Welcome to TLG’s latest meta snapshot for Legends of Runeterra, a series in which we give you our insight on the finest decks in the higher ranks of the ladder.
Every Monday, we discuss the decks that are part of the week’s meta 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.
This week, we see the ripple effect of the Pack Your Bags nerf wash over the snapshot, with Targon being a clear favorite outside of Ezreal-Draven. While this affected Go Hard’s situation, as with any OP deck being nerfed, other archetypes are crawling out of their hiding places to join the party once more (e.g. Ashe-Sejuani), while others have become even better now that they don’t have to worry about packing their bags so often.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord. Best of luck on your climb!
Editing: Crixuz, Den, Wusubi, Sebodunum, Ultraman
EU Consultants: CastMin, Dartill, Kuvira, Pespscola, Zezetel
NA Consultants: RattlingBones, RiceFT, Saucekay, Zenaton
Still able to survive against board-centric decks thanks to a flurry of reactive spells, Ezreal-Draven is currently the strongest deck in terms of denying the opponent a chance to develop their strategy. When looking at the current meta, we can see that most decks are working on building a game plan more than answering the one their opponent has. As a result, Ezreal-Draven takes the throne for the time being.
Whether it’s Scouts, Lee Sin or even Fiora-Shen, these decks cannot function if they cannot build tempo, which Ezreal-Draven excels at destroying - both in the early and the mid game. What’s more, with the draw potential the deck features, it can keep up with pretty much anything for a solid 9-10 turns, up to the point where Captain Farron crashes the party. (Write-up by Den)
Rating change: +0.5 stars
Thanks to the Go Hard nerf, Ezreal-Draven has lost its worst matchup. Currently, no deck on ladder is capable of countering it. The only deck that could counter Ezreal-Draven, Feel The Rush, is heavily suppressed by the abundance of Zoe-Lee decks.
Ezreal-Draven doesn’t feature a power card like The Grand Plaza, meaning its raw power level isn’t necessarily the highest in the current meta. Despite this, the archetype can pride itself on having some of the best answers in the game with Scorched Earth for The Grand Plaza, tons of removals for Lee Sin (Noxian Guillotine, Tri-Beam Improbulator, Ravenous Flock), Scouts and other board-centric decks which are very popular on the ladder currently.
Zoe-Lee is the new take on the Lee Targon deck. Zoe is here for board presence. This might sound counterintuitive, but she does generate cheap units or stuns every time she strikes the enemy Nexus. This gives you a better matchup into decks like Plaza or Demacia in general. The rest of the deck is like older versions of Lee Sin.
Some notable cards are Pale Cascade, Guiding Touch and Deep Meditation for cycle, Zenith Blade to give Lee Overwhelm or to give extra health to Zoe or Tasty Faefolk. A copy of Sunblessed Vigor fulfils a similar effect to Zenith Blade, Mentor of the Stones and Mountain Goat are used for Gem generation and Concussive Palm for more board presence.
Deny and Nopeify! can interact with the opponent’s spells and finally Eye of the Dragon and Sparklefly will offer you even more board presence and sustain. (Write-up by Pespscola)
Additional notes: Zoe-Lee lost one of its most awkward matchups, Go Hard, thus solidifying its position as one of the strongest decks on the ladder.
Lee Sin is also transitioning to a situation in which two copies of Deny (as opposed to three) is the norm, freeing up space for an additional Bastion or two. When used preemptively, Bastion helps against Burst speed answers such as Hush and Flash Freeze, further improving Lee Sin’s winrate on those fronts (i.e. against Zoe-ASol and Ashe-Sejuani).
Replacing Leona-ASol in the meta, Zoe-ASol is one of the most consistent decks around. There are a lot of variations out there, but the key here is that you have lots of different options in each stage of the game. In the early game, you pile on the pressure with Zoe and are able to fend off your opponent pretty consistently.
In the mid game, with the assistance of The Grand Plaza, your units can trade very effectively or, at the very least, transition you healthily into the late game. It goes without saying at this point, but the late game is quite easy to win using Invokes along with a flipped Zoe or ASol. (Write-up by RattlingBones)
Additional notes: So, why has Zoe replaced Leona in the deck? Zoe is versatile and performs multiple functions. First of all, Zoe is removal bait. Your opponent has to respect Zoe for the value she can generate. Thus, she demands to be answered, allowing your other and later threats to be more likely to stick.
