Jul 25 2016 - 8:54 pm

This cantankerous, lizard-riding cavalier is League of Legends' newest champion

The next League of Legends champion is a cantankerous cavalier named Kled
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

The next League of Legends champion is a cantankerous cavalier named Kled.

The diminutive yordle knight rides his cowardly steed Skaarl into battle, using the lizard with a lolling tongue as an extra health bar to dash in and out of the fight. The battle-scarred dragon-rider is apparently a military legend in Runeterra, League’s inconsistently lored world, and his design reflects both the inanity and comedy of the yordle race, League’s cuddly little furballs, living in a warn-torn world. Kled’s missing one eye, every bit the grizzled war veteran, his toothy smile reflecting the glee with which he enters battle. Skaarl is his comedic foil, a goofy, frilled reptile puppy with a design borrowing heavily from lovable Chris Sanders creations Stitch and Toothless.

Skaarl doesn’t just add flavor to Kled’s design; his kit is built around the lily-livered lizard.

His passive ability is Skaarl himself. When Kled is mounted on Skaarl, he gains an extra health bar, with all damage dealt to him hitting Skaarl instead. When Skaarl’s health runs out, he flees the battle, leaving Kled to fend for himself. Attacking towers, champions, and epic monsters will bring Skaarl back into the fray, giving Kled an instant boost by adding another health bar.

While mounted, his Q is the accurately named “Beartrap on a Rope,” firing a rope with a hook that latches onto the first champion hit, dealing damage to all enemies it hits. If Kled stays near the hit enemy champion for a few seconds, he’ll reel it in, pulling the enemy champion towards him while dealing damage and slowing them, allowing Kled to get them in range of his deadly lance.

If Skaarl has already run for the hills, Kled’s Q instead wields his trusty pistol, launching a cone of bullets that damages foes and knocks himself backwards, similar to Caitlyn’s net launcher. That gives Kled the ability to run from fights until he can woo back his yellow-bellied basilisk.

Kled’s W, Violent Tendencies, is a passive that’s active no matter where Skaarl is. In many ways, it's central to his kit. Kled’s basic attacks give him a buff that raises his attack speed for his next four attacks, with the fourth dealing bonus damage based on a percentage of the target’s max health. Note that this is a passive ability with a cooldown, meaning smart players will wait to proc it until they can use the bonus to harass their foes. Hitting a minion might put the W on cooldown at an inopportune time, so farming will be a complicated dance for Kled players—but one where skilled operators will shine.

The cavalier’s E and R abilities are only usable while mounted, which makes sense considering they play off the speed of the trusty steed.

The E ability, Jousting, does exactly what it sounds like: charges at a foe while wielding a lance. Skaarl dashes to a target location and Kled smacks all foes in that path with his trust lance before receiving a burst of movement speed. If Kled lands a hit on a champion, E can be re-activated to cause Skaarl to dash back through that champion.

The yordle’s ultimate ability, the aptly named “CHAAAAAAAARGE!!!” (That’s eight A’s and three exclamation points, to be precise), makes Skaarl roll into battle, zooming toward a target location on the map while building up a shield and boosting the movement speed of allies behind him. Skaarl will charge into the first foe encountered, dealing damage proportional to their max health and knocking them back slightly. Considering the power of Sivir’s own team-wide movement speed ultimate, CHAAAAAAAARGE!!! should be a powerful tool for engaging fights. Whether it works to escape them, though, likely depends on the mechanics, because Kled can’t just use his R to run in the middle of a fight—Skaarl isn’t that cowardly, he’ll bash into a nearby foe instead of fleeing.

Kled is the first yordle added to League since the prehistoric munchkin Gnar in August of 2014, and hopefully it was worth the wait.

Today - 3:33 pm

How Hauntzer saved TSM

TSM’s top laner stabilized his lane and opened up the map for the team’s first 2017 win.
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

Expectations for TSM are always high. But after dropping a set against a talented Cloud9 squad, the team found itself in trouble against Immortals. That’s when top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell—their most unassuming player—found himself in a position to win the series.

Hauntzer can be easy to overlook. After all, one of his greatest strengths is being a chameleon, in adapting his play style and champion pool to match the needs of his team. But sometimes even chameleons need to stand out. And in the deciding game against Immortals, Hauntzer picked the perfect moment.

After struggling in his first few games, Hauntzer blew open the deciding game.

What happened to Hauntzer?

Hauntzer was a key component as TSM swept through the LCS Summer 2016. Per Oracle’s Elixir, he had the highest creep score (CS) differential at 10 minutes in the entire league. That’s right: The leading laner in NA wasn’t Heo “Huni” Seong-hoon, a primary carry, or Darshan Upadhyaya, a steady split pusher. Hauntzer was able to build leads and absorb pressure while playing a wide variety of champions, from Irelia to Shen to Gnar.

The leads Hauntzer built allowed him to shove and roam for his team while not sacrificing farm. This forced his opponents to choose between CS and teamfights. Building advantages like this takes time and patience. The effects can be overlooked, especially when the other TSM stars are the ones getting kills in teamfights. It’s the perfect role for Hauntzer.

This year, Hauntzer hasn’t had as much success in lane, and it’s hurting his team. The sample size is small, but he’s currently averaging a CS deficit at 10 minutes. That’s given the team fits as it seeks to find the identity it had just a few months ago.

How did Hauntzer turn it around?

