I Respect It: Lux

“I Respect It” is a feature where I break down excellent non-Dota hero designs, and figure out what makes them tick.

In my time with League of Legends, I was quite partial to the Lady of Luminosity- Demacia’s light mage, Lux. Unlike so many other League characters, I can talk her up with no reservation- her visual design is bright and tasteful, her voicework is bright and pleasant, and of course her combat design is spot on. Lux is a devastating magic wielder who’s most at home in a teamfight- but don’t think she can’t get work done on her own. All four of Lux’s spells are manually aimed, making her combo tricky to land, but when used properly, the damage they deal can be insurmountable.

Lux’s level 1 passive ability is Illumination, which applies a same-named debuff to targets hit by three of her four spells. The debuff is consumed to deal damage when the target is hit by a standard attack, and doesn’t stack. This gives Lux a satisfying rhythm in fights- she throws a spell, right clicks, throws another, then right clicks again. It isn’t too hard to execute, but if you panic and lose your cool (as I often did as a League rookie) you won’t deal the impressive damage Lux is known for. As in other MOBAs, heroes who specialize in spells don’t have very hard-hitting standard attacks, but Illumination helps keep Lux’s damage-dealing combo engaging, as well as emphasizing your standard attacks in a way that doesn’t depend on getting powerful items. She’ll never right click you to death, but those charges do pack a wallop.

The light mage’s Q, Light Binding, is a decently-ranged skillshot (a manually aimed ability that has travel time) that deals magical damage and binds your enemy to the spot. It’ll hit a second target in a line beyond whoever you hit first, but they only take half damage and are bound for half as long. Both targets are also marked with the Illumination debuff. Light Binding provides the Lady a brief window to set things up while her enemy is immobilized. With only two seconds of binding, she’s got to work fast to get the next spell in place, then fire the standard attack off to trigger the Illumination charge before her next spell adds another. While it’s a great spell, there’s little room for error if Lux is alone. However, with some backup, every piece of crowd control helps. It’s also a great tool for escapes, as long as you don’t have too many pursuers.

If Lux has one ability that could be called “forgettable,” it’s her W, Prismatic Barrier. With a press and a click, Lux tosses her magical baton like a boomerang, providing her and any allied player it touches with a shield. In concept, it could be a great asset, but the numbers simply aren’t there- compared to the health pools in League of Legends, the amount of damage the shield mitigates is almost laughable. Making matters worse, the mana cost isn’t negligible, so unless you have literally no other tools available it’s not even worth throwing. Lux isn’t here to support. She’s here to blow people up.

In that singular aim of foe detonation, her E Lucent Singularity is her most useful tool. A targeted AoE with travel time, the Singularity slows all movement over a small area and detonates after a few seconds, dealing damage and applying Illumination to victims. It can also be detonated early with the press of a button. Its purposes are myriad- it can slow pursuers, enable Lux time to reposition during a one-on-one fight, deal reasonable damage in a teamfight, and disincentivize approaching some areas. It’s a key part of her spell combo, and can even give vision of the target area so that Lux can scout dangerous areas with magic rather than her face. The utility it offers is fantastic. There are few situations a well-placed Singularity cannot improve, and it has great synergy with the rest of Lux’s arsenal, especially her ultimate.

When you see any clip of Lux laying waste to an entire team, it is most likely sealed with the dramatic finale that is her ultimate, Final Spark. A press of R sees her aiming a targeting ray for a half-second while she charges, followed by a brilliant beam of blazing luminescence. It’s the only one of her abilities that both consumes and applies Illumination: if the targets are already afflicted with Illumination, it’ll burn them for added damage and then add a fresh charge, no right click needed. The beam is wide, very long, and deals full damage to all targets in the area. There’s no body-blocking this laser! Whether blasting a single target or teamfighting, Lux’s last light is a devastating blast that can easily seal your fate. At high levels, its cooldown time is significantly reduced, and you can use it to push lanes, discourage fights, and snipe the unwary.

Naturally, an ability this powerful has some downsides, and Final Spark’s issue is that it’s tricky to land. Casting it reveals Lux to the enemy on the map- naturally, such an intense gathering of light would draw attention. Worse yet, the little red ray that indicates the laser’s path is visible to every player on the map, whether friend or foe. They’re given a half-second to clear its path, and if that sounds insignificant, you aren’t respecting the pace at which MOBAs move. If you’re trying to hit multiple targets, some of them will have enough time to get out of the way. If you’re too greedy, maybe all of them will escape its blast. The key is positioning- aim the laser so it will hit them if they stay the course, or if they try to get to a safer position. Use it while they’re against a wall, leaving no room for escape. Cut off retreats, and force them to suffer the laser or head into even greater danger. Or just hold them in place with your Q so that dodging isn’t even on the table.

Lux is usually run as a mid-laner: the middle of the three lanes in most MOBAs is the one that leaves a player by themselves, and lets them get experience faster so that they can start looking for fights sooner. It’s a great fit with any magical glass cannon like Lux. She’s more level-dependent and doesn’t need as many items, so the added experience that the mid lane offers lets her roam and pick off targets earlier in the game. After everyone else has leveled up, she’s too fragile to do much without a friend, but her damage is too major to ignore. League offers a way for spell damage to scale through a stat called Ability Power, but she still won’t have the power needed to carry the rest of the team. The later the game gets, the more dependent she becomes on teammates to set and follow up on her light-based sorcery.

With the proper backup, however, she makes decisive teamfights possible, and clears the way to the enemy nexus. The Lady of Luminosity brings a deadly light to bear, and a cohesive design that I genuinely miss since my switch to Dota. Her skillshot-heavy technique is at odds with Dota 2’s stable of heroes, but it is one of the most interesting parts of League that other MOBAs often don’t copy. There’s room for more than one style in this genre, and though League of Legends doesn’t match my personal tastes, at the very least I can respect it.