Red Post Collection: Azir Q&A Roundup, Ascension FAQ, Summoner Name change sale

Posted on at 11:50 AM by Moobeat
Today's red post collection features a summary of the recent Azir Q&A, a details FAQ on the Ascension featured gameplay mode, the upcoming summoner name change sale, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Azir Q&A

With Shurima's Emperor set to release in the near future,  the team who worked on Azir  took to the forums to answer your questions regarding his development and background!

The Q&A is split up into three parts: Creative, Gameplay, and Art & Sound.

[ Note: I've tried to group similarly themed answers together. Enjoy! ]


ZenonTheStoic planted his feet firmly in the sand to introduce the Gameplay section of the Q&A:
"Friends of Shurima! With Azir being turned on soon[tm], we thought this was a great time to let you ask us pretty much whatever you want about his gameplay and balance. 
Azir is an interesting champion that breaks a few "rules" of what a mid laner is supposed to do. One of the bigger ones is the fact that to access the majority of his damage, Azir has to right click pretty much like an AD carry. This looks deceptively simple, but if you've had a chance to check him out on the PBE you'll know it's much harder than it looks. Between his soldiers, resurrecting lane turrets, and making a truly uncrossable* wall, Azir brings a lot of novel concepts to the game, and I'm sure you'll have a bunch of questions. 
Joining me in this thread is Squad5, who is responsible for Azir's balance and gameplay health. We did a lot of work to make sure we can actually release these crazy ideas without breaking the game, and Squad5 was central to identifying the trade-offs, appropriate strengths and weaknesses, and overall balanceability (as opposed to balance--we're okay with getting balance wrong, as long as there is a path to improvement) of the champion. 
*Unless you're Malphite, I guess. Or Vi. Or Maokai. Or Fizz. Or Nocturne. Or Vladimir. Damn you, untargetability!"

When asked what his main inspiration for Azir's design was, ZenonTheStoic shared:
"Primarily we wanted to have the archetype "sand mage" in the game--we always thought this was a cool thing we should do in league. We tried a lot of different kits, but only when he became the Emperor of Shurima and the soldiers entered the picture did we feel we had a cool enough dude to release. 
For myself, I was always driven by the question of "what does it feel like to be the emperor?" Consequently a lot of my gameplay design was focused on creation and manipulation of underlings. Even if you have a bad game, even if you struggle to win your lane, I want you to come out of the game saying, well whatever else happened, I felt like I was an emperor, ordering my troops around."
As for how a designer goes about translating a champions story through their abilities and kit, ZenonTheStoic explained:
"It's... messy. 
In Azir's case, we had a bunch of old kits that were basically straight-forward mage kits (AOE spell, utility spell, CC spell) that we knew we didn't want to ship. We have more than 120 champions in the game now, many of whom fulfill the "I want to be a midlane mage and burst/aoe people down" fantasy perfectly well. We don't need another one of those. 
So for Azir, we sat down in the beginning of this current kit's lifetime with champion team and split into 4-5 smaller teams, sometimes just two dudes, jamming on different takes on Azir. The kit I worked on had a sand resource that you had to gather, made a triangle of obelisks for the ultimate fight arena, and spammed sand missiles from sources of sand, for instance. GypsyLord made a kit with a sandstorm ultimate that literally covered the entire map and slowed all enemies in the game. We're talking that level of crazy prototyping. 
One thing that all the kits had in common were soldiers; the kit I worked on had a skill that summoned three targetable guards that moved in formation in front of you, blocking skill shots, until you reactivated the ability to send all surviving soldiers forward as skill shots. Another kit summoned two walls of soldiers that immediately charged forward, knocking enemies back (sound familiar?) Squad5 made that ability and it obviously strongly inspired my ultimate. CertainlyT's kit had a spawn soldier mechanic where you could order soldiers to turn into skill shots by attacking enemies: all soldiers in range of an auto attack target would charge toward that target. This clearly turned into my Q (and the idea of ordering soldiers with your basic attack). 
This was a really, really cool exercise (we called it AZIRDOME -- THE SHURIMARING, named after the THUNDERDOME code jam we do two-three times a year here at Riot) and it quickly taught us a lot of things that were cool about Azir, first and foremost being soldiers and controlling them. I don't think I could have come up with a kit this unique without the help of the entire team. Champion design is a huge team effort!"