Secondly, Zoe by herself can perform the same job as Leona and all her Solari followers. When playing Leona, your deck has an inbuilt curve. T1 Solari Soldier, T2 Solari Shieldbearer, T3 Solari Priestess (and you may not want to play on curve every time).
Zoe, on the other hand, allows you to create your own curve. Need a Turn 2 play? Let’s find something with Supercool Starchart. Need a Turn 3 play? Supercool Starchart. If Zoe connects one or two times, your board presence is much stronger than usual.
The only drawback is sometimes the deck performs a little worse compared to Leona if you don’t draw Zoe in the early game.
Although it might appear that The Grand Plaza is best utilized as a defensive card in decks like Leona-ASol, it can also act as a key card in more aggressive decks. For Scouts, the landmark helps with early to mid game board presence and with setting up your snowball effects in the late game. The synergy with the Scout keyword is unsurprisingly a great one here, as once Plaza is on the board, almost all minions will have the combination of Scout, Challenger and +1/+1, allowing them to attack twice while buffed and with the ability to choose their target.
An important limiting factor to this list is that it has a unilateral nature. This means that it only operates one way - in this case, through board presence. Moreover, Scouts are unreliable when The Grand Plaza isn’t drawn early. Similarly to the Ephemeral Lucian-Hecarim deck, failing to find Plaza is a death knell to your chances of winning. (Write-up by Den)
Fiora-Shen is in a bad spot right now, as 3 out of the 4 top decks currently can answer the board very effectively. Ezreal-Draven is a killing machine and having double or triple copies of Hush is a staple in Zoe-Lee and Zoe-Asol. The last of those 4 is Scouts, and here the matchup heavily swings depending on whether the opponent finds The Grand Plaza early or not.
As such, it should be seen as a comfort pick, since the deck will need a deep understanding of how it functions to be able to be consistent in the current meta. For those reasons, we decided to provide 3 lists for the archetype to fit everyone’s liking.
The first list (from Pespscola) is built towards protecting your minions, hence the inclusion of Pix! which acts as a 1-drop you will use in the future to buff something like Fiora or Laurent Chevalier to generate more value. Following the same logic, the deck also includes 4 barrier spells.
The second list (from CastMin) is more tempo-oriented, but keeps the idea of protecting your key minions once they’re in play. The deck switches to a more aggressive approach once online on the board and uses Tianna Crownguard or Relentless Pursuit to close out the game. Nopeify! is still included in the list, as the card helps in the Ezreal-Draven matchup.
The third list (from Den) offers a board-centric approach, focusing on picking your trades and controlling the overall initiative. The deck doesn’t try to heavily protect Fiora and Shen, but still uses them as the core of the deck.
Genevieve Elmheart replaces Cithria the Bold, as with Scout and Challenger she allows for an open attack and a targeted trade, all while not committing resources into the turn before your opponent has to make a choice. Den managed to defeat a board with two leveled Lee Sins in TLG’s Clash of Champions in this manner, so it can work! This kind of a setup usually helps a lot in board-centric matchups.
While the other builds are running ways to Rally, this iteration doesn’t. This is because it tries to create a situation on the board, and once that’s achieved, the game is over and Rally serves no other purpose than to speed up the process. (Write-up by Den)
Targon Allegiance has been an archetype since the release of Call of the Mountain. It has seen a lot of variants, but the one with the most recent success was Leona-Diana with an Atrocity splash. This deck is very similar to Leona-Diana, the major difference being Zoe replacing Leona. Why has that happened? Well, Leona became an easy cut thanks to Solari Sunforger.
Why is Zoe good? Zoe is a value engine that forces answers which, in most cases, trade down in mana. One Nexus Strike from Zoe is already very valuable, because your deck synergizes with your cards in such forms as the discount from Mountain Scryer, the discount on The Skies Descend and Zoe’s creation of Behold the Infinite (in her levelled form) to gain access to expensive Invoke spells and thereby make the apex Invoke units stronger when they’re summoned.
