Ever since teasers for the edgy solo laner who “refuses to die” popped up, theories have run rampant, especially since they’re also described as being a “familiar face”; someone who has appeared in the lore before. One prevailing theory is that this character is Yone: the brother of Yasuo, killed while trying to bring Yasuo to justice for a crime he didn’t commit.
Personally, I think the Yone theory is terrible, and if it would happen it’d be catastrophically bad for the game, the lore, and Yasuo himself.
Now you might be thinking: “Well fuck you for shitting on my dreams of Yone as a champion”, but before you go on, I’d like to explain WHY I think this, and THEN go in to a couple of other options for who it could be, so as not to extinguish your hope, but provide you with some potentially cooler ideas for you to get hyped for! So let’s get on with it.
The reasons why Yone isn't the Masked Champion:
No. 1: There’s no Narrative Reason as to How it can be done
When Senna returned as a flesh and blood character, many of us in the lore community were left scratching our heads as to how the hell that happened, and while the logistics are still fairly vague, at the very least Senna returning AT ALL was effectively one major direction the lore could’ve gone in, and had been discussed a lot. Senna after all was trapped in Thresh’s lantern, meaning she was a part of the Black Mist. This made her undead, not dead, and meant she would have an option to exist as a still active character even if she got taken out of the lantern.
Yone has no such excuse.
To the best of our current lore knowledge, Yasuo killed Yone. There was no special magic involved other than Yasuo’s own wind technique, and nothing about that gives a means of having Yone return from the dead. Ionia is a place where spirits can grow corrupted and things become twisted, but at present we haven’t seen this in relation to bringing people back from the dead, and it also has very little to do with Yone’s own story, as it’s intrinsically tied to Yasuo’s and has no elements in it pertaining to spirits or the like.
If you want to use some previously unexplained means of resurrection or reanimation, that’s best done with an entirely new character, as was done with Pyke, Warwick or Azir, where the established means of them returning is a core part of their narrative.
No. 2: There’s no Narrative Reason at to Why it should be done
There’s also the issue of what bringing Yone back would do narratively. Senna returning was, as said before, always a possible narrative direction. There were things to gain by doing it, no matter what form it took, be she fully alive or a monsterous wraith. This was because Lucian’s story was at the time still focused on freeing her from the lantern, and so focus was still on her narratively.
The only two characters with any connections to Yone are Yasuo and, by very tentative means, Riven. Neither Yasuo or Riven are at a place in their stories where Yone’s death is something of primary focus, mostly because Yasuo was aquitted for the original crime that Yone was sent to kill him for, and Riven was sentenced for said crime, and is now living a new life with her new adopted family.
Yasuo right now is searching for purpose, which he confides to in the story Orchid’s Blossom in the book Realms of Runeterra. He’s lost and directionless, but given how Awaken is set, this will lead him towards standing alongside other heroes of Ionia in the defense of his homeland. He’s basically set on a path towards true redemption and becoming a hero himself, though he likely needs a bit of self reflection first.
Yone would be counter to this storyline. Yasuo’s original crime absolved in the eyes of the people, and while he probably still isn’t looked at especially favourably, he isn’t a wanted man anymore. While he might still feel guilt, ultimately the overall narrative concerning the crimes has finished, and that would be the only storyline Yone would serve.
Without being able to bring Yone back to tie in to that narrative, there isn’t really a reason to bring him back in a substantial way. If you want to bring an NPC in to the champion roster, there are NPCs with narratives better tied in to other narratives far more seamlessly.
No. 3: Yone is too much like Yasuo
Yone, in terms of his overall silhouette from his look in Legends of Runeterra, looks like a more refined version of Yasuo. This could create silhouette problems for him as a champion if he looks like Yasuo to such a degree that it’s hard to tell the two apart.
This couples with his the teaser’s colour scheme, as if Yone comes out as a red coloured swordsman wearing a mask, my concern would be that he would effectively be Bloodmoon Yasuo released as a champion.
