And the next hero IS…another melee champ [Xin Zhao]

Is that a cattle prod?

Riot’s announced the newest hero by way of a Dev Diary at PC Gamer and it looks like we’re getting yet another melee character. Despite that little setback, Xin Zhao sounds pretty interesting and has the thing that, in my mind, sets good melee apart from the bad: a way to close the gap.

The actual information about Xin Zhao is pretty limited. He’s a martial-arts-inspired spear wielding fighter with some kind of initiation power and a slow. Zileas put it this way:

We came up with this design build because we wanted to capture the spirit of the free-moving fighters you might see in martial arts films. Xin can move freely about the battlefield, drawing power from attacking his enemies, so he can act as an initiator and maybe even as a tank, while still able to deal lots of damage very quickly. One problem we struggled with was how to make Xin Zhao able to initiate but not be a full tank. We tried a number of iterations on this, trying out different defensive components to his Audacious Charge and ultimate. In the end, I think we came up with a really strong build that our players are really going to enjoy.

As for his abilities, this is all we know so far:
Three Talon Strike: (cornerstone ability) A series of attacks that culminate in a powerful move that inflicts considerable damage to his opponent.
Unnamed ability: Increases his attack speed and causes all of his attacks to cool down his other abilities much faster than they normally would.
Audacious Charge: Quickly charge an opponent and slow them down.

Not the best descriptions in the world, but it is nice to see that he’ll be able to jump into a fight from a distance, a key component to keeping melee from going the way of Olaf. With a gap closer and a slow, he pretty much fits my criteria for a solid melee champion. He also has built-in attack speed increase, which gives some item flexibility for damage or survivability.

Perhaps the biggest news of the article is that Xin Zhao will launch with Season One. A lot of people are speculating that S1 is close, but I think it could be as late as the second half of July, if only because I don’t want to get my hopes up. From the sound of this article, Xin Zhao is pretty much done, but then why not list his other two abilities? Then there’s the holiday weekend to consider, though development schedules often ignore that kind of time off and offer comp time after major features launch. It really could go either way. I’ll err on the side of caution and cast my vote for the week of the 18th. Prove me wrong, Riot. Prove me wrong.


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