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.
Now that the dust has started to settle after the expansion, we can bring you a more definitive list of decks and a decent analysis of them. For the most part, the decks that were strong before the expansion have remained at the top, the most prominent of which is (of course) Fizz-TF.
However, we’re still in the early stages of the meta development, so new contenders may be waiting in the wings for their time to shine. For example, Lissandra-Trundle, is already making a name for itself. With some balance changes, we might end up with a fresher situation in a couple of weeks.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord. Best of luck on your climb!
Editing: Wusubi, Sebodunum, Crixuz
Writers: Den, Ultraman, Othal
The first ever 5 stars in our snapshot had to go to the strongest deck in the history of the game. If I’d told you 2 months ago that Fizz would be part of the best deck we have ever seen, you’d have laughed at me. Yet, here we are. Fizz-TF is crazily unbalanced, being able to cheat the mana system, level-up TF in one turn, make an untargetable Fizz a big 4/4 and never run out of options thanks to the high amount of drawing abilities.
That being said, let’s review the possibilities we have to counter that annoying fish and the card dealer. The Box, Withering Wail, Ice Shard, Avalanche, Blighted Ravine and even Death Lotus! So many options to stop the fish from crushing your Nexus. Wait, what are you saying? Wiggly Burblefish cost nothing? While all the AoE costs mana?!
So they can force the removal out by pushing the boundaries with Fizz-TF as they level-up, the Ballistic Bot eroding your Nexus, then use the Burblefish to kill you in one turn, as you don’t have enough mana to defend yourself?
Well, forget everything I said prior. Play defensively, don’t ever use mana, and if you have to, pray to whatever you believe in that your opponent doesn’t have all of the Burblefish and ways to duplicate them. Slow spells won’t help you if the opponent knows how to play, fast spells can’t deal with the 4/2 Burblefish if you don’t have multiple copies of them.
Your opponent will be able to use up to 6 mana a turn while you’ll be stuck not using 8 to 10 of yours (if your deck even has the required answers). So how to beat Fizz-TF? Be patient and wait until the opponent makes a mistake that you can finally punish. If they don’t make mistakes, they’re going to win the game, and there’s nothing you can do about it. (Write-up by Ultraman)
Lissandra offers a new win condition to the classic control SI/Freljord - Watcher, an enormous 17 mana card that will obliterate your opponent’s deck upon attack! Naturally, it has some stringent conditions to achieve before you can utilize it - you need to play an 8+ mana card 4 times in order to reduce its mana cost to 0.
Spectral Matron is a nice way to cheat out this card as an Ephemeral version, while also giving you two 8+ mana card summons. In this way, you can play Watcher with Matron as soon as it comes into our hand, while reducing the original one’s cost to zero! If your opponent is able to answer the first Watcher, how will they deal with the second one?
If the deck’s only weapon was 8+ mana monsters, you’d probably never reach that stage. Thankfully, the deck packs a myriad of AoE spells to ensure it has the ability to survive until then. Blighted Ravine, Avalanche, Ice Shard and Withering Wail will handle that pesky board until the big boys awaken and crush your opponent’s Nexus.
Add a bit of healing and an incredibly flexible card in Three Sisters and you’ve got yourself a decent mix that’ll be able to handle most of what is on show in the current meta. However, don’t forget that control Shadow Isles can easily be countered, as even if the list and win cons change, one thing, one thing never changes. War never... Actually, Ionia is pretty peaceful, but they can still Deny any attempt at playing the game that SI/Freljord might have! (Write-up by Ultraman)
Every meta has a damage-based deck that punishes anyone who forgets to play in the early game. In the Shurima patch, that deck is Azir Burn. With a straightforward game plan and a Slay-based explosive start, it’s capable of dealing a ton of damage very early before attempting to finish off with direct damage.
However, the deck isn’t just a one-trick pony. It excels at punishing decks that would leave it alone and it’s great at keeping a high damage flow for a long period of time, making significant healing the only reliable option against it.
The small units in the deck are what make it flexible, as they deal damage early and later on help blocking the opponent while we drain their Nexus with Doombeast, Phantom Prankster and the many cards we have to support them. Crucially, these two cards will help deal direct damage even if the board is lost and our attack turns are worthless.
