Welcome to TLG’s newest meta snapshot for Legends of Runeterra, a series in which we give you our insight on the most represented decks in the higher ranks of ladder.
Every Monday, we discuss the decks that are part of the week’s and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. We also look at the evolution of said decks’ ratings across weeks and draw conclusions regarding the current state of the game, all of this so you can delve into your own ranked journey with a head start.
The season is coming to an inevitable end, and people’s thirst for novelty is starting to get out of control. The ladder is once again turning into an experiment house, with very personal decks blooming all around at the same time as the spirit blossoms. Perhaps people are trying to squeeze every last bit of creativity there is to find in The Rising Tides, perhaps they have reached their goal for the season and decided to enjoy a little Summer break before the start of the next one.
To be fair, if you have only reached Masters recently, or if you didn’t feel like grinding before, it will be nearly impossible for you to reach the absurd amounts of LP that this season’s top players have amassed. Nevertheless, this meta snapshot is not only about Masters players. You still have time to climb up the divisions, and to that end, you’ll probably need something a little more “meta” to help.
We wanted to try out something new this week and split the snapshot between the EU and NA regions, to provide you with information as accurate as possible on 2 different servers; however, given that the real “meta” hasn’t evolved much since last week we decided to postpone this until the new expansion - right around the time when a new meta should be taking form. With that said, the NA and EU ratings were individually conducted and included within each deck to account for the differences between the two regions.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord. We will catch you next week for a new analysis.
Editing: ShadowplayRed, Minuano, Sebodunum
EU Consultants: Crixuz, Zezetel, Ultraman_CCG, Taytwo38, Dartill
NA Consultants: Daddys Home, RiceFT, NicMakesPlays, IPingUListen, Plzdonhakme, RattlingBones
Table of Contents
Ashe-Sejuani (EU: 4.5/NA: 4.5 stars)
Frostbite Midrange fights for the board using its minions and freeze effects, the latter working nicely with Culling Strike and Reckoning. Since most of your units will reach 5 power due to their natural stat line or buffs from Omen Hawk and Avarosan Hearthguard, the board clear will do more harm in the opposing ranks than in yours.
You also have the opportunity to draw a million cards with Trifarian Assessor, who will help you refill your hand in no time. In the late game, a leveled-up Ashe combined with some Frostbite effects will prevent the survivors from blocking, often giving you the win.
The deck has benefited heavily from the nerfs to every other meta contender and now stands in a very commanding lead. It has everything a Midrange deck could ask for: tall units that apply a lot of pressure, resist most removal cards, and serve as strong anti-unit tools, as well as a way to refill your hand in a pinch.
Before the patch, the Kato the Arm/Reckless Trifarian/Captain Farron version of this deck was played quite a lot. However, it would often lose in the mirror match against the more traditional variation of Frostbite Midrange. Now that the deck is both extremely strong and popular, the alternate build is disappearing, since it can’t afford to be unfavored against itself.
This deck has great matchups all across the board and is favored against Deep, which is the deck to beat at the moment. It is, however, unfavored against TF-Ezreal and it also struggles against the new cool kid in the meta: TF-Fizz
Bonus comment for NA: Teemo-Zed Elusives was also a hard matchup for Ashe-Sejuani, but it ended up disappearing quickly, which is one fewer bad matchup to worry about for the deck.
TF-Ezreal (EU: 4.25/NA: 4.25 stars)
TF-Ezreal is a tempo/combo deck that seeks to deal massive chip damage in the early to mid-game, mostly due to a wide board, and end the game with Riptide Rex and/or a leveled-up Ezreal. The addition of Zaunite Urchin provides the deck with excellent consistency, while cards like Twisted Fate and Black Market Merchant give the deck the versatility it needs to navigate trickier matchups.
In Patch 1.5, TF-Ezreal fell down to 3.5 stars as a result of the Pilfered Goods nerf (and the nerf to Black Market Merchant). To add insult to injury, the ever-rising popularity of Noxus Allegiance didn’t help it in these already trying times.
Fortunately, Patch 1.6 heralded a Midrange meta, giving TF-Ezreal enough breathing room to develop its win conditions. On top of this, the deck has long been known for being a great Midrange destroyer. It currently has very solid matchups and even recently benefited from the disappearance of Braum-Anivia. Still, facing Deep will be a challenge.
An interesting thing to note with the deck is that even though it has good matchups overall against most of the “meta”, it generally doesn’t do too well against the janky builds that many people are queuing with right now, which makes it a little risky to play as the ladder experience is a literal box of chocolates at the moment.
Deep (EU: 4.25/NA: 4 stars)
If you enjoy having explosive turns where you can jam tons of huge units, you should definitely play this deck! It aims to survive the early game with healing while working towards getting deep by tossing cards. Once you get there, you can stabilize the board with large Sea Monsters and put your opponent on the clock when Maokai levels-up. However, with great power comes great mana cost: Will of Ionia can prove to be a serious threat.
