Will League of Legends' New Champion, Rakan, Be Good?

by James Bates

(Photo: Riot Games)

Patch 7.8 is right around the corner and with it the introduction of League of Legends' very own pair of love birds, Xayah and Rakan. Much has been said about Riot's first dual champion release and on what the circumstances of their release will mean for the game in the future but we're here to answer a different question. We know that Xayah and Rakan will be coming soon, but we don't yet know if we should care. The question on the forefront of everyone's mind is a simple one: Will Xayah and Rakan be good?

Well, it's certainly difficult to tell in the case of Rakan. Before we talk about any part of his kit in particular, we have to acknowledge the crippling weakness that is likely to be the reason he doesn't get played if, indeed, he turns out to be a weak champion. That reason is simply that he's a melee support in a bottom lane environment that is extremely hostile to that sort of champion. The current crop of dominant supports are all ranged mages, and they just love the opportunity to hit all their spells for free on a target that has no choice but to close in when they fight.

So then, is the rest of Rakan's kit good enough to make up for that fundamental weakness? Extremely hard to tell. My initial thoughts are no, however, as a side-by-side comparison to existing melee champions doesn't seem to favor Rakan overall, though he definitely does have some niche teams that he's strong against. The biggest problem facing Rakan is that there's already a champion that accomplishes a lot of what it seems like he wants to do, Braum, and even he is a fringe pick at the moment.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's start by looking at the things that Rakan does have going for him. First of all, his Q is unquestionably the best heal that any melee support has access to. While it does suffer from a slight delay, it's still much closer to being an on-demand heal than Triumphant Roar or Imbue is. The fact that the heal is also tied to his main harass tool is also a plus for Rakan, as he's already incentive to cast the spell as often as he can and it means that he can be proactive while healing unlike, say, Sona. Additionally, his knock-up isn't particularly comparable to any other single skill that we have at the moment. It's basically a delayed Alistar combo, but all on one button. That's actually pretty amazing, since while it might be hard to hit on ranged champions consistently it's amazing against melee bruisers and assassins, both of which are quite popular at the moment. While it's cooldown is long, it's the kind of skill that you just hope to not have to use twice.

Now for the bad. There's really no way around this one: Rakan's ult sucks. Comparing The Quickening to Glacial Chasm just makes me feel bad for Rakan, since it's just inferior in so many ways. The first, and most obvious, being that Braum isn't required to literally walk into range of his target in order to hit them with his ultimate in the same way Rakan is. If the enemy kites back from you, The Quickening is completely useless. Wait, you might object, can't you use Rakan's dash onto a tank to help you line up the Quickening? Yes, that's true, but how is that different than Braum, who also can screw up a good number of champions' ability to fight while he's at it with Unbreakable? While it's true that Charm is a slightly better CC than a short knock-up and slow, the difference isn't all that vast. The fact that Rakan locks himself out of doing anything else productive while he's in The Quickening just makes it seem that much worse.

So back to the original question. Will Rakan be good? The short answer is maybe. If melee supports come back into style, then it's quite likely Rakan will show up as well, since he's actually got a pretty good laning phase against other melee supports, who struggle to match his ranged harass that comes with a heal built in. In all likelihood, though, the answer is no. The entire reason you pick a melee support these days is for their teamfight utility. Ranged supports tend to win lane, but it's the melee supports that usually have the stronger ability to swing late-game fights in their teams favor. Rakan isn't particularly outstanding at the, as Grand Entrance and the Quickening don't even compare favorably to Aqua Prison and Tidal Wave, much less things like Glacial Chasm or Radiance. Unless you're specifically supporting a Xayah, who can dramatically increase Rakan's damage output, it's likely that you're going to be leaving Rakan at home more often than not.

By James Bates

A wanna-be novelist turned coach turned journalist, James is living proof that you never know where you'll end up. He's in love with narrative-heavy games, which he proves by spending his days writing about a game with less lore than Doom. His greatest regret in life is not having his name in the credits of Life is Strange, and it's galvanized him to truly pursue developing games that don't begin in packed taverns and use D20s.