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Champion Roadmap: September 2021

An update on our schedule, visual updates, Udyr, an electrifying marksman, and a villainous support.

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Hey all, it’s been a while since we last shared an update on our plans for champions. We’ve got a bit to talk about in this post, including an update to this year’s release schedule, a peek at the next few champs, and a small update on Udyr’s VGU. So let’s get started with the champ release schedule.

Last year, we shared our goal to deliver one champion per role each year, with the exception of mid lane where we target two—one for assassin and skirmisher players, and another for mage players. We planned to continue that this year, but sadly it looks like we won’t get there.

Both of the champions we planned to release towards the end of the year were originally meant to tie into an event, but as development went on it became clear they didn’t quite fit. We felt good about both champions’ directions and didn’t want to change them to fit in with the event, so we decided to stay true to their characters. As such, we’ll be releasing the ADC early next year and the support a few patches after.

We’re not sure how this will affect our schedule for 2022 yet, but it’s possible we may release an extra champion next year. We should have a better idea by the next Champion Roadmap and will share more then.

On the bright side, I can finally share a bit about a project we’ve been working on that will finally be releasing later this year: our first Art and Sustainability Update. These are pure visual updates, which we haven’t done in... forever (the last one was Alistar in 2015). And while we aren’t quite ready to share who’s receiving the first ASU, we do have some information about what a “pure visual update” means and what you can expect.

Art & Sustainability Updates

League’s personalization team—aka the crew who works on skins, events, and other cosmetics—have started working on a new type of champion update called an Art & Sustainability Update, or ASU. The goal of ASUs is to help bring some of League’s older champions up to our modern quality standards, fix older technical issues, and make it easier to make new skins for those champions in the future.

An ASU is a visual refresh that allows us to bring a champion closer to modern expectations (or sometimes better match their representation in other areas of our IP). As such, these updates won’t heavily reimagine a champion’s lore or have any changes to their gameplay, which you’d normally see with a full VGU. With ASUs, we can fix certain elements of older champions that you’ve given us feedback on over the years—like broken necks and wrists, outdated animations, gameplay clarity improvements, outdated outfits and VO, etc. Also, ASUs are in addition to full VGUs, which the Champion Team will continue doing as usual.

With ASUs, our goal is to update the most critical elements of some of our older champs, that way they’re brought up to our current art and visual standards. This means that the base champion and the oldest skins for that champion will likely undergo the most change, and more recent skins or Legendaries are less likely to be updated.

We hope that by introducing ASUs, we can modernize more of your favorite champions and lay a better foundation for future skins. You can expect to see our first ASU launch later this year.

Ride The Lightning

We’ll have an electrifying start to 2022 with a brand new bot lane marksman who has been charging up and is rearing to finally get on the Rift. We wanted to create a kinetic marksman who’s always on the move, pulsing with sparky determination. A champ who plays the game at a machine gun pace and brings the feeling of a shooter game to the roster. We also really wanted to explore more unique basic attack concepts in League.

Marksmen are auto-attack champions by nature, and we’ve experimented with altered autos in the past with champs like Graves, Xayah, and Jhin. For this new champ, we wanted to re-explore the role of the basic attack in a marksman champion’s kit and see if we could completely turn its purpose around. I’m getting amped just thinking about it, and if you are as well, get ready for a hyper new champion very early next year.

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Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Money runs this city. Technology, power, people. All can be bought when you have enough cash. Technology to reach out and take what you want, discarding it like trash when you're done. Power to turn your enemies against each other, watching them kill the very ones they swore to protect. And people to manipulate with your terrifying charisma, sending them to almost certain death, only being saved if they fulfill your wishes.

In the end they will know your name, the one that truly ran this game, the one calling the shots… the “support.”

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The Latest on Udyr

We’ve made a lot of progress on Udyr’s VGU since we last checked in. We’re planning to do another blog early next year with a lot more info, but we wanted to talk about a few small things before then.

First up, let’s talk about his antlers.

When we shared our last update, many of you liked where his hair landed, but there was some uncertainty with his antlers. We discussed your feedback and decided that it was important to keep the antlers because they add a unique differentiator for his silhouette and readability, and because they provide a focus for his druidic power. However, we agree that the designs needed work because they were large and demanded a lot of attention. So we started with a new spread of smaller antlers.

092721_Udyr_Antlers_Riot_Earp.jpg

We thought option B was the most promising here, so we pursued that design. We think we’ve landed on something cleaner, more natural, and a little more “druidic focus” and less “sharp weapon.”

We also wanted to add something to Udyr’s design that expressed the friendship he cultivated with Lee Sin while in Ionia. To do this, we added a headwrap given to him by Lee Sin that he now uses as part of his hand wraps.

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In Udyr’s last dev blog, we shared our idea of evolving Udyr’s theme by making each of his stances associated with a Freljordian demigod. Your response was overwhelmingly positive, which got us even more excited by the prospect of connecting Udyr to Runeterra in a much stronger way! We’ve decided to lock in this direction, and we can’t wait to talk to you more about it in the next blog. In the meantime, here’s some concept art that Justin “Riot Earp” Albers has been working on for Udyr’s demigod-inspired stances.

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Until Next Year

That’s all we’ve got for today. Our next update will be at the start of next year where we’ll have a lot to share, including more details on the new villainous support, the next VGU planned after Udyr, as well as an overwhelming new jungler that should fill a void in all your hearts.

See you then!



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