What’s happening to League of Legends lore?

By Nicholas James


Feb 23, 2023

Reading time: 5 min

League of Legends has always had a lore problem, but it seems like the MOBA is encountering entirely new problems when it comes to storytelling.

MOBA games like League of Legends have a distinct lack of opportunities to tell stories about their characters and worlds during the game. Given that almost every match happens on the same map, with a wide variety of champions, the state of the world has to stay the same from game to game. This means that the gameplay itself can’t advance characters or change the world since the world of Runeterra and its characters remain as mostly-static elements of the story.

Through 2022 and 2023, fans have seen less and less lore provided for the game and its world, why is that? Here’s what we know about why League of Legends lore seems to be left to the wayside.

Why is League of Legends lore dying?

For a long time, the world of League of Legends would only advance with new champion releases and short stories released by the narrative team through the League of Legends universe website. Riot has broken from this pattern in a few notable instances.

Firstly, the Bilgewater: Burning Tides event was the first instance of a League of Legends champion “dying” and the only real instance where lore and gameplay intertwined. As the pirate king was ousted from Bilgewater and presumed dead, Gangplank was removed from the game, and players couldn’t pick the gruff pirate. As any fan playing nowadays will know, Gangplank’s death didn’t stick. Instead, as the event wound down, a new version of Gangplank was added to the game, what fans would call a Visual Gameplay Update now.

The other notable example is the Ruination event, which was much more poorly received than Burning Tides. The Ruination event was supposed to be the massive reveal of a character long shrouded in mystery, the Ruined King. The Ruination had been a mysterious cataclysmic event that corrupted and ruined the Shadow Isles, turning them into what fans recognize as the accursed isles. Behind this unsolved event was a singular figure, the mysterious Ruined King.

The Ruined King had been present in League of Legends’ gameplay for a long time, with the item Blade of the Ruined King available in each and every game. The introduction of Viego was meant to be the reveal of League of Legends’ longest-lasting villain, but it fell short.

Ruination leads to disappointment

The Ruination event suffered from wildly inconsistent narratives, tones, and stories between the varying mediums in which the story was told. The Ruination was the story of Viego’s return to Runeterra and his hunt for his dead wife Isolde’s soul. This prompted Lucian and Senna, the last effective Sentinels of Light, to gather champions from far and wide across Runeterra to oppose Viego. To many fans, they expected this to be the ultimate League of Legends lore event, finally allowing a wide array of champions to interact and move the world forwards. Instead, Ruination came and went, and the world was left much the same as it was before.

It was so unpopular that YouTuber Necrit, League of Legends’ resident lore expert, even created a 40-minute long video breaking down exactly why it was so disappointing.

The Ruination marked a serious setback in League of Legends’ ability to advance its story. The graphic novel told a different version of the story from the interactive in-client event, and neither one was clear, which qualified as canon. At the same time, rumors circulated that the interactive in-client visual novel had been written by the skins and events team rather than the narrative writers. The Ruination set back LoL’s storytelling and even resulted in Riot Games apologizing for the disappointing experience.

Two years of empty lore raise questions

2022 began with what many fans thought might be the next big lore event. Several short stories were released featuring champions scattered across Runeterra, all of whom were later featured in the season-start cinematic “The Call.” Kai’Sa and Taliyah dealt with the Void emerging in Shurima, Sejuani and Olaf went hunting for Ornn’s Cauldron deep within the territory of Volibear’s followers, and Pantheon began his climb back up Targon to seek revenge against the gods and their Aspects.

It seemed like the stage was being set for an enormous event. Many thought that it was the long-awaited Void invasion, another world-ending force that had been looming over League of Legends for years.

Would Bel’Veth’s release be the inciting event? All signs pointed towards the hive mind of the Void beginning to breach into Runeterra and threaten the world and the champions within it. However, nothing happened. The year came and went without any substantial lore updates. There was no Void invasion, no progress on Azir’s return to Shurima, and no movement forward for the world. Then, in 2023, the season-start cinematic didn’t depict canon Runeterra at all, cutting players off from one of the most-anticipated peeks into the world of each year.

Riot Games promises changes

In recent videos addressing a variety of community complaints, Riot Games has confirmed that they are working on more active lore events behind the scenes. Recent years have led to lots of talent turnover at Riot Games, making it harder to find the resources needed to produce huge lore events and big season-start cinematics. At the same time, Riot Games now has four separate titles to focus on, with Valorant, Legends of Runeterra, and Teamfight Tactics all pulling resources from League of Legends.

Arcane was a stellar success, but nothing inside of the game has taken any steps forwards alongside it. While it may have been several quiet years, Riot seems determined to try and make the lore more regular and accessible. Though these are positive signs, they won’t be immediate fixes, and LoL will likely continue to struggle with inconsistent storytelling due to its genre for a long time yet.


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