“Hybrid Carry” Support: Design that Limits Champion Choices

Posted: February 10, 2014 by atenthirtyone in General

Hello readers,

It’s been quite a long time since I have written an article, but here’s a topic that has been bothering me for a while. This is when a game has characters/weapons/choices that try to achieve too much, and ends up doing nothing. It’s also call jack of all trades, master of none. As many of you know, the “standard” composition of a League of Legends Summoner’s Rift game is the following:

Top Lane: Bruiser or Tank

Middle Lane: Magical Damage Carry

Bottom Lane: Physical Damage Ranged Carry

Bottom Lane: Support

Jungle: Bruiser or Tank

Generally, we want to have champions that can do their roles efficiently (unless you are trolling, special snowflaking it, or just do not care). The top lane bruiser/tank is the most isolated from help and is largely an one versus one matchup with the ocassional jerk jungler(s) that ruin a gentleman’s match. These champions need to be durable, and preferably either good duelists and/or have good sustainability. The middle lane is currently reserved for the AP carry or mage, who has the most active engagements with the enemy team. In addition, they occupy the most active area, so they need to have a fairly strong early and mid game to do well. The jungler generally needs to be extremely fast at killing camps and/or strong at ganking the other lanes. Bottom lane needs a ranged champion that scales well into the late game, and someone whom can function efficiently with low amounts of gold as the support. These are all reasonable attributes that we can assign. However, what if some champions’ design seem to overlap between these attributes?

At the time of this article, there are quite a few champions that seem to be able to fit or at least try to fit multiple roles. Now, I do not mean a bruiser/tank that can go top and jungle, or a manaless champion that can go into either solo lane (top or middle).  I would argue that  they still serve similar roles later on in the game. Instead, I am talking about champions that attempt to be both damage (usually magical) and serve as support. However, doesn’t that sound problematic to you, readers? The AP carry or mage needs to build AP items to make their spells hit a lot harder, while the support gives up self-strength to give their team map control (wards, oracles) and team-based items (Aegis of the Legion, Shurelya’s Reverie, etc). Here are five champions that contain both damage and support abilities: Morgana, Orianna, Karma, Kayle, and Lux. Oh, and they also have “support” listed in their offical Riot profile at one time or another).

The most popular champion without a doubt is Morgana, whom is still picked and ban (in draft mode) regularly. She has a strong toolset that allows her to avoid combat in the middle lane, but at the least can fight back through damage and crowd control. Furthermore, she has built-in spell vamp through her passive, which allows her to last quite a while in lane. Another champion that is suitable for the middle lane is Orianna. While, she is a lot less common (and “support” has magically disappeared from her Riot profile), Orianna still can duel in the middle lane with strong pokes, strong burst when needed, and more importantly solid scaling into the late game. Much like Morgana, they both possess a shield that scales strongly with AP (and both have been nerfed as well) which they can use for both lane and team fight purposes. Overall, these two are champions that you want to place in the middle lane, but also have the utility of support.

Now, before we look at the other three champions: Karma, Kayle, and Lux. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular champions as AP carry, and support: Cassiopeia, and Sona. If any of you play drafted mode, ranked mode, or watched any recent LoL tournaments, you should know how powerful these two champions are for their archetypes. Cassiopeia can bully an incredible number of champions during the laning phase, and scales well in the late game (due to both area of effect, and low cooldowns with Twin Fangs). In the bottom lane, Sona has strong early game harass, sustainability for her duo lane, auras that provide defenses and movement speed, and an area of effect ultimate stun. She is easily the current queen of support.

Now, let’s take a look with our “hybrid carry” support champions that I have a problem with:

Lux is a pretty unique and flashy mage champion that is known for her ability to snare and fire off long ranged nukes. However, her non-ultimate damage abilities possess fairly average ratios, and fairly long cooldowns in comparison of many “AP middle” champions. To make matters worst, they are skill shot based, which means you cannot guarantee the damage and effects. In addition, her “support” shield ability has mechanic problems as well. While, her Prismatic Barrier has a really good AP to temporary health ratio, it needs to hit twice to get the full effect. To make matters worst, it is a skill shot, meaning you can potentially miss a helpful effect on an ally.  The only ability of hers that truly shines at all is her ultimate, Finales Funkein (laser beam). As an AP carry in middle lane, she does not nearly scale as well in the later stages of the game. As a support, her only true support ability is not reliable, meaning she needs to play as a “kill lane” support with no sustainability.

Karma (click here for link, since you probably don’t know her), yeah, that champion that is easily the least memorable and possibly played champion in League of Legends. When she is played, she is generally either a troll pick, picked during free Karma week, or one in a million actual Karma player. Nearly all of her abilities can be offensive and defensive at the same time (which is kinda silly to say, since she only has three abilities and a R button that makes her abilities better…). Her Heavenly Wave, only heals when she uses a Mantra charge, which means while the ability can be used every six seconds… far far less often). The movement beam, or Spirit Bond is not half bad, but it forces Karma to be exposed to her target or remain close to her ally. In addition, the numbers are fairly average unless you use a Mantra charge. Her third ability, the support shield is decent, except for the fact that the Mantra version seems kind of pointless for a support ability. Overall, Karma is not a terrible champion, but she is very lackluster in both design and playstyle. Having to wait quite a while to “supercharge” your abilities into being a bit better than other champions’ abilities. Karma really needs the farm to be useful, but cannot really conquest others in solo lane nor can use the farm as much as other solo lane champions. As a support, I feel like she needs to be screaming “I’m helping, I’m helping” to be noticed as a threat or an asset.

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