Hey everyone! Here’s another great guest post written by our Discord mod, Picklepants, who had some additional help from Stefanos Gikas (also known as SGK), who is an Honorable Community member in our server. Whether you’re a Support or another role, this article will help improve your overall understanding of what competent Supports should and will be looking to do. Knowledge is power!
The Support role is by far my favorite role in League of Legends and I’ve been maining it on and off since 2013. From a Support main’s perspective, there are plenty of different ways you can impact the game directly with your early game actions, however, not every Support knows how to directly impact the map and solo carry games through their early game movements and rotations.
The most obvious way of impacting the map out of lane is by roaming. Roaming is when you move to another lane and apply pressure. There are many different occasions where you can roam, and listing them all is near impossible. At the end of the day, knowing when you can roam and when you can’t roam is all about knowledge and experience; the more you play the role, the more opportunities of roaming will become visible to you.
Before attempting to roam, you must first think about a few things such as how your roaming may affect the game and your ADC.
“Will my ADC stay safe and still be able to farm?”
The first thing to think about before roaming is “Can my ADC still farm and stay alive while I’m gone?” It’s important to know this and for the answer to be that they can continue safely. If they cannot farm safely or run the risk of dying in lane, I would suggest not roaming at this time. You should avoid leaving your ADC alone in lane if they cannot safely farm or may die if they try to do so.
You should avoid roaming in lane if your ADC is: defenseless, squishy or behind. If they do not have any escape abilities, then it will be incredibly hard for them to farm safely in lane. While roaming is good to open up the map and help your other lanes, you want to avoid putting your own lane into a bad situation.
Vayne + Thresh vs. Caitlyn + Alistar
In this example, Thresh should never roam whilst Vayne is in lane. This is because Vayne will be engaged upon as soon as Thresh shows up somewhere else on the map. Alistar and Caitlyn are a very aggressive Bot lane duo and can easily kill and outrange Vayne, making her useless in lane. Caitlyn has a bigger auto attack range compared to Vayne. She also has the CC thanks to her Yordle Snap Trap (W) which she can use in combination of Alistar’s Headbutt Pulverize (W+Q) combo.
If Vayne is to be caught by this, then she is practically dead. Either leaving her without Summoner Spells or having to recall and miss out on gold and experience. Alistar can also deny the ADC farm and experience by placing himself behind the allied minions. This is a lose-lose situation for the Thresh-Vayne duo.
To avoid this issue, you should not roam while the enemy duo is in the lane. Instead, you want to roam if they have recently backed to purchase items, or are not in the lane at all. Alternatively, you can roam while your ADC is not in the lane either. However, you need to remember that if you are choosing to roam when your ADC is not in lane, that you need to be quick and return shortly after or even before your ADC gets back.
“Can I roam with this champion?”
Champions such as Braum, Thresh, Alistar, Leona, Rakan, and Blitzcrank are good at roaming. If you’re playing one of these champions, then you should roam on every possible opportunity. These champions all have reliable CC that can keep the enemy in place, allowing your ally to follow up with damage. If you decide to play a more utility Support such as Janna, Nami or Soraka then you will be roaming less often. This is because they are harder to successfully roam and help your other laners out as they do not have damage or reliable crowd control.
Some Supports are not cut out for roaming and that’s the unfortunate truth about the Support role. A Support that has CC, hard engage or kill threat can be really good at roaming because they can layer their abilities with an ally champion and apply pressure.
That being said, it is still possible and you should continue to look for roaming opportunities on Utility and Mage Supports.
“Is the lane I’m wanting to gank in a good position? Are they gankable?”
If you have ever played the Jungle role, then you should know how hard it is to gank certain lanes. Unfortunately, that is the exact same problem for roaming Supports. Some lanes are rather straightforward to help such as an Ahri who can set up the gank and also follow up once you go in. If your ally doesn’t have any way to set up the gank or they can’t follow up on your engagement, then it will be very hard for you to roam and help them.
