Gwen is the newest League of Legends champion, but she’s also the most recent addition to a decade-long story about a guy and his army of ghosts. Gwen is part of the Shadow Isles, a region of Runeterra long shrouded in mystery. In order to understand what Gwen is all about, we have to go to the source of the story — a very sad and silly man who made some really bad decisions.
Right now, one of the most important stories to understand in the League of Legends canon is the tale of Viego and Isolde, which has been hinted at and told through various mediums. The hints started in 2012 with the Elise patch that reworked Twisted Treeline and added the Blade of the Ruined King, and the big strokes of the tale were released in stories and champion biographies over 2013 and 2014.
It wasn’t until 2020 that we actually met the guy in question, and he wasn’t what fans expected. He’s a young, hot dude who’s absolutely shredded and emotionally immature. Some people expected a wise old king or a proud warrior, but Viego is the kind of guy who writes long Facebook statuses about how sad he is, and then when someone asks what’s wrong, he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.
The problem is that this sad man is the guy who is holding onto the Black Mist, a powerful corrosive force that swarms the lands of the living. The Mist is full of ghosts and monsters, and very few people survive once it shows up. Viego controls the mist, and that’s enough to make him the nemesis of half a dozen champions, as well as the antagonist of his own game currently in production by League of Legends publisher Riot and developer Airship Syndicate.
Viego was a prince who suddenly became king once his older brother died, and he was terrible at it. Things became even worse when he met a seamstress named Isolde, and he became smitten with her — so smitten that he began raiding the royal coffers in order to spoil his new wife. He messed up at being king so badly that his advisors tried to kill him, but the plot backfired and poisoned Isolde.
As an emotionally unintelligent and lovestruck young man, Viego handled this super badly. He brought Isolde’s corpse to a place called the Blessed Isles, kicked down the door, and submerged Isolde into the sacred waters that were rumored to heal anything. Turns out dumping a body in there was a real bad idea, because it caused something called the Ruination, which turned the lovely Blessed Isles into the nightmarish Shadow Isles. Viego became the Ruined King, and Black Mist pours endlessly from his broken heart.
Isolde remains in play, however. During the Ruination, it looks like her soul split into multiple pieces.
One of those soul shards went into Gwen, a doll she lovingly handcrafted. One soul shard may be with Yorick, a champion from the Shadow Isles who summons a Maiden of Mist. Much like the Jewel of Four Souls from Inuyasha, Isolde’s soul is a very powerful plot device that could be anywhere.
Most players thought Isolde herself would be a champion, but instead we got Gwen, who is just one facet of Isolde. She isn’t too happy with Viego, and wants to stop the Shadow Isles. With a full game starring the Ruined King on the way, as well as a huge cast of champions who are either from or working against the Shadow Isles, Viego will definitely come up again in the future. There are tons of armored, beefy bad guys with deep voices and sinister masks on League’s roster — it’s kind of nice to have a deeply relatable fuckboy causing problems in the world for once, especially since it looks like we get to beat him up and take his lunch money in the future.