8th February, 2018
League of Legends has been around for nearly 10 years and in that time we’ve seen plenty of major changes including new and exciting champions. With a long champion development cycle it’s only inevitable that some champions never made it through the whole process and ended up being scrapped. Known as League of Legends cancelled champions, these champions unfortunatley never made it to see the rift.
There are various reasons why champions are scrapped. Sometimes the theme of the champion doesn't match the game and sometimes there are numerous copyright issues stopping Riot from progressing. Although many of these champions were never made, a large number of them served as inspiration for champions that are in the game today.
Whatever the reason for cancelling them these champions are locked away in Riots vaults never to face battle on summoner’s rift.
Here are some of the most famous cancelled champions in League of Legends that never made it past the development phase.
For years if you mentioned the word “Dragon” in League of Legends players would assume you were talking about the Cloud Drake. But in 2013 the word Dragon was on everyone's tongue for a different reason.
In 2013 rumour spread that Riot was planning to release a dragon champion, the first of its kind in the game. There was much speculation on the name and abilities of the champion until Riot finally announced the champion “Ao Shin” was in development on their website.
Riot released some background and lore information on the new champion to give players a bit of context. The release went on to say “Ao is the family name of the mythological dragon kings, who rule water and weather. This tells us right away that this is a powerful being. Shin can mean many things, one of which is prosperity. It also means a rising storm.”
The theme for the new Ao Shin was that of water and weather, like a storm dragon. Fans were super excited when they heard the news and couldn’t wait to play him in game. As the years went on fans became increasingly frustrated due to various delays and problems with the champion.
Eventually, after nearly 3 years in development, Ao Shin was axed and never got to see summoner's rift. But in his place, a new dragon champion named Aurelion Sol became his successor. Based on a space theme Sol shared the same dragon concept but had a new theme that Riot thought fit well with the game.
Aurelion Sol was eventually released in early 2016 and has been firing new-born stars all over summoner's rift ever since. Ao Shin may have been cancelled but at least players got the dragon champion they have always wanted.
Back in 2015 CeeCee was showcased at the PAX East event as a current champion in development. Former concept artist Michael “IronStylus” Maurino the lead developer of popular champions such as Leona drew the concept art and fans were super excited.
CeeCee was originally planned to be released as a support champion during her initial development phase. Her first concept design showed a large mechanical workbench that could transform and changed depending on her needs.
The mechanical workbench could be transformed into a giant shield that was perfect for soaking up damage from ADCs and protecting teammates. Riot wanted to make a unique champion that gave players different ways to interact with their ADCs instead of just providing buffs and heals.
For CeeCee the main concept Riot wanted to explore was the shield concept and how it could be used to protect other teammates. Instead of just making a watered down version of the shield Riot decided to make a whole champion dedicated to just the shield concept.
Unfortunately, this meant waving bye-bye to CeeCee and completely redesigning a new champion. In the end, Braum ended up taking her place as the shielded warrior we all love. For now, it looks like the shield concept has already been explored and there are no plans to revive CeeCee. This just goes to show how one idea for a champion can end up influencing a completely new champion altogether.
Originally developed as a tank, the rumours for the new sand mage started to appear around late 2013. The concept art for Seth was leaked on a Reddit thread with many players claiming the art was fake until Riot officially revealed it a few months later.
Initially rumoured to be a tank Riot decided to completely rework his skill set and change him into a mage. Instead of just being a normal ranged caster champion with several abilities to throw at enemies Riot wanted to explore a different concept of controlling sand.
The idea was that similar to Taliyah’s Worked Ground ability, Seth could only cast certain abilities when in the presence of sand. This meant the player had to adopt a certain play style in order to continually deal damage to enemies.
Similar to being an Egyptian emperor and controlling slaves and workers, Riot tried to incorporate this idea into the champion. Unfortunately for Seth this meant a complete re-design and although we did get a sand mage, in the end, the whole mechanics and how the champion works is completely different.
The new sand mage Azir ended up taking his place and despite the fact that they look visually the same they are completely different champions. Released in late 2014 Azir was plagued with bugs and errors on his release. After all, this concept was entirely new and had never been explored before so there was bound to be problems.
Overall fans got the sand mage they were promised but it was a long and bumpy development road with plenty of reworks and delays.
Sometimes Riot have brilliant ideas and designs for champions which look great on paper. The problem arises when they try and fit them into the game. A lot of the time many designs and concepts simply don’t make sense or work out. Ivan the Mad Bomber is a great example of how a well-designed champion failed to fit in the game.
Ivan was originally designed as a mad explosives expert who spent hours taking care of his sparkling teeth. He did this in order to give his victims a vicious smile before they went up in smoke.