Rating changes: EU: Unchanged, NA: -0.25
Although the list is pretty much the same as it has always been, Sea Monsters have benefited from Patch 1.6. The nerfs to Will of Ionia and Shadow Assassin have reduced the number of Ionia decks on the ladder and with it the number of bad matchups that Deep has to face.
The deck has a decent matchup vs TF-Ezreal, but it has a hard time against Karma-Ezreal, Bannermen, and Ashe-Sejuani. In order to win these Midrange matchups, a well-timed The Ruination will be key.
Right now, Deep is in the best place it’s ever been. In addition to the very classic Shadow Isles version of the deck, several new lists replacing the region with Freljord or P&Z are appearing on the ladder. However, these variants don’t quite live up to the showcased version.
Swain-TF (EU: 4/NA: 4 stars)
Swain's threat levels are off the charts, forcing removals and terrifying your opponents at the mere thought of him hitting their Nexus once. With a large number of early game removal cards and the extra damage granted by the kegs, Swain will always be leveled up; what’s more, you'll have access to him thanks to The Leviathan - a fitting name for such a great card!
This deck is the exact opposite of TF-Ezreal. It doesn’t really have that many favorable matchups against “meta” decks, but it is extremely good at crushing the unrefined decks that populate the ladder currently.
Tempo Endure (EU: 4/NA: 4 stars)
Tempo Endure combines a great early game with a nearly unbeatable late game combo. Start off by swarming the board with your cheap units and apply pressure on your opponent with early powerful tempo plays revolving around Barkbeast, Cursed Keeper and a sacrifice enabler. During the mid game, keep up the pressure with Neverglade Collector and Kalista, who will both put in absolutely tremendous work.
If your opponent somehow manages to stabilize the board, jokes on them, as They Who Endure will finish the job for you.
Tempo Endure benefits a lot from the decrease in the number of bad matchups it has to deal with recently, especially the ones that used to pack Will of Ionia.
Although the deck is rated at 4 stars, its perceived power level is actually higher than its actual power level, as most people fall into the common trap of playing the matchup wrong. Indeed, certain decks such as Deep or Ashe-Sejuani can drastically improve their win rate against Endure simply by avoiding trading units at all costs, which often results in them losing against a giant They Who Endure.
Let Elise flood the board with useless spiders, save your removal for threats like Kalista and Neverglade collector, chump block with your weakest units and crush them in one turn.
Warning: this technique does not work with every single deck; the ones that need board control to damage their enemy (like TF-Ezreal) can’t afford to play this way, for example.
Bannermen (EU: 3.75/NA: 3.5 stars)
This deck embodies the concept of Midrange, dominating the early to mid-stages of the game and closing it out through sheer board presence. Cards with the Challenger keyword, alongside buffs, allow you to make favorable trades to win the early game. From there, the deck will snowball, quickly turning into an unstoppable force.
Rating change: EU: +0.25, NA: Unchanged
Ashe-Sejuani and TF-Ezreal are pretty tough matchups for this deck, but there are lots of other decks you can run into right now, against which Bannermen’s consistency will prove key. It is interesting to note that more traditional versions of Bannermen with Garen, Fiora, or even Zed are also starting to resurface.
[NA Only] MF-Sejuani (EU: --/NA: 3.5 stars)
Getting rid of Pilfered Goods was the right call, allowing this deck to capitalize on another way of winning: Vulnerability. This is a good overall Midrange list built on its ability to make excellent trades and to apply pressure with Miss Fortune.
Rating change: EU: --, NA: -0.25
Riptide Rex is a good card. It’s actually the only reason you would play this deck over Ashe-Sejuani. This list's play-rate seems to have severely diminished in EU but there are still remnants of MF-Sej in NA.
Karma-Ezreal (EU: 3.5/NA: 3.5 stars)
Karma-Ezreal is a combo/control deck that seeks to survive the early to mid-game with removal while fulfilling Ezreal’s level-up condition. It refills its hand with Rummage and Deep Meditation, which work particularly well when Karma has flipped. Support units like Eye of the Dragon generate chump blockers that can help you survive long enough to acquire all of the pieces you need to win.
Together on the board, leveled-up Karma and Ezreal can win the game at burst speed, not allowing the opponent to react.
In terms of classic control Ezreal decks, Karma-Ezreal is the last one standing, and it isn’t doing too well either. Although the meta is arguably slow enough for the deck to stabilize, it is also full of Bilgewater decks, which are notoriously effective against most types of Karma lists.
Moreover, Will of Ionia being weaker than before doesn’t help. This is because although the multiple stun effects the deck can often do a good job at delaying enemy onslaughts, they won’t generate tempo and card advantage like Will used to.
