I’ve been playing League of Legends on and off for the past three years now, and one of my favorite Riot trends is taking older champions with outdated designs and kits and updating them to be more relevant in the current game. We’ve seen it with Ryze, Yorick, Warwick, Twitch, Ryze, Alistar, almost all of the mages and assassins, Ryze again, and now, their latest rework: Galio.
It was no surprise when Riot announced they were redesigning Galio, as players had been expecting and asking for a rework for quite some time. However, as Riot made more things clear about the rework, I realized that the word “rework” didn’t really fit at all. Instead of taking a look at what role Galio was designed to play, and using his current state as a launching pad for what needed updating, Riot stated that they were going to change everything about him.
From a gameplay perspective, it made a lot of sense. Galio has had one of, if not the, lowest pick rate out of any character for a few years now. Out of all games played, the gargoyle was showing up in less than 1% of games. A vast majority of the player base agreed that he had one of the dullest kits in the game, so when Riot announced their latest rework, everyone was looking forward to what Riot had planned, and possibly adding another champion into their roster – except for those players that did actually play him in those 1% of games.
Unfortunately for me, I turned out to be one of those players.
I remember starting to really play League of Legends three years ago, and I was considering which champion I should spend my IP on. I scrolled past one I had never seen before (which was very strange since I thought I had seen them all at this point) so I clicked on the picture of a gargoyle standing on a rooftop to read the name: Galio. I asked my friend, who had introduced me to the game a few months prior, who that was, and he told me not to even bother with that guy. I looked over his abilities, fell in love with his ultimate, and against my friend’s advice, made my purchase.
Three years down the line, and I was still loading up into games with my Hextech Galio skin and Mastery 7 border on proud display. My friends grew to see the flying gargoyle as my pocket pick, and whenever they wanted to break a losing streak we were having, they would tell me to play my favorite champion, and defend my pick against any teammates that weren’t too happy about having the least played champion on their team.
So with this background knowledge, you can probably see why I wasn’t too thrilled when Riot announced their latest rework.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to admit that Galio has an outdated, clunky kit that doesn’t really have much synergy, and I was very happy with the changes two of my other picks (Twitch and Alistar) had received, so there was a bit of hope inside of me that this would be good. However, my hopes were quickly erased when Riot showed off his new abilities, and the first gameplay videos made their way onto Youtube.
When Riot said they were going to change everything, they really weren’t kidding. In addition to receiving completely new abilities, Galio now has a completely new look, lore, voice acting, champion model, personality, and everything else. He’s the same champion in name only. The way reworks had worked in the past was that Riot used the old champion as a springboard for new ideas, and they worked hard to keep the same champion feel, just with new tricks. This time, I feel like they’ve just abandoned his entire concept and made a new champion entirely.
The new Galio is no longer this anti-mage protector with an amazing initiation and team-fight. Now, we have a defensive tank with a good counter initiation or follow-up. Even his personality is vastly different. Galio was a good-hearted character carrying the mistakes of his past beneath his (quite literally) cold, rocky exterior. Now, I think my best friend summed it up by saying, “So now we get a meathead superhero?” I’ll admit, his new kit has a lot more tools and synergy, but at its core, this isn’t a rework – it’s a replacement.
Galio’s old passive converted half of his magic resist into ability power. His Q was a slow moving skillshot that dealt a lot of damage and slowed enemies upon impact. His W was a shield that raised the armor and magic resist of anyone it was placed on, and would then heal Galio for a percentage of the damage taken by the shielded champion. His E threw out a whirlwind that also left a path that would speed up any allies that walked through it. Finally, Galio’s ultimate turns him into a statue and channels for two seconds, taunting any nearby enemies and taking heavily reduced damage during the duration. After the channeling period, Galio bursts from his statue, dealing a flat amount of damage to any nearby enemies with additional damage based on the amount of damage he took during the channeling period.
These abilities made Galio a very good pick against teams focusing on ability power, and it made him very versatile: I’ve personally taken Galio top lane, mid, support, and even jungle. He has the option to be a very tanky front line with good sustain and a great engage tool with his ultimate coupled with Flash, or a heavy damage dealer when built with full ability power. I could use Q as a heavy missile, or to slow enemies as I sped up my allies with my E for a quick getaway if a fight didn’t go well. You could even cast his W on yourself while his ultimate was going off, and thanks to his passive, the boosted magic resist would give you additional ability power, and the damage you were taking would actually heal you.