Every other set of siblings in League is notably different from one another: Garen is a chunky knight, Lux is a gangly mage. Katarina’s a redheaded knife lady, Cassiopia’s got a snake arse. Nasus is a depressed dog, Renekton is an ADHD crocodile. Ornn is a goat that’s on fire. Volibear is a bear with a taser. Yone and Yasuo are just too similar.
No. 4: Yone’s Dead, and this New Champion “Refuses to Die”
This might seem a bit pedantic, but one point that comes up often is that this is a champion who “refuses to die”, implying they’ve either been on the cusp of death and survived, or been attacked by something with the intent to kill them, and survived.
Yone is just dead.
He didn’t refuse anything he went down like a sack of shit.
Even Yasuo’s own lore attests to that; Yasuo kinda just completely bodied Yone. He didn’t exactly put up a good showing; he died in a single strike.
Not exactly the most impressive of showings.
No. 5: Yone Doesn’t Wear a Mask
I’ll go in to more later but Yone’s lack of a mask in any depiction of him is also a factor. Masks are generally worn for specific reasons, such as ceremony or to safeguard one’s identity. Yone coming back would presumably be to go after Yasuo, and he doesn’t really need anonymity for that. If anything him wearing a mask would be detrimental to that plan.
TL;DR: Yone isn't the Masked Champion because there's no narrative means to bring him back from the dead, there's no narrative value in bringing him back, he's too much like Yasuo in appearance, he's dead, so he can't "refuse to die", and he doesn't have any connections to wearing a mask.
So Then Is That Just It?
Not entirely, because as I said earlier there are other (potentially stronger) narrative options for who our masked stranger could be. I have specifically two in mind I’d like to talk about:
General Du Couteau and Doran.
Edgelord Candidate No. 1: General Du Couteau
General Du Couteau is one of League’s oldest NPCs. For those who are unaware, the General is the biological father of Katarina and Cassiopeia, as well as the adoptive father figure of Talon.
He’s had an interesting development as the years have rolled by. In the original, pre-reboot lore he was an ally of Boram Darkwill, was opposed to both LeBlanc and Swain, and went missing while leaving clues that helped Katarina and Garen uncover corruption within the Institute of War that eventually led to Swain becoming the sole ruler of Noxus.
In the rebooted lore Swain’s role in the narrative has shifted, and with it his relationship to the General. According to Cassiopeia’s bio, General Du Couteau supported Swain’s coup, which put a lot of pressure on the Black Rose’s agents. His relationship with Katarina and Talon has seemingly remained unchanged from what it was pre lore reboot, but his fate is still ambiguous. The lore bit of lore we have on him is this information about supporting Swain, putting his most recent action in the lore as being 7 years ago, in the year 989.
There are a few things the General has going for him that make him fitting.
Firstly, because of the absence of lore about him in the last 7 years, it leaves his fate ambiguous. Coupled with the fact that he’s definetly made an enemy of the Black Rose, which his own wife and youngest daughter are a part of, this sets up a potential plot about him “refusing to die”, potentially because of a Black Rose assassination plot. There are some champions, such as Urgot and Swain, who alluded to the fact that the General was either betrayed by Swain or dead. However there has been no confirmation to this in universe, and the details are still vague and unclear, leaving a lot of wiggle room for Riot to work with.
Secondly, the teaser clearly shows a sword, and General Du Couteau has always been known as being proficient with bladed weapons, which is where Katarina and Talon get a lot of their skills from.
Thirdly, let’s talk about this champion being masked (See this is why I specifically mentioned Yone’s lack of masks). As I said before, masks are generally worn for specific reasons. In the case of the General, it might be to protect his identity. As we discussed above, his actions put the Black Rose, and his wife, in a bad spot, enough that they may have decided to target him. Going in to hiding and wearing a mask might be best to throw off potential assailants, especially in a place like Noxus.