 When asked if he would consider Azir a high skill cap champion, ZenonTheStoic replied:
"Azir is SUPER high skill cap. A bunch of high diamond players here at Riot have called him the most difficult champion in our game. I'm not sure this is true, but he's definitely up there.

Azir jungle can work if you SOMEHOW live through first clear in reasonable time. Sort of like Karthus jungle. 
No tower passive on Dominion, sorry :("

When asked if Azir's Sun Disc makes inhibitors immune to damage, ZenonTheStoic noted:
"Sun disc doesn't make buildings immune like turrets do. It would be very confusing to have an inhib turret become immune to damage because Azir summoned the Sun Disc on the outer turret of that lane."

ZenonTheStoic also commented on the intent to distinguish him from other minion champions such as Zyra or Heimerdinger:
"Yeah absolutely! We started out from the very beginning with a many page long document where we broke down what a zone control mage can / should do in league, what current kits do, which aspects of this we like and which aspects we don't and so on. 
We quickly identified that dropping zones and forgetting about them leads to super defensive kits that often make not engaging with the champion the correct choice. This is why you have to right click to access the soldiers' power (this and it feels super cool to point at someone and have your minions skewer them)."

As for why the choice of allowing him to attack through his minions instead of both attack, ZenonTheStoic explained:
"The emperor doesn't get his hands dirty! As a matter of fact, he USED to attack alongside his soldiers, but it was only when Roku played him and said "you know wouldn't it be cooler if your soldiers attacked INSTEAD OF you" that we had our "oh shit" moment of "this is something entirely new and exciting". This allowed us to decouple the soldier attacks from Azir's attack range, for instance, and it's just COOL to point at dudes and have your sand army stab them."

Squad5 also commented on Azir's ability to directly damage towers with his W, explaining:
"Balancing Azir's damage against towers is definitely a concern. However when we approached the champion we knew that we wanted him to have strong threat against towers to mean that his pushing/waveclear is actually threatening. There are a couple of factors that mitigate the risk of the ability though, those being the fact that Azir does not normally like to buy Lichbane (because his soldiers cannot use the item) and Azir must use charges of soldiers to get the extra damage making him more susceptible to being attacked. I could definitely see a build including lichbane being silly at pushing towers though."
Squad5 also reiterated how Azir's W works if soldiers are within an enemies range but Azir is not:
"If the enemy is within the soldier's range, Azir will stand still and the soldier will attack."
He also commented that they work with spell vamp!
"Yep, they work with spell vamp."
ZenonTheStoic also mentioned his soldiers in no way benefit from Azir's attack damage:
"His AD does not affect soldier damage at all. They scale with his lvl and AP."
He continued:
"Soldier auto attacks do not scale with AD. You want to be building AP all of the time."

When asked why Azir's soldiers do not proc on hit effects, Squad5 commented:
"One thing that was an issue brought up early was determining whether the soldier's attacks were actual attacks or spells. We felt in general that encouraging Azir to build as a mage was the appropriate direction, and so the stab uses spell effects from items as if it were an AOE spell. Since the soldiers use the spell archetype, for clarity they should not use on hits. The primary reason really is that we want Azir to build mage items though. (Nashor's is still pretty good on him though...)"
When asked about Azir's E being a dash, Squad5 explained why it was designed this way:
"Azir's long range actually comes with a pretty big problem -- he has an incredibly difficult time following up on attacks, being aggressive against lane opponents, and following a team fight as it moves naturally. His dash is a means of lessening this problem. The primary purpose of it is to move forward; move into the enemy, follow them as they run, or reposition around a team fight as needed. The defensive use case of the E exists as well, but it is slightly harder to access since you need to use W, Q away from the enemy (which is a bit unnatural) then E. In a normal teamfight the aggressive case usually comes very naturally."
When asked for his thoughts on effective uses of Azir's ultimate, Squad5 noted:
"I've seen Azir's ult used in a number of ways effectively. I think the most common use case is to peel for either himself or other carries on his team, throwing back people who would dive into the backline. However, uses of the ultimate to wall of an area to split the team or halt their approach without even hitting an enemy with the initial cast are really cool to pull off in the jungle, and the aggressive "move behind the enemy team and wall off their escape" play is sometimes incredible (though it will often get you killed)."

