Briar LoL Champion launches: Abilities, Champion Spotlight, Lore, Cosplay and how the new vampire berserker could fare in pro play

Briar LoL champion
Briar, The Restrained Hunger, is the latest champion in League of Legends. Esports News UK joined a roundtable with Riot Games to get some real insight into the new berserker vampire, where we asked how the new Briar LoL Champion may fare in esports/competitive play.

Briar LoL champion: Core info and playstyle

Briar is a berserker vampire diver champion, inspired by the vampires of Eastern European folklore, ‘not the sly, cunning Westernized vampires who chill in their castles sipping on blood wine’, Riot says.

She’s been designed as a diver jungler, with the top-lane in mind as a secondary role. She’s also a Noxian, voiced by Julie Nathanson.

Her USP is being able to self-taunt against nearby enemies, losing control/berserking in the process but gaining power too – with increased stats – and is able to heal.

She has a scream/knockback to break out of berserk (stunning enemies if they hit a wall), and also has a near-global skillshot ultimate that pulls her across the map to an enemy champion. This ult is about twice the range of TF’s ult, it’s some 10,000 range. There’s more on her abilities in the section below.

Briar was created from hemomancy (aka blood magic) by the Black Rose to be a living weapon, according to Riot’s champion insights page for Briar. So she needs to consume blood to fuel herself.

“Briar needs to feed, as she has no passive health regen. She only heals when she does damage (or consumes blood) to minions or champions,” Riot added. “The lower Briar’s HP, the hangrier she gets. So watch out, because that also means her self-healing is increased.”

Riot says that Briar was a balancing act to create. The team wanted to build Briar around a loss of control, but still wanted to preserve a sense of autonomy.

Briar LoL champion abilities and champion spotlight

Here is the champion spotlight for Briar:

Passive – Crimson Curse

Briar gains increased Healing based on her missing health and her attacks and abilities apply a bleed for short duration that stacks. The bleed deals physical damage based on the number of stacks and Heals Briar for a percentage of the pre-mitigation damage.

Briar has no base health regeneration and her abilities cost health to cast.

Q – Head Rush

Briar leaps to a target, Stunning them for a short duration, dealing physical damage, and reducing their armor. Briar will stop prioritizing champions if she casts this Ability on a minion or monster during Blood Frenzy.

W – Blood Frenzy/Snack Attack

Briar leaps to a location and enters a Blood Frenzy, self taunting to the nearest enemy (prioritizing champions) for a period of time. While in Blood Frenzy she gains Attack Speed and Move Speed and her attacks now deal physical damage around the main target.

Briar can Recast this ability to empower her next attack. It deals missing health physical damage and heals Briar for a large percentage of the damage dealt.

E – Chilling Scream

Begin Charging: Briar removes Blood Frenzy and gathers energy, gaining damage reduction and restoring health

Release: Briar unleashes a scream that deals damage based on time charged and Slows for a short duration. When fully charged the scream knocks back, dealing additional damage to enemies that hit a wall and Stunning them.

R – Certain Death

Briar kicks a hemolith and flies to the location of the first champion hit, marking them as her prey. On landing she deals a large amount of physical damage to everything nearby and causes nearby enemies to Flee. She then enters an empowered Blood Frenzy and will pursue her prey until one of them dies. During this time she gains Armor, Magic Resist, and additional Move Speed.

There are more detailed stats, ranges and more for the champion and her abilities on the Briar Fandom page.

Plus, here’s an overview from Scottish League of Legends hero Rossboomsocks to sink your teeth into:

Briar LoL release date

Briar’s release date is (for PBE) today, August 31st, and (for full release) September 13th – that’s when her champion spotlight will also go live.

Briar LoL champion Lore

briar lol concept

As mentioned, Briar was created from hemomancy (aka blood magic) by the Black Rose.

After Briar failed her first mission, the Black Rose put her in a pillory until they knew her next target. And after failing that mission as well, she was captured by Swain’s forces and confined to a cell in a holding facility.

The device was locked by a hemolith – a gemstone with magical properties that helps restrain Briar and refocus her mind. The pillory was meant to be a permanent fixture after she was confined to her cell. But after some time, Briar figured out how to loosen the hemolith and unlock the restraint. Lucky for those around her, Briar enjoys the presence of mind that the pillory brings.

