5th April, 2018
League of Legends currently has over 800 skins in the game, but have you ever wondered if any of them give players an unfair advantage?
With certain skins previously being banned in the LCS, and various cosmetic updates from Riot themselves, there is some proof to the question.
But we’re here to settle the debate once and for all, are there LoL skins that give players an unfair advantage? Or are players just using them as an excuse for their poor performance? Here’s everything you need to know about banned skins in the LCS.
Currently, according to the NA LCS rulebook there are no banned skins in the tournament but there is a rule in place to restrict any skins if there are known bugs. Rule 11.7.10 of the rulebook states: “Restrictions may be added at any time before or during a match, if there are known bugs with any items, Champions, skins, masteries, or Summoner spells, or for any other reason as determined at the discretion of the LCS.”
This means that if Riot determines that a skin is bugged or gives players a significant unfair advantage, then they can disable it. And this rule has actually been used in the past to disable several skins such as Santa Gragas (we’ll explain why later) during important tournaments.
Although there are no skins currently banned in any pro-League of Legends tournament, there are some that players think should be. With various hitbox, visual, sound, and animation advantages, these skins give players that ever so slight advantage over opponents. To show you what we mean, we’ve handpicked 11 of the most popular skins that give players an advantage in some way. Let’s get things started with Arcade Sona.
Arcade Sona has made her way onto this list due to her visual damage indicator. As you can see from the animation above, Sona’s default skin simply hits players with a green bolt when casting her Hymn of Valor. However, when you cast the exact same spell using Arcade Sona, a new damage indicator appears next to the target itself. This lets you know that you’ve done damage to the target and makes it a lot clearer to see. As you probably know, Hymn of Valor doesn't let you target anything and automatically hits the 2 closest enemies. By having this indicator, it can make it easier to see who you’re hitting in a team fight.
Although it's not the biggest competitive advantage, some players have reported that it makes player her much easier. We guess there’s a reason why ultimate skins are so expensive, probably because they include helpful indicators like this one!
Next up is Mecha Aatrox and his visual advantage of his glowing sword. This might sound like a weird one, but hear us out. When playing the default Aatrox skin, enabling W (Blood Price) makes Aatrox’s sword start to glow a shade of purple. On top of an already purple sword, this can be very tricky to see, especially when you’re in battle. This means it can be pretty tough to track if you have Blood Price or Blood Thirst enabled.
With the Mecha skin, this visual indicator is a lot clearer as you can see in the animation above. The default color of his sword is now a bright green and enabling Blood Price changes the color to a bright orange. When in the middle of a team fight with spells flying around everywhere, this can make it a lot easier to see if you have the right spell enabled.
Continuing with our list we have Ashen Lord Aurelion Sol. From looking at the skin you might not think he has any obvious advantage, but if you take a closer look, the advantage starts to become more visible. Aurelion Sol’s passive is that he is constantly orbited by 3 stars. On his default skin, these stars are very small and are almost transparent.
However, with the Ashen Lord Aurelion Sol skin, these stars are much brighter and are ever so slightly bigger. Since knowing the exact location of these stars is important when you’re trying to hit enemies, this skin helps make it a walk in the park. With its big particles, hitting enemies has never been easier.
As we’ve looked at in previous skins, particles and projectiles can often give players a huge advantage depending on how transparent or hard to see they are. In this skin, the particles on Varus are exceptionally harder to see compared to his default. From looking at his ultimate animation above, you can see how the spread is much smaller and the colors and much brighter.
Probably the guys at Riot thought this was a really good effect, but in reality, it just makes the spell a lot harder to see. The same applies to his arrow particles for his Q which is a big change from the solid purple color in his default skin. Although for some users this might actually make it easier to see his ultimate, we’d have to agree with the majority and say it makes it harder.
Speaking of super bright and transparent particles, we’d be crazy if we didn’t give Justicar Syndra a mention. Syndra is known for her solid spheres that are as black as black can be. Not only do they stand out from the terrain, but their distinctive solid black also makes them very unique.