When building full ability power, it was pretty common to one-shot the enemy carries with a good ultimate. A trick you could do with his ultimate was press R, and then immediately Flash onto the enemy backline. The animation of the Flash would cancel the beginning animation of the ultimate, causing the AOE taunt to go into effect immediately and leaving the enemy with no reaction time.
However, Galio had some pretty big weaknesses. His ultimate is an amazing team fighting tool, but if Flash wasn’t available, he didn’t really have a way to reliably get to the back line. You could speed yourself up, but the enemy tanks aren’t going to let you get anywhere near where you want to be. Because of this, getting a decent ultimate off reliably was extremely difficult, and made Galio heavily dependant on Flash.
The second main weakness was the fact that Galio’s kit suggested that he was a mage, but his melee auto-attacks left him vulnerable to heavy poke from the mages he would often go against in the mid lane. If you took him top lane, he became an easy gank target because he had no reliable escape. He suffered from a slight identity crisis that almost worked in his favor, given the many roles Galio could play, but discouraged a lot of players from playing him since he was almost awkward to play at times.
Galio’s new kit is a lot different, with his passive now providing bonus attack damage every few seconds, scaling with his magic resist. His Q is now a traveling skillshot: two whirlwinds shoot from Galio’s wings, curving and colliding a short distance in front of him and dealing additional damage. Holding down the W key will slow Galio, but give him damage resist. Once released, he taunts all nearby enemies in a radius determined by how long the initial channel was. His E charges Galio forward, knocking up everything in his path until he hits terrain, an enemy champion, or he simply goes too far. Galio’s new ultimate launches himself up into the air, targeting an ally champion’s location to then crash down, dealing damage to all enemies and knocking up enemy champions based on how close they were to the center.
They needed to get rid of Galio’s engage issues, but I don’t think getting rid of his engage nearly entirely was the way to do it. His only form of engage now is that dash leading into an AOE taunt, that has to be charged up and is over as almost as soon as it begins. The ultimate is kind of cool, but the fact that it targets an allied champion means that it either has to be used defensively, or you have to wait for someone else on your team to engage for you. Pairing the new Galio up with a Malphite, Amumu, or Wukong would probably be a good combination, but I don’t know how practical that will be with the new Galio most likely finding a spot as a top laner or jungler, meaning he’s now competing with those champions for a spot on the team.
This new Galio is looking much more defensive than the original. It reminds me of Shen but more team-fight oriented, with an AOE taunt and an ultimate that you’re basically forced to use to save someone else. The kit itself is much more synergetic with what Riot foresees the new Galio’s role as being, but in the process they sacrificed the identity of the original champion.
League of Legends boasts 100 million monthly active users. If one percent of those users played Galio, that’s still a million players who now have a champion pulled away from them, and handed a new one that’s objectively better, but plays much differently. You could argue that they did the same to the two other large reworks, Poppy and Yorick, but those two were very different. Both of those old champions were considered unhealthy for the game and left in a permanently under-powered state to keep them from rising to popularity.
Galio, on the other hand, was considered to be in a pretty good spot. Sure, he wasn’t played very often, but he had a good win rate (even having the #1 win rate in low elo for all top laners not too long ago), and people understood that there were aspects to his kit that were very good.
Instead of focusing on how Riot could keep Galio’s current player base and expand it, Riot decided to give us a completely new champion. Most people will remember his old kit as boring and simple, but for the players that did play him, Galio was a lot of fun and didn’t require a lot of mechanical skill to play. He had clearly defined strengths and weaknesses and was in pretty dire need of a tune-up, but not a full replacement.
Over the course of the past three years, Galio has grown to be one of my favorite video game characters, and even among my friends I’ve built up this sort of identity where Galio was my champion. So when Riot unveiled their latest “rework” and I couldn’t recognize a single thing about my favorite champion, it disappointed me a lot. I’ll still give this new version of Galio a fair chance, but if I’m being honest, I think my days of maining Galio are over.