Why is Zaun So Polluted?

Why is Zaun So Polluted?

The world of League of Legends is a well-written, thorough, and outright fantastic place–home to dozens of regions, cities, factions, and incredible characters dwelling in each. One of the more popular regions of Runterra are the dual cities of Piltover and Zaun. League’s take on cyberpunk, steampunk, and any other punk genre, these two cities are some of the most interesting locations we’ve ever encountered in a video game world.

The duality of these two cities helps us answer the question of this article, which we will explore in detail, so make sure to read until the end to get the full picture. The answer might seem simple, but it wouldn’t be an article if we didn’t provide all the necessary bits of lore. This world is full of things to explore and learn and we’d be damned if we didn’t use this opportunity to do so.

Key takeaways:

  • A look at Piltover and Zaun.
  • How the two develop in tandem, yet in opposite ways.
  • A whole ton of lore and storytelling from Runterra.
  • And more!

Let’s go!

Piltover and Zaun–The Yin and Yang of Runterra

Runterra is, as we’ve said, home to all kinds of different locations. Riot tried to cram in as many genres as possible into their world, which is a daring feat in and of itself. Thematic variance in the degree that Runterra has rarely produces anything of note, but Riot seems to have outdone everyone in the market.

Piltover is located on and controls a major strait. It is one of the most important trade ports, which helped them amass incredible wealth and power. They ventured into developing all kinds of technologies, becoming the futuristic hextech kingdom it is today. Zaun and Piltover were once one and the same, but are now separate city states. However, Piltover functions as a de-facto ruler over Zaun and its wealth helps Zaun sustainably develop despite its inhospitable geographic location. Without Piltover, Zaun would likely fall into ruin due to how polluted, unfavorable, and unforgiving its circumstances are. The city lies at the bottom of a canyon surrounding Piltover, and not even light manages to shine deep enough to touch it.

Zaun. As Above… Not As Much Below

Zaun is an undercity, meaning it lies at the bottom of a vast metropolis that enjoys massive wealth and power. Piltover frequently sends in its toughest police forces to guard the streets of Zaun, in a way exercising their power over them. However, Zaun maintains a level of independence through its thriving black markets, chem technology, and anarchical society.

Whatever is prohibited in the city above, it finds a new home in the criminal underworld of Zaun. The city’s chem barons dominate the city’s economy and criminals prowl the streets, of which some had met fates worse than death. Many Champions come from these streets, most of them benevolent beings just scraping by. Some, however, are the most vile and brutal individuals in the world of Runterra. This duality between honest but ill-fated people, and genuinely evil minds makes Zaun a particularly interesting place to explore. Piltover tries and continuously fails, to establish order in Zaun, and it seems like freeing the city is impossible.

Pollution in ZaunPollution in Zaun

Zaun is a place of incessant industrial development, and the home of the most volatile technologies in the world of Runterra. The so-called chemtech is an unstable, dangerous, and destructive technology that significantly influences Zaun. This rapid industrialization and unrestricted technological development leave Zaun in a perpetual cloud of pollution, and not even light is able to pierce through.

Nevertheless, Zaunite citizens live their lives as normal as they can, mostly relying on Piltover’s occasional aid. The city’s industrial complex has given birth to some of the most brilliant, if insane, scientific minds. Characters like Viktor can be considered genius, but their modus operandi isn’t exactly what you’d call ethical.

There is a lot to be told about the people and characters of Zaun, and the philosophical implications make the city all the more interesting.


Zaun is the underbelly of Piltover. The place where every bit of trash and smog trickles down from the futuristic empire above. It is the cesspool; the melting point of criminal industrial complexes that shroud the town in perpetual smog and chemtech clouds. Pollution is an unsolvable problem that will continue so long as the chem barons maintain their grasp on the undercity, and that doesn’t seem like it will end any time soon.

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