Zaun Victorious In Grand Tournament
Valuable pyrikhos field awarded to Zaun by Council
by Edmonton Q. Pricefield
portraiture by Summoner 333lom
The fiercest efforts of Demacia, Piltover, and Bandle City could not prevent Zaun from achieving a decisive victory in the tournament held this weekend on the Fields of Justice. Zaun’s latest triumph finally resolves the matter of the ownership of Field 14, a region of the Shurima Desert laden with virtually untouched deposits of dark sand. The dark sand in Field 14 is rumored to possess special properties above and beyond even those of “ordinary” pyrikhos, which has already revolutionized the field of hextechnology.
The discovery of pyrikhos and the mystery of Field 14
Earlier this year, while war still raged in Shon-Xan, explorers in the Shurima Desert discovered vast seams of dark purple sand which burned furiously when lit. Those adept in the arcane arts perceived a discordant ethereal aura around this most peculiar sand, which soon became known by the Shuriman word pyrikhos (pron. “PEER-ih-kohss”, lit. “dark sand”) on account of its remarkable coloration.
The first known publication concerning pyrikhos was a short article written by Summoner Arzellous. The Summoner acknowledged that the enchanted ruins of ancient Shurima were the most obvious source of this energy, but remarked that such an explanation was “just as obviously inadequate, so much so that I cannot utter it without feeling the guilt of a common liar.” The floating pyramids of Shurima predate modern history; why should the dark sand appear now, all at once, and in such great quantities? The answer came in a talk delivered on March 30 at the Institute of War by one Mme. Merricurry, a yordle scientist and hextech expert.
Merricurry’s lecture and demonstration proved two remarkable facts: that the pyrikhos was attuned to the energy of the Void, representing a strange fusion of Void energy and Shuriman magic, and that it could be harnessed as a hextech power source. By the next day, the Shuriman dispute had begun, and the Council ordered a halt to any further expansion of pyrikhos mining or exploration. Field 14 was not discovered until several weeks later; it was promptly cordoned off. Although proper investigation was thereby barred, witnesses outside its borders reported seeing strange apparitions and hearing alien voices coming from within. Merricurry, who remained neutral in the dispute, repeatedly petitioned the Council to grant her personal access to gather samples, but was each time denied. Clearly, the pioneer of pyrikhos theory herself believes that there is something special in Field 14.
Although remarkable, hextech has until now been greatly limited by the scarcity of magical components such as thaumically aligned gemstones and fae iron. Pyrikhos, in contrast, is both abundant and versatile. Already we have seen pyrikhos-powered marvels such as the ascent of the Yordle Mothership to the stars and the construction of Zaun’s armored HexKorps, said to be the mightiest army Valoran has ever known. What further wonders might flow from the unexplored mysteries of Field 14? It seems we shall soon find out.
The opening day of the tournament
The tournament to determine ownership of Field 14 was scheduled for 21–22 June, 24 CLE. It was preceded by a special session of the Council at which the four factions involved in the Shuriman dispute — Zaun, Demacia, Piltover, and Bandle City — received declarations of allegiance from a new set of Champions. Perhaps most notably, Zaun gained the support of Xerath, the last “living” mage of ancient Shurima. Piltover added Rammus the Armordillo to its roster, Bandle City announced a new trade relationship with the Freljord as part of which Braum would fight on behalf of the yordles, and Demacia not only gained Kayle but also, at last, overcame the complex legal obstacles to Sona’s entrance. This came on the heels of the announcement of a Piltover–Bandle City alliance, by which they would cooperate on and off the Fields while remaining distinct parties to the dispute.
Zaun swept the first day’s competition, with none of the other factions able to score a single victory. Zaun has a reputation for unorthodox experimentation, and these matches were no exception: it dispatched Champions Mundo and Jinx to the bottom lane of Summoner’s Rift, where the duo prevailed over their more conventional opponents each time. The only question was which faction would face Zaun in the finals on the second day. A three-way tie between Demacia, Piltover, and Bandle City was resolved with a special match in which Piltover and Bandle City joined forces against Demacia. The Summoners and Champions of Demacia held fast and won this tie-breaker, thereby advancing to battle Zaun for control of Field 14.
A clash of titans
The final showdown was arranged as a best-of-three set. The first round was also Zaun’s first defeat in this tournament. Perhaps taking its experimentation too far, Zaun fielded a lighter-weight team in place of its usual “tanky” lineup. Demacia brutally exploited this vulnerability with textbook Demacian all-in teamfight plays that smashed Zaun into submission. In a particularly memorable maneuver, Shyvana (assisted by legendary Demacian Summoner Kaiden) shattered the Zaunite formation with a terrifying lunge into their flank from within the jungle. As Zaun’s Nexus exploded, the Demacian side of the stands erupted in shouts and cheers.
