Riot reflects on 2021 League champion releases, provides insight on what makes new champs ‘balanced’

“If we’re being completely honest, we don’t think our champions have overloaded kits overall"

Image via Riot Games

This year has been a good one if you’re a fan of ridiculously complex League of Legends champions. From Akshan to Viego and everything in between, League’s new champions this season have certainly been on the complicated side.

And earlier today, Riot Games announced its plans for new champion releases moving forward, in addition to reflecting on the champion releases from 2021.

This year, League have seen four champions hit the live servers so far: Viego, Gwen, Akshan, and Vex. From the jump, champions like Viego and others were criticized for having overloaded kits with game-changing mechanics

“If we’re being completely honest, we don’t think our champions have overloaded kits overall,” Jessica Nam, executive producer of League of Legends at Riot Games, said in a video released by the company today. “That being said, there have been times when we’ve given new champions too many tools and had to pull back later to give them more clear weaknesses.” 

This season, new champions, as well as reworked ones, were considered relatively balanced by Riot upon their release. While some, like Akshan, Dr. Mundo, and Gwen, required buffs after their release, others, such as Vex, were treated to immediate nerfs. 

Related: 5 League of Legends champions to watch at Worlds 2021

“When we look at the data, we’ve actually seen that new champions have been pretty balanced on release this year, with the exception of Dr. Mundo,” Nam said. “That said, there’s more to healthy gameplay than just win rates, and we’re still hearing that new champions feel unfair to play against, particularly when it comes to complex abilities or overloaded kits.”  

Riot further addressed the concept of overloaded champions, saying that players “shouldn’t need a Wiki” to know how to play against some of League’s new additions. Plus, moving forward into 2022, Riot is making sure that complexity and playability go hand-in-hand. The developer intends to release champions that can be enjoyed and maximized by players of all skill levels. 

“We try to make a healthy mix of low, medium, and high complexity champions,” Nam said. “This way, whether you like mechanical skill expression, point-and-click simplicity, or something in-between, there’s a new champion that interests you.”  

Right now, Riot has multiple champions in the pipeline, including a yet-to-be-revealed bottom lane marksman scheduled for 2022, as well as a rework for Udyr with an unannounced release date.

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