clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Yorick Rework: A timeline through 4 years of development

It's been a long time coming.

I have been playing League of Legends since early 2013. In the past three and a half years, I have picked up on a few things. For example, Rift Herald Head-Honcho Pete Volk really loves his AD Sion, I have never met a decent human being who plays Shaco, and Yorick is the worst champion that League of Legends has ever had. While that first one might just be because I have been talking and playing with Pete pretty regularly since the launch of the Rift Herald, the other two are pretty universal. The weird thing about Yorick though, is that even Riot has talked about how poor of a champion he is. In fact, Yorick is the only champion to be excluded from the weekly free-to-play champion rotation.

Well, Riot has made up for this monstrosity by creating one of the best reworks yet. But this rework has been promised for years now. In fact, the first Riot forum post that I ever read was about the Yorick rework. Having been around for so much of this game's life, I find it strange to think that this rework has been being talked about since almost the day I started playing. For almost four years now, League players have casually joked about the Yorick update never actually happening. So for the sake of posterity, I decided that it may be worth looking into the history of League’s biggest promise.

2013

In late June 2013, Rioter Xelnath polled the League community to see who were the most frustrating top laners to face off against in lane. The results came back with Jayce, Teemo, Singed, and of course, my main man Yorick, topping the list. Xelnath replied with a long post, focusing mostly on Yorick himself, saying that they already had good ideas on how to fix the other 3 champions. Xelnath was able to discover here the community’s true feelings on the undead grave digger.

Yorick: "He is a brick wall in lane, with no counterplay, who often loses the game when he can't turn that power into a victory later on." --> Champion Mechanics deny satisfaction from both Yorick's opponent and Yorick's team in the late game.

Xelnath went on the call this "the most toxic kind of experience that a champion can bring to League of Legends." Then, Xelnath stated that it would be a "very" long time until the team could produce anything, so he wanted to know what players like and disliked most about Yorick. He posed another short survey on the forum

Yorick Players: What is the fantasy of playing Yorick? What are the high moments of Yorick? What do you dislike most about playing Yorick?

Yorick Opponents: What is the most frustrating part of facing Yorick? How do you win a game against Yorick? What do you enjoy most about facing Yorick? How does Yorick lose a game?

Xelnath returned after a while to state that players seemed to hate playing against Yorick more than he had imagined, and that people mostly picked him up because they thought that being a necromancer was cool or they just wanted to roll some face. He then posted some takeaways from the post, and some goals for a rework.

Yorick must feel like he controls an "Army of the Damned" - multiple minions, not one powerful one

Yorick must feel like he can make skillful plays, using his ghouls.

Yorick opponents must feel like they can outplay his moves.

Only one day later, Xelnath came back onto the forums with 2 brand new kit ideas for Yorick. It is clear here that Riot has changed quite a bit in the past few years, now being less open about things like this in an attempt to stop themselves from setting unreasonable expectations for their community.

Kit Idea 1

Reading through this kit now, it feels very old. After all, League has changed into a game that moves much faster and has a much higher skill ceiling than it did in 2013. But funnily enough, we see a lot of the concepts from this build make it into the modern rework. Specifically the Passive, the Q, and the E are reminiscent of the same abilities in the new, 2016 Yorick kit.

Kit Idea 2

This kit also shares similarities with Kit Idea 1 and Yorick’s 2016 rework. What I find really interesting about this particular kit is how much it reminds me of Azir. Of course, Azir was not even close to out when this was being discussed, so I love seeing the first iteration of an idea here. But Xelnath didn’t stop there and kept the ghoul train rolling as he offered up dreams for champion identity.

I am the tank, protecting my pets as they do ranged damage from behind me.

I am the caster, my pets are my frontline and they provide space and safety for me.

And also brought up his concerns about Yorick’s live kit at the time.

Q - an attack reset + move speed buff)

* This ability is only good if you can already close to reach the target. Compare with Garen Q which allows you to close to the target to enable the rest of his kit.

W - instant AoE snare + minion summon

* This ability isn't bad except for the fact that it is unavoidable harass

E - instant DD + lifesteal nuke

* This ability has zero counterplay and is the reason Yorick is so incredibly frustrating to play against. Worse, the ghoul only makes the experience worse if the enemy wants to fight you head-to-head.

