Sion: How to Update a Champion Properly Or, as I'm calling it "Sion: How to Update a Champion and Keep the Key Components of the Champion While Also Expanding Upon Them". But that's not nearly as catchy. A couple of weeks ago, I made [a post]( about how I think Galio's update failed as a proper update of the Champion Galio. To summarize my points briefly: New Galio does not retain enough of the key elements of Old Galio's character. Things like his serious yet determined nature, his strong connection to Durand, and his role as a more melancholic take on a Demacian are not present any longer, making him feel like another character entirely. The post was not a call to change current Galio (as I know that is very unlikely) but to try and analyze what kind of changes are appropriate for these types of updates. Lots of change is expected, but Riot must also remember to retain some of the key elements of the original character that can still work for an up-to-date version of League of Legends. Now, this is all fairly subjective, but I write this to try and provide constructive criticism and improve future VGUs. And I want to open this up to civil discussion as well. Without further ado, here is how to do a proper Champion Update: featuring {{champion:14}} Sion, the Undead Juggernaut. **Gameplay** I am no expert on gameplay, being a lowly Gold player, and I intend to focus more on theme and lore. I will briefly touch upon this and move on. Old Sion was a bit of a mess. Half his kit was only effective if you built AP, the other if you built AD. His early game was difficult and if he got to late game, he was broken. My memory is fuzzy, but I distinctly remember AP Sion walking up to stun range, stunning for half your health and popping his shield for the other half. His E allowed his health to scale infinitely and was just otherwise an uninteresting Aatrox-esque skill and broken. Probably no other Champion needed a gameplay update as badly as old Sion. Add a "randomly reduces damage" passive and a mega steroid ult, and Old Sion was a Champion that was very annoying when strong, incredibly boring and frustrating to play when weak. New Sion changed basically everything. He kept his exploding shield, his Q is still a CC but much more skill-based and his E helped out his laning phase. Old passive was dropped in favor of more thematic undead passive and the awesome new Ult just screamed "Undead Juggernaut". He still retained his health scaling passive on his W but because of the shift in the rest of his kit to be more utility and tank oriented, it made more sense and he didn't have an ability that ate up his massive health pool for tons of damage. Overall, I think thematically Sion's new kit knocked it out of the park, and keeping the iconic "CC then shield pop" play pattern went a long way towards a healthier but still fun Sion update. **Lore** Old Sion was an ancient Noxian hero who would wade through battles, practically unstoppable. He was pivotal in many famous battles, and, true to the Noxian way, fell in battle honorably. They revived his body using necromantic magics, which in Noxus is a high honor. Only the strongest, most respected warriors are given undeath, as it allows you the glory of being able to battle forever. I'm happy to say that New Sion retains these basic elements I spelled out above. He is still a war hero of ancient Noxus, he even killed Jarvan I himself. He would wade into battle, and nothing could stop him. He fell in battle honorably. Grand General of Noxus, Boram Darkwill (who I'm glad to see still exists, Swain still gets his awesome rise to power storyline) built a memorial to him. Later, Darkwill decides to call upon the shadier side of Noxus {{champion:7}} (The Black Rose) to revive him using necromancy. While it is successful in bringing Sion back to life, his undeath turns him into a relentless creature thirsting for battle, barely hanging on to his humanity. While Darkwill deploys Sion in many battles to some success, even his men and Darkwill himself come to fear what Sion has become: little more than an enraged beast. Darkwill seals Sion in his tomb, never to use him again. Sion stays there, fighting with his madness until Swain, the new Grand General, releases Sion to make use of him, as Darkwill once did. Sometimes Sion has moments of clarity, but quickly regresses back to his aggressive state, only able to vaguely follow the orders of his Grand General. All of Sion's key points in his original story has some form here in his new lore. We did lose a subplot involving Katarina infiltrating Demacia to recover Sion's remains, but in exchange Sion has a closer connection to two Grand Generals, the Black Rose, and even several kings of Demacia. Riot kept the basics--the stuff that still had potential--and expanded upon them. I will say that the shift in necromancy being feared instead of commonly accepted form of magic like it was originally takes a little bit away from Noxus as a whole, but in exchange we get a deeper, psychological character out of Sion. Compare this to Galio, where many of his distinct lore points were abandoned in favor of developing Demacia