Champion Sneak Peek: Ao Shin
As the League of Legends community expands and grows around the world, so, too, do our influences and inspirations for the game. We thought it would be fun to give you guys a very early peek at one of the champions we're working on while he's still in the early stages. Meet, a powerful storm dragon and guardian of the natural world. Legend holds that when Ionia faces its greatest crisis, Ao Shin will descend from the sky.
Let's start with the inspiration for his name: Ao is the family name of the mythological dragon kings, who rule water and weather. This tells us right away that this is a powerful, elegant being, above the concerns and rules of men. Shin can mean many things, one of which is prosperity. It also means a rising storm. Ao Shin embodies this elemental duality, capable of raining good fortune on his allies and, in the very next breath, bringing stormy, thunderous ruin upon his foes.
The community's been asking for a dragon champion for some time, but we knew we couldn't just do any dragon. With each new champ, we try and push the limits of what's technically and creatively possible. Ao Shin is no different. One of the challenges we're looking forward to tackling is how to capture his unique anatomy and movement in a way that brings a new dimension to the champion pool. It's too early to go into much detail, but we're really excited about the ways this champion will move across the battlefield.
Ao Shin isn't the next champion scheduled to come out, so he's still a ways off and many things are still subject to change. But we wanted to share our inspiration with you and give you a look at the early thought processes that go into champ design. Hopefully you're as excited about his potential as we are to keep working on him!
Evolution of a Dragon Champion
Late 2013, we gave a super early preview of an eastern-inspired, serpentine storm dragon namedthat was in the first phases of champion creation. Then, in the two years that passed (aside from a few comments in low-key conversations) we went silent. Totally a mistake on our part, and the mystery around this dragon has only increased over time. We've seen the question of “Ao Shin where?” pop up all over the place, including being one of the most asked questions in our recently hosted preseason Q&A in China.
Now that 2016 is upon us and production schedules are being finalized for early this year, we finally have an update: the dragon that we previewed in 2013 has evolved tremendously over time. As such, we will not be releasing the champion that you know as Ao Shin, but in the first half of this year we will be releasing a dragon champion. His name is (tentatively).
We can't say much more about Aurelion Sol, but we did want to share some of the challenges we faced and lessons we learned. While the major news is out of the bag, you can still read on if you want hear how the dragon formerly known as Ao Shin evolved over the course of two years.
First: Ao Shin's kit just didn't pass muster. This is a pretty common problem we run into in the initial stage of champion creation, and while sometimes we can adjust on the fly (a usable 'paper kit' might have two or three core abilities that make things click), other times we need to shelve the entire concept and take a step back. Internally, we call this 'ice boxing' a champion until we can revisit with a fresh perspective.
Second: delivering on the unique shape of a serpentine dragon's body - long and powerful - in a game where instantaneous turning is key presents some unique technical challenges. Given enough time, we were confident we could solve the turning problem, but because Ao Shin's abilities weren't coming together we were reluctant to commit to engineering work that might just end up scrapped.
Finally - and this was the big one - we committed too early to Ao Shin's premise without really developing his thematic roots. Around the time we announced Ao Shin, we were in the process of slowing down our champion pipeline to figure out how to continue delivering resonant characters that feel unique to the League universe. We learned a lot during this time (still learning!) and when we examined Ao Shin with these new lessons - Why was he in Runeterra? What were his motivations? - we unearthed a fresh thematic that really set us off running.
So in the end, while we're sorry to have hyped up the idea of a serpentine, storm-wielding dragon for so long, we're still very excited to deliver a dragon champion this year that we hope you'll love. Aurelion Sol's got some big shoes (claws?) to fill, but we still like surprises so stay tuned - any of our next few champions could be him!
Champion Reveal: Aurelion Sol, the Star Forger
- Center of the Universe
Three stars constantly orbit Aurelion Sol, dealing magic damage and applying spell effects to enemies they strike.
Aurelion Sol fires the core of a newborn star in a target direction that explodes - dealing damage and stunning all nearby enemies - upon reactivation or once it travels beyond his stars' maximum orbital range. Aurelion Sol can travel alongside Starsurge, and by keeping it close he'll nurture it, growing it in size so that it damages and stuns a wider area when it explodes.
- Celestial Expansion
Aurelion Sol pushes his stars out to his outer ring, significantly increasing their power. Celestial Expansion costs mana to cast and drains mana every second the ability is toggled on. Once he toggles the ability off or runs out of mana, Aurelion Sol pulls his back.
- Comet of Legend
- Passive: Aurelion Sol builds up increasing movement speed as he travels continuously in the same direction, and loses speed on sharp turns. Some of this speed is stored away as Escape Velocity stacks, which are lost entirely whenever he takes damage from an enemy.
- Active: Once Aurelion Sol maxes his Escape Velocity stacks, he can activate Comet of Legend to pull in his orbiting stars and take flight, traversing over terrain for a long distance. He cannot turn once his course is set, and enemy damage will bring Aurelion Sol back to earth, restoring his orbiting stars.
Aurelion Sol, unlike most champions in League, deals the lion's share of his damage with his passive.sets up a constant game during laning, with Aurelion Sol looking to maneuver his stars into his lane opponent, who, in turn, has to keep on move to avoid them. Its sheer threat will often send his opponent back to safety, giving the Star Forger the perfect opportunity to unleash and ramp up his cyclical damage. And as these two play out their duel, Aurelion Sol will inevitably deal great swathes of collateral damage to the enemy minions, who'll wither under the persistent barrage of starfire. All this area of effect punishment means that Aurelion Sol has a super easy time shoving his lane, even while he focuses on his duel.
