League devs reveal ‘change of direction’ for long-awaited Wukong update

Isaac McIntyre
Riot Games

After months of speculation about Wukong’s new update, League of Legends developers have revealed a plan to refocus the Monkey King, including tweaking his “tricky” gameplay and shifting him away from mid lane in Season 10.

Wukong has been teetering on the edge of a balance update for some time now. Riot first revealed plans to update him back in May 2019, before senior champion designer Nathan ‘Lutzburg’ Lutz revealed new plans in November.

Now, it looks like those swaps—which would have completely reworked his passive and W ability ‘Warrior Trickster’—have been shelved in favor of a “refocus” by lead designer August Browning, who has taken over the update.

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Wukong has been under Riot’s microscope for a much-needed update for more than half a year.

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Wukong to return to “tricky” roots with refocus

Lead gameplay director Mark ‘Scruffy’ Yetter revealed the designer swaps, as well as some of the tweaks players can expect “in the next few patches” on February 13, and included a few details on the upcoming changes.

According to Scruffy, the new goal of the update under August’s watchful eye will be twofold: first off, Riot wants to see the Monkey King return to his “tricky” and “clever” roots after he strayed from that path in the past few seasons.

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The League dev also added the new Wukong changes would likely see the explosive champ move away from his new home in the mid lane, back towards the top-sided solo lane, and the jungle, where he spent much of his early life.

“Regarding Wukong, [we’re] re-focusing the goals, and Riot August is picking up the work to get it shipped out in a patch soon,” Yetter said. “We will add a new tool to be tricky and clever, and shift power from mid to top/jungle.”

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Riot’s plan is to take the Monkey King’s power away from mid, and return it to top and jungle.

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Why shift the Monkey King away from mid lane?

According to Yetter, the plan to move Wukong away from mid lane comes after the Fighter clocked up dominant win rate stats for much of Season 9, and continued to trend towards an exceptional victory rate in Season 10, too.

The tricky monkey has been hovering around a 54.9% win rate so far in 2020, Yetter revealed, while the champion’s top lane (50.5% win rate) and jungle (47%) have been much closer to the 50% average Riot aims for with champion balance.

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This uptick in mid lane win rate for Wukong has come amidst a renaissance moment for AD bruisers in the mid lane. The monkey has been joined by other powerful picks like Irelia and Pantheon, though they aren’t under the microscope just yet.

“We think there’s a lot of value getting him back top and jungle where more players want him,” Scruffy said. “We also don’t expect to fully destroy mid-Wukong, just make it more even with the other roles.”

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When do the new Wukong changes arrive?

So far, there’s been no indication of exactly when Yetter and Browning plan to ship the new Wukong changes onto the Public Beta Environment for testing.

Players can expect the impending update to be “shipped in a patch soon,” however, alongside the specifics regarding ability numbers, and what bringing Wukong back to his “tricky” roots really means for the Monkey King.

While it looks like the gameplay elements of League’s iconic monkey may be getting a hefty overhaul sometime soon, there are no plans from Riot to add visual changes for the champ, because of “other high priority VGU projects” taking precedence.

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“We’re wanting to ship changes without much visual change so that we can get the new gameplay out there,” Scruffy added.

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Wukong’s long-awaited update will be strictly gameplay focused, Riot also revealed.

For now, keep your eyes peeled for new PBE updates. Once Riot has bedded down exactly what they want to change about Wukong, it will arrive on the testing environment a week or two before heading into League’s live servers.

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About The Author

Isaac was formerly the Australian Managing Editor at Dexerto. Isaac began his writing career as a sports journalist at Fairfax Media, before falling in love with all things esports and gaming. Since then he's covered Oceanic and global League of Legends for Upcomer, Hotspawn, and Snowball Esports.