Betting big on the top lane

The first sign came in the Game 3 draft. TSM first-picked Maokai for Hauntzer, a no-brainer not because of the priority given to Hauntzer, but because of how broken Maokai is with the Courage of Colossus mastery. The treant’s ability to lock down a target with a point-and-click ability while gaining a huge shield makes him extremely powerful in fights.

TSM then picked Ashe for Jason “WildTurtle” Tran but declined to pair him with a matching support. Instead, they grabbed Cassiopeia for star mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.

Sensing an opportunity, Immortals (on red side), started banning supports in the second ban phase. Because Immortals also had the next pick, TSM felt forced to counter with a support ban of their own. These bans seemed to target Vincent “Biofrost” Wang’s champion pool, forcing him onto a tank support (Thresh) who could be poked out in lane. With their own support, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, comfortable on Morgana, Immortals created a winning duo lane matchup.

It’s extremely hard to win in professional League with more than one losing lane. Bjergsen can usually win his. But with the melee into ranged matchup in the duo lane, it was critical for Hauntzer to come through. He had to at least go even with Lee “Flame” Ho-jong’s Poppy.

He did more than go even.

A familiar pattern

Flame isn’t a perfect player but the guy knows how to CS. And Hauntzer straight bullied him. He went up four CS after two waves. Six after three. Small, steady advantages.

Meanwhile in the bottom half of the map, TSM jungler Dennis “Sveskeren” Johnsen read counterpart Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett’s overtly obvious plays, blowing flashes on nearly everyone. When Dardoch switched focus and roamed to the top, Hauntzer just walked out.

Blowing flashes wouldn’t mean much if TSM couldn’t capitalize. Hauntzer wouldn’t make that mistake. After teleporting back to lane and shoving his minions (up 11 in CS), he roamed with Svenskeren to the mid lane. The resulting dive was clinical: a summoner-less Pobelter was easily killed.

After the kill, Hauntzer walked back to lane and hardly suffered for farm. Meanwhile, Flame’s own roam saw him miss a whole wave of CS. This was the familiar TSM strategy of last year: shove, roam, and force the opponent into bad choices. When Dardoch overextended to kill Svenskeren, Hauntzer was there to earn an assist. When Flame overextended to steal a blue buff, Hauntzer was there to help Bjergsen earn it back.

The coup de grâce came at 10 minutes, where Hauntzer forced Flame to teleport back to lane. Less than two minutes later, when Dardoch ganked the bot lane, Hauntzer’s TP was on time. They won that fight and took first turret. By the time Dardoch finally shut him down, the game had already snowballed too far into TSM’s hands.

TSM needs this from Hauntzer in every game

Going into the season, we thought we knew how TSM would work. Bjergsen is the carry, working with Sevenskeren to control the map. The biggest question mark was the duo lane of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. Hauntzer just needed to be solid. The advantages he carves out are small and take time. Although he plays a role in TSM’s wins, he is rarely assigned credit for victories or blame for losses.

But with WildTurtle struggling in the early game as well, TSM is requiring more of Hauntzer. He needs to have an early impact in every game for them to reach their potential. The urgency is heightened with the current crop of top lane talent, including formidable international stars like Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, and of course, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.

Hauntzer may not be the most talented top laner in the region. But he is exactly the player that TSM needs.

Jan 23 2017 - 10:16 pm

Your friendly neighborhood void monster, Rek’sai, is getting a rework

Riot confirmed that it’s bringing Rek’sai back to her original design goals.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

Rek’sai was originally intended to be an AD-heavy diver in League of Legends, but she turned into a tank. Riot plans to bring her back to form.

Do you remember when Rek’sai came out? Well, if you don’t remember or you’re a new player, let us remind you. When she came out, she built a ton of attack damage (AD) and, using a couple of kills to get a proper snowball rolling, she could blow-up nearly any target she wanted to.

This was because she was released to be an AD-diver, or a champion that is very good at getting to the carries in the back of a fight and dealing a ton of damage. The drawback (usually) is that a diver isn’t great at getting back out of a fight. Well, Rek’sai was much too powerful upon release in late 2014, so Riot had to nerf her considerably.

After several nerfs, it turned out that Rek’sai didn’t actually do much damage anymore. Instead, she became most useful for her ability to get to the carries and knock up them so damage-dealers could get to them more easily. Because of this, players realized that building her as a tank was much more effective. She dealt at least some damage, and she was able to live long enough to trudge to the back and knock-up as many enemies as possible.

Realizing that the community has now dubbed Rek’sai more useful for a different goal than she was originally intended for, Riot now intends to fix the problem.

A small update is on the way for Rek’sai—one that emphasizes her ability to dive but takes away her ability to tank, Riot announced yesterday. On the League message boards, Andre ‘Meddler’ van Roon, the lead champion designer, mentioned that the design team is looking to make an AD-centered build more rewarding for her and turn her knock-up into a single-target ability.

Riot tried the same thing with Ekko. He was released as an assassin, but after several nerfs to damage, he ended up being used as a tank for his area-of-effect stun, utility, and percent-health damage. In the assassin update of 6.22 back in November, Riot attempted to change him back by taking away the slow on his passive and increasing the AP-scaling on his abilities.

This seemed to work. Ekko’s most popular build on Champion.gg, a League statistics website, is now a high-damage assassin build. We can only hope that Rek’sai’s rework accomplishes the same goal without making her OP.