When asked about Azir's interactions with on-hit items and the possibility of his role as a support, ZenonTheStoic noted:
"1) Correct. On-hit items are a Bad Idea on Azir, and we're okay with this. We're still recommending Nashor's because the stats it gives are just too good. 
2) We did a lot of work to make sure Support isn't Azir's strongest role. Azir support probably works as a gimmicky off build, kind of on par with, say, Ahri support or Karthus support; like, yes, you can poke in bot lane, you bring some CC, but by not scaling as well as you would mid lane you give up a lot. Vel'Koz conversely has such great base damages that he doesn't need to build scaling items to be effective. This is why support became his main role.
The levers we identified for support Azir (and correct me here if I'm wrong, Squad5) are:
  • Soldier attacks drawing minion aggro to Azir
  • Turret damage of the sun disc scaling with Azir's AP
  • Relatively low slow amount on Q
  • Hard CC requiring ult or all-in
  • Low base stats, particularly armor"

As for any sort of scrapped abilities that ended up not making it onto Azir, ZenonTheStoic shared:
"One of the earliest kits that Colt "Ezreal" Hallam worked on had an ultimate we called "sand hands". Two giant hands of sand would rise from the ground and after a delay move together, pushing everyone in between together and squishing them in. The TL;DR here is that vacuum skills are insanely powerful. The kit had other issues as well, but everyone remembers sand hands. THE HORROR."
He continued, sharing a scrapped version of Azir's ultimate:
"I had a super complicated Ritual of Ascension ultimate on him once. He spawned three obelisks of light in an equilateral triangle, lasers spawned to link them together, and all enemies inside the triangle who took damage from Azir were also zapped by the obelisks. Crossing the lasers damaged you, and Azir received a shield based on the additional zap damage. If the shield hit a certain number, Azir ascended, gaining a massive chunk of spell vamp, AP, a doubled shield, and crazy move speed. 
This is probably the most disgustingly overloaded and overcomplicated skill I ever designed. On the plus side, I learned the formula for quickly detecting whether or not a point on a 2D plane is inside a triangle, so I got that going for me, which is nice."

When asked if we could expect another sand mage in the future, ZenonTheStoic noted:
"Generally when we do an archetype, we try to do the VERY BEST version of that archetype because we will NOT make another one of those. It would cheapen both Vi and the potential new champion if we put another punch lady in the game. Braum would be very sad if we made another beefy burly man with a giant shield, etc. 
So no. I don't think we'll make another sand mage. This is it!"


Riot Opeli leads the march into the Creative part of the Q&A:
Narrative team & others are here to answer your questions about Azir and his place in Shurima. Like, "How does he keep his feathers so well-groomed?" and, "How does a bird like him survive in the desert?" (You'll have better questions. I promise.)"

When asked how long Azir has been in development for as a character, Runaan commented:
"To clarify, he started out as a really loose idea of a "sand mage" - Ezreal and I liked the idea of a sand dude who could sort of "envelop" people with the desert itself. The emperor idea came out of this, but the original kit/art direction weren't working, so we went back to iteration town. We really knew what we wanted to do when the idea of "Ascended" Azir came about (yes, we were the most excited when we decided to make him a bird guy). :) From there, it took a lot of iteration to capitalize on the personality of an emperor as well as the game play - and here we are today!"

