This post condensates my ideas on how to update Xin Zhao visually, mechanically and also a little bit story-wise. I will delve into the champion's fundamentals, and give a thorough insight on why his current state needs changing.
This is not a "Xin Zhao weak pls buff his E" or a "champion dead revert pls" type of post, not that there's something wrong with them, but I want to make a thoughtful analysis on a champion that I really like and I want to give my take on how to make him more appealing, up-to-date and funnier than he already is.
- My relationship with Xin Zhao
- The champion, what he is and what he should be
- Champion problems
- In his lore
- In his kit
- In his visuals
- In his identity in the game as it is now
- How to fix
- His lore
- His kit
- His visuals
- His identity in the game as it is now
- What weaknesses Xin Zhao should have and what weaknesses he has now
My relationship with Xin Zhao
Xin Zhao is my favorite champion in the whole game. I've played LoL since the end of season 3, and I started playing him at the end of 2016, after I got his "Warring Kingdoms" skin in a chest. Since then, I've loved his kit, his identity and his gameplay, but I got a little disappointed in his rework and stopped playing him for a while. Then at the beginning of the year I couldn't help but going back to playing with him, and he is basically what still keeps me playing LoL.
Up until now I have acquired 500 thousand mastery points with him. I have tried it all: Making him ap, ad, tank, crit, as-based, bruiser, toplaner, midlaner, jungler, ad carry; I have tried virtually every rune possible on him, all the item synergies possible, and I simply can't get enough. I love the guy. There are some aspects of his gameplay that are unique, he is a somewhat tanky assassin, and at the same time he is extremely swift, fast-paced and gracious, he only has one skillshot and is very dominant in the earlygame. Despite having 603 mastery ranks, he is the only champion I can say I truly got to master.
The champion, what he is now and what he should be
Nowadays, Xin Zhao is described as a Diver, recommended for the Jungle. He is balanced as a melee bruiser, who has for essential items the Blade of The Ruined King, Trinity Force and Skirmisher's Sabre. His champion spotlight is out-of-date, but it shows he can be a "tank" or a "melee dps", and the balancing team has continuously shown that this is where he should be, despite his problems with hybrid ap builds and his sustain. Storywise, he is a seneschal, loyal to the Demacian royalty after being rescued and repatriated from the Noxian army/arenas. An ex-member of a fishing crew, he is known as an undefeated duelist in the Noxian arenas.
- Playerbase reality
Xin Zhao ranks as a tier B, sub-optimal jungler on the most popular champion ranking aggregators. He doesn't excel at any particular aspect of the game, most people don't really know how to build him and are most of the time trying to find ways of compensating his flaws. It is hard to make him mobile, and at the same time he has to have attack speed, tankness and sustain to actually dive. He has very strong early prowess, and most of his playerbase find him useless after the 20 minute mark.
- My reality
I see and play Xin Zhao as a midlaner. He isn't viable as a jungler, for the same reason that Irelia, Yasuo, Sylas, Riven, Aatrox, Kled etc. aren't properly suited for this lane. He was designed in a time when a little bit of sustain and one mobility skill was all that it took for one to be a good jungler. I love playing him mid. As a midlaner, he has a very strong earlygame, with focus on lane pressure and jungle invading. You have to dominate your opponent and know the exact opportunity windows to poke with your W, manage the wave for a level 3 all-in, build properly, and secure a kill. Going down the lane while the turrets get prepped up while I listen to "Dynasty", by Rina Sawayama, is a cathartic experience and makes me feel like an unbeatable duelist, like a character based on Dynasty Warriors would make you feel.I have been trying to climb with him, without much success, it's true, but there really are games in which I carry. I see him as a duelist who has outplay potential.
- What he should be
Xin should be an agressive, bulky midlaner fighter with viability in the jungle, kinda like Ekko and Diana. He should be a duelist that goes very well against assassins and burst mages, like Lux, Syndra, Zoe, etc. He should have a very good early game, a complicated midgame and a favorable lategame. And fit the role of a mid diver/peeler, which nowadays is not a very common role, thus making him more unique.
