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Hi guys, here I am again with another lore theory.... or speculation, and my topic for today is Ao Shin, the legendary storm dragon of Ionia. Here is what Riot has to say about him/her:
"Meet Ao Shin, a powerful storm dragon and guardian of the natural world. Legend holds that when Ionia faces its greatest crisis, Ao Shin will descend from the sky."
Okay, a year ago, Riot never announced anything about abolishing the existence of the League nor the Institute of War but hinted it through the new lores. Back then people assumed(or maybe only I did) that that Ionia's greatest crisis would be about Zed, Syndra, the Order of the Shadow or some spirits running amok but now that it turns out that the league doesn't exist anymore there is one thing that's changed. The conclusion of the Noxian Invasion. Without the IoW to interfere with the invasion, there is no one to aid Ionia against Noxus, well there is Demacia but what do they care about Ionia not to mention too far away. If things needs to be considered, Noxus might be invading Ionia while Jarvan IV is missing and Demacia already got their handsful with their life long nemesis.
So all in all it means that Ionia is alone in their struggle against Noxus and this invasion IS Ionia's greatest crisis and darkest hour. Some might say that Ionian champs could defeat the Noxian army but then who are they?
Lee Sin, Irelia, Karma, Soraka, Varus, Udyr, Master Yi and Yasuo. The Kinkou order doesn't count, they are already in disarray with Zed's return.
Lore versions of the champs would be stronger than their in-game counterparts but lets not overestimate their abilities in that timeline. According to Karma's lore, Ionia was left with three northern province and the people were separated into three groups: The resistance carving for vengeance, the monks protesting through peaceful means and Karma's group fighting for their freedom without the taint of vengeance.
The invasion happened for the span of seven years and a lot of things happened.
Master Yi fought and was very successfully and feared by the Noxians until Singed came into the scene and destroyed his village. He wasn't a master until the war ended because he was training in seclusion and only mastered Wuju Style when Wukong helped him relinquish his thirst for vengeance.
Yasuo fought but with the death of his master and him being a suspect on the run, it could be said that the foundation of Ionia weakened.
Varus, we all know what happened to him and it doesn't look like he has a need for allies.
Irelia and karma probably grouped up but the former actually died but thanks to either Soraka or Karma, she survived.
The special case here is Lee Sin because he actually left Ionia during the invasion. If Udyr's lore could be trusted, Lee Sin was already blind when he went to Freljord and here is what I think happened. Lee Sin being a peaceful monk protested against the invasion by burning himself in protest and either of these happened: Noxus gave them time to reconsider their surrender or Noxus invaded them but spared them from harm. After Lee Sin recovered he went to the north towards Freljord to seek the Spirit Walker but it turns out he is dead and his successor, Udyr, is untrained so he makes with what he's got and returned to Ionia to train Udyr. But the funny thing is why would Lee Sin seek out the spirit walker?
Well for a bit of chinese myth background they have these four celestial animal gods: The White Tiger, The Black Turtle, the Red Phoenix and the Blue Dragon. Seems familiar right? That's because Udyr has three of them and the fourth one, the blue dragon, is Ao Shin. Riot said that Ao Shin has a number of meanings and translation but one of them I got from the Japanese translation. "Ao" means blue, and "Shin" means god and therefore Ao Shin could mean the blue god. Lee Sin sought out the spirit walker to ask him to find Ao Shin for Ionia is in great danger but then he's already dead and he needs to train Udyr. So all those seven years Udyr found the Tiger, the Turtle and the Phoenix and if we watch the Spirit Guard Udyr comics we actually see him "facing" Ao Shin. This might be how Udyr "master" Ao Shin, by proving his worth as a spirit walker and Ao Shin would win the war against Noxus.
But then you might be asking where the hell did the bear spirit come from? Well, if we read Udyr's lore we find this:
"Wracked by grief, Udyr howled with fury, and he felt the Freljord itself howl with him. In that moment, the child embraced the spirits' primal nature and became a beast himself. Coursing with their untamed power, Udyr's angry roar shook the mountaintops and brought down a torrential avalanche."
I bet that the bear is the spirit of Freljord and is Udyr's very first spirit companion. In chinese mythology the bear isn't really an animal shown a lot but in norse mythology bears are almost everywhere and also, the bear is always the standard spirit of Udyr in his classic skin as well as his companion in his spirit guard skin.
Anyways what does did all mean? The Noxian Invasion is currently happening and Ionia is struggling and where does this all lead to? Ao Shin is coming very soon and he/she will liberate Ionia from the claws of Noxus.