Of course, all this passive pushing is likely to attract the enemy jungler's attention, forcing Aurelion Sol onto the defensive. This is a clear weakness of the celestial dragon's because, outside of a couple last-minute big red button abilities, the Star Forger has very few defenses inside his orbiting stars. One of his options comes in the form of, which he can essentially double tap to stun his face-to-face enemy before making his way to safety. The other comes once he hits level 6.
So, instead of waiting for the enemy minions to bounce back, Aurelion Sol often works best bringing his might to bear elsewhere.flight is powerful, but its range - especially at early ranks - is pretty limited. The Star Forger mitigates this by roaming toward his target, building up his Escape Velocity stacks as he approaches his take-off spot. Once he's picked enough speed, he can take to the skies with Comet of Legend, gliding over the last walls as he prepares his assault. is crucial here; by casting it before or as he flies, Aurelion Sol can actually keep pace with his flourishing star, expanding its size and threat as he draws closer to his hapless victim. Timing is vital, as is communication, but when Aurelion Sol successfully hurtles into another lane with a colossal world-destroying comet by his side, well... he's definitely going to leave a mark.
By mid-game, Aurelion Sol should have some of his essential items, granting him enough raw presence to threaten the enemy team while aiding his own. He doesn't jive well with raw AP, but instead thrives with tanky AP items that provide him and his team with utility. It's this utility - alongside Aurelion Sol's passive threat - that gives the Star Forger such a huge presence around neutral objectives. He can set up outside, for instance, and dissuade the enemy team from contesting by body-blocking with while his allies secure their objective. The enemy jungler will have to avoid cycling stars as well as , or else vacantly stare on in stunned silence as the Star Forger's team successfully their winged target.
Things only get hairier for the enemy team once Aurelion Sol gains access to his ultimate,. The ability can devastate entire teams when the Star Forger positions inside one of the jungle's tight corridors. And by unleashing Voice of Light down one of these pathways, Aurelion Sol won't just wreck enemy squishies, but also knock back any approaching tanks or fighters looking to claim an apparently easy kill. Kiting's a simple enough thing when he moves to rejoin his team, with items like repeatedly slowing his pursuers while passive kicks in, accelerating Aurelion Sol's retreat.
Aurelion Sol has a couple of options when it comes to teamfighting. One is to carefully position himself behind his team's frontline, whittling down his distant enemies withwhile saving to stop enemy assassins from ruining his day. plays a key role here, too, blowing back divers or withering away his clustered targets' health bars. This tactic requires a beefy frontline capable of distracting or otherwise preventing the enemy team's killers from breaking through, but is generally the safer, more reliable method.
Then there's the other option, where Aurelion Sol flies into the heart of the enemy team with a huge freakin' megastar by his side. As grand as this entrance can be, it requires incredibly precise timing with Aurelion Sol's team to pull off. Smash your way in too early and the Star Forger will only last a couple of seconds before meeting his maker; too late and his team will have already lost a four vs five teamfight.
But time it right and he'll pave the way for his team's entry - or follow up on an ally's initiation - with a massive area of effect. Once he's landed, he'll need to stay on the lookout for enemies who can encroach inside his , particularly if Starsurge is still on cooldown. And if he hasn't used his ult to eject enemy divers from his proximity, the Star Forger can turn to to finish off fleeing stragglers who haven't yet perished beneath his brutal, unending attacks.
|Works well with:||Struggles against:|
Braum - the Heart of the Freljord
Braum provides Aurelion Sol with plenty of beefy frontliner bulk for the enemy team to contend with. He'll happily slow enemy divers withand block their onslaught with his standard into combo, all while Aurelion Sol chips away at his enemies' health bars with . Also, the Heart of the Freljord and the Star Forger both have super strong if any baddies still manage to break through.
Akali - the Rogue Assassin
Akali has all the tools needed to expose andat Aurelion Sol's weaknesses. Remember, he has very few defenses inside his orbiting , so if a heavy damage dealer, like... say... an assassin, can get up close and personal to Aurelion Sol, he's screwed. Enter Akali, who can her way past the Star Forger's before artfully him up into a really expensive pair of shoes.
Sivir - the Battle Mistress
Whereprovides and - in the literal sense - Sivir's all about . She provides her team with her customary chase/reposition tool with , before pairing up with Aurelion Sol to form a terrifying mass attacking duo through her and and his and . If the enemy team stays grouped, they'll die together; if they split up... well, that seldom works out, either.
Graves - the Outlaw
Not only can the Outlaw useto dart away from - or inside - Aurelion Sol's orbiting , he also packs more than enough firepower (thanks to and ) to fire the celestial dragon over to the land of the gray screen. And even if the big blue dragon survives Graves' bonanza, the Outlaw can simply lay down a and walk away from his blinded adversary.
Tahm Kench - the River King
Tahm Kench candown on Aurelion Sol to become a horrific, maniac in team fights. The Star Forger's stars will continue orbiting him even when he's exploring the hidden depths of the River King's gastrointestinal system, meaning everyone's favorite catfish-frog-thing can happily speed his way around the enemy team, using to absorb the enemy team's beating while withering his targets away under repeated rounds of pain.
Nidalee - the Bestial Huntress
There are a couple of ways Nidalee can ruin Aurelion Sol's day. There's her terrifyingly pointy long-range, of course, that'll leave the Star Forger whimpering for mercy. But even if he gets close enough to land a few on the Bestial Huntress, she can just before in and Aurelion Sol apart in form.
Champion Insights: Aurelion Sol
Forging the Star Forger
|Aurelion Sol's Theme|
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