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.
Last week, we saw the emergence of Fizz-TF as a serious contender for the top spot - this week, it has claimed the throne. Apart from that shuffling amongst the top tier, nothing has changed. So, we decided to introduce a new “Deck Spotlight” section in order to give one of our players the opportunity to discuss one of the less powerful decks in greater detail and explain how the deck can be adapted to perform better.
To kick things off, Den will be spotlighting Fiora-Shen, a deck with which he isn’t only an expert, but also an EU champion! We hope you enjoy it, please let us know what you think and how we could improve it.
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: IPingUListen, RattlingBones, RiceFT, Zenaton
After many nerfs, Bilgewater only retains one true identity: drawing cards. With many cheap tricks, you can enjoy the possibility of playing Aggro without ever running out of cards to play! Although drawing costs you tempo, you’ll be able to compensate for it thanks to Wiggly Burblefish and its rapid descent to 0 mana cost thanks to all the spells you’re able to play.
At the same time as you’re reducing the cost of your Burblefish, you’re leveling-up Fizz and thus preparing your win conditions. These involve using multiple Elusives for maximum damage and/or trying to set-up a powerful Mind Meld. Handling this many high strength Elusive units will be quite the challenge for your opponent… As long as they don’t have The Ruination or Deny.
Despite all this, the biggest threat is the man often described as the best champion in the game: Twisted Fate. Drawing is good for cycling your deck and ensuring you maintain board pressure, but a leveled-up TF is what you really want from all this draw, as this is (almost) an instant win scenario. This deck allows the player a positively rapid level-up with cards such as Rummage (draw 2 for 1 mana) and Pick a Card.
It’s possible to level TF in one turn, which should terrify your opponent. Try to surprise the opponent, or tire their answers out until you get that sweet turn of freedom to plan a powerful Elusive attack! (Write-up by Ultraman1996)
Additional notes: The main reason that this deck has emerged so forcefully into the meta this week is that it heavily counters Targon, a region that’s all over the ladder. You draw cards so quickly that TF will level-up instantly in some cases, giving Targon little to no time to find an answer. The fact that Targon can’t effectively deal with TF is another boon to this archetype.
Another lesser reason is that it has the ability to resist other common archetypes, such as Scouts or Ezreal-Draven. It punishes misplays, while forcing the opponent to play around tons of damage for no mana (Burblefish). If the opponent commits their mana to something like The Ruination to clear the board, they’ll lose half their health without any ability to answer the threat. You’ll have some mana banked thanks to your 0-cost units, but they won’t have any mana left after using the board clear.
In this way, Fizz-TF is an Aggro deck that doesn’t run out of steam - it can push up to 13 damage for 2 mana. The deck is strong enough that it’ll still be able to outplay some matchups even against decks full of AoE removals, built specifically with the idea of countering it. Traditional AoE decks are currently rather weak in the meta (e.g. FTR, Anivia, Deep) and, as we outlined above, they aren’t good counters to Fizz-TF anyway.
As such, there’s considerable room for the deck to dominate the ladder in the near future. There probably is a counter out there in the longer term, but in the shorter term, the deck will force the meta to adapt, which could put an end to Targon’s dominion.
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)
Additional notes: It’s worth mentioning that some players have also started running one copy of Vi in their Ezreal-Draven deck, removing one Ezreal to make room for the Piltover Enforcer. While this looks like a test more than anything else for now, it’s an indication that some players might be looking to innovate with the list in an attempt to adapt to the changing meta.
Vi is one of the best Midrange threats, as the Challenger tag is very valuable at the moment. We could imagine that the spells the deck usually relies on might need a bit of help for dealing with some difficult threats, such as Fizz.
Rating change: -0.25 stars
As a Tier 1 deck gets more popular, players are starting to understand how to outplay the deck. This trend is pervasive; if you’re the best deck in the game, then people will come for you either by learning how to play around your cards or by playing a deck that does well against you.
However, the trend of the best deck being less good after it has been around for a while doesn’t always hold true. For example, it may not be possible to outplay a deck like Go Hard before the nerfs due to its sheer strength.
The popularity of Fizz-TF, while not a direct counter, also hurts Ezreal-Draven’s winrate because the matchup isn’t an easy one.
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 inclusions are Pale Cascade, Guiding Touch and Deep Meditation for cycle, Zenith Blade to give Lee Overwhelm or to give extra health to Zoe. Mentor of the Stones and Mountain Goat are used for Gem generation and Concussive Palm will help you with maintaining 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. Lee Sin is transitioning to a situation where 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’s winrate on those fronts (i.e. against Zoe-ASol and Ashe-Sejuani). (Write-up by Pespscola)
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)
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.
Rating change: -0.25 stars
The popularization of Fizz-TF has hurt Zoe-ASol’s rating. The only Elusive unit that can block Fizz and his crew of Elusive buddies is Zoe, which is a unit that really doesn’t want to be blocking.
