Delve into the League of Legends thinktank with our predictions for the mysterious E3 champions
If you're an avid League of Legends fan, you've probably heard a little bit about the two champions slated for release after Yorick: Leona, the Radiant Dawn, and Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard. (If not, have we got a scoop for you!) But save for a mention here or there about their abilities, these two champions haven't gotten much exposure beyond two spiffy pieces of concept art. That is, until now.
See, we at PC Gamer like to go one step beyond the provided fact sheet on Leona, the Radiant Dawn, and Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard. To us, it's not enough to deliver the hard facts alone; we want to tell you what we think of what's been revealed so far, and speculate on what the champions' other abilities might be, basing our guesses on clues we've picked up during our chat with Riot Producer Travis George and the stated overall concepts behind these champions. If it turns out a month from now that we were right, you can go ahead and call us the Nostradamuses of LoL. If not, well, these ravings of a madman will serve as a cautionary tale to those curious of the effects of a severe over-exposure to League of Legends. Either way, I hope it'll make for an entertaining read.
Leona, the Radiant Dawn
What we know for a fact: Leona is the long awaited response to fans demanding that there be a true, in-your-face-absorbing-your-damage female tank in LoL (Poppy and Kayle don't cut the mustard in long-term tanking scenarios). Riot heard the cries for a gal guardian, and Leona was built from the sturdy foundation of fulfilling a tank role. Brandishing a sword and shield (another first for the series!), Leona's best described, in the words of Travis George, as a "bad-ass female sun knight." The fiery blaze of the sun appears to emanate from Leona's shield, and her armor evokes that of a Warcraft paladin, albeit with a nice coating of "League of Legends sauce" (George's words, not mine). Though everything discussed here is subject to change, her planned ultimate sounds like just about the coolest thing ever, like a super-move straight out of Final Fantasy.
- Ultimate (R)—Solar Flare: Leona shines a beam of light onto a large area from long-to-mid range, signaling to her teammates that it's time to initiate a group fight. Your opponents better take heed as well—if they're still standing in the beam after 1-1.5 second delay, a gigantic meteor will come crashing down on top of them, stunning and dealing massive damage on impact.
Her ult seems perfect for kicking off a teamfight and trapping your enemies so that your teammates can unleash AoE-ability hell on them. Imagine with me for a moment: Sona ults, Leona drops a freakin' asteroid on their heads, then Fiddlesticks and Miss Fortune let loose their ultimates while the entire enemy team's HP bars melt away. Tears of future happiness are dripping down my cheeks just thinking about it. Lore-wise, Leona serves as a stalwart member of a sacred order of knights—no doubt she's a pure-of-heart ally of Demacia.
What our Magic 8-Ball said when we asked it about Leona:
- According to her fact sheet, Leona's "main role in combat will center on disrupting groups of enemies." Shen's an all-star tank when it comes to disruption, thanks to his taunting Shadow Dash (E). But since that angle's already covered, perhaps Leona's disruption will be more in tune with her sun theme? It would be awesome to see the first true "blinding" ability in LoL—something akin to a targeted or skill-shot beam that, on contact, turns the player's screen white and prevents them from casting abilities.
Similar abilities exist in Bloodline Champions, and they're incredibly satisfying for both parties, despite what you'd think. If you're the one hitting the blind, you chuckle to yourself as your enemy runs around wildly swinging while your allies get away clean. If you're the one being blinded, it gives a rush of adrenaline and you get massive bragging rights if you somehow nail an enemy even when you can't see.
- Leona's also described as "heavily armored and resilient," suggesting that her passive might work in a similar way to Rammus' armor-encouraging passive skill. A true tank needs to have no fear of jumping headfirst into a fight; the trade-off will likely be a diminished amount of total damage output, as having it both ways can get a little out of control (*ahem* Garen).
