League of Legends is a completely free-to-play game, and much of what keeps Riot Games in business is their purchasable skins for the 150+ champions. Skin themes usually feature four or more champions together in an alternate reality setting.
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The best skin themes have a strong and unique setting for the alternate world, characters that make sense in that world, and strong designs for the skins themselves. It’s also important that the skin theme be well represented, meaning at least five members. A skin theme won’t be well remembered if it’s only used on a few champions.
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The Star Guardians are a group of intergalactic protectors inspired by the cast of Sailor Moon, with the addition of the one and only male Star Guardian Ezreal.
Arcane protagonist, Jinx, headlines the series as a fantastic legendary skin, and plenty of other key characters like Lux make the guardians one of Riot’s most popular skins. The Star Guardians are a fun callback to an animated franchise that many grew up with, and the designs are a successful reimagining with great color palettes. Riot’s recent inclusion of villain Star Guardians in Zoe, Xayah, and Rakan even further elevated the lore of the universe.
Pentakill is one of the three alternate universe bands in League. They focus on metal music, with the grim reaper champion Karthus headlining the vocals for the band.
Pentakill’s two separate releases thus far, including an entire metal album to go along with both releases, are a testament to their popularity and the effort Riot put into them. Adding the Ruined King, Viego, to the mix made Pentakill an even bigger powerhouse in League. Pentakill perfectly captures the idea of a high fantasy heavy metal band, and the designs did a great job of incorporating the musical instruments into the designs of the characters.
Cafe Cuties is set in a world where a group of champions decided to work at a cafe, a simple but effective concept that defies the traditional high fantasy world most skin themes are set in.
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Cafe Cuties is perfect for those who want a skin on the cuter side, rather than the intense fantasy or shonen anime designs. Riot was also successful in creating fun reimaginings of the characters, like popular hemomancer Vladimir using tea instead of blood for his magic and cosmic entity Bard’s head becoming a teapot. The skinline doesn’t have the same intense lore as other skins, but the designs are creative and adorable.
PROJECT takes place in a cyberpunk city where the champions were normal humans enhanced by cybernetic augments and AI. It’s a set of skins Riot has revisited time and time again, with 17 total PROJECT champions and even more skin lines like Program occupying the same world.
There’s a very strong cyberpunk influence around PROJECT that was executed perfectly on all members of the theme. Aside from the color palettes and unique weapons, most champions end up looking fairly similar. However, for those that love the style, that means every new PROJECT skin is a success. There’s not a weak link among any of the 17 PROJECT skins, which in itself is enough to call the theme a success.
Porcelain is set in a world of porcelain objects that give heroes the power of a different Chinese Zodiac. Ezreal is the protagonist of the porcelain world: a young adventurer who accidentally released the evil sorceress Lissandra, who had gained control of the snake relic.
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Each skin uniquely captures the design and personality of the zodiac while mixing in the white and blue porcelain aspect beautifully. Most impressive is the way each skin incorporates the fusion of the original character with its new zodiac artifact. Amumu uses his rat artifact in place of his bandage, while Ezreal’s tiger relic is where his gauntlet would usually be. The theme takes champions that have nothing to do with one another and gives them an amazing unifying design.
Many characters in League have influences from anime, but Battle Academia created an entire superhero school world inspired by My Hero Academia. Battle Academia features genius inventor, Jayce as the rival and beloved adventurer Ezreal as the young hero in newly imagined Shonen anime-inspired forms.
Part of what makes Battle Academia so fun is how the champions that were chosen fit every stereotypical shonen anime archetype perfectly, including the genius animal mascot character in Academia Yuumi. For the designs themselves, every character has the school jackets that tie them together, while also having more unique individual designs than most themes. No two characters look exactly the same, unlike other fan-favorite themes, like PROJECT and Star Guardian.
The Arcana are a group of mystical beings inspired by the major arcana in tarot cards. Each arcana observes the citizens of their world and influences them to match the distinct vision of the world that particular arcana has devised.
Arcana was so popular that it already has had two different sets of releases, each with great lore. Especially strong was the forbidden love take on Xayah and Rakan, with Xayah born into the higher arcana and Rakan into the lower, which helped deepen the lore of the Arcana world for fans of the theme. The world is one of the most fascinating among all skin themes, and the red and black designs with the tarot card inspiration make the skins one of the darkest and most mystifying. Arcana also succeeds where many themes with unifying color palettes fail: every design is unique and makes it clear which champion is which.
High Noon takes place in a supernatural version of the Wild West where a constant war of angels and demons takes place, including normal humans like Lucian and Senna that become infused with demonic and angelic power.
The world perfectly blends the two themes of the Wild West and celestial fantasy. The orange and grey color palette both ties all the champions together and uses shade to tell the audience if the character is a western angel or a demon. No champion feels out of place in the world, but the story of Lucian and Senna versus Thresh, already a key part of the original story, is reimagined in a way that amplifies High Noon to another level.
The Coven includes a series of cultists that had their minds corrupted by dark gods that were cast away by the order of the Eclipse. Now, the Coven seeks to raise the Old Gods from their tomb using dark magic. Among the coven are hopeful Arcane season 2 inclusion, Camille, and the ice queen Lissandra, with Morgana serving as the leader.
The horror imagery is the real selling point of the skins, with animalistic and ritualistic elements in every skin. Camille’s ebony ram horns and Lissandra’s stag horns are two such examples, but every member of the Coven has a greyscale color and an animal that helps tie the world and the group of women together. They truly feel like a group of antagonists with a strong foundation and theme. Riot recently released a new set of eclipse skins, the heroic rivals to the Coven, showing just how beloved the theme and the world of the skins are to the community.
Spirit Blossom is unique in that the skin characters themselves are fictional characters in the world of Runeterra. These mythical reimaginings of Runeterrra’s finest champions are told in the stories of the Ionian Spirit Blossom festival. Among the reimagined characters is Yone, who made his LoL debut as Spirit Blossom Yone in the Spirit Blossom event.
The Spirit Blossom event, an in-game visual novel that allowed characters to meet and even romance the Spirit Blossom cast, was maybe the most celebrated special event in LoL history. Alongside the event, the designs themselves beautifully incorporate the cherry blossom theme and the ancient Japanese aesthetic in the kimonos. The color palettes of the skins are all unifying without being simple, and each skin is a unique reimaging of the champion. Each champion in the theme fits the world of Spirit Blossom perfectly, with unique interconnecting lore between the members topping off a perfect skin theme.
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About The Author
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Sam is a BFA acting major from Texas Christian University who specializes in both voice acting and freelance writing. After his articles are complete, Sam spends time writing an upcoming novel series and gaming with friends.
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