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 flipped form) to gain access to the lucrative 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)
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.
This week’s list tries to be more effective against the currently popular PnZ region with Ezreal-Draven being a top deck, some Teemo decks, Discard Aggro always being around and now the new terror that is Fizz-TF.
For those reasons, we can see the inclusion of Chain Vest in the deck, a cheap card that can help a lot in reducing the damage your minions will take from the multiple spells and small minions that the meta features. For 1 mana, the card accomplishes almost the same thing as a Riposte lately.
The rest of the deck is built around controlling the board, setting up good situations and never letting our opponent feel safe when trying to pressure you. (Write-up by Den)
Rating change: +0.25 stars
Although Fiora-Shen is heavily countered by Ezreal-Draven, the deck saw a rise in playrate and winrate as we anticipated, given its favorable matchup against the new sensation that is Fizz-TF.
While Go Hard is still very much a coherent and functioning list, it obviously suffered from the nerf to Pack Your Bags, which rendered its devastating AoE much more costly to utilize and consequently much harder to combo with other plays (namely, Commander Ledros).
Put simply, the response to this has been an exit for Ledros and an arrival of Wiggly Burblefish. You know what they say about what happens when you can’t beat them? You join the train of abusing the latest trend, 9 damage for 0 mana! Cheating the mana system to produce the same amount of pressure in one turn as prior to the nerf is a good way to make up for the lack of Burst now that Ledros can’t be played in the same turn as Pack Your Bags.
That 5 mana Pack Your Bags will suffer most against Ionia, as they’re now able to Deny the card without losing out on tempo. This may seem to have a negligible impact, but this interaction may very well end up losing you some games here and there.
On the other end of the spectrum, with the constantly growing population of 1-health minions breaking the game, Go Hard, Withering Wail and Twisted Fate gain a lot of utility and the deck is able to handle most aggressive lists based on that alone.
Outside of those situations, the deck plays as it did before, dealing damage in the early game, controlling the opposing minions and trying to win the game with direct damage from Doombeast and Pack Your Bags. The biggest difference is the Burblefish addition, giving you an extra Elusive Burst if your opponent fails to respect the threat. (Write-up by Ultraman1996)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Even with a Make It Rain nerf some patches ago, Gangplank isn’t willing to leave the meta without a fight. So he mustered his pirate brothers and sisters, co-opted his arch enemy (Miss Fortune) and is now trying to come back from the dead. How’s that for a newspaper headline?
It’s a very simple list, where you’re trying to curve out from the beginning of the game and consistently push damage on your opponent’s Nexus, so you bring it to a low amount of HP, which is ideal for a finishing touch with Decimate and Noxian Fervor. Being able to push damage turn by turn often proves useful, since you can apply the final blow with a leveled-up Gangplank; just watch out for Hush.
If you need to shift to value damage mid to late game, instead of being able to push it through a solid board, Jack, the Winner and Captain Farron are glad to lend you a hand. Sleep with the Fishes is an infinite value engine, as long as you can stack a few units on the board, and the 3x Decimate from Farron is a nightmare for any opponent without healing. (Write-up by CastMin)
The above prescription may include the following side-effects:
- Not attacking without Crackshot Corsair, unless your opponents have other threats they need to deal with
- Treating MF as an over-the-top damage dealer and not caring about her dying or not leveling
- Using Legion Grenadier to get additional procs for Gangplank on the defensive turns
- Baiting your opponent into using mana before killing them with a Noxian Fervor they can’t answer
- Taking full hits like a maniac and not blocking, so you have a board to apply more pressure and win the game
- Compulsive crying when queuing into any Targon list
At its core, Teemo-Ezreal is a Teemo or Poison Puffcap-focused deck. You want to mulligan for Teemo and Puffcap Peddler to get your engine going. The deck deliberately plays cheap spells, allowing you to maximize your Puffcap generation.
Every Freljord-PnZ deck ultimately needs to solve the problem of limited card draw. Previously, this mainly came in the form of Statikk Shock or Progress Day! The introduction of Hexcore Foundry, however, has meant that the region pair has a new way to avoid running out of steam. Yet, given Foundry’s bilateral effect, timing its use is important.
Many players play Foundry in early turns, as a way to improve their bricked hands. This is usually a bad play, as you’ll allow the opponent to advance further. Rather, aim to play Foundry when the opponent has a hefty amount of Puffcaps in their deck or when you get to a certain turning point.
The turning point can be recognized by asking “If I play Hexcore Foundry now, and both players each draw one additional card per turn, who’s more punished by it? Is the advantage that my opponent gains from drawing one additional card much greater than the advantage I gain?”
This analysis will depend on the natural strength of the cards they can draw, the mana that they’ll have going into the next few turns (if their cards are all 10 mana and the game is at T5, you may safely play Foundry), the potential number of turns that they will destroy their Nexus from the extra card they draw (due to the Puffcaps), your health or ability to chump block, etc.
