Champion Roadmap: January 2018

Posted on at 10:57 AM by Aznbeat
"Irelia, Aatrox, and Akali. Plus, a new marksman and a cold chill." -  Reav3 is back with a new Champion Roadmap dev blog, now on the Nexus, including teasers for upcoming champions updates and our next champion!
Continue reading for more information!

Champion Roadmap: January 2018
"It’s 2018, which means another year of new champions and VGUs has begun! I thought now would be a great time to talk about some of the Champions Team’s plans for the year. Let’s skip the long intro and get right into what you all came here for: sweet, sweet champion teasers. 
To start things off, let’s talk about a new champ we have in the works. Looking back at the last few marksmen released, we discovered something that’s been null from our roster for a long time: a super high-risk, high-reward marksman, in the vein of well… Vayne. 
With that in mind, we locked onto a marksman that rewards players who aren’t afraid to hunt for the perfect opportunity, no matter where it takes them. This new champion’s best players will go deep into enemy territory and thrive, while the weak players will perish, never to be heard from again. 
Sometimes violence is necessary, which brings me to our next topic: Irelia. When we started Irelia’s rework, our main goal was to transform her into the master of levitating blades that her theme implies—she should be surging into the thick of battle, where she can pierce the shields of her enemies before cutting them down in a flurry of dancing blades. 
Like I mentioned before, we’re keeping her current Q, Bladesurge, as we believe it’s a great ability that’s core to Irelia, and we’ll even be spicing it up by giving her more reset opportunities. The rest of her kit is going through pretty big changes to help fully realize her theme. We still want to maintain her strength against ranged champions and want her to be able to fight at a relatively long range (for a fighter), poking at her enemies with a thousand tiny cuts before surging in for the kill. 
As a war heroine, Irelia also needs some tools to initiate a fight and signal to her teammates that negotiations have failed and it’s time to fight back. Get ready to surge into battle with Irelia later this year. 
Next let’s talk about the Darkin Blade, Aatrox. As noted previously, Aatrox’s changes will be the largest pure gameplay update we’ve ever done, and it’s taken us a bit longer than we originally predicted. We think that Aatrox really isn’t holistically living up to his Darkin Warlord theme and needs to be rethought from the ground up. 
After many iterations and a lot of experiments, we’ve finally settled on a design direction we’re happy with: “bloodthirsty, greatsword-wielding Warlord.” We want Aatrox’s attacks and abilities to feel very heavy and powerful while still maintaining the duelist nature of a sword master. And he’s definitely gonna have a giant Darkin sword that feeds on the death and destruction of all humanity. You know, typical Darkin stuff. 
Now let’s move on to the next big VGU that will be stepping out of the shroud: Akali. 
Akali has always been a beloved champion, but she hasn’t aged particularly well. Her assassin pattern is very all-or-nothing, so it can be difficult for her to succeed unless she snowballs off of early kills. We want to give her more options for success by playing up her ability to hide in plain sight. We think her Shroud is an awesome and iconic ability and want to push it even further. 
Akali also has trouble laning against a large portion of the modern League cast, so we’ll be looking to give her a stronger laning pattern that should bring her more in line with the current needs of solo-lane champions. This will allow us to reduce her snowball potential, as she won’t have to be as dependent on early kills to succeed. 
Overall, we are pretty satisfied with Akali’s high-level theme of a “Ninja Assassin,” but the current execution is a bit generic. We’ll be looking to add a couple more unique traits to Akali to elevate her beyond this common theme. As for her narrative, we want to go with an approach similar to the one we took for the Gangplank VGU, meaning we want to extend her narrative rather than rework it. Instead of a new Akali, this will be a tale of growth and change. 
That’s it for today! It’s still a bit early to talk about the VGU after Akali, but let’s just say that it has been getting a bit chilly for the Champions Team lately… "

Reav3 noted the designer on Akali's VGU:
"No, CertainlyT is the designer on the Akali VGU"
He noted Akali's ideation started in September:
How long was Akali in ideation for? Seems like Akali was looked into for possible rework ideas really recently, and she is ready for production already?
WE started early Ideation on her back in Sept/Oct"
Reav3 noted Akali's kit and design are still very much a work in progress:
"Hey guys/girls. Wanted to pop in to give a little bit of context on this. RedMecy did come in and play some in development champs recently. Unlike the new Marksmen and Irelia who have locked kits and mostly just have there art being worked on, Akali is still in design iteration and doesn't have a locked kit yet. so many abilities are still changing. We are pretty happy with the overall design direction I talk about in the blog, but many other parts of her are still in progress. The run anim, for example, is just a placeholder anim thrown on a early proxy model."
As for the VGU after Akali, Reav3 noted the designer:
"Riot Xenogenics is indeed the designer on the VGU after Akali"
He also noted the Aatrox work is in the very early stages:
"The Aatrox kit he played was suuuper rough and early in development. We only really have a early design direction we want for Aatrox at this point, as RiotJag the designer on Aatrox is also the designer on the new Marksmen so he is mainly focused on that project at the moment. Currently we agree that his kit still needs a lot of work."
Reav3 restated the tier list of champions needing VGUs after the announcement of Irelia and Akali:
"I would say the current pool after Akali/Irelia are Dr. Mundo, Corki, Cho'Gath, Fiddlesticks, Kayle, Kennen, Kog'Maw, Nocturne, Mordekaiser, Nunu, Pantheon, Rammus, Skarner, Shacoi, Udyr, and Volibear. 
These are the ones we generally discuss talk about these days when we go into early ideation on new VGUs. Some more then others, but all of these would make sense at this point, for various reasons. Obviously Kayle would be paired with a Morgana, should we end up working on her."
He also noted why a player-voted rework may not work out:
"The problem with that is we wouldn't want to force though a bad design. When we are in early ideation we generally try out kits on a couple of different champions, and there are times when we end up hitting a dead end on a specific champion and pivot to something else. This is why I don't mention a VGU in my roadmap until after we have a solid thematic and kit direction we feel confident we will release. 
If we started on a Champion chosen by the community and then we couldn't fins a strong direction and had to cancel the project or picot to something else it would probably upset people quite a bit. We do however have survey data on what the most requested VGUs by our players are that we use to determine which champions to start ideation on."

Look for more red posts to be added throughout the day!

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