Character Spotlight: Thresh the Chain Warden

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So I kicked off a site event for October and cheesily named it “Thresh-o-Ween”, so who is Thresh? If you play League of Legends, you probably already know: Thresh is a playable character or “champion” in the game, traditionally performing the role of a support character but other times played as a tank or even an offensive tank or major damage dealer. He’s an all-around badass, being a scary ghost dude in a trenchcoat, carring a lantern, sickle and chains, while also being frankly a super tall dude.

Released during the first month of this year, Thresh instantly became on of my favorite champions to play. I mean, how could the guy not appeal to me immensely when I love villains, creepy monsters, and the undead? Even better, his skillset really appealed to me: A chain he can throw out to trap and reel in enemies, a throw-able lantern that shields allies and which they can also grab to get pulled back to him, the ability to do massive damage with just his regular attacks alone, and a bit freaking box made out of damaging walls he can trap enemies in. Suh-weet!

Thing is, when I first started playing League of Legends, I had some pretty powerful prejudices against certain character classes. See, I’m a fan of getting up close and personal; suits my aggressive playstyle. If I was going to play a game, I was fond of rushing and overwhelming people. I usually play melee characters — or at least ranged ones that have very aggressive natures — but usually tricky, interesting ones like assassins as opposed to the meaty tanks who just soak up damage. As I’ve improved at the game I’ve grown to like all of the roles you can play on a team, but in the beginning I hated half of them. Playing as a tank and absorbing damage for my team? Boring. A mage or archer, hanging back and attacking from safety? Pshhh maybe sometimes. A support, who’s not supposed to be aggressive and beat people down, but instead use their skills to save, empower, or otherwise benefit allies? Holy crap, no thanks!

And then Thresh came out.

I’ve talked about this before, but in a big way he redefined how I look at roles in these kinds of games in general. I did eventually grow to appreciate the damage absorbing tanks and healing supports, but Thresh is different from them. Oh, he’s a support tank all right, but he functions way differently at those roles than what I’m used to. See while another support might focus on shielding allies or healing them, perhaps inhibiting enemies to make them easier to kill… Thresh primarily just makes the enemy’s life a living hell.

Unless you get the right items on Thresh, he can’t murder enemies on his own — although he absolutely can when you do and this is one of my favorite ways to play him — but what he does do is bully, bully, bully, and even better, inspire fear. Through GAMEPLAY! His storyline as the ghost of an evil and sadistic torturer who continues to inspire fear even in death couldn’t be more perfect for his gameplay, because in a match he’ll support his team sometimes with his presence alone; in combat he can lock down enemies, with two tools to either reel them in or force them away from his allies, and he can pull aggressive teammates out of dangerous spots OR out of hiding to surprise enemies. When he’s not doing these things, he gradually accrues free defense and damage just by gathering the souls of units that die in combat, while getting sizable free poke damage out on enemies who venture too close. He is a major threat and a force to be reckoned with. He is not passive helper, but instead a brutal complement to a fragile mage or marksman; a bully to keep them safe and someone to pin people down for free damage. So he inspires fear and caution through his gameplay; his concept and play have perfect synergy.

Supporting changed in my mind from “Hey friend, I’ll protect you and give you the heals and such” to “Hey friend, I’ll help you beat up and freak out your enemies”. And that was pretty darn awesome… even if every time I do well with him someone always says “Well, it’s easy to do good with Thresh!” YOU DO NOT KNOW THRESH. 1V1 ME.

While I did get the dedicating healer support champion Soraka before Thresh came out, Thresh was the champion who made me love the role, and since I’ve grown to appreciate a lot of other supports both similar to and different from him. He really redefined my view of both tanks and especially supports, and made it fun for me to play as a helper to me team, since doing so while playing him meant I basically got to be a huge jerk to the enemy team!

It was his design and story that drew me in, though. If he hadn’t been so unrelentingly cool — maybe just been a priest or some other flowery silliness — I probably wouldn’t have played him when I did (especially with over 100 other champions to choose from). But I wanted to write this about him to appreciate his unique gameplay and what it did for my perception about games.

As a character there’s really not much more to say about him. He’s a scary ghost dude. The only other point of note is that he had a wife and captured fellow champion Lucian’s wife’s soul because she resembled her — a fact which was stated by a Riot Games employee but later only hinted at, as if they retracted the reveal — which makes for some really interesting interplay between those two characters, but aside from that, Thresh is a bit shallow if still immeasurably cool. The best part about his lore is probably that he’s a campfire story boogeyman of sorts, something I’ll go into in the next post.

So what do you think of the Chain Warden? Scary guy? All-around cool down? What do you think about my, shall we say… archaic view of supports? Did Thresh change the game of supporting for you at all?

PS: If I hear one of you say that Thresh isn’t a super good top-lane pick, we’re going to have words.

Thanks to League of Legends Wiki for the images, and while I’m at it, I highly suggest you go and listen to all of his voice clips, because seriously, this dude is awesome! Go back and read Cling Clang, Go the Chains and imagine everything he says with this voice!

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  • JuicieJ

    “YOU DO NOT KNOW THRESH. 1V1 ME.”

    FIGHT ME IRL! DO YOU EVEN LIFT?!?

    • Are you challenging me to a Thresh-off or a fistfight?

      • JuicieJ

        Neither. Your quote just made me think of saying that.

        • Scared? =P

          • JuicieJ

            No, I just have a sense of humor.

          • I think yer scared.

          • JuicieJ

            And I think you’re just trying to goad me. :p

  • I will say, when I first started playing the game I was quite surprised to learn that Thresh was a Support champion. Simply looking at him you’d expect him to dominate the top lane alongside other bruisers like Darius; he just has that look to him.

    I still look forward to the day we play Lucian + Thresh bot lane together.

    • That will be a glorious day and I look forward to it too. =P

      I hate it that half the time I pick Thresh top lane someone’s always arguing why it’s a bad pick. And then I go 5/1/11.

      • Meanwhile they’re all like “Lucian and Quinn should always be ADC because that’s their proper role!”

        On that note…. Top/Mid Lucian. I want to try it so badly 😛

        • I fought a Lucian who built boots and then 5 Zyphyrs. He had insane movement speed. It was hilarious.

          Not good.

          But hilarious.