The latest champion reveal has been announced for League of Legends by Riot Games! This time they have given us two for the price of one, with the joint reveal of Rakan the Charmer, and Xayah the Rebel. This is a totally new format for a champion release and, as such, the League of Legends community is abuzz with debate and excitement. In most discussion forums the feedback seems to be largely positive; many players are impressed by the level of complexity within each champion’s kits as well as the potential for “flashy plays,” which up until now haven’t graced the bottom lane as much as other roles.
Until now, assassins have traditionally dominated that sector of highly desirable “outplay and flashiness.” The point made by a few players on the League of Legends' forums is that Xayah and Rakan, with their particular combinations of mobility and ways to avoid damage while having the potential to deal huge amounts of burst damage, actually have rather “assassin-like” kits! Riot even said on the champion reveal website that, “Much like an assassin, Rakan waits for the perfect moment to explode on the scene and charm the pants off the enemy team.” This is clearly a new concept to introduce into the bottom lane, and I predict seismic shifts in the meta following public release.
“Much like an assassin, Rakan waits for the perfect moment to explode on the scene and charm the pants off the enemy team." - Riot Games
Why Two Champions?
Along with the excitement, there is also quite a lot of confusion in the community surrounding Riot’s reasoning behind releasing two League of Legends champions as a bundle. Although Xayah and Rakan can be played independent of each other, they gain fairly sizeable buffs when played together. In-game realities are supported here by their backstory as lovers who work together, using their own individual strengths to swindle and hustle their way to success. But the abiding question is this: why would you abandon the old formula of leaving champion synergies to random and instead hand build-in synergies to the player on a silver platter?
Riot has taken all the mystery out of discovering secret strategies and synergies! Although I am sure strategies with other champions will be discovered (for example combining Kled’s ultimate with Rakan’s), for now it is somewhat disappointing to have the challenge temporarily removed. That said, Riot is known for being unexpected and messing with the formula each time they release a champion. For example, before the Jhin release and Graves update, it was assumed that every champion would have infinite auto-attacks available to them. It seems to be in Riot’s manifesto to try to surprise the player. The idea for a dual champion has been around in the community since long before the release of Kindred, and even then her duality is essentially an aesthetic one based solely on lore. This time, we have two separate, superficially independent, flightless bird-people that are linked together through their skill kits. Go figure.
Simply put, Rakan and Xayah are intended to fill the support and ADC roles respectively. This explains some of the reasoning behind the alignment of their kits. Beginning with Rakan- his entire kit is tailored around supporting an allied champion. His passive periodically grants him a shield (even while in combat). This is something Riot has been introducing more and more with the combat shield that Camille gains when damaged by an enemy, Galio’s passive magic shield and the shield gained from Courage of the Colossus. This tends to push the META in favor of bruisers and fighters (a class favorite of Riot’s).
Rakan's Q is a skill-shot nuke that then grants an area of effect heal (much like Taric’s heal) if it hits an enemy champion or epic monster. Obviously, giving some form of sustain to a support champion is advantageous in lane, but these abilities generally fall on in effectiveness in the mid to late stages of the game. The fact that in order to gain the heal the ally must be near Rakan also encourages a higher level of player synergy that is interesting but not anything new. I can see why Riot gave Rakan this ability (especially considering Xayah’s apparently weak early game), but it inspires no particular awe.
His W is basically a knock up similar to Galio’s new knock up, in terms of the fact that it has a short wind up. It is, however, an area-target ability not a straight-line skill-shot. There in not much else to say about this ability except that it gives the Xayah-Rakan combo some much needed hard crowd control and that the animation windup looks especially satisfying.
Rakan’s E ability is in essence a Lee Sin E with a longer range (he dashes to an ally and shields them), but it's unlikely he will be able to cast it on wards. The range of this is greatly increased when cast on Xayah (which is a considerable buff). This dash-in, dash-out combo in his kit combining his W and E is one of the things that makes Rakan assassin-like in nature by adding complexity and outplay-potential to him.
His ultimate is the most unique thing about him as he gains increased movement speed and charms each enemy champion he walks through. This could be a nightmare in terms of balancing. We all know how obnoxious Ahri’s charm is and at least that is a skillshot, but I’m glad Riot was brave enough to make this decision for him. The last thing to say about the presence of the charm in his kit is that it draws a nice link between the “vastaya” champions in League of Legends. The description on the champion reveal website calls Rakan a “lovable distraction” meaning that his playstyle will revolve around drawing enemy attention on him to free up allies to deal damage. This is a fairly new concept and it’s good to see Riot adding more into the League of Legends support arsenal.
[caption id="attachment_76342" align="aligncenter" width="560"] "Rakan works best as a lovable distraction, leading his opponents in a deadly dance." - Riot Games[/caption]
Xayah is intended to fill the marksman/ADC role. Her kit is an odd hybrid of Syndra and Orianna’s ball mechanics, Talon’s Rake, Twitch’s ultimate and Kalista’s stacking passive. However, trying to understand her by putting her into previously existing concepts and abilities is only useful as an initial explanation, as Xayah is like no ADC currently in League of Legends.
Her passive is a buff to basic attacks following the use of an ability- each attack goes through and damages enemies (with increased range) and leaves behind a “feather” at the end of it path. Imagine a Syndra ball shaped like a feather that has a directional arrow facing towards you instead of away. This passive already makes Xayah different from other ADCs, giving her a unique control over the minion wave and her enemies’ positioning from an early stage. Although her damage seems low in the early game, she will be able to effectively zone enemies.
Her Q is a skill-shot that throws two feathers in a line, damaging each enemy they pass through and stopping at max range like her passive. Her W is an aesthetically beautiful ability that grants her next few basic attacks increased damage and speed. If Xayah attacks an enemy when this is activated she also gains movement speed. If Rakan is nearby when this is cast he also gains the buff to his attacks.
Xayah’s E ability, Bladecaller, is like Kalista’s Rend- it recalls all previously placed feathers to her while damaging the enemies they pass through and rooting enemies when multiple feathers hit. If the damage increases based on how many feathers there are, this could be an extremely powerful ability, although the trade-off is that it will be very difficult to land. Finally, her ultimate makes her briefly untargetable and throws out a number of feathers in a fan in front of her. This definitely pushes Xayah more into the ADC/assassin hybrid category because of its outplay and high damage potential. Uniquely, Xayah will thrive more when being chased while her lack of mobility will not find it as easy to chase down foes.
[caption id="attachment_76343" align="aligncenter" width="560"] "Anyone chasing Xayah in a straight line is looking to get stuffed by Bladecaller." - Riot Games[/caption]
Concluding Thoughts on Xayah and Rakan
One last important note for Xayah and Rakan is regarding their recalls. If releasing two champions together was the first part of Riot’s experiment, this is certainly the second. If one of the champions begins their recall and the other approaches them and also channels recall they sync up in an animated lover’s embrace and fly home together. That’s right... their recalls sync. Not only that but the mutual channel is aligned with that of the champion that started first! For example, Rakan can begin channeling his recall in a brush and Xayah can come in and be teleported home at the last second. This is far more ground-breaking than the dual release and has serious potential to be rather powerful. I see the dark clouds of and an entirely new META gathering in League of Legends and two winged vastaya are at the head of the storm front.