Ability Update: Xin Zhao

By Gentleman Gustaf

We haven’t talked about Xin Zhao in quite some time - other than our dev corner posts on this update - but he’s a character with a lot of flags that scream “update me”. Like other ability updates before him, we see a lot of opportunity to give Xin Zhao a clearer identity and more dynamic gameplay. With pre-season coming up, we have a pretty decent opportunity to do something bold with his abilities and see where he settles, so let’s dive in.

Who is Xin Zhao?

When we started to think about Xin Zhao’s gameplay identity, we struggled to really pull much from his kit. We knew Xin Zhao needed to be swift, forceful, strong, and mysterious, but beyond that we didn’t have much to go off of. The one thing that really stood out was his spear, but his kit didn’t really say “spear fighter”.

He was a diver - sort of. But while most divers shine in teamfights as either damage oriented initiators compared to Vanguards or all-in murderballs compared to assassins, Xin Zhao falls off pretty hard when teamfights begin. So the first step would be giving Xin Zhao something to do in teamfights.

The second step was giving Xin Zhao decisions to make. Right now Xin Zhao pretty much clicks all of his keys on you and wins - or loses - on the back of how many stats he has now.

Dive into the Fray

We knew we saw Xin Zhao as some form of Diver, but what was his special sauce?

Before he came to serve Demacia, Xin Zhao had been sentenced to Noxian gladiator pit, The Fleshing, an arena in which Xin Zhao faced increasing numbers of opponents. While other duelists like Fiora and Kha’Zix want to isolate their opponents, Xin Zhao thrives in the chaos of a teamfight. Leaning into this idea of Xin Zhao as an epic scrapper who could fight off any odds, we wanted to sharpen his ability to create a bubble within a chaotic teamfight. That meant revisiting Crescent Sweep’s ability to isolate one enemy from the rest, and changing it to allow him to buy not only distance, but safety.

We wanted an ultimate which would allow Xin Zhao to create pockets of safety within a teamfight, within which he could dispatch an opponent if their team didn’t quickly reposition to assist them.

R - Crescent Sweep

Xin sweeps his spear in an arc around him, knocking back all enemies - except the last one attacked - stunning them briefly and dealing damage. After the sweep, Xin’s awareness is highly elevated, making him immune to all damage inflicted by enemies outside of his circle of awareness. Enemies inside the circle may successfully damage him.

Less Faceroll

We also wanted to add new gameplay to Xin Zhao. His existing W, Battle Cry, carried a ton of invisible power: a critical strike, a heal, bonus attack speed. It gave him a lot of power, but didn’t leave him with much to do once he was on an opponent other than right click. By moving the attack speed to his E and the bonus damage and healing to his passive, we were able to refactor his W into an interactive ability that gave him degrees of success, but also margins of error.

W - Wind Becomes Lightning

Xin attacks with his spear for 2 attacks in quick succession

  • Attack 1 - Slashes all enemies in front of him
  • Attack 2 - thrusts his spear forward at range, slowing enemies struck for 1.5 seconds.

Finally, we did some general balance tweaks to Xin Zhao (mostly consisting of shifting the steroids from Xin Zhao’s old W to his other abilities).


Every third attack deals bonus damage and heals Xin Zhao. No longer reduces armor.

Q - Three Talon Strike

Base damage decreased. Now scales with bonus attack damage rather than total attack damage

E - Audacious Charge

Base damage decreased. Slow duration decreased. Now grants Xin Zhao bonus attack speed for 5 seconds.

The new Xin Zhao should still have many of the same weaknesses as the old one. He’s still pretty susceptible to being kited by mobile champions or locked down by crowd control. However, his ability to isolate an opponent to create a duel zone gives him a unique way to shine as the game goes on and skirmishes turn into teamfights.

2 years ago

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