It’s not often that League of Legends gets a new "champion," or playable avatar. The most recent, the wind samurai Yasuo, was revealed last November.
But last month, players began to witness strange happenings in game: For a few seconds, a floating eye and cosmic swirls would manifest and then disappear. Rumors quickly began circulating about what exactly was going on, with the name “Vel’Koz” whispered frequently in League player circles.
Finally, Riot Games has given credence to these rumors. The developer has revealed the game’s 118th champion, Vel’Koz, the Eye of the Void, who'll be making his way through public testing over the next few weeks. Once released to the live client, he will be available for anyone to buy through free in-game currency or direct purchase.
His release aligns with some interesting undertones for the pro community. Vel’Koz has been designated as a spell-focused middle lane champion, meaning players who pick him can provide their team massive ranged damage. As a mid laner, he patrols the center of the map and should focus on getting gold and experience quickly so he can bring strength to his team later on. His weakness will be his lack of defensive measures, and it will be on his teammates to protect him.
The previous champion, Yasuo, was also a mid laner, but was built as an in-your-face brawler who could easily escape from situations. He has been a very popular pick this year in pro games—so much so that he's often banned out by opposing teams(removed from the pool of available champions for players to pick) so teams don’t have to worry about playing against him.
Vel’Koz is almost Yasuo's opposite—a ranged “nuker” (massive damage dealer), he'll try to avoid direct confrontations with enemy players. Pro teams have struggled with this style of mid laner for a while, especially as other “nuker” champions like Lux, Gragas, and Orianna have some severe vulnerabilities against the brawler-type mid laners like Yasuo and Pantheon.
The addition of Vel’koz may very well spell a return of the more conservative ranged mid lane champions. This team composition often finds more success later , provided they can protect their mid laner. The pros will be carefully studying how Vel’koz evolves over the next few weeks—the new champion has the potential to spell some major victories for the first team that can master him.
Image via Riot Games