play Singed support while not actually supporting.

Context matters. People reported him for using Singed as a support without actually supporting the ADC. Extensively roaming, not helping his ADC advance, spending time playing hyperly aggressive when behind and lastly stuff like AFKing in the jungle. The summoners code (LoL's conduct handbook) has golden standard rules and includes things like "Enjoy Yourself, but not at Anyone Else's Expense", in other words, if you want to play Singed support, do it in a way that benefits the team not just you.

People may argue he helps the team overall, but the ADC who is getting kicked 1v2 bottom lane begs to differ. It is unfair to let one player suffer especially if you decided to play a role you never intended to play. As a mid player I can support top by ganking when mid is shopping but if I decide to jungle and leave my lane open I am not working as a team member and I could be subjected to punishments if done often.

I analyzed the Singed players games and noticed things that warranted a ban. Many people are overly content to roast Riot when given an opportunity, but as one of their biggest critics I can tell you this here is a non-issue. This ban was warranted and reminds people that there are rules and traditions that need to be followed. Those that can be respected while you have your freedoms to play Vayne top (bastards) as long as you're contributing to a respectful and positive environment. Below is one of the games that highlights the players systematical flaws.

To sum things up. The Singed support player needs to rethink his overall strategy and implement something that can be executed within reason of a support players obligations. Everyone has an obligation. Everyone has a task and a duty. If you expect your personal beliefs and agenda to trump and supersede the team's, you are playing the wrong game.

- Walter
Managing Director | eSportsRDA

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