The Lore Inside the Cards: New Legends of Runeterra Champions Vi and Lee Sin

Riot has finally revealed the last two new champions for the 6 original regions, Vi and Lee Sin. Both are masters of melee combat but couldn’t be more different when it comes to their personality and fighting styles. One is brash and reckless, knocking criminals out with her fists, while the other is calm and disciplined, sending his foes flying through well placed kicks. So let’s enter the world of ancient ionian martial arts and the crime fighters of Piltover.

At first sight the warden Vi may seem like another champion from Piltover, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Her roots actually lie in the pollution riddled undercity of Zaun, the dark sister city of Piltover, where caustic chemicals flow like blood through your arteries and illuminates the darkness with its green glow. A depressive mirror image of the pristine Piltover, with its utopic steampunk design. There Vi earned her quick temper, learned how to fight and found her weapon of choice, the giant mechanical mining fists. Intended for pulverizing stones, now they pulverize criminals.

THE ORIGINS OF VI, THE PILTOVER ENFORCER

Vi know nothing of where she came from or who even her parents are, her amnesia robbed her of these memories. However she is glad she doesn’t, gives you less reasons to be sad about your lost childhood. The only thing she remembers is the orphanage she grew up in, where she was brought after a mad sump-scrapper found Vi in the ruins of a chem-lab. Even back then she already had her distinct neon-pink hair and quickly learned how to survive in Zaun, mostly by stealing and hustling her fellow zaunites. Her only friends were the other members of the sump-snipe gangs, with whom she teamed up for small-time crimes.

Zaun, the gloomy city below Piltover hides many secrets in its depths

Eventually, Vi became strong and brazen enough to start her own gang. She was never afraid of letting her fists speak for herself, her favourite way of solving conflicts. A barkeeper became Vi’s mentor and teached how to focus all that rage into something useful, to make her a even better fighter. Through this training she gained a reputation among the zaunite gangs. However, being a good fighter and snatching purses just wouldn’t cut it. Vi wanted more and the miners who frequented the bar of her mentor tipped her of to something truly valuable. By listening to the chatter of the miners Vi learned about where and when the Chem-baron owner of the mine made his large payments, how it was transported and stored. Vi planned a heist that would catapult her from being just another zaunite urchin to a big player among the gangs.

A young Vi, carving her own path in the deepest level of Zaun

She had her gang for support but the heist was too big for them to pull of alone, so they brought in the Factorywood Fiends gang, something she only did very reluctantly. Sadly she was right to not trust them. They pulled of the heist successfully but the gang leader of the Factorywood Fiend proved to be reckless and violent, using a pair of heavy hextech-fists used for mining, to kill the owner of the mines and trapping a lot of workers in the tunnels. Vi may also have a aggressive demeanor but she just couldn’t leave all these innocent workers to a certain death. She put on the giant fists herself and used them to punch a path for the miners to escape through. She rescued them but still found a use for her now severely more powerful fists and their stone-crunching properties. Vi paid the Factorywood Fiends a nice little visit with her enhanced fists and gave them the walloping of the century.

What happened next is a mystery too many. She disappeared from Zaun and was presumed dead, but not for long. She reappeared in Piltover, at the side of the sheriff and LoL champion Caitlyn. Vi was hired as new warden, the enforcers of Piltover’s law, to combat the chaotic crime spree of the slightly unhinged Jinx. They seem to have a personal connection, both being from Zaun, having weird hair colors and being former members of the sump-snipe gangs. Jinx also has a unexplained obsession with Vi, constantly leaving graffiti behind at the scenes of her crimes which taunt Vi. It’s possible they both grew up in the same orphanage, but Vi’s amnesia prevents her from remembering that part of her life. For now, their rivalry continues and it is left to be seen if Vi’s superpowered fists will eventually reach Jinx’s manic face.

THE LORE INSIDE THE CARDS, VI

Vi loves to smash stuff to tiny pieces with her augmented fists, as can be seen in her card art and the way she works in League of Legends. In Legends of Runeterra she may start out with a measly 2 attack power, but everytime you play a card her massive hulk fists power up a bit more, until Vi eventually strikes a enemy while having 10 or more power. Then she will level up and your enemy will be sent flying into Runeterra’s stratosphere as Vi strikes him with her new 10 base power plus any buffs she gained before she leveled up.

