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League of Legends next champion revealed: Azir, the Emperor of the Sands

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It's been just a few weeks since Riot Games released Gnar in League of Legends, and already the developer has revealed the next champion: Azir, the Emperor of the Sands. It's quite the change of pace for Riot who has actually been pretty slow in releasing new champions this season. But wow, with the 2014 Season coming to a close, it appears they are looking to ramp things up, which I actually find kind of odd. I won't complain, though; I love new champions.

Azir is described as a mage who summons Shuriman soldiers to control the battlefield and basic attack for him. Completely bypassing any sort of teaser, Riot Games not only revealed the new champion, but also detailed his abilities and gameplay style.

Passive: Will of the Emperor

Cooldown reduction increases Azir’s attack speed.

Disc of the Sun

Azir raises a Sun Disc on the base of a destroyed turret (enemy inhibitor and nexus turrets are immune to this effect). Azir’s Sun Disc behaves like a turret, except that it deals increased damage and grants Azir gold on minion or champion kills. The Sun Disc lasts for a short while and if Azir is killed or moves too far away, it loses armor.

Q: Conquering Sands

Azir orders all Sand Soldiers to rush at target position. The soldiers damage and slow all enemies they smash through as they rush into the fray. Azir gains attack speed if the soldiers strike an enemy champion.

W: Arise!

Azir summons an untargettable Sand Soldier—a memory of a Shuriman warrior—from the ground. Azir uses his basic attack as a command, ordering soldiers to attack for him, piercing through their target and dealing damage in a line. Sand Soldiers attack even if Azir himself isn’t in basic attack range. The soldiers fade back to sand after a short while or when their emperor leaves them behind.

E: Shifting Sands

Azir feints, rushing to target Sand Soldier. If Azir collides with an enemy champion, he stops, knocking them up and gaining a shield.

R: Emperor's Divide

Azir calls forth a phalanx of shield-wielding soldiers who press forward, knocking back and damaging enemies. When the soldiers finish their charge, they stand as a wall, blocking enemy champion movement and dashes. Allies can pass through the wall and gain a speed boost when they do. These soldiers cannot be ordered to move or attack.

As for Azir's gameplay, here's how Riot suggests you handle him on the battlefield.

Gameplay

The soldier’s piercing basic attacks furnish most of Azir’s damage potential, making him an outlier amongst mages as a right-click-focused champion. Azir’s spells, on the other hand, manipulate his and his soldiers’ positions to keep him safe and establish dangerous no-go zones for his enemies.

Azir establishes shifting zones of power through soldier placement, gaining control of the lane and farming with their assistance. For instance, a soldier placed near the enemy’s caster minions dares a lane opponent to harass or farm through the piercing spear. When the opposing laner missteps, Azir commands the attack, repositioning soldiers with Conquering Sands to make the most of the opportunity. Once a favorable trade or two unlocks kill potential, Azir utilizes Shifting Sands, knocking the enemy champion up and setting himself up to compel a Conquering Sands and finish them off. When the (ancient) coin is flipped, a quick Arise! and Shifting Sands rushes Azir out of danger.

Add Azir’s ultimate to the mix and the Shuriman leader exercises even more zone control. To go for the kill, start off with Arise! and Shifting Sands to position Azir behind his opponent. From there, Emperor’s Divide drives the foe deep into Azir’s side of the map. Pushed so far into Azir’s territory, the opposing champ’s sure to meet their end at a spear’s tip. If offense proves temporarily unwise, Azir’s ult provides safe passage from a fight, building a wall between Azir and his pursuers.

Azir is said to work best with Yasuo, Sejuani and Sivir, while struggling against Ziggs, Kassadin, and Maoki. Judging by the rapid pace in which Riot revealed Azir, it's possible that he could be released very soon.

After watching his abilities in action, I have to say I'm not a fan. Though I love the concept of a champion who can summon an army to fight for him, I'm actually underwhelmed by the abilities themselves. I'll obviously wait to go hands-on with him before I cast my judgment, but it just feels like Riot is overthinking things when it comes to champion design.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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Games: League of Legends

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