For whatever reason, Riot decided to break Syndra’s unique look of her sphere’s and change them into something completely different. In the Justicar skin, Syndra’s spheres are now transparent and blend into the terrain a lot easier. From looking at the animation above, you can actually see through the sphere and see the cracks on the ground. For anyone playing against this skin, keeping track of Syndra’s balls (there we said it) can be extremely difficult.
One of the skins on this list that has actually been banned in pro tournaments before is Santa Gragas. This olden but golden skin has been around since 2010 and has become a firm favorite with fans. Now it’s not his funny costume that gives him an unfair advantage, but it’s rather his caskets. From looking at the animation above, it’s clear to see that the size of his caskets are considerably smaller than his default skin.
Now you could argue that it doesn’t matter because there is a vast circle indicator around his barrels which is true. However, it’s still possible to explode the barrels before they come to a standstill which means no circle indicator for the enemy. This can often give the enemy a lot of trouble when trying to dodge those incoming barrels.
If you thought Blitzcrank was already an annoying champion then wait until you play against the iBlitzcrank skin. This futurist skin is entirely different from the default one and has a number of changes which make it much harder to play against.
The most obvious change is his Q: the rocket grab. On the iBlitzcrank skin, the wire connecting Blitzcrank’s arm to his body is basically invisible. From looking at the animation above, you can see how the cable is really transparent which makes it very hard to see. Lots of gamers often complain about the hook being very difficult to dodge and see coming. We’d have to agree with these players and wonder why iBlitzcrank hasn’t been banned yet.
Another interesting skin that definitely deserves a mention on our list has to be Project Ashe. Like other skins on our list, Project Ashe has had all of her particles remade to suit the skins theme. This means that all her particles for her ultimate, hawkshot and Q have been changed to more modern textures and shapes.
In the example above you can clearly see the difference between her ultimate arrow compared to the default skin. Players have reported that the new arrow makes dodging her ultimate a lot harder and that the arrow is actually smaller than the hitbox.
In addition to this, the Project Ashe skin also has very similar animations for both her hawkshot and ultimate ability. This means for opponents it can be very hard to work out what spell she is using before it’s been cast. As you can probably guess, this keeps lots of players on their toes.
When it comes to unfair skins in League of Legends, smaller projectiles and weird hitboxes are often the biggest problems. In this skin, Jayce’s particles have been given a transformation to make them look super cool and unique. However, during the transformation, the particles themselves have been heavily modified which causes a big problem.
Take a look at the animation above. The first thing you should notice is the drastic change in the size of the particle. The default skin has a large blue orb yet this skin has a stretched red bolt which is a lot thinner. The hitbox remains exactly the same, yet the size of the projectile has been decreased considerably. For many players, this makes it a lot harder to judge when you’ll get hit by the bolt or not. It might be a tiny change, but it can give you a slight competitive advantage in game.
Continuing our list, we have Elementalist Lux, one of the few ultimate skins available in League of Legends. To date, this is probably one of the most epic skins in the game with lots of mini-skins included.
When playing Elementalist Lux, there is one certain skin that has a big effect on her projectiles. As you’ve probably guessed, these projectiles are often very transparent and hard to see. In the animation above you can see how the Q particle looks a lot lighter than normal.
For some players, the projectile also looks like it travels slower. This is probably not the case but the effect of the particle crossing over itself gives it the illusion that it is. Whatever the reason, a lot of players hate playing against this skin as it can be very hard to make out what spell Lux is using.
The final skin on our list of League of Legends skins that give players an advantage is Steel Legion Lux. With this skin, it’s not the particles that are hard to see or make out but it’s actually the animations. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the Q animation is similar to her auto attack animation. When you’re trying to constantly dodger her Q trap, this similarity can make it extremely difficult to tell which ability if any, is coming.