I felt like I had to make a chapter about this, since mostly when I've picked Soraka in Ranked matches I've had a very negative reception. People give me comments like:
"NOOOOOO! Not Soraka!"
Mostly the negative reception comes from the fact that Soraka is very underappreciated. She can be countered by having Ignite on the bot lane or just by having a good Blitzcrank who manages to hook you or your ally every single time (usually it's your adc who then complains about how useless your Soraka pick was).
In Season 3 people have preferred tanky high crowd control supports like Leona, Thresh and Blitzcrank and compared to those supports Soraka does not have any CC, hence it can be hard ganking on your lane or even getting kills on the lane.
Soraka however does give a great sustain to your team in and out of teamfights, so she's very good with poke teams who need a lot of mana to poke the enemy team while their pokes go to waste thanks to you.
Since Soraka is easily countered by some hard CC, I wouldn't go first picking her, but regardless of the negative comments you get from 3/4 players in your team when picking Soraka in Ranked, she's a very viable pick and fun to play - she just requires some caution and a carefully thought teamcomp.
Soraka works well with teams that do a lot of magic damage due to her Starcall debuff, but she's also good against teams that do magic damage due to her passive. She's good at countering global ulties like Karthus's ulti and especially good with teams that have high CC as it is, but not so good with teams that lack CC in every aspect.
Taric is a tanky support, but since his defenses focus on having armor, you can spam your Starcall and kill him relatively easily if you want to (considering your AD carry aims for kills rather than farming). He can heal and stun, and if he gets close to you, you can say byebye to your armor. Whereas you shred the magic resist he shreds armor.
Sona has higher poke than you, but you can silence her and outsustain her. If she pokes a lot and maxes Q, she can't heal and if you manage to poke her instead she's in trouble. She has higher CC than you (slowing Power Chord and Crescendo) but you have better heals and sustain.
[Kayle]] isn't the most popular support, but she has a nice heal with a nice movement speed boost and she can do serious damage in S4 since supports can buy every little nice item they want in addition to boots and Sightstone.
Nidalee isn't the most common support either, but every now and then you see a Nidalee bot lane support. Her main focus is to poke and aim for kills and if you get hit by those spears you're a goner so your main (and only) way to survive is to dodge spears. She also heals so trying to play aggressive against her probably doesn't turn out too well.
Karma is an offensive support as well. Her Q is dodgeable and that's what you want to do - dodge it. She has relatively high damage early game, but without AP she falls off mid game. If you don't let her get fed, you can win the lane against her pretty easily, but usually the Karma supports are good players so you might have a tough time against her. However her sustain is bad and her shield isn't strong since most Karmas will max Q instead of shield.
Janna is a shielder and disruptor. Her main focus is CC in which she totally outruns you. When laning against Janna you'll soon see that harassing either way is pointless so mostly it proves out to be a complete farm lane. You heal and she shields, but what comes to ganks, she's a much better assist to a jungler than you are.
Leona has a wide variety of CC skills, stuns mainly and if she can land her skills you are in trouble. Early game with proper runes and masteries Leona is nearly unkillable, but if you manage to harass her or her carry to low HP, there's no way for them to regenerate. Just like Amumu she can stun your whole team, so basically later game you should be careful whenever you see her, but after she's used her skills she can't do much during a teamfight.
Alistar is the CC king, but for some reason he isn't too popular nowadays. He's way too durable to be able to kill easily and his Headbutt can kick you away if you try to. Pulverize will aoe stun and help his team to either grab a kill or let them escape safely as he's unkillable with his ulti combined with his aoe heal. As a healer Alistar isn't a big deal, but his CC is a serious threat compared to almost no CC Soraka.
Lux isn't often used as a support, but she can fulfill support role quite well especially in Season 4. She's a disable based support since her shield isn't a good one. She has a really long range and she can both scout and harass with her Lucent Singularity and will kill you under your turret if you stay there with low HP. However if you manage to harass her, there's no way she can regenerate health and the usual Lux builds are quite squishy so she's rather easy to kill if you can catch her. One thing is that if she manages to get kills even as a support it means the opposite team will have 5 damage dealers since even as a support Lux should build AP like Nidalee.
Nunu support has a Blood Boil which works well with people like Vayne and Kog Maw. He's also got a very annoying pretty much spammable slow through his Q, but he does not offer sustain to his carry and isn't picked very often. Nunu has a personal heal, but he can't heal his AD carry, that's why when laning vs him it's good to harass the AD carry (as you should always do anyway) and leave Nunu alone. When engaging into fights take care for his slow and be extremely cautious if he has actived his ultimate. He is hard to kill and has quite high damage even without any damage items so be wary of him if someone appears to think it's Season 2 and picks Nunu support.
