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League of Legends’ summer event and new game mode are odes to fighting games

Soul Fighter arrives July 20

Splash art for Soul Fighter Xin Zhao, which shows the spearman crouched in an action pose. His long ponytail is a vibrant red, and he’s wearing a fighting game tournament costume instead of his usual armor. Image: Riot Games
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

It’s an exciting time for League of Legends. Players will soon be able to play as Naafiri, an assassin in the form of a pack of snarling dogs. On top of an exciting new champion, we’re also getting a cross-game summer event.

Last year, players got an in-depth visual novel about an alternate universe that paid homage to magical girl anime. This year, the summer event is Soul Fighter, a tribute to anime tournament arcs and epic fistfights. Soul Fighter is an entirely different project than the unnamed League of Legends fighting game in development, but the event looks like it draws off the entire fighting genre heavily for inspiration. The event comes with a new 2v2v2v2 game mode and a collection of Soul Fighter skins.

In Soul Fighter’s alternate universe, League of Legends champions have come to compete in the Tournament of Souls, hosted by the mysterious God’s Eye. The Soul Fighter event will carry over into other Riot titles like Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and Wild Rift.

The real marquee feature of Soul Fighter isn’t the skins or the lore, but the new 2v2v2v2 game mode, Arena. Four teams of two enter a Soul Fighter tournament of their own, with the match playing out over rotating combat rounds. Eventually, one team is left standing. You are eliminated when your team health reaches zero. Between rounds, you can buy items or augments to prepare for the next encounter.

Players will have Flash and Flee, a new Summoner’s spell that acts like a potent mini-Ghost, giving them some space from enemies. Over time, players can purchase new augments to replace Flee. Augments are meant to be powerful and interesting upgrades that dramatically change a champion’s playstyle, which should make for interesting brawls.

There are five distinct arenas, one of which is for preparing and purchasing. The other four are for combat, with each stage having its own unique elements like obstacles or brush, to incentivize different ways to fight. Soul Fighter champions can also show up on the arena’s edge and take some potshots, which complicates things further. There is a ranked mode as well, but Arena is meant to be a shorter and more casual experience than Summoner’s Rift or ARAM.

The Soul Fighter event begins on July 20 across League of Legends, Wild Rift, Teamfight Tactics, and Legends of Runeterra. The Arena game mode is available in League, while Riot’s other titles will get their own in-game experiences and skins for the event. Wild Rift players will get an adventure with Yasuo and Draven working their way through the tournament, while Teamfight Tactics gets new mascots and arenas to reflect the fun, and Legends of Runeterra showed off some new skins.

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