Why Support Players Deserve More Love

VOICE OVER: Adrian Sousa
It doesn't matter if it's a MOBA, MMO or cooperative shooter, support is a role that very few plays pick, but it is the most important role in any game that uses it. Support players make sacrifices and while you may never see a play of the game featuring your team's support, this is why they deserve more props than everyone else.
In the past decade, the rise of e-sports has led to increased attention on gaming as a serious competitive experience. Though gamers are unlikely to achieve the athletic and physical prowess of sports competitors like LeBron James, developers increasingly incorporate the subtle elements of teamwork into their video games, providing players with the power to select between roles that help the team to function as one cohesive unit. Many class-based games offer the player a variety of roles to choose from, and while these roles can be highly specialized and vary from game to game, one role remains as the most fundamental to the team’s success; that role is support.

In order to prove that the support role is the greatest of all time, we should first identify what each role does, and how these different roles play into the cohesiveness of the team. In games such as Overwatch or League of Legends, damage dealing, tanking, and the support slot constitute the main roles. The damage dealing role involves just that; dealing damage. Damage dealers should be looking for strong angles of attack in order to find the killing blows that help the team move forward or defend their current position.

The tank/brawler role works with the DPS by creating space and attracting attention in order to provide a comfortable space for the DPS to work with. However, these two roles are impossible to maintain without the support of, well, the support players. Unlike the damage dealing and tank roles, support players must maintain a keen awareness of both their allies and enemies. As such, the support role often acts as the team’s glue, and without this glue, the team is likely to fall adrift, fight separately, and become easily targeted and killed. With this in mind, support players carry several different roles that are essential to a team’s success.

One of the pillars of a support characters abilities is that of healing. While not all support roles consist of healing teammates, healing is a mainstay of most supporting characters. This role is incredibly important, and healers who are dedicated to keeping their allies healed provide their team with an enormous advantage.

With healing comes another crucial aspect to a team’s success: Sustaining your teammates. While sustaining the team may seem like healing, it actually involves a very important perception of the game that good support players have come to master. It isn’t enough to simply heal your team one after the other and move on. Characters, especially those involved in continual fighting, will require consistent attention. Good support players will sustain the team fight by providing a “pocket” of healing to their most targeted allies. In addition to this, support players can sustain their team by ensuring that each player has an adequate amount of ammo and supplies for each team fight.

But if a support character is taking care of their team, who takes care of support? Because support players are, or at least should be, the most targeted class, good positioning is essential to surviving. The longer a support player can stay alive, the longer they can continue to, well, support their team. If a healer or other support player gets killed early in a team fight, more often than not the rest of the team will soon fall as well. This means support players have the best chance of survival by positioning themselves out of harm’s way as much as possible.

Aside from supplying ammo and healing, many support characters also have special abilities that can boost their teammates in various ways. This can be through increasing the teams DPS, providing shorter cool-downs for special attacks, or allowing them to move faster and dodge incoming damage. This can help tremendously to sway the fight in your team’s favor.

A final role that support players are integral to is shot calling. Damage dealers and other roles are often so committed to fighting one or two enemies that they don’t have the ability to see the battlefield as a whole. However, because support players are often positioned behind their team, this gives them a naturally advantageous position to view the battlefield, assess where the biggest threats or opportunities lay, and in turn guide their team to either avoid getting killed, or seize a moment that helps to win the fight.

There are many roles to choose from in the myriad of team-based video games today. However, while all of these roles remain important in order to win, the support role is the back on which the team’s success rests on. It doesn’t matter how good a damage or tank player is if they are not getting healed or otherwise supported in the middle of a fight. A good damage player may get one or two kills without the need for support, but more kills will likely be required in order to win the fight, and it will be difficult to secure these kills without the help of the team’s support players. As such, support players are the greatest of all time by working with other roles to heal, sustain, position, boost, and communicate with their team in order to win the match as quickly and efficiently as possible.