"What makes a popular champion?"

Inspired by [This post](https://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/story-art/r9k2gfTV-riot-needs-to-stop-kissing-yasuos-ass), I wanted to explore popular champions, find common ground among them and see how we can infer what a baseline popular champion is. One major caveat before we begin: Gameplay and balance will _always_ play a small part because League is a competitive game. Fuggo the Ugly Dog could be the most off-putting champion in the game but if his R is "instantly win the game", he'll be picked regardless of how ugly he is. #Using Data To start, we'll be using the ["Champion Popularity"](https://nexus.leagueoflegends.com/en-us/2017/11/champ-popularity-mixing-math-art/) article Riot published only a little while ago. While this is missing some champions, we can get a rough idea. TL;DR: Champions who sit in the upper right quadrant have both a lot of people playing them and a lot of people who play them frequently/semi-frequently. As a run down, I went through the list and cut out extra data to get clear views on "popular" champions as of Patch 7.16 https://puu.sh/CApxc/fec20dfca5.png So using this, we have our list of "Popular champions": {{champion:8}} {{champion:91}} {{champion:429}} {{champion:80}} {{champion:122}} {{champion:105}} {{champion:57}} {{champion:121}} {{champion:86}} {{champion:24}} {{champion:63}} {{champion:11}} {{champion:103}} {{champion:5}} {{champion:16}} {{champion:89}} {{champion:23}} {{champion:245}} {{champion:19}} {{champion:59}} {{champion:17}} {{champion:99}} {{champion:236}} {{champion:11}} {{champion:29}} {{champion:412}} {{champion:238}} {{champion:202}} {{champion:498}} {{champion:117}} {{champion:497}} {{champion:119}} {{champion:55}} {{champion:37}} {{champion:40}} {{champion:21}} {{champion:67}} {{champion:18}} {{champion:64}} {{champion:92}} {{champion:157}} {{champion:141}} {{champion:222}} For the sake of safety, I also double-checked champions who were close to the corner/bottom of the graph. Champions generally above Fizz, Kalista and past Talon and Rakan were usually "safe" in terms of popularity, remaining in that zone overall and rarely (if ever) dipping out of it in the span of two seasons. While it doesn't include everyone, the main disqualifications are Vladimir, Kalista and Lulu who heavily dip out of the popular category. https://puu.sh/CAq7D/3027553979.png With all this gathered, we can dig into the meat of champion popularity. #Obvious Stuff (Kit-wise) So this stuff is fairly obvious and doesn't really need a lot of explanation: * There is a lean toward damage dealers/assassination characters. * Carry ADCs are generally popular. * AD > AP * esports * Riven, Kayn and Yasuo are the anime trinity of popularity. #Not-so-obvious stuff (Kit-wise) With that all taken care of, let's look into some less-obvious stuff: * There is an emphasis on **BIG** ults. Final Spark. Super Mega Death Rocket. Chronoshift, Cataclysm, Last Breath, The Culling, etc. Players seem to gravitate towards champions who have great, huge, spectacular moments of power. These ults can change the course of a fight and look good doing it. If I had to guess, I'd say it comes down to ults feeling spectacular and players like having an ult that makes them go "Alright boys, time for my final attack". * There are also quite a few "Super Saiyan" ults. Highlander. Spray n' Pray, Final Hour and Grandmaster's Might all give players a feeling of becoming a stronger version of their character. Nowehre is this more evident than in the top of the list, Kayn. Kayn's ability to transform into a superior version of his base self leads to an amazing feeling of "power spiking" and that you're ready to throw down. I'd say that this goes back into the natural love of getting stronger: Players love feeling that they're "better" than the start of the game and playing an evolving/upgrading character helps cement that. * An even mix of easy and difficult champs While one might assume the most popular champs are always the most difficult to play, this doesn't seem to be the case. There are plenty of characters who mesh with players that are both difficult (Zed, Lee Sin, Draven) and easy (Xin Zhao, Garen, Janna). I'd say this comes down to these characters being the baseline. Either you see these characters playing at the highest tier of play and desire to be that good or you're attached to the character you started using at the start. #Discussing Character Now we come to likely the most subjective part: Characterization. When looking at the list, you have a mishmash of archetypes. Despite this, you can boil down some common character tropes into some aspects people often find enjoyable about their specific characters. Think of this more so exploring what players _really_ love about their characters. * Most characters on this list are outright "badasses" Darius is the hand of Noxus who can cut a man in two. Kha'zix is an all-consuming predator from the void. Warwick is a monster who chases down others the moment he gets a wiff of blood. Players not only love being badass but they love FEELING like a badass. I'd say it comes down to general feelings on power. People want to feel strong so they gravitate to characters who feel strong. * Many characters on this list are, either in voicework or in-lore, cocky. Kayn is the darkin-wielding animeboy who is better than you. Ekko loves talking shit. Jhin cares so little about you that all he's going to talk about is his art. Hell, Pantheon's voice line is "You're gonna die at my feet pal". While I might be stretching, players love a sense of feeling "better" than their opponent. Thus, they'll gravitate to champions who love to push their smarmy edges over others and tease/mock opponents about how much better they are. Maybe toxic players just wanna trash talk without a ban? * Waifus. Yep. Don't really have much to add here. Just. Y'know. Waifus. * A Good (or bad) Guy If you look on the list, most of these characters (at a glance) fall under either the good or bad guy. While the lore usually goes deeper and you can make cases for certain champions, there's definitely a "feel" that characters like Garen or Lux are outright the good guys while Zed or Thresh are the evil guys. If I had to make an assumption, players gravitate to what they know and if they want to play league, they probably have the notion of playing a character that is either the good guy of the story or the bad guy. Not to knock anyone who likes playing as these characters but I'll definitely attest that there's fun in taking a side. (Even if it turns out that in the lore, your goody hero man is actually kinda bad). * Cinematics, Other Media and More Surprisingly, while most people assume that the media presence comes after the character, media presence can boost character popularity. For example, Jinx's "Get Jinxed" music video had millions of views and was a gateway for those who never saw League and liked the character. Thus, they gravitated toward her. Warwick's rework teaser featured a grim, dark and terrifying hunt through the streets of Zaun. Let's also not forget characters like Lucian, Jhin and Draven who had absolutely bitchin' login music. While people assume media comes after, Media can definitely play a part in hyping up your champion. #Wrapping It All Together So let's take what we know and "make" a champion that will check as many boxes as possible: Timmy, The Popular Dude... * Is featured heavily in promo material and/or had a special teaser created by Riot (Cinematic, music video or otherwise) * Is either extremely easy to play or has an extremely high skill ceiling. * Is designed (from a character perspective) to be a really cool badass good/bad guy a a glance * Has a very strong ultimate that either improves him and/or deals a bajillion damage * Has the ability to be a carry or assassin * Might be a super hot girl * Might be anime. "But Cap, I designed a champion that doesn't fit these boxes! If I work for Riot one day, does that mean my champ will suck!?" Wait why are you asking me this reader? No! That's not the point at all. This is a metric of "popular" champions, not necessarily "successful" champions. While there are plenty of popular and successful designs on this list such as Jhin or Lee Sin, there are also plenty of flops or divisive characters like Yasuo or Thresh. The good thing about League is that there is a place for **EVERYONE** in this wide world of 140+ champions and even if your champion isn't popular, there's bound to be someone who loves them to death. Just remember this if you're trying to make a champion to appeal to the broadest, widest category. If not? Well, who cares! Make something for those million people who are gonna love your champ and nothing else.
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