Monday, February 25, 2013

Analysis: Supports That Scale Well

Heroes peak at different times during the game. If a hero does a flat amount of damage, then odds are they will peak earlier than a hero that scales with items or deals percent based damage.

Many support heroes peak early and tend to feel less useful as the game draws out. The effects of their spells (e.g. stuns, slows) are still useful, but the damage is not. This can be a problem in many pub games because you may or may not be able to rely on the 4 players that chose carry heroes.

Not all the heroes here may come across as support heroes, but they certainly can be played that way. For example, Mirana is a very versatile hero. She can semi-carry, but she can also be useful as a roaming support.

The main distinction I want to make here is that:
  • Yes, stuns and silences are useful throughout the game
  • No, 125 damage nukes are not useful late game
  • Yes, supports are incredibly useful
  • No, not all supports have enough impact in a pub setting to really help carry a team
Listed below are supports that can DPS pretty hard at any point in the game. They aren't just one-hit wonders (see: Tidehunter), they aren't just crowd control in the late game (e.g. Shadow Shaman). These are supports that can step up and semi-carry if needed, or be a main damage contributor in a small skirmish or full on team fight.


Heroes Generally Picked as Support


Shadow Demon

Shadow Demon might be the best scaling support right now. Disruption is powerful throughout the game because the Illusion damage scales as the heroes get more powerful. It's also a spell that can be a powerful anti-initiation tool. If your carry is caught out, you can disrupt them as the team comes to back you up, giving all your allies extra time to react.

Likewise, Soul Catcher deals bonus damage based on how much damage the target takes. As your allies become more powerful, so does this spell.

Shadow Poison is not to be scoffed at either. With just 4 stacks (at level 4), it can deal 520 damage. It has a short cooldown and gives vision as it moves, making it excellent for scouting.

Lastly, Demonic Purge is useful as a slow and buff removal at any point in the game. It's also a massive nuke at the end of the duration.



Though he's mostly magic damage (Edict is composite), Leshrac is still able to output a phenomenal amount of damage during team fights.

His stun is useful at any point in the game. Lightning isn't the best spell, but it still deals a ton of damage (over many targets). Edict is great for pushing at any point in time and allows him to contribute to fights even if the target is magic immune.

Most of his scaling comes from his ult. It deals a lot of damage, is spammable, great for team fights or pushing.


Vengeful Spirit

Vengeful Spirit's claims to late game scaling are in her Command Aura and Netherswap. The aura provides a massive boost to base damage (i.e. comes from your primary stat), making her an invaluable asset in team fights.

Netherswap can be used in a multitude of ways. She can sacrifice herself to save a more important ally that was initiated on, help set up fights, secure kills, etc.

Her other spells are powerful, but lose potency in late game. Wave of Terror is always great for the armor debuff, and as a scouting tool. Likewise, a stun is nothing to be scoffed at.

Lastly, as an AGI hero, she naturally gains some ability to DPS.



Her main areas of scaling come from Impetus and Untouchable. Impetus is not necessarily the best damage dealing spell in the game, but dealing pure damage (ignores armor) is always useful. Untouchable is also a great attribute of Enchantress, though she is lacking in HP.

The other spells she has drop off a bit, especially her healing wisps. They're still useful, but the heal is just not as good. Likewise, her ability to Enchant creeps (or slow an opponent) can still add to the team, but not as much as they do early game. Well timed Enchants of a creep like a wolf (i.e. crit aura) can be incredibly helpful. The slow is ok, but is less useful once the game shifts to mostly team fights.



Lina works great in late game for a lot of reasons. Her spells all have short cooldowns, allowing her to spam a lot of magic damage. Due to Fiery Soul, this in turn allows her to do some serious auto-attack damage.

Because many of her spells are AoE, she is able to do a lot of damage when you total it across multiple targets. The AoE component of her spells also allows her to push creep waves and defend towers very well.

Heroes The Can Be Support


Nature's Prophet

Prophet's scaling comes largely from his ability to farm quickly and his global presence. He can push very well and contribute to team fights from anywhere on the map with his ult.


Naga Siren

Naga has a versatile skill set all around. She is able to DPS well, being an AGI hero that has Illusions. Riptide also lowers armor.

Her Illusions can be used to push lanes and scout safely. Also, Net is a very useful lockdown throughout the game.

Lastly, her ult is a great asset in either initiating or escaping.



Mirana is very similar to Naga. Her skillset is useful in a variety of ways. Though the damage from her spells wears thin over time, her ult is incredibly useful throughout the game. Leap can be a great escape, but it also can be useful in teamfights for increasing nearby allies' move and attack speed. Her stats allow her to scale into a semi-carry if needed as well.



Though Netherblast doesn't deal much damage late game, it can be useful in pushing.

His scaling comes from his other three spells. Decrepify helps him deal more damage. Netherward is useful if dropped at the right time because it can decimate heroes with large mana consumption.

Pugna's ult is really what drives his scaling. While it's active, he can DPS as hard as a late game carry. With Aghanim's Scepter, his ult has no cooldown.

On a side note, as of the writing of this entry, Pugna has the highest INT gain in the game (I believe 4.0/level). While he may not have the attack speed naturally, his base damage is incredibly high in late game.



While generally played as a carry, Sven can fill the role of support due to his outstanding AoE Stun.

Given that he can be played as a carry, it's understandable that he scales well into the late game. This is from his Cleave and Ult, that allow him to output mass amounts of physical damage.


Scale Very Well, But Not The Best



In late game, Tidehunter does predominantly become a one-hit-wonder (i.e. go in, ult, and then do whatever for the rest of the team fight), he can still contribute due to Anchor Smash. It's a small, but decent nuke in an AoE that also reduces attack damage of those affected. Gush can also be useful because it reduces armor.


Sand King

Similar to Tidehunter, Sand King becomes a bit of a one-hit-wonder. However, Caustic Finale can output a ton of damage late game in quite a large area of effect. It's a great spell for pushing and for fighting near creep waves.



Enigma is on par with Tidehunter and Sand King. In late game, he's mainly there for his ultimate. However, Midnight Pulse deals percent based damage, making it a lot more deadly than many expect.

Eidelons are still useful, but become increasing more of a liability and source of free income for opponents.

Nyx Assassin

Nyx is able to shut down a multitude of heroes throughout the game. His ult deals an immense amount of damage. Though it might not allow him to 2-shot heroes late game, it still hurts quite a bit. His mana burn can be useful against certain carries, but also to shut down supports.

Spiked Carapace is a huge component of him as it reflects and negates damage dealt to him, while also being a powerful stun.


Witch Doctor

Well timed (and placed) Maledicts and Death Wards can wipe entire teams. Maledict on its own scales fairly well.

His stun can be a huge annoyance during team fights, but isn't necessarily as useful elsewhere.

Witch Doctor's heal also adds a considerable amount of regen for a minimal amount of mana.


Honorable Mentions



While he lacks the ability to do much damage late game, Omniknight's skill set is a huge asset. He provides a free BKB to allies. His ultimate can turn around team fights. Degen aura also has a huge imapct, being a massive slow to move and attack speed.


Keeper of the Light

Illuminate is a potent nuke throughout the game and is able to help clear creep waves. His Chakra Magic is also useful at any point during play.

The main reason he scales into late game is his ultimate form. Being able to summon a hero to the battle means that a carry can focus on farming or split pushing, but still be available to team fight at the drop of a hat. Blinding Light is also a great skill for helping fight auto-attack carries.

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