Map awareness is key when roaming to another lane. If you see that your ally is on low health, then they may not be able to follow up once you engage. If they cannot physically follow up on your engagement, then there is no point in trying to help them as they may die. Another thing to look at is the position of the wave. Is the enemy pushing your ally in or is your ally constantly pushing the enemy in?
If it is the first case, then you could try and help them. If your ally is pushing, then you may not be able to get anything out of it. If you are somebody like Alistar who can dive post-6 then you can try to dive. This is very situational and depends on many other factors, you will need to make your own judgment here.
A common misconception among players is that you have to roam at a certain time or have a certain number of ganks by 10 minutes. This is wrong. You should never aim for a certain number of roams because every game is different. There are situations that will occur during the early game that will allow you to roam and impact the map, but there will also be times where you cannot roam at all.
How to Roam
We’ve listed some things to know before roaming and what roaming is. But how do you actually roam? Below is a basic idea of how to roam and the main paths you can take.
The white line is the recommended route you should take from base. This is one of the best routes to take because it is very time efficient. Time is incredibly important in game and every second matters. If you take this route from base then you can do more than 1 thing whilst taking this path. This route is all about time efficiency and optimization:
- You can place offensive and defensive control wards on your journey
- You can clear enemy vision
- If the roam doesn’t seem to work out, you can quickly get back to lane
Tip: If you cannot gank the Mid lane, then just run back to your own lane.
Assuming that the roam is going to work out and that the enemy is in a gankable position, you have 3 main choices to get into the lane. Depending on the location of the enemy and the position of the wave, you have to choose which entrance you wish to use to gank:
- If the wave is pushed against your ally, then you can approach from all 3 entrances.
- If the wave is even, then you can go from the river or from behind the enemy.
- If the wave is being pushed (frozen just outside of tower) then you can go for the sweep around and behind them.
Ideally, the wave will be in the blue section when you gank. The Blue box is where the wave is in the middle of the lane. The white is where the lane will be harder to gank depending on which side of the map you are.
Tip: Ganking and taking each route depends on a range of different in-game factors. Try your best to get the most out of your roam by taking the appropriate route when possible.
You have two main roaming paths from Bot lane when you are in the Blue team. The more defensive route is best if you do not have a sweeper or control wards. This is because the river may be littered with wards and enemies which will render your roam pointless as the enemy Mid and Jungler may react and be able to collapse on you. Instead, you can go for a more defensive route and then split off at the end taking a different path. This will make the roam more surprising and has a higher chance of getting the desired result.
On some occasions, you may be able to invade the enemy jungle, provide vision and attack from behind the enemy. This is very risky because the enemy Jungler may be around, or the enemy Bot lane may attack you. I only recommend using this path if you’ve either killed the enemy Bot or the enemy Jungler is spotted Topside.
The same rule as above applies about which entrance you should take.
Tip: Remember to clear vision, place wards, and keep an eye on the map whilst you are roaming.
When you are in the Red team, you have a wider range of possible roam paths. This is because you have 3 possible entrances to mid! If you are winning your lane and pushing the wave, you can take the more offensive route and go through the enemy Jungle. This is risky, but can often be worthwhile; especially if you catch up with your Jungler to a 3-man gank mid. The more common route would be through the river as this is more accessible for you. However, like Blue side, this is the more obvious route to take. The final route is a defensive route that you take from behind your lane. You can then decide to go through the river or through your Jungle. This depends on where the enemy wave is.
Try your best to take the more surprising route and the one that will get you the desired outcome. Don’t be afraid to try different paths each time!
Tip: Remember to ward, watch the map and ping. If the enemy has backed off, then return to lane. Do not force anything. If you cannot get anything out of the engagement, then recall or return to lane.
While you’re roaming, you should make sure to place wards and deny enemy vision with your trinket and support item. If you see the enemy Mid laner start to move towards you, or the enemy Support to move to a more offensive position in lane, then you should back off and retreat back to lane. You should also walk in every bush to seek out and destroy any wards that were placed.