This is much more theory fodder than true supporting evidence, but some folks are currently putting together the idea that the General is actually The Faceless. For those unaware, The Faceless is a member of the Trifarix; the ruling body of Noxus, with three members who represent each of Noxus’s founding principles. Swain and Darius are both of the Trifarix (Yes Darius is technically the joint king of Noxus), representing Vision and Might respectively. The Faceless represents Guile.
The Faceless’s identity is left deliberately vague in the story they have appeared in, with the only indication as to who they are being that they wear a mask that seems vaguely feminine. Some folks believe that potentially, The General entered in to the position of The Faceless under anonimity, potentially to hide his identity, or the fact he survived a potential Black Rose assassination. I feel this ties together nicely with what we know of the General at this point.
Of course this doesn’t preclude the idea that The Faceless could be someone else entirely, or that The Faceless couldn’t be the new champion while also NOT being General Du Couteau. At present all of this is mere speculation and theory, so feel free to take what you will from this.
Fourthly, this would tie directly in to the narrative for Noxus far better than a potential Yone reveal would. The mystery of what happened to General Du Couteau, and his relationship with Katarina, Talon and Cassiopeia in the lore is still pertinent to each of them, as Katarina tries to move past his teachings while Talon tries to stay true to them. Given he was also a supporter of Swain in the coup this also links him to the Trifarix as a whole, and the fact that his wife was a member of the Black Rose means he has ties there too. Basically, the General is a VERY involved NPC currently, and could potentially tie in very nicely to already existing plots.
TL;DR: the General’s fate is vague enough to work for the idea of a masked stranger, he fits the bill of using swords, he could be linked to another masked wearing npc in canon, has logical reasons to want to wear a mask and have had attempts made at his life, thus refusing to die, and is noticeably involved in the plot of Noxus enough to be worth adding to the already existing dynamics.
Before I move on though, I want to point out something important:
LeBlanc is NOT The Faceless. This has been outright confirmed by Rioters who work on the Narrative. The Faceless is a completely separate character from LeBlanc to the best of our knowledge. Swain would never allow her in to the Trifarix.
Edgelord No. 2: Doran
The next option here is Doran, a character many of you will be scratching your head about. Some context:
Doran is the supposed creator of the starting items of League: Doran’s Blade, Ring and Shield. In the pre-reboot lore he was a craftsman who made incredibly detailed and potent tools, but had an unfortunate incident involving a donkey kicking him in the head. This left him a bit brain damaged, but he was otherwise unscathed, and shifted his focus from super complex stuff to simpler things, hence why he made the three starting items. He was also the creator of Wukong’s staff.
In the post-reboot canon he still made Wukong’s staff and was a renowned weaponsmith, however he’s also confirmed to have been a resident of Wuju; Yi’s home town, and to have died during the Noxian Invasion of Ionia as a victim of chem-tech bombs, just like the rest of Wuju’s inhabitants. Beyond this there is also a line from Ornn that states he taught Doran everything he knows. Doran’s race has never been confirmed, so he could be a yordle, vastaya, or some other long lived race. Alternatively the line is just a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously. I DON’T TAKE SUCH HALF MEASURES but you guys take that for what you will.
Now there’s a few reasons as to why I think Doran would be a potentially good candidate.
Firstly, the teaser itself. The two teaser images display a large amount of swords planted in the ground, and one planted in a tree, which then begins glowing red. Personally I like to imagine this as a representation of Wuju’s people or the Wuju Blademasters as a whole.
All but Yi died among the people of Wuju and the Wuju Blademasters, and in the short story “Homecoming”, Master Yi is depicted kneeling before graves, each marked with a sword, so I feel this is worth noting. An alternative take on the above is that the swords are representative of Doran’s capacity as a weaponsmith.
Secondly it would be far more narratively significant to Yi and Wukong’s stories than a potential Yone return would be. Yi has yet to fully process the grief he feels for his dead friends and family, which is counter to Yasuo, who has passed this point in his narrative. Yi’s grief is actually a detriment to his own story, as currently corrupt spirits are growing in Wuju’s ruins, preying upon other spirits that come by. Yi needs to burn Wuju to the ground to deal with this, but he can’t let go of the past, and keeps putting that off, despite the situation growing worse with each passing day.
