The main attraction of Legends of Runeterra is the Champions. Being able to play as characters we have gotten to know and love from League of Legends in a completely new way is truly incredible. They are the main selling point of the game, and a huge reason so many people try Legends of Runeterra in the first place.
Since they are a huge deal to the game, a lot of effort goes into designing a Champion for LoR. In this opinion piece, I will rank the Top 10 best-designed Champions so far in Legends of Runeterra. In order to do this, I first have to come up with some clear criteria to base my evaluations on, so here they are:
- League Kit Translation and Flavor
How well does this character transition from League of Legends to Legends of Runeterra? A critical part of the champion’s design is making sure they stay true to their original idea. Beyond the gameplay of LoL comes a large amount of lore attached to these characters. How well do these cards tap into that overall flavor?
Card games have a limit on what you can actually do. How well do these cards push the known mechanics of the game in a fun and original way? Do they also add entirely new mechanics to the game and change it in some ways?
In how many different ways can you utilize this champion with success? They don’t have to be the most dominant force in the meta in multiple decks, but they will get bonus points in my evaluation if they have found success in more than just one straightforward deck.
One more important note before we dive into this list. I am basing my analysis on the initial release of each champion – the state in which they have originally appeared. If the Champion or cards around it were nerfed/changed in future patches, it will not affect my evaluation. With that said, let’s dive in!
Jayce is one of the newer Champions to make my list. In LoL, Jayce is known for his ability to switch between close combat and ranged attacks. This is implemented perfectly in LoR by allowing you to choose Challenger or Quick Attack when you play him.
As Arcane further explains, Jayce is all about the advancement of technology, famous for his discovery of Hextech. This is implemented through the synergy he has with spells in LoR. This synergy allows him to call back to Lux and her package of cards, which has been in the game since the beginning.
Expanding that mechanic was great for deckbuilding, but his versatility doesn’t stop there. Jayce synergizes with spells from any region, allowing him to be built in various decks and have limitless potential going forward as more cards are released.
Sometimes it is the Champion’s kit from LoL that drives the design, but other times it is the flavor that fully takes the lead. The latter was the case for Lissandra.
She truly becomes “The Ice Witch” here as she has some solid AoE damage, and the ability to summon these mindless and massive Frostguard Thralls to do her bidding. Lissandra took the concept of landmarks to a whole new level.
On top of that, she has a bonus win condition of being able to destroy the opponent’s deck with
She might not be the most versatile champion in the game, but the way she pushed new mechanics and came jam-packed with flavor lands her a spot on my list.
The release of Akshan was a historic moment for the game – this was the first time a character was released across multiple Riot properties simultaneously.
This puts my criteria of Flavor and League Kit Translation in a weird place. Since this character was so new to both LoL and LoR, it was impossible for the designers to rely on the long history of the character. That being said, they still did a great job still nailing down this charismatic rogue and bringing a lot of flavor out of him.
The mechanics of a new mini-quest within each game of progressing his landmarks in order to level him and get the most value were something very new to the game. Each game with Akshan feels different as you have to push for leveling at different times, and once you do get your rewards from your landmarks, you have a lot of flexible options to choose from.
Akshan’s versatility also shines through in deckbuilding, as he has seen numerous pairings take him to great success.
It is pretty hard to design a character for a game that can canonically create or destroy stars with the flick of a finger. Aurelion Sol is another Champion like Lissandra that makes this list not because of the translation of his League kit, but because of all of the flavor of his lore and the package that he brings to the game.
Aurelion Sol launched with Targon and brought along with him the new mechanic of Invoke – which many LoR players came to either love or hate very quickly. Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on, you can’t deny that the mechanic changed the game forever.
On top of that, this was the first and still the only Champion to cost 10 mana, making him the biggest bomb there is. On his release, he was a menace in the meta and still finds use to this day. This list simply would not be complete if it did not include The Star Forger.
Not many Champions in this game can boast that they have an entire region of Runeterra under their command, but Swain in fact can.
Swain came along with the Rising Tides expansion back in the spring of 2020, and brought with him a really impressive playstyle. Both Ravenous Flock and Death’s Hand established themselves as all-time solid damage spells, and upon leveling up, Swain reaches his maximum threat level – just like when he uses his ultimate in LoL.
Immediately upon release, Swain became extremely versatile. He offers some insane game-closing ability, an easy level-up condition, and can be used defensively as well. He is truly the full package.
He might not be the most flashy on the list as far as new mechanics, but his ability to Stun backline units at various speeds offered a new and unique twist to previous play patterns. There have been many metas dominated by the Noxian Grand General.
Continuing with our Noxus theme, we reach Draven. In LoL, the key to playing this aggressive ADC is being able to utilize your Spinning Axes to their best potential. If you are no good at catching them, you are missing a key part of his kit.
The same goes for LoR. At the heart of this Champion design is the Spinning Axe. This Burst-speed card has been the center of Discard synergies – Draven makes them work so well because his Axes can act as both enablers and fodder.
