Factions held a Burning Tides tie-in event on August 8–9, during the Lines in the Sand storyline.
Both Miss Fortune and Gangplank had long had ambitious plans for Bilgewater. An uneasy truce held for a time, as they combined forces with Nami in the battle for Nyroth, but that time passed. The battle for Bilgewater began in August of 25 CLE.
The Last Pirate Queen
In the dark days of the Rune Wars, Pirate Kings and Pirate Queens ruled the Blue Flame Islands. The Magelords and the Protectorate ravaged Valoran with runespells that tore Valoran’s leylines open to unleash the raw power within. Single spells sundered entire armies, ruined entire cities. Mountains buckled, rivers boiled. Shurima burned. The elementals and divine beings who had elevated humanity from its primitive origins all but perished, unable to survive in this broken, toxic world. Yet Bilgewater stood apart—no rune spell, however terrible, could pierce the arcane currents that churned the oceans around the Blue Flame Islands to reach the leylines in the seabed, and the rune mages were powerless upon the high seas. Bilgewater’s pirates could not take one single inch of Valoran, but on the high seas they were invincible.
The last Pirate Queen of Bilgewater perished at sea in 47 BLE. She had ruthlessly eliminated her rivals during her reign, and no one captain was positioned to take her place. Her fleet fractured, and the governor she had appointed to watch over Blue Flame Island refused to yield to any of her would-be successors. The tides turned against Bilgewater in 26 BLE, with the outbreak of the Fifth Rune War. Demacia and Noxus were far shrewder combatants than the Magelords and the Protectorate had been, alloying the brute force of rune magic with more flexible conventional methods. The scattered bands of the dead Pirate Queen’s fleet had been squabbling among each other for decades, and found themselves technologically outclassed and tactically outmatched by the well-ordered militaries of Demacia and Noxus.
Gangplank, the Saltwater Scourge
When the League of Legends was founded, Gangplank was an ambitious young pirate captain who had not so much pulled himself up by his bootstraps as walked over his father’s dead body to take the wheel of his ship. The drafters of the League’s charter insisted upon granting Bilgewater membership in the League, to keep Demacia and Noxus from going to war over the Blue Flame Islands. Agents of the Council had to scour Bilgewater to find even one Champion—Rob Blackblade, a swaggering adventurer who could see no further than his next caper. They had nearly as much trouble scrounging up a handful of mages who were fit to undertake the trials of Summoner training at the Institute, as Bilgewater had for centuries maintained a very sensible policy of putting a bullet between the eyes of anyone who so much as checked out a library book about rune magic.
Meanwhile, Gangplank got further good use out of the cutlass he’d struck into his father’s back all those years ago, turning one two-bit pirate captain after another into shark chum. He took full advantage of the fact that the League had neither the strength nor inclination to police the high seas, and matched wits and blades with Demacian and Noxian foes, including a clever young tactician with a limp and a pet bird. When his fleet was large enough, he took to raiding the Blue Flame Islands and Bilgewater itself. One such incident would later come back to haunt him, though he only vaguely recalled that particular Tuesday.
By 19 CLE, Gangplank was poised to become the first Pirate King since the Rune Wars. Yet he was not content to be a big fish in a small pond. Most pirates saw the founding of the League as a sign that Valoran was getting soft, and was ripe for greater plunder than ever before. But the way Gangplank saw it, the Summoners and Champions of the League were running the biggest racket on Runeterra, and he’d be damned to the depths if he sat idly by until the inevitable day that Bilgewater was pulled under by this new world order. So he left his simpering lackey of a governor in place and set sail for the Institute to become a Champion of the League. Bilgewater had been rather lacking in that department since Rob Blackblade resigned in 18 CLE, and was subsequently killed in the Harrowing Heist of 19 CLE.
Gangplank set about sizing up the leaders of Valoran, and applying his piratical cunning to the puzzle of how best to profit from circumventing the laws laid down by the League’s bureaucrats. He found it trivially simple to convince most of them that he was just another drunken backwater pirate, another Rob Blackblade, but with even less awareness of the bigger picture. He made a point of being arrested doing something stupid every so often, to create the profoundly mistaken impression that he didn’t know how to weave his way around the law.
Miss Fortune, the Bounty Hunter
A vengeful young bounty hunter by the name of Sarah Fortune followed Gangplank to the League. Not fooled by Gangplank’s charade, she was determined to uncover his schemes, and unite Bilgewater before Gangplank came back in force. She found an ally in Nami, the Marai Tidecaller. With the entrance of Graves and Fizz, Bilgewater was gathering together enough Champions that one could imagine it becoming a real force in the League—though most doubted that this forgotten backwater could manage it.
The discovery of Nyroth in the wake of the Hextech Revolution was the opportunity Bilgewater’s more ambitious Champions were waiting for. Gangplank, Miss Fortune, and Nami combined their resources to get Bilgewater into the dispute, and they startled the great powers of Valoran with their performance on the Fields. Though Ionia ultimately prevailed in the battle for dominion over Nyroth’s mainland, Bilgewater secured the lucrative position of trade viceroy, and won the loyalty of many of Nyroth’s islands. The forging of a new moonstone and the return of the Marai and Atlanteans, combined with the wealth and knowledge that flowed from Nyroth, catalyzed the emergence of a much stronger Bilgewater.
