I love Xin Zhao. I truly do. He's a very easy champion to learn, his snowball potential is great, and his lore is pretty cool. He's been my main for quite a while now, but if I was being objective, he's too mechanically simple. You just select a target, press EWQ, and press them again as their cooldowns reach 0. Press R if your target's teammates are trying to save him/her and you don't like that. Don't get me wrong, he's hard to mess up and is a joy to work with if you truly know what you're doing with him, but sometimes doing the same combo over and over again in a game gets a bit tedious.
Xin Zhao's skills simply don't require much interactivity from the user beyond pressing the QWER buttons and waiting for the effects. Two of his skills are just auto-attacks steroids and his E is a targeted gap closer. I know a lot of people over at Riot like flashy and exciting plays, and let's face it, the most exciting plays you can do on Xin are to either Flash into E range and then do your combo, or Flash beside your target, R him/her into your waiting teammates/turret and then again, do your combo.
The goal of this proposed rework is to make Xin Zhao more fun, flashy, and mechanically difficult, as well as make his skills fit his lore better than they currently do. I hope you guys like it!


Steadfast Spear

Three Talon Thrusts and Audacious Charges carve off pieces of armor on Xin Zhao's targets, reducing their armor by 8% for 5 seconds and marking them with Steadfast Spear. Steadfast Spear can stack up to 3 times for a total of 24% armor reduction.

First off, the Passive gets a change in name and effect. It was previously called Challenge, which made no sense considering Xin Zhao's personality, lore and the passive's effect. Xin Zhao is an unwavering fighter that holds pride and honor in his skills. How is it honorable that Xin Zhao challenges an enemy by automatically reducing their armor at the very start of the fight?
My proposed alternative would be Steadfast Spear. This is a reference to an old Chinese proverb that loosely translates to "Steadfast waters can carve through even the largest of mountains". With Steadfast Spear comes three important changes.
The first change is that basic attacks no longer apply nor refresh the passive armor reduction. The point of the rework is to make Xin Zhao more fun and interactive. Having a mindless armor reducing passive that refreshes with each auto attack is not conducive to interactivity.
The second change is that, Instead of outright reducing the target's armor by 15%, Xin Zhao steadily chips away at his target's armor 8% at a time during the course of the fight for a maximum of 24% armor reduction.
On a target with 100 armor, the new effect would actually reduce the physical damage of Xin Zhao's first strike by about 4% from its current damage. This is an intentional nerf. This will slightly mitigate Xin Zhao's initial burst damage from items with Spellblade such as Trinity Force, as well as items with Crushing Blow such as Dead Man's Plate. However, the effect also rewards Xin Zhao landing the third strike because it would increase the physical damage dealt from his third strike onwards by about 5% from its current damage to make up for having to stack the effect.
The third change is that Steadfast Spear, unlike Challenge, is not limited to only one enemy. Just like in a real fight against multiple opponents, you can't just focus on one enemy and ignore the rest during the entire fight. This change will fundamentally change the way Xin Zhao's passive interacts with his Ultimate, forcing Xin Zhao players to choose between either focusing on one target, or carving off smaller amounts of armor from multiple targets for his team.
Steadfast Spear fits much better with Xin Zhao's lore as an arena fighter. Xin Zhao was about to fight 300 opponents all by himself. Although not explicitly stated in the lore, I believe Xin Zhao fully intended to win that fight. To do that, he would have had to prioritize his targets and fight smart.  Steadfast Spear would encourage Xin Zhao players to do the same.

Three Talon Thrust RANGE: 400/ 112.5   COST: 70 MANA PER THRUST   COOLDOWN: 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 / 5
Three Talon Strike

Active: Xin Zhao thrusts forth spear first, piercing through any enemies in his path, dealing physical damage, and applying on-hit effects. For 5 seconds, Three Talon Thrust can be cast twice more, with the timer resetting after each thrust.

The third thrust knocks up all enemies in his path for 1 second, sends Three Talon Thrust into cooldown, and reduces the cooldown of his other abilities by 1 second for every enemy champion knocked upwards.