Doran returning from this corruption, representing Yi’s inability to let go of the past and how dangerous that is in Ionia, could be an incredibly powerful plot, especially when factoring in Wukong, who is the future of Wuju and thus will need to help Yi come to terms with this, put Wuju to rest and deal with a potential Doran situation.
There is also the factor of the second Noxian Invasion of Ionia, which seems fast approaching. Having Doran return as a living reminder of the war crimes Noxus committed against Ionia, to wreak vengeance for what had been done to Wuju, and indeed all of Ionia, could help hammer home the dire nature of not only the war itself, but imbalance in Ionia in general. It is the concept of Balance between the Material and Spirit Realms that keeps such corruption at bay, and with Noxus returning to disrupt it even further the results could be catastrophic.
Now of course there is the fact that Doran has no relation to masks, and also, as I stated with Yone, there is no established means of resurrection for Doran. Doran is confirmed dead, and while as stated with Yone, corrupt spirits are a thing, we haven’t seen anything regarding that and the ability for dead people to come back.
HOWEVER, if Riot does want to approach this idea of a person returning as a corrupt spirit, Doran would be a much better choice than Yone, because of his relevance to not only the Noxian invasion and the Imbalance of Ionia leading to corrupt spirits, which are interwoven with the current Wuju narrative, but Doran would also be more of an important factor for Yi and Wukong’s stories if he were to return, rather than Yone would for Yasuo.
I’ve been doing a lot of comparing between Doran and Yone here, deliberately so, because I feel that everything people would want from a Yone reveal would be achieved, but in a stronger narrative with Doran.
Now this doesn’t mean Doran is the ONLY option here. Some other Ionian options include Kusho, father of Shen and former leader of the Kinkou Order, with some other details about him revealed in the ZED comic that I won’t spoil, and potentially Lito, Zelos, or another member of Irelia’s family. These choices could fill similar roles to Doran; Kusho on the Imbalance side of things, Irelia’s family members on the Noxian Invasion and unprocessed grief side of things. I do think these options are weaker than Doran, but they are both potential candidates.
TL;DR: Doran was a weaponsmith, has narrative tie ins with the ideas of death, corrupt spirits, the balance of Ionia and the narratives of Yi and Wukong to stand on his own as a potential champion in League.
Personally, I really detest the idea of Yone coming back as a champion. I feel it would devalue a lot of Yasuo’s character development, and I don’t feel like he could be distinct enough from Yasuo to really serve the narrative of the game very well, and I think that bringing him back would be way too big of an arsepull to be done convincingly.
I still believe Yone COULD be released, but I definitely hope he isn’t.
Between General Du Couteau and Doran, I personally think the General would be the more likely character to see the light of day as a champion, and I think based on what I can drum up as evidence for my theories, he’s the one with the most grounding based on the small amount of information we currently have.
However I personally prefer Doran for the position, as based on what I discussed above, he could help explore some champions and narrative concepts that could use more of a spotlight, and potentially become an incredibly tragic and compelling story to tell.
Beyond that though, that’s all I have to say on this topic. Again I do want to say that I don’t mean to bring anyone down who’s really excited for a potential Yone release coming up. I’m glad you can be happy for it! Personally though it’s just not for me. Also my thoughts here are by no means iron clad, nor are they the only options. I only talked at length about 2 characters as options, but really there’s at least 6 NPCs who could fit this bill at the moment, maybe more that I’m forgetting.
So now I leave it to you all. What do you think?
TL;DR: General Du Couteau, father of Katarina, Cassiopeia and Talon, or Doran, deceased friend of Master Yi and creator of Doran’s Blade, Sword and Shield, are more likely options for “The masked stranger who refuses to die”, rather than Yone. Other options include Kusho, Zelos and The Faceless.
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