Riot’s Netflix series Esoteric is a surprisingly awesome and smash hit video game adaptation. It focuses on two sisters and their broken bond, facing an uprising in the underground city of Zaun against the golden elite of Piltover.
Jinx and Vi are the focal points of the series, and two of the most popular champions of League of Legends, so it makes sense that they have the majority of projectors. But the show also does a lot to showcase two lesser-known champions Jayce and Viktor, and they’re the best part of the whole story, so far – with a ton of fan art to prove it.
In League of Legends, Jayce is the character closest to the setting of a superhero. He is a genius craftsman appreciated by all those around him. He’s dashing, handsome, and wields a massive tech hammer that can easily switch between a melee weapon and a ranged arcane plasma cannon.
His contrast is Viktor, who in League of Legends has become a full-fledged machine man. Very little of him is organic left, and a third arm is grafted onto his back, which he uses to shoot lasers at people. He’s fully invested in the idea of transcending the flesh to become a glorious machine – which, honestly, is in a good mood – and he doesn’t want to let people hold him back out of fear and suspicion.
In League lore, these two are old friends, and they masquerade as enemies. Viktor looks like the villain at first glance, but it turns out he has relevant motivations and is actually quite kind to his mission. Jayce is arrogant, difficult to get around and reckless.
It’s a dynamic that never really got a chance to manifest itself in any meaningful way, beyond the fans reading the champions’ biographies on the official website. League website. But when these characters appear in Esoteric, we can finally see their origin stories and deepen their relationship. Jayce is just a little guy who is just starting out. He does not have his big hammer nor the love of his city; in fact, he almost succumbed to despair. We also see a very different Viktor who is a frail young man, using a cane to move around.
Esoteric does a lot to frame these characters with sympathy. Jayce, for example, ends up doing terrible things in his dream of progress and stabs a few friends. But at the same time, viewers understand where this pressure is coming from when they see how Piltover, the City of Progress, works. Viktor, who comes from Zaun, starts off as an outsider. When his health begins to decline, he begins to look for desperate solutions to avoid death.
Esoteric gives depth and backstory to these beloved characters who never had time in the spotlight. These two characters start out in a much better position than Jinx and Vi, and it’s fascinating to watch the B plot unfold. While Jayce and Viktor’s story doesn’t have as much action and excitement as Jinx and His Explosions, their story is a well-described drama that highlights two champions who never had much love. Riot’s narrative.
Of course, because this pair finally have plenty of time to interact with, fans are already starting to explore the relationship between the two. The ship is called Jayvik, and it has all the elements of a good ship: chemistry, drama, betrayal, high stakes, and nice boys.
There is a lot to love Esoteric, but one of the best parts of the show is the depth it gives to the parts of the League of Legends setting that the game could never explore. This includes adding depth to characters like Jayce and Viktor, and giving the viewer time to truly connect with the two.
It will be interesting to see how Esoteric influences future traditions; Jayce and Viktor spend time on screen Legends of Runeterraof the Path of Champions campaign into a narrative comic, and that could continue with future Riot stories. After having watched Esoteric, and watching people speculate and dream on Twitter, I certainly hope so.