Blitzcrank has no sustain, but he has his notorious hook which I always seem to epicly catch (or if not me, then my carry). Basically his presence in the lane counts heavily on his ability to CC you to death in a couple of seconds so I'd try staying behind minions and not catch them hooks. If he catches your carry, heal him, silence Blitz and hope he doesn't have time to cast his ultimate as it does pretty good damage and also silences (so stay out of it). When he has missed his hook or has hooked your carry, that's when you go and kill him.
Lulu has an arsenal of slow/speed buff, damaging multitarget slow and shield/one target spell. She's is usually played aggressive early game due to her skills so she well try to harass you out of the lane. Her damage early game can be quite high if she first hits you with her Q, then keeps auto attacking so you might wanna try to stay out of her way until you have your full arsenal of spells. If you keep silencing her and playing situations right, you can harass her out of the lane, since she doesn't have a heal (except for ulti that does heal), but remember that she can cast most her spells on one target (excluding Q) so she will either do damage to you or to your carry. Just silence her and heal your carry, but be careful of her ultimate.
Nami has more CC than you, she heals and deals damage as well. Nami will try to harass you with Ebb and Flow and aim her bubble for your carry (or you) especially after you have healed. Aqua Prison is relatively easy to dodge, but her harass power is nasty and especially her E can bring your HP quite low and that's why it's important that you try to silence her whenever you see her approaching you.
Thresh is nasty, I say, but if you avoid his hooks you have a good chance of dominating him in the lane (if your carry dodges them as well). His hooks and lantern have really long cooldowns which allows you to harass him while he just has to sit there idle, because you have longer range than him. You'll have better lane sustain, but he has much better CC. If you somehow get caught in his ulti DON'T move from the middle unless you absolutely have to and spam Starcall instead - this includes Flashing. Beware for ganks from jungler and ward nearby bushes.
Fiddlesticks is actually rather popular support and even I've tried playing him as a support. He has a very terrifying fear that renders the target useless for up to 3 seconds, relatively good damage and ultimate that is not nice to be hit by in teamfights later on in the game. He is squishy early game and can be shut down by silence if he doesn't manage to silence you first.
Zyra isn't really a support, but you see more supports Zyras than mid lane carry Zyras nowadays. She has a very long range, good stun (or is it snare?) and a very high poke potential through her plants. She can be silenced and simply outhealed, since she does not offer any kind of sustain to her carry other than planting seeds and occasionally stunning.
Annie support is so popular nowadays I had to try it and I gotta say I kind of understand her popularity. Annie has a good poke, long stun and an ultimate that really hurts even if she doesn't build full ap from the beginning. She usually ends up getting kills the same as she went mid lane and most of the cases even more, due to duo laning and ganks. As a Soraka I haven't played against her, but I'd keep my distance, because most of the Annie supports come equipped with Ignite and the will to kill.
Soraka is good with teams who do magic damage and good against teams like that as well due to her passive. However she's not good with certain teams or with certain carries, but here I'm gonna list some AD carries who work well with Soraka. (This used to be part of the Soraka vs other supports chapter, but I felt like it needs a chapter of it's own.)
Caitlyn is a frequent pick in Ranked and Normal games and she is definitely a very good person to lane with, because out of all the ranged carries she has the longest attack range and good poke - infinite poke with a Soraka - hence you won't be needing a support with higher CC capabilities. She likes your Infuse and if the enemy is stupid they'll run into her traps giving you some nice kills. Yes, you CAN get kills in a Soraka lane.
Corki is another frequent or maybe even banned pick this season. He does both attack damage and magic damage, so he works very well with Soraka's Starcall debuff and since he is mana hungry, your Infuse comes to good use. He has a good poke as well so it's possible to get kills too.
Graves is a good pick to lane with a Soraka even though he doesn't have the best poke, but he can farm all day long with you on his side and when it comes to killing things your Astral Blessings armor buff combined to his passive armor raise while fighting makes you a great couple.
So basically if you do lane with an Ezreal who doesn't go blue build, you'll have no CC and therefore even ganks won't do you much help. That means it's a farm lane or he goes poking forever with your endless mana supply. I've laned with an Ez and since he is a mana hungry guy, he likes you.
Same thing as above, practically no CC, but endless mana supply for Kog Maw to poke the enemy away. He can farm and kill everyone later on in game and your Starcall also works well, because he does hybrid damage.
Jinx is a very mana hungry ad carry who likes a good Soraka giving her some mana so she can spam her rockets whenever she wants to. She's a good poker so you can just as well have a kill lane even with a Soraka.
Ashe isn't a very popular ADC so for a long time I forgot to list her here, but since her Frost Arrow takes plenty of mana she likes you. Ashe+Soraka synergy isn't one of the best, but at higher levels she can poke and slow enemies as much as she wants with you keeping care of her overall sustain.
