Riot’s Netflix series Arcane is a surprisingly great video game adaptation, and a breakout success. It focuses on two sisters and their disrupted bond, set against an uprising from the undercity of Zaun against the gilded elite of Piltover.
Jinx and Vi are the focal points of the series, and two of the most popular champions from League of Legends, so it makes sense that they’ve gotten the majority of the spotlight. But the show also does a lot to highlight 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 closest character the setting has to a superhero. He’s a genius crafter who is well-liked by everyone around him. He’s dashing, handsome, and wields a massive technological hammer that can seamlessly swap between a melee weapon and a ranged arcane plasma cannon.
His contrast is Viktor, who in League of Legends has ascended into being a full-on machine man. There’s very little of him left that’s biological, 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 flesh to become a glorious machine — which, honestly, big mood — and he’s not willing to let people hold him back out of fear and mistrust.
In League lore, these two are former friends, and they’re posed as enemies. Viktor looks like the bad guy at first glance, but it turns out he has relatable motives and is actually quite kind about his mission. Jayce is arrogant, difficult to be around, and reckless.
It’s a dynamic that’s never really had a chance to manifest in any meaningful way, beyond fans reading the champion biographies on the official League website. But when these characters show up in Arcane, we finally get to see their origin stories and dig deeper into their relationship. Jayce is just a little guy, starting out. He doesn’t have his big hammer or the love of his city; in fact, he very nearly succumbs to despair. We also get to see a very different Viktor who is a frail young man, using a cane to get around.
Arcane does a lot to frame these characters sympathetically. Jayce, for instance, ends up doing some terrible things in his dream of progress, and backstabs a few friends. But at the same time, viewers understand where this pressure comes from in seeing how Piltover, the City of Progress, works. Viktor, who comes from Zaun, starts as an outsider. When his health begins to fail, he begins to look for desperate solutions to avoid death.
Arcane gives depth and backstory to these beloved characters who’d never had time in the spotlight. These two characters start 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 her explosions, their story is a well-depicted character drama that highlights two champions who never got much narrative love from Riot.
Of course, because this pair finally have lots of time to interact, fans are already starting to explore the relationship between the two. The ship is called Jayvik, and it has all of the elements of a good ship: chemistry, drama, betrayal, high stakes, and nice boys.
There’s a lot to like about Arcane, but one of the best parts of the show is how much depth it gives to parts of the League of Legends setting that the game could never explore. That includes adding depth to characters like Jayce and Viktor, and giving the viewer time to really connect with both of them.
It’ll be interesting to see how Arcane influences future lore; Jayce and Viktor get some screen time in Legends of Runeterra’s Path of Champions campaign in a narrative comic, and that may continue with future Riot stories. After watching Arcane, and watching people speculate and dream on Twitter, I certainly hope so.