Riot Games’ new League of Legends champion Hwei has sparked heated discussion within the MOBA community, as many players feel the mage bears a striking resemblance to Dota 2’s most notoriously difficult hero to master – Invoker.
Hwei’s Complex Kit
Unveiled last week, Hwei is classified as a mid-lane mage boasting an impressive ten abilities, the most of any current League champion. His kit requires players to combine three distinct spell types, labeled Disaster, Torment, and Serenity, by pressing a sequence of Q, W, and E keys. Each combination summons a different ability, granting Hwei unparalleled versatility.
Comparisons to Invoker
This complexity immediately drew comparisons to Invoker, one of Dota’s original heroes dating back to Warcraft 3. Invoker similarly has access to ten abilities, each produced by combining Quas, Wex, and Exort elements. Mastering the quick conjuring and coordination of his diverse spell arsenal is considered among the greatest challenges for experienced Dota players.
While Riot designers admit inspiration was taken from Invoker’s concept, they maintain Hwei was tailored specifically for League and differs substantially in execution. “We recognized the appeal of a high-skill cap mage with a bunch of spells to master, but set out to create something unique from the ground up,” explains champion developer Miles Shalholm.
Differences in Design
Early in the design process, Hwei’s abilities were themed around combining colors and shapes related to his lore as a mage painter. Playtesters found this overly complicated, so the team settled on spell categories with intuitive names like Disaster and Torment. “While nods to Invoker remain, we focused on designing a cohesive League champion accessible to our playerbase,” Shalholm states.
Under the hood, fundamental differences do seem apparent between the two heroes. Hwei’s spells exhibit more modest individual impact, encouraging combo chaining to maximize damage through his passive. All spells within a category share cooldowns, requiring judicious picking and choosing. And Hwei activates combinations via direct sequenced key presses, contrasting Invoker’s elaborate element fusion.
But some players argue that these mechanical departures matter little when the end result remains fundamentally the same. “Sure, the methods vary, but unlocking ten unique abilities through input combos is Invoker’s fantasy,” argues League streamer Tyler1. “Hwei scratches that same itch for complexity and mastery.”
Accusations of Plagiarism
DOTA fans have reacted more harshly, accusing Riot of plagiarizing a beloved and iconic Dota hero. “It’s a blatant rip-off, no matter how hard they try to spin it,” wrote Reddit user IceXFrog. “Hwei even sounds like Invoker.” Others have taken a more tempered stance, acknowledging similarities while reserving judgment until Hwei hits live servers.
Riot’s Track Record
Riot is no stranger to accusations of copying competitors. Dota players cried foul when League released Zed, noting his similarities to Dota’s Shadow Fiend. And for years, League was derided as an unoriginal clone of Dota itself.
But as the undisputed king of the MOBA genre, with over 100 million monthly players, Riot has arguably earned creative leeway. And with 180+ champions, some ability overlap is inevitable.
Game development has always advanced through iteration and inspiration from peers. “Great artists steal,” as the old adage goes. As long as Hwei brings something fresh to League, Riot can likely weather a few salty Dota fans.
The Road Ahead
Hwei remains on the PBE for testing and is likely to see significant tuning ahead of his official release. Balancing his loaded kit presents a monumental challenge.
If Riot can strike the right balance, Hwei may provide a rewarding experience for players seeking high mastery. And his presence could further enflame tensions between the League and Dota communities.
Invoker is revered for his complexity, but also reviled for the frustration of novices struggling to harness his potential. It remains to be seen whether Hwei can capture that appeal while proving more accessible.
One thing is certain: all eyes will be watching Hwei’s rollout closely, as he represents a bold undertaking by Riot. The creation of League’s most intricate champion promises to have ripple effects across the wider gaming landscape for months to come.