With Vi also comes a new organization, the wardens of Piltover. These law enforcers are headed by a classical champion from League of Legends, the sniper Caitlyn. Vi has a certain zaunite charm which she expresses through reckless abandonment of police procedure and causing collateral damage to her surrounding by embedding criminals into the walls behind them with her fists. Nonetheless she is considered a important asset, especially when it comes to putting a end to the crime spree of the fellow zaunite Jinx.

With the introduction of Vi it’s also possible that Riot will expand on a aspect of the Piltover and Zaun region, which is the complete opposite of a police force, the gangs of Zaun. So far there are only very few followers who belong to this group, two cards for the chempunk gang and one for the Boomcrew and Sump gangs each. Considering Vi’s background as a member of the zaunite gangs and the general theme of crime fighting of the new PnZ cards revealed so far, it would only make sense if they introduce more gang members from Zaun. Even the Factorywood Fiends, whom Vi punched to pieces for their amoral behavior, might make a appearance.

Vi’s awesome theme song

While Vi uses her fists in hand to hand combat, Lee Sin prefers a more sophisticated style and roundhouse kicks his opponents instead. Despite his blindness, Lee Sin is one of the strongest warrior monks of Ionia. In combat he doesn’t just use his physical skills to best his enemies, he can also channel the dragon spirit through his body to make his kicks unstoppable. Even so he is incredibly strong and can call upon the power of the spirit realm, Lee Sin has a rather calm and meditative demeanor, as discipline is just as important for controlling the dragon as are strong muscles.

THE ORIGINS OF LEE SIN, THE BLIND MONK

Lee Sin was still very young when he realized that he was meant for greatness. One day he went to the Shojin monastery, claiming that the dragon spirit had chosen him to wield its power. This was a preposterous and arrogant claim but the monks could sense a bit of the dragons power within the young Lee Sin and decided that taking him in would at least prevent him from harming his fellow ionians. The hidden power within Lee Sin had grown to his head however and made him prideful. 

He wasn’t satisfied with scrubbing the monasteries floor anymore and wanted to learn how to use the dragon spirit, so he could become the great warrior he believed he was meant to be. If the masters wouldn’t teach him, he would acquire those skills himself. He sneaked into the archives and read ancient texts about how to channel the spirit realm in order to increase the prowess of your body, a technique that would also allow Lee Sin to tap into the dragon’s power. Lee Sin was eager to demonstrate his new skills in front of the masters. He channeled the dragon spirit into a kick, mightier than anything his elders had seen before, but was far from being able to control this massive power surge. His instructor was hit with the full force of his kick and was paralyzed for life as a consequence. Lee Sin realized the error of his ways, leaving the monastery with shame in his heart after the monks banished him for life.

Who needs eyesight or weapons, if your kicks carry the power of a dragon’s fury

In order to attain atonement for his reckless arrogance he wandered the many roads of Runeterra, trying to learn to control the ferocious dragon spirit. When his path lead Lee Sin into Freljord, he met a wild man with similar powers to him. This was Udyr, a spirit walker who could call upon the spirits of great beasts to help him in battle. Both men seeked to understand the nature of their spiritual powers and how to control it, so they banded together in order to attain enlightenment. Lee Sin wanted to return home and invited Udyr to go with him too Ionia. On the way they learned that Ionia had become the target of a mad emperor. Noxian soldiers were swarming his home, claiming it for the glory of the empire and allegedly seeking life-extending magical artefacts, this was the first invasion of Ionia. Lee Sin and Udyr decided to delay their spiritual journey in order to defend Ionia and restore the upset balance.

Once they arrived Lee Sin found that monks from all over the continent had holed up in the holy monastery of Hirana, defending it from the noxian onslaught. A vast library of Ionia’s ancient knowledge and artifacts was under threat. Lee Sin and Udyr had to help defend it, even if the other monks still resent Lee Sin for his past crimes. They leaped into action but found themself overwhelmed by the foreign invaders. Monk after monk fell to noxian steel and Lee Sin realized there was only one way to save the monastery and the monks, he needed the aid of the dragon spirit. Lee Sin didn’t let the guilt weigh him down and with great effort, he channeled the dragon’s rage through his body while enduring great pain. Then he unleashed his kicks on the noxians, with the might of a wrathful dragon behind them. Lee Sin sent the invaders flying, almost effortlessly breaking through their armor and bones. Soon, there were no attackers left anymore and the monastery was saved.