Physical Damage: 15 / 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 (+ 120% AD) 」

Three Talon Thrust resets Xin Zhao's auto-attack timer and does not interrupt Xin Zhao's previous orders.

Three Talon Thrust is basically a skill shot dash version of Three Talon Strike. It retains exactly the same damage and cooldowns, but gains incredible utility as a huge gap closer/escape (1200 total range if done consecutively in a single line), and a larger-scale crowd control initiation skill. Three Talon Strike was a very boring and predictable skill that just modified his auto-attack. By making Three Talon Thrust a skill shot dash, the attack becomes far less predictable and adds a higher skill cap as well as more flash and variety in Xin Zhao's gameplay.
The price for such an amazing utiliy skill? Where before, Three Talon Strike cost Xin Zhao 30 mana for three hits, Three Talon Thrust costs 70 mana per thrust. That's 210 mana for three thrusts, SEVEN TIMES  the mana cost. The extremely prohibitive mana cost will ensure that this skill cannot be mindlessly abused at any point in the game. With the removal of mana potions from the game and Xin Zhao's mana pool reflecting his nature as a fighter and not a mage, there's suddenly a very realistic chance of running out of mana during a crucial moment. Xin Zhao players will have to judge wisely whether to use this skill for farming, ganking, teamfight initiations, solo assassinations, escapes, etc.
There can be huge payoffs to coordinating with your teammates and landing this skill shot perfectly on the enemy team. However, a failed gank can be proportionately devasting to Xin Zhao, who would be left in the middle of the enemy team with no mana, barely any damage output, and his only escape on cooldown.
Three Talon Thrust fits far better into Xin Zhao's lore than Three Talon Strike. Three Talon Strike simulates Xin Zhao charging through the enemy frontline. A bad charge could very much assure his death, but a calculated one can truly highlight his skill and mobility, as well as wreak havoc upon his enemies.

Press The Assault! COST: 40 mana COOLDOWN: 16 / 15 / 14 / 13 / 12
Battle Cry

Passive: Every third basic attack on an enemy champion emboldens Xin Zhao, permanently granting him bonus movement speed, stacking indefinitely.

Bonus Movement Speed: 0.125% / 0.25% / 0.375% / 0.5% / 0.625%

Active: Xin Zhao fully commits to the assault and channels for up to 2.5 seconds, then gains bonus attack speed, bonus attack damage, and healing him per second for twice the amount of time spent channeling. The channeling period cannot be cancelled or interrupted. Xin Zhao can still move, attack, and use his other abilities while channeling, but all of his item actives become disabled and he takes increased damage during the channeling period.

Press The Assault! starts its cooldown after the channeling period.

Bonus Attack speed: 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80%

Bonus Attack DAMAGE: 8 / 16 / 24 / 32 / 40

Healing per second: 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+ 70% AP)


Press The Assault! is a very dangerous skill, both for Xin Zhao and for his enemies.
The increased damage taken by Xin Zhao applies to all sources of damage, including enemy abilities and summoner spells. This makes Xin Zhao extremely vunerable to counter-attacks should he mistime his channeling. 2.5 seconds of taking 10% increased damage is plenty of time to get blown up by enemy crowd-control and burst damage. Also, since all of his item actives become disabled, Xin Zhao cannot just put himself into Stasis with Zhonya's Hourglass or Wooglet's Witchcap.
However, completing the channeling period vastly rewards Xin Zhao's commitment by giving him incredible sustain and attack power. With Press The Assault!, Xin Zhao can literally change the entire course of a teamfight.
Press The Assault! fits much better with Xin Zhao's lore than his current Battle Cry. Battle Cry is just an attack speed steroid with a passive heal. It's mindless and boring. Press the Assault! would require Xin Zhao players to actually think before using it.
In the arena, commiting to a full assault against an enemy would definitely have left Xin Zhao vunerable to counter attacks from his enemy's teammates. He would have had to weigh the risk with the potential reward of pressing his assault, and time everything perfectly to maximize his chances of winning. Thus, timing Press The Assault! properly would be critical in winning duels as well as teamfights in Summoner's Rift.
As for the passive movement speed bonus, it is a reference to how Xin Zhao is supposedly an unstoppable force according to his lore. It can be very rewarding to stack this movement speed, but at max rank of his W, it would take 240 successful auto-attacks on enemy champions to get a 50% bonus movement speed. 240 successful auto-attacks by a melee champion whose only auto-attack steroid requires him to take 10% increased damage for 2.5 seconds to use. Xin Zhao players are in an uphill struggle to get that movement speed.

