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The 2018 Rift Herald Awards: Best skin, esports player and more

We award the best stuff in League with not-real little trophies

Julia Lee/Polygon

Another year has come to a close. While 2018 was certainly full of ups and downs in League of Legends, we’re ending in a pretty good spot, meta-wise. There was tons of new content this year, which means we have to award the best of the best.

This year has some different categories from last year, since we got different content updates. We didn’t see any gigantic systematic changes like we did in 2017, so we decided to nix that category and add a couple of esports-themed ones instead. We’re adaptive. We change. We’re like Kha’Zix, but we’re a news website.

All writers who contributed to The Rift Herald this year were given the opportunity to vote. While some categories didn’t need nominations (like “best event” or “best new game mode”), the regular staff discussed nominees and now the ballots are all in. We present the 2018 Rift Herald awards.

Best skin: K/DA Akali

K/DA, League’s 2018 K-Pop group, and their song “Pop/Stars” became a world-wide sensation. Even in the massively popular world of K-Pop the song managed to find a footing, thanks in large part to the fantastic music video. This skin, along with its later added neon effects, is the driving force behind that video and easily the group’s standout design. And it’s easy to see why. K/DA Akali looks incredible with a fantastic wardrobe and the signature graffiti artist neon when she enters her shroud, this skin was a clear standout in a year full of great skins. — Austen Goslin

Best in-game event: Odyssey

(Other nominations: Snowdown Showdown, Pool Party, Lunar Revel and April Fools)

One of the best parts of the exciting Odyssey event is that it was a surprise. The Public Beta Environment was bare the weeks before Odyssey dropped. Nobody saw the fantastic skins, the tricky game mode or the missions coming from a light year (ha) away. And when it did release, there was so much. The cinematic was fantastic, the skins were amazing and the game mode was ... good, but infuriating. None of the other events have been nearly as hype. — Julia Lee

Best champion rework: Akali

(Other nominations: Aatrox, Nunu & Willump)

This was an extremely good year for League of Legends reworks. Most of them had outstanding mechanics and interesting new abilities that added something to the game, but Akali has one special feature that makes her stand out: her art. The splash arts for Akali’s rework and all of her skins is outstanding and some of the best in all of League. It doesn’t hurt that her kit took her from a champion without an identity to one of the game’s most stylish ninjas either. — AG

Best new champion: Kai’Sa

Kai’Sa is clean. I try my hand at most marksmen champions that release because I’m waiting to fall in love with one the same way I did with Vayne. Kai’Sa fit that craving. Her kit is satisfying down to the sound effects, she has some pretty dope skins (K/DA and Bullet Angel) and she’s been an important champion in the competitive scene this year. Watching a good Kai’Sa play is like a drug. I could sit an watch Kai’Sa highlights on YouTube all day. To make a champion really feel concise and cool is an impressive feat. — JL

Best new game mode: Nexus Blitz

I strongly considered getting rid of this category entirely since there were only two game modes this year, but they were both pretty good, so we kept it. I’ve gushed about how fun Nexus Blitz is before, but let me re-iterate: it’s a good game mode. It’s chaotic, fun and quick. Players who have been away from League can get on board with it. Players who’ve been playing for nine years straight can also get on board with it. It’s like Riot Games took the things that made other games fun and put it in League. — JL

Best esports player: Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi

Sneaky accomplished a lot in 2018. He made it to the World Championship Semifinals with the rest of Cloud9 and proved that rocky starts can be recovered from. He also began his cosplay journey, showing a side of comfort and fun that we don’t see often from professional League players. Sneaky serves as a an inspirational reminder that proves that anyone can do anything. We can all go to the League of Legends World Championships while being a cosplay king. — JL

Best esports team: Fnatic

(Other nominations: Royal Never Give Up, Invictus Gaming, kt Rolster)

It isn’t hard to see why Fnatic would be our number one esports team of the year. After all, being the first western team to make it to the World Championship Finals since season one is an incredible accomplishment. After years of assuming that only Korean and Chinese teams could make it to the Finals, Fnatic broke in with incredible play and proved that a European team was more than capable of hanging with the dominance of the LCK and LPL. Despite a disappointing — and quick — loss in the Finals, there’s nothing that can take away the accomplishment of Fnatic proving the world wrong. — AG