Game Design

arcane’s silco is not league of legends champion material

The success of the League of Legends animated series Arcane has a lot to do with its characters.  Namely, villain-turned-father-figure Silco became a standout favourite of the series.

For Riot, one might imagine that this television property would serve as a goldmine for future playable champions to arrive in the League of Legend’s MoBA game.  And at the top of the list would surely be Silco.

Alas, no.  A League of Legends developer revealed on Reddit that despite Silco arriving in Riot’s auto-battler Teamfight Tactics, there are no plans to bring him to the popular MoBA.

They’re right.  Understanding the differences between designing characters for the video game and for the animated series was what made the series so successful.

In this blog post, I will discuss the differences in character designs of the League of Legends characters in the game versus in the animated series, and why Silco as he is would be a weaker character if included in the League of Legends champion roster.


Silco Doesn’t Have the Unique Silhouette Required to be a League of Legends Champion

This basically nails the reason why we have no current plans to bring Silco to LoL. His silhouette for one would not even be close to passing our unique silhouette bar, which is very important for gameplay clarity in LoLMoba (We believe you should be able to quickly recognize who a champion is regardless of which skin they are using by seeing their silhouette)

Reav3, Reddit

The post mentions a very practical reason for Silco’s exclusion from LoL: his lack of a unique silhouette.  For a MoBA game like League of Legends, it is important for players to identify not only characters but also their distinct abilities at a glance.  And with League of Legends‘ extensive catalogue of 150+ playable champions and 10 on the battlefield each match, this must be of utmost importance for clarity in-game.

A great way to do this is by using the silhouette test to identify different characters.  If they can be easily distinguished based on their shape alone, they are good candidates for a fast-paced, character-centric game like League.

Indeed, this is a reasonable concern for Silco, because he has no magic abilities nor does he fight or wield a powerful weapon.  But this also points to a key difference between the characters in the game and in the show.

League of Legends Game Champions Need to be Caricatures in their Character Design

In the context of gameplay, League of Legends characters do not need to have well-developed backstories or origins.  All that world-building that Riot does in their “League of Legends Universe” portal, including short stories and descriptions of key characters and events, is extra.


Instead, League players are looking for quickly identifiable traits that add flavour to the game.  This means that League of Legends champions are almost caricature-like.  And that’s not to disparage them — it’s what the game calls for, and it’s the best design choice.

Jinx is a great example of this.  The “Get Jinxed” music video that Riot released when she was first added to League of Legends back in 2013 was actually what sparked my interest in the game.  It’s punchy, high-octane and gets the point across.  Jinx is a crazy character who shoots things.  A maniacal shooter AD-carry.  Fun.

Where characters aren’t as personality-driven as Jinx in game, they are certainly distinguishable for their appearance.  Vi is recognisable for big gloves, Jayce for his hammer/bow, and Viktor for his full armour and walking stick.  Heimerdinger spouts off catchphrases about doing science and has a distinctive wobble to his walk.

The idea that characters can be summed up in a phrase is a solid design tenet, and Riot holds to this for each champion, releasing each with a subtitle that says it all.  Jinx is “the loose cannon” and Heimerdinger “the revered inventor”.  Jayce gets a title more flowery in “the defender of tomorrow”, which also fits perfectly.  And Ekko is “the boy who shattered time”.

Characters in the game proper are meant to be somewhat one-dimensional or easily captured in a thought.  But for the show, the designers needed to tone back the game characters’ over-the-top designs and give them more.


Arcane‘s Characters, Like Silco, Need Nuance

He also doesn’t have a clear source of power that would translate into a good League kit. We could attempt to solve both of those problems, but in doing so he would likely be so different from who he was in the show that he wouldn’t be the character everyone fell in love with anymore. Not saying these aren’t problems they could maybe be solved one day, just saying we have no current plans or pursuing Silco in LoLMoba

Reav3, Reddit

The best thing that designers of the Arcane show did was understand the difference in media.  A television series asks that viewers spend hours with the same characters as their stories unfold.  Those characters need depth, so pulling them from a game meant adding a whole lot of nuance.

Jinx couldn’t just be the crazy “loose cannon”.  She’s given a reason she turned out that way.  Vi, Jayce and Viktor have their distinctive game weapons and armour taken away from them at the start of the series (and even Vi’s scars) to make them less caricature-like and more relatable.  This also allows them to have a character arc to grow into the champions they are in League of Legends.

Heimerdinger remains “the revered inventor”, but he has his hang-ups too.  Furthermore, the character’s cartoonish treatments in the game, like his goggles and bouncy walk, are scaled back.

Ekko, too, doesn’t immediately sweep in on his hoverboard and start skating through time.  He’s a scared kid for most of the time we see him, trying to find his way like the rest of the characters.

Toning down all the characters from the game in Arcane gave them room to grow, space to have a personality more than the one-dimensional single phrase the game called for.  And it worked, creating compelling story arcs for each character.


Arcane‘s Silco isn’t League of Legends Champion Material, and he Shouldn’t be

Silco is original to Arcane, so he had to be developed for the situations and relationships the story called for.  Being a television series character, Silco intrinsically has the nuance that the League champions initially lacked, but that’s all he has right now.  And to embellish his character to the level that League requires would change him from a nuanced story-based character to a caricature of himself, not the Silco we know and love.

Silco’s presence is one of the highlights of Arcane.  To have him altered to fit the mould of a League of Legends character is to ask for a greatly simplified version of a very complex man, whose subtleties are the characteristics that make him.

Vi needs her gloves.  Jayce needs his hammer.  Caitlyn needs her shotgun.  Jinx needs her crazy attitude, grenades, rocket launcher and preferably a wild expression with her hair flying in the wind.

Silco doesn’t need anything external to make him the layered character he already is.  Giving him a gimmick to set him apart in order to make him a League of Legends champion would ruin him.

“Don’t cry,” I’d tell him.  “You’re perfect.”