The trailer for the newest champion coming to League of Legends dropped on the 19th of November, and alongside it, dropped the most complex champion to rear his face since Aphelios — and we thought it couldn't get worse! Meet Hwei: The Visionary, one of the first characters who has a connection with Khada Jhin and met him at the artist temple... before Jhin took u a gun and shot everyone in the name of beauty, that is.
Now, Hwei has decided to cause equal terror and trauma to everyone on the Rift and Howling Abyss, bringing with him not four abilities (Oh, how we yearn for the four-ability years), not seven abilities (remember those who used to have form change and that was revolutionary?), but 10 abilities. That's right, for you to paint a masterpiece in your matches mixed with paint, blood, and the tears of your fallen enemies, you're going to need to memorise a slew of interactions, connections, and make split-second decisions on which one to choose.
Naturally, I did the math and extensive research for you to unveil what Hwei does. Strap in — this is going to be a long and complex one.
Passive — Signature of the Visionary
You'll be pleased to know that, despite the tear-inducing complexities of Hwei's kit (and the essay-length blog post that came with it), his passive is actually, thankfully, simple. After hitting an enemy with any of his abilities, he will mark them and wait for a second proc, which will then leave his signature on the ground and detonate after a little while.
This will make a lot more sense once we get into his three different Subjects and how you won't be able to cast this a total of five times back-to-back and one-shot the entire team, the enemy team, and Baron in one kit. It's a tool to encourage a mixture of aggressive abilities and gives a bit of extra poke to Hwei.
Hwei's Niche — The Subjects
Hwei's Spell Competition
Now, it's time to start talking about the headache-y bits — Hwei's Subjects. Hwei starts with no form in any of his casts and instead remains pretty natural until he hits one of the main abilities (Q, W, E). Once he does that, he'll be prompted to cast again to choose which of the three abilities he wants to use in the Subject he chose, allowing him to cast one of his three abilities.
This is where his skill ceiling comes into play, as instead of being able to spam 10 abilities as it might seem at first, Hwei can only — still — cast four abilities total, but he has an arsenal of different ones to choose from. After you use one of the three types within any given Subject (essentially choose between QQ, QW, or QE), that Subject will go on cooldown, giving him a global cooldown for three of his main abilities.
Every Subject also follows a specific theme of abilities, which means that most of the same "type" of abilities are stuck within their respective Subject (Q, W, E) instead of spread out across all three, meaning you can't choose just three damage abilities for an aggressive burst. This means that in the laning phase and battle, it's your job to make split-second decisions on which of your three abilities for each of your three Subjects is going to be the correct one to use at any given moment, as once you do, the other two are locked out until the cooldown resets. This is what Myles "Riot Emizery" Salholm, the writer of Hwei's Abilities Rundown, calls "spell competition".
Q — Subject: Disaster
QQ, QW, QE
His first set of skills is linked to the Subject: Disaster, his Q and main form of damage dealing. As described by the game, it's the way that he'll deal all of his damage, including long-range pokes, destructive area of effect, and even executing spells. As a reminder of the aforementioned spell competition, you'll need to choose which of the following three abilities is right for each fight, as once you use them, your other two damaging abilities will enter cooldown.
QQ — Devastating Fire
Devastating Fire is the first of the three Subject: Disaster abilities, and it works as your main poke and last-hitting ability. It's a long-range fireball that explodes into a small AoE area after hitting the first enemy (including minions) or reaching its maximum cast range. After this, the AoE deals magic damage to all enemies, including a percentage of their max health as magic damage, which is always necessary in the current tank meta that favours the likes of Tahm Kench, K'sante, and Cho'gath.
QW — Severing Bolt
The highest-damage-dealing ability in his Subject: Disaster, Severing Bolt, is his QW, the longest-range ability that has a long windup time to give enemies the opportunity to dodge it. After the delay, the bolt strikes and deals magic damage, dealing even more to immobilised targets (meaning he'll pair great with CC) and isolated foes. Severing Bolt does have a modifier to its damage dealt to jungle and minion characters, preventing it from working as an extremely long-range farming tool or a way to steal jungle camps from friend and foe alike (we see you, mid-laners trying to steal blue buff).
QE — Molten Fissure
Did anyone say The Equalizer? Oh, wait, sorry, that's Rumble's ultimate... Hwei's QE — Molten Fissure — creates a field of exploding volcanic eruptions that leave an AoE damage over time zone where it hits, also slowing everyone that steps on it. This will be his main way to shove lanes and contribute in team fights with a spell that isolates foes, but its slow eruptions make it less useful as a poking spell to cause more spell competition and options between QQ and QW, so it won't be as easy to hit.
