The best new champions and large champ updates of 2017
Season seven was a big year for League of Legends. Each major champion update or new champion release featured a new, exciting ability or mechanic that hadn’t been seen before in the game.
This year in League, reformation was the centerpiece. League is an eight-year-old game, after all, and Riot amped up its efforts to redesign and re-release older champions with out-of-touch abilities and looks. This year alone, we’ve had four total champ redesigns along with four new ones and, naturally, some turned out better than others.
These are the best large-scale champion updates and new champions of 2017.
Evelynn’s update was very centered around refocusing her identity, just like Urgot and Warwick. She’s a stealthy succubus that preys on anything that moves, and she truly feels like it now—but only sometimes. Her update has been the most disappointing of all this year, and although it’s still much better than her pre-update state, but she lost her invisibility until she hits level six in game.
Now, not only does her ganking power feel a little lackluster, but she feels incomplete and a little boring to play before hitting the proper level. She’s still very fun, but when compared to the other impressive champions of the year, she just doesn’t quite hold up.
Although a very cool concept, Ornn’s release was a bit of a flop. He was released extremely weak, and it took multiple patches of buffs to bring him up to speed with the rest of the game’s top lane tanks. Because of these uncertain weeks, Ornn picked up a bad rep despite his kit being really cool. His ultimate summons an actual, literal god, and he can turn a teamfight on its head if he times it correctly.
With the new runes, Ornn is another rough patch, as there isn’t a Resolve Keystone rune that feels like it really belongs with him. He was buffed in Patch 7.22 to help him out, which turned out to be overkill. He’s now one of the strongest top laners in the game—arguably too strong—meaning he may have even more changes coming soon.
The quirky celestial known as Zoe was a bright addition to the game's champion arsenal. She broke the chain of the few dark and brooding champions that had been released or reworked before her, and for that, she feels refreshing to play. Unfortunately, her release has been a bit troublesome.
She's only been around for a few weeks, and since then, she's been the target of a lot of tweaks and nerfs due to her high damage and low counterplay. Being too strong on release isn't that uncommon for a new champion, and it certainly doesn't take away from how fun it is to play her and how unique her design is.
Urgot was updated this year, and just like Evelynn, his was very centered on revamping his identity. He used to be a living, breathing, slightly gross meme. Now, though, he’s a scary, intimidating, still slightly gross powerhouse. Urgot is as far as you can get from a goofy champion, which is exactly what he used to be.
His kit is unlike anything in the game: He was turned into a ranged juggernaut. Gnar is the closest thing the game had to a ranged juggernaut before Urgot’s update, but Gnar is half-melee, so it doesn’t really count. Urgot’s ultimate is also the first insta-kill ability in the game, and although the stars need to align in order for him to actually earn an insta-kill, it’s extremely satisfying to pull off.
Kayn is League’s newest edgelord. He’s dark, mysterious, likes killing people, and lives in the shadows. Well, technically, he is a shadow. Kayn is an extremely fun champion, albeit a bit difficult. It took players a few weeks to figure out his strengths since he has two unique forms that each work well against specific teams.
He’s Zed’s student, and just like Zed, he has shadowy magic and a big, damaging ultimate ability. He was also the first jungler to be released in a while, and was fairly strong. He was released in the middle of a tank meta, though, so didn’t see much stage time. With the new runes being released, the meta will inevitably shift, and Kayn might see more popularity in the near future.
The first champion update of the year went to Warwick, and it was a whopper. The design team replaced all of his abilities and completely redesigned him, but it also did something incredible. Warwick’s update took hold of what it meant to be Warwick—a terrifying hunter that stalks shadows and preys on the weak. That’s exactly what Warwick became, and it redefined what it meant for a champion to be reworked. It set the precedent that each update should make a champion fun and feel like their own, very unique personality.
Unfortunately, Warwick isn’t quite as useful as Galio, but he hasn’t been changed at all since his new release at the start of the season, and the fact that he’s remained a strong champion with such a strong identity without needing adjustment is impressive.
Xayah is Rakan’s only-slightly-emo counterpart, making her also the first champion to be released as part of a duo. She places below Rakan only because she’s less useful in quite as many situations as he is, but she’s still a very strong champion. In fact, she’s one of the best ADCs in the game.
Her feather mechanic introduced a new twist on already existing systems like Kalista’s Rend and Twitch’s Contaminate, and gives her tools to dance around teamfights like no other ADC can.
Rakan’s release was special for one big reason. He, along with Xayah, was the first champion released as part of a pair. He is also the first support champion that can balance being an engaging playmaker with healing and protecting his laning partner. Just like Galio, Rakan has been played almost constantly in the professional meta, and he’s been very popular in solo queue as well.
Rakan places so high on this list due to his versatility. He’s one of the most powerful supports in the game, and he has felt right at home since his release. When the Ardent Censer meta arose, he was useful thanks to his heals and shields, and when the playmaking support meta came after, he was featured prominently there, too.
The Sentinel’s Sorrow is, by far, the biggest success of 2017 for League of Legends champions. His rework in March was the second of the year, and following Warwick’s successful update that winter, players were very excited to see what Riot had up its sleeves for Galio.
What we got was the the largest update of the year–an update that not only transformed his look and abilities, but also his theme and identity as a champion. He went from a depressed old gargoyle to a confident defender of superhero proportions.
What’s more, he was turned into an absolute monster. The utility granted from his new taunt and ultimate abilities turned him into a proper tank, and he was instantly transformed into a popular pick in professional League. After the release of the new runes, he's been suffering a bit, but we have no reason to expect he won't be addressed before the start of the new season in January.