Ornn, the Fire Below the Mountain, is League of Legends’ newest champion, and he comes with a strange, yet familiar mechanic. You see, Ornn can buy items from anywhere on the map. As long as he has the gold, he can sit down for two seconds and stand back up with a brand new item, all without ever having to return to base.
For League of Legends’ players, this is an exciting new concept. Returning to your base to buy is as core to League as killing jungle creeps to get sacks of gold. Well, if Ivern can break one mechanic, why can’t Ornn break another (both of these champs are designed by the same designer, Squad5)? The ability to build an item in lane, never having to leave your tower or your jungle is something so game-changing to us that it might actually seem like it is from another game.
Well, it is.
On the morning of Ornn’s announcement, August 7, The International 7 started in earnest. For those unfamiliar with TI, it is arguably the largest esports tournament put on every year. But TI isn’t for League, it’s for Dota 2. A competitor in the MOBA scene, Dota 2 is often ignored by League players, that is until The International comes around every year, and for one shining moment Dota 2 is the top game on Twitch. But how does Ornn factor into Dota?
Well, killing minions and enemies and neutral creeps gives you gold in Dota, just like in League of Legends’. However, returning to your base in Dota is something you do when you need health, not when you have gold to spend. Instead, what we take as a very serious part of League (when to back, how much gold to back with, staying in lane and risking death so you can buy an item), Dota players never have to think about (they have other things to worry about, such as losing pocketed gold when you die).
Instead, when it comes time to buy, Dota players open their store and purchase an item. Then, they can send a team-wide item called a courier to go pick it up from base and bring it to them.
Does this concept sound familiar, Ornn fans? It should. It is impossible to say whether or not the designers of Ornn looked to Dota for inspiration when crafting this skill. But, the buying system in League vs the buying system in Dota is just one of the many aspects that set these games apart. Regardless of whether Ornn is Dota inspired, Dota did it first, and that should mean something.
I don’t know if Dota ever came up in conversation over Ornn’s design, but I hope it did. There are so many incredible games out there, each with their own community. In the MOBA community alone we have League, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm, Smite, Paragon, Heroes of Newerth, Vainglory and countless others that are live, in development or dead (R.I.P. Dawngate, gone too soon). Even if you have never heard of some of these games, each has their own community that is alive and loves their game. What a shame it would be if we never got to experience some of the unique things that these other games had to offer.
Ornn’s ability to build anywhere is not a sign that League of Legends will become Dota 3, but it shows that the mechanics of all of these games have merit, even if you don’t play them. League players, don’t be sad that Riot is putting some Dota into your League of Legends. Dota players, don’t be mad that Riot is stealing your mechanics. As players who love niche games, this should be an awesome moment for us all to come together and see that not only do all of these games have merit, but maybe our own game of choice could learn a thing or two from their neighbor.