Yesterday Bard celebrated his first birthday on Summoner’s Rift. It was 1 year ago when the wandering caretaker was first released, but it feels like just yesterday this champion was being banned by players to prevent anyone on their own team from picking him. Bard, sporting a 31% win rate at the time, was a dynamic new way for last pick forced-into-support players to feed the enemy team. In celebration of Bard’s recent birthday let’s look at how far we’ve come since Bard first joined Summoner’s Rift.
Bard’s champion spotlight had everybody hyped for magical journeys and collecting chimes. I don’t think Riot expected how bad early Bard play was going to be.
Magical Journeys: Rebounding from Release
Bard’s Traveler’s Call, aka his chimes mechanic, must have ruined thousands of promo matches for AD carries everywhere upon release. Nobody knew exactly how important chimes were, or when they should go collecting them. Level 4 ADCs were being tower dove left and right as their level 2 Bard paraded around the enemy jungle collecting chimes.
If you were lucky enough to be paired with a loyal Bard who stayed in lane, you probably didn’t have a lot of lane pressure. Most players were starting Caretaker’s Shrine (W) at the time, meaning you had almost zero level 1 lane pressure. Cosmic Bindings (Q) were sporadically thrown and accidentally connected, but because AD carries didn’t really understand the ability, they was rarely a follow up.
Tempered Fate was responsible for dozens of game ending team fights – for the enemy team. Allied Vayne dueling a Zed? Better hit them both with a Tempered Fate so the ENTIRE enemy team can get there in the off chance Zed loses the fight! Bard had it rough when he first entered the Rift. Everybody was so bad at adapting to his unique kit that it was often worth dodging a game if your support locked in Bard.
The lack of early success didn’t stop high level support players who saw potential in Bard. CLG’s aphromoo almost exclusively played Bard on stream. He put in 223 Bard games on main account “aphromoo” during season 5. Thanks to Aphromoo’s stream, and time to practice the champion, Bard has rebounded strong, even seeing occasional play in the LCS.
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Bard’s Diverse Kit Creates Many Opportunities
A Bard montage created in celebration of Bard’s recent birthday.
Bard is so fun to play because of how much creativity his kit allows. Magical Journey has turned Summoner’s Rift into a jungle gym in which an escape, or an engage, is always possible. Tempered Fate also creates unique opportunities to hold an enemy in place for an engage, freeze enemies for a disengage, freeze only a couple enemies for a lopsided fight, or temporarily disable an important objective (tower, dragon, baron). There are very few champions in the entire game that enable players to be so dynamic.
Bard’s chime mechanic is another reason he is such a great champion. Roaming as a support can heavily influence the outcome of a game. If you are able to walk up river and pull off a successful gank on the enemy mid laner, that’s big. The gold advantage for your allied mid laner is nice, but the psychological edge you gain is even greater! Dying to a jungle gank is easy to accept. It happens. But there is something uniquely frustrating about dying to a support roam. Bard makes these roams quick and easy by collecting a couple chimes on the way. Throw in a magical journey or two and you’ll be back to lane in no time.
Damage, Utility, Scaling: No Excuse Left Avoid Bard
Bard is one of the strongest supports right now. He offers high early game damage and scales well throughout the game by collecting chimes. Bard is extremely fun to play and allows you to be creative when creating plays. The cherry on top is strong team fighting in which you choose whether to use Cosmic Binding, Tempered Fate, and your meep empowered auto-attacks to peel or engage.
Happy birthday, Bard.