Only four champions joined the League of Legends roster in 2021, marking the lowest number of newcomers since 2018. Still, the four champions that arrived in League all had a massive impact on the game in one way or another. Whether they were the centerpiece of an in-game event or the focus of a competitive meta shift, each of 2021’s new champions made their mark on League.
As opposed to releasing splintered champions with no connection to each other in the story, Riot Games heel-turned in 2021, releasing four champions who were all interconnected through the Ruination storyline that kicked off at the very beginning of the year. With that in mind, we ranked the four champions released in 2021 based on gameplay, characterization, and overall appeal.
Akshan rounds out the bottom of our list of champion releases in 2021 not by any fault of his own, but rather because he doesn’t quite stack up to the other champions released this season. By no means is Akshan a bad champion, but when compared to the other three major releases of the year, he falls a bit flat. His trademark ability, Going Rogue (W), which revives Akshan’s teammates if he avenges them, wasn’t well received by the League community upon the champion’s initial release. Plus, Akshan had to be hotfixed immediately after hitting live servers and has received a bugfix or balance update in every patch (except for one) since he joined the roster. As a character, Akshan is enjoyable if, for no other reason, the idea of hunting down “scoundrels” and avenging your teammates is a fun concept from fantasy fiction that is welcome in League.
While Vex’s kit resembles that of a standard control mage, it’s her one-of-a-kind personality that makes her stand out from the rest of League’s champion roster. Whereas every other champion in League is a big-time hero or villain with an immeasurable purpose and desire to fight, Vex wants nothing more than to not be involved. Vex is worth revisiting every once in a while just to hear what she has to say. But her tricky gameplay and stark differences from other control mages could make her tough to handle for players who don’t have an experienced handle on her.
It had been a while since Riot released a top laner with dueling capabilities, but Gwen fit the niche perfectly when she was released early on in the 2021 season. Gwen’s skill cap is incredibly high; she allows players to weave auto attacks in-between their abilities like no other champion can. In fact, the need to auto attack to reset her abilities is a prominent part of Gwen’s kit, and it’s what makes her capable of dishing out damage so quickly in top lane skirmishes. As a plus, Gwen’s direct relation to Viego marked one of the only occasions in League history where two champions who had a direct relation to one another were released back to back.
The year got off to a raucous start when Viego was released in January. The “Ruined King” had been a mysterious figure in League’s lore for nearly a decade, but when he finally made an appearance in the Ruination cinematic, League players knew the game was about to be turned upside-down. The idea of a champion who has the ability to capture the spirit of other champions and use the powers of your teammates against you was unlike anything League had seen before. A groundbreaking champion with the versatility to be played in several roles, Viego defined the meta at various points during the 2021 season—on both the professional stage and the solo queue ladder. A good Viego player can turn a game on its head via the champion’s immense skill ceiling, while the average League player can pick up the Ruined King and instantly contribute.
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