R - Clone ally, revive them if the ally dies

* The optimal use case for this spell is throwing it on an enemy who will live long enough for you to take advantage of the double AD. Then just as the duration is about to wear off, that ally dies and comes back again.

This is a double level of frustration - the scenarios to get the best out of it are narrow. The cases where you use it on yourself, it feels like a very bad Tryndamere ultimate.

Passive - +% dmg and %damage reduction

* This is the worst thing on his kit. It says "if you close on yorick, he's harder to kill than if you harass him"

* This means that players "intuit" how hard he will be to kill by poking, then all-in Yorick and see that Yorick is suddenly 15% more damaging and 15% harder to kill. This leads to constant frustration.

Xelnath then dropped another iteration of a kit that combines ideas 1 and 2 as well as feedback from the thread that Xelnath was posting in.

This kit imagines Yorick as a bruiser with a small army to command. While this kit pictures playing Yorick as a commander in a hero based RTS like Warcraft III, we can see things improve in more of an interesting direction. But as you have no doubt guessed, Xelnath emerged with yet another kit, refining him from feedback.

This kit reads shockingly like Yorick’s 2016 rework, and we see a lot of similar ideas from the previous kit suggestions from Xelnath. Things are beginning to look promising here. Xelnath disappeared then for about two weeks before popping back up with another kit suggestion.

He then revamped the E

Before putting out the final iteration of the kit

These last kit iterations were discussed on July 15th 2013, and then things went completely dark on the topic of the hunchbacked champion.

2014

All was quiet on Yorick for a little over 5 months. But on January 2nd of 2014, Xelnath returned to the thread for a very brief post.

Alright, I want to thank everyone for their contributions to this thread, but I am locking it for the time being.

After some discussion, I'm handing off the Yorick rework prototype to RiotScruffy (who did a great job on Skarner as you'll see very soon) - and we've reordered the reworks we're doing. Yorick will likely get a larger rework than Xerath, but this means we need substantially more time to do it right.

Thank you for all of your input.

At this time, the thread had 406 pages full of comments on Yorick. This was the only real news that players got regarding the Yorick rework for almost a year, until Rioters confirmed that he was being delayed for the time being in December of 2014.

2015

In 2015, a forum commenter asked Riot to speak about Xelnath’s old ideas and how the rework was coming along. Riot Meddler then came along to say that the Yorick rework was completely on hold and that he would likely be discussed again after the reworks of Poppy and Taric. Meddler confirmed that we would not be getting the Yorick rework in 2015 at all, and another year rolled by.

UOL pick Yorick top in Spring 2015

2016

Finally, about 3 months ago, we got confirmation that Yorick was coming down the pipeline soon. In an Ask Riot, Reav3 had a long discussion about the champion rework process and how Yorick fit into their release schedule.

The way Champion Update works now is that once a champion goes into full production there is a very small chance that it will be ‘iceboxed’ (or delayed for a long period of time). Early ideation on Yorick actually started in the second half of 2015. We have a team called a "Core Pod" that starts ideation on a champion very early. This is comprised of a designer, a narrative writer, concept artists, and the product manager. Together, we try to put together a new design, visual concept & narrative for the champion. We’ll share this development with stakeholders periodically to keep them updated and gather feedback on the work. Typically, there are several of these happening at once.

Then, finally, about 2 weeks ago, Yorick's full rework was revealed and he hit the PBE for testing. Now he just released with Patch 6.18, and one of League of Legends’ oldest jokes can finally rest in peace.

After playing Yorick on the PBE, I am very excited to see him lumber around the rift with his small army of Mist Walkers. At the same time, it is a little surreal that this rework finally seems to be coming out. When you hold onto something for so long, it can be a little hard to let go...unless the thing that you are holding onto is a little reminiscent of a dumpster fire, in which case letting go is very easy

This Yorick rework is very well done and I cannot wait to see how both pro and casual players learn to use him. Riot recently came out to discuss the next few reworks coming up. Several months ago, Riot revealed that there would be a massive update to the Assassin class of champion in the Season 7 pre-patch later this year. We also should be expecting the highly anticipated Warwick rework to hit anytime in the next year. Only a few weeks ago, Riot also announced that Galio will be the central focus of the next rework after Warwick If this short history has taught you anything, it should be that you should not expect the Galio rework to hit anytime sooner than 2020.

To keep up with the champion reworks, Riot has launched this handy page for readers and if you want to try out new Yorick for yourself, check out my handy guide first.