There aren't that many Ivern players, to be frank. And the kind of people that a champ like Ivern attracts is not in the same clump of players that give a shit about sport skins. He only has 2 other skins. Why spit in the face of Ivern mains?
edit: Holy shit the blow up. TIL phrasing is important and brevity can bite you in the ass. Would like to clarify some things that I keep having to type in comments.
I don't particularly have a problem with the skin from a design perspective. That seems to be the common gripe about it, but it's meh, ok. Not great, by any means, but not awful. I like the retro feel of it. The problem I have is that it's been two years since a skin was released and it's very probable there won't be another for quite awhile, possibly ever. The best play, from a consumer satisfaction pov and a sales pov (both of which are crucially important for a free-to-play model to work), would've been to release a skin that had more general appeal. The fact is that basketball is not universally popular. It's a niche market regardless of the champ it's released on, this is self evident by the lack of games containing a sport skin. It's especially niche on Ivern, someone with little to no connection to the sport (or any sport, really… axe competitions maybe…). A Bob Ross skin, Void, Autumn, Definitely Not, Evil, Human… all kinds of great examples I've read in the comments, would've been better choices with likely higher sales and higher satisfaction (again, both crucially important to the success of the company).
Further, I posit that the kind of people that play Ivern aren't the kind of people that would want a sport skin. I can't emphasize enough that this is an oversimplification of a broader idea. I'm not saying that there are no Ivern players that like basketball. I'm also not trying to imply that people only play things like them. I'm obviously not a Prophet of the Void. I just think that on a generalized, macro scale, you would find trends, as you do in all societal structures. This isn't an idea I just came up with, there are people paid to study this stuff.
On this point, Riot conducted a study with internal data that they released here: https://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/page/find-your-lunch-table-which-champs-are-friends. It's not the most scientific or conclusive thing ever done. But it does showcase that people tend to gravitate towards similar champs. If they like playing Nami, they probably also like playing Sona. If they like Lee Sin, they probably also play Yasuo. There are pretty strong, measurable correlations drawn across a wide sample of people. It doesn't mean that a player can't enjoy Rammus and Ezreal, but that on the whole, players tend to gravitate towards things they are familiar with. This is a psychological and sociological principal that has been studied at length (search familiarity principle or unconscious bias for starters). Any given person is their own individual, with their own ideas and interests and experience. There are plenty of people that like basketball and Ivern. But if you look outside of the individual and at the societal level, you'll see trends. As a real world example, men have a tendency to be more aggressive than women. It's totally possible that if you took a random woman and a random man, that the woman would be the more aggressive one. But statistically, it's more likely that the man is. We don't really know why that is, it's very complicated. There are a lot of factors at play. But my point is, there are trends that exist in any body of people large enough, League of Legends players not excluded.
I think it's reasonable to make an assumption that people that play Ivern correlate to people that play other enchanters, Sona, Soraka, Janna. These aren't aggressive picks, they rely on someone else carrying, they don't have high skill ceilings, they aren't mechanically intensive… Sports, by nature, necessitate high skill and aggression, so I think it's also reasonable to make an assumption that the traits iconic of enchanters aren't statistically popular among sports enthusiasts and vice versa. Therefore, it's my educated guess that Ivern players on the whole, not as individuals, are not strongly correlated with sport enthusiasts, the players that would most want to purchase a basketball skin.
There are many individuals commenting below that this statement isn't representative of them. To them I say, rock that basketball skin, man. If you like it, I'm glad you're having a good time. Someone posted a really good point, maybe Riot wants to make a skin that gets people interested in Ivern that wouldn't normally play him. I think that's a great idea! He's a fun champ that I think will see more play soon (Ardent Meta Worlds 2019, you heard it here first). So, is "spit in the face" going a little overboard? Yes, yes it is. I just think that while some people may like the theme, it wasn't the best choice. As others have pointed out, regardless of whether you like sports or not, Ivern already has a silly skin and many might have preferred a more serious take. I think that's a fair ask. In any case, basketball Ivern has niche appeal and while niche is great for champions that have a lot of skin expression, it isn't great on champions that receive so little attention.
I have no expectations that anything will be done about it, but I know that Riot reads Reddit as one of many inputs of feedback and I hope that in the future, they'll consider what their target demographic is. If, as was said, their goal was to attract new players to the champ, I think they probably succeeded, but it was at the cost of dissatisfaction to many (not all, maybe not even most, but a large enough number that people are talking about it).
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