Support Itemization – Part 1: Starting Items

 This is Part 1 of  a Support Series, next up will be First/Second Back.

Itemization in League of Legends is a never changing aspect. The choice of items is influenced by many factors, here listed from most important to least important:

  • the champion you’re playing
  • the role you’re playing
  • the items you have (varies from situation to situation)
  • the champions your team and the enemy are playing
  • the items your lane opponent/s, partner has/have
  • the items your team and the enemy team have

As you might have noticed, I missed one very important point: your personal playstyle. I can’t really tell you how to play your games, I can only give you guidelines, which will hopefully help you form your playstyle. In this article I’ll try to help you understand, in which ways, your item choices as support, helps you and your team in various situations.

This time, I’ll be covering only the starting items.

Important Notes: As I’m not covering runes and masteries, I assume that you got two points in Wealth, as this is most common.

Common Starts

1) Faerie Charm, Wards, Potions

What this start gives you:

  • 0.6 Mana per second
  • 1 Vision Ward and 2 Sight Wards/2 Vision Wards and 1 Sight Ward
  • 2 Potions/No potions

Surely the most common start in Solo Queue, you can basically buy this on every support in every game, it’s not bad, but not always the best.

The delicate part of this start is the Faerie Charm, because you can basically live without it. 0.6 Mana per second is hardly noticeable, and can also be achieved by the Meditation mastery. For example if you have a skill that costs 80 Mana, the Faerie Charm alone needs 2 minutes and 13 seconds to get you 80 Mana, which is very long.

 Choice of Wards:

  • take 2 Vision Wards if you’re playing against an Evelynn jungle
  • consider 2 Vision Wards if you need superior brush control or want to set up early ganks easier. Champions that benefit from brush control the most are Alistar, Blitzcrank, Leona, Taric, Thresh, and Fiddlesticks

Choice of Potions:

  • take 2 Health Potions if you’re a melee support
  • consider 1 or 2 Mana Potions if you play a passive support (e.g. Janna), have high mana usage (e.g. Sona), or have high mana costs with poke (Lulu)

Conclusions: Only consider this start if you plan to build something out of the Faerie Charm early. If you think you don’t need to spam skills, have low Mana costs, or play an all in Support (e.g. Alistar, Leona, Thresh), don’t take this start. And finally, if you plan to invade or try to stop and invade, don’t take this start.

2) Rejuvenation Bead, Wards, Potions

What this start gives you:

  • 1 Health per Second
  • 1 Vision Ward and 2 Sight Wards/2 Vision Wards and 1 Sight Ward
  • 2 Potions/No potions

Only a slight variation from the first start, Rejuvenation Bead is questionable, as once again it really isn’t much regen.

 3) Wards, Potions

What this start gives you:

  • 2 Vision Wards, 3 Sight Wards/Less Wards
  • 1 Potion/More Potions

This is the most common start in high Elo and the LCS. It gives you extra wards and you only loose a little bit of regen, which is hardly noticeably anyways. The extra Vision Ward either helps you to maintain brush control better / longer or enables setting up for ganks and the extra Sight Ward is crucial for invades, or preventing them. If an Evelynn jungle is on the opposing team, you can buy 3 Vision Wards. However, if your opponent has a harass-heavy lane, you should buy more potions and remove one Ward.

 Conclusions: Consider this the best start if you’re prone to invades or your jungler wants to invade. During early laning phase, vision wins games. Other starts are only advisable if both of your junglers will most like play passively, and you don’t have to maintain brush control (or you feel like cheesing).

Uncommon Starts

These starts are either high risk/high reward or come into play very rarely.

