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Why League Of Legends’ Zeri & Valorant’s Neon Are So Similar

Riot Games’ concurrent announcement of Zeri and Neon joining the rosters of its two major titles – MOBA League of Legends and FPS Valorant – has raised a few eyebrows, as both characters are fairly similar. These bright characters are voiced by the same actor and have similar electric themes and speed-oriented kits that have led fans to produce theories on whether the newest League of Legends champion, Zeri, is the same character as the recently released Valorant agent, Neon. However, Riot has confirmed that these figures are not the same character, nor are they related to one another. Neon and Zeri were simply designed in tandem with each other by the separate Valorant and League teams with a shared core theme.

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Valorant depicts a dystopian Earth in the near future following a global event, called the First Light, that changed the way the world functioned and gifted certain individuals with enhanced abilities. These individuals are called Radiants, who make up the playable Agents in Valorant alongside individuals that utilize Radiant technology. League of Legends, on the other hand, is set in the fantastical world of Runeterra, which has recently been fleshed out and explored in an innovative PvE mode in the Legends of Runeterra card game. In Runeterra, individuals gain their powers and abilities from endless sources; playable League of Legends champions include celestial beings that created and watch over the cosmos, a resurrected Emperor of a long lost civilization, and even preternatural demons that feed on human emotions.


Related: League of Legends: How to Unlock Free Arcane Skins & Champions

Despite the existence of Radiants, Valorant‘s more realistic world has obvious discrepancies with the endless magic of Runeterra. So, the Valorant Agents Team Lead, John “Riot MEMEMEMEME” Goscicki, and the League Champions Team Lead, Ryan “Reav3” Mireles, schemed together and came to the decision to design an Agent and a Champion with a shared theme of electricity and enhanced movement speed. In Runeterra, electricity and technology are important aspects of the sister cities of Piltover and Zaun, recently portrayed in Netflix’s hit League of Legends show, Arcane. As for Valorant, this recent dev post from the official Valorant website details how inspiration was taken from Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, which experiences frequent blackouts and general electrical problems. From this, the idea of two individuals fighting for their communities came about with the common ground of electricity, and so Neon and Zeri were born.


Valorant’s Neon & League Of Legends’ Zeri Were Designed In Tandem


New League of Legends champion, Zeri, and new Valorant Agent, Neon.

As the common theme of electricity stemmed from wanting the characters to have enhanced movement abilities, move speed is obviously a large part of the both new Agent and Champion’s kits. Neon – or Agent 19 – has seemingly revolutionized the future of Valorant‘s gameplay and Agent design after she was introduced last week with Valorant‘s Episode 4 Act 1. Neon’s E ability, High Gear, can be instantly channeled to allow players to vastly increase their movement speed, making Neon efficient at covering the map quickly and lending to a fast-paced, aggressive playstyle. Although Neon cannot fire her weapons while in High Gear, she can toggle Electric Slide to cover ground swiftly and this ability resets every two kills. Neon’s playstyle seems most similar to Duelist Jett due to their shared movement abilities, though Jett can traverse vertical obstacles with her Q, Updraft, while Neon seems more focused on covering horizontal ground swiftly.


Similarly, Zeri’s E ability, Spark Surge, gives the champion huge mobility as she can dash or grind along terrain. Zeri will also gain movement speed when shielded, an atypical feature of the traditionally more immobile marksman class, but Riot seems to have been leaning into mobility with the previous AD Carry releases, like League of Legends‘ Akshan, the Rogue Sentinel. Neon and Zeri’s Ultimate abilities (named Overdrive and Lightning Crash respectively) both unleash the girls’ kinetic power and vastly increase their attack power and movement speed. So, the core thematic of electricity spreads throughout the new Agent and Champion’s kits, seen in their enhanced movement speed, and even manifests in their respective sparky personalities.


Zeri & Neon Bring Filipino Representation To League & Valorant


The newest Agent and Champion are similar in more than just their shared spiky pigtails and bandaid patches on their faces, as the two characters present close ties to their family. Community and family are important to both Neon and Zeri, as revealed in Neon’s Agent teaser trailer as she calls her parents after arriving at the Valorant Protocol Headquarters. Similarly, Zeri’s biography on the League of Legends Universe details Zeri’s story of becoming a Zaunite vigilante with her family’s support.

Related: League of Legends: Zeri Ability Guide

However, the two were designed with a substantial difference in mind within the theme of electricity: Neon is the negative charge and Zeri is the positive charge. Visually, Neon has a negative charge bandaid and her personality is markedly blunt, sarcastic, and a little guarded. Meanwhile, Zeri’s bandaid is a plus sign for her positive charge and she is a lot warmer and brighter than her Valorant counterpart, though she can still be impatient and stubborn. So, in making Neon a little bit prickly compared to the more bubbly Zeri, the Valorant and League of Legends teams have successfully tied the electricity theme into their personalities and who they are.


Looking outside of the League of Legends and Valorant game universes and lore, Zeri and Neon are similar in how they are both voiced by the same person: young Filipina voice actress, Vanille Velasquez. This inclusion of the first Filipino characters in either of Riot’s major titles should been recognized as a great moment for Filipino representation in video games. Although Tekken 7‘s kickboxing Josie Rizal may spring to mind when thinking of previously established Filipino video game characters, it seems important to note that this character was not voiced by a Filipina actress. Moreover, Josie’s character has not received any kind of fleshed-out backstory, despite being named after the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. So, Zeri and Neon’s characters, backstories, and shared voice actress represent a huge step in terms of representation of the Philippines.

League’s Zeri’s May Connect To Legends Of Runeterra


Practical Perfectionist, Kay, from Legends of Runeterra.

The visual design of both Valorant‘s Neon and League of Legends‘ Zeri seems very similar to Kay, the Practical Perfectionist, from Riot’s card game, Legends of Runeterra. Kay’s card was introduced alongside Ekko, seen leading the Firelights Netflix’s Arcane, appearing in Legends of Runeterra back in June 2021. The Practical Perfectionist card is part of the Zaun set and has affinities with Ekko as the playable move invites a Predict action.

In the full card artwork, the symbol that appears on Ekko’s face – a white hourglass shape – also appears on Kay’s top, and Ekko even appears in the background giving her a thumbs up. Kay herself has two spiky pigtails similar to Zeri and Neon and even has bandaids that match Zeri, though they are on the opposite cheek. Fans have theorized that Kay may be a younger version of Zeri due to the resemblance, and therefore Kay would have links to Neon too. However, Reav3 has shut these theories down in a Reddit comment and confirmed that Kay’s striking visual resemblance and shared Zaunite background with Zeri is only a coincidence.

There has been a previous Valorant-Arcane crossover event celebrating Arcane‘s release and an earlier Sentinels of Light event in Valorant alongside the concurrent event in League of Legends, though there have not been crossover characters until now. Neon and Zeri’s character identities successfully fit into their respective games while keeping the central theme of electricity at the core of their design. The similar playstyles of the electric Radiant and mage involve an aggressive, fast pace that leans into their sparky personalities. These two characters represent a successful crossover between Riot’s two major titles without being a direct port of one another, and both introduce novel mechanics and themes to their games. The tandem design and introduction of Neon and Zeri sparks a hope that there will be further crossover events and characters between Valorant and League of Legends in the future.


Next: League of Legends: Chainsaw Garen Build Guide (Attack Speed & Crit Build)

Sources: PlayVALORANT/Twitter, PlayValorant

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