Nunu and Willump have a historically low pick rate in League of Legends.
The duo is one of the original champions that Riot Games released way back in 2009 when their MOBA debuted. While there was a meta that saw the champion excelling in the jungle — so much so that former Edward Gaming star jungler Ming “Clearlove” Kai picked it 26 times — the champion never quite came back after that.
However, that’s all about to change. Outside of Summoner’s Rift, at least.
Riot Forge and Tequila Works have been working on Song of Nunu, a single-player story adventure game, before the pandemic hit, and are finally ready to release the game in 2023. Speaking to ONE Esports in an exclusive interview at Gamescom 2023, we find out more about why they’ve chosen to put this unpopular champion in the spotlight.
Riot Forge and Tequila Works tells us why, out of all champions, they chose Nunu and Willump to star in Song of Nunu
Riot Forge doesn’t solely dictate which characters appear in their games, Rowan Parker, Creative Director of Riot Forge, told ONE Esports.
In fact, Braum is already showing up twice in their first five titles. He debuted in Ruined King alongside Illaoi, Ahri, Yasuo, and Miss Fortune, and is again featured in Song of Nunu, which takes place in The Freljord, his home region.
“The idea for Braum happened at the same time Ruined King was being made and the two projects didn’t even know each other, but they both independently suggested [him],” Rowan said. “And the reason I said yes was because it made sense for the story. We always choose what makes sense for the story.”
Yasuo and Ahri are two of the most played League of Legends champions of all time. In Ruined King, they teamed up with Illaoi, another low pick-rate champion like Nunu, proving that popularity is never a factor in making Riot Forge games.
Instead, great storytelling is the whole point of Song of Nunu, which offers something different from previous Forge titles.
“Tequila Works make intimate human stories. It’s hard to relate to Aurelion Sol or Pantheon, a space dragon and a god,” explained Rowan. “Nunu and Willump are dealing with a very human thing. They’re dealing with loss: Nunu is looking for his lost mother, Willump is the last of his kind.”
“These are very relatable things and we can really explore their depth of character,” he added. “That’s what Tequila is very good at doing. Their bread and butter is emotional, narrative, story-driven games, which really tug at people’s hearts.”