As for why the decided to go with sand soldiers as a theme for their "sand mage" concept, Opeli noted:
"The fantasy of being an emperor. As an emperor, you have soldiers fighting wars for you, and you'd command them - so we went with controlling soldiers. :)"
Runaan also commented:
"The "emperor" thematic really brought that element out - we asked, what's the fantasy of being an emperor? Commanding a battlefield, having dominion over others - those things really informed the "sand soldiers" direction. :)"

As for the rest of Azir's story, Opeli reminded:
"He has a full story coming, but it'd spoil the rest of the Shurima event. So we're waiting to reveal it until you guys see the full story."
She continued:
"Azir was scattered to the winds - he disappeared off the face of the planet. You'll get the answers to your other questions in the next story installment of Shurima!"
ZenonTheStoic also added in:
"We didn't want to spoil the story that's currently unravelling. Longer lore is incoming."

In a similar vein, Opeli reminded that the short lore bios are intended for the client only:
"Sure thing. Those client blurbs are intended to stay on the client only, and a longer story will be on the website. They'll be updated in time. :D"
She continued:
"Huh? They haven't been updated with longer-form bios yet. Especially not Azir's, as that would spoil the Shurima event. Once it's updated you'll be able to get it through the client."
When asked what the rest of Runeterra thinks of  Shurima, Opeli commented:
"For some people, Shurima is like an Atlantis to them - they believe it's only a myth (although, obviously, they will be proven wrong). 
For others, like the people currently inhabiting the desert of Shurima, they knew it existed a long time ago and there are believed to be no "true" Shurimans remaining. Even Renekton and Nasus were stories for them. 
A LOT has changed for Azir. He has a lot of catching up to do."
Runaan also added in on the current state of Shurima, saying:
"We talked about Shurima as a place with a really thriving culture - a place with not only a strong military and a powerful emperor, but a place with a sense of personal identity (art, music, literature, trade, magical technology etc). Azir's motivation to bring the golden light of Shurima to other nations was/is not really a "conquering" aim - it's that he truly believes that Shurima was the height of civilization, and could only continue to grow more wonderful. 
After Xerath's corrupt ascension, everything was more or less buried beneath the sands and left to ruin, but Azir definitely doesn't think that's the end of things."
Jaredan also added:
"1) The current inhabitants of Shurima's desert are mainly descended from the survivors of the fall of Shurima's empire. 
2) The origin of their culture reaches back to Azir's time, but has evolved as they eke out an existence in their harsh environment."

When asked what kind of ruler Azir was and what he thinks of the current city-states in Runeterra, Opeli noted:
"what kind of a ruler was he? 
He was a benevolent leader. Still a dictator, but a kind one, and he was interested in his people's well-being and prosperity. He got a little ahead of himself, though - hence the over-enthusiastic Ascension ritual - but even that was done with good intentions. He wanted Shurima to grow and influence the entire world.

now that he is returned, what are his views on the other City-States like Noxus and Piltover? 
Azir believes that the other city-states would benefit from Shurima's culture and way of life. He'll try to get them to join his empire and conform to his ideals. HOWEVER, he is in for quite the culture shock because so much has changed while he's been... away. I think Zaun would boggle him the most. But he wouldn't let anyone see that.

does Azir plan to rebuild Shurima? 
Yes! It's his main motivation.

and as a side question, can Azir shed some light onto Amumu's past? 
Probably, but I don't think he's been made aware of Amumu's existence yet."

When asked why Azir is an emperor instead of a pharaoh, Opeli noted:
"Ehhh, we don't want Shurima = Egypt all the time. We want to make Shurima our own unique place in League with the stories we tell. But, obviously there were Egyptian influences with Renekton, Nasus, and Azir."

Opeli also replied to a question concerning if Azir hopes to rebuild Shurima peacefully or by force:
"He wishes to do it peacefully, but he's not afraid of using force. It will only happen if he's forced his hand."
When asked why Azir can't "just let it go" when it comes to Shurima, Runaan commented:
"He can't let go because he truly loved his nation, however much his ambition may have led him astray. He can't accept responsibility for what happened to his kingdom - he blames Xerath, but was it really Xerath's fault...? Or was it the emperor who couldn't see the cruel intent of his most trusted advisor - and friend? :O 
And yes - for the moment, he is an emperor without an empire. An emperor without a people. He has nothing - but he'll do everything with his newfound power to change that, and rebuild Shurima into the thriving, powerful empire it once was."

