With Riot now turning their eyes upon Supports, I felt it was time for me to write out my thoughts on their unpopularity that I've been festering on for...well...a good long while now.
For the record, I've been playing for about...3 years now? And most of that time has been as a Support. It's a role I've really come to love and appreciate, but I understand that it has many mechanical and gameplay issues that make it unappealing, many of which Riot has brought up in their recent post on the topic, so this isn't about that. This is about the image Supports have, the general concept and view of their role that I think contributes to them being so unpopular.
Now,, let's look at Junglers for a moment. If most people were to describe the role of the jungler you would likely emphasize that you, well, stalk the jungle. You hunt special monsters that live in the jungle and plan surprise attacks on the enemy team. You play cat and mouse with the rival Jungler while you prepare to strike. Or heck, in one simple description? You're the Predator.
You tell someone they can play as the Predator? That is gonna draw people. That thrilling sense of being on the hunt and outwitting foes, making sudden take downs? That's appealing.
But Supports? A run down of Supports can easily make them sound like their job is to do all the boring things everyone else doesn't want to do. Or heck, as Riot themselves highlight, to be passive and do not very much. You buy a warding item because the team does _need_ wards, but they aren't fun or make _you_ personally stronger. You get a lot of utility, but you know it's expected for you to use that to make someone else look good. Heck, you try it for awhile and you can feel that no matter what you do, the success of your fights is wholly dependent on your ADC partner. You manage to snare the enemy gank and secure a path to safety? Doesn't matter, your partner charged back in 1v3 and died. Heck, even proplay doesn't help with this sometimes as very often if you see a skirmish and the support dies, the casters often say 'it was _just_ a support'. How does this make the role feel? Like a bloody caddy. You can make suggestions about what golf club the golfer should use, but ultimately it's your job to stand back, be quiet, don't hit those minions, don't hit that champion, don't get those buffs, do the minimal amount possible and just stand around until someone needs you.
And really, who dreams of being a caddy?
Now, keep in mind what I said at the start. I play Support, I actually _love_ being a support a lot of the time. I mean, yes, you do get the times when you get paired with someone determined to find all one million ways to die in the west, but you do get good partners too. When you come to understand the power vision control offers, both of objectives and of jungle paths you can start to feel like an information _GOD_. Helping to cut off ganks and counter attacks before they even make it to lane. When you make that clutch save of your team, or use your tools to disrupt a team fight and let the carries mop the floor with the enemy it's amazing. The negative view of a Support is that you're the caddy, holding out the nine-iron to the guy that matters. The way I think supports should be viewed?
No. I'm not kidding.
Batman is the Support of the Justice League. He lacks power, he can't directly fight any of the big threats that the League faces. But he is COVERED in utility. A support's job is to gather information and set up take downs. They are on the alert for ganks approaching and generally responsible for locking down the target of a gank. There's a reason why, at the pro level, Supports tend to share shot calling duties with the Jungler.
The point I'm trying to make here is that Supports are saddled with the image of being a caddy, and that's why so few people want to play them. If Riot want to see a swing of people playing as Support then they need to find ways to make it feel more like being Batman. (To a degree, this problem can even be traced to the name 'Support'. It's the only role that gets marked out as being there to promote others, rather than stand on a stage yourself.) There are a few things that can be done to help this that I can think of; a new support champ who quite clearly is a commanding 'monarch' type rather than a 'helper' type, maybe at least putting warding information on the immediate game end screen along with kills etc...not saying 'just a support' in pro play casts... But the building blocks are already there, the role already has great qualities to it, otherwise I couldn't sit back and go 'I am the God-damn Batman!' whenever I do something cool.
So what do you all think? Do Supports really have an image problem? Am I off my rocker? Could I have made this post at least 300 words shorter?
(p.s This was supposed to contain images to help emphasize my point and make it more visually interesting but I couldn't get them to work. Sorry.)