Audacious Charge RANGE: 600 / 225  COST: 70 mana  COOLDOWN: 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 / 10
Audacious Charge

Active: Xin Zhao charges forth in a burst of supernatural speed to a target area, dragging all other enemies in his path with him, dealing them magic damage and slowing them for 1.5 seconds before leaping back.

There is a 0.5 second delay as Xin Zhao leaps back. During this delay, Xin Zhao is untargettable.

Magic Damage: 30 / 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 (+ 60% AP)

Enemy Slow: 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 / 45%

My proposed rework of Audacious Charge is a slight amalgation of Poppy's Heroic Charge and Quinn's Vault. The similarities of their skills would even make sense in the lore, considering they are all champions of Demacia.
The new Audacious Charge is no longer a targeted spell, but rather a skill shot. It comes with a larger Area of Effect and could serve as a set up ability for Xin Zhao's teammates, or as an added advantage for Xin Zhao himself. It can also be a highly valuable disengage for emergencies. With the positioning advantage afforded by Three Talon Thrust, the sheer mobility this skill brings to Xin Zhao's arsenal is immense.
The cost of that increase in utility? The slow duration has been decreased by 25%, the first rank damage has been decreased by over 57%, and all subsequent ranks' damages have also been decreased until the very last rank. The mana cost has also been increased. Considering Xin Zhao's mana pool, none of his skills are spammable anymore. In fact, at level six, Xin Zhao's would only be left with a whopping 2 mana, if he uses all of his skills once (a complete Three Talon Thrust being counted as one instance).
This new Audacious Charge would be better than his current one due to its utility as a set up skill and power as a disruptive force during team fights. The current Audacious Charge is a single-target skill with a small AoE slow. It's not exactly the best set up skill and it doesn't really disrupt anything.
Plus, making it a skill shot adds versatility and yet another fun mechanic to playing Xin Zhao. The variety of combinations you can do with this and his other two skills would definitely solve the problem of his current repetitive combo.

Crescent Sweep RANGE: 245  COST: 100 mana  COOLDOWN: 120 / 110 / 100
Crescent Sweep

Active: Xin Zhao sweeps around him, stunning all enemies in range for 0.75 seconds, dealing them physical damage, and knocking back all enemies not marked by Steadfast Spear.

Total Physical Damage: 75 / 175 / 275 (+ 100% bonus AD) (+ 15% of target's current health)

capped at 600 (+ 100% bonus AD) against monsters.

For 6 seconds, Xin Zhao also gains bonus armor and magic resistance for each enemy champion hit by Crescent Sweep.

Bonus Resistances Per Champion: 15% / 20% / 25%
Out of all his current abilities, Xin Zhao's Crescent Sweep is perhaps the most unflawed of all. It synergizes well and interacts uniquely with his passive. It fits very well with his lore. It's disruptive, flashy, and fun. It's helpful as an escape, a damaging AoE ability, and an execute.  Its really quite well balanced.
As such, it's only being modified to give it some quality of life tweaks such as a more reasonable range (Xin Zhao's auto-attack range + 20) and %resistances instead of flat resistances. This will insure that Xin Zhao players are rewarded for actually building resistances instead of building just full damage and hoping nobody on the enemy team blows Xin Zhao up.
Other than that, Crescent Sweep is actually in a good spot, and will remain largely unchanged.


The values might need some more tweaking, but the general idea should be fairly evident about this proposed rework. This version of  Xin Zhao would be more user-interactive, flashy, mechanically challenging, and most importantly, more fun than the current Xin Zhao. It fits with his lore better, and it would do justice for my favorite champion to be reworked like this.
Thanks for reading! Tell me what you guys think of it in the comments. I welcome all criticism, as long as they can help me improve this concept. Maybe Riot might even get some ideas from this. One can only hope!