One of Riot's biggest mistakes was indulging in mages as "supports," enforcing damage over utility

I am going to ignore season 1, and to some extent even season 2. Season 1 is when the prototypical ADC + support bot lane was popularized in EU, and we've been there ever since (for the most part). Season 2 saw this morph some, but you mostly saw utility-oriented supports be the focus. Season 3 saw the transition from this to more damage oriented "supports," mages who couldn't hack in mid-line for different reasons (Annie, Zyra, and even Leblanc and Elise at times). Of course, season 2 and season 3 saw incredibly poor supports (this did change big time in season 3, but it was still an issue) that pushed their play-style towards ward-bots. However, since this is where "supports" transformed, we've really never looked back. We've added the likes of Brand, Vel'Koz, Malzahar, Veigar, Lux, Kennen, Fiddlesticks and Morgana (season 4 Victorious Skin). This isn't to say these champions do not get played elsewhere, because obviously many of them have and still do - but the key is they've been locked in the role of support because they have support-esque utility as mages, but offer **way more damage.** What is the problem with this? Riot should never have allowed this to become popular to begin with. I understand the argument that Riot should not try to mandate metas or enforce certain styles of play. However, ask yourself this: is there a mage that goes bot that feels fair to play against? Outside of mages that actually got balanced around being support (Morgana, Annie [somewhat so at least], and Zyra), these champions can straight up 100-0 ADCs so long as they take ignite. This isn't a complaint about mages either, they are designed to burst in nature. But if they're going bot instead of mid, jungle, or even top, this points to a serious balance problem in the first place. Instead, Riot has allowed this to continue and doesn't really do a ton to try and encourage them to go elsewhere: instead they attempt to balance them around bot and we end up having to still deal with mages that can 100-0 you. Okay, fair enough: Riot is trying, and that is okay. But this has some serious consequences.. The biggest consequence is that you have removed the necessity of utility supports/tank supports. Sure, utility supports like Sona and at one time Janna have the capacity to do a lot of damage. But, they generally poke more and only do this absurd amount of damage if they get ahead or build damage: mages are going to do that damage regardless. If these champions cannot protect their carries early from a mage + ADC bot lane, which they typically cannot, then they lose the ability to be of value. Imagine a world where a Janna or Sona could go toe-to-toe with a kill-lane anyway (which is effectively what a mage + adc lane is): that would be fucking stupid. That would mean you're making the it inevitable that Sona/Janna lanes win out in the end. However, that is exactly what Riot has had to do to make them actually viable: they've had to make their utility so overbearing that even if they lose these kill-lanes, they are going to empower their ADC so much that nothing you do matters (Ardent Censor meta). So what you have is this constant back-and-forth dynamic between damage supports/mages and utility supports where one has to outperform the other so severely that the game hyperfocuses on bot-lane performance even more so, because on one hand you have 5 damage dealers or the other you have 3 damage dealers but one of them is hyper-empowered. Both cases are fucking stupid and feel like shit to play against and with, and the problem is that damage/mage supports continue to be incredibly effective in that role. Sooner or later, Riot will buff utility/tank supports enough to either just straight up outdamage and out-tank these kill-lanes (Nautilus support currently), or survive them with little effort needed (pretty much what we see everytime Soraka is good). There needs to be a fundamental shift here, and Riot needs to find a way to give utility supports (actual supports) their lane back without making them incredibly overpowered to do it. Keep in mind, I am not suggesting that normal supports cannot function without being overpowered: Nami is doing just that right now. But it is rare, and it is a difficult goal to reach. A fundamental change that made mages less consistent bot-lane would be a much better solution (removing keystones would help in a big way here). This has led to an even bigger problem, and now that we are here let's discuss it. The abomination that is Pyke has been created. An "assassin support." It is hard to say that without laughing. The concept is so abruptly stupid even though I will admit the design of Pyke is actually incredibly well-done given what it attempted. Pyke actually has an incredible character and kit, but the fact is he does it in a role where damage isn't supposed to be the focus. What you end up having is a support that executes galore, and nothing about that feels good. And then you consider he needs certain things to function as a support: either engage, disengage, sustain or poke (mages do well because they can usually do a combination of these things). And Pyke has engage/disengage and self-sustain. And then you have him going in solo lanes, which makes him absolutely fucking stupid to deal with. Because now you have an assassin that has the capacity to solo lane like a bruiser. However, the addition of Pyke creates a bigger problem: Pandora's Box has been opened now. Remember when Riot said Vayne would be exclusively the only champion to do %hp true damage? Yeah, history shows once you add a problematic element to the game, chances are you're going to do it again because you made it acceptable the first time, almost a psuedo-foot-in-the-door approach. What will be next? An assassin support that can AoE blind everyone and execute champions with the most HP? That sounds absurd, but if I would've suggested support Pyke to you a few years ago, you would've likely laughed at me. And that's where we are at, and that's where we probably continue to go. I applaud Riot for having lofty goals with their champion's kits, but there's a certain point where you have to say enough is enough. And because you allowed damage-oriented supports to excel in the first place, you've opened the door for champions like Pyke and designs of that ilk. I'll go ahead and use this closing sentence as the TL;dr. Thanks for reading. TL:DR: I applaud Riot for having lofty goals with their champion's kits, but there's a certain point where you have to say enough is enough. And because you allowed damage-oriented supports to excel in the first place, you've opened the door for champions like Pyke and designs of that ilk.
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