Thresh-Lux (EU: 3.5/NA: 3.25 stars)
Control the board with your multiple Final Sparks and generate more value than your opponent. On Turn 5, the deck can perform a neat combo to sustain: play Blinding Assault with spell mana, attack and trade, then play Radiant Guardian and attack again. If you don’t have the combo, Thresh is a good 5-drop. Lux, The Rekindler and the multiple spells the deck has in store offer you a perfect way to close out games.
Rating change: EU: +0.25/NA: Unchanged
This deck is pretty good against Aggro/Midrange decks, but it suffers a lot vs the Nab mechanic, as well as against heavily control-oriented decks and combo decks such as Karma-Ezreal.
Discard Aggro (EU: 3.25/NA: 3.25 stars)
Fast & Furious, this deck doesn’t have the time to play around. Throw away your whole hand and take advantage of the freebies on your Discard-oriented cards and hope for the best. With Draven as Dominic Toretto and Jinx as Leticia Ortiz, call your friends and start the race.
Brothers’ Bond and Vision will serve as the nitro in your engine: get some and you’ll power up your car(ds). With this deck, it’s hit or miss, so get ready for explosive wins and absolutely devastating defeats.
Discard is pretty much the only Aggro deck left in this meta and it’s not doing too well. You’ll need to rely on perfect hands to steal games before the opponent even gets a chance to react, so don’t expect too much consistency from this list.
Swain-Yasuo (EU: 3/NA: 3 stars)
Yasuo’s stuns allow you to make it to the late game, but Katarina's late-game viability is hindered by P&Z removal spells being used on her. Swain as a finisher is more reliable.
You can finish off opponents with The Leviathan + Swain combo, while during the mid-game Yasuo’s ability also fulfills Swain’s level up condition along the way.
This deck is catered to a Midrange meta and cuts Deny, as there really isn’t much to be countered lately. It fares very well against most unit-based decks, especially those for which removing Yasuo is a problem.
We have updated the list, using the one from Szychu, as Shadow Assassin really doesn’t cut it for the deck anymore.
Bonus deck: Fizz-TF
Elusive and buffs usually make for some great synergy, and this specific twist on the genre offers an alternative to the nerfed Ionia package. With Fizz and his bunch of cute fishies, you'll have access to strong, hard-to-kill elusive minions, and a reliable source of card draw and buffs.
The main problem lies in the fact that this will probably be the sole reliable aspect of this deck, as starting hands and top decks will have a crazy impact on their outcome, especially given that the buffs from Starlit Seer will be your primary win condition and buffing as Omen Hawk can be ... frustrating at times, to put it lightly.
There is the option to replace one copy of Twisted Fate with Sejuani, but this is the adjusted standard version from NicMakesPlays.
The deck can struggle a bit against Ashe-Sejuani but it is actually a very viable option to climb with at the moment. It also has a favorable matchup against most Bilgewater decks, as it naturally counters the cards played in these types of lists (Make it Rain, for example, gets entirely Denied by Fizz’s effect).
In the current meta, as Elusive is seeing a lot less play, the deck is actually a very viable option to climb with. It also has a favorable matchup against most Bilgewater decks, as it naturally counters the cards played in these types of lists (Make it Rain, for example, gets entirely Denied by Fizz’s effect).
Bonus deck: Harrowing Ezreal
Yet another Ezreal variant, our flexibility champ brings his combo about everywhere he goes! This time, do your best to get your hands on him early and let him die! The Shadow Isles know a thing or two about making good use of dead bodies, so just wait until The Rekindler and The Harrowing fill your board with leveled-up copies of Ezreal. Chump Whump gives you access to those extra tasty mushrooms to finish off your opponent with a deadly OTK!
This is another weird deck that has been popular lately. Turns out you don’t need Karma to OTK someone alongside Ezreal when you have 3 or more copies of the latter out at the same time. The list makes a very unintuitive use of the champion, but hey, as long as it works...
[NA Only] Bonus deck: Fiora-Shen
If you’re a fan of combat tricks, this is probably the deck for you. Fiora-Shen uses the power of barriers both before and during combat to keep its board alive, buffing it in the process thanks to Shen and Greenglade Caretaker.
Although the deck can sometimes push for lethal with an impressive amount of stats on its board, it can also easily end games thanks to Fiora. With all of the protection tools at your disposal, you can use her to kill enemy units without taking damage in return, which lets her reach her goal of 4 kills unimpeded.
As a very straightforward Midrange deck, the list has to include Deny to avoid board wipes. As several top streamers are achieving results in a tournament setting with this deck, it is gaining popularity on the ladder as well. However, it doesn’t really perform any better than a classic Bannermen list - in fact, we would rate it quite a bit below.