I'd like to preface this in the sense that I'm somewhat biased in these stories because I'm so heavily invested in Piltover and Zaun. I'd also like to say that this story is by no means "awful". If you came to this thread expecting me to dunk on the writer for a good 10 paragraphs, you won't find that here. That being said...
#Child of Zaun misses the mark.
The crux of this story was to help us develop three characters (Mostly Vi) who don't have a lot of supplementary material outside of singular color stories and some animation fluff. This was Riot's attempt to flesh out these characters and establish some lore progression with Piltover and Zaun. Urgot is in jail, Vi and Caitlyn are successful but there's lingering doubts about him being sad/upset at being imprisoned. Instead, this story comes up short at the apex of the story and when the story matters most.
Barring Caitlyn's poor characterization (She could literally be replaced with anyone and I doubt you'd notice save for 1-2 lines where she speaks directly to Vi), the major flaw of this story centers around the Climax. Or lack thereof. Near the end, Urgot is making his big play to poison the promenade. Vi is racing to stop him. Caitlyn is ready to fight and rearms Vi. The battle is set to explode AND....
>_“I’m tired of listening to you talk.” My rage finally slips. “I’m tired of doing anything other than beating you to death for what you did.”_
>_I can’t tell if the fight lasts seconds or hours. I only remember it in flashes. Crushing metal. Ribcages wrapping around my knuckles. Thunder from Urgot’s cannon-arm, stitching explosions. The sound of blood, fizzing and popping as it cooks on my gauntlets._
>_Between Cait and me, we whittle down Urgot’s followers, until it’s only him left standing, a metal monster of fire and bullets and slashing chains. It’s unclear who will leave the broken dome alive, until Cait sees an opening with her bola net._
>_Urgot roars as it envelops him, pinning his arms to his sides and distracting him just long enough for my charge. I put everything into the blow, sending him teetering off the edge of the dome. But I won’t let him fall, not yet._
That's the climax.
Thousands of words, a clear battle between two of Zaun's children and those caught in the crossfire, is cut down to about a single paragraph. Now, maybe the author just isn't the best at fight scenes. Maybe they just didn't want to expand. Maybe they have a sick fight scene on the cutting room floor due to having to trim down for time...but why cut this out?
#Why the Fight Scene Matters
League and Runeterra, at their core, are centered around conflict. Fighting. Wars. The fragile peace brought about by decades of war. These champions are completely dictated by their magical or physical power and how they can change the world through enacting their will with this power. Fighting is core to who league champions are. By removing this fight scene, we are deprived of some of the most important characterization of our protagonists/antagonists and how they interact with each other. For example:
* Imagine a scene where Urgot, to hit Vi, shotgun-blasts through one of his own men. That man, even when shot, claws for Vi. The depth of Urgot's control over these people is displayed in full force without saying a word.
* Imagine a scene where Vi is plowing through troops recklessly while anytime she would be endangered, she's assisted by a sniper shot from Caitlyn. We see how these two are so in-sync in their partnership that they have complete trust in one another to the point of fighting freely.
* Imagine a scene where Vi doubles-back to help Caitlyn who is being overrun, ignoring Urgot. Again, simple, but it shows the depth of care Vi has and how important Caitlyn is to her.
* Imagine Urgot overpowering them when they face one-on-one but through coordination, they're able to take him down. Not only does it empower Urgot as someone who can take on two of the best champions Piltover has, it shows that Caitlyn and Vi work best when as a pair, deepening the relationship the two have.
So much can go into this fight to characterize who these three are, the influence they have on each other and even subtle nuances such as their preferred fighting styles. Instead we're given something of a jumpcut to the end of a fight. It...sucks. It just plain sucks.
#Improving for the future.
If I had to give some core criticisms for improvement that I feel the writer could expound upon:
* Give Caitlyn a more distinct voice. She could be so much more. Instead she feels like a prop to Vi's story, a name thrown out to go "See look it's your fave champ"
* Add more depth to fight scenes, even if it's just an extra paragraph. Cutting out a small portion of Vi at Urgot's camp in favor of a little bit of fighting can tell us so much more about everyone.
* If you're going to write a story like this, give more agency to all champions involved. Part of why the Lux comic was so amazing is that every major champion in the comic had a huge part to play. Even J4, who shows up for a fraction of the time, has so much weight given to him and deepening his connection to the major characters. Caitlyn feels like a quest giver, not a champion.
Again, I want to reiterate that overall, I really enjoyed this story. I love seeing champs I adore expanded upon. But I also feel upset that I couldn't see them doing things I know them for. That some of the best moments of character building are denied from us due to word counts and having to condense the story. I'm eager to see Ian's next story and I sincerely hope for more great Piltover content.
**Story good. Lack of fight scene makes the story substantially worse. Caitlyn didn't have a character. **