Draven has been in the game a long time, but his identity has been consistent throughout the entire lifespan of LoR. His versatility truly is remarkable. Whether it was a pure aggro deck like Draven Jinx, a value deck like Draven Ezreal, or literally dozens of other archetypes along the way that make use of Discard, Draven was there.
Azir enters LoR as the Emperor of an entire Shurima region. He brings along with him an insane amount of flavor, but beyond that, his LoL kit is also translated very well to LoR.
Azir is the centerpiece to the Mono Shurima archetype. The Buried Sun Disc is translated directly from Azir’s passive in LoL, and his level 2 has the ability to boost all of your allies when they are summoned, something a good leader would do.
In order to efficiently use Azir you must master the command of the Sand Soldiers. This is the key design element in LoR as well, as the Sand Soldiers are his main tool to push damage through and also help himself level up.
Azir, along with the other Ascended Champions, was the first Champion to have three forms. Beyond that, Azir himself offers the insane new mechanic of literally replacing your deck with his own unique Emperor’s Deck. This remains as one of the coolest things that can happen in LoR.
Finally, Azir has seen a decent amount of versatile use. Of course, I have to mention his dominance with Irelia and the Blade Dance mechanic, but also he has seen play in various other aggressive decks and Mono Shurima decks as well.
Elise’s transition from LoL to LoR is done beautifully from both a kit translation standpoint as well as a flavor standpoint.
In LoL, The Spider Queen utilizes her abilities to make a bunch of pet Spiders to help her in combat. She does just the same in LoR as well. She truly is the center-piece to any Spider-based strategy!
Her level-up also functions perfectly in LoR, since she literally transforms from her human form into her spider form just like in LoL.
Elise has been in the game since the very beginning. She is the original swarm Champion and has led some aggro deck consistently in every single season of LoR. Beyond that, she has great flexibility as an early efficient 2-drop which has been since in various control decks as well.
There is truly an argument for Elise to take the number 1 spot on this list, as she checks all of my criteria very well.
Aphelios is one of the most complex Champions in League of Legends, so bringing him into LoR was quite a challenge.
At the core of his design is his ability to switch between 5 different Moon Weapons, each of them being perfect for any given situation. The Phase mechanic is a great way to put that into a card game. This offers a very unique playstyle where you have to be thinking multiple turns ahead and planning out which turns you want which weapons.
The presence of his sister Alune can be felt as she offers new weapons to Aphelios. Beyond that, The Veiled Temple landmark and followers were introduced alongside Aphelios that represent his weapons and his playstyles. This added so much to the lore to the character overall and helped flesh out his unique personality.
Aphelios was also at the heart of the first Champion Expansion to ever drop in LoR. The impact he would end up having was far beyond what we’ve expected, as he soon started to dominate the meta. To this day, Twisted Fate Aphelios remains one of the most powerful decks LoR has ever seen.
His flexibility in deck-building was great, but his versatility on the battlefield was even better. Yes, since then he has seen some significant nerfs, but judging upon the initial release, Aphelios’s design was magical.
Coming in at the top spot as the best-designed Champion in Legends of Runeterra is none other than the Card Master himself, Twisted Fate.
This Champion from League of Legends, whose entire character is built on card-slinging and thinking ahead of the game, just had to be designed well for Riot’s very own strategy card game – otherwise, we would have a problem. Luckily, they did not drop the ball on it, not in the slightest.
Twisted Fate’s signature ability in LoL allows him to switch between three different ‘cards’ – Red, Blue, and Gold – all of which modify his next basic attack in a unique way. Red Card allows you to do AoE damage, Blue Card allows you to gain mana, and Gold Card allows you to stun targets. This was perfectly translated into LoR and offers you a crazy amount of flexibility whenever you play Twisted Fate.
Beyond just that ability, he also synergizes with card-drawing effects from any region. Once leveled, he becomes a back-field arsenal and usually gets to fire off all three of his Cards every turn that he is alive.
His release marked the first time a new Champion came into LoR with this level of flexibility, and his meta dominance showed that. In time, Twisted Fate popped up in numerous strong decks throughout multiple seasons. It felt like every single season for months on end a Twisted Fate deck of some kind would be at the top of the meta and seen everywhere.
His love for cards shines through as you get to draw and play more and more cards with Twisted Fate. And at the end of the day, that’s what card games are all about.
I hope you enjoyed this opinion piece of mine. It was really difficult to pick a Top 10 and then actually order them in addition to that. I made so many changes as I went, moving Champions up and down.
There were also so many honorable mentions and Champions that I wanted to make the list but had to narrow down; including Karma, Lee Sin, Nautilus, and many more. I’d say it’s not the worst problem to have when there are just so many amazingly designed Champions in your favorite game.
So keep the conversation going! Who did I miss? Who did I overvalue? What is your favorite design in LoR?
Thanks for reading 😀