As for the origins of the Ascension ritual, Tommy Gnox shared:
"Thanks for your questions! Azir's transformation is indeed due to the Ascension ritual. The specifics of how the process works, beyond the fact that it uses the Sun Disc to gather and magnify the energy of the sun, is as yet uncertain. Clearly something was different about Xerath's Ascension, but precisely what and why are questions yet to be answered. 
But the Ascension ritual is incredibly ancient. It was ancient even in the time Nasus and Renekton lived as humans, which was before Azir's time and WAY before Sivir's. Its origin is shrouded by the fog of millennia at the moment."

When asked if it is intended that Ascended, such as Renekton, Nasus, and now Azir, all have animal features associated with them, Opeli noted:
"Yes! It's intended. They were all human before Ascension. Because Xerath corrupted the ritual, he turned out, well... different."
She continued:
"Xerath was also human, but became formless energy through the warped Ascension ritual. He carries around the remains of a broken sarcophagus that was originally used to try to contain him."
As for the rest of Xerath's story with regard to Azir, Opeli noted:
"Nope. There are always two sides to every story. Or three. Or four. We're only seeing one perspective of Xerath. 
When we expand on Xerath's lore you'll see "his" side of the story. I don't want him to lose his humanity or his passion for magic - it's highly likely he started off as a normal, helpful dude and the lure of the Ascension ritual was his misstep."
Tommy Gnox also commented:
"I wouldn't say so. Keep in mind we may not know everything there is to know about Xerath just yet."

When asked why Azir thinks of Nasus, Opeli replied:
"Azir deeply respects Nasus. Although Nasus views him as a little arrogant because he got to see what happened to Shurima as a result of Azir's hubris."

When asked if Cassiopeia is still Noxian or if she is attempting to server Azir, Jaredan commented:
"Cass has very little interest in serving Azir or Shurima. She is certainly still Noxian and loyal to her family; she went into Shurima searching for wealth and power for her, her family and Noxus. As seen from the video today, she just didn't get what she bargained for."
As for Cassiopeia's situation with being a snake lady and if that is like "half ascended", Opeli noted:
"No, she went through a different transformation thanks to the serpent guardian in the tomb. She was cursed."

Opeli Group of Questions #1 
"Did Azir rule alone, or would there have been a...Mrs. Azir? 
It's safe to say he was... popular with the ladies.

-Are Azir's sand soldiers dressed in the garb they wore when Shurima was still intact? Was their equipment immediately familiar to him when he summoned them the first time? 
Yeah, he forms the image of them, so he wasn't surprised.

-Did Azir have any inkling that Xerath was going to betray him, or was he blind to that possibility? 
He was blind to it. He totally trusted Xerath. :(

-The Facebook preview mentioned Nasus and Renekton being "Ascended heroes." Is that why Fury of the Sands and Dominus (their ults) are so similar? Is that the kind of power they gain by drawing on their Ascended forms? 
Their kits/characters were created before Ascension was something we discussed, so, maybe they were designed with a similarity in mind back in the day.

-Does Azir sleep in a bed or a nest? If it's a nest, what's it made of? 
I don't think he sleeps! At all!"

Art & Sound

To lead us in to the Art and Sound portion of the Q&A, here's BelligerentSwan:
"Curious about how we explored the voice of an emperor, or set about defining his appearance? We’ve asked some of the Emperor of the Sands' Art and Sound guys to come in and chat about everything from silhouettes to animations, and voiceover to sound effects."

When asked why Azir appeared to come so quickly after Gnar's release, Lonewingy noted:
"Gnar was delayed and Azir is on time :)
If Gnar was on time then you won't feel this way X)"

When asked about the team's thoughts on Azir's old design being leaked long ago, Reach4TheSkylar noted:
"We were a bit bummed at the time. It's always a bit disappointing when someone spoils the party. In this case though, thankfully the leak was only limited to a single piece of art. So, despite being a bit of a bummer we were happy that the leak was fairly limited in scope, and the majority of the character and the event surrounding his release remained a mystery. Also, it helped that the time between the leak and his release were big enough that I think a lot of people forgot about it and were still surprised."