Surprise is the main element to make many roams work. Try your best to clear vision, and place wards whilst you’re roaming. This will not only save yourself time, but also save your team from dying and being caught out by enemies hiding in bushes.
Roaming Scenarios and Examples
Like stated previously, there is no timer for roaming. You should roam when you can help your team, but you never should force anything on your team. This will result in you wasting time and you’ll be missing out on gold and experience. The best way to impact the map and improve your ability to roam is knowing when you can actually roam.
Because every game is different, I’ve listed some variable examples on when you can roam. Try your best to improve from and use these examples as a basis for roaming.
Example 1: Once your ADC has backed
If your ADC is no longer in the lane and has decided to recall, then you can look for an opportunity to gank and help another lane out. In some cases, you may be able to recall and roam from base. If your ADC wants to back then you should not stay in the Bot lane. This is because you will not be able to get anything out of staying Bot side. Instead, try to apply pressure by roaming.
If you cannot physically roam because you are low on health, then you can recall and then roam from the base.
In this example video, I recently recalled to purchase items after we got the enemy’s tower. I bought my items quickly and looked to roam. I saw that Top lane was in a position where I could gank them. Thanks to my items, I can quickly roam around the map and then return to my lane.
This is a good time to roam because of a few things:
- I missed out on no experience or gold because we got first tower and needed to recall anyway.
- My ADC was safe and not in danger. This is because we both recalled and were both safe.
- I had Mobility Boots and could easily roam to another lane and get back to my ADC soon after.
- We had won lane and I could help other lanes that were not doing too hot.
Example 2: You’ve killed the enemy Bot lane
If you have recently killed the enemy Bot lane, then you could try to roam straight after. This will allow you to apply even more pressure on the enemies thanks to the pressure being applied on two lanes. This will force the enemy Jungler to panic and either counter gank, protect a tower or continue farming. Either way, it is a win-win situation for your team. However, if you and your ADC can easily push the wave and apply tower pressure; then you should do that instead of roaming. This is because tower damage and first blood tower is more important than 1 roam as it opens up the map and grants your team a gold lead.
In this example, I avoided roaming because my Mid laner has killed the enemy and I am unable to a get anything out of it if I go there. Instead, I stay with my ADC and apply pressure to the tower. Taric made a rookie mistake in which we abused his error resulting in tower damage and another kill.
This is a good example of optimization in League of Legends. Just because we killed the Bot laner, that doesn’t mean I should roam. This is something that experience and map awareness tells you.
- Look at the minion wave before you roam. Can you push it in and get the tower?
- Look at the Mid lane before you roam, is the enemy Mid laner there and is he in a gankable position?
- Instead of applying pressure to the tower, I could have gone to ward. However, the enemy Jungler is spotted and out river is warded. This means we can freely dive without fear of being ganked.
- Patience is key when you tower dive. Prepare and wait for the best chance to go in. I waited patiently for his mistake, and also for the Rune to pop on the tower.
Example 3: When your ADC can farm safely alone
If you have an ADC that is either stronger early or is currently ahead in the lane; then you could try and leave them alone whilst you go and help another lane. You can only do this on a select few champions such as Lucian, Ezreal or Varus. You can also do this is the enemy is a pair of weak laners who prefer to farm rather than fight. Wave Management plays a huge factor when pulling off this specific roam example because your ADC must have common wave management knowledge and understand how minions work.
If your ADC can farm safely from range or has an escape ability then this method should be fine.
My ADC had just backed and so had I. He got to lane quickly and before me. He was farming in a good position with no immediate danger. I had to make sure to get back to lane as quickly as possible because he would start pushing the wave. So I went in, knew nothing else was going to happen from it and I returned to lane. This is efficient timing and I then had up to 5 minutes of being able to re-gank her lane.