To give a short overview of the key cards: Mountain Scryer is the best value engine in the deck, The Skies Descend can give you the edge vs Midrange and Atrocity offers more reach. (Write-up by Pespscola)
Feel The Rush is a Freljord/SI control ramp deck. Its main win condition is to play Feel The Rush on T7 with the help of ramping tools like Wyrding Stones and Catalyst of Aeons. With the exception of Ionia lists, which have access to Deny, many decks find it very difficult to answer FTR’s huge tempo swing. Thus, if FTR resolves, the game is usually over. Atrocity is another crucial card, as it can help you to end the game one turn after FTR is played.
One important skill when playing Feel The Rush is banking mana so that you can play it as early as possible, or to keep yourself open in order to have enough mana for board wipes. For example, it might not be a good idea to play anything on T1 and T2 so you can play an Avalanche with no downsides on T3-4. Of course, a lot of this is matchup-dependent, but (as usual) being able to plan ahead will be helpful to pilot this deck well.
If possible, try to level-up Trundle before you play FTR, so that you have two Overwhelm units with 10/10 statlines to attack with. Trundle with the Overwhelm keyword can often be the difference between losing and winning. Against Aggro, it might not be a good idea to focus on ramping. Instead, you want to mulligan in search of an Avalanche. (Write-up by Crixuz)
Rating change: -0.5 stars
Feel the Rush’s rating always takes a hit when Ionia is being played. With Zoe-Lee being potentially the second best deck in the meta right now, it can be detrimental to consider playing FTR. However, if your local meta isn’t infested with Lee Sin, FTR could be a solid pick, seeing that it’s powerful against the best deck, Ezreal-Draven.
Discard Aggro is a swarm deck that wants to play a lot of units in order to slam a huge Crowd Favorite. A big aspect of playing this is knowing when and how to discard cards. Especially when you’re in a pinch, Draven’s Spinning Axes are a reliable way to be able to Discard something for free.
To be a good Discard Aggro player, it’s crucial to focus on your win condition rather than focusing on cards that don’t advance your game plan. The perfect example would be discarding Jinx with your Spinning Axes so that you can play Vision for free.
Jinx won’t be relevant in every game, especially if you can kill the opponent with your board in 2 turns, so this is something to take into consideration. Too often I see people not closing games because they want to play Jinx when really Jinx is pulling you into a different (and worse) game plan. (Write-up by Crixuz)
Ashe-Sejuani was oppressed by Go Hard. As this deck is purely board-centric, Pack Your Bags completely ruined its game plan, making it highly inadvisable to play while Go Hard was popular. Now, Frostbite has returned to some relevance and playability, although it shouldn’t be thought of as a very good deck just yet, given its recent reappearance in the meta.
The Freeze mechanic is a great one currently, as both Lee Sin and Scouts are fairly weak against it. However, in both instances, Freezing doesn’t solve the problem, it just delays it and prolongs the game. This would be fine if the deck had any power cards to finish the game and punish the opponent. Sadly, with the exception of Captain Farron, this isn’t the case. As a result, despite this deck’s re-emergence, it’s still not in a particularly favorable environment yet.
Outside of Ezreal-Draven, which functions in a more reactive way than Ashe-Sejuani, every of the top decks in our snapshot has an “unfair” card that they can rely on. This deck doesn’t have such a card, and it pays the price for it. This may appear a facetious way of talking about such an issue, but it’s essentially accurate.
What The Grand Plaza does for Zoe-ASol can be considered unfair when compared to an archetype like Frostbite. Plaza decks being able to pick and choose how their units want to engage fundamentally frustrates everything that Ashe-Sejuani is trying to do: making their own favorable trades. For Ashe-Sejuani to be good, it needs one of these borderline “cheaty” cards to match other archetypes. (Write-up by Den)
The myriad methods of healing in this list pair nicely with your overall game plan: stalling. You want to stall and stall until either your opponent wears themselves out, or your Creates start generating threats to their Nexus. With a decent ability to prevent trades and sufficient early game pressure to survive aggression, you still have to rely on your early minions to suppress part of the opponent’s board pressure. If you lived through that, the healing abilities coupled with big minions from Starshaping will save you most of the time.
