Games publisher Riot Games has continued its expansion into music by announcing a new League of Legends-inspired virtual boy group called HEARTSTEEL.
HEARTSTEEL will consist of six virtual members, four of whom will be voiced by artists Baekhyun, ØZI, Tobi Lou and Cal Scruby. All members will portray versions of League of Legends champions.
Riot Games has described the group as a band that will take influences across different genres and eras to create a “one-of-a-kind” identity. The group will release its debut single, called PARANOIA, on October 23rd.
HEARTSTEEL will consist of Ezreal (performed by Baekhyun), Sett (performed by ØZI), Tobi Lou K’Sante (performed by Tobi Lou) and Kayn (performed by Cal Scruby). League of Legends characters Yone and Aphelios will also be members of the group, however, it has not been announced if the duo will vocally appear in songs. Instead, Yone has been listed as the group’s ‘producer’ with Aphelios named as its ‘instrumentalist and songwriter’.
The new group joins a growing list of virtual groups that Riot Games has launched over the years. Notably, the company announced a female group called K/DA in 2018, which featured (G)I-DLE members Soyeon and Miyeon, as well as Madison Beer and Jaira Burns. Riot Games’ other musical projects have included virtual metal band Pentakill and another virtual group called True Damage.
One of the most popular members of Riot Games’ new group is Baekhyun, who is the lead singer of global K-pop group EXO. Joining the K-pop artist is Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter ØZI.
Cal Scruby is a Los Angeles-based rapper who may already be familiar with some League of Legends fans. The rapper has previously collaborated with Riot Games for All Stars 2022 anthem Run It. HEARTSTEEL’s final member is Tobi Lou, a hip-hop, R&B and pop artist who was born in Nigeria and raised in Chicago.
Speaking on the new group, Maria Egan, Global Head of Music & Events at Riot Games Entertainment, commented: “Riot’s virtual artists have been some of the most innovative and beloved music moments for our players.
“The idea of an all-male band has long been speculated on by fans and we’re so excited to bring this fantasy to life. HEARTSTEEL is a deep collaboration between all our talented in-house creative teams and some incredible new artists. The ethos of HEARTSTEEL is a supergroup of musical soulmates greater than the sum of its parts – a philosophy that our community embodies every day through their dedication to our games.”
The debut of the group comes during an incredibly busy period for League of Legends in esports. The game is currently in the midst of its 2023 World Championships, taking place in South Korea. The anthem for this year’s international event was sung by rising K-pop group NewJeans.