An oft-repeated legend stirs in the desert of Shurima. The swirling sands carry rumors of the ancient emperor Azir, somehow returned.
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.
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.
Azir is a mage who summons Shuriman soldiers to control the battlefield and basic attack for him. 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.
As in lane, as in teamfights: Azir shines in battles tied to one physical location, where he can safely order his soldiers around and dispatch adversaries from afar. In that vein, Azir dominates Baron and Dragon fights, using his ultimate to lock enemy teams into (or out of) the pits. If teamfights take a roadtrip, Azir must be judicious with Arise! and Conquering Sands, moving his zone of control along with the combatants. Post-initiation, Azir’s an expert at punishing uncoordinated enemies. Shifting Sands—combined with Azir’s ultimate—separates enemy front-liners from their damage dealing dependents, dividing the enemy team for methodical conquering. With the baddies split, Azir charges his soldiers in for the kill, pumping out marksman-level sustained damage until none challenge his rule.
In jungle skirmishes, Azir sets up nasty ambushes with Conquering Sands, transforming convenient exits into spear-guarded gauntlets. Similarly, Emperor’s Divide wholly closes a jungle entrance, sealing Azir’s foes in with him. Trapped, they’re surely short work for Azir, his soldiers and their allies. If a fight goes south, Azir reliably disengages with his ultimate or beguiles baddies with Arise! and Shifting Sands, spiriting himself over a jungle wall.
Disc of the Sun doesn’t raise a turret quick enough to be of much use in teamfights, but sieges are a different story. When attacking enemy inhibitors, Azir can resurrect their inner turret, trapping the enemy team inside their crumbling base and making counter-engages a dangerous proposition. Conversely, when Azir’s base is under assault, Arise! and Shifting Sands help him jump the base wall and sneak around the siege to rebuild his own inner turret. Caught between the inhibitor turret and the Sun Disc, the enemy team can either scatter or be crushed.
Azir, designed by ZenonTheStoic
What does it mean to be the Emperor?
More than anything, an emperor has subjects. An emperor does not act; he commands. With that in mind, it made sense to focus gameplay on controlling the might of Shurima!
Internally, we call these champs “minion-mancers”. Once we knew Azir would take on this kind of kit, we knew it was time to look at what does and doesn’t work for these often-problematic designs:
Heimer taught us that auto-attacking, stationary minions tend to lead to defensive play. From the likes of Elise, Malzahar, and Yorick we learned that players do not appreciate minions that run off and do their own thing. Spiderlings ended up on a short leash and Voidlings follow Malefic Visions relentlessly. Finally, minions the player directly controls aren’t a great fit for League’s control scheme and lack the counterplay of “stay outside of this zone”.
Awareness around these problems allowed us to introduce appropriate trade-offs to Azir’s kit. With these weaknesses in place, we could make the soldiers very strong indeed; imagine if I told you that, given the right setup, your basic attack has 1200 range and hits units in an AOE.
Here’s how we approached the core loop of soldier generation and manipulation:
Arise! creates a sand soldier at a target location, from which the soldier projects threat in a circle--so far, so Heimerdinger. However, soldiers require an active input. Azir must right-click and go through a basic attack animation for soldiers to do anything. This makes both Azir and his enemy understand that a conscious command was given to the soldier. This also means that if Azir is stunned or running away, soldiers cease to be a threat. All of a sudden, Azir’s opponent can comfortably aggress.
Conquering Sands orders all soldiers to charge toward a target location, damaging and slowing enemies they pass through. This forces Azir to think carefully about when and where to send soldiers. Can Azir afford to use the spell for damage and slow or (Counterplay incoming!) will this allow the enemy to engage on Azir while his soldiers are temporarily unable to move?
Taken together, Arise! and Conquering Sands form a minion kit that gives enough control to make the emperor feel in control while leaving enough weaknesses to make enemies feel that aggression is an option.
We’re excited to see what you make of Shurima’s greatest emperor. Let us know what you think in the comments below!