Since the Great Retcon Demacia’s identity remained mostly static until Galio’s rework introduced us to the idea of magic absorbing petricite and the history of Demacia being founded by refugees from the Rune Wars. Demacia was an anti-magic nation. I turned my nose at this. How could Demacia be anti-mage? The roster of Demacian related champions is full of magic users. Taric (pre-rework he was not an exile), Lux, Garen’s Demacian Justice, Poppy being a yordle (which went from aliens with a knack for magic to fairies), Shyvana is a half-dragon and part of Jarvan IV’s royal guard. Lucian uses a pair of mystic relics as weapons. Sona has a special connection with a magical instrument.
Now as Riot added more champion specific stories and bios a new narrative is forming for Demacia. Not that Riot released Sylas I am pretty sure about this new narrative. It starts with Lux. Lux grew up hiding her magical abilities until she joined the Illumians. Although mention of them being magic CIA seems to have disappeared since Sylas was released, you can still see how the were more elaborated on here: https://leagueoflegends.fandom.com/wiki/Lux#3rd
It seems Sylas’s introduction issued a retcon that pushed Lux back to before joining the Illumians. Even so it shows us that Demacia’s anti-magic ideology is not as solid and unanimous as it appears on the surface.
Next there is Jarvan IV and Shyvana. Shyvana saved Jarvan’s life out of empathy and humanity despite constantly living on the run. Jarvan’s stories tell us that he desires to use his power to save lives in a violent and dangerous world Shyvana is a literal freak of nature, but Jarvan has a place in his heart for her suffering. Jarvan does something crazy, he makes Shyvana a royal guard. He gave Shyvana a new purpose and Jarvan shows us that he is willing to accept a person based on their merits rather than what they were born as (mage or half-dragon mutant). Recently, Riot elaborated on Jarvan’s relationship with other champions. He was educated by Xin Zhao who opened his mind to the many differing cultures and points of view in the world. He has been given perspective and cultural relativism, the ability to imagine himself in someone else’s shoes. This is the essence of empathy for people and why Jarvan is a heroically good character. Jarvan is being set up as a reformer when he becomes king. Jarvan will reform Demacia into a more tolerant state.
Garen is Jarvan’s oldest and dearest friend. For Garen, he is a Crownguard. It is his solemn duty to ensure the future of his country by defending the heir. There is a potential for conflict here. Garen was close with his uncle who was strongly anti-mage and was killed by a mage. Garen inherited his uncle’s beliefs. How will Jarvan and Garen reconcile this? Garen must protect someone who tolerates someone like Shyvana. Adding to the conflict is Garen’s denial that Lux is a mage so his ideology does not compel him to bring her to her execution or exile.
These are the setups. These releases played out over months and it appeared that Demacia might stand frozen in time at a point of potential conflict without payoff. Sylas is an important and useful character because his release and rebellion forces the issue of Demacia’s anti-magic ideology. He adds an urgency to deal with the hypocrisy and contradictions of Demacia. This is the payoff. We can not wait! The rebellion is happening now! In the end Demacia will endure this rebellion. Demacia will defeat them, certainly. But the conflict brings the issue to the front of everyone’s minds and this is where reform is possible.
With an upcoming Lux and Garen comic to be coming this year I expect this payoff will be coming in 2019.