Permit me to brag for a moment. There are so, so few opportunities for me to show off when it comes to League of Legends, that I want to relish this one.
I started trying out some new Support characters in League of Legends recently. Supports, as their name implies, are meant to support the rest of the team. They do things like heal their teammates or give them extra firepower — they don't claim much glory for themselves. But there are those special occasions when they end up saving someone else's butt. And if you're the support player doing so, it feels awesome.
This weekend I was playing a game of League with a friend as Zilean. He's an old bearded dude who floats around with a giant clock strapped to his back. Here's what he looks like in one of his special skins, via News of Legends:
Zilean's "ultimate ability", or "ult" for short, lets him bring a teammate back from the dead. But there's a catch. The spell, called "Chronoshift", must be cast on a teammate right before they're dealt a killing blow. Only then will the ult transport them back in time, restoring their health and reversing their fatal loss of hit points.
Chronoshift can be a game-changing ability if used effectively — bringing a deadly ally back to life so they can continue wrecking enemies after your opponents have already expended all their mana and HP trying to kill you a first time. The challenge is choosing who to target, and knowing when exactly to target them in the middle of what's usually an insanely frantic team fight.
25 minutes into the match I was in top lane getting hammered with three of my other teammates. But just a few seconds before they finished me off, I managed to save my friend Anthony, who was playing as the melee sword fighter Riven. Here's the full clip:
That's probably hard to follow if you're not already familiar with League. Let me try to point your eyes in the right direction. I'm playing as Zilean, again — he's the guy with the large gold circle on his back. Anthony is the one with the in-game handle "Bill de Blasio" who has all the arcade-y effects going off around him. At the start of the encounter, our opponents manage to take out our ally Annie — the small girl who looks sort of like Little Red Riding Hood. The enemy team then focuses their attacks on Riven, understandably.
I felt like I was about to have a panic attack at that moment. But somehow I managed to pop off my ult on Riven. It's hard to see when it activates amidst the chaos, but you can sort of pick out these little golden sand timers — there's one right behind the "+21" there:
Then when Riven died a moment later, a wiry nest of golden tendrils popped up above her corpse:
That means she's above to come back to life. And once she did, she proceeded to kill all of our surviving enemies. REKT!
Since I'm not sure when (if ever) I'll be able to show off another clutch League of Legends play of mine, here's another solid Zilean ult from later in that game:
We ended up losing that game — partly thanks to the fact that I ulted the wrong person instead of Riven in the next, fateful team fight. But still: GG.
Team fights have been one of the last, greatest challenges for me in trying to understand and play League of Legends at a semi-competent level. They're so fast-paced that I often end up losing sight of who I should be focusing on or what I should be doing. I don't think I've mastered League in any sense of the term yet. But just becoming fluent enough in its ornate and esoteric combat systems that I can accomplish something like a critical save feels like a victory in its own right.