League of Their Own is a series focusing on analyzing character kit designs for the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre and what makes them great.
On a mechanical level, there is plenty of sophisticated design to appreciate and respect. For me, there is more to the genre than just picking characters with different stats and abilities. Basically, I like playing a well-made character in more ways than one. I enjoy a nuanced skill kit and a fleshed-out concept.
So to kick off this series, I’ll begin with my favorite champion in League of Legends (LoL): Fiora, the Grand Duelist. As the Grand Duelist title implies, she focuses on dueling and excels at fighting one-on-one battles. Properly played, she is one of the strongest champions in the entire game.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at her skill kit. See why this French fencer cuts through the competition.
Passive: Duelist’s Dance
Fiora challenges nearby enemy Champions to dodge her. She calls out a direction from which she will try to strike. If she can complete her own challenge, she receives a small bonus and calls out a new direction.
A minigame in itself, Duelist’s Dance is the bread and butter for Fiora’s gameplay. This passive gives you a literal target to aim for when fighting your opponent(s). From a design standpoint, Duelist’s Dance incentivizes alertness on the player’s part to be aware of where the Vitals are showing. Conversely, opponents can protect their Vitals to make it harder for Fiora to strike them.
A deceptively simple move, but a crucial one nonetheless. This ability gives you maneuverability around the battlefield. It has a dual function for offense and defense.
Fiora parries all incoming damage and disables for a short time, then stabs in a direction. This stab slows the first enemy champion hit, or stuns them if Fiora blocked an immobilizing effect this ability.
Without a doubt, this is the best defensive skill in the game. Timed correctly, you can pull off crazy plays with a good Riposte.
Fiora has increased attack speed for the next two attacks. The first attack slows the target, and the second attack will critically strike.
A straightforward but efficient skill, Bladework lets Fiora get in quick hits for a slowing attack followed by a damaging critical strike.
Fiora reveals all four Vitals on an enemy champion and gains movement speed while near them. If Fiora hits all 4 Vitals or if the target dies after she has hit at least one, Fiora and her allies in the area are healed over the next few seconds.
Any enemy targeted with this ability is marked for death. Grand Challenge sets up the Grand Duelist’s greatest plays with style. The healing area is also a nice touch whenever it occurs.
Fiora’s main gameplay revolves around striking Vital points exposed by your opponent. How you reach those weak spots to attack them is the minigame within itself. At times, you have to get creative by being cunning. Within this skill kit, Fiora has options for both offense and defense, but you still need to know your matchups. Any smart opponent can make it difficult for Fiora. For example, they can play cautious around her and protect their weak spots.
But what do I like most about this champion? Well, she takes “skill.” Although, I realize this expression can be overly subjective. The difference between a novice Fiora and a competent one is night and day.
How so? Well, you must know when to engage and combo your abilities correctly. Also, there must be understanding about trading damage intelligently and when to stop fighting. In fact, a talented Fiora may make it look easy, but there are lots of subtle gameplay elements to consider.
Some aspects include positioning, managing cooldowns, timing your moves perfectly and so forth. Any LoL player lacking these mechanics would struggle to maximize her potential. In other words, she requires that much extra effort and knowledge to utilize fully.
Ultimately, Riot Games succeeded in designing a concept that embodies the duelist fantasy. Outplaying my opponents feels satisfying. Taking down tough opponents is rewarding. She is my favorite champion because of how awesome her gameplay style and character is to me.
I am going to end this with a montage of excellent players in action.
All League of Legends content belongs to Riot Games. Source for the ability videos.
Also published on Medium.