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TFT Set 11 welcomes Kobuko, the ‘chonky lad’ Yordle unit Dot Esports

Riot Games has unveiled a brand-new unit crafted exclusively for Teamfight Tactics. Meet Kokubo, the “piggy bank” Yordle that grows until he becomes a “chonky lad,” as the TFT team described him. He joins the ranks of other 60 units in Set 11, Inkborn Fables, arriving with Patch 14.6.

This marks a unique milestone for the TFT team as it’s the first time they’ve had the opportunity to create a unit entirely from scratch without borrowing from other Riot Games IPs like League of Legends or Arcane. Kobuko was created with the idea of a tanky Yordle, designed to safeguard your backline while gradually growing in size throughout the game.

Kobuko in TFT
Easy money. Image via Riot Games

He is a one-cost Fortune unit and a Magic Tank who boasts a true piggy bank-like passive; the more interest the player accumulates, the more HP Kokubo gains. If a player acquires him in stage two and begins playing the Fortune trait to generate more interest, they’ll see Kokubo become a “chonky lad” by the time they have him in stage four, as said by the TFT team during the preview event for Set 11.

The decision for Kokubo’s passive ability was made early on, with the team aiming for a sort of “piggy-bank unit” concept where putting money into him results in the unit growing larger over time. During early stages of Set 11’s creation, the TFT team emphasized the desire for the returning Fortune trait to be “cute.” The vision was to have Fortune units resemble adorable spirits bringing luck to players, akin to the popular lucky-cat spirits found in Japanese culture.

But, when looking at previous iterations and champions featured in the past Fortune trait, it was apparent that a new unit was needed. A decision was then made between creating a new Fortune-like skin for a League champion or creating a new character from scratch, as previous champions used as the Fortune tank unit were being used in other traits like Tahm Kench returning as a Mythic Bruiser in Set 11.    

Kobuko stands on the far right of a player board in Teamfight Tactics.
Play Kobuko in TFT Set 11, Inkborn Fables. Screenshot by Dot Esports

The TFT team delved into the character creation process, considering aspects like Kobuko’s personality, his lore in Runeterra, voice lines, and appearance—which brought a refreshing challenge and excitement to the team, according to TFT game designer Michael Sloan.

TFT product owner Winston Baker also shed light on the evolution of the game and its journey from using League characters to creating unique ones for the game. He emphasized that, initially, TFT benefited greatly from borrowing characters from League. However, as the team honed their skills and deepened their understanding of “what makes the game enjoyable,” they realized the need for characters with “diverse shapes and sizes” that could enhance the TFT experience for all its players.

While each unit must look and feel like it belongs to TFT, the Runeterra universe has expanded so much that just by looking at Legends of Runeterra or Riot Forge’s latest title, Bandle Tale, plenty of tanky-shaped Yordles come up. Picking from the existing pool of large and strong Yordles for the new TFT unit would have consolidated Riot’s commitment to create a shared canon lore for all its existing IPs. But as Baker explained, the TFT team checked out other Yordles that could have taken Kobuko’s role, but none quite fit the vision they were going for. 

“I spoke to Riot Forge [but] we just didn’t have the production timeline lined up for us to take any of the characters they were working on,” Baker said. “So, rather than creating some dependencies we let them create their characters and we created some of our own.”

Born from the creative endeavors of the TFT team, Kobuko, the chonky Yordle, brings a refreshing diversity to the TFT universe. Players can spot and field Kobuko in Set 11, set to make its debut in Patch 14.6 this month.

Cecilia Ciocchetti

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