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We here at Esports Illustrated sent two of our finest reporters out to sunny Las Vegas to get their hands on Riot’s first fighting game, Project L. The new game features a first-of-its kind 2v2 system where two players can join forces in the game tag battle. ESI’s Norris Howard and Olivia Richman got an extended playtest of the game and jotted down their thoughts. So here’s their “tag-team” breakdown of their first experiences with Project L.


Norris: First and foremost, I play a TON of League. Like, every day I hop on and at least play a round of TFT or ARAM, so I have a lot of context for the characters in Project L. Needless to say, I’m very excited about this game, but I low-key can’t stand tag fighters. Too many infinites, too many effects going off. I’m old. It’s too much for my eyes sometimes. But I do have experience playing UMVC3, so there’s that.

Olivia: I am a fighting game fanatic, especially focused on Super Smash Bros. but with a lot of interest in other fighting games as well. I went into Project L without having played League of Legends at all (on purpose). I am not into MOBAs at all but still have been very excited about Project L due to the art style, unique 2v2 concept, and my belief in Riot when it comes to organizing esports scenes. It’s about time that the FGC gets a heavily supported game that may bring a lot more money and eyes to this underrated side of esports.

N: Let’s be honest, half the excitement is all about the money coming in. I’m just excited that there’s going to be a whole host of scrubs who are Platinum in League who come to this game thinking they're gonna dominate. The FGC shall feast.

O: It’s about time. If I have to cover one more LCS event…My fight to get more FGC titles covered at ESI is finally going to have legs. Thank you, Riot. You are forgiven for all your past sins. Begrudgingly. Anyway, I can’t wait to finally see what all the hype around these champions are about and see the FGC grow.

Tag Elements

N: One thing that was really exciting about the game were the tag eleme-

O: -nts, which Riot has done in an entirely new and innovative way. This doesn’t feel like any other major fighting game I’ve played before because of the focus on communication and teamwork that’s unlike most fighting game titles, which are often played solo, even when multiple fighters are on one team.

Yasuo close up in Project L

But I have to say, it’s an entirely new experience to have to communicate with a teammate during a battle. One time, Norris said, “Why are you not coming out??” I replied, “I tried but you have to press X to confirm it when I jump in with an assist!” And that’s not something you often have to deal with in fighting games — that constant communication and stra-

N: -tegy. Yeah, I know. I actually tried the 2v1 option as well and the game was almost harder to play as a single person. The design is really quite intuitive, but also what that means is that your assists stay out just a little bit longer than they normally would in say, Marvel. There’s a slight delay to account for your partner’s reaction time to tag, but playing solo it felt like forever. My anchor Ahri was getting clipped because I kept expecting her to ju-

O: -mp back. Yeah, a lot of times even when I came in to assist I would end up getting obliterated by an incoming move before I could escape. But I think this will all make sense once people have more time to get used to the game’s mechanics and gameplay — and have more time to come up with strategies with their teammates.

This is definitely a game where you need to constantly communicate since all of the elements are designed with two people in mind. I think as more champions are released as well, we’ll see people coming up with the best team compositions based on their playstyles and strategies. This will also determine which augments work best for you and your partner as well. Overall, it was definitely a unique experience to have to rely on a teammate in a fighting game.


N: So if there’s one thing Riot is going to do is make something pretty (except League’s launcher). The menus look great even if they are a bit…sparse? But once the game starts it is a wonder in the eyes. I’ve been watching matches on and off all weekend and I haven’t seen a single piece of wonky animation or dropped frames. It’s optimized very well even if it isn’t the final product. Like most Riot products though it's dripping with style.

I love the characters that they chose (even if there wasn’t a real zoner). I thought Ahri was gonna be my jam, but Ekko ended up my most effective. But you don’t play League, Olivia. So I’m interested to hear if any of them resonated with you.

O: The visuals of this game were almost addictive to me. Even the menus just had this bold, vibrant, and simple vibe that really had me feeling hype for the match to come. Riot really did a great job building up a fighting game that has its own style and voice, setting it apart from other big esports titles. I also loved how the champions translated into a fighting game — they really felt like they were created with fighting games in mind from their moveset to their dynamic designs.

I personally loved playing as Yasuo due to his very fast movements and powerful combos. I was trying to get a hold of his stance, which unlocked more powerful moves. I just got a bit frustrated with my inability to pull off the aerial combos I saw other people doing — I have a one-track mind when it comes to fighting games I’m learning and won’t stop trying to understand mechanics or recreate moves until I feel I have it mastered. So I’m not too great when I first start. But I felt his movements were so fluid and rewarding.

Character select Screen for Project L

I really liked how all of the champions had very distinct playstyles and mechanics. You could tell the developers really attempted to make them all very different from one another, giving them all their own gimmicks, which are probably inspired by their abilities in League of Legends. Which I luckily don’t know anything about.

N: I’m not calling them “champions.” I refuse.

O: I will not stop.

Esports Potential

N: One thing I will say is that I cannot wait to see the 2v2 circuit for this. It feels like it should be an anime arc. There’s so many things I’m looking forward to even as a spectator. The moment when someone gets smoked early and their partner has to carry them to a win, or when two players seem to have near-telepathic communication to execute some saucy combos. I can’t wait. Also, because of League’s online infrastructure, this should also be really easy to play online as well.

But in terms of balance, Darius seems far and away the strongest. His mid-range game was too strong and he didn’t have to work very hard for a ton of damage. In fact, no one does, but he’s gotta work the least. Compared to Ahri, especially, and Ekko, Darius seemed like easy mode.

O: Yeah, I noticed Darius’ level 1 super had an incredible range that made it near impossible to miss. I’m sure Riot will continue to tweak all of the champions until they feel more balanced, but I think it will also come down to playstyle. The four champions in the playtest were so vastly different, I think anyone could be considered strong in the hands and with someone who thrives in that fight style.

I think that this will be a very interesting esport to watch. As long as Riot continues to pay close attention to the state of the game and its mechanics I see this being a very competitive title. As mentioned earlier, the amount of communication and strategy required between partners is another interesting element that will make this a fun esport to watch and offer the FGC something different.

On the other hand, a lot of people don’t tune into Smash doubles compared to the singles. Sometimes fighting games are just more fun to watch when it’s one person really just putting on a show of skill. But I think this game is set up in such a way where it will really create a lot of intensity and excitement, with two top fighters working together to come out on top.

N: They. Are. Not. Called. Champions.