Red days whenever you play support? Here are 5 niche picks that can make your support experience fun and productive.
In a game where the draft is important enough to give a team anywhere between a slight advantage to almost a sure win, surprise picks can often make or break games. Although drafts are significantly less pivotal in your run-of-the-mill Archon, Legend, or Ancient game, an unexpected Hero might leave the opponent out of ideas as to how to deal with what’s coming. Alternatively, it can also force opponents to build items that aren’t natural to their Heroes.
If your grind for precious MMR has you picking the same few heroes again and again with the same results, you might want to change things up with some out-of-the-box picks. They will not only have the aforementioned effect, but might also make your Role Queue-earning games more entertaining. Importantly, these supports also scale incredibly well into the late game, so you can try all sorts of things with them. Here are 5 unconventional support picks that can get you some easy MMR.
You may have seen the odd support Invoker in your games, and with due reason. Invoker is a hero that can play almost any role with his variety of spells. Whether it’s helping a dominant laner farm, creating kills, or making the opponent laners’ lives miserable, Invoker can just about do it all.
When to Pick
Although arguably the most self-sufficient hero with abilities that allow him to both regenerate quickly and also escape in a variety of ways, the two things an Invoker cannot do are provide hard lockdown and heal. Therefore, if your lineup doesn’t require either of these, you’re pretty much free to pick the Hero as you can essentially play both Soft and Hard Support roles with it (although the latter is definitely more difficult).
That being said, Kael is especially good when laning with heroes that have fast or constantly-damaging/slowing abilities, such as Gyrocopter, Viper, Drow Ranger, Alchemist, Sniper, etc. At the same time, he’s great against Heroes that are mana-intensive, don’t have nuking spells, or lack an escape mechanism. Bristleback, Viper, Lifestealer, Sniper and Spectre are some of the Heroes he’s good against.
When not to Pick
This Hero takes at least until Level 4-5 to be able to make a decent impact, so try not to lane against Heroes that activate much earlier, such as Lion, Slardar, and Gyrocopter. Invoker is also weak against nukers and weak when his own mana is taken away, such as by a Lion or Anti-Mage.
Going for a Quas-Wex build is essential, but you can also invest a little in Exort if the hero you’re laning with has the power to dominate the lane, such as a Slardar, Undying, or even a Sven against melee Heroes.
As for items, Urn into Vessel is a must, and make sure you get Arcane Boots as Invoker’s spells cost a lot of mana. Force Staff and Aeon Disk are important for the mid-to-late game, and the rest will vary depending on your teammates and opponents. It’s also important to invest in Sentry Wards if you are playing against decent opponents who may try to nullify your Ghost Walk with Sentries of their own.
Although this was far more viable back in 7.22 when Sven’s Aghanim’s Scepter allowed him to lend as much as 125% damage of his God’s Strength to allies, the quintessential Strength carry can still pack a serious punch as a support.
When to Pick
Sven is a decent support pick for any situation where you’re not laning against a strong ranged Hero, but even that can be fine if your lane mate is also one. You can be fine even when escorting a melee Core as long as your teammate has a stun as well, such as a Chaos Knight or Slardar. In case there’s no other disable in your lane, you can still make it work against relatively weak early-game lanes such as Razor-Dazzle or Oracle-Naix — just make sure you stun the right hero.
In the mid-game, Sven is a more universally-appealing support — especially when your team lacks armor. That being said, the Hero is much more reliant on farm to stay relevant than some of his peers, so if you’re playing him, you might want to try to end the game quickly.
When not to Pick
Since you have no heal and no save, you don’t want to pick a Sven into ranged Heroes that can dominate the lane — especially when you have a Core that’s weak in the early-game with you. If this becomes the situation, make sure you have the other support or even the Mid player come in for a gank or two to give you guys a leg-up.
Skill-wise, you absolutely must go for Storm Hammer and Warcry, but whether you opt to take Great Cleave or Stats afterwards depends entirely on what direction the game is headed. In general, it might be useful to learn the skill in the mid-game as it’ll become important to farm whatever you’re farming faster.