- Leona's other heavy focus in what we know so far is protecting herself and others. If I were a betting man, I'd estimate that one of Leona's three remaining abilities will do one of the following: dash to a target ally and shield them from damage, or allow her to place a minor healing and armor buff on her teammates. No sense in lugging around that gigantic shield if you're not going to use it, lady! Note: the old version of Ezreal's Essence Flux (which would travel in a straight line healing any allies it hit and and dealing damage to any enemies it hit) seems like the perfect fit, visually and thematically, on a champion that's all about the power of light rays.
Skarner, the Crystal Vanguard
What we know for a fact:Skarner is all about isolating an enemy and unloading with single-target melee damage. This crystalline scorpion is said to be a rudely-awakened member of an ancient race who's an equal-opportunity killer if it means defending his people. Don't let his appearance fool you: Skarner has next to nothing in common with DotA's Sand King, save for the fact that they're both predatory arthropods. George just sees him as another unique entity in LoL's "huge, eclectic mix" of characters, and a nice addition to the non-humanoid category since Nocturne hit the scene.
Skarner's perfect for those with a one-track mind: through a combination of lifesteal and stacking debuffs, this aggressive scorpion will whittle away at the target's health with capabilities much like Trundle's incredible strength in one-on-one fights. That isn't to say that Skarner is useless in a teamfight—his claws actually house some vicious crystal pistons (you can see them in the concept art, highlighted in the lighter purple) that will deal cleave damage to nearby enemies even as he focuses down one target. But what if you can't get to your target because they're being babysitted by their allies? That's where Skarner's ultimate comes in.
- Ultimate ability (R): Skarner's tail lashes out at a target, impaling them with his stinger and dealing damage. Skarner has a brief window of time where he can actually drag the target around on his tail, able to pull them away from teammates or keep them from escaping at the last second. This ultimate is the ideal way for Skarner to grab a squishy target from behind enemy lines, drag their sorry behinds into the jungle, beat them to a pulp, and escape before their allies can save them.
The half-forgotten Skarner prophecies that came to me in a fever dream:
- Skarner's crystal carapace isn't just for show. At the very least, his thick casing will protect him from certain stats, such as ability power or armor penetration. What'd be really awesome is if you could toggle a defensive stance as one of your abilities—Skarner could either cower into a defensive position and become invulnerable for a short time (like DotA's Puck / HoN's Bubbles), or he would move slower but deal additional damage or stack debuffs more quickly, provided he can get in range.
- Skarner can't just cross his fingers and hope for his enemies to be dumb enough to fight him mano-a-mano. He'll need some kind of crowd control ability—most likely a targeted stun move, perhaps similar to Taric's Dazzle (E) ability. That way, he can close the distance on those fleeing from him in terror, getting some melee hits off and letting a chain of debuffs compound until the target is eliminated.
- His cleave sounds a little too powerful to be a built-in passive; I'm guessing that it'll be a passive ability that must be trained, and that the percentage of your cleave damage will increase as your level up that ability. In the end, the goal should be that if an enemy Skarner is attacking anyone near you, you don't want to stick around.
Bonus! What about the Monkey King!?
Way back in April, Riot teased us with a silhouette and some sweet zoomed-in concept art for the Monkey King, who looks to be a fighter hailing from Ionia. Based on the central character of the Chinese epic Journey to the West, this simian staff-wielder looks like it'd be tons of fun, if only we could play him! But he may not be that far off. Judging from the video, his idle, taunt, and dance animations look complete, as well as his character model. It's been stated that Skarner is a long way's off—my money's on Leona being released after Yorick, followed by our good friend the Monkey King. I mean, honestly—if you don't want to play as a champion who served as the inspiration for Dragonball Z's Goku, you need to get your priorities straight.
So, you've heard what we have to say about the upcoming champions. What do you think? Let us know your predictions in the comments—I for one will certainly be checking back here once the champions are released, just to see who was scarily close to being right. Either that, or who's a cheater from the future with all the answers, à la Biff Tannen.