Lonewingy also shared a bit on how Azir came to be a bird man:
"Hi! Concept Artist here! 
Ok... where should I start... 
Long long time ago (4ish Years ago, this is around the time I began working at Riot) there was this Sand Champion called Seth. He came in many forms that time! Sand Golem, Man with Sand cloak, Sand bender lady, Evil Sand Wraith and etc. None of these work because art team, at the time, didn't have resources for scrolling sand textures, which was a big part of his character then. The "sand" was thematically hard to deal with that time through art and gameplay wise. Sand bending alone wasn't that interesting in the end. 
It got iced-box till the team decided to pick this concept up again (this was last 2 years) . We started fresh, and re-explore the idea of Sand Champion. The team wanted a champion that also ties all the Shurima champions. We went for an idea of an Emperor/Leader (Julius Caesar type) but something that the audience can easily relate to Nasus and Renekton (through visually even without lore context). I still did few iterations (not birdlike). We felt strongly going for the iconic Egyptian god of radiance, Ra. It completes the Shurima trio and fits the puzzle as well because of the emphasized thematic "Shurima Emperor." Another obstacle we encountered is how we make sand magic thematically unique for him. We went back the core emphasis of this Champion which is the "Shurima Emperor", instead of just sand... he creates his own army of soldiers with the power of his sand magic. :) 
And there you go! Azir is complete! :3 The end~"
Lonewingy continued:
"Hi! Concept artist here! Good question! :) 
When we want to make another Shuriman Champion, we decided to go through the idea that is something instantly relates (visually) to Renekton and Nasus. Just like what the other gentleman says (Blood91Raven) Nasus and Renekton are inspired from Egyptian iconic figures, Anubis and Sobek :) 
Azir is inspired by the God of Radiance, Ra. It fits the puzzle perfectly for these Shuriman Trio, because it easily relates to both Nasus and Renekton, especially as the Emperor of Shurima. 
We never meant to base these characters through real wild life :3

Hope this helps :D"

Reach4TheSkylar added on to this, explaining why Azir doesn't have wings:
"Azir even in his intial concept only had the suggestion of wings. We wanted him to "feel" like he had wings without actually having them. If he had literal wings there would be a certain set of expectations that would come with that (people would expect him to be able to fly obviously : D). We really wanted to focus on the fantasy of being an emperor/commander so adding wings into the mix would have just confused his themes. 
Hopefully someone from Lore will come by and give a better answer to your lore questions. 
The one I can answer is about Shurima being a desert. Shurima as a country or area of land I believe was always been a dry desert place. However in the olden days when Azir was still in charge of the city, his magic/power helped bring water to the city of Shurima making it a thriving oasis in the desert."

Reach4TheSkylar also commented on what was used to model Azir and the time that went into him:
"I'm not a modeler but I know most of them use Z-brush or an equivalent. As for how much time overall goes into a champion: We usually spend 8 weeks as a baseline once it goes into production. That doesn't count any pre-production like concepting or kit exploration (which is often months of work). In the case of Azir, he was reworked several times because we had a hard time settling on a really solid Kit. He also has a ton of elements to his kit: Azir/Soldiers/Ult Soldiers/ Sun Disk. So as you can imagine, his production schedule was much much longer than the average champion."
RiotDanky also confirmed:
"Yup we normally sculpt high res model in Zbrush and then retopo low poly for the game."

