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.
Just like last week, Twisted Fate and Aphelios are looking to be the two dominant champions and are shaping the meta. Due to the slow speed with which they take over the board, many aggressive decks have come back. As such, we can see Discard Aggro being bumped in our ratings and GP-MF finally making it back to Tier 3.
As a bonus this week, we’d like to congratulate Ultraman’s clean run in the open rounds of the EU seasonal tournament, punching his ticket to Top 32. The deck spotlight will therefore be a glance at his line-up. With Den having won the first edition of this event, our snapshot team is still looking strong and ready to perform come next Sunday.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord. Best of luck on your climb!
Editing: Crixuz, Den, Sebodunum, Ultraman, Wusubi
Some time has passed and the combination of TF and Aphelios still looks to be a dominant one. Aggro decks have come back on the ladder, trying to punish those very synergistic decks that don’t pack sufficient defensive tools. Well, if Fizz-TF might have suffered a bit from that, Aphelios proves that his flexibility has no limits and the Moon Weapons are great at handling pressure, whether it’s on board or Nexus-focused.
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 of a couple of weeks ago, 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.
Aphelios and Zoe are the most splashed champions in the current meta, both being great tools to generate value and guide a deck into the late game. Naturally, a deck featuring both champions is a value machine that scales through the different stages of the game nicely using generating tools along the way. You get help from Mountain Scryer and The Veiled Temple, since both cards are able to generate a lot of tempo if they’re able to stay on the board.
While this deck looks like a Midrange one at first, it probably is the best late game enforcer if given the opportunity to do so. The idea is to force the opponent into a defensive position, so we can then abuse our Celestial generation and just make the problem get bigger and bigger. Atrocity is the finishing blow, often used on a Celestial unit with Spellshield, so the opponent can’t easily interact with it.
Aphelios replaced Diana in the build to further strengthen that feeling, and while Diana might be missed sometimes when we want to remove an important champion on the opposing side of the board, Calibrum has replaced her in that removal task and the other Moon Weapons offer much greater flexibility in different situations.
Because of the very fast and tempo-oriented state of the meta, this build looks to be most fragile one in Tier 2. The very Invoke-focused nature of the deck can get outpaced by other decks capable of setting-up their synergies faster.
It also doesn’t help that Aphelios-TF is capable of almost the same sustain ability, but with a better defensive package, making it a more all-around deck for ladder. In tournaments, though, this deck could find a lot of love from players, as it can be paired with Fizz-TF and represent a feared combination instead of bringing an Aphelios-TF that will likely get banned away.
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 beware of Hush.
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
Elise Burn is an aggressive deck with consistency as a hallmark of the list. You always want to play T1 Precious Pet into T2 Elise. This is true for about 99% of the time, regardless of matchups. You might believe that this is an easy deck to play, and you aren’t entirely wrong. However, as with many decks, the skill ceiling can be a lot higher than you imagine.
The deck wants to push for 5 damage by T2-3, then set up for a huge Frenzied Skitterer attack that can kill your opponent as early as T5. Any remaining damage can be finished off with your Burn damage, of which this deck has a plethora (Doombeast, Noxian Fervor, Decimate). The rest of this post will go through the intricacies of playing Elise Burn at high level.
What if you don’t draw some combination of Precious Pet, Elise and Frenzied Skitterer to set up for a Fearsome Spiders attack? Do you force yourself to play that Legion Grenadier or House Spider without the follow up? If you do that, you will find that you will have run out of cards by T6-7 and only almost killed your opponent before they managed to stabilize.
This is a decisive deck. The two rules to playing it is to always have some follow up play and to always ensure you decisively kill your opponent, so as to avoid these “almost” situations.
To do that, if you find that your draws aren’t good, it’s necessary to pass. Your opponent should expect you to attack every turn and pass to you first because they want to react rather than play proactively. For example, they’re thinking to themselves that they can cast Mystic Shot anytime, even during your attack, so why not wait for you to attack before casting it in case you play another more valuable target for Mystic Shot. If you pass cleverly multiple times, you find that suddenly you draw the damage you need to win the game.
The deck runs three copies of Brothers’ Bond. This seems unorthodox, but it’s powerful. The common misconception is to play Brothers’ Bond very late. For example, it’s a mistake to not keep Brothers’ Bond in the mulligan when you already have a T1 and T2 play. When you play Brothers’ Bond on T5 onwards, your opponent has the mana to react to it.
They could Hush it, Concussive Palm, or simply block it because they have units to block. But, if you play Brothers’ Bond on T3, maybe on an Elise, they’re likely to have no mana or units to block it.
Next, we have Fading Memories. This is an exercise in the Redundancy Theory in card games. The theory states that “if you have a good card, having more copies of it is a good thing, even if they’re less powerful versions of it.”
For example, if having Decimate is good, then having Aftershock is also good. What this means for Elise Burn is that you will use Fading Memories to copy your high impact followers - Doombeast, Imperial Demolitionist and Frenzied Skitterer.
In summary, always mull for your Precious Pet and Elise, play Brothers’ Bond early if you can or think about how you can play Brothers’ Bond with little to no chance of it being answered, pass when your hand doesn’t allow you to kill the opponent in the near future so that you draw and see more cards. And, lastly, learn how to play Fading Memories properly. (Write-up by Crixuz)
This week, we will feature three decks in our spotlight, as our very own Ultraman went undefeated in the seasonal open rounds, punching his ticket to the Top 32! Here’s his line-up and a bit of his thought process behind it.
The main idea of my line-up was to soft-target Fiora-Shen and Aphelios-TF. I expected to encounter many of those; the latter for being the strongest deck in the history of the game and the former for being a stability pick, loved by many tournament players for its good matchup spread.
I knew not many people would consider Ezreal-Draven as a threat, given it was nerfed not too long ago, and I doubted people would bring a heavy control SI line-up into such a large field, as they might run into Ionia line-ups, especially given that Fizz-TF is such a hard deck to counter.
It sounded easier for everybody to simply ban TF in general, be it Fizz-TF or Aphelios-TF, than to build line-ups to counter those specifically. I went with decent decks that I liked. Fizz-TF was my first lock-in, as I knew I could play well with it. Ezreal-Draven joined this, as I found it to be a counter to both the decks I was targeting.
My last pick, Karma-Aphelios, was actually a first time for me. It seemed like the deck could beat Fiora-Shen and most Aphelios lists while also not having to worry about the Fizz-TF matchup, as it was already a ban target for me from the beginning.
Abusing The Veiled Temple with Karma and duplicating high cost spells would be a big issue for Aphelios-TF. In theory. I could only test this out in practice if I actually added Temple to my list, which I somehow forgot to do. All I can say is: “never punished.”
TF was a problem, but it was great into Aphelios-Zoe and Aphelios-Viktor, both decks I had to face during the tournament. I also seemed to disagree heavily with my opponents on ban strategies, as my Fizz-TF gathered quite a lot of bans against unfavored line-ups, meaning my opponents were afraid of the deck’s power level despite the great matchup they had against Fizz.
In all honesty, I would have banned differently than my opponents did in all five rounds, which surprised me. I ended up having way more bans than I’d have expected onto Fizz-TF and Karma-Aphelios, while everybody underestimated Ezreal-Draven, which ended up doing great in the tourney. In summary, never underestimate the nerfed decks! (Write-up by Ultraman)