“Briar is not psychopathic or crazy or stupid, she just has a unique way of looking at the world. She is perceptively oblivious. I think of it as, when she was created, they put knowledge into her head, like they’ll give her the words, but not the context of how they’re used. For example, she has a line where she says: ‘I know why mouths water, they’re crying for food’. She’s right in a way, but it’s a unique way of thinking about it.”

Max Folkman, Riot Games, on the new Briar LoL champion

Max Folkman, senior writer, said: “Briar was created by the Black Rose as a weapon. She was sent out on a mission as an assassin, and they didn’t realise how uncontrollable she was, as she was killing allies and enemies. That’s why they built the pillory to focus her mind more, but she went out on a frenzy and got locked up by Swain’s forces, and that’s where her personality really starts developing.

“She’s unapologetically herself. She’s not psychopathic or crazy or stupid, she just has a unique way of looking at the world. She is perceptively oblivious. I think of it as, when she was created, they put knowledge into her head, like they’ll give her the words, but not the context of how they’re used. For example, she has a line where she says: ‘I know why mouths water, they’re crying for food’. She’s right in a way, but it’s a unique way of thinking about it.

“There’s no barrier between what she’s processing and what she’s thinking, what she sees first is what she’ll go after.”

Max also said that Briar doesn’t know if she should call existing champion Vladimir, ‘Vlad’ or ‘dad’.

There’s more info on the official Briar lore/backstory page.

‘Like nothing we’ve done before’ – further insight into the new Briar LoL Champion from the Riot press roundtable

Sunny ‘Kindlejack’ Pandita, lead concept artist on the champions team, and the concept artist of Briar, said: “Briar feels like nothing we’ve really done before, yet she still feels familiar enough to fit into Noxus without being redundant.

“Briar is about unapologetically being yourself. She’s not embarrassed or afraid of her nature, but she knows she can be more. She’s a character for people who want to cut loose, go all in, and have a laugh while playing a game of League.

“We are trying to create a juxtaposition with this character. The humour comes from her being a monster capable of all kinds of horrible destruction, but this character also has a fun side – a monster exploring what it means to be human. She’s capable of doing terrible things but is probably fun to hang out with – if she doesn’t eat you!”

This balance between human and monster is reflected in her odd emotes (found in the Briar Skin Spotlights video), which, to us, look reminiscent of Voldo’s weird movement in the Soul Calibur fighting games.

“Briar is a character for people who want to cut loose, go all in, and have a laugh while playing a game of League.”

Sunny ‘Kindlejack‘ Pandita, Riot Games

When asked by Polygon if Briar may be too difficult to counter or escape, Riot August (aka August Browning), Lead Champion Designer on League of Legends at Riot Games, and the designer of Briar, replied: “Briar’s Q is actually an incredibly powerful stun because it’s targeted and we haven’t made one of those in a long time. If you’ve played against Pantheon you’ll know how strong it can be to just stun someone with ‘no counterplay’.

“The big deal is her Q is range so she has to be next to you, and her E, her other stun, while it’s powerful if it hits you into a wall, it has a lot of conditionality of that happening, you have to fully charge it, hit people with it and they have to be in the trajectory of a wall. It’s not easy to line all of those conditions up or position her.

“So while she has a big crowd control kit, not all of that is as reliable or as easy to hit as you might expect. Her Q is acout 0.85 seconds to make sure she can’t just Q you and E you without giving you a chance to flash or dash away.

“While she’s great with other champions who can dive with her, to counter her, group up and when she shows up, unload crowd control on her before she can do anything. Tanks aren’t very good against Briar 1v1, but they’re good at CCing them down and Briar can get stuck on them, and spend way too much time attacking them, while the tank’s team attacks her. Grievous Wounds is also a good counter to her.

“But she’s about that healing fantasy, so if you like characters like Warwick and Vladimir, Briar should hopefully scratch that itch.”

August also admitted at one point, the Briar LoL champion could originally kill her allies.

Her berserking ability actually came from an idea for Naafiri, the most recently released LoL champion prior to Briar.

“Glenn ‘Riot Twin Enso’ Anderson was working on Naafiri when he came up with Briar’s W, her frenzy,” August said. “You’d lose control and go rip somebody apart. That felt good for a dog champ, but it didn’t feel like an assassin, which is what Naafiri was always meant to be. Assassins want to kill their targets as fast as possible. A frenzied state needs some time to feel correct.