When asked about the design choices for Azir's weapon, Reach4TheSkylar commented:
"It's funny that you ask this because his weapon actually went through several iterations. Originally it was a very sort of "magical staff" that looked like something that would cast out magic sun-balls. It had similar motifs to his Sun Disk. Pretty cool. However, one of the first iterations of Azir actually had him playing as a melee mage so it was decided to move toward a more aggressive spear type staff. Once Azir finally made it full circle back to this commander type mage, the subject was broached to return the staff design to its more "magical roots." However, the general consensus was that the team really liked that it looked like he could hold his own if needed. It felt right for him to have an aggressive edge. This guy is really a god emperor and the team really wanted him to feel like he could chase you down and kill you himself if needed. He just prefers to have his minions do his dirty work so he doesn't get his robes all bloody : D"

Reach4TheSkylar also commented on Azir's movement and mannerisms, saying:
"As an animator I can speak to the movement. (I did talk about the staff design in an above comment so check that out). Azir is obviously has a lot of hawk or avian themes so I tried to queue off of things that would help him feel birdlike but at the same time regal. One of the big ways we accomplished this was by keeping his motions very conservative. Most of his motions are concise and efficient. A lot of the feeling of stoic power comes from a lack of motion or flourish. 
On top of feeling regal and powerful, I also wanted him to also feel birdlike. To accomplish this, I tried as much as possible to give his cloth "feathers" the feeling of wings. This meant hand shaping them in every animation. I also wanted him to feel light and agile as if at any moment he could catch a gust of wind and lift off the ground. One of my favorite animations in his set is his home-guard run because I think it accomplishes both of these goals fairly well."
Lonewingy also chimed in on making Azir feel regal:
"Hello! Yes... "Shurima Emperor" is one of our mission statement that we wanted to convey to our audience, by doing so here are some factors to consider him to feel Regal-like character 
- Burgundy purple tassels around his arms to feel like a royal robe but designed to look good in battle as well :3 
- Large radiating collar to create a bold heavy upper silhouette (but doesn't read as brute). This way he reads a bit more intimidating in a classy way X) 
- We added a very low opacity glow on his armor so he feels very god-like in game :) 
Azir's concept leaked ---- We change the staff, because the old staff was way too simple :)"
Longewingy continued on the tassels, saying:
Yes those ribbon-like tassels! :) I wanted to emphasize his regalness, this also shows how kings have really long embroided robes. But this one is designed more "battle-like robe" treatment, too much cloth makes him way too magey :)

Trying to think more alternatives how we can have the same feel as someone wearing a cape but not literally a cape, because we have way too many champions that has capes already XD"

As for if the team played around with giving his soldiers different or alternating appearances, Lonewingy noted:
"We did try a bulky one :) it didn't pass our performance test. Having different body types of soldiers in one champion is like 5-6 champions at once O_o Imagine the rigging problems and memory it requires to run this XD 
And it looks thematically better this way because they are his soldiers... not individuals X)"

Reach4TheSkylar also commented that Azir's soldier animations were recently we done to better accommodate high attack speed builds.
"As for the soldiers, their attacks were just recently redone (last week) to accommodate some of the max attack speed situations we were seeing. I made some changes that helped them not feel quite as spastic. As for Azir's pointing motion, I'm not super happy with how it looks at high speeds, but I also don't currently have a great solution to make it look better. In that case, I'm hoping that most of your focus will be on the soldiers, so that's where I put the most effort. If I come up with a better solution down the road for Azir's command animation, as always, I'll try and get it in the game."

When asked who did the Azir and new Cassiopeia splash arts, Reach4TheSkylar commented:
"The splash art are often a very collaborative process with sometimes many artists working on a single splash. I think in this case though the main artists on those splashes were Bo Lu on Azir and Evan Monteiro on Cass. Hopefully I'm crediting the right people!"
When asked about the inspiration for the Galactic Azir skin, Reach4TheSkylar commented:
"I actually think the Galactic line of skins was mostly inspired by the movie/tv series "Stargate." Azir's skin obviously moves a little toward a high tech direction, but we really tried to give it a unique look/feel that felt like our own. We actually tried a bunch of crazy color schemes to try and make it feel even more unique (I think at one point he was sort of purple with glowing orange energy) but in the end the blue/gold/silver scheme seemed to read the best with the new color scheme on the updated summoner's rift so we went that way."
Reach4TheSkylar continued:
"With complicated characters with many assets like Azir, we often have to pick what we want the focus of the skin to be. In the case of Galactic Azir, VFX were the area that we felt could have the biggest impact. So, a lot of the time was spent on Azir's base model and the kit VFX. Most of the other models in the kit though were modified for that skin. The sun disk is completely different, and the ult soldiers have a new shield design that better fits the skin's theme, and even the base soldiers have a new glowey stabby weapon."

