There’s a huge difference between trying unconventional carries and doing the same thing with supports, especially in ranked matchmaking. Supports are usually chosen first and as such usually need to be very flexible and straightforward and fit multiple different strategies. Supports, which we’re going to talk about today, aren’t necessarily the best idea in your everyday solo hangouts, but given their popularity and success on the pro scene, they’re worth trying out at a party.
Riki support is a pretty strange concept. The hero is often thought of as a pubstomper: a character who excels at subpar levels of play but falls drastically against competent opponents. Well, it turns out that with good enough coordination, Riki can be the best setup and scouting support in the game, and all for the nominal price of 1400 gold.
Sleeping Dart is definitely on the stronger side. It’s a three second sleep from a 1000 range – a perfect initiation tool for an isolated target you need to break down from full to zero. This both disables the target and allows for a guaranteed Stun or Hex that leaves no room for counterplay. At least not from the target itself: you can still get help from their team.
Strong follow-ups are heroes like Mirana, leshrak, Lina etc. Basically any hero that has decent to excellent stun duration but might have trouble landing it on an elusive target or a target with a BKB. Riki reduces risk when using skillshots, and most skillshots in the game typically have above-average damage and disable duration stats.
He can then continue in a fight with constant smoke screens: With a duration of six seconds and a potential cooldown of seven seconds, this ability has a ridiculously low downtime for what it offers. Riki gains access to both of his “Support” talents at level 15. This allows Riki to more or less continuously cover the battlefield with a 435 radius silence and miss chance area denial each fight while sleeping priority targets every twelve seconds.
There’s no argument that mid-game hero can be a very powerful support. But what does he do on the train and before the fifteenth minute?
Honestly not much and here lies the main weakness of the hero. The reason Riki is a thing at all is because a lot of players are experimenting with unconventional cores in the sidelanes. These cores are usually fairly independent: both lina and Shadow Fiend are good in lane with weak support, as are Heroes Viper, Razor and maybe even Leshrac.
Riki has very good starting armor and a ridiculous amount of HP regen, but with 560 starting HP and not much in terms of actual stuns and nukes, his lane presence is mediocre. You can mitigate some of that by maxing out Blink Strike, but even then don’t expect Riki to do too much before the fifteen minute mark.
Because of this, we strongly recommend only playing Riki Support if you have at least one friend to lane with. Playing Riki with most traditional cores can result in a very miserable experience: it might not necessarily ruin lane per se, but it might tend to strangers. Ideally, you want at least three players so that Sleep Arrow can be exploited by multiple heroes on your team: Riki and The Mirana support duo can work wonders and have potential Riki + Techies for maximum emotional damage to the opponent who keeps missing their Proximity Mines auto attacks after being primed for a perfect blast off.
Since then, it has become considerably more difficult to recommend Sven support Wraith Pact is changing, but we have a feeling it still has a game. Not necessarily a good idea for an opening pick, but can be used to trick the opponent into countering a support.
Sven’s main strength was that he was one of the few backups who could easily get a very timely Wraith Pact for his team Aghanim’s Shard and provide a massive armor and overall survivability boost at insane timing. This still works for the most part, but only against physical damage.
Sven is surprisingly good in lane, thanks to 325 movement speed, good HP pool, good attack damage, built-in stun, and bonus armor. He’s far from an ideal support, but the pool of cores that are okay with Sven is slightly larger compared to Riki.
He also has a stronger late-game DPS transition, but a much weaker utility. With a few items like Blink Dagger and BKB, he can help jump the backline supports alongside his other core. His damage contribution will still make sense simply because of God’s strength.
Aside from Wraith Totem, Shard Aura, and an occasional stun, Sven doesn’t really do much in a fight. The effectiveness of the above is highly dependent on enemy airflow. When you face heroes like death prophet Razor, Sven can be an ideal choice. Her damage output is mostly physical, and +6 armor for 1400 gold is just too good a counter.
When the opponent has a mixed damage draft or primary magic, Sven just doesn’t feel as good and doesn’t really do anything that other, more conventional assists can’t do.
In our opinion, there are still games where Sven can appear as a support, but unlike Riki, you can’t choose her. If you choose the latter, you’ll have a lot more control, especially if you’re playing in a party. You’re the ones who can pick heroes that work well together, and you’re the ones who can make it work.
With Sven, you rely on your expectations of what the enemy will choose. Unless it’s a second stage support pick after at least one of the enemy cores is revealed, picking Sven is too risky for us to recommend.
What do you think about unconventional supports of the current patch? Do you have someone else in mind? Do share your thoughts in the comment section below.