Mordekaiser, Camille, Jarvan, Irelia, all of those fighters/divers have ways of isolating key targets in unique an meaningful ways. Xin deserves this too. Why not jungle/toplane? Because his kit and his concept favors much more the idea of constant, strategic combat against a squishy enemy, while also being able to disrupt a 2v1 counter-gank scenario in the right circumstances.Invading the enemy jungle as a midlaner fits way more the idea of a servant who goes on missions but isn't a frontliner, and he would go very well with J4 as a partner, considering that nowadays the jungler and the midlaner work almost like the adc and support (I will talk more about synergies later). What keeps him from being all of this right now will be addressed further.
He is far from useless, otherwise I wouldn't even play him. It's not a Volibear/Yorick/Urgot pre-rework situation, the thing is: he is almost there, he is almost a complete, up-to-date and excellent champion. But Xin Zhao lacks identity.
His selection quote says: "to the Arena!", but he has been freed from it already, and he never liked being a Reckoner anyway. Nothing explains why he has healing, his story with Ionia, Demacia and Noxus don't mash up together, he has no personality, because most of his concept came from Dynasty Warriors and stopped there.
When it comes to his kit, nothing shows that he is a proper duelist. He says "I may be outnumbered, but not even the odds can stand against me!", but nothing in his kit makes him do well in a 2v1 scenario, and as a diver, Camille will probably be better than him in anything he ever tries to do.
Gameplay-wise, we only know that he has to have an early game presence, but we also know that he has sustain problems, because if the balancing team allows him to heal too much, he becomes unstoppable (who doesn't remember ap Xin Zhao soloing turrets at the 15 minute mark?), so he must stay in this thematic limbo, where there are a lot of good ideas that don't fit well together because his kit and his identity were never thought as a whole. Let me explain:
His lore isn't engaging enough, and doesn't add up to the Champion's kit, gameplay style or identification.He was designed when honestly there were not much thought process behind a champion's kit and his presence in the world. He was designed to be fun, and this is what he can deliver when the proper circumstances are met. The thing is. We should learn and make sense of his experiences, he is a seneschal, ok, but what grandious things did he actually manage to do by himself, besides being an enslaved fisherman? Where did he learn how to use that spear, after all?The mage insurgence brought new aspects to his lore, but he is already old when it happens. Why is that? And what has he done from being spared by Jarvan III until his death?
His kit is extremely fun and straightforward, no puns intended with the spear. But nowadays things are very settled when it comes to a champion's kit. We know what Yasuo should be buying first and how much as he needs, we know which items will make Master Yi de demon he is, We know which skills we should max first when we pick Qyiana.Xin doesn't have that, because his update didn't actually adapt him to be and fit a specific role, he dives and that's it. He has many things in his kit, ap ratios on E, cast time reduction on W based on his as, cooldown reduction on his Q, hybrid sustain on his passive, aa-resets, and so it goes.
But as far as straight-forwardness go, it's almost impossible to keep a champion with so many strong atributes balanced and engaging at the same time. It is not wrong to be able to adapt, much on the contrary, it's one of the things that I like the most about him. But we all know by now that this isn't on purpose, he was just put aside and toned down a little bit so he doesn't cause much trouble. But this leaves Xin Zhao players on a very frustrating position, because we tend to think "OH MY GOD! ALMOST!" toooo many times. His kit is always almost good.
Since he has a lackluster lore, there's not much to develop when it comes to skins or his image. Can he be a singer, like K/DA? No. Will it make sense if he becomes a super villain, like Kayn does in the Odyssey collection? Nope. Do we root for him, identify with him, understand his suffering well enough to be moved by a song that talks about his themes, like "The Curse of the Sad Mummy" or "As we fall?" Well, I think we got the picture.
His ultimate doesn't look impactful enough, sometimes people don't even notice that they are being challenged, or that he has ulted at all.His W doesn't sound or seem at all like "thunder becomes lightning".Also, he doesn't show anything with his walking, the way he uses his spear, and we don't have a way of spotting him among other generic spearmen. Plus the tip of his spear is too… BFSpear! Cardboard. Twitch's feet back in 2012. Change it. But I must say that the way he twirls when he resets with Q is pretty cool.
- His identity in the game as it is now
I can't stress this enough: Xin Zhao lacks gameplay identity.
Yes, I love how versatile he can be. But as I've previously said, it's not intentional. Because as a diver, he can't get out as other divers can. As a tank, he doesn't have proper damage mitigation as others do. As an early ganker/skirmisher, he doesn't have the clear-speed as other early powerhouses do. As an assassin, he doesn't have the mobility and the burst other fellow slayers have. As a duelist, he doesn't have enough sustain and stickiness. He has a little bit of all of this, but isn't great at any of them.