While we didn’t get the desired goal when I roamed to Mid, we did however blow her Flash and gain a few other things from it:
- She is now gankable for the next 5 minutes. Especially as Sona is an immobile champion, we could easily force another gank.
- Provided vision on the way back to lane.
- My ADC could farm and I missed out on minimal gold and experience.
- I roamed from base and the enemy didn’t expect the gank.
Example 4: When your Midlane has CC, high kill potential or their Ultimate ready
In instances where your laner has their Ultimate or has high kill potential then you can attempt to gank their lane. This will likely result in a kill for either you or your ally. Ganking and helping your laner will allow you to put your Mid laner ahead and get yourself some gold. It is important to gank allies when they are strong as this will gain a lead.
Having a fed ally or having an ally who is strong makes ganking them easier. It can be hard to gank a laner that is immobile, low on health or is not a very strong fighter.
In this example video, I was rotating Mid lane to try and help my Mid laner out and apply pressure, as she was receiving a lot of heat from the enemy and needed help. On my way there, I found a stray Rakan and we quickly cleaned him up. Leblanc is a very good champion and has high kill potential and CC. I went there originally to provide assistance, and instead we got a kill. She might have died if I hadn’t come to help her.
- Had to roam defensively because of the enemy Duo.
- Came and warded for my Mid laner and provided vision for the team.
- Went on the only threat, and waited for them to use their main dodging ability before going in.
- ADC is under tower and is drawing no pressure. This is a good time to roam.
Example 5: When the enemy Mid is missing key Summoner Spells
Coordination between your team is one of the hardest things to do successfully in League of Legends because everybody hates each other. Well, not exactly, but communication can be quite hard especially when you’re not concentrating. Make sure to keep an eye on the minimap and read chat looking for missing Summoner Spells. If the enemy is missing core defensive spells, then you should try to gank that lane and abuse their weakness.
Map awareness is incredibly important so keep an eye on the map and where you’re walking throughout the game. If you notice that the enemy Jungler is preparing to gank the Mid lane, then you could try to roam and counter the gank. In short, ward and keep an eye on the minimap and you will find more gank or roam opportunities – even opportunities that you first thought were not real!
In a previous example, we saw how I roamed from base to Mid lane and ganked a Sona. She blew her Flash which allowed me or my Jungler to return within 5 minutes and pick up kills. Because Sona is relatively squishy, and as I am a Support that deals damage, I know that me and my Mid can quite easily kill her again.
Awareness of the map, chat and the how the game is going will allow you to create and abuse opportunities in attempts to future your lead. This was a good roam because:
- I knew she had no Flash to protect herself.
- My ADC should not die against an Ezreal and Lulu lane.
- My Mid could follow up or start the exchange.
- I applied a range of vision before roaming so I knew my ADC was safe in this 1v2 lane.
Example 6: The enemy is roaming and you need to match it
One of the most important things to do during the laning phase is to match the enemy roams and be prepared at any moment- to help your team. You want to follow and try to catch up with the enemy by either zoning them away from your ally or the lane.
Alternatively, if you’re not able to follow the enemy then you can engage on the enemy ADC instead- as long as you see the enemy has gone away and is not baiting you. If you are unable to engage on the enemy ADC, then you could position in front of your minions and stay in a more offensive position where you are “preparing to engage on the ADC.”
However, it is possible that the enemy may be baiting a roam. If you think that they are baiting, then I recommend you keep constant vision around your lane to protect yourself against enemy ganks and baits and avoid going in on the ADC.
In this example, we had backed after a bad trade but as we are getting back to lane, we see the enemy has invaded our jungle. Me and my ADC both roamed to help our team out and provide the numbers advantage over the enemy. We were lucky and killed one of them.
Roaming like this is important, so be aware and focus on the map. This is a good roam because:
- Our team would’ve lost out on XP and possibly died if we didn’t come to help.
- We would have the numbers advantage and outnumber the enemy.