“Also, at one point she had a revive, similar to old Aatrox. It was on her ultimate. When it was off cooldown, if you died, you would suck blood from everybody around you and you’d revive with a lot of health. But it also had an active use. The active was that she killed herself. She would do 1m true damage to herself, but then obviously trigger the passive to resurrect and drain everybody near you.”

Briar’s berserking aspect sounds like a lot of fun, and while mechanically she seems simple, August says she’s a lot harder to play than she looks.

“I very often see new Briar players failing spectacularly, because surprise surprise, berserking causes you to lose control, get caught under towers a lot and get yourself killed,” he explained. “So while she looks simple to play, what’s going to take mastery is she’s about restraint – choosing when to give in.

“Good Briar players will have a very strong handle on when they berserk. You shouldn’t just immediately push W straight away in a fight, you might want to target stun a guy, and basic attack them for a while until you have the right opportunity to go crazy.

“The greatest difficulty of Briar is knowing when not to cast your spells. Your W will get you killed, your ult will get you killed, your E, if you use it early, won’t be up to cancel your W, which will get you killed!

“Also, she doesn’t have any base health regen, but she instead heals a lot. So base health regen mods won’t work on her, but any flat regen mods like red buff and ocean drake and health pots will work.”

briar lol champion concept art
Briar LoL champion concept art

On her design, lead concept artist Sunny ‘Kindlejack’ Pandita commented: “A lot of her visual design came from looking at traditional gothic stories and folklore. We had the idea for doing a gothic character and looked at where that made sense in Runeterra.

“Looking at where Briar landed, I am really hoping players get that feeling of traditional League visual design. That ‘Grimsical’ vibe. I’ve worked on a few very serious champs and Dr. Mundo VGU was a great reminder that lighthearted champions are actually incredibly fun.

“We did have ideas for a gothic champion for a long time but Briar felt quite fresh emerging from some great sketches from Gem ‘Lonewingy’ Lim.

“If you like that classic ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend’ meme, then you’ll probably like Briar (laughs)! But seriously – I’m a jungler myself and it does seem to be a tough place to survive. We have a lot of monstrous champs and a lot of edgy champs in that role but lighter fun champs are rarer in that role. So she’s fun but has high skill expression – we wanted a balance between dark and whimsical. We also don’t have many female or light tone characters in the jungle. I hope Briar can bring some quirky fun to the jungle.”

Briar cosplay – we interview Sakuraflor

We caught up with cosplayer Sakuraflor at Riot’s League of Legends community night at Insomnia Gaming Festival i71.

Briar in pro play – how might the new champion affect LoL esports?

Riot August admits: “I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if she’s gonna be a pro pick or not. There are a lot of factors that affect a character in pro play. Like Sett, we didn’t think he’d really be a pro play character, but it turns out he came out so strong, for a few months he was one of the best things you can picks in pro until he got nerfed.

“Pros are the first to master a new champion. It’s hard to tell with Briar. I think she has a lot of good stuff going for her, the crowd control, stun, global ultimate, but on the flipside she has things that are very unreliable. Her ult can be missed, it has a global sound that lets people know she’s cast the missile somewhere. So people can become pretty good at dodging it.

“She can also be dragged around by tanks and things like that. So it’s a question of, can a really good player mitigate enough of Briar’s weaknesses to be able to come out on top in a pro setting, versus do some of her weaknesses become non-tenable for the best players in the game. I’m not sure which way that will go, it could go either way.”

PekinWoof provides some gameplay insight into Briar in this video

Riot August also said Riot has seen her be somewhat successful with Briar top, ‘especially against ranged champions’. Against Quinn for example, Briar can shrug off poke damage by healing, before running her down and killing her.

“We want to make her a primary jungler but we’re not opposed to her being a solo laner,” August added.

Will Briar be available at Worlds 2023?

Riot August confirms: “Briar will not be available for Worlds. She comes out too late.”

Riot did discuss how she may change the meta, and that people may think about how to deal with such a healing character.

He also said that he may change it so that Sylas can use his E to cancel berserking if he steals Briar’s ult.

Finally, we’ll leave you with Briar’s intro cinematic.

That concludes our Briar LoL Champion deep dive article. We hope you enjoyed it.

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