Among all of the decisions that went into creating League of Legends' newest champion, Ornn, one unlikely question was being considered: Tusks or horns?
The debate likely isn't the first one that players would expect to hear about when considering all the gameplay and design choices that make up a champion, but it was definitely one that was being as heated as Ornn's blacksmithing equipment. During Ornn's creation, the team that worked on the champion went back and forth on whether or not the Freljordian demigod should have powerful tusks or curling horns to round out his character.
An initial goal for Ornn could be reached with either version of the champion, a direction that Riot Bananaband1t describes as "a powerful, animalistic demigod from the Freljord who makes shit and is connected to volcanoes." Ornn definitely achieves that visualization with his resulting form, but he didn't always look the way that he does now.
"Perhaps the most heated element of Ornn's design was whether he should have tusks or horns," Riot Bananaband1t said about the champion's early designs. "In the beginning, Ornn had walrus-like tusks, which was fitting—walruses feel powerful and aggressive without being evil. But with walrus tusks, it looked like Ornn might be more of an ocean dude than a mountain one."
From the concept art that was included with the discussion, seen above, it certainly does make Ornn look much more like an aquatic-themed champion than one that goes around spewing out flames. The Rioter said that another idea was to make him more of a wooly mammoth, but the large, curved tusks wouldn't be too practical for hammer-swinging.
As they explored more ideas, ram horns made more and more sense, personifying the blacksmith identity of Ornn through his horns and his gameplay even further.
"Ram horns started to really seem like the way to go," Bananaband1t continued. "For one, rams live on mountains, and Ornn lives in a mountain (close enough). Rams like to slam their head into things, and blacksmiths like to slam their hammers into things. Plus, Ornn now had an in-game ability inspired by the ram concept art, where he'd charge at enemies and smash them into terrain. In a strange way, Ornn's ram horns became the hammer and the wall became the anvil… and the champion trapped in between became the malleable metal."
Given Ornn's ram-like identity and his ultimate that calls upon an elemental ram, it's interesting to consider what else might've changed if he had taken after a different animal. A ram was the final version direction chosen, though, and it seems to fit the champion well.