Karma is included because in her levelled form, she has always been a big threat in the late game. Here, though, she gives you the ability to get 10 healing for 5 mana (not counting the double Create), which can give you a lifeline in very desperate games. The frequent Creation of new cards makes up for the lack of card draw in this deck. (Write-up by Ultraman)
The cost increase to Pack Your Bags means that Zap Sprayfin can no longer draw it. It also precludes the possibility of playing Ledros into PYB. Zap Sprayfin not being able to find PYB is bad because if we take a matchup like Ezreal-Draven for example, the Ezreal-Draven player is going to have an extra turn now after the nerf to PYB, and that opens the opportunity for them to deal more damage to your Nexus.
Pack Your Bags’ new 5 mana cost benefits Ionia in that it can now be denied by the Ionia player without them suffering from a tempo loss in that exchange. It used to be that between Go Hard and Zoe-Lee, the matchup was slightly favoured for Go Hard. Now, Lee Sin is clearly the more advantageous deck.
Go Hard is a matchup deck now. This means that it actively tries to tech cards in order to target certain matchups. For example, against board-centric decks, Go Hard will need to play The Ruination and Crumble for The Grand Plaza.
However, the problem when you have to start including too many tech cards is that it will have an impact on other matchups. On the ladder, you can’t decide what matchup you’re going to face. Let’s say you built Go Hard to tech against Scouts, but you face a lot of Lee Sin - your winrate is going to be terrible. As such, Go Hard looks like a deck that will slowly but surely disappear from the ladder. (Write-up by Den)
Fizz-Teemo is an Elusive Aggro deck that features some rarely played cards such as Rising Spell Force, Suit Up! and Mind Meld. If you’re looking for an interesting and fresh deck, then Fizz-Teemo is the deck for you. The plan is to play your Elusive units in the early game via Teemo, Poro Cannon or Fizz. Although their damage output at base level seems paltry at first, it multiplies when you draw a Suit Up! or two.
Another way to deal constant damage to your opponent is through Ballistic Bot. One of this deck’s weaknesses is that its units aren’t very sticky if you don’t draw Suit Up! To address this weakness, the deck includes a ton of card draw. There’s Pick a Card, Zap Sprayfin and Wiggly Burblefish to refill your hand and board.
Wiggly Burblefish in particular is very strong because you’re playing so many spells in each game that you should always get to play it for free. Never underestimate the work that an Elusive 3/1 can put in. If left unanswered, it represents 6 damage over two attack turns (all for a potential zero mana cost).
Lastly, the deck plays one copy of Mind Meld. Although not necessary for closing games, Mind Meld can truly cheat some wins for you. When you have the opportunity to play Mind Meld, all your units will become an Elusive 5/5 or 6/6 (depending on the number of cheap spells you’ve played), potentially making it an OTK card.
Therefore, Fizz-Teemo is a Burn deck that has multiple win conditions. To know which to use, you need to look at the matchup. You can slow-Burn your opponent with 2x Ballistic Bot, Iterative Improvement and Get Excited! You can win with a 4/4 Teemo, win by surviving + playing spells and finishing with Mind Meld or win by swarming your opponent with Poros. Against Ionia or decks that run Withering Wail, you should treat Mind Meld as discard fodder. (Write-up by Crixuz)
The Ephemeral keyword didn’t really have a home for a while. Although the whole mechanic has fairly efficient support cards (Fading Memories & Soul Shepherd) and also has several champions benefiting from it (Lucian, Kalista, Hecarim), it has never really clicked. With the introduction of The Grand Plaza, the time has come for the undead to come back as a solid archetype.
The problem with Ephemeral followers has always been their volatility, the keyword not allowing the player to establish a board presence from one turn to another and therefore falling behind in the mid game. Now that The Grand Plaza landmark allows the followers to get the Challenger tag, the Ephemeral tag isn’t so much of a problem and the deck can control the board until its Ephemeral synergy builds up and takes over the game.
With the looks of an aggressive deck trying to go all-in, the deck actually builds toward a huge Hecarim when the early game pressure doesn’t work; its strongest turns in this case are usually in the 5-8 range. If the opponent cannot keep up, then Lucian has all the support he needs to evolve, which allows you to attack multiple times. (Write-up by Den)