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The history of Irelia, The Will of the Blades

Her story, her release history, and how she’s changed.

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Irelia is certainly one of League’s most infamous champions. While you may not play many games with or against her, the phrase “better nerf Irelia” is never too far off from any old players mind. Whenever Irelia rears her head and scary melee weapon, you know you’re in for a unique game.

Well, with her upcoming rework, it’s time to preserve Irelia’s original history.

Irelia’s Release History

Irelia originally released back in 2010, on Patch V.1.0.0.105. She was first teased in an issue of PC Gamer, if you can believe it, and then on the League forums. The announcement text hasn’t necessarily aged well, with ByronicHero referring to Irelia as “the latest in our long line of pretty ladies to join the League of Legends.”

Nonetheless, Irelia released alongside such horrifying skins as Monarch Kog’Maw and Feral Warwick. If you’re looking for one extra fun fact, Irelia showed up on the same patch that the Hexdrinker was released. Eight years was a long time ago.

Irelia’s 2018 rework was originally announced on March 20 and released on April 4.

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Irelia’s Lore

Before we tell Irelia’s old story, let it be known that she has a pretty weird “League Judgement” that is essentially the old League of Legends evaluating her candidacy. It’s weird and we’re not gonna get into it.

Her first and second gen stories are pretty straight forward.

Basically, an Ionian martial artist was famous throughout the land. When he died, his son and daughter (Irelia) were left behind. The son went to ask for Demacia’s aid against to Noxians. Irelia was left at home. When the Noxians attacked, the Ionians were slaughtered. But Irelia carried her dad’s weird sword into battle. When she was nearly struck down, Soraka healed her. Somehow, Irelia was then able to lift the sword without even touching it. She helped repeal the Noxian offensive and because captain of the Ionian guard.

Her second iteration is almost identical. Like most second gen lore, it simply removed any talk of the League of Legends.

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How Irelia has changed

Believe it or not, Irelia has barely changed in the past eight years. There are a few balance changes here and there, but for the most part, very few actual changes exist in her kit. That being said, there are a few minor changes here and there.

Her passive, which increases your tenacity, had silences and blinds added to it a few patches after her release. Her passive was eventually changed to only work when she was outnumbered, rather than just visual champions.

Her W’s on hit healing was also doubled when it was activated.

Other than minor balance, that is the entirety of Irelia’s updates.

That is, until her rework in 2018.

This transformation kept very little of original Irelia, even her weapon is completely different. However, her Q has remained largely in tact. This is perhaps the most core ability to Irelia’s identity, even more important than her strange weapon.

Watching her dash around, getting resets as she kills everything is site, is what we’ll all remember from Irelia. Thanks to the rework team and the return of Bladesurge, we won’t soon forget either.

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Irelia’s skins

Irelia currently has five skins.

  • Nightblade Irelia
  • Aviator Irelia
  • Infiltrator Irelia
  • Frostblade Irelia
  • Order of the Lotus Irelia

Irelia has a few decent skins and a few ... not good skins.

Let’s start with the bad and boring. Nightblade Irelia and Infiltrator Irelia are pretty damn boring when it comes down to it. The splash for Nightblade is pretty cool but basically just turns Irelia purple. Don’t get me wrong, purple is great, but I’m looking for a little more. In the case of Infiltrator, I can’t even remember what this skin looks like in game. After five years of playing League, that isn’t great.

Next, let’s talk about Aviator Irelia. This is such a cleaver idea for a skin. I genuinely love it, especially with old Irelia’s weapon looking like such a weird propeller. That being said, it’s pretty ugly in game. But it get’s so much damn credit for how clever it is.

Order of the Lotus Irelia is actually a pretty nice skin. Not necessarily because it looks awesome in game, but because the colors are just so vibrant and beautiful. This skin kind of just exists, but the model is much prettier than most of Irelia’s other offerings.

Frostblade Irelia is obviously her best skin, and not because of that splash art. This skin genuinely has a really nice looking model and paint job. Irelia is pretty crusty looking on her base, and most of her skins don’t really improve in that area. But if any skin is worth getting and playing consistently, it’s Frostblade.

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In the 2018 rework, all of these skins have improved tenfold. Is this mostly thanks to the new rigging and model? I mean, yeah, absolutely, but the result itself is still the same.

Nightblade Irelia got a real identity, turning her into a blade wielding ninja (whose still purple, for what it’s worth). Infiltrator Irelia got the same treatment, transforming her into a pretty cool Cyber Spy.

Aviator Irelia is still great because you can’t fix weird perfection and Order of the Lotus Irelia still looks gorgeous (if a little boring). But Frostblade Irelia is still the queen of all Irelia skins. From the frosty tips of her hair to the long, pointy icicles she wields. Long may she reign.