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Introduction: blablabla, Introduction over.
Straight to the point: As most of you have probably noticed, we've got a big Shurima related event coming our way. The Freljord event of this season.
So far we've been blessed with the PBE release of Azir who apparently has a pretty large fanbase already. His playstyle seems to be pretty unique (aa based mage with a complicated kit that has to be amstered in order to be effective. This, of course, follows Riot's ambitions of creating as many new ingame mechnanics as possible...and so far they#ve been doing well with that ( Braum, Lucian)
Additionally, we're also getting a new Gamemode, taking place on the Crystal Scar: ASCENSION which I believe was probably a by-product of DOom Bots (or it's predecessor) since it features a Xerath-bot in his ascendedd form. From what I've seen, this gamemode is a lot about tactical positioning and coordination if you want to win (or you just run as 5 and mow down any enemy in the vicinity for the lolz).
Besides all that, Renekton and Cassiopeia received TUs, in the croc's case, even redoing his base geometry for a more up-to-date version of his godlike Alligatorness, thus following Riot's previous attempts to update outdated champion models without actually having to do a full VU on 50% of League's champions.
This is basically all we ahve so far, and it's already a whole lot...and it'S far from over.
ASCENSION has a fancy new Sandstorm fog-of-war, as well as Shurima-style HUD. Riot wouldn't do all this if they planned on leaving the map as it is. Therefore I conclude that the Crystal Scar will get a whole new VU (like the Howling Abyss) and be relocated to Shurima. Need more evidence? Recently a lore update to various champions popped up. It includes a new lore for Skarner (well..."new") which effectively relocates his home, which he'S guarding, beneath the Shurima desert. Therefore the whole Kalamanda-incdident-lore-BS that was Skarners teaser and the release of Dominion will be rewritten. So, to sum up: they're jsut gonna go Twisted treeline on the map.
This is something i really look forward to personally, because I've always been a fan of Egyptian/desert-themed stuff in video games and seeing how Riot did an amazing job at the upcoming SR VU and the background of the Howling Abyss (SO MUCH STUFF IS HAPPENING AT ONCE!!!) this will probably force me to include a daily game of Dominion.
Another interesting thing is, that Rito planned this whole Shurima thing a long time ago. Azir is obviously the mysterious "Seth the Sandmage" which had files in the game for about 2 or 3 years. Also, remember how Xerath, Sivir, Nasus and Skarner updates came in in rapid succession, obviously preparing them for their upcoming lore update.
Also, for the first time, an ultimate skin seems to be invloved with the event. ASCENSION is meant to have an Ascended Xerath in teh center of the map. Currently, it'S just the regular Xerath. While you could argue that Xerath is already ascended if we consider his lore, I kinda believe that ASCENDED XERATH will be our new Ultimate skin. Supproting my claim are the few new summoner icons that have popped up on the PBE, showing some Shurima stuff which looks like it'S evolving, reminding me of the 4 Animal icons for SGUdyr. Summing it up: Likely a fancy ultimate skin for Xerath which the Xerath in ASSCENSION will be using. Also, Riot confirmed that the ultimate skin champ has an ability with "a" as teh fourth letter... Arcanopulse
Now about the smaller stuff: the endless possibilities for new skins. We already have the first one Guardian of the Sands Kha'Zix, giving the bug his deserved second skin (and though it'S jsut 975 I like it a lot) while also getting the "ZOMG KHA6 GITS ULTIMATE SKIN CUZ EVOLUTIENS!!!" off the table.
Now I'm kinda hyped because...Guardian of the Sands Skarner! Confirmed? No, but it's SO easy to imagine. Skarner needs a new skin, Battlecast Skarner would most likely be a legendary skin, since from what we've seen so far it would require different movement animation as well as voice and sounds. Since we already have a legendary skin for the next 2-3 months that'S probably not happening anytime soon. GotS Skarner would, however, be an easy alternative. Check out the Kha6 skin and try to tell me you couldn't imagine that theme on Skarner..you won't...
On a sidenote: Karthus could also use a new skin, Pharaoh Karthus seems really really easy to apply.
Finally, if we look at Renekton's new model update (which is amazing btw) Riot shows that they do not necessarily ahve to do a full VU to bring a champion's visuals up-to.date. This opens up the possibility of updated textures for a lot of champs which have an outdated model with good animations...In other words Malphite, Shyvana and some others might actually look like their respective new splash arts without us having to wait for a full VU.
Also, I see an Amumu coming. Soon...very soon...-ish
Last but not least, I would like you guys to remember how much Rito has been doing for the community for the last few months. We got a decent Metal-Album...for free!, we got A BUTTLOAD of new skins, most of which are excellent quality and turned to must-have-skins for their respective champions (just think Miss Fortune). They've also release a lot of gameplay updates (with a whole lot more in the making). Now Azir is already announced, around 3 weeks after Gnar's release on Live. New gamemodes all over the place, an update to the ranking system, and, of course the huge SR update.
To sum up, Riot has been good to us. Be thankful.