As for why the team didn't opt for a super spooky Necromancer Azir skin, Lonewingy commented:
"We thought about it :) 
But the "Galactic Brotherhood" launch skin seems like the best opportunity (matching launch skins with Nasus and Renekton):D 
Although the Necromancer theme is definitly cool idea to be one of his future skins :D"

Ascension detailed mechanics FAQ

With Ascension available on live between now and September 21st, L4T3NCY has thrown together an FAQ to cover some of the common questions about the featured gameplay mode!
"Yo! >o</ I've put together a FAQ on some of the more detailed mechanics in the new Ascension featured game mode. If you guys have any other questions or comments on things I've missed or you want to know more about, feel free to ask below!
Are any Summoner Spells not available in Ascension?
Smite, Revive & Garrison are disabled.

How much IP/ XP will I get from a game of Ascension?
IP & XP rewards are exactly the same as ARAM on Howling Abyss.

Is there a MMR for Ascension?
Yes, it is seeded from your Normal MMR. If you're pro, expect to get matched against similarly pro players in Ascension!

How do Gold & XP work?
Gold & XP in Ascension are EXACTLY the same for all players on both teams at all times.

I want to give some extra context here. This means that at any point in time, you always have an equal chance to win/lose any teamfight. Even if you bought a GP10 item, say Avarice Blade, and never upgraded it to a Statik Shiv for the whole 20min game (coz that's a good idea?), the total spoils from your diabolical plan will be ~360G at the end of the match.

There is no mathematical 'snowballing' possible Ascension. Even if the other team has been stomping, they have as much chance to lose their next Xerath fight as your team does to defeat them, Ascend, and go on a comeback killing spree.

Can I recall or teleport back to base to heal or shop?
No. Once you've used the Golden Transcendence trinket to teleport into battle, you cannot return until death.

What happens if people try to camp me on the battle platforms while I'm teleporting?
For a few seconds after teleporting, players are imbued with the "Phoenix Dawn" buff, which dramatically increases resistances and tenacity. This prevents any teleport spawn camping.

Can I steal Xerath with Nunu's Consume or Cho'Gath's Feast?
No. Being an Anceient Ascendant, Xerath is inedible (and not very tasty?). You can still use these two skills to efficiently burn him down, but they will always leave him on 1 HP at best.

Can I stealth while ascended?
No. While Ascended you are revealed at ALL times to the enemy team, regardless of if you're hiding in brush or playing a stealth champion. Giant sunbeams of light tend to do that.

Can I stealth while capturing relics?
No. Be aware that if you are Teemo, Eve, etc, you will still be visible while channeling a Relic of Shurima.

How long before Xerath respawns after an Ascendant dies?
30 seconds.

How long after capturing a Relic of Shurima before it respawns?
30 seconds.

If I kill Xerath just after I already died, will I still Ascend?
Yes. Any posthumous DoT damage spells, Kog'Maw / Karthus passive, etc, which manage to kill Xerath will bring that player back to life on full health with Ascension, just as if they had still been alive when striking the killing blow. Death cannot keep one from Ascension."
He continued, answering questions about post-death Ascensions and capturing relics:
"1) Post-death Ascensions happen on the spot, right where your corpse is, so you can get straight back into the fight. You don't teleport back to your fountain. 
2) Multiple people channeling a relic make it much harder to interrupt due to multiple targets, and also greatly increase it's speed:
1 person = 5 sec capture
2 people = 3.8 sec capture

5 people = 2 sec capture"

[9/25 - 10/2] Summoner Name Change Sale

Here's Wizardcrab with the scoop on an upcoming name change sale!
"With the 2014 Season almost coming to a close, it’s a great last chance to show off your skills and creativity. From September 25th to October 2nd, summoner name changes will cost 650 RP, which is 50% off the normal 1300 RP price. 
We can’t wait to see your stunning new aliases on the Fields of Justice!"

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