This week Riot Games revealed its newest champion, Ekko, “the boy who shattered time.”
The mohawk-headed punk hails from Zaun, the twisted city-state of League of Legends lore where villains experiment with terrible body modifications and other technology. But Ekko has a tool of his own, the Zero-Drive, which lets him rewind time.
That, ironically, makes him a champion that relies on predictive power to play: you need to plan out when to use your rewind ability to obliterate your foes and avoid their attacks.
The new champion features a kit that creates complex interactions for both the player and his foe, creating playmaking potential for both users of Ekko and the people who play against him. Ekko’s design lead, August “gypsylord” Browning, wanted to focus on feeling “smart,” not necessarily “skilled.” The difference? Instantly reacting to a Morgana binding with a spell shield on Sivir is skillful, but it’s certainly not smart. But planning out when to use an ability like Ekko’s W, Parallel Convergence, which has a 3-second delay before it lands, takes planning ahead—smart play.
Parallel Convergence is a powerful ability capable of an area of effect stun and also shielding the player. But that means foes can play around it by exiting the area or preventing Ekko from entering it, like with a well-time Flay from Thresh.
His ultimate Chronobreak provides even more interesting interaction. While it’s off cooldown, a shadow follows Ekko around, indicating the position his time warp will return him. That means enemy players know exactly where Ekko can activate his powerful damaging ability, or exactly where he can escape to. That makes playing against Ekko a game of cat and mouse, avoiding both him and the damage of his powerful passive ability as well as the danger of the shadow.
Players have already figured out some little tricks with Ekko, like waiting to actually level up his ultimate until you’re in position to use it. That means the clone spawns right on top of Ekko, allowing him to detonate it on an unsuspecting foe instantly.
While Ekko is certainly mechanically challenging, the interactions between his abilities and his foes means that players who read the battle better will receive the most benefit. That’s in line with Riot Games’ design goals for the champion—to reward “smart” play, not necessarily “skilled” play.
“The core thing here is feeling like you came out ahead in an engagement through solid situational analysis instead of raw mechanics and reaction time,” Browning explains.
Ekko is already available on the Public Beta Environment (PBE), meaning players are already putting his skills to the test, like in this gameplay video:
Ekko continues the trend of adding complex champions to League of Legends, increasing the skill cap to a large roster that already contains a solid foundation of options.
“I’d rather make mistakes than make nothing at all,” Ekko sometimes says while travelling the Summoner’s Rift. His players will certainly make plenty of mistakes while playing him, but that’s par for the course in figuring out how to unlock the potential of a champion that looks like a highlight reel waiting to happen.
Image via Riot Games