 1) Doran’s Shield, Ward, Potions

What this start gives you:

  • 100 Health
  • 2 Health Regen per second
  • Blocks 8 damage from champion basic attacks
  • 1 Sight Ward/2 Potions

This build may seem a little odd at first glance, but let’s take a look at it. If you start with Doran’s Shield, you obviously want to make something happen. Doran’s Shields basic stats alone are worth 624g. Plus the passive is extremely good too. Let’s try to evaluate the benefits:

Imagine the scenario of a Level 1 Caitlyn versus a Level 1 Thresh:

  • Thresh has 1/13/16 Masteries and armor marks, armor seals, magic resist glyphs and movement speed quints and a Doran’s Shield. This sums up to 38 armor.
  • Caitlyn has 21/5/4 Masteries and attack damage marks, armor seals, magic resist glyphs and life steal quints and a Doran’s Blade. This sums up to 71 attack damage, 8% armor penetration and 5 armor penetration.
Armor after Penetration = 38 * 0,92 - 5 = 30
Damage Reduction = 100 / ( 100 + 30 ) = 0,7692 = 76,92 %
Damage an autoattack deals without the passive = 71 * 0,7692 = 54,62
Damage an autoattack deals with the passive = 54,62 - 8 = 46,62
Amount of Armor it would need to reduce the damage to that value:
46,62 = 71 * ( 100 / (100 + (x * 0,92 - 5) ) )
0,6566 = 100 / (100 + (x * 0,92 - 5) )
152,3 = 100 + (x * 0,92 - 5)
52,3 = x * 0,92 - 5
x = 62,28 Armor = 24,28 Difference

In this realisitic scenario, the passive grants 24.28 armor, when Caitlyn attacks Thresh.

Which equals armor worth 485.6 gold.

Of course this passive’s value decreases heavily over time, and it will also not reduce the damage from minions.

 Conclusions: The strength of Doran’s Shield is unmatched in the early levels. However, as it is risky due to limited ward coverage, you’ll need to make something happen early while still being cautious about ganks. It’s also extremely viable if the enemy jungler is a weak ganker and/or invader (e.g. Warwick). In lane, it’s good choice against harass – heavy lanes, or on all – in supports.

2) Faerie Charm, Faerie Charm / Rejuvenation Bead, Ward, Potions

What his start gives you:

  • 1.2 Mana per second or 0.6 Mana and 1 Health per second
  • 1 Sight Ward/2 Sight Wards
  • 2 Potions/No potions

In my opinion, this start can only be considered in about 1% of all games.

Conditions that need to be present:

  • their jungler is a weak ganker
  • you and your opponent have a passive lane
  • you want to build items out of the parts early

This start basically is a variation of the Common Start 1/2, it gives a little bit more regen and saves you money on wards.

Don’t start this way if you’re not 100% sure you don’t need more wards.


You can quickly decide which start is the best for you, by asking yourself the following questions in that order:

Am I willing to sacrifize safety from ganks and invades for a lot of lane pressure and maybe an early kill no matter what? (Not advisable)

Start Uncommon 1) Doran’s Shield, Ward, Potions
Does my jungler want to invade their jungle, or is their jungler playing a champion which could invade our jungle and possibly out-trade or even kill our jungler (e.g. Aatrox, Nunu, Udyr)?

Start Common 3) Wards, Potions
Is their jungler a very strong ganker (e.g. Hecarim, Jarvan IV, Shaco) or do I want to maintain brush control (especially advised as Alistar, Blitzcrank, Leona, Thresh)?

Start Common 3) Wards, Potions
Do you want to provide an early ward for other lanes?

Start Common 3) Wards, Potions
Do I have problems managing my mana and am I not prone to strong harrass or trading?

Start Common 1) Faerie Charm, Wards, Potions
Is it possible that one jungler will gank our lane, and do I want to play it safe?

Start Common 2) Rejuvenation Bead, Wards, Potions
Is it unlikely that one jungler will gank our lane, and want to create a lot of pressure?

Start Uncommon 1) Doran’s Shield, Ward, Potions
Do I want to play my lane very passive and am I sure that I cannot create lane pressure?

Start Uncommon 2) Faerie Charm, Faerie Charm / Rejuvenation Bead, Ward, Potions


Start Uncommon 1) Doran’s Shield, Ward, Potions



Thanks for reading! And look out for Part 2 soon 🙂

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My IGN is Ceranoa, Europe West, I'm currently in Platinum. I play all roles, most of the times botlane tho. I've been playing League of Legends for about 3 years now, but haven't really published anything before I started writing for Cloth5. I like theorycrafting and mathcrafting.

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