Have you seen a girl with a demon face bandanna all over your social media feeds? Or maybe a fox girl with dyed blonde hair? It’s all part of the world of League of Legends, which has its own fictional K-pop group, who appeared at this weekend’s World Championship Finals.
If you’re not immersed in League of Legends, that may be a lot to absorb. But what you need to know is that League of Legends developer Riot Games debuted a new song and video, “Pop/Stars,” at the game’s championship in Incheon, South Korea. The band behind the song is known as K/DA, and it’s made up of real singers, including two members of the K-pop group (G)I-dle. The video for “Pop/Star” stars League characters, however, and the whole thing is an elaborate promotion designed to sell new skins for the game.
And people online — even people who don’t play League of Legends — are absolutely eating it up. Akali, especially.
While flashy game skins shouldn’t be anything new to anyone familiar with how online games work nowadays, the addition of a special song, dance and voice actresses might be.
Who are the girls?
The group, K/DA, is how Riot is promoting League of Legends’ new line of character cosmetics for four champions: Ahri, Akali, Evelynn and Kai’Sa. Each champion was given a special backstory that goes with their skins, as well as a real-life counterpart during the opening ceremony at Worlds. According to the League of Legends website, Ahri and Evelynn are the lead vocalists, Kai’Sa is the main dancer and Akali is the rapper.
Ahri is a nine-tailed fox mage League champion — and is one of the most well known champs in the game. She gets all the flashiest skins and has a ton of fans. Her abilities in-game feature a lot of dashing around, and a charm, which forces enemies to walk toward her, in love. Miyeon of real-world K-pop group (G)I-dle sings her parts in the song.
Akali, the girl with the neon mask, is the champion everyone has been buzzing about. She’s a ninja who was just redesigned to have better visuals, including a huge dragon tattoo, and now she’s super ripped. In game, she’s an assassin, who weaves in and out of the darkness and throws kunai to one-shot any squishy opponent that might come her way. Soyeon of (G)I-dle sings her parts.
Evelynn is usually a purple demon lady who runs amok in a shadow form, out of sight of enemies, and then pops out of nowhere to assassinate them. Her lore is centered around being a succubus. That being said, her K/DA counterpart is a diva, and her romantic partners tend to go missing. Her real-life counterpart is Madison Beer, an American singer who has 11 million Instagram followers.
Kai’Sa is a fairly new champion, who plays as a marksman. In League of Legends lore, she spent most of her life trapped in The Void, a horrific dimension filled with disgusting monsters. She came back a killer, who zooms around, shooting missiles from the cannons that float above her shoulders. She’s represented by Jaira Burns, another American singer who released her debut EP, Burn Slow, earlier this year.
What is this for?
Skins, in-game cosmetics that cost about $10 each. They were themed this way for an event in League of Legends — a kind of post-Worlds afterparty — that lets you complete missions to earn loot, but they were also styled this way specifically to match the 2018 World Championship Finals opening ceremony. What better way to open the last match than with a pop song?
The promotional music video for “Pop/Stars” played in the background on the screen at the event and launched on YouTube at the same time.
So it’s just one song to promote skins?
Yes, pretty much. However, this isn’t the first time Riot Games has launched a skin line with music. They’ve done this for the metal band skins, Pentakill, and released songs for the special DJ Sona skin. Pentakill actually has full-length albums out for players to listen to, so we’re all crossing our fingers and hoping that Riot does the same thing with K/DA.
The visuals from the music video, the catchy tunes and Akali’s amazing rap has caught the attention of League fans and non-League fans alike, though. Most people who have seen the video cannot stop gushing about which member they like best and how they never expected themselves to like anything League of Legends-related. (As a League player and fan, this is understandable.)
I don’t go here but she’s hot and I stan pic.twitter.com/ZLXvd2gGKV
— 《寿•限•無》 (@Aethrel) November 5, 2018
It turns out that bad-ass designs and good music are things everyone can get on board with.