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, Tier 1 should be treated as the S Tier. The two decks inhabiting it, Aphelios-TF and Fizz-TF, are miles ahead of the rest of the field. It seems as if they will dominate the ladder until the next expansion is released in a few weeks’ time. This means we’re about to see some cheeky counterplay take shape in the meta, so strap yourselves in for the wild ride, whichever side you choose to take.
Speaking of counterplay, our deck spotlight features a close look at the deck spearheading that movement: Teemo-Ezreal.
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
For the first week in our snapshot, Aphelios-TF is busting down the door and taking the #1 spot. Despite not having a refined list of 40 cards, this deck already seems to be a true juggernaut, which can only be taken down by a potential nerf.
Powered by two of the best champions in the game and The Veiled Temple, this deck can find multiple win conditions and will control the pace of a game from start to finish. The deck took inspiration from the Bilgewater package of Fizz-TF, the best deck from last week, and is seemingly impossible to exhaust in a resource war.
Aphelios is the main engine in the deck and the main reason behind its flexibility. The landmark takes care of tempo, giving you more mana than your opponent while buffing your units. Twisted Fate comes in as the last piece of the puzzle, helping either in a defensive role with the Red or Gold cards, or providing some more cycle with the Blue one.
While it isn’t as important to evolve TF as in Fizz-TF, the attention that Aphelios draws to him and the edge the landmark builds over time makes TF look less threatening to your opponent, giving you more time to level him up to devastating effect.
The deck is brand new and potential counters are still to be discovered (Teemo-Ezreal is looking like the best option right now, alongside very aggressive decks), this archetype is everywhere on the ladder featuring a crazy 22% playrate and looks locked in as the top deck of the current meta.
Demacia lost its beloved Plaza and tons of popularity in the process, but Fiora is still standing strong representing the region. Alongside her best friend Shen, the deck has once again found a way to stay one of the top decks in the meta.
The nerf to Hush was great news for the deck, and even though the card still finds its way in most of the Targon decks on our snapshot, its 3 mana cost still helps Fiora-Shen in that it demands more mana from the opponent to answer a possible barrier or Sharpsight.
Another great thing from the patch is the return of slower decks like Anivia or Go Hard for example, which are giving the Ionia region some hope to shine, as Nopeify! and Deny return as good tech choices again.
While the deck relies on the same old concepts, like the ability to control trades via the Challenger tag or using Single Combat and Concerted Strike, these are what make the deck good in the current environment. Champions like Twisted Fate, Aphelios, Zoe and Ezreal all have a game plan which focuses on survival and abuse of their passive abilities, which Demacia can deny by forcing them into combat.
This simple ability to remove the important pieces of our opponent’s game plan is enough to keep the deck relevant as of now. And even though Fiora isn’t winning so many games anymore, her presence is enough to enable the other units in the deck to pressure our opponent and force them into playing a game we’re very good at: trading.
With a favorable matchup into Fizz-TF, the return of SI decks and the Challenger tag being one of the best keywords against Targon, this deck still looks to be a popular one on ladder or during a tournament, and should please all the players looking to fight with stats more than synergies.
When the new Powder Pandemonium card got released, a lot of us out there thought that the Plunder archetype was finally getting some help. What better to make it work than include it in a deck that specializes in dealing steady damage all through the game: Gangplank and Miss Fortune.
The problem in the current meta is that Aphelios and Targon in general are great at dealing with pure damage decks and the classic GP-MF builds run out of cards before they can close the game. To help with this problem, this build is running Darius as a finisher and only has 1 copy of Gangplank and 2 copies of Miss Fortune, who feels incredibly weak on her return to a deck that cannot attack twice per turn after spending some time in the Scouts archetype.
This deck focuses on triggering Plunder effects, even if it isn’t in the optimal approach sometimes, and forcing our opponent into playing defensively. With 2 Powder Pandemoniums, a leveled-up Gangplank and 3 copies of Darius, you have sufficient ammunition to close out if we manage to deal enough damage in the early game.
The current meta has decks that either cannot heal (PnZ, Noxus) or have limited defensive options (Ionia, Targon) to answer our late game threats, so as long as we don’t run into too many SI decks, we should be able to develop enough pressure to destroy the opposing Nexus.