W — Subject: Serenity
WQ, WW, WE
Now, it's time to talk about his second set of three skills (we still have a lot to go through), and this time, it's his W — Subject: Serenity. These are his utility spells, all of which were tweaked to reduce Hwei's skills as an enchanter in lane (we see you, mage players in the bot lane, making ADC lives even harder than they need to be).
WQ — Fleeting Current
Hwei's first spell is his WQ, Fleeting Current, where he creates a long line of swift waters that allows him and his allies to walk at an increased movement speed. This long-range spell is a great way to offer an escape or engage in terms of laning and team fighting, but be wary of using it too overzealously, as spell competition in Subject: Serenity isn't so black-and-white.
WW — Pool of Reflection
Remember how I said that his spells had to be toned down to stop him from being an overpowered enchanter? Meet WW, Pool of Reflection, an ability that gives you and your allies a shield over a small area that gets stronger the longer you remain in it — you start by getting 50% of shield power. Then, as you stand on the relevant zone, you get the rest, giving you and your allies a shield that can be used in a variety of ways.
WE — Stirring Lights
And the final of the three Subject: Serenity spell competition is Stirring Lights, his WE! This is the only way that Hwei has to regenerate mana through spells, as it gives him three enhanced circles that deal bonus magic damage and grant mana per hit. Once you've spent all three, you can gain a mana-positive effect, ensuring that you restored a bit of it at the cost of using three auto attacks to get it — this can also trigger his passive, but it reduces his capability of playing safe by forcing Hwei to get closer.
E — Subject: Torment
EQ, EW, EE
The final of Hwei's Subjects is his Subject: Torment, slotted to his E! As the name suggests, you will be able to get a slew of crowd-control abilities that can give him defensive options alongside offensive ones (especially for his QW: Severing Bolt). These are all great ways to ensure you can lock enemies down during laning and team fights, but spell competition will be tough to decide which of the three to use and on who.
EQ — Grim Visage
His first of the three Subject: Torment abilities is very fitting for the "Torment" title — EQ, named Grim Visage. This ability is a straight-line, slow-moving skill shot that fears the first enemy it comes into contact with, giving him a reliable way to fend off foes who are trying to gank — and oftentimes dive. It's a simple, quintessential CC to protect an otherwise vulnerable mage.
EW — Gaze of the Abyss
His EW, Gaze of the Abyss, is a trap-like ability that has a long-range, giving vision in a circular area and, after a short delay, locking on to the nearest champion, rooting the first foe that it strikes in its path. It's a great tool to zone and keep yourself safe while also working as an unreliable CC for your Severing Bolt.
EE — Crushing Maw
The final of the Subject: Torment ability (and the last "basic" ability that Hwei has) is his EE: Crushing Maw. This ability paints a crushing jaw that grabs enemies within the area and pulls them to the centre, briefly slowing them, making it his only multi-champion CC ability of Subject: Torment. Though it isn't a hard CC like Hwei's other abilities, its AoE qualities make it a great option to cast in team fights.
R — Spiraling Despair
Finally, Hwei's ultimate is Spiraling Despair, a straight-line skill shot that sticks to the first enemy champion it hits and expands, giving everyone within the AoE stacks of "Despair" that apply a stacking percent slow and, upon completion of its expansion, explodes, dealing magic damage.
This ability is going to be Hwei's magnum opus in team fights and for those groups that like to stick together, giving him yet another strong contender for CC that isn't explicitly a hard CC. The percent slow that builds up will be a great opportunity to combo into his numerous Subject skills and ensure that he can burst even a team of enemies with the correct combination.
This now concludes the entire kit overview for Hwei, including not only his passive and niche in the form of spell competition but also his ultimate ability! As a final treat, we have a Hwei ability cheat sheet that we took from the League of Legends blog, showing all of his abilities.
Though this doesn't give an explicit look at his best combos, players will be able to make a lot of combinations, and it'll be the unique aspect of Hwei as a champion — everyone will play him differently. Sure, damage-dealing combos and the like will remain similar, as each of the Subject abilities share similarities among each other and stops too much damage spam (imagine casting all of the Subject: Disaster abilities in one go), but it also ensures that he remains as balanced as he can be.
I'll keep my opinions and thoughts on him as a character until I get to play as and against him, as a lot still remains up for question — we know he'll struggle with mana problems, and it was one of the main ways Riot tried to nerf him, but the cooldowns on all of his Subject abilities will be the determining factor on how overpowered he'll be.
One thing's for sure, though: this really shines the 200 years of collective game design that League of Legends is known for, and I really, really am not excited to face him in ARAM or URF.
Oh gods, I don't want to face him in URF.