Some thoughts on Support
Some thoughts on Support
As mentioned here, we’re about to try an experiment where we make a lot of supports free for a month. For anyone interested I wanted to talk in more detail about our thinking on both supports in general and this test in particular.
Current State of Supports
At present support is a position that significantly fewer players want to play than other roles. That’s unfortunate because it results in:
- Long matchmaking queues (not enough support players to go around).
- Players having to play a role they’d prefer not to (getting autofilled to support to partially address the above problem).
- Players having to play a role more often than they’d prefer (if they want to queue as support secondary or fill).
We’d therefore like to make support attractive to more players, without taking away what makes it appealing to existing support players. That’s something we’re planning to put quite a bit of work into in 2017 after we’ve got the pre-season changes generally polished and balanced.
There are a range of things we want to address, or at least investigate. Those include:
- Gold income as support
- Should it be closer to, or matching, the income of other roles to give support players more agency?
- Assuming it should what are the best ways to give that extra income to supports without creating problems in other roles or incentivizing weird behavior?
- Recognition of success as support
- Damage dealers get great celebrations of their skilled play via things like killing sprees/multi-kills, good KDAs/CS numbers, tracking of damage dealt etc. Support achievements by contrast can be much lower visibility and satisfaction (clutch saves for example aren’t highlighted well, even if they’re as impressive a piece of play as a well executed multi-kill).
- Are support items sufficiently compelling or does power progression as a support often feel worse than other roles?
- Is Sightstone in the right place as a mandatory 800g first buy? Are there other adjustments to the vision game that would be good both for the experience of playing support and the game in general?
- Are supports properly served by pre-game choices (runes/masteries/summoner spells) in terms of their effectiveness?
- Are those choices sufficiently satisfying to use?
- Laning patterns
- Many champions played as supports have really engaging gameplay in lane based off their positioning, harass, wave pushing, vision play etc. Some supports, or at least some supports in certain lane match ups, can end up having to play really passively though. How can we improve that?
Why extra free rotation champions?
So as mentioned we’re running a test where we add a number of extra champions to the free rotation. Those extra champs were picked because they’re good options if you’re playing support. They cover a range of different playstyles, from aggressive mages, to tanky initiators to protective casters. What we’re curious about is whether some players would enjoy playing support but haven’t yet found the right champion (the ‘I used to hate X role until I tried Y champion’ experience). We’re going to measure that by looking at the number of people who choose to queue up as support in normal draft games, since that queue has position select while also allowing the use of free rotation champions.
We’ll be making those champs available in addition to the regular weekly free rotation for four weeks in a row. We’re doing that to try and understand whether an extended period of free availability makes it noticeably more appealing to put time into learning a new champion (and potentially a new position too).
It’s certainly possible that this doesn’t have any measurable effect on interest in playing support during the course of this study—lack of access to the right champions probably isn’t one of the biggest factors in the lower interest in playing support. But, this is a particularly easy test to try out, and the pre-season’s a good time to do it (more people playing normal draft). Over the course of the year we want to work on the other issues mentioned above. In the meantime however we feel like this is a good place to start.
Hopefully that’s a helpful look at some of our current thinking. Let us know if you’ve got any feedback or questions about what we’re looking at here, supports in general or other related stuff.