New League of Legends Champion Revealed: Aatrox

The next champion for League of Legends is Aatrox, a top-lane champion using health to pay for his abilities.

Recently there was an image posted on Riot’s forums of a man wielding a pair of very hefty pistols.  It was removed from the forums in fairly short order, leading many to suspect the unnamed gunslinger was going to be the next champion for League of Legends.  Apparently the people thinking so were wrong, as just today Riot has announced their next champion: Aatrox, the Darkin Blade.

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Lore-wise, Aatrox is an ancient warrior who has wandered from hopeless battle to hopeless battle inspiring and leading others into viciously bloodthirsty combat.  As for what he actually does…

The Abilities

Let us start with his passive, Blood Well.  Aatrox’s abilities cost health.  As he uses his abilities he stores up a part of the health he pays to use them.  This blood well will lose accumulated health over time if he stops using abilities, but can store a sizable reservoir.  Aatrox runs out of health, he pulls the health out of his blood well.

Passive abilities that stave off death always have potential uses to bait enemies into over-extending–how reliable the ability is will depend on just how much health it can store and how quickly.

His Q is Dark Flight.  Aatrox rises and slams down at target location, damaging and knocking up champions at the target point while damaging champions nearby.  A gap-closer that knocks up always has uses, giving initiation and counter-initiation opportunities. The range would have to be very short and the knock-up extremely brief for this ability to be weak.  It will almost certainly not be leveled up as a first priority, however, the utility likely requiring an early point but not needing more until later.

Aatrox’s W is called Blood Thirst.  It applies a passive effect, giving some life recovery with every third auto-attack.  Activating the ability turns it to Blood Price, which replaces the life recovery with an attack damage buff that instead costs health.  AD steroids tend to vary very heavily, but given this ability’s active only boosts damage and costs health, I’d expect it to boost damage by a huge amount.  With that assumption, it will probably be leveled first, both for the sustain and for the ability to trade hard for short bursts.

Blades of Torment fills in Aatrox’s E slot.  He fires a skillshot line which damages and slows targets hit while refunding part of the health cost if it hits a champion.  This is a fairly standard skillshot, which seems mostly to be a chasing tool in case Aatrox initiates with his Q, but might also grant Aatrox a bit of poke depending on just how far it reaches.

Aatrox’s ult, Massacre, does damage immediately in an AoE around himself and then gives him extra attack speed and range for a duration.  This combined with his Q makes for a painful initiation, and combined with his W, makes him a monster in a fight for a short time.  Even his E synergizes a bit with the ult by using the combination of extra attack range and slow to make chasing that much easier.

This kit flows together rather nicely.  Blood Thirst/Blood Price gives lane sustain and trading power at the same time, and is likely to be the ability that sees the most careful balancing on Riot’s part to keep Aatrox from being either too dominant in lane or too easy to harass.  The combination of Massacre and Dark Flight will likely be the cause of most of the truly impressive plays, with added damage from Blood Price to help seal the deal.

As with most champions, how viable he will be at various levels will be largely dependent on the actual numbers on his abilities, most notably Blood Thirst/Price.  He should be hitting the PBE soon, and top lanes everywhere shortly thereafter.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.