Riot’s choice to add knock-ups to League makes sense—for the most part

Let's dissect League's most punishing crowd control.

Image via Riot Games

If you’ve ever been knocked into the air by a Vi ultimate or an Alistar Pulverize, you’ve experienced League of Legends’ most-powerful crowd control—a knock-up. It’s impossible to counter with Cleanse, a QSS, or Tenacity, making it more impactful than any other form of CC.

One League player fed up with how many knock-ups are available decided to take their criticism to the game’s official forums, and Riot responded.

Riot senior game designer August “Jinxylord” Browning was the staffer that took on the question. He provided a heavily-detailed explanation of why knock-ups are chosen at all and to admit that, yes, there have been more and more added to League over the years.

Without getting into the same level of detail as Browning, he essentially just said that knock-ups are chosen because they fit with a champion thematically, because they provide guaranteed power that sometimes makes sense in a kit, because they feel good, and because they provide a good counter to mobility. Most of that makes sense to us, especially thematic matches, guaranteed power, and countering mobility.

For champions like Yasuo, his Tornado just wouldn’t feel the same design-wise if it just stunned you, and if Alistar’s Pulverize didn’t knock you up, his power and identity as a champion would fall apart. There are some exceptions that contradict these explanations in the game, like Jarvan’s knock-up making absolutely no sense from a logic or thematic standpoint. After all, to knock someone into the air with a lance or blade in real life, you’d have to wedge it under the feet of your enemy and then pry them into the air. We know, Jarvan just suddenly became a lot funnier. For the most part, though, we think those arguments hold up.

The one point we disagree with entirely is that knock-ups “feel good,” and therefore sometimes need to be added. To be fair, Browning does say that this is the most dangerous explanation to offer, but he says that it’s dangerous because it removes importance from cleanse and tenacity mechanics. While that’s true, that’s not the only reason we dislike this reason.

We dislike it because, for all intents and purposes, we think it’s incorrect. Knock-ups don’t feel better than stuns or snares if those stuns or snares are designed correctly and in a satisfying way. For example, there are some stuns and snares in League that feel really, really good. Morgana’s Q, Lux’s Q, Veigar’s cage, Cassiopeia’s ultimate, Heimerdinger’s grenade, and so many more are some of the most satisfying abilities in the entire game to land. That’s the result of good design, and if a stun ever feels lame or outright less cool than a knock-up, that’s because it wasn’t designed the right way.

So do we think there are too many knock-ups in League? Not necessarily. There are definitely more than there used to be, but we don’t think there are too many, simply because we think there are plenty of other CC tools in the game to work with. There doesn’t seem to be a saturation of knock-ups, but knock-ups might seem like more of a problem than they are. After all, they’re objectively a lot harder to deal with than other CC.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been Rakan’d over and over again in long fights, and we’ve all considered throwing our keyboard across the room. It’s not just you.