The music industry has seen a variety of “boy bands” or “boy groups” over the years, from the classic Jackson 5 and Backstreet Boys, to NSYNC, One Direction and the K-pop powerhouses EXO and BTS. It’s common for all members of these groups to share the spotlight, often by singing and dancing together on stage.
However, the perception of what a boy band should be is being challenged and redefined with the emergence of a new virtual group from League of Legends, Heartsteel. The band consists of six champions—Ezreal, K’Sante, Kayn, Sett, Yone, and Aphelios—but only four of them are front and center on stage, which begs the question of where the other two are.
ONE Esports talked to Stephanie Leung, the Product Lead for LoL Personalization at Riot Games, and Lead Concept Artist Thomas Randby, about the intriguing roles of Yone and Aphelios in the band Heartsteel.
Why don’t Heartsteel members Yone and Aphelios sing or dance?
The unconventional roles of Yone and Aphelios in Heartsteel arise from the band being a newcomer in the musical realm. Being a newly established band they don’t have the same resources as established bands like K/DA in the Riot Games Music universe. Consequently, Riot Games implemented unique roles within the band to address these challenges.
“The roles of Aphelios and Yone in the band are a result of these limitations. They are crucial to the creation of music and music videos despite their absence on stage,” Stephanie revealed in a special interview with ONE Esports.
Aphelios, who is mute in the official game lore, takes on the responsibilities of an instrumentalist and songwriter, while Yone, who is portrayed as a disciplined champion, serves as a producer. He ensures the smooth operation of the band, managing everything from video shoots to efficient Discord meetings.
It’s worth noting that Yone isn’t the only producer in the Riot Games Music universe, as Yasuo, a character from the mixed-gender virtual group, True Damage, plays a similar role.
In the opinion of Riot Games, these roles are ideally suited to the individual personalities and backgrounds of these characters in League of Legends.
“Deciding how to incorporate each champion into their role within the game and within the musical group leads to engaging discussions. Our selection of champions is very intentional in the context of the music universe, as music is much more than singing,” Thomas expressed.
Heartsteel includes a cast of real-life musicians, such as American rapper Cal Scruby portraying Kayn, Korean singer Baekhyun from EXO and SuperM embodying Ezreal, Nigerian-American musician Tobi Lou as K’Sante, and Taiwanese artiste Ozi performing as Sett.
This quartet made their performance debut with the song “Paranoia” on November 19 at the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2023) finals held at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea.
Heartsteel is Riot Games’ first all-male virtual band, joining the ranks of other virtual groups like K/DA, True Damage, and Pentakill.
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READ MORE: Heartsteel Ezreal has a unique twist, and it’s all thanks to EXO’s Baekhyun