Why Are Marksmen Champions Being Played As Support In LoL Season 13?

Shadman Sabik Zaim
By Shadman Sabik Zaim
10 Min Read
Image Credit: Riot Games

For the first few patches of Season 13, Marksmen are being played in the Support Role instead of ADC, and we explore why that is the case.

Marksmen have been the staple picks in the ADC role in League of Legends. That class of champions are one of the primary damage dealers for either side of the teams on the Rift. However, there are cases when Marksmen are swapped around to other roles. Even games where none of those champions are used in a game. Although, it is very much a fact that Marksmen are a massive part of winning games in Summoner’s Rift.

While we saw many Markmen swapping into different roles, it never quite happened in the case of being Supports. The Support role is, by nature, self-sacrificing for the team so that there can be enough vision on the map or someone to protect the ADC player until they get their requisite items to carry the game.

Supports have mostly been either tanky engage champions like Leona or squishy enchanters with a lot of healing/shield power like Lulu. However, Markmen being used as Supports have been the hot commodity early in Season 13 as it is happening almost every other game in solo queue and even in professional play.

So, we come to the question of why this is the case. Fear not as I explain why such a phenomenon is happening and whether this will be mitigated in a future patch.

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The Mechanisms of Marksmen Supports

There is a lot to break down with this current situation. So let’s start with the very basics of what Marksmen Supports are and how they function at this present moment.

How Marksmen Supports Function?

Marksmen Supports are basically a nuisance in the lane. Whether it be Ashe or something like Kalista, these supports are being used to get priority in lanes and be either aggressive in lane or provide a ton of utility.

Ashe support does both in many cases, while something like Jhin support is purely utility. If anyone is following the LCK, Keria pulled out Kalista support while both he and Beryl have played Twitch support so far. So there are a lot of examples of Markmen being used either for utility reasons or to go aggro in lanes.

Statistics of Markmen Supports In Solo Queue

While the concept is lovely to talk about, it does not hold water unless some facts are combined with it. So far, Ashe is at the top of the list in basically any Platinum+ elo games as a support. Her utility + engage potential makes her incredible as a support. Other Marksmen are also on the fringe of high-level solo queue play, as Twitch, Jhin, Senna, Kallista, etc., Supports are present.

Ashe is by far the best of the lot, with her win rate at 50% and above, depending on the elo. The crazy part is that the win rate is higher at the top of the tree, with her pick rate being around 15-20%, which is quite absurd.

Senna Support has existed for a really long time, so her being relevant in that role is not surprising. There are also other Marksmen like Twitch and Miss Fortune, which are somewhere around 45-50% win rate.

It is important to mention that Pro Play and solo queue are completely different. So comparing the success of one with the other is not a great criterion to look into.

Statistics of Markmen Supports In Pro Play

Let’s talk about Pro Play now, as that is where Marksmen Supports are really rampaging. Ashe sits at about 54% win rate, while other Marksmen Supports have not found as much success in Pro Play. However, the fact that picks like Kallista, Twitch, and Jhin are being picked for Support is a worrying trend as to where the Support Meta is heading.

Why Are Marksmen Supports A Thing?

Let’s come to probably the biggest question of this entire topic. Why are Marksmen Supports being played? Honestly, it is much more nuanced than one may think. There are actually multiple factors that go into this. Personal preference may weigh one reason heavier than the other, but to me, they contribute equally to this new meta. Let’s break the three primary reasons down.

1. Heimerdinger

The first reason is mainly for Pro Play, but Solo Queue fits it as well. Heimerdinger has been a menace since Worlds 2022. Ever since Beryl from DRX in the LCK brought out Heimerdinger in Worlds and won a trophy out of it, the champion has skyrocketed in terms of priority.

His oppressive laning phase with turrets in the brushes to detect vision or deter enemies from approaching, paired with the utility and CC the champion has, is quite absurd. High ELO and pro players have figured it out and obviously started using him in games. As with any power pick, the brainstorming begins to counter said champion.

The counter was found as Ashe entered the fray. Ashe provides enough utility to match Heimerding; better yet, she can clear turrets and pick off Heimerdinger, so the team faces no more issues. Once players started using Ashe, they got a taste of how good Marksmen can be in situations like these. So more and more players began using Marksmen in the Support role as they figured out that things just work.

So in a way, it all started with Heimerdinger as he gave the causality for players to explore options to prepare counter picks, which paved the way for Marksmen Supports.

2. Enchanter Meta

While reason no. 1 was the spark that ignited the engine, Enchanter Meta is the engine itself. Marksmen Support, specifically Ashe, does really well in these situations. While Marksmen don’t provide healing and shielding, the utility propels their use further. This has allowed Marksmen to enter the fray and remain in the meta.

If this was a meta with Thresh, Leona, Nautilus, etc., we would never be thinking about this possibility. Enchanter meta has allowed Marksmen Support meta to enter the fray and solidify its place.

3. Items

While both the above reasons have allowed Marksmen Supports to be viable, there are three items that make them really strong. They are Spectral Sickle, Umbral Glaive, and Spellthief’s Edge. Spectral Sickle and Spellthief’s Edge allowed Supports to earn money by trading or harassing opponent laners. With more Ashe games being played, everyone realised how strong Spectral Sickle was as a starter item.

That led to more and more Marksmen making their way into the meta. Spellthief’s situation for Marksmen champions as Twitch Support mostly uses it at this moment.

Some may think of how Spectral Sickle got so strong. Well, it was pretty strong for a long time, in retrospect. Senna Supports/Fasting Senna was using this item really well, which allowed her to keep up with her gold income somewhat.

For Umbral Glaive, it gives damage and allows you to clear off vision. As both are things Marksmen Supports like, it makes them a much better bit. Thus, Marksmen have come into the forefront as Supports, and the items have given them massive benefits.

Will Marksmen Support Meta Continue?

Well, this is a bit hard to answer, but we already have enchanter supports coming in. Riot Phreak has talked about how Tank Supports are weak, and Patch 13.3 is bringing some buffs for them. This signals that Riot thinks the issue is getting out of hand and will be working to mitigate it.

There is no way to say if Tank Support buffs will change the landscape. The buffs in Patch 13.3 could be the first of many changes to limit Marksmen Supports, or maybe a change needs to be done to Spectral Sickle. Only time will tell, but for now, Marksmen Supports are pretty strong, and if there are no answers from Riot, we could very well see Double Marksmen every game.

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By Shadman Sabik Zaim Deputy Editor
Shadman is a Deputy Editor of League of Legends and other Riot IPs (excluding VALORANT) at GameRiv. He is a computer science and engineering graduate who got into games pretty early. Also, he takes pride in trying multiple types of games and got into League of Legends pretty early. Games, Board Games, Writing, Music, and Sports are his passions and hobbies.