Riot’s scrapped Smolder design would have broken League of Legends

It’s no secret Smolder has been a balancing nightmare since his League of Legends release in January 2024. But if Riot Games shipped this little dragon in its original state, he would have broken Summoner’s Rift.

On April 28, Spideraxe shared a post on their X (formerly Twitter) revealing Smolder’s scrapped design looked completely different. This was based on details Riot’s August Browning shared earlier. The dev planned for Smolder to automatically become “the son of whichever dragon rift for the game and gain a unique bonus on his Q.”

Even though August didn’t mention the full list of effects, he said Smolder’s Infernal Q would explore, Ocean would slow enemies, and Chemtech would apply poison. In one iteration of testing, Smolder’s Super Scorcher Breath worked on turrets, including true damage.

Dragons of different colors clash and battle on Summoner's Rift in League of Legends.
Smolder’s kit would have changed depending on the type of the map. Image via Riot Games

This version of Smolder didn’t make it to the live servers because it required a lot of art resources, and the champion would have come down to RNG. You would never know which dragon would take over Summoner’s Rift, meaning a part of your kit would be a surprise each time you started a new game. Understanding and navigating your champion’s kit is an important part of League, and if you leave that up to chance, players would undoubtedly get frustrated.

The scrapped version of Smolder sounds interesting, but I’m glad Riot went in a different direction. There are already so many aspects you can’t control in League, like the Rift Herald, minion experience, team comps, enemies, and adding RNG to the one thing you can control (your champion) doesn’t sound fun. Riot has to be practical when making new champions and ensure their kits are easy to understand yet fun to play.

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