It will never be known what to properly buff on him. The players won't know what to do with him, and opponents won't know what to expect from him. Is he a frontliner? A poker? A peeler? An invader? Should my toplaner be a tank in order for me to pick him? We don't have answers to these questions if we play Xin, but we do when we think about Kayn, who can purposely adapt to the team's composition and have a very specific identity at the same time.
Nowadays, the only true weight a Xin Zhao will have on the rift is "well if this guy doesn't get 14 kills in 15 minutes, we're good". He can't become a meme like Teemo or Yasuo, he can't be respected like Aphelios or Aurelion Sol, he can't be in a cinematic, no one thinks about him ulting.He is a wallflower, waiting for you in the riverbush hoping that he can manage to cast his E after you flashed/spent your escape.
But enough with complaining, let's get to the fixing.
How to fix
Fixing Xin Zhao means updating him to the moment we're playing the game: in LoL, now, the regions matter, the factions matter, the way the characters relate to each other matter, the roles they represent in the rift matter. By fixing him I mean giving him a reason to exist in the game. What can he add to the Rift, that he already kinda does, that other champions haven't added already? How can he be irreplaceable?
Xin Zhao's story needs to be coherent and justify the way he behaves in game, in an original way. Here's how I would adjust it:
- He was a fisherman in Ionia in his youth. He used to spearfish, and with the spear, he would also help protect the village he lived in, from the elders he adapted his way of life with his fighting style and his fishing technique. As a fisherman and protector, he had to learn to be precise and gentile with his weapon, always looking to catch his prey flawlessly, be it on the seashore, be it on his fishing ship called The Viscero.
- During the invasion of Ionia, a mercenary team captured him as the sole survivor of his village, because he refused to retreat and out-dueled almost every enemy in his path. They saw him as a good addition to the arenas, and trafficked him as a Reckoner, giving him the name of his former fishing vessel.
- In the Noxian arenas, he made his fame as Viscero, the unbeatable spearman who would take down his enemies in a precise, respectful manner. That life, though, was meaningless to Xin Zhao because he didn't have a purpose to fight, other than being alive. But during this time he perfected his spearmanship, and each victory seemed to make him stronger than before. He battled Alistar and defeated him, but refused to kill him as a prize.
- As the war advanced, he was bought as a slave-soldier and fought flawlessly until being too outnumbered and captured once again, this time by Demacian soldiers. There, he showed a great sense of honor and king Jarvan III spared his life, given that Xin Zhao swore his loyalty to the Demacian Dynasty. Since he had no village to go back to, nor did he have a meningful purpose in needless killing, Xin Zhao was employed as a Demacian Soldier.
- In one of his missions, he found an empowered spear that had a strong calling to it. It was calling for him and suddenly, when he wielded it, he became even stronger. Each time he pierced his enemies, he felt healthier and stronger, but the famine for mindless bloodlust began to grow inside. His resolve and his sense of honor actually made him dominate the craving for cruelty the weapon desired, and he then defeated a Darkin spear that carried the corrupted aspect of THE HONOR, the LOYALTY and ENDURANCE.
- Although it made him more powerful (and thus a CHAMPION), it made him also unstable for all of the trauma he had suffered in the past regarding bloodshed. Knowing this, the Lightshield family recurred to him as an elite Seneschal who would only kill for Demacia when necessary. He would only engage in massacres if they meant a threat to his Dynasty; which then he would kill anything on his way. But for his honor and his sense of justice, he couldn't be a simple soldier anymore. He became Demacia's secret agent. In one of those special missions, the mage isurgence happens and the king gets killed.
- When king Jarvan III dies, Xin Zhao keeps his vow to maintain Demacia and its values safe. He and Jarvan VI, then, team up together to eliminate threats wherever they are, swiftly and precisely.
I will post in the comment section a list of voicelines he could have.
Interactions / Minigames:
With J4 on the same team:"Demacian Spears of Justice" stat:
Each takedown made in a combo with J4 + Xin will grant them both 1+ gold.
Against Sylas:"The Ultimate Mission":
Xin Zhao must put a stop to Sylas' madness.
He has to take him down before he wreaks more havoc.
Sylas is being hunted by the Seneschal of Demacia.
He must show him that blind servants are also part of the problem.
