How Riot transformed Silco from Arcane antagonist to TFT mastermind in Neon Nights

Andrew Amos
Silco in Arcane coming to TFT Set 6.5
Riot Games

The first non-League of Legends champion is arriving in TFT ⁠— but he isn’t necessarily an outsider. Silco, the main villain from hit TV show Arcane, is joining the TFT Set 6.5 roster as part of the Neon Nights Mid-Set update.

Teamfight Tactics is growing outside League of Legends – well, kind of.

Riot have now released the game’s first champion that didn’t originate from the autobattler, with Arcane star Silco joining the convergence in TFT Set 6.5.

He is front-and-center in the Neon Nights update with the Mastermind being fawned over by players. However, it was a unique undertaking for Riot, and a sign of the future direction of TFT.

Silco in Arcane
Riot Games via Netflix
Zaun underlord Silco has finally made his TFT debut in Neon Nights.

Breaking down barriers in TFT (and in Zaun)

Given that Riot typically port champions over from League of Legends into TFT, they had to build Silco’s model from the ground up to add him into Set 6.5. It was a unique challenge for the team, as developer Lynda Tang explained in an interview.

“It was less limiting [to design from the ground up] because we could think about all the crazy things we as Silco fans would want him to do,” she said.

“We’ve generally expanded our philosophy on TFT champion design to be like ‘Ahri doesn’t actually do this big fan of orbs on SR but we can do that’.

“But with Silco we had a blue sky like ‘if we could do anything with a champion, what would we do?’ It was very freeing in that sense.”

However it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows developing what is essentially League’s 160th champion — even if he may never make an appearance on Summoner’s Rift (Renata Glasc, who also debuted in Neon Nights, will). The TFT team doesn’t have the same resources as their MOBA counterparts, and it put new pressure on hitting all the goals.

“We had to really rush to get Silco design-locked because there was an actual timeline. We couldn’t just swap out one spell animation for another [like with existing champions],” Tang added.

Making your board Shimmer

Riot went through a few variations of Silco’s kit leaning into his identity as the leader of Zaun underworld. Not necessarily the most poised fighter in Arcane, it wasn’t as simple as letting him swing a cane around.

There was one central element to all of Silco’s iterations — Shimmer. How it was going to be implemented was murky like the smoggy Zaun air.

“There was a previous iteration of Silco where he would try to do things to the enemy team,” she said. “With all of those variations we couldn’t find a good asset. Because the art team was putting their heart and soul into Silco, that wasn’t possible.

“At the end we were just super excited of the first iteration of ‘this unit has a bajillion health and attacks really fast,’ so we leaned into that concept.”

Silco in TFT Set 6
Riot Games
Silco isn’t an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Riot: He’s the start of a new era of TFT units.

It was more than his Unstable Concoction ability though. Riot really wanted to make Silco the “Mastermind” of his team, and that’s ultimately what his trait is called. The mana-generating buff evolved much like the rest of his kit, but Riot were satisfied with the end product.

“At first it was sort of a reverse Shroud of Stillness ⁠— he’d shoot a Shroud-like beam out of him that anyone on your team that it hit gained mana,” developer Stephen ‘Mortdog’ Mortimer explained. “However, it got really messy with normal Shrouds on both sides and him and ‘what do all these lines mean?’

“It ended up being a much more simple version with two champions in front. It also became much more positioning-rich than just ‘stack everyone in a column.’”

The fantasy of Arcane’s main antagonist into a TFT mastermind wasn’t easy — and it’s still not done with voice over work to be completed about six weeks after launch. However, the door is now open for future crossovers with the technology in place to rely less on League of Legends for assets.

“Silco represents us opening the bridge to more things that aren’t just League of Legends champions,” Mortdog explained. “We’re excited to consider options in the future, but nothing is currently planned that we can talk about that we’ve nailed down for sure.”

Silco will hit live servers as part of TFT Set 6.5’s Neon Nights Mid-Set update on February 16, 2022.

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