Gangplank saw that his years of planning were coming to fruition. He began the final preparations for his coup. But he found that Miss Fortune and Nami had gathered considerable sway back home, and those preparations proved more difficult than he anticipated. The rise of Shurima drew the League’s attention away, and—with the precedent set by the Dar’khos dispute—provided a way for him to accelerate his plans. He would call upon his Summoner allies to move the Council to recognize the Marai and the Atlanteans as separate member-states, as the Dar’khos partisans had demanded separate statehood in their counter-petition to Azir’s bid for member-state recognition. The petition would, of course, fail, not least because the Marai and the Atlanteans themselves would oppose it, but it would open the issue of Bilgewater’s representation. He would take his place as one of the rulers of Valoran, and turn all the power and influence that Miss Fortune had accumulated for her “united Bilgewater” to his own ends.
At his signal, Gangplank’s gangs hit the streets of Bilgewater. He toppled the governor and proclaimed himself the new Pirate King of Bilgewater. While most others in Bilgewater were focused on the domestic chaos, Miss Fortune realized that Gangplank’s biggest move was yet to come—he was going to cash in all that hard work at the Institute to become Bilgewater’s sole representative to the League.
Miss Fortune hastily concocted a plan. It began with hiring a certain Champion to steal a dagger…
The Battle for Bilgewater
With Gangplank dead, Miss Fortune saw her chance to “clean up” Bilgewater. She called in her Summoner associates from Nyroth and set them to the task of harnessing the power of the nexuses on either end of Butcher’s Bridge.
But Gangplank had survived. He made his first appearance at the Institute, where he repeated his claim to the title of Pirate King, and demanded recognition that he alone would speak for Bilgewater in the League. When Miss Fortune’s supporters tried to obstruct Gangplank’s petition, he ordered his fleet to open fire on Butcher’s Bridge. Miss Fortune quickly agreed to resolve their disagreement through the League, before there was nothing left to fight over. The Council constructed a temporary Field of Justice upon Butcher’s Bridge, and both sides assembled their Champions and Summoners for a battle to determine who would control the nexuses and the Slaughter Docks through which flowed the bounty of Nyroth.
Gangplank was not finished. He took a scorched and water-worn sheaf of parchment from his coat—the petition he had been prepared to file when Miss Fortune destroyed his ship and blasted him into the sea. He was the Pirate King of Bilgewater, and the deposed governor had gone “missing” after a conversation with certain “concerned citizens” sympathetic to Miss Fortune. He forced the Council to take up his petition for Marai and Atlantean membership in the League, which in turn compelled a response from “the representative of Bilgewater and the Blue Flame Islands”. Last he heard, Gangplank remarked, the governor was taking a “leave of absence”. He turned to Miss Fortune and loudly wondered if she might have some idea where he’d gotten off to. After she stiffly responded that she couldn’t say, Gangplank said that it was a good thing, then, that the Pirate King of Bilgewater was on hand. A second match was set for the ninth day of August, with the victor to be recognized as the “interim” representative of Bilgewater.
Two sets of matches were held: the first on Butcher’s Bridge, focused on the distribution of power within Bilgewater, and the second on Summoner’s Rift in Black Market Brawlers matches, focused on the representation of Bilgewater within the League.
Saturday, 8 August, 25 CLE—Butcher’s Bridge
These matches determined the ownership of the Slaughter Docks and Butcher’s Bridge itself, along with its two nexuses. More broadly, these matches decided who would hold greater power within Bilgewater, and informed the overall tone and theme of Bilgewater.
The first match was held not on the temporary Field of Justice constructed on the Butcher’s Bridge but instead on the Howling Abyss. The League declined to explain the last-minute substitution, announced by a per curiam ruling of the Council. The ruling noted that the Howling Abyss was thaumically isomorphic to the Butcher’s Bridge, and thus would not meaningfully affect the results.
Streamed by: 501st Big Mike
Cast by: CupcakeTrap, KyleDangerHenick, Venia Vis
Sunday, 9 August, 25 CLE—Black Market Brawlers
These matches determined who would represent Bilgewater before the League.
Accusations were leveled that someone had tampered with the runes that invoked the Razorfins, increasing their ferocity higher than intended. The Riotous Fists Clan has denied these accusations.
Streamed by: 501st Big Mike
Cast by: 501st Big Mike, CupcakeTrap
Both tournaments were closely contested, with a 2–1 victory each day.
On August 8, Gangplank secured control over the Slaughter Docks, and with them a considerable cut of the treasure flowing to Bilgewater from Nyroth. Though hostilities continue through both overt and covert channels, a Pirate King rules over Bilgewater once more.
On August 9, Miss Fortune won recognition as Bilgewater’s representative to the League, giving her principal control over Bilgewater’s international actions. However, Gangplank retains the network of influence that he built up over years as a League Champion, and many expect a challenge to Miss Fortune’s position—assuming one of them does not settle matters with cutlass or pistol before then.
Banner by RaptorAttacks, using artwork by Riot and TheAce.