Following an influx of innovative champion designs in League of Legends, we take a look back at the support that started it all – Thresh.
When Thresh was added to League of Legends way back in 2013, the community was enraged after receiving their first taste of Riot Games releasing an overloaded and overpowered champion to wreak havoc on the Rift, a sight we’ve become all too familiar with in recent years. Now, the Chain Warden is surrounded by equally innovative and creative champions that often rise above him when it comes to handing praise to the design team.
Comparing the long list of inventive characters in League of Legends from Aurelion Sol to Neeko to the upcoming Aphelios showcases the level of different and imaginative ideas that have been added to the game over the last ten years. However, it’s important to remember Thresh’s impact on League almost seven years ago, triggering a higher level of invention for new champions and blazing a trail for the likes of Pyke, Sylas, and Zoe to follow.
But what made Thresh such a unique champion design?
Well, for starters, the amount of utility in Thresh’s kit was unprecedented. A stun and hook on his Q – Death Sentence, a knock-up and slow on his E – Flay, a slow on his R – The Box, and a brand-new interaction of pulling allied champions with his lantern on W – Dark Passage. Up until recently, Thresh still possessed the most utility of any champion in the game so many years after his release, and often you’d see players claim that you could remove all damage from the support’s kit and he’d still be balanced.
The overloading of his kit has been evidenced by Thresh’s omnipresence in both solo queue and pro play in every season since his 2013 release, often maintaining a place in the top tier of champions in his role for the majority of each season. You could argue that this is evidence of poor champion design, but to that, one could simply ask how often you say the words “Thresh is so broken!” compared to the likes of Yasuo, Zoe, or Riven.
It’s a testament to the work of CertainlyT (lead gameplay designer for Thresh) that the champion has remained so vital to support players for so long and hasn’t been forced into a rework or down to the bottom tiers of the support champion pool six years after his initial release. This longevity today led to a Reddit user posting a thread claiming that “Thresh was/is the greatest support champ ever made”, a statement that was widely agreed with amongst the community.
Are there any support champions that can compete with Thresh’s design? Well, here’s a look at four more recent additions to the roster to compare/contrast their uniqueness and fairness with the Chain Warden:
If you’ve been playing League of Legends for long enough, you will have definitely remembered the intrigue following the announcement of Bard’s Ultimate – Tempered Fate. An ability that places both allies and enemies in stasis for 2.5 seconds led players to believe that likelihood of “trolling Bards” was incredibly high with such a game-changing ability being added to the game, especially on a support champion, a much less popular role at the time.
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Now, four years later, Bard’s ultimate remains game-changing but the chances of a “trolling Bard” appearing on your team are almost zero. Pro supports like Aphromoo, Hylissang, and Olleh inspired solo queue players to pick up the champion thanks to their intelligent usage of Magical Journey to traverse the map and some incredibly clean Cosmic Bindings to win the bot lane 2v2.
That being said, Bard has fallen out of favor since his release and is now rarely spotted in both solo queue and pro play. Despite having one of the most impactful abilities in the game on his ultimate, Bard struggles in both mage and tank support metas due to the fact that he doesn’t really match well with either class. Therefore, despite such a unique ability lying in his kit, he can’t be considered a better champion design than Thresh.
Moving further forward we find the first-ever carry support champion. Added to the role with the intention to build AD and contribute to the team’s damage output, Pyke is unique in both design and ideology.
Still, a whole year after his release and the player base remains convinced that Pyke’s kit is over-tuned with his Q – Bone Skewer and E – Phantom Undertow combo, not to mention the huge execute on Death from Below. This point is almost proven by the fact that the champion is played in both solo lanes as well as support, and has even been seen in the jungle and ADC roles throughout the last two seasons.
Ultimately, Pyke is well designed, but the jury is still out as to whether the design is overbearing or overloaded eighteen months after he was first released. So, Thresh wins this one too.
The less said about Yuumi the better. A champion that doesn’t require you to move for half the game? Yawn.
Innovative? Yes. There’s no doubt that adding a champion that doesn’t require a mouse is inventive and never-seen-before, but whether that constitutes as great champion design is another story. Thresh win.
Finally, the most recent addition to League of Legends, Senna. With just one month of solo queue experience to her name, it’s hard to tell whether she’s well designed, poorly designed, overpowered, or underpowered.
Boasting huge win rates in both the AD Carry (54.48%) and Support (51.37%) roles does not bode well for her future and she will certainly be seeing some hefty nerfs in the coming weeks. Once she’s reached a more balanced state, the player base can decide whether she matches Thresh’s utility with her Last Embrace stun and global ultimate, Dawning Shadow.
But, for right now, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Thresh is the best-designed champion in League of Legends. His utility, his longevity, his presence in pro play, and how fun he is to play in solo queue all contribute to this champion’s popularity amongst the community.
Reddit is probably right about their assessment of the game and is correct to praise CertainlyT for such a strong champion design, despite some of the overloaded champions he’s released in recent years *cough* Yasuo and Zoe *cough*.
What do you think of Thresh’s champion design? Do you think another support is better? Which is the best-designed champion in League of Legends? Let us know in the comments!