The Hirana monastery

Still, Lee Sin couldn’t stand being in the presence of the monks he had let down long ago. He left the monastery, crippled, with his body marked by the uncontrollable flames of the dragon spirit. His rampage left the monastery in ruins and his eyesight was forever lost. Lee Sin interpreted this as a sign that he would never be able to contain the dangerous power of the dragon spirit and was ready to give up. He didn’t get far however, as the surviving monks stopped him before he could leave the monastery. They hadn’t forgiven him entirely but offered him a way to reach atonement. Through his actions, Lee Sin had proven to them that he has reached a state of mind where he could control the destructive dragon spirit a tiny bit. By staying on the path of humbleness, he could maybe someday calm the dragon spirit, so they offered him to stay and help rebuild the monastery. Lee Sin gladly accepted and continued his training to master the dragon spirit, so he could use it to protect his homeland. Udyr meanwhile parted ways with Lee Sin and left Ionia, so he could fulfill his own destiny.

Udyr and his fellow spirit walkers, will they eventually get their time to shine in LoR?

THE LORE INSIDE THE CARDS, LEE SIN

Lee Sin and his fellow warrior monks enter the fray with abilities, that focus on playing multiple cheap spells in a row. Cards like Sonic Wave and Retreat will spawn a additional fleeting spell in your hand, making it easy to trigger Lee Sins ability, where he gains challenger for the first spell you play in a round and tough when you play a second one. After playing 7 spells in total, Lee Sin will unleash the dragon spirit and strike any units he challenges and the enemies Nexus before combat is even resolved. Lee Sin gaining keywords with every spell you play and the spells spawning different fleeting spells, is a very elegant translation of his playstyle in League of Legends. There, whenever you use one of his abilities, you have a small window of time where you can trigger a special follow up ability. The way leveled up Lee Sin works also mirrors his ultimate in League of Legends somewhat, where he roundhouse kicks opponents into walls.

Through the card art of his followers we can clearly see where Lee Sin’s path ended up leading him after the first invasion of Ionia. He has collected a number of apprentices around him, called Scales Of The Dragon, Tail Of The Dragon and Claws Of The Dragon. It stands to reason that just like him, they have the power to call upon the dragon spirit, which can be best seen in the card art of Scales Of The Dragon. Through the introduction of Lee Sin and his followers we can also expect a influx of warrior monks, who’s gameplay mechanics revolve around comboing cheap spells and their follow up token spells.

One of Lee Sin’s apprentices, invoking the dragon spirit

His backstory also features the appearance of a Freljord champion, who isn’t yet present in LoR. Lee Sin’s former companion, Udyr. This champion is a spirit walker, which means he can invoke the spirits of wild beasts just like how Lee Sin invokes the dragon spirit. Udyr is also deeply connected to Sejuani in his lore, the upcoming new champion card for Freljord. He is Sejuani’s real father and Udyr joined her tribe, the Winter’s Claw, after parting ways with Lee Sin. In Sejuani’s reveal we also saw a token follower, who is a spirit walker transforming into a beast. The spirit world and the people who can sense it are a important aspect of the world of Runeterra, so with the introduction of new cards for Freljord and Ionia Riot may expand upon this concept. We could even get the denizens of the spirit world themselves and not just those who can commune with them as cards.

This concludes the lore of all the new champions for the 6 beta regions. Follow our Twitter so you won’t miss the next article, when we tackle the champions of the new Bilgewater region.

cellstealer

Cellstealer’s love for card games started at the school yard, where he used to trade away his valuable Yu-Gi-Oh cards for the ones that ‘looked cool’. Since then he’s played various online CCG's until he decided to stick with Legends of Runeterra. Occasionally he spares opponents from another beating in LoR and channels energy into other productive endeavours such as art, film-making, or playing video games.