Basically, knowing when to play your Foundry is the toughest element of this deck. Whatever it is, the answer is nearly always not going to be Turn 3 and the landmark will mostly likely be played on Turn 5-8.
Teemo-Ezreal also has the ability to go faster or slower. It’s easy to understand how to go fast. Play Teemo on T1, Puffcap Peddler on T3, go face against an empty board and so forth. To go slow, you should understand that outside of Deep decks, no deck has the ability to remove Puffcaps. Knowing this, simply play a Puffcap Peddler (or two) and plan for the long game.
That means protecting Peddler, managing your opponent’s board so that it doesn’t go crazy, and not overextending (i.e. don’t empty your hand followed by playing Foundry early). Many decks don’t have a way to effectively deal with the Peddler.
If Challengers are a problem due to The Grand Plaza, you have Aftershock. Single Combat can be replied with Troll Chant, and this will be relevant as long as you don’t overextend with your attacks.
Attacking means that you might be forced to exhaust your Troll Chants, but you don’t want to do that sometimes. Keep your Peddler alive and “turtle” your way to 80 Puffcaps in your opponent’s deck.
Lastly, the final component of the deck would be Ezreal. First, determine if Ezreal is ever coming out early. This will depend on, but isn’t limited to, whether the opponent can answer an early Ezreal, or if you need to answer Zoe. Next, Ezreal is often a great finisher for many decks.
For matchups that are going to be a little tighter, Ezreal will be your saving grace. The deck levels Ezreal easy; all of your spells target units and Icevale Archer is a 3 for 1 (it levels Ezreal, gives you an attacker or chump blocker and prevents your opponent from attacking for one turn). A leveled Ezreal in the late game can look at dealing 4-8 damage, which is very useful for closing the game. (Write-up by Crixuz)
You’ve played Zoe-ASol, Zoe-Diana and Leona-ASol. Now, get ready for the next Plaza deck that shows promise: Leona-Lux.
Fundamentally, the deck shares many similarities with other Plaza decks. It has the landmark, it requires you to Invoke often and it runs the Solari package. The difference is that Leona-Lux plays 2x Moonlight Affliction and swaps ASol for Lux.
Moonlight Affliction, when played with Nightfall, silences and stops two enemy units from blocking. Combined with a flipped Leona, you can effectively Stun 3-4 enemy units before even passing the priority to your opponent.
This is of course the ultimate win condition of the deck. It can swing for 20 damage to your opponent’s Nexus in 1 turn due to Moonlight Affliction + Leona’s Stun ability to completely ignore your opponent’s board. Your opponent won’t enjoy this, as they can have the superior board presence with some big units to threaten you, but one good turn is all you need to win.
Lux is in the deck to manage the opponent’s board. The deck wants to use 5-cost spells like Concerted Strike and Starshaping anyway, so Lux being on the board generates a free Final Spark once you play 6+ mana worth of spells.
Like all Plaza Targon decks, Leona-Lux plays 3 copies of everybody’s favorite card, Hush. What makes this deck special, though, is that it has 7 ways of silencing units. The meta right now is reliant on keywords and stat buffs, so having this much access to silencing can really negate a lot of power from most decks. (Write-up by Crixuz)
This is a new section we’re trying for the future. Each week, we’ll highlight a deck that isn’t doing so great in the current meta, but still could have merits in some matchups if it receives help from specific tech cards. This week, Den will share his take on Fiora-Shen and how it plays against the current Targon and Piltover decks who should be bad matchups for the deck.
The meta is tilting towards a more aggressive, damage-focused approach with smaller minions but a lot of synergies. Fiora is a great champion right now, benefiting from all these small Elusive units with which she can trade easily. The list is built around protecting her for that reason.
As attack points aren’t as important at the moment, Spirit’s Refuge joins Riposte as a Barrier Burst card. Another card that feels good for trading and denying damage spells is Chain Vest, acting as a cheap reactive card to PnZ spells or Pale Cascade buffs.
Lastly, a card that has been doing great lately is Concussive Palm. This is because it allows the player to block an attack from an Elusive minion that they couldn’t block or simply save an ally from a trade we couldn’t otherwise avoid.
Genevieve Elmheart appears to be better than Cithria The Bold right now, as the Challenger tag helps in the Aggro matchups but can also help in killing Lee Sin in that particular engagement. Her +1/+1 buff allows you to use her in defensive situations to heal or protect our units and set-up an open Scout attack that doesn’t cost anything and can result in an important takedown. The end of the curve covers slower matchups, as Brightsteel Formation helps you in the late game battle.
We hope this section is informative and can help some of you understand better how to build your deck to fit the current meta. As we stated in the introduction, feel free to join our Discord and let us know your thoughts on this section and how we could improve it in the future.