A Buyer's Guide to League of Legends: Leona!

Last week, Riot Games debuted their first "real" female tank in Leona, the Radiant Dawn. Will this sparkly diva become your new frontliner?

As a League of Legends player who usually gravitates toward female champions, I'd like to be the first to say that Riot Games has done a great job balancing the genders. In my ranked matches these days, I've been able to easily round out my teams in the categories of support (Janna, Sona), mage (Orianna, Annie), bruiser (Irelia) and ranged carry (Vayne, Ashe and Caitlynn). As far as fair and balanced female coverage goes, however, there has always been one role sorely lacking attention: the tank. Well, now fans of female champions in League of Legends can finally rejoice because, with the introduction of Leona, the Radiant Dawn, the job of tanking is now open to both genders.

When she was first released, Poppy was often considered to be the only 'real' female tank in League of Legends but, with LoL's ever-changing metagame, Poppy's role has evolved well beyond that of a tank. These days, players (like myself) like to play Poppy as a pseudo-bruiser by maximizing her damage output while relying almost entirely on her Diplomatic Immunity to stay safe. Unfortunately, while this job transfer was greatly beneficial to Poppy players around the world, it ultimately left the role of the female tank vacant. Thus, while players might be quick to point to Poppy as being LoL's first female tank, I think there is a very good reason why Leona is being advertised as the first true female tank. Let's take a look at her abilities.

Leona's first skill, Shield of Daybreak, empowers her next attack to stun and deal bonus damage, similar to Udyr's Bear Stance attack combined with Poppy's Devastating Blow. In terms of damage and AP scaling, Shield of Daybreak is mediocre at best, but the stun duration (1.25s) is handy, as well as the low mana cost of the ability. Leona's next skill, Eclipse, bolsters her Magic and Armor resistances by large amounts and deals a decent amount of magic damage in an area-of-effect radius around Leona after 3 seconds. If any enemies are hit by Eclipse, the buff duration is extended by an extra 3 seconds.

While these first two abilities are a bit unoriginal, they're necessary to give Leona the survivability and control to function properly as a tank. Leona's last two abilities, however, Zenith Blade and Solar Flare, are really what make Leona shine. Zenith Blade is a straight-line skill shot that does damage to all champions in a line, teleporting Leona to the last champion hit, while also immobilizing them for 0.5 seconds. Now, Zenith Blade alone is a great initiating ability that most tanks would love to have, but Leona also gets a second long-range ability in the form of Solar Flare, an AoE ability that deals a high amount of magic damage while slowing all enemies hit by 80% for 1.5 seconds. Anyone hit in the center of Solar Flare gets stunned for 1.5 seconds instead. 

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