Both of them have to have 15+ Kill participations for it to be activated at random.One must kill the other first, but in this case assists don't count.Stat: Justice has been done
If Xin kills Sylas first, the healing factor of his ultimate rises up.
Stat: The revolution can't be stopped
If Sylas kills Xin first, everytime he steals an ultimate, he receives a little HP.
This lore update makes all of his kit cohesive and puts him in a very specific point in the world: He is an experienced Ionian who has been prisoner of the two most ancient and imponent factions in the world.He has lived war in every way, and he never saw glory in it, despite being chosen by a weapon that would make him one of the most feared tyrants in history. Instead, he is just a fisherman on the inside, controlling his urge for blind revenge and carnage with honor, loyalty and resolve.This will make it understandable that his build path can be adaptative and variable, but with intent and clear limitations.
Fixing his kit means making him optimal in something other champions aren't, and at the same time making him easy to balance and to understand. He must be a niche champion, made for niche players who want do play the game in a very specific way. Right now, his sustain works more like a hidden power, his AA and CD resets are lackluster, and his mobility is subpar with other champions in the same area. Because of this, I propose the following kit (with explanations):
Passive: The Challenge of the Seneschal
Upon hitting an enemy champion, large minion or large monster with auto attacks, Xin Zhao applies the CHALLENGED effect on the eligible unit, allowing different interactions with them. The effect lasts 3 seconds and can only be applied to one unit at a time.
While moving towards a CHALLENGED unit, Xin Zhao gains 15% movement speed, and every third successful auto-attack on a CHALLENGED unit reduces the cooldown of all of his abilities in 1s.
It is not healthy to have a passive heal, as much as I love to have infinite sustain with him. This is too difficult do balance because it impacts his clear speed, his dueling power and his AP scalings, so we should make his passive focus on his ability to dive and stick to his foes, specially in the early game.
Q: Three Fighting Stances
No cast time – 0.5-0.2s recast time based on as / 30 mana / Cooldown: 8 – 7,5 – 7 – 6,5 – 6s
First cast:Xin Zhao activates his fighting stance, making his next basic attacks become UNSTOPPABLE, gain 30+ Range and deal 20 / 28 / 36 / 44 / 52 (+ 40% bonus AD) bonus physical damage for 4 seconds, or until he reaches the limit of AAs each stance provides. The first cast also activates the first stance, and the ability can be recast two more times to change his stances, reseting the 4s timer. The bonus granted by each stance doesn't stack with the other.
- First Cast: The Fisherman's Barb
Xin Zhao's next 2 Auto attacks will slow the enemy by 15% for 2s. CHALLENGED enemies will receive bonus 15% slow when moving away from Xin Zhao.
- Second cast: The Redeemer's Shiv
Xin Zhao's next 2 auto attacks will heal him for 5/20/45/60/75 + 5%AD + 55%AP.
- Third cast: The Viscero's Talon
Xin Zhao's next auto attack will have doubled critical chance, but will only deal 80% of the critical damage and will knock up the enemy for **0.75 seconds. CHALLENGED enemies are knocked up for 1.25 second.
This is what will make Xin Zhao unique, fun, balanced and viable again. Knowing how to properly use this ability will separate the good Xin players from the best.
How I've envisioned it:
On first cast, he wil activate his first stance. On his first stance, all of the next 2 aa's will deal bonus damage and slow his enemy, and the stance will not "automatically" advance to the second or third stance. In order to slow, lifesteal and knock up his enemies, Xin Zhao will have to activate his Q three consecutive times.
What is the skill ceiling in this?
A good Xin player will E the oponent, then AA, then Q one time, changing the stance, then, after he has landed the 1 strike with Fisherman, he will press Q again, to land a strike of the Redeemer's Shiv, then he will press Q again to knock the challenged enemy up. AA+QAA+QAA+QAA.A great Xin player will reset his auto-attacks 3 times, in an AA+QAA+AA+QAA+AA+QAA combo, making him insanely and quickly make 6 different auto-attacks in a very short amount of time, giving him 2s of cdr on his skills.
Or they can bluff and sacrifice the stickiness and jump in the enemy's face with the third stance already procced, just to knock'em up, following by W and the active items like Bilgewater Cutlass and Tiamat. If he does that, he won't challenge the enemy with the knock up aa, because he won't have landed any AA prior to that, and therefore the knock up lasts shorter.