- Kept an eye on the map, and walked early to the correct area of the map and did not waste time.
- Returned to lane as soon as the engagement had ended and placed vision on the way back.
Example 7: To counter gank or gank with your Jungler
Ganking and helping your laners can be hard especially if you’re on a champion who doesn’t have strong CC. There will be games and situations where you and your Jungler can roam to a lane and both gank it. Coordination is needed from your team to create these types of ganks and they are rare- especially in Solo Queue.
If you are a champion who doesn’t have the greatest of kit and ability to roam such as a Janna, then it can be hard. In games like this, I recommend requesting Junglers assistance to help you in your journey around the map.
In this example, I am roaming from my lane to our Mid lane in attempts to help my Jungler and Mid laner out and turn this 2v2 into a 3v2. My ADC is relatively safe during this time as their Support is not in lane either.
- Both Junglers were mid and it didn’t seem that any team was going to get a kill. Instead of wasting their time and putting my team behind; I went and helped them get something out of it.
- My ADC was safe during the whole time I was gone and was in no danger.
- We could not do anything Bot side, so roaming is the best option to gain a lead.
- I placed wards and left vision to make sure my ADC was safe whilst I was gone.
Common Misconceptions, Questions and Answers
Q: I’ll be missing out on experience and gold by roaming, should I roam?
A: Time is crucial in League of Legends and is not a disposable resource. Time is very important and you need to be efficient and not waste what little time you have on the rift. While you are roaming to another lane, make sure to keep an eye on the lane you’re going to, and the one you’ve left.
It is important to “pull the trigger” and go for it if you’re going to go in, or go back to lane if you’re not. If the enemy has backed off, then don’t waste your time walking to Mid lane. Instead, return back to your lane.
During the laning phase, minions spawn every 30 seconds with each third wave being a cannon minion wave. If a wave is approaching (roughly between the two towers) then you may not be able to roam – especially if it is a cannon wave. This is because the enemy will deny your ally the cannon minion gold and you will miss out on the hefty experience that bad boy gives. In short, don’t roam when cannons are approaching your lane.
To counter this, you should roam if you will not be missing out on any experience. Such as roaming from base or roaming after you’ve pushed into tower or when your ADC has backed.
Q: I’m falling behind in experience and items from roaming, how do I catch up?
A: It’s common to fall slightly behind when roaming, but you shouldn’t see a huge difference in leveling or item differentiation. If you are falling behind, then you need to stay in one lane and avoid roaming. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. However, you should not try to roam as often and instead, catch up in gold and experience by sticking with your ADC.
Q: My Mid sucks. Should I help them?
A: In games where your other lanes are lackluster, you should try to help them out, especially when they are behind. If you are playing a champion with CC, spam ping that you’re coming and go and help them. If they are lacking damage after being blasted in lane, then ask your Jungler to roam with you and turn that 2v1 into a 3v1. You may even be able to get even more from it such as a tower or dragon.
While the saying goes “never help a lost lane.” You should try to help who ever you can and get yourself ahead and bring them back into the game.
Q: I’m playing a Utility Support. Should I try to roam?
A: Yes. Even Supports that do not have any CC can still roam. However, it’s much harder. In situations where you’re playing Janna, Soraka or Lulu, you should ask your Jungler to 2-man-gank the Mid lane and make it 3 versus 1.
Q: I’m behind, should I roam?
A: Your own judgement should be taken with this question. If you’re useless and under-leveled, then you need catch up in experience before roaming.
It is important to know when you can gank and roam. There is unfortunately no right time to roam and it’s incredibly important to be efficient when roaming to other lanes. You want to maximize your chances of roaming by looking out for scenarios like I’ve listed above. The most important thing to remember is: be efficient when choosing to roam. Be quick and be precise, don’t take too long getting back to your lane!
Thanks for reading everyone! If you want to talk to Picklepants or SGK about roaming or anything else, visit us in our Discord community.