K’Sante is shaking up League of Legends’ tank role with Dragon Ball Z flair

K'Sante in League of LegendsRiot Games

K’Sante is the Pride of Nazumah in League of Legends, and that title isn’t claimed lightly. The high-skill top laner has Dragon Ball Z flair built into his kit, shifting the identity of tanks from being boring meat shields to inspiring playmakers with moments to shine mechanically.

Riot has long-promised top lane mains a champion who could break the skill ceiling of League of Legends’ tank class. Enter K’Sante, the Pride of Nazumah ⁠— in every sense of the phrase.

He’s got an assertive presence on Summoner’s Rift. With weapons forged from the enemies he slayed to defend his hometown, he can swap between the stoic defender form to help the team and an aggressive skirmisher to assert his dominance.

Article continues after ad

Picking up K’Sante for the first time, you can feel that flexibility shine through. League of Legends champions are often designed with role diversity in mind ⁠— especially in 2022 with the rise of off-meta builds encouraged by Riot.

The Pride of Nazumah embodies that in a refreshing way that draws on old tactics. He has a dual playstyle harkening back to shapeshifters like Jayce, Elise, and Nidalee, but without the easy-to-access toggle.

“He fills in two positions ⁠which is normal for League of Legends characters, but K’Sante does it more directly,” design lead Jacob Crouch told Dexerto. “He is both a Warden and a Skirmisher, and he takes these roles on in stages.

Article continues after ad

“His identity revolves around this transformation where he is a tank but he can turn into something that kills you. The dream is he fulfills both these roles fluidly. He goes from saving his teammates diving them, protecting his friends, to having this unique skill to duel with the people who are trying to dive them.”

This is a tantalizing proposition for a role that has revolved around similar champions doing the same things. Tanks from Maokai to Sion to Dr. Mundo in League of Legends have often just run around being a huge meat shield, without much chance for skill expression.

Article continues after ad

For tank players who wanted to do more than soak damage and engage teamfights, K’Sante is filling that niche. But he’s also appealing to non-tank players who have wanted to flex their high APM muscles and stunt on those pesky playmakers with some tricks of their own.

With that background, it gave Riot some food for thought from other franchises. K’Sante couldn’t just swap as they wanted between their hardened tonfas and those razor-sharp blades hidden underneath. There needed to be a spark leading to a pure gameplay moment, and that led the developers to Dragon Ball Z.

Article continues after ad

“We went through earlier versions when you pressed the button and you swapped from Warden to Skirmisher, and generally it lacked some sort of satisfaction and clarity,” Crouch continued.

“Eventually we took inspiration from anime like Dragon Ball Z ⁠— you hit someone through a mountain, spike them down on the ground, and the epic duel starts from there.”

Spirit Blossom YasuoRiot Games
K’Sante is made for the Yasuo mains of League of Legends. If they want to play a tank, the Pride of Nazumah gives them a playmaking outlet akin to those hype fighters.

This is all built into K’Sante’s ultimate, All Out. It empowers the rest of the Pride of Nazumah’s kit, which includes a three-stack Q akin to Yasuo or Yone’s with Ntofo Strikes, a damage-mitigating stance with unstoppable tacked on top like Irelia’s W in Path Maker, and an ally-defending leap and shield with E, Footwork.

Article continues after ad

But this comes at a cost. K’Sante shreds his resistances and opens himself up to become vulnerable and squishy. They are selfish upgrades, allowing him to survive in isolated fights, if the player has the hands to do so. If you can drop the training weights and show your work, then you have earned the respect of your team, and earned that prideful demeanor.

“If you’re trying to play a Yasuo-style fragile character, you need to actually die once you’re hit. The negative effect is on-theme,” Crouch said. “[It’s] the turning point in a fight ⁠— Rock Lee taking his weights off or Goku going Super Saiyan, generally making a last ditch effort and a turning point that represents the fragility of the person.”

Article continues after ad

It adds depth to K’Sante’s kit beyond other shapeshifters. It’s a deliberate decision to go All Out. Sometimes it’s better to just restrain yourself, let your allies shine, and protect them to do just that. When the situation calls for it though, you need to be able to give it your all.

“There’s a lot of tension within K’Sante. Do you use your abilities as a Warden to protect or do I want to go into my All Out form and try to 1v1 this diver? There’s a lot of tough decisions that K’Sante has to make in very short periods of time, he’s a very precise character.

Article continues after ad

“He has a lot of capabilities but they’re difficult in decision making. A good example is his W in Path Maker ⁠— it’s both his strongest peel tool in tank form, but his only defensive one in All Out. If he’s in All Out and he doesn’t counter a strong ability with his W, like a stun, he’s probably dead.

“That’s the tension between ‘I need to save my carries but I need to save my abilities for All Out’ and a lot of tension from that led to us refreshing his abilities so he gets multiple uses of it. He gets one in tank form and one in All Out.”

Article continues after ad
Totemic Maokai in League of LegendsRiot Games
Other tanks like League of Legends like Maokai have some skillful moments, but K’Sante makes them much more flashy.

K’Sante’s high skill ceiling allows Riot to build all this depth into the Pride of Nazumah’s kit. There was another consideration around how K’Sante would slot into the meta though, and that was the League of Legends Season 13 top lane changes.

The role is adapting to become more heavily resourced as Riot strips away some power from bot and mid lane to funnel it into Summoner’s Rift’s island. That doesn’t mean K’Sante can’t play multiple roles ⁠— he would thrive in the mid lane in certain match ups, as well as a feasting support alongside Senna ⁠— but these changes can emphasize that switch from Warden to Skirmisher.

Article continues after ad

“K’Sante is a bit more resource heavy than our other tanks,” Crouch explained. “In his conversion from Warden to Skirmisher, he takes away from his tank stats and turns them into attack damage and lethal stats. He is someone you want to get gold on so the top lane changes influence him positively.”

New items like Icathia’s Endurance, as well as changes to Sunfire Aegis and other tank options, also pose an interesting conundrum: “The items expand the role and the capabilities of tanks’ interactions with the item system in exciting ways, but K’Sante does his own version of that ⁠— we’ve never had a skirmisher who could buy Sunfire Aegis before,” Crouch explained.

Article continues after ad

“Not only are we introducing new tank items, but we’re introducing a whole new way for them to interact with League of Legends. Those two things can be dangerous but very exciting at the same time.”

It’s somewhat an identity crisis on paper, and one Riot deliberately built into his kit. Have too much pride as the Pride of Nazumah, and you’ll see your city (nexus) crumble before your eyes. Players have to pick wisely and find the windows to carry their teams.

All this leaves one question though, who is K’Sante really designed for? Appealing for two distinct playbases at once is a bold gamble. The high-skill tank top has been yearned for, but does it actually have a place in the game?

Article continues after ad

Riot is confident in that decision, and thinks players will walk across both sides of the aisles to have that cathartic, high-energy moment where all the lights are on you ⁠— and that pride becomes justified.

“We always had this goal of having a character who appeals to more resource heavy players in the tank role. Someone who plays Yasuo or Riven or more carry-oriented characters with high skill high APM ⁠— we wanted to give them an option in the tank role.

“Maybe you’re autofilled top lane or your team picks a bunch of champions that can’t fulfill tanking duties so it falls on you but you like the hype playmaking characters. K’Sante now offers that experience for you to pick up and enjoy.”

Article continues after ad