The League of Legends Worlds collaboration with Lil Nas X breathed new life into the MOBA esports ecosystem, but Riot downplayed K’Sante to appeal to the mainstream.
League of Legends Worlds 2022 was a victory for Riot Games. The opening ceremony of the finals drew more than 5.15 million viewers, making the 2022 iteration of the MOBA’s premier esports tournament the most-watched to date.
Thanks to the performances of Lil Nas X and Jackson Wang, this year’s Worlds collaboration was truly outstanding, and as a result, it is a shame that the new champion K’Sante was sidelined.
Najma’s Pride is not just a champion but a virtual cultural icon. Queer, black, and proud, he represents many sectors of society that are often neglected by the gaming industry. His visibility means a lot to queer people like me, which is why I am disappointed in his in-game performance.
I am not a top laner, but my wonderful partner is. Watching his Prestige Empyrean K’Sante slip through the wall and get killed while the champions continued to struggle prompted him to return to the other main.
With Lil Nas X in the main, K’Sante seems to have been put on the back burner, which makes me worry about the future of League of Legends.
Slipping into the Mainstream
esports has become one of the biggest industries in the world. With billionaires like David Beckham and Snoop Dogg entering this wonderful digital world, esports has garnered a great deal of attention, especially LoL esports.
LoL has become an esports giant thanks to Riot’s perfect integration of mainstream media; with K/DA jumping on the K-Pop bandwagon, Imagine Dragons writing songs for Worlds, and of course, Arcane, Riot has transformed League of Legends into a multi-faceted. It’s all because Riot has transformed League of Legends into a brand.
Global Public Relations Hanna Woo recently said the collaboration with Lil Nas is a “three-pronged” partnership that includes songs, skins, and ceremonies.” We hope that players understand how we have folded Lil Nas X into our ecosystem, our product, and the way we do things for our players, and overall, that is something they are excited about.”
A recent complaint filed against the company by composer Simon Rosenfeld, who allegedly wrote the music for Worlds, also claims that his tracks were brushed aside so that Riot could “attract a more mainstream audience” (although Riot does not work with Rosenfeld (although Riot claims that he did not work with Mr. Rosenfeld).
League of Legends Worlds collab
Of course, I am no fool. Growing the brand and making money is everyone’s top priority right now, especially after COVID, and I look forward to seeing how much the League’s reach will expand. Still, my concern is that Riot is sacrificing MOBAs themselves in order to appeal to a broader audience. I have long felt this to be the case. I have felt this for some time, and K’Sante has really made me think about it.
First, about Prestige Skin. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It was the embodiment of black elegance and just what I needed. However, I am not good with grin so my partner got it instead. But the VFX was lousy.
Not only did the starwalkin not play out (a huge fail for me personally, probably due to copyright concerns), but there was nothing special about it. That butterfly in the sky is really uncharacteristic, everything feels a bit clunky and half-baked, and for a skin that Riot hyped so much, it feels like a letdown and an afterthought to me.
Released at the same time, Empyrean Pyke is a 1920RP skin that changes maps as Pyke’s ultimate evolution takes place. This is groundbreaking (literally). The League has never seen anything like this before, so why on earth would such an effect not be reserved for the biggest skin of the year?
I bought Empyrean Pyke and did not grind for Prestige Empyrean K’Sante, but honestly, I think I got the better end of that deal. Especially after seeing my partner play with it.
The Lil Nas X Plot
My second complaint is that the skins and the champion themselves are buggies. His wall phase ability is cool, but I have seen him glitch, get stuck, and one-shot instantly (all over a very, very angry partner’s plaintive screams).
Standing next to him, slowing down the ping in my case. In addition, with some counters and an underpowered kit, he is not a very active partner.
K’Sante may be the pride of Nazumah, but like Bel’Veth, he has fallen into the void. With a win rate of less than 50% at high levels and no buffs to be found in the patch notes for League of Legends preseason 2023, this champion just feels like second in the Lil Nas X plot.
As a queer who was very, very excited to see him in action, K’Sante has been one of the League’s biggest disappointments so far. Of course, with a few patches, he will rise through the ranks again, but right now, he is playing second fiddle to Star Walkin”s upbeat, mass-market sound.