Riot has announced Nunu’s update, becoming “Nunu and Willump,” with new visuals, voice-over, abilities, art, and lore. These buddies hail from the Freljord, venturing through Runeterra to search for Nunu’s lost mother with imagination and friendship. Previously a wild yeti, Willump has been Appa-fied to become a furry, friendly companion to a younger Nunu.
The Gameplay Update
More importantly, Nunu and Willump are bringing a shiny, updated kit to the Rift. Their Q, Consume, remains similar to the original. Willump chomps a monster for true damage, but can also target enemy champions for magic damage. Their ultimate, Absolute Zero, is also pretty much unchanged. The duo channels a large area-of-effect storm that slows and explodes in a large circle around them. Riot added a shield to help them survive through the channel.
Nunu and Willump’s W, E, and passive are different. Biggest Snowball Fight Ever!, their W, involves Willump building and pushing an accelerating, growing snowball that they can release or hold, and knocking any hit enemies into the air. Snowball Barrage, their E, allows Nunu to throw three sets of three snowballs that slow enemies. Enemies hit are also marked as “Snowbound,” which will root them when the ability finishes. Nunu and Willump’s passive is similar to old Nunu’s Bloodboil: damage to monsters, turrets, or champions increases their attack and movement speed, as well as one nearby ally.
Potential Impact on Pro Play
Nunu & Willump have serious potential to see professional play, based on this updated kit. Previously, Nunu served as a niche pick at the top level. Players only picked The Yeti Rider as a strong counter-jungler to starve the opponent, as well as controlling major neutral objectives. He felt like a non-interactive option, simply avoiding the enemy, taking all of their unattended jungle camps, and acting as a secondary “Smite” for dragons, Rift Herald, and Baron. Nunu brought virtually nothing to teamfights or sieging, which usually out-weighed his jungle utility.
Now, Nunu and Willump have much more usefulness outside of farming and killing Baron. The Boy and his Yeti gained some fighting, sieging, and ganking elements to round out their strengths.
Consume and Absolute Zero
Players can target enemy champions with Consume now, which works similar to Trundle’s Chomp (without the slow or damage sap). This change prevents Nunu and Willump from only having three abilities during duels and fights.
Absolute Zero is lightly modified, too, granting a shield to Nunu and Willump during the channel. Hiding in a brush to burst someone or guarding a monster pit is still a powerful part of their identity. They simply have some survivability during the ultimate.
Biggest Snowball Fight Ever!
Nunu’s pre-level-six gank was limited to running, hitting a single enemy with an Ice Blast for the slow, and hoping allies could do enough damage. Now, Nunu and Willump can roll a snowball down the river, or a lane, and knock up several enemies. This ability works like Aurelion Sol’s Starsurge, except a second cast sends the ball rolling without Willump pushing. The goal is to run down several enemies into an area-of-effect crowd control. Nunu and Willump’s gank is much stronger now, making running into fights a much more effective option.
Taliyah’s Threaded Volley meets Braum’s Concussive Blows in Nunu and Willump’s E. Hitting enemies with all three snowballs slows them, which turns to a root if they cannot escape Willump’s proximity. They can hit up to three enemies with these effects, bringing some much-needed team fight power. Hitting priority targets and sticking on them allows Nunu and Willump to serve as a useful front-line.
Call of the Freljord
Nunu & Willump’s passive might be the biggest separator in their kit for professional play. Granting a nearby ally with increased attack and movement speed when attacking a monster, turret, or champion sounds strong in several instances. An early bottom lane gank is the most straightforward option. Nunu & Willump Best Snowball Fight Ever! into the lane, aiming for bot and support. They Consume one of targets, granting the speed buff to their ally bot laner. Slow and possibly root with Snowball Barrage, and at least one kill is secured.
The jungler could also help a laner tower dive, then push hard for the turret kill with Call of the Freljord. The passive also allows Kalista, Azir, and other hyper-carries to rush down Baron with the increased attack speed. If the gold funneling meta ever returns, Nunu & Willump would still be an excellent option as roaming support. Based on their kit, Nunu & Willump could be a standard bottom lane support, as well.