As for items, Tranquil Boots into Soul Ring is important, and a Blink Dagger, Shard, and eventually even a BKB and Wraith Pact are great choices. If needed, a Pipe or a Vessel will also be right at home on a Sven.
3. Queen of Pain
Her respawn voice line “The Queen is dead — long live the Queen” might be a little inappropriate right now, but this Hero can be an absolute nuisance in the right lane. A fantastic support that can dominate almost any lane, being able to play support QoP can be an ace up your sleeve.
When to Pick
Honestly, unless you really need disables, heals, saves, QoP is solid. Alternatively, if you are up against extremely dominant laners with a weak early gamer such as, say, Riki and yourself against a Shadow Shaman and Ursa, it’s probably better to go with a Hero that’s better at keeping the danger at bay or saving the embattled core. QoP thrives against melee Heroes, but as long as the opponents don’t have instant ranged disables such as Hex or Voodoo, you can harass almost any Hero to the point of madness.
Looking for good combos? Just get someone with a stun or a strong slow by your side. An added advantage of this Hero is her ability to scale into the late game. Honestly, you can scale almost indefinitely as a support QoP because the ceiling is just incredibly high due to her Core roots.
When not to Pick
As we previously mentioned, the only bad time to pick a QoP is when you’re playing with a weak laner against two strong ones. However, remember that QoP is quite fragile if caught, so make sure you don’t Blink into the fray unless you’re absolutely confident that the enemy won’t be able to turn things around on you.
Shadow Strike and Blink are essential early on, but whether you put one point into Blink or two is up to you or the situation at hand. Either way, though, you’ll want to have Scream of Pain maxed out by the time you reach Level 11, and you’ll also want to pick up the last two points of Blink after that.
There’s quite a lot of leeway as far as QoP’s items go, with Arcane Boots preferred for the support role. After this, you can either go for Spirit Vessel, Rod of Atos, Aeon Disk or all three, with a Shard picked up at some point. Eventually, a Scepter, a BKB, and even an Orchid Malevolence or Scythe of Vyse are excellent.
Quite possibly the most dangerous surprise support, a Gyrocopter can be devastating in the right hands. Extremely aggressive and really good at just that, the second Agility-based old man on our list is even better than the first at zoning enemies out or killing them outright from as early as Level 3 onwards.
When to Pick
Once again, since the Hero has no heal and no save, aggression is the way to go. If you pair Gyro up with a fellow disabler or even just a high-damage Core, you can dominate all but a handful of Hero combinations. The only real problem you might face is if you’re not playing with a friend and your lane mate refuses to go on the offense with you. In such cases, it’s better to go off ganking or swap lanes with the other support.
Whether it’s a PA, Spectre, Troll, or Morphling, Gyro can have a fantastic lane with almost anyone, and is also good at scaling into the late game with many different pathways available. Just make sure you don’t get greedy and start looking for opportunities to go for a DPS build!
When not to Pick
Gyro’s biggest weakness is to have his rockets shared, so Heroes with summoning spells, such as Nature’s Prophet, Lycanthrope or Enigma are automatic counters. Additionally, Gyro is almost completely nullified by Naix, Bristleback, and Undying. Lanes aside, Puck and Anti-Mage are also problematic, and Tidehunter is pretty strong against him as well. Oh, and we repeat: do not pick Gyro if you have a passive lane mate or need to babysit someone. Gyro wants blood — first and otherwise.
Needless to say, Homing Missile and Rocket Barrage are your friends. In fact, you don’t even need Flak Cannon unless your mid-game is requiring you to either farm or the opponents have a lot of summoned units, in which case you can pick it up after maxing out the others.
Gyro can go online very easily, but like any other Hero, items help his cause. Start off with a Wind Lace in your inventory, but go for Arcane Boots instead of Tranquil unless you have a Keeper of Light or Crystal Maiden on the team. Next, you can go for a Force Staff, an Aeon Disk, and even a Rod of Atos and BKB later on. You can also opt for Mekansm into Greaves and Pipe if needed.
Now go on and try these five gems in your pubs, and remember to visit us for more Dota 2 content.