How to Zone as Brand Support
For a few months at the end of 2015 Brand was all the rage, his win rate went up to 58% overall from 54% and he took front seat in the common ranked ban list. Riot capitalized on this with their timely Spirit Fire Brand skin, costing about $10 USD (1350 RP). While he didn’t make an appearance in the LCS due to the time of year, he was the highest win rate mid champion for some time.
As a Brand main I did not welcome the new buffs he received. First and obviously, it made it much harder to find a situation where I could pick Brand in solo queue. It also normalized Brand as a mid and support champion, which toughened up the competition as they were much more familiar with his kit.
The good news is that after Brand was debuffed in patch 6.1, he is still a very viable support and mid champion. In February his play rate in mid dropped below his support play rate for the first time in recent history. So I present to you some simple tips to zone your opponents as Brand.
Poking with Frostfang and Pillar of Flame
Grab a Frostfang, two pots, your trinket of choice and land a W immediately when your opponent arrives in lane. Your Pillar of Flame will tick three times scoring you gold for each tick. The range of your W will dominate many AD Carry Support combos, allowing you to give your AD Carry a CS advantage over the first few minutes while pulling in +8 gold per hit.
Your autoattack range is 550, which lines up with most AD Carry champions. This allows you to make calculated auto attacks, making the opposing AD Carry pay for their CS while also racking up gold for yourself. If you’ve never done this, stand behind your front line minions and pay attention to their health as if you were CS’ing your own minions. When the time comes to last hit your minion, step forward and poke the AD Carry as they step forward to last hit your minion.
Vision Ward in Bush
A Vision Ward placed in either of your two bushes (preferably their bottom bush) will keep you invisible while providing a place to hide from attacking opponents and minions. Combined with the range of your Pillar of Flame you’ll create a zone where they simply can not stand. If your AD Carry is smart, they will not push your minions past this point, making it very difficult for them to CS. This is a way to capitalize on an XP or gold advantage and obviously won’t work if the opponents are stronger or if their jungler is paying attention.
Max W First (Maybe)
The only downside of maxing W first is it’s increased mana cost with each level. Keep in mind your W does more damage if the target is already tagged with your Blaze passive, so hitting them with E or Q or even your ult is often worth it to get that extra 25% damage. If you intend to engage, don’t open with your W since you’ll lose the 25% damage, only use your W to poke.
Top the Charts
Your goal as Support Brand is to do supporty things (ward, peel, etc) and then do massive support-damage in team fights. Mind your positioning, do your damage and focus on staying alive in team fights. Save your Q to peel or engage. The longer you stay alive the more damage you’ll do and the more you’ll help your team. Your goal at the end of each game is to be able to load the Damage vs. Champions chart and be leading both teams.
As both mid and support it’s helpful to think about the various combos available to Brand. At first glance you might think the best combo is always E > Q > W > R, but Riot has made an effort to make most of the possible combos viable depending on the situation. Consider the following:
- Opening with R is an excellent idea when there are no minions around and their team is huddled together. This often happens when the opposing team is contesting your tower and your team just decimated their latest minion wave.
- You can engage 2-3 champions with Q, spread the Blaze with E and do bonus damage with W. In a case like this opening with Q allows you to spread E before unleashing your W, something that would otherwise not be possible.
- Playing against a highly mobile assassin like Zed or Fizz you’ll want to be ready to use your E to guarantee they are tagged with Blaze. Opening with W or Q isn’t a good idea since W is harder to land on a highly mobile champion and your Q is your best defense against their murderous rage.
- W is generally a bad engage, since you immediately lose the 25% bonus damage it does when they are already set ablaze. However, you might find a quick W > R useful in some situations. Using your W also advertises to your team that your second most damaging ability is down for about 10 seconds. Use it to poke early and to kill late.
Being patient in a solo fight can secure your kill, remember when a target is tagged with Blaze it sticks for 4 ticks. If you hit them rapidly with a combo they will only take 4-5 ticks of Blaze total. If you have the opportunity, pause/think/meditate/auto attack between abilities to maximize the number of ticks from Blaze.
Whether you decide to work towards Frost Queen’s Claim or Sightstone is personal choice, although most Diamond summoners prioritize the Frost Queen’s Claim there are certainly situations where Sightstone is required earlier. For specific build recommendations that are always up to date, Visit Brand’s Diamond Summoner Builds.
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