In the jungle, it will be way better to go E+AA+QAA+AA+QAA+QAA, since knocking the monster up is not that necessary, and his sustain can be better this way, without making him oppressive against other champions. You will have to choose how you want to duel, based on many variables and matchups, and this is something that we can already do with him, but not very well. Not many champions really excel in active item management and AA resetting and I think that it would be awesome if Xin did that.
This can be very threatening in the early game, but as the game progresses it will be harder to connect all of the attack resets, which is fine. But we will talk about how his gameplay should progress later.
W – Wind becomes lightning
Wind: 0.4s cast time, Lightning: 0.4-0.2 cast time, based on as. Wind aoe-radius: 400 / Lightning target range: 900. Cost: 45 mana. Cooldown: 20 / 18 / 16 / 14 / 10 s.
- On tap: Wind
Xin Zhao spins his spear in a 360º area, applying on attack effects to the first enemy champion hit and AOE physical damage to all other enemies hit. On cast time (0.4s), he roots himself on the ground and becomes UNSTOPPABLE (like Fiora and Ornn) and receives 15%/17.5%/20%/23.5%/25% less damage from all non-turret sources.After this cast time, the slash will deal 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 + 20% AD + 50% AP physical damage to all units hit in the area, and will heal Xin Zhao in 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 + 7% AD + 25% AP for each enemy champion hit.
CHALLENGED units heal bonus 5% of Xin Zhao's missing health.
- On hold for more than 0.2 seconds: Lightning
Xin Zhao thrusts with the spear in a straight line in front of him on a target direction, dealing 30 / 65 / 100 / 135 / 170 (+ 75% AD) AOE physical damage to all enemies hit, and slowing them in 50% for 1.5 seconds.
CHALLENGED enemy slow duration is increased to 2 seconds. CHALLENGED enemies take bonus 4% of their missing health as true damage and hitting an enemy champion refunds the cooldown and mana cost of the skill in 50% (only once). Both strikes deal less 50% damage to minions.
This W makes more sense than the one we have now. Honestly, his W rework was what made me stop playing him for the first time. But now, I understand how useful it can be. It should be his way of mantaining himself in the lane or in the jungle, and at the same time makes him adapting: now his W can be a semi-aa reset with Wind, and also an executer with Lightning. Since he can only deal %life damage to CHALLENGED enemies, his poke doesn't get opressive, and he needs to rotate his kit in order to consistently use this tool.
E – Audacious charge
No cast time. Cost: 50 mana / Target range: 650 / Effect radius: 300/ Cooldown: 11s.
Xin Zhao dashes in the target enemy's direction. Upon landing, he deals 50 / 75 / 100 / 125 / 150 (+ 50% AP) magic damage in an area around the target, and gains 40 / 45 / 50 / 55 / 60% as.
The range of the skill RISES to 850 if there is a CHALLENGED champion in a 1000 units radius close to Xin Zhao. (Like Caitlyn's passive, he can only dash further to the CHALLENGED) unit. If a CHALLENGED unit dies, the cooldown and mana cost of Audacious Charge are refund in 50%.
Audacious charge needs to be more than a dash, and at the same time it needs to be fair for both Xin Zhao and his opponent. I removed the slow on his E and moved it to other skills because this way it gets better balancing.
Since he will only CHALLENGE foes who he can successfully land and AA, the range increase will only make sense when he is already in a position to chase, and his cooldown will only be refund in takedowns. So it's a very good skill to help him being in the fight, and someone would have to be creative in order to use it as a means of escape. As an identity, Xin Zhao should not have many ways to run away from fights, because he should be a high-stakes champion, who hardly retreats. He does it sometimes, sure, but not so easily.
R: Demacian Ring
0.3 cast time / Cost: 100 mana / Cooldown: 120/110/100. Starting area of effect radius: 400. Ring growth radius: 100 units/s
Xin Zhao sweeps his spear around him, dealing 50/75/100 + 7%/ 8,5/ %10% of the target's current health as true damage (600 damage max. against monsters), while knocking back any unit that isn't Challenged by 600 units, and healing Xin Zhao by 10% of the damage dealt as TRUE HEALING.
After pushing the enemies away, Xin Zhao creates a ring around him, which will grow continuously in size after 0/1/2 seconds, then it will dissipate after it has reached a 700 unit radius.
