In a move reminiscent of the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog live-action redesign, Riot Games has had to adjust the looks of its latest League of Legends champion, Smolder, in response to criticism from fans. After his reveal, fans pointed out that the small dragon’s face looked unnervingly human, with a design that was out of place with other dragons in the LoL universe.
Smolder, the Firey Fledgling, was revealed on January 4 as an adorable ADC who would also be easy to learn and fun to play. The small dragon’s cute design may have been pushed too far, with fans immediately criticizing the uncanny valley effect of Smolder’s human-like face, comparing it to Sonic’s original live-action design.
Fans compared the design to other baby dragons from League canon, such as Dragon Trainer Tristana’s companion Riggle, pointing out how previous designs had always balanced cuteness with distinct draconic features like scales and pointed snouts. A number of fanartists posted their own Smolder redesigns, giving him less human features.
Hey Guys! We heard your feedback on Smolder’s face and are making some adjustment to highlight his dragon features. Thank you so much for Gem, @O0_Y_0O and @White_Leyth for making this happen! The splash team is working on some adjustments too! pic.twitter.com/6CWfVYwQjY
— Riot Lexical (Lexi) (@neolexical) January 5, 2024
Barely a day later, product manager Riot Lexical announced a redesign of Smolder’s face, adding more scaling, texture, hard lines, and changing the shape of his eyes to “highlight his dragon features.” While no changes have been made to the model itself, the texture updates do a lot to offset the uncanny valley of the original design.
Smolder will be coming to Summoner’s Rift in Patch 14.3, which is due out on February 7.