Sensing victory at hand, Demacia charged into the second match with the same textbook Demacian lineup, daring Zaun to try its quirky tactics once more. Zaun obliged, sending Malzahar imbued with the power of such artifacts as the Muramana and the Black Cleaver to battle in place of Jinx or Twitch, but backing him up with traditional heavies Warwick and Singed. Zaun took an early lead, but Demacia fought back ferociously. Vayne, led by Summoner “Catbox”, fought her way back from zero kills and six deaths until her crossbow’s silver bolts overpowered even the likes of Warwick.
As the match neared the one-hour mark, Demacia and Zaun continued to vie for the advantage. But the tide finally turned: Viktor’s deadly energy beam struck down Demacian titan Galio, and even with the magic of Zhonya’s Hourglass Summoner Michelus Magnus (jocularly called “501st Big Mike” in reference to his time spent in the Demacian military before donning his Summoner’s robes) could not save him. One by one Demacia’s Champions fell. Leona and Vayne retreated to their Nexus to find it swarming with enemy minions. Viktor and Blitzcrank, his steam golem creation, seized upon the Demacian defenders and overwhelmed them. As Vayne fell to the flagstones, Zaun’s minions surged up and shattered the enchanted facade of the Demacian Nexus.
As the Nexus burst, Summoner Catbox collapsed. Demacia’s priests were hastily called to give aid. They were astonished to find the Summoner overcome by what appeared to be chronodysplasic fever, the same rare illness that had incapacitated Summoner Viperlord of Bandle City and forced the yordles’ forfeit in the first match against Piltover on the day before. The healers used the sacred chant of alteria controlare deletus to banish the sickness, but were unable to fully restore the Summoner’s powers within the time limit set by the referees. Demacian representatives hastily found a replacement and prepared for battle, as Summoner Catbox reluctantly watched from the stands.
The third match began, with Summoner Paddo of the Riotous Fists Clan emerging from the inner sanctum of the Council to provide his learned analysis. A victory here could change the course of history, halting Zaun’s meteoric rise to dominance. But Zaun would not be denied. It established early dominance, using precise coordination to strike down Demacia’s Champions one by one and break the cohesion on which Demacia so greatly relies. In the previous match, Demacia had fought its way from the precipice of defeat to the very threshold of victory; Zaun was determined that they not be given a similar chance this time. Zaun pushed its advantage to the limit, relentlessly tearing down turret after turret until at last Demacia’s Nexus burst.
The tournament’s consequences
Zaun now has access to Field 14. As expected, no sooner had the ink dried on the League order granting Zaun permission to proceed with research there than Merricurry signed her own contract with a Zaunite research consortium.
Although various legal debates and committee deliberations are still ongoing, it is expected that Zaun and Demacia will each be able to put their new political capital to use. Zaun’s Summoners have been invited to closed-door discussions with major corporations, and King Jarvan III has gathered those pledged to Demacia in this dispute to discuss the situation with his court.
It is rumored that, with this latest victory in hand, Zaun may be poised to win the Shuriman dispute outright. Professor Stefanos Crahlen, expert on League procedural law, has informed us that he expects the League to convene a special tournament “within no more than two or three weeks” which could give Zaun a chance to end the matter conclusively. Failing that, Professor Crahlen explains, the matter will continue until the specified end date of 31 July, 24 CLE, at which point the usual analysis will determine a victor.
Closing thoughts from the Summoners
We posed a set of questions to the Summoners who captained the teams participating in this momentous tournament. Here are their responses, given in the colloquial language of the League’s Summoners. We were fortunate to receive responses from three of the four.
Of all the Champions you’ve recruited to your cause since the dispute began, which have made the most significant on the Fields of Justice?
- Summoner O. Anarchist (Zaun) — Both Jinx and Malzahar have had a tremendous impact on the Zaunite strategy board. The pushing based team comps that the other factions seem unable to counteract were only able to be fully realized with the addition of Jinx and Malzahar to our champion roster. They’ve done a surprising amount of good for champion morale, with Jinx’s perpetual state of amusement and excitement proving infectious, and Malzahar’s unexpectedly laid back demeanor and ability to predict and ensure visions of future victory have had a calming effect on our champions in tougher times.
- Summoner Michelus Magnus (Demacia) — I would personally have to say Galio has made one of the biggest impacts, of course this is a little biased (Go Galio go!). I do have to mention Leona here though as she helped fill a vital position that we didn’t have a strong substitute for.