One of the worst synergies on paper is Soraka+ Vayne, but ingame it works very well. Since Vayne is squishy early game sometimes it's better to farm until lvl6 and that's when Soraka+ Vayne works very well. Vayne has a high damage so she can take care of people pretty much alone with you just healing her and silencing enemies.
Lucian has a high poke with his skills, which also make him rather money hungry. Together with Soraka he can poke infinitely and farm in peace. By picking Soraka with him, you at least nullify 1 change to not get him countered by a silence.
Both of these starter items work with both builds. I'd run the Ancient Coin starter against an equal lane which poses little to no threat. The Doran's Shield build is valid against tough lanes and adcs that have high tendency to poke, for example Caitlyn and Draven.
Overall throughout the game you should stay alongside your carry. They are your main objective in teamfights although you can and should save your other teammates as well while spamming Starcall and silencing the mages and other people who have nasty skills.
There are different ways to play Soraka as a support, all mostly with some minor differences. This the way where maxed out cooldown reduction allows better use of skills, therefore better support for the team without lacking aura-items.
I'm open to critisism and will improve this guide based on given comments.
P.S. I'm sorry but I took out the Wall of Fame since all of the scores where S2-S3. You're very welcome to send me some S4 scores with my recommended build and I might even make a new one.
Made minor changes to runes and item order. Will update the explanations a bit later.
Added Doran's Shield started items and respective explanations in the guide. Tried to do some column formatting, but we'll see if it was successful or not :D
Added aggressive Soraka build due to requests. Slightly modified sections accordingly to the alternative build.
Made slight changes to runes and explanations according to 3.15 patch changes.
General update - updated Warding and Gameplay sections along with Support section.
Updated for preseason. If I missed something, lemme know.
Added pictures and made some other minor changes into the text. Changes runes and skilling order slightly, since apparently I had missed them previously.
Made the necessary changed corcerning the new Locket of the Iron Solari.
Added Sightstone and Sight wards section that tells about counterwarding.
Edited masteries and item builds suitable for Season 3. If something is missing, lemme know. I only did a quick remake to keep the guide updated so some things can be a bit confusing.
Minor fix, since I noticed I had put attack speed quints instead of Greater Quintessence of Gold. Avarice = Alacrity in my eyes apparently :D Fixed now.
It took me too long to update this guide, but I've been meaning to do so for sometime now. Just been lazy or playing something else than LoL, but now I've gotten back my interest in playing it and playing Soraka. So I updated runes and the section and summoner spells. I'll be adding Soraka Champion Spotlight sometime soon, but now I'm gonna go cook :)
Made a separate Wall of Fame for other players, but since I couldn't preview it I had to publish it without seeing how it turned out... I hope it didn't turn out terrible bad :D
Readded the original item build for the build and wrote more about Morello's Evil Tome and added Locket of the Iron solari to the items section since it seemed to be missing. Also wrote a bit about nerfed Wish and alternative skilling orders.
Added Athene's Unholy Grail to possible items and item builds.
Added Lulu section to Soraka vs Other supports and Laning partners that much up well with Soraka to the same part. I think I'll be adding more possible ppl, but those are the ones I've noticed to fit the best with her (but all other AD carries are good as well, except for Ashe, it seems that Ashe+Soraka lane never wins...)
Added the new support items Zeke's HErald and Locket of the Iron Solari into the item explanations and builds as well. Still waiting for a support warding item...
Changed Gameplay section to be a bit more comprehensive.
Added other players game scores into Game Stats section, added bigger pictures about other supports in the Soraka vs Other Supports - section.
Slightly edited Item Builds section by chancing the pictures larger and also added Will of the Ancients to the Item Choices section, because it was lacking earlier even though I thought I had added it there... Also edited the outlook of it by dividing it into better sub-sections.
Midnight update on my guide on the commercials of Skins: added game new game stats and edited Summoner Spells section
Edited Summoner Spells section and Masteries section slightly. Also added more colour to the guide (especially Pros and Cons). I'm planning on making Gameplay section a bit more... informative so I'll stay in touch when I have more time from real life.
Changed masteries to the new ones and edited Masteries section to fit with the new masteries.
Changed Item build and edited all sections and added couple of new sections as well.
Edited Item Section and Runes slightly adding few other possibilities to build Soraka.
Rewrote skills section and edited skilling order. Also edited the item build section and added an alternative build.
Added Healer Change Patch-section to the top of the guide and edited Pros and Cons. I'll continue to edit the guide after trying out the new Soraka with this build and few others to see how valid my current item choices are.
Edited Item section for even more early Aegis of the Legion and added Game Stats section to display the power of heal on Soraka
Added a picture for the Gameplay section about warding and edited the text there slightly