When inside the Ring, neither Xin Zhao nor the CHALLENGED unit can receive alteration in their health points by units from outside of the ring. They will both be INVULNERABLE to either damage or healing from all external sources. If the challenged unit forfeits the ring, the effect deactivates on them and they become vulnerable again, but Xin Zhao remains invulnerable to damage until the ring dissipates.
Non-challenged UNITS who touch the edge of the ring receive a 50% slow for 2/2.5/3s when moving toward Xin Zhao or the CHALLENGED unit. The slow can only be applied once, and if there is a CHALLENGED unit inside of the ring at the moment of collision. AAs and skill casts make the ring decrease its size by 45 units, capped at 400 units. If a CHALLENGED enemy dies while DEMACIAN RING is active, the ring size decreases by 150 units, capped at 400 units.
His ult is awesome, but it needs some improvements and quality of life changes and identity.
Almost every diver have a way of locking their victim and neutralizing them. Xin Zhao doesn't have now, and doesn't need to. What he gets to lock though is the outcome of the duel: neither he nor his opponent can receive help or be disturbed as long as the ult lasts. It is a very cool way of making the fight "fair", and at the same time dynamic and interesting. He should be able to neutralize his opponents and quickly jump next to the other enemies. He is fearless, but he isn't reckless.
Well, now that we have already stablished Xin's kit, his personality and story, it's way easier to figure how he should present himself in the game.
- His armor should be less heavy, because he is not a battler for the field. Instead, he should use a navy blue vest with silver and gold details, like Demacians do. -He can keep the long hair, but the ponytail should be more disciplined and it must follow his circular playing style.
- He should be in his late 30s, at the peak of his form, but starting to fade.
- His spear should have details on the tip, and resemble a Darkin weapon. When he found the spear, it was already fading and it didn't get to corrupt his body.
- I thought of the Roman skirmisher, without the helmet and the shield, since Demacia is a little based on Rome.
Movement and behavior:
- He should be very delicate when he resets his AAs, and spin his spear gracefully.
- He should run on the tip of his toes when coming out of base or having very large boosts of speed, kind of like Kalista does, but should walk firmly and in good posture, like he's busy.
Animations and stances:
- The modifications to his AAs should represent all of the stages he's had in life. When he activates his Q, the tip of the spear glows golden. Then it gets a shade of green when in the Fisherman's Barb, a shade of red in The Redeemer's Shiv, and a bright yellow shade in The Viscero's Talon. When in the Fisherman, he holds his spear as if he would throw it, pointing it forward. When in the Redeemer's Shiv, he agressively sweeps his blades sideways, and in the Viscero's Talon, he knocks up firmly.
- His Warring kingdoms skin NEEDS to have a horse when quickly coming out of the base, like Vayne does with her motorcycle. When he recalls, he calls his horse back.
- His dance should be updated to something more professional and of good taste. We could, for example, use this bit from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, from the 1:25 to the 1:30 mark: https://youtu.be/mClOxgyWLs8?t=84.
- When he recalls, he should sit cross-legged, close his eyes and rest his spear peacefully on his lap. The spear will then increasingly glow red. Xin Zhao will then grab it firmly, open his eyes and stand up in a swift spin. When he spins, he keeps going up and then appears in the base.
- Now that we understand what niche he fits in the game, we can understand what themes would be cool to give him. Cosmic defender is nice for the ASPECT part, Warring Kingdoms, Comando, Secret Agent are very nice to put him too. But considering this Secret Agent – S- Mission Demacian Soldier, he would fit very well in the Project theme, Beast Hunter, Odyssey, Chosen, PsyOps, Special Forces, Pulsefire and so on.
His identity in the game as it is now
Xin's identity should be of an early game hypercary who will have early game dominance through strategy and out-dueling. A Xin player will have to dominate both micro (aa resets, cooldown timers, animation cancelling) and macro (jungle roots, rotations, objective timing, farming, roaming and jungle invading) managing in order to perform well with him.
He is a strong midlane fighter who will have to invade and roam, adapting his runes and his build to counter one specific target on the opposite team (generally his opposed midlaner or the enemy's adc).He can't be a frontliner, nor can he be an assassin. He will be like Irelia, Wukong, Diana or Sylas, but with early-game bullying and mid-game deficiency.As viable in the jungle, he will serve the purpose of a secondary diver, and his dominance in the early will be granted by his easy access to non-mobile champions, and he can adapt his kit to clear camps with ease.
