K’Sante’s ultimate was inspired by Rock Lee from Naruto, Riot Games reveals

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Oct 21

Riot Games has released a new “Champions Insights” to share the development story behind League of Legends’ new tank top lane champion, K’Sante.

In addition to a Riot collaboration with Lil Nas X to hype up his release, the new champion is also making waves as Runeterra’s first openly gay black champion. None of the game’s champions have been revealed to be explicitly LGBTQ during their debut previously.

Riot Games lead designer Daniel “Riot Maxw3ll” Emmons and game designer Buike “AzuBK” Ndefo-Dahl share details about how they see K’Sante fitting into the League of Legends roster in the top lane, how Naruto inspired them when designing his ultimate, and how his design was integrated into Runeterra lore.

The very first thing that the Riot Games game developers established was that the new top lane champion had to be a high skill cap tank, one who could hold their own against duelists on the “island” and one who had a higher chance of winning the 1v1, especially under tower.

From there, they designed a typical tank kit: shielding, dashing to allies, and crowd control that builds and scales off defensive stats.

The most surprising part of his kit for League of Legends players would be his ultimate, All Out. When used, he shatters his unique ntofos weapon and knocks back enemies over a wall, briefly stunning them.

His offensive stats go up while his defensive stats decrease during its duration, which gives him a fighting chance against damage dealers, something that no other tank currently possesses.

“When designing K’Sante’s ultimate I kept thinking of that moment in Naruto where Rock Lee drops his leg weights and everyone goes, ‘Wait he can do that?’ And when I handed over K’Sante’s design, that’s how I explained his ultimate,” AzuBK laughed.

“The idea was that he’d be in the front of a team fight, use all of his abilities to protect his carries and set up his team, and then once everything was on cooldown he’d go, ‘Welp, got nothing left. Time to frag,'” he added.

Rock Lee is a side character in Naruto, but he had one of the most iconic, memorable scenes in the original anime. During the Chuunin exam arc, he was up against Gaara, both of whom were trying to improve their ninja ranking. Lee was seen as a late bloomer, one who couldn’t use any ninjutsu skills, relying solely on melee martial arts moves.

After struggling against his opponent, he pulled up his orange legwarmers in the middle of battle — only to reveal that all this time, he’d actually been fighting with training weights. Extremely heavy ones. Once they were taken off, everything about his fighting improved, similar to how K’Sante breaks his heavy ntofos weapon and goes all out on his opponents during his ultimate.

Knowing that the champion design was going to be centered around defense with a sudden offensive spike, the designers then asked themselves how to craft his lore to explain how he learned to fight this way, and why.

The most interesting part about Nazumah, a city oasis in the desert where K’Sante hails from, is that the monsters competing with its people for limited resources are actually the result of Xerath’s failed Ascension ritual done on monsters, wrote senior narrative writer Michael “SkiptoMyLuo” Luo.

As a result, the people who slay these monsters can “take the essence or characteristics of the monsters they slay and imbue their weapons, clothing, and general goods with it,” SkiptoMyLuo explained.

K’Sante’s weapon, in particular, comes from the hide of a cobra-lion. We got a look at it in his gameplay trailer, and it possesses reptilian characteristics, that is, regenerative properties. This explains why he’s able to break his own weapon during his ultimate, All Out, and get it back again.

That’s about as magical as K’Sante gets. He’s fully human, the game developers emphasize, a man who spent his whole life as a monster hunter, and is therefore celebrated in his city for being a hero. Riot even went all out to say that he is “the embodiment of human perfection.”

After all, he’s the first male champion in ages who actually knows how to wear a shirt.

Read the full Champions Insights here.

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