Ahh, another great debate in our hands. Choosing your summoner’s spells is very important,
and that’s true in any lane. There are a couple of standard meta options out there that work with
the current patches. Heal and barrier is a bit debatable, and you often see it on either AD
Carries or Support champions. While they do seem similar in practice, they actually have very
different use-case scenarios in Summoner’s Rift.
They’re both great for squishier champions, but aside from offering a layer of protection, that’s
about as far as the similarities go. Today let’s have a look at the difference between these 2
summoners spells. As you may have guessed by now, there is no single better spell for every
situation, but there are many times you may want to pick one over the other. So instead, let’s
discuss where they both excel so you can make informed decisions simply by glancing at the
Real Life Differences
As you may know, there are pros and cons to both. Let’s take a look at Heal first. This is the
spell that gives you 80 – 318 HP (which is based on level) as well as the teammate closest to
your cursor (or the most wounded one). It also grants a boost in movement speed, which is
great for skirmishes whether you’re escaping or chasing. It has a cooldown of 240 seconds,
which is a lot longer than Barrier’s 180 second cooldown.
For Barrier, it gives you a shield worth 105 – 411 of damage to absorb, but it lasts only 2
seconds. On paper, Barrier gives you more damage absorption while also having a lower
cooldown. End of story, right? Well, not exactly. Heal has the advantage of also letting you keep
the leftover HP — if any — after using it, which gives you more if you’re not using up all of it.
Barrier, on the other hand, is better for burst damage, but falls short when it deals with damage
over time effects that last more than 2 seconds. Now that we’ve established some of the
differences, let’s have a look at where both excel, and when to choose one over the other.
When to use Heal
When opponents run exhaust often, such as in the bottom lane, then Heal could be a better
pick. It’s also good to run on supports, because it heals another allied champion — such as your
ADC — and lets them run another summoner spell such as Barrier or Exhaust. The movement
speed bonus you get from this spell is also useful for marksman type champions who rely on
kiting and range, such as Caitlyn. For champions who struggle in earlier stages of the game,
Heal may also be a better option because it gives more than Barrier early on and let’s you keep
the HP permanently, which is useful for short skirmishes in lane where you don’t want to lose
When to use Barrier
Barrier could be a better choice when you’re playing in the mid lane, dealing with a burst
assassin or someone who tends to go all in who picks up Ignite. Because Ignite reduces healing
effects, Barrier is a better choice because it’s a shield and therefore is not affected by the
healing reduction by skills like Ignite or having the Grievous Wounds effect. It also has the
benefit of being able to use it at full health when you’re expecting extreme bursts of damage that
you may not be able to survive otherwise, such as Veigar’s Primordial Burst.
At the end of the day, they are both very situational, and you may want to use them both
regularly depending on who you face off against. In fact, you can often see signs of what you
should pick as early as the champion selection screen. See a lot of bursts assassins likely to
pick up ignite? Get Barrier. If you prefer a more sustained lane and see a lane where Exhaust is
more likely, you might be better off with Heal. Either way, both are excellent tools and they both
mitigate damage well, which can be used to help you make use of baiting tactics that can turn
around an otherwise successful gank.