In comparison of power
- He will almost always lose early-game fights against juggernaults, tanks and bruisers like Garen, Malphite, Riven, Darius, Mordekaiser, Renekton, Lee Sin, Volibear, Rammus, Zac etc., but he will be able to fight equally and hold them back in the lategame, if he manages to build properly.
- He will almost always win against assassins, burst mages, late-game divers or late-game tanks like Yasuo, Zed, Lux, Annie, Ahri, Evelynn, Amumu, Elise, Vi, Galio, Shyvanna, but he will start to lose strenght against them as the game progresses.
- He will definitely live the hell on earth against control/artillary/burst mages like Morgana, Neeko, Zyra, Malzahar, Veigar, Azir, Orianna, Xerath, Ziggs, Zilean etc., and it will demand him a lot of help from the jungler to survive those lanes.
It's important to notice that Xin will have a hard midgame, but his lategame may be decent. But instead of diving in, he will adopt a supportive role and try and help his ad-carry, using his skills to disrupt and peel for them (like he should have done with Jarvan III).
In order to do that and not becoming extremely unbalanced, his optimal builds will focus on as, ls and hp, but both as and ls will have diminishing returns (as they already do now). An AP or Crit version would be very rare and unlikely, and at the same time building defensive items would take away too much of his presence and damage, so he will be beefy, but not tanky (characters with damage based on life will have a 3000 hp Ionian piñata to hit if the game reaches the 30 minute mark).
Essencial items should be: Trinity Force, Frozen Mallet, BotRK, Death's Dance. Skirmisher's in case of jungling.Runes would be optional to the playstyle, but any rune from the Precision tree could be useful, along with Hail of Blades, Electrocute, Phase Rush and Grasp of the Undying. But all of the sustain or tankness runes will take much of his early dueling potential, so it's a choice the player will have to make carefully.
What weakness Xin Zhao has and what weakness he should have
Right now Xin Zhao is not necessarily very weak. He sits on a 50% win rate in plat+ leagues and there are champions in worse conditions. But the thing is, since he doesn't have a true identity, people don't know what to do to or with him, and he has become a jack-of-all-trades champion that no one refers to when they want to seriously climb their elo.
He doesn't have enough sustain nor stickiness to gank and grant a kill. Most of his power relies on flat damage, so tanks almost always make him useless. This isn't bad per se, but he is sold as a meelee bruiser, so most people think he will be a frontliner too. He isn't a frontliner, for many reasons discussed prior. So by the 20 minute mark the team starts asking "hey Xin Zhao weren't you supposed to be starting the fight"? To which the Xin players with half a trinity force will shrug and reply "my ultimate pushes people away, what do you want me to do?"
Then the team replies "Well, I don't know, maybe pick something actually useful like a Graves, a Volibear, a Rammus or a Kayn?"
To define his weakness, we should treat him kind of like Lee Sin, but for the midlane. There are MANY bad Lee Sin players around there. We know how useless Lee can be. But there is that one Lee Sin that is at the right place at the right time and that ends the game in 15 minutes. Lee Sin is not a frontliner, he isn't an assassin, he is kind of both, but we know what he does, how to build for him, how to build against him, and actually how to win with him. If we see gameplay videos, guides and the Xin Zhao mains reddit, we will easily see how uncertain using him can be. This shouldn't happen.
In my opinion, Xin Zhao should be weak against teams who prepare for jungle invading and for allies who don't articulate enough, or who can hold thing until the mid/lategame. If people build %life damage, he will be easier to handle. He should be weak to lane freezing and vision control. He will almost always lose to short trades (Fizz, for example, will be a very hard fish to catch). His waveclear will be lacking, in order to clear the wave and roam he should first Tiamat.
Thank you if you had the patience to read all of this. I really hope that this can be a conversation starter. I'd love to see with my fellow spearmen if those ideas sound cool.
He should be a meele midlane fighter who excels in early 1v1 combat, like Irelia, Wukong, Ekko, Sylas and Diana. His itemization should focus primarily on life and AD. He can be viable in the jg, but not S tier. His kit, lore and identity should reflect that, by adding more elements of the modern history of the game, like his spear being a redeemed Darkin and him being Demacia's secret agent. Changes to his kit involve making the CHALLENGER part of his kit more present and meaningful, and investing on AA resets to make him stick more to his targets and outduel them.
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