as a whole; instead of retaining Galio's character, they built upon Demacia's character. I find this focus on the greater good for this update rather ironic considering Demacian values, but I much prefer the approach to Sion's lore update: sacrificing some Noxus societal characterization to create a much better character. Call me a Noxian individualist I guess. **Personality** While I would normally abhor any large departure from a Champion's original personality via an update, I find myself being a bit hypocritical here as I praise that exact decision with Sion. But I really do think Sion is the perfect example of where this _needs_ to be done. Old Sion was little more than one big Arnold Schwarzenegger joke. As much as we all like Ah-nold and as much as I'm sure Old Sion's personality had fans, this had to change in order to have an actual _character_. Old Sion had no personality, he was just a joke. New Sion has a personality, he's an actual character. Save the jokes for /j (which I'm surprised they didn't end up referencing, missed opportunity there). There's nothing wrong with a joking character, but they need to be a character as well. When he was alive, New Sion was an exemplar Noxian soldier. The Darius of his time, if you will. The necromatic magics that brought him back to life drive him to madness, and we have this broken man who wants to be that soldier he once was. In wanting this, he becomes a crazed killer, wanting nothing more than to see the next battle, kill the next Jarvan. It's what he wanted, but not quite _how_ he wanted it, and every once in a while he realizes that, realizes Swain is not his Grand General. These flashes of humanity make Sion so much more than just a quote spouting machine. He's a character, with a history that influences his personality. This is something that was missing before: his personality made no sense, it had no basis on his history of being a Noxian soldier or being undead. And further, this brings him more in-line with other undead Champions like Kalista or Urgot: in undeath, you often lose something of yourself. While I would say Riot should keep some elements of the Champion's personality in the course of a VGU, this is one of the cases where I think it was absolutely necessary and overall makes for a better character. This should be an exception though, but a notable one nonetheless **Visual Design** Sion's original design was by no means _completely_ bad, but it was messy and unfocused. They obviously had a lot of cool elements they wanted to add that needed polish. He had pieces of armor that gave him a sort of barbaric look and a huge axe. In his updated appearance, Sion retains his axe, some of the details cleaned up to make it less messy, and the pieces of armor have been redesigned to line up more with other Noxian Champions like Katarina or Darius, who would of course have similar armor being part of the same army. In a brilliant design move, the arrows that jutted from Sion's shoulders--cluttering his appearance even more--was replaced with a dagger in his head where, in life, he had a ponytail. Add to that details like J1's crown in his jaw, some of his flesh being bolted back together, and you get an effective undead Noxian design. Gone are the green colors (which in-game looked more blue anyways) but instead we get this pale skin color contrasting with the black and red of his armor. The belly furnace was kind of a weird choice--I didn't need a source for his shield, I just sort of accepted that he had one--but the colors fit together great so it's not too distracting. They took away a lot of the clutter of his design but in exchange added cleaner, story-related details and lined up his color scheme with the rest of Noxus. Overall, very cool and really pushes the theme of the Undead Juggernaut. **Conclusion** Sion was the very first full VGU and I think he was executed very well. Riot took the core elements of Sion and threw all their resources into making those elements as cool and obvious as possible. Everything from design to personality to kit work together to execute a character that fits the description "Noxian War Hero turned crazed Undead Juggernaut". While these are some HUGE changes (much like the Galio update), the very basics of what made him "Sion" remain, and we get to see his originally intended fantasy fully realized. Which is a very good feeling. I'll leave this with a quote by Riot Entropy from the Sion Design Insights Dev Blog that I think is the perfect mindset for these VGUs: > Whenever we update a champion we begin by taking everything we know about them and paring down all that information until we identify the essential elements, the immutable traits that are so core to the champion that changing them might very well turn them into an entirely different character. It might have been easy to write off old Sion entirely and start from scratch, but at the end of the day the core concept of 'hulking undead warrior' has always been a solid foundation. Remember this Riot. Thanks for reading, and if you have something to add, feel free to discuss.
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