Riot has done their best to ignite our interest with their champion releases in the last couple of years. They have given us spunky characters with defined personalities, as well as interesting kits and gameplay mechanics. Some of these still have not been fully established in common play as many players struggle to find a place for them. For example Taliyah’s ultimate ability has been much more useful in trolling fellow teammates than securing kills or objectives. However I have confidence that in time all of these weird and wonderful abilities will find their place.
With the new champion Kled- accurately dubbed “The Cantankerous Cavalier”, and his cowardly mount Skaarl, Riot has again sought to befuddle us by un-benching a Kench-style passive. That being Kled’s stacking bar of “courage” that when full calls on his mount, Skaarl, changing some of his abilities and giving him a meat shield based on his maximum health (including any bonuses from runes, masteries and items). This leaves mounted Kled with his full arsenal of crowd control, damage and mobility as well as added tankiness. However when Skaarl’s healthbar is gone he runs for the hills, leaving his murderous yordle master to fight alone.
In this earthbound state Kled is weak and lackluster. Although gaining a new Q ability, “Pocket Pistol”, (which does splash damage and knocks Kled back) as well as building movement speed when moving towards champions, he loses the leashing ability on his Q and the power to use both his E and ultimate abilities is gone altogether! On top of this he has none of the added tankiness I mentioned earlier, and just in case you thought Riot was being too generous to our poor lonely yordle friend, his basic attacks deal a mere 80% of their mounted damage. All of these things, combined with the abilities discussed below, make this champion good at one thing, and one thing only; going HAM.
Kled’s E ability is a Renekton-style dash that, when cast through enemy champions or large monsters, grants him a second use through that target. This affords him huge mobility, especially in team fights. However, don’t forget that this ability is only available when Kled is mounted on Skaarl, meaning he loses all of this engage/escape potential when Skaarl flees. His ultimate also grants him a form of mobility- increased movement speed, a shield and a boost to all following allies’ movement speed. This ability is also global, making Kled an excellent initiator and giving him a lot of team-wide utility. Kled even rams the first enemy he sees, knocking them back and dealing damage. However this ability is also only available when Kled is mounted!
So to recap- two mobility abilities, a crowd control ability, and two decent shields are afforded to Kled when Skaarl sticks with him. Even unmounted Kled gains movement speed when moving towards enemy champions. Riot wants Kled players to play aggressive and stay aggressive.
Unlike some other fury bars in League of Legends, Kled’s courage meter starts to fill up again as soon as Skaarl leaves him. This means that players are rewarded for running in all guns blazing, eating damage through Skaarl’s meat shield, and staying in the fight to build up the meter again. This will obviously require a lot of practice to master, but if a player can stay in combat long enough to prock Skaarl two, or even three, times it will give them a huge advantage in that extended fight. Kled’s kit will punish players for simply running away once Skaarl is gone as they will no longer be building up the courage bar, will be moving away from the enemies so will not have the movement speed buff and will be significantly weaker with the lack of a dash or ultimate. Kled players will need to know their champion inside and out- constantly keep an eye on the courage meter and know their limits to perfection. This knowledge and champion mastery will give them unexpected power spikes mid-fight and trick enemies into fighting at bad times. At 1 health Skaarl can return, giving Kled a massive shield and winning him the fight.
This encouragement to “go HAM” in-game also aligns perfectly with Kled’s aggressive, fearless personality. This alignment of personality and kit is something that Riot always seeks to achieve, and they are very good at it. The “buddy” dynamic between Kled and Skaarl is supported by the gratitude one feels when Skaarl literally swoops in and saves their life and wins them the fight, and the “stronger together” spirit is obvious in his kit.
Regarding builds, Kled players may find a maxed-out damage, full HAM approach effective due to his good AD scalings. However in my opinion either an off-tank bruiser or even full tank build would be better. As I said, his kit requires you to play very aggressively, and in return you will be taking a lot of damage. If you build tanky (specifically health items), you are in turn buffing Skaarl and increasing the power of your meat shield and you teamfight longevity. Both his W and R abilities deal damage based on a target’s max health, so you will have usefulness as a damage-dealer as well, even if you don’t build damage items. More importantly, the movement speed buff to allies requires them to be positioned behind you, unlike Sivir’s ultimate, meaning you will be constantly running head first into battle and literally smashing your face into enemy champions. Kled’s “go HAM” kit and inbuilt tankiness make him the perfect candidate for tank-hood, and in the current META you will be far more useful built this way.
Riot has done a good job at giving us a combination of interesting kit and champion lore that reflects that kit. Kled changes up the classic “dip in, deal damage and get out” approach and encourages you to play risky. Finally, a champion that rewards us for playing like chimpanzees!Related: eSports, League of Legends, MOBA, new champion, Riot Games