Shen is a controversial champion known for his sustain and global ultimate, which have often made him a pick or ban champion back when he was statistically stronger. With the release of stronger duelists and faster split pushers, Shen has fallen out of favor as a solo laner given there are many matchups he has little hope of winning without massive assistance. As a jungler he also isn't preferable due to his inability to farm it quickly.
This doesn't mean he's weak as a whole however. The changes to items and gold income in my opinion significantly increase the viability of Shen as a support, especially given the increased tendency for games to last longer in this season. Duo laning is overall more versatile for Shen given his inherently supportive kit, which can shine in many situations at all points of the game, and should the game last long enough Shen's durability scaling and global presence makes him one of the stronger lategame supports available.
- Extremely good at initiating and peeling
- Health scaling synergizes very well with Relic Shield
- Good ranged poke
- Very hard to kill
- Ultimate can save a life anywhere, which is good for counter ganking, protecting squishy teammates, and even amplifying initiations.
- Poke has relatively short range, and you can be kited if you overcommit.
- Sustaining your carry can potentially push your lane
- Shen does significantly less damage than other supports earlygame, so your burst combos are not as likely to kill people earlygame.
- Shen is a moderately level dependent champion. All of his abilities, while useful at all points of the game, are noticeably more effective at later ranks, and duo laning will slow down your experience gains early on.
Reasons why this is preferable to top lane Shen?
- Shen can be counterpicked top lane by champions like ChoGath, Olaf, Aatrox, Shyvana and many ranged champions
- Everyone expects Shen to be played top lane, and people who know how to counterpick Shen will do so.
- Shen's kit is by default strongest when assisting an ally who can take advantage of both his healing and crowd control. You will not be less effective, but rather more efficient earlygame by playing as support Shen.
- Shen is versatile when duo laning and is not countered specifically by any popular bot lane compositions. Shen can viably sustain losing lanes, and viably harass winning ones at any time. He also amplifies jungler ganks incredibly well.
And don't Jungle Shen, please. It takes too long for Shen to gain levels reasonably in the jungle especially if you get counter jungled. Shen always has to lane.
Support Shen is also a good pick when:
- You have one or more solo champions that scales well into lategame but is likely to be bullied and tower dived.
- You do not know what AD carry your team wants to play or what your opposing matchup will be, as Shen can viably adapt to the needs of pretty much any bot lane.
- Your AD carry is extremely strong, but very vulnerable to being dived especially by suppression ultimates. You are an amazing counter to Warwick lategame for instance, but you are not necessarily the best champion for laning against him.
- Your jungler is capable of doing extremely high damage. Jungle Kha'Zix ganks can be heavily teammate reliant for instance, as he lacks tools to lock down targets, but can demolish stationary targets if for instance as Shen you are able to initiate fights for him.
- Your entire team in general is squishy, or lacks good initiation, and needs a tank. Shen is always a good choice when you need a tank. Support Shen for example can work quite well on double AP comps due to being a durability scaling champion that can reliably protect or help initiate for squishier teammates. Shen also compliments popular assassin based comps very well given his ability to assist dives incredibly strongly when paired with other mobile, high damage teammates who he can put his ultimate on. And of course for dedicated protection comps, Shen is also a great support who is able to make a key teammate much harder to kill from anywhere on the map.