- Summoner “Sgt.” Porkchop (Piltover) — I’d have to say either Ziggs or Janna. Ziggs brings even more poke and wave clear to the mid lane and his long range AOE ult helps during team fights across the map. While Janna has brought great disengage with her tornadoes and ult, that also works as a heal. Especially on maps like Howling Abyss where heals are extremely crucial.
What is your faction’s greatest strength on the Fields?
- Summoner O. Anarchist (Zaun) — Currently, our factions intersummoner coordination and communication have given Zaun a substantial lead over the other factions in organized matches. Additionally, many of our summoners and champions are on rather friendly terms with each other away from factions matches of the Institute, and enjoy each others company in a manner that improves friendship and communication both on and off the fields. I am not willing to disclose the details of Zaun’s strategic plays and win conditions on the fields, but rest assured the the minds of our greatest strategists are a tool Zaun utilizes to its fullest advantage.
- Summoner Michelus Magnus (Demacia) — Our all in teamfight ability. We have a lot of lockdown power and a great damage dealer in Vayne that makes teamfights our bread and butter, and of course we have DEMACIA!
- Summoner “Sgt.” Porkchop (Piltover) — We at Piltover are obviously know for our high poke team roster. We’re bullies in lane and great and picking people off.
What about the other factions do you find most daunting?
- Summoner O. Anarchist (Zaun) — Demacia’s dedication to their hypocrisy is rather frightening off the fields. When somebody devotes themselves to something that passionately and blindly, and it sets them in opposition to your own beliefs… Well you have to be wary of them doing something crazy. Now that they have a paranoid sea goddess on their side, they’re not getting any better. On the fields, Demacia has many strong and devoted warriors, many of which make Zaun’s execution of its game plan harder to pull of than it would be against other factions. The way they layer their greatest abilities in multi-champion skirmishes is a sight to behold, and something every Zaun champion and summoner is wary of.
- Summoner Michelus Magnus (Demacia) — There are a few big things that concern us in our matches. First is Piltovers incredibly strong power on Howling Abyss, those matches there showed just how strong their poke is. The second is Zaun’s early laning phase presence, there top and bot lanes are very strong and we need to survive them so we can get into our teamfighting phase. The last would be Zaun’s double surpression combo from Warwick and Malzahar…void scum…its a really strong combo that can take our carries completely out of a fight.
- Summoner “Sgt.” Porkchop (Piltover) — Bandle City has great AOE and a lot of magic damage, however most of them are squishy, with someone like Janna on our side, we can disengage fairly easily. Demacia is a giant wall of all in champs. They have a great front line with J4 and Galio or Leona for engage. And Zaun also have a lot of tanks with the wombo of Warwick and Malzahar suppression, and one of the best tower pushing ADC’s with Jinx.
Why is it important that your faction wins control of the dark sand?
- Summoner O. Anarchist (Zaun) — Were the other factions willing to utilize the pyrikhos to its highest potential, it would not be so absolutely necessary that Zaun maintains absolute control over the dark sand. There are many who would wish to see mortal life annihilated from this world (I would draw your sights to the Shadow Isles and the Void) and still the other factions are content to allow mere ethical considerations prevent then from discovering what might be the key to staving off their assaults and securing Runeterra a future. At a time, Zaun considered these ethics codes respectable. Inefficient yes, but still respectable nonetheless. But now, their dedication to their own demise is only stupid, and it is on Zaun’s shoulders to insure the research necessary to save them is carried out regardless of what they want. Many champions have joined Zaun for this very reason. The void prophet Malzahar for once sees hope, and the ancient Shuriman Xerath -a living embodiment of the magic which governs this world- has cast us his allegiance as well. By controlling the dark sand exclusively Zaun will save and secure this world, and the knowledge gained through our experimentation will ensure ultimate awareness of the universe around us forevermore.
- Summoner Michelus Magnus (Demacia) — Demacia doesn’t actually need to control the dark sands but we need to prevent the other factions from causing yet another assault from the void similar to the one that ravaged Noxus. Seeing as the League is not stepping in to stop the other factions from blindly experimenting with the sand, the only way we can prevent the others from using the dark sand is to capture it ourselves; we have no choice but to intervene and take it ourselves.
- Summoner “Sgt.” Porkchop (Piltover) — So we can build unlimited sand castles.
There you have it. Summoners who were not able to attend the tournament in person are encouraged to consult the vitreous optomantic diptychs (VODs) stored in the League’s archives.