A pro-tip I heard straight from a Rioter: it’s pronounced “ill-OW-ee.”
Not to be outdone by all the other exciting video game (and, specifically, MOBA-themed) content coming out these days, Riot just started to roll out its announcement for its next playable champion in its hit multiplayer game League of Legends. Her name is “Illaoi, the Kraken Priestess,” and she automatically spawns tentacles on nearby walls. She was actually introduced stealthily by Riot last week when the company published part three of its text story “Shadow and Fortune,” an ongoing lore event that previously killed off the pirate champion Gangplank (albeit temporarily). And speaking of lore, one fun fact about Gangplank and Illaoi: they used to be an item! A ~~romantic~~ item.
The regional League of Legends sites have been acting funny since the champion reveal started to go live, but I was able to snag some gameplay footage from the League of Legends Latinoamérica Facebook page. It shows her summoning spectral spirit tentacles to attack her enemies in a number of painful-looking ways, and even yanking an enemy champion’s soul out of their body to keep pounding it in the spirit realm:
(Side-note: do you think having your soul beaten to a pulp by a League of Legends champion counts as a “moment of clarity?”)
UPDATE: Riot’s websites have finally stabilized and I was able to get my hands on more Illaoi info.
Her passive, “prophet of an elder god,” periodically summons a single tentacle on a nearby wall:
“Tentacles interact with Illaoi’s abilities and last until killed or left dormant a full minute,” Riot said in its champion reveal.
Her Q is called “tentacle smash.” It summons a tentacle that proceeds to smash enemies:
It has a passive and active ability:
Passive: Tentacles that hit enemy champions heal Illaoi for a small portion of her missing health.
Active: Illaoi summons a tentacle that slams down in a target direction, damaging all enemies struck.
Her W, “Harsh Lesson,” is the sort of move that’s clearly meant to pair with other parts of Illaoi’s moveset. When triggered, it makes her charge at an enemy target, and also causes any nearby spirit tentacles to attack the same target:
In Illaoi’s case, the ability her W is meant to pair with is her ultimate—the super-powerful move every League champion has and can cast by pressing “R.” Her ult, “Leap of Faith,” is a ground-pound that damages nearby enemies and summons tentacles behind them:
Riot’s champion reveal notes that Leap of Faith drastically reduces the cooldown on Harsh lesson, meaning that the ult grants her a valuable time window to keep punishing her opponents—likely along with her allies during team fights.
Illaoi’s E ability sounds like the most interesting piece of her kit—at least on paper. It allows her to tear out an enemy’s spirit, and then punish them in one of several ways. From the champion reveal (emphasis added):
Illaoi casts a spell that sends tendrils out in a target direction. If the tendrils connect with an enemy champion, they grasp the champion’s spirit and tear it back to Illaoi. When spirits are attacked by the Kraken Priestess or her allies, it transmits a portion of its suffering to their now spiritless champion. If Illaoi and her allies are able to destroy the spirit, or if the spiritless champion flees too far from their spirit, they suffer a heavy slow as they become a vessel, and start spawning tentacles around them that attack both their host and their allies. Test of Spirit allows tentacles to occasionally swing at spirits and vessels, dealing physical damage to all enemies hit.
I’m honestly surprised that this isn’t her ult move:
Riot’s champion reveal describes Illaoi as “a beast around stationary objectives” who’s meant to lead the charge up at the very front of her team, both when going to get team objectives and in team fights:
Once teams start gathering to contest neutral objectives, Illaoi takes up her rightful place at the forefront of her team’s formation. She’s a beast around stationary objectives, particularly when she has enough lead time to set up her tentacles. They don’t just offer her team extra damage in taking down dragon, but also add disruption should the enemy team move in to stake their claim. And while Illaoi will generally prefer to steal the spirits of squishy targets, landing Test of Spirit on a frontline enemy still offers Illaoi and her team options. The spirit will be tankier (its health and resistances reflect those of her target), but by focusing it down, Illaoi’s allies will force their enemies to make a tough choice: contest the objective and fight through the ever growing tentacled gauntlet, or give up the objective entirely.
Illaoi is a beast around stationary objectives, particularly when she has enough lead time to set up her tentacles.
As teams fully group, Illaoi works best securing her team’s frontline and waiting for the perfect Test of Spirit cast. Once she’s landed the ability and her team’s destroyed the captured spirit, Illaoi’s all set to force her way through to the enemy backline. Though she doesn’t have a particularly reliable way of getting to the backline, she can still use Harsh Lesson to charge her way in. And once she’s there, just like any other juggernaut, she’s an absolute nightmare to deal with, with Tentacle Smash and Harsh Lesson offering Illaoi the means to lay the slap down on multiple enemies. Most importantly, her presence in the heart of the enemy team will often force them to spread and scatter in fear of the Kraken Priestess’ monumental ultimate. While Leap of Faith is theoretically only as powerful as the number of enemies Illaoi lands it on, the ability itself has a huge psychological impact on the enemy team. Either they split up as Illaoi calls on her god, or they risk fighting under a cluster of enraged tentacles. Neither ends well for Illaoi’s enemies.
As always, we’ll have to see what players end up making of her once she goes live in League.
One final note about Illaoi: she’s an extremely buff and stout female champion. There aren’t many women in League’s cast who deviate from the inhuman hourglass figure paired with absolutely gigantic boobs, so it’s nice to see that Riot is continuing its modern champion design trend of diversifying this aspect of the game.