Five years after turning four of its characters into a pretend K-Pop group, League of Legends has a boy band now. The six-man group is called Heartsteel, and it features “re-imagined” versions of the LoL characters Ezreal, Kayn, Aphelios, Yone, K’Sante, and Sett.
“Heartsteel is a group of dynamic daredevils dedicated to unapologetic individuality and creative expression,” Riot said in a press release so over-the-top I can’t help but quote it directly. “Their mission is to blaze a path to success on their own terms. The group’s personality and sound draws inspiration from modern music collectives, and a range of influences from across genres and eras, culminating in a bold, one-of-a-kind identity.”
I respect the commitment to the bit, which is strong enough that each member—none of whom actually exist, remember, this is basically Jem and the Holograms for the new millennium—has a specific role within the band.
I suppose that’s not terribly uncommon for this sort of thing: Most cartoons have some sort of “leader/sexpot/brain/substance abuse guy/talking dog” hierarchy going on. Even so, it lands a little weird seeing it all laid out in such black-and-white terms.
Here’s the roster, along with the real-life performers who will give them voice:
- Ezrael (vocalist): Baekhyun, a member of the real-world K-Pop groups EXO and SuperM, and one of the top vocalists in the genre with nine million-selling records to his name.
- Kayn (rapper, instrumentalist): Cal Scruby, an LA-based rapper known for his sports references and self-deprecating humor who has previously partnered with brands including the NFL, EA Sports, and Ciroc Vodka.
- K’Sante (co-leader, vocalist): Tobi Lou, a “multi-talented artist” born in Nigeria and raised in Chicago, who fuses hip-hop, R&B, and pop with “undeniable melodies.”
- Sett (co-leader rapper): 0ZI, a star on the Mandarin music scene whose debut album earned six nominations at the Golden Melody Awards, where he also claimed the award for Best New Artist.
And a couple who I guess are more the strong, silent types:
- Aphelios (instrumentalist, songwriter)
- Yone (producer)
Heartsteel will drop its debut single Paranoia on October 23, and I have to admit that I’m eager to see what comes of it. I was very skeptical about K/DA, the pretend K-Pop group that Riot rolled out back in 2018, but its first single, backed by a stylish animated video, was a legit banger. Will Heartsteel duplicate that success? If I had to put money on it right now I’d definitely go with “probably not,” but based on the precedent established by K/DA I’m willing to keep an open mind.
K/DA and Heartsteel aren’t the only bands that don’t really exist composed of League of Legends characters: There’s also Pentakill, a virutal metal band that actually preceded K/DA, and True Damage, a hip hop ground that debuted in 2019. Frankly, neither of them did much for me.
Pop/Stars is still a banger, though.