'League of Legends' Pyke: Supports Can Get Kills Now (EXCLUSIVE)

League of Legends has all sorts of champions, and they all have a place. Tanks live on the island of top lane, mages hurl spells in the middle, aggressive fighters roam the jungle, marksmen use their ranged weaponry to earn the most gold and supports protect their allies from harm. With 140 playable characters, Riot Games champion design team is forced to innovate to come up with new characters that have their own niche. Pyke, the latest champion added to the pool, might be their craziest idea yet.

Development on Pyke started in April 2017, around the time the lovers Xayah and Rakan made it onto the Rift. "From the beginning, we wanted to create a support that had a class and play style that didn't currently exist," Ryan Mireles, champion product manager, told Newsweek . The team experimented with a few different ideas, but a support assassin emerged as the most interesting concept.

The Bloodharbor Ripper is the first support champion created to get kills. It's sure to sound crazy to traditional League fans, who are used to Janna babysitting her marksmen while they farm minions in the bottom lane. Taking a kill as a support usually means less gold for your carries, which in the mind of a MOBA player means a harder path to victory. Pyke takes that stereotype, stabs it in the back and hurls it down an ocean's ravine.

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Pyke is looking for revenge. Riot Games

Sneaking behind enemies with Ghostwater Dive, Pyke can set up a kill by impaling an opponent with his Bone Skewer or stunning with a Phantom Undertow. Once his prey is low on health, his Death From Below ultimate strikes in an "X" shape, executing low-health opponents caught in his net. To compensate for all the kills Pyke is going to steal, the last ally to assist will be given full gold and kill credit,* a new feature created just for the salty sea dog. With the stealth of Rengar, the crowd control of Thresh and the edginess of Gangplank, Pyke is the ultimate killing machine.

Finding a way to implement a "support assassin" archetype into League of Legends was hard work, because the two play styles are diametrically opposed. "It took us quite a long time to make a support champion that felt like playing an assassin, since it's a brand new play pattern," Mireles said. The development team worked around the idea of a deadly support, adding stealth to his kit early on in development. Camouflage granted Pyke great vision control, allowing him to easily avoid wards while still being able to place his own deep behind enemy lines.

Pyke went through multiple kits early on, but eventually the butcher's final form started to manifest itself with help from Chris Campbell, Pyke's concept artist. He sketched out a "shark themed pirate-ninja guy that had a cape made of hooks," Mireles said. Pyke can pounce on enemies from the water like a shark, has high mobility like a ninja and gets gold like a pirate, creating the ultimate killing machine.

Now that the team had an idea of what they wanted him to look and feel like, they needed to craft his persona. "Support is a role that is largely dominated by helpful, happy, cute or cheerful champions" and it felt like it was time for another "darker" support, Mireles explained. Thresh might be the harvester of souls, but Mireles believes "that they are both pretty gruesome but in different ways."

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Pyke, the Bloodharbor Ripper has something in his teeth. Is it you? Riot Games

With a darker pirate theme set for Pyke, there was only one place he could hail from. "Bilgewater just made sense with that concept," Mireles said. "You feel scary when you play Pyke, and playing against Pyke is scary, so we wanted to make sure that was reflected in the theme." Bilgewater is the pirate port of Runeterra, where Miss Fortune and Gangplank amassed their ships, crew and fortune. Where the leviathan, the beast that swallowed Pyke and gave him his second chance, lurks below the waves. It's a town where anything goes and a wrong turn can end in a rusty blade to the neck.

Pyke isn't an easy champion to use, but that's what makes him rewarding to play and frustrating to play against. An intimidating champion, his kit offers a mix of risk and reward, with just a splash of Slaughter Docks salty water. Jonathan Fuller, champion designer for Pyke, expects there to be "some bumps in the road when you first start to learn Pyke, but it will be worth it."

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Pyke is a deadly foe. Riot Games

Pyke's a risky champion with a lot of powerful tools, but mastering his kit can make you a very rich ghost pirate. "Learning when to use your tools to play defensively, and when you can go all-in for the kill will be the key difference between new Pyke players and the experienced masters," Fuller said. He pairs stupendously well with aggressive marksmen like Draven, who can snowball a few kills into a ridiculous lead. Safe marksmen, like Caitlyn and Ezreal, can farm from a distance while Pyke leaves the lane to go ward or gank another lane.

Fuller's favorite part of Pyke is his ability to take over a game if he gets ahead. "I t feels great to roam all over the map and tilt every fight in your team's favor. Chasing the possibility of a pentakill on a support is awesome."

*UPDATE: "The kill credit mechanic was unfortunately pulled late during development after we had prepared the reveal," a Riot Games representative said.

'League of Legends' Pyke: Supports Can Get Kills Now (EXCLUSIVE) | Gaming