An icon in gaming: League of Legends cinematics

It’s an iconic part of the game and a legend in gaming itself: let’s have a look at the best League of Legends cinematics. Last week, we had a brief look at Worlds songs and music videos, including the latest one, STAR WALKIN’ by Lil Nas X. It was made for Worlds 2022 with an animated video.

Cinematics has been one of the integral parts of League of Legends lore from the start and contributed heavily to the game’s popularity. Before Worlds 2022 starts, we can try to decide the best of them, including the best Worlds videos.

Riot Games' best works over the years

The first cinematic Riot Games made was the teaser trailer for the game. However, the first long cinematic was “Welcome to League of Legends” displaying Runeterra and the champions in detail for the first time ever.

After a few minor videos like Mac Client Trailer etc. Riot Games started to show some incredible stuff, starting with “A Twist of Fate”. While many videos were released in 2013, A Twist of Fate was different and it still is one of the most iconic videos produced by Riot Games.

Obviously, “Get Jinxed” followed that iconic cinematic to end 2013. An amazing song combined with an amazing music video, Get Jinxed is a legend to this day. Many cinematics were released after the positive feedbacks from the community, including videos for Braum, Lissandra, Azir and more champions. A New Dawn followed A Twist of Fate as another legendary video featuring life on Runeterra.

Imagine Dragons’ Warriors closed 2014, as the first World Championship song and cinematic. In 2015, “The Curse of The Sad Mummy” is a video that definitely deserves to enter the list, featuring Amumu. Many champion announcements followed that, including an iconic cinematic for Ekko.

Incredible works by Riot Games continued to be released. They worked on new champions or remade ones and events like All-Star and Worlds. The one that was as great as A Twist of Fate or A New Dawn in my opinion was Varus’ new story in 2017, featuring a song, As We Fall.

Riot Games released “The Climb” at the start of 2018, signalling that they will keep doing that at each season’s start from now on. A very interesting story and cinematic, “Ryze: Call of Power” is among my favourites that year. However, aside from the legendary music video of Rise, Riot Games reached the peak that was A Twist of Fate and A New Dawn once again with Awaken at the start of Season 2019. The song combined with the video is just amazing.

In 2019, Shadow’s Embrace was released, the trailer for Senna. Arcane was announced, Giants was released and it was a great year for Riot Games’ cinematics. 2020 started with another iconic video, Warriors, with a remixed version of the song. Many “Tales of Runeterra” videos were released, K/DA made a comeback at Worlds 2020 and Ruination kicked off 2021 for LoL.

Although Ruination was a disappointment later in the year, I remember how hyped the players were after this video. Thresh Unbound, the official Arcane trailer and Enemy from Arcane marked the end of a wonderful year for Riot Games.

2022 started with The Call, featuring Pantheon as the antagonist. Riot Games released several videos throughout the year as always, and finally, Lil Nas X’s STAR WALKIN’ hit YouTube. Before we talk about that, we should first take a look at the history of Worlds cinematics.

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Worlds music videos

As mentioned earlier, Warriors was the one that kicked off Worlds songs and cinematics. It was a huge success, being considered the best Worlds song ever years after it’s release. Warriors was produced together with Imagine Dragons, one of the most iconic bands. Another Riot Games - Imagine Dragons production, Enemy was also a big success in 2021.

Worlds Collide followed Warriors, but Riot Games didn’t make an epic cinematic for the song, and while many claim that it doesn’t include the hype that Warriors has, I believe the lack of a cinematic affected the judgement of LoL fans.

Riot Games worked with Zedd for Worlds 2016, Ignite was released before Worlds 2022 as the new anthem. The music video was a huge success, it was an amazing animation featuring the best moments in previous World Championships. However, the players weren’t a fan of the style, EDM, and Ignite stays as an underrated piece in the history of Worlds songs.

Legends Never Die with Against The Current (Chrissy Costanza’s band) followed Ignite, and it is one of the three global fan-favourites together with Warriors and Rise. The performance before the finals made Chrissy Costanza a big part of the League of Legends community, and she still works with Riot Games in many works.

Worlds 2018 followed up with Rise, a music video that revolves around the story of Samsung Galaxy and Ambition who managed to take down the SKT dynasty after years. To this day, Rise is the only cinematic and song that could fight with Warriors for the top.

After two successful hits, it is safe to say that Riot Games botched 2019. While Cailin Russo and Chrissy Costanza made a great job with the song, it was released very late, causing many rumours saying they wouldn’t make a video for this year, or that they couldn’t finish it in time so it’s an incomplete video. The quality dropped from previous years and it wasn’t actually a cinematic video at all. Still, it was nice to see Caps, Faker and Rookie.

In 2020, Take Over was released, featuring Faker and a cat as the main antagonist, together with the “summoner”. Take Over’s music video is one of my favourites, however, the song isn’t liked by many.

Riot Games worked with PVRIS for the Worlds 2021 anthem, and the song wasn’t a huge hit for the third time in a row. It has an amazing music video, I’ll give Riot Games that, with ShowMaker and Chovy fighting, but the song just sounded so much like the previous ones. In my opinion, that was what prompted Riot Games to make something different for Worlds 2022.

STAR WALKIN’ is released

STAR WALKIN’ is definitely different from what we have seen from Riot Games over the years. It sounds and smells like Lil Nas X, you can easily understand that Nas worked on it himself and Riot had little to do with the song. However, many fans found that unacceptable. One criticism is definitely valid: it misses the “hype” of Worlds anthems so far.

This was something not expected by the fans when they see a Worlds song. I think that Riot Games is trying to take a different approach. Instead of taking it as a hype video before Worlds, Riot wants to use the Worlds anthem as a mean of advertisement as well, and Lil Nas X is obviously the perfect candidate for that: you might hear STAR WALKIN’ everywhere on TikTok in a few weeks.

However, my main concern was the cinematic, not the song. Just like Phoenix, the quality definitely dropped: only four esports players are the main characters. We used to see many players and references in previous videos. The video just didn’t do it for me, and the majority of fans. A “different” song could be acceptable if it’s an advertisement, but Worlds cinematics had a certain level. It is sad to see Riot Games couldn’t reach that in 2022.

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