Another feature of Ivan was that he wore heavy durable armour to protect him from any explosives or flying debris. The only problem was that Ivan actually wasn't a tanky durable champion at all and was the complete opposite.
Having a tanky design but being very squishy in game was not a good look and Riot thought it would be very misleading to players. At the same time Riot didn't want to give Ivan increased health and tankiness as well as high damage output. Something had to be changed.
Instead of tweaking or redesigning Ivan they scraped him completely and used the concepts to design 2 new champions. The first champion to be born was Ziggs, a smaller and squishier version of Ivan that had the visuals to match. No longer were players misled into thinking he was a tanky champion.
The second champion spawned was Nautilus who made use of the armour concepts but this time had a tanky playstyle to match. Ivan might be gone forever but his concepts live on through 2 very different champions.
Omen was a red 4 legged demon creature with a sinister smile and several spikes on his back. While the visuals looked spectacularly creepy and demonic, Omen had plenty of design issues that Riot just couldn’t figure out.
Omen’s development involved Brian “FeralPony” Feeney (lead designer) and Michael “IronStylus” Maurino (lead artist) at the time. Omen’s ultimate was conceived to be either an artillery style Bullet Time (Miss Fortune) but in a smaller circle and a further range. Or as a Cannon Barrage (Gangplank) that wasn’t global and had to be channelled.
That was pretty much all Riot had come up with during the entire champion development cycle.
The main problem was that no one at Riot was sure if he was a melee or a ranged DPS character. This lack of both direction and excitement for the champion caused him to remain in development for a while.
After a while Riot realised they weren’t making any progress on him and had to scrap him halfway through the development cycle. This meant Riot were missing a new champion for the latest patch and had to postpone the patch while they developed a new champion. That new champion ended up being Riven (no wonder she has no mana, or complicated skills!) and was released a few weeks after the original patch was scheduled.
Sometimes Riot try to have a joke with players but things can quickly backfire. Urf the Manatee was originally conceived as a 2010 April Fools joke with Riot releasing the champion’s lore and intended abilities.
With so much detail released about the champion, it was kind of hard to brush it off as an April Fools joke.
It was shortly after the announcement that players realised Riot had no intention of ever releasing the champion and players were not happy. Hundreds of players protested on the League of Legend forums demanding that Urf was released and brought to summoner’s rift, but Riot had other ideas.
Faced with a crowd of angry players demanding the champion Riot didn't want to release a new champion but had a cunning plan to make him a League of Legends gag. They told players that during the development Urf was killed by Warwick and there was no way he could be released as a champion.
Released at the appropriate time of April 1st Urf Warwick became a highly popular skin after setting the record for the most expensive and cheapest skin available.
Originally the skin was launched at 50RP, at the time the cheapest skin available was 390 RP so it broke all previous records, nice. After the first week, it rose to 500 RP which put it somewhere around the lower end of skins in terms of price. On the last day of its availability, the price was increased to 5000 RP making it the most expensive skin ever.
Although Urf will never be turned into a champion his legacy lives on in several skins, Easter eggs and artwork. The final resting place for Urf is on Warwick's back as seen in the Urf Warwick skin.
A long time ago when League of Legends had less than 50 champions, somebody at Riot thought up this very interesting yet slightly weird looking champion. Also known as "Averdrian the smurf abortion", his lore was listed in the March 2009 update which simply described him as a baby left in a trash can. Compared to other champions, his lore obviously needed some work...
This strange champion also strikes an uncanny resemblance to the aliens from Mars Attacks, we wonder where the designer at Riot got his inspiration from!
Averdrian already had a range of spells thought up for him that unfortunately never came to life. Some of these included Detonate, Lockdown, Consume Spirit and Astral Beam. All ranged magic spells that were designed to do lots of damage while snaring and slowing enemies.
His development took a nosedive back in July 2011 when one of the designers who was trying to get him made gave up. Instead of rooting for Averdrian he changed his allegiance to Nocture which actually did end up getting released in 2011.
Many players thought that Averdrain was the basis for Heimerdinger, mainly due to his large head. However, one of the lead designers Steven "Coronach" DeRose, confirmed that this wasn't the case and Heimerdinger was a completely separate champion idea.
Looking back at Averdrian we can't exactly say he was a champion destined for Summoners Rift. With his weird appearance, slightly disturbing lore and interesting name, it's kind of obvious why he got ditched. Not only was he pretty creepy in every way, but he was also pretty inappropriate for younger players. Averdrain might be a be one of the weirdest cancelled champions in League of Legends, but we're actually glad he never got made!