However, the deck isn’t very flexible. It has to focus on the continuous output of damage, which is basically the sole game plan until we reach the point where one of 3 finishers can close the deal. At this point, we can start being a bit more flexible to buy time to draw into them and make our opponent guess on the different ways we could finish the game.
Just like in almost every meta, Tahm-Soraka is an unpopular deck that can rise to a great matchup spread. The two S Tier deck both Play Mind Meld and Elusive minions, which can be a nightmare for the deck, but Aphelios-TF isn’t capable of pressuring in the same way Fizz-TF does, so its arrival is a good thing for this archetype overall.
Another good point for the deck is the nerf of Plaza and the reduction in popularity of Ezreal-Draven, meaning that landmark removal isn’t so common at the moment. While Go Hard or Anivia could be running The Ruination, a very difficult AoE to play around with the deck, the Noxus region isn’t popular, meaning cards like Noxian Guillotine or Scorched Earth aren’t around to punish our damaged big units.
As such, the main strategy of the deck is the same as it’s always been, to simply build a huge board and abuse Star Spring to win the game. This now has a higher chance of succeeding compared to the pre-patch situation.
While most top tier decks have a potential that surpasses the one of Tahm-Soraka when everything goes right, it’s undeniable that Star Spring is a good landmark and the high health count of both Soraka and Tahm Kench makes them very difficult to kill, forcing most decks into a race to the Nexus.
Considering the impact of Aphelios on the current meta and the fact that direct damage isn’t popular outside of Ezreal-Teemo, this deck might have a way to find its place to shine. Although having the Targon/Bilgewater combination of regions is a really bad thing when you have to compare yourself to Aphelios-TF in terms of strength come tournament time, Tahm and Soraka’s unique defensive combination might be one of the decks on the rise in the next few weeks.
Welcome to our deck spotlight for this week, brought to you by Crixuz. We thought it was worthwhile to take an in-depth look at Teemo-Ezreal above and beyond our entry in the above tier list, as it has some David and Goliath-style potential against the super powerful S Tier decks. The reason that this deck is currently being treated as an anti-meta pick against Aphelios-TF and Fizz-TF is that both of these want to draw multiple cards per turn - Puffcaps punish them for doing this.
Against Aphelios-TF, if you draw Teemo and Ezreal in your opening hand, it’s a pretty easy road to victory. Aphelios-TF doesn’t have the ability to answer Elusive units in the first 3 turns before Zap Sprayfin comes down. By this time, it might be too late. Using Hush to block your Teemo and Ezreal in the early game kills their tempo, and that’s if they actually manage to kill your champions. The reality is that with all the combat tricks at your disposal, Hush alone isn’t going to be enough.
However, if you don’t draw your champions in the early game (especially Teemo), things can get rough. Your engine relies on Puffcap Peddler, though he’s really not a unit you’re looking to play too early because it gets countered by Aphelios’ Calibrum. Hence, if your hand consists of Puffcap Peddler and 3 spells in the early game, Teemo-Ezreal cannot truly counter Aphelios-TF in any meaningful way.
One way to reduce the negative effect of Calibrum is to play Peddler only when you can protect him or generate instant value. For the first scenario, this means keeping two mana open for a Troll Chant to put him outside the range of Calibrum. You may also consider Elixir of Iron as a really good tech choice. It’s cheap, protects your key units, and synergises well with Peddler in planting mushrooms.
The second option is to have an Iterative Improvement ready. Aphelios-TF has a difficult time killing a 4/4 unit. For the second scenario, you can reap immediate value from Puffcap Peddler with the Peddler followed by two burst speed Mushroom Clouds, yielding a total of 16 mushrooms.
In essence, Teemo-Ezreal is a solid counter to Aphelios-TF when it draws its champions to deny Calibrum. Without champions, look to keep your Puffcap Peddler engine alive with combat tricks and Iterative Improvements.
The preceding paragraph makes Teemo-Ezreal seem like a linear deck that needs to draw Teemo and Ezreal in the early game. To a certain extent, the deck performs well if Teemo is drawn and survives. But it can still thrive without him. The problem is that Calibrum is follower-conditional removal, which means that your follower gameplan will get countered. As such, you’re forced to play your champions as much as possible.
Against Fizz-TF, this deck becomes much more flexible, as it can do well even without an early Teemo or Ezreal.