There’s something lacking in the League of Legends roster, and Naafiri is here to fill that gap.

When you think of AD mid lane assassins, who comes to mind? Zed, first and foremost, because he’s either picked or banned in most ranked games. Then there’s Qiyana, Yone, and of course, Yasuo.

Besides the fact that they attract the same type of players, the other common trait is that these champions are terribly difficult to master because there’s so much animation canceling involved in executing their varied combos.

“A while back, our champion design lead, August Browning, did an analysis of our whole roster,” said game designer Glenn “Riot Twin Enso” Anderson in the Naafiri Champion Insights blog post. “He ended up finding two major holes: a higher skill tank, which ended up being K’Sante, and a relatively simple and beginner-friendly assassin, which became Naafiri.”

ONE Esports got the chance to play test her at Riot HQ in Santa Monica, California pre-release and these are some of the questions we posed to League of Legends Champions Team design manager Stephen Auker.

Darkin assassin Naafiri will deliver a new champion experience like no other

League of Legends Naafiri teaser splash art with glowing red eyes from Packmates
Credit: Riot Games

Can you control Naafiri’s Packmates?

No, you can’t control Packmates because you’re not Beastmaster in Dota 2.

Individual Packmates cannot be controlled. In order to manipulate their movement, use Darkin Daggers (Q) for a long ranged attack, Hounds’ Pursuit (W) for a short-range pounce, and Eviscerate (E) to dash. Her ultimate, The Call of the Pack (R), will spawn even more Packmates, who join you for a big hunt.

Remember, Hounds’ Pursuit (W) is a channeled ability that, in our playtest, gave us the same feel as Caitlyn’s ultimate, Ace in the Hole. However, it is not a projectile, but rather, one that sends the champion and Packmates toward the target. Therefore, it cannot be blocked by Yasuo’s Wind Wall.

Can you use Eviscerate (E) to go over walls?

Yes, you can use Eviscerate to go over walls, but only at certain locations, similar to Nidalee’s W, Pounce.

How does the vision bonus in The Call of the Pack (R) work?

Naafiri’s ultimate not only spawns more Packmates — she also gains a burst of speed, vision, and a shield when she attacks a champion.

Its vision granted is similar to Quinn’s, Heightened Senses (W), which gives sight of the surrounding area when activated. This is especially useful for stealing Baron and Dragon, so coordinate with your jungler for maximum effect.

League of Legends Naafiri official splashart wallpaper
Credit: Riot Games

Why isn’t there a lot of animation canceling involved?

Auker told ONE Esports that Naafiri was designed to be a “simple to play assassin” without much animation cancelling. Instead, you’ll be more focused on buffering her abilities and lining them up at the right moments.

She was intended more for solo queue than pro play. “She’s good against squishy mid lane matchups,” said Auker, who added that she can be used situationally in top lane as well.

Can Neeko transform into a Packmate?

Yes, Neeko can become a Packmate, which presents a new set of opportunities in-game. Instead of being confined to impersonating a minion in lane or a plant in the jungle, you can move with Naafiri across the map, ganking, surprising, and outnumbering your opponents.

However, there’s one catch — Naafiri was designed primarily to be played in the mid-lane, so options will be limited unless you’re playing Neeko support or Naafiri jungle.

When does Naafiri come out?

She will be released in League of Legends patch 13.14 on July 19, 2023.

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