Given the high amount of draw the deck is packing, trying to outlast it like most decks attempt to do against Aggro strategies isn’t the best way to go about it. While the deck should lose some potential over time, it’s already facing erosion in the meta due to the increasing prevalence of healing (e.g. Aphelios decks, Fiora-Shen and Lissandra-Trundle all have some form of it).
Tier 2 decks can still be pounced on and outpaced as more board-centric decks should give us enough time to set up enough damage to close out the game before they can kill us with their units. The gameplay of this archetype might take a little bit of time to grasp, as the general concept isn’t to deal as much damage as possible, but try to put your opponent to 0.
This is more subtle a nuance than it might appear. If you go for the maximum damage output each turn, you also become very predictable for your opponent, who can focus on solely defending and wait for you to draw until they can be more aggressive. Instead, try to keep a regular damage flow and go for the kill when you’re sure it will actually result in a win.
That patience aspect is what makes the deck really scary, as the opponent will usually assume a defensive stance against you, giving you the time you need to set up properly and plan ahead for even more potential damage. Once you have this mastered, you’re ready to be a real terror on the ladder. (Write-up by den)
This is a slower version, with multiple control tools layered around a powerful core of drawing mechanics and Thresh. With so many removals, Thresh will level-up rapidly, allowing you to “let the dogs out” as soon as Turn 7 most of the time!
The removals also help with stacking Nasus, making him grow big and strong enough that your opponents will struggle to find answers for him. Your low mana minions can handle early game aggression while also serving as tokens for the suicide mission. This allows you to keep a full hand with many options while also activating some cards, such as Black Spear.
If some of your low mana minions are on the board when Thresh comes in play, they’ll now act in a triple role of a) keeping the opponent in check while pressuring them with damage, b) Thresh stops them from using AoE and trades to get rid of them and c) at the same time, they get used one by one for drawing purposes.
Finally, a decent-sized Nasus hitting anything will often result in him leveling-up, and that Spellshield obviously works wonders with Atrocity, allowing you to occasionally hit lethal out of nowhere. This is especially strong given that you now have access to Rite of Negation. (Write-up by Ultraman)
The addition of Shurima has seen the Ascended enter the fray, and a literal world-ending creature in the shape of Watcher has emerged from the ice of Freljord. So why is it that Fizz-TF and Aphelios decks continue dominating the ladder?
First, let us state the obvious: Shurima was only released less than 2 weeks ago, and the meta has yet to fully adapt to it. Players are experimenting with the new cards, trying new formulas and refining their creations. Even Lissandra-Trundle is still seeing new adaptations and ways to be played.
On the other hand, Fizz-TF and Aphelios-Zoe were already top tier decks last month. These lists are optimized and players have experience playing them, so having them interact with a less refined field only makes them appear much better in comparison. We’re already seeing some new builds getting to the top, though. Given time, some of these might dethrone the winrate of the older decks.
But saying that it’s just a matter of perspective and freshness of the game would be erroneous. Shurima as a region is heavily combat-focused: Renekton is an Overwhelm machine, Nasus is Fearsome, Azir’s, Sivir’s and Taliyah’s abilities proc during the attack turn, with all of them being quite ineffective when you don’t have the attack token.
And there lies the difference with champions like Aphelios and TF, or even with Lissandra, which is the highest placed amongst the new champs: Shurima needs to attack to create value, these champions don’t.
Aphelios or TF don’t need to act directly and get in harm’s way in order to proc their Moon Weapon or Blue, Red and Gold card, and will even do it during your opponent’s turn. They represent a threat that cannot be ignored when you don’t have the attack token, which adds to the psychological pressure on your opponent.
This is enhanced by Zoe and Fizz respectively, who are the 1-cost terrors that put a timer in their opponent’s mind: they know leaving them on board will pose a threat later, but removing them costs more than they do and will always represent a loss of tempo and value.
That’s something you should never underestimate when playing these decks: the sheer amount of value you will gain by simply playing your champions and having your opponent try and remove them before they become too big of a threat.
Yes, you understood me perfectly - you won’t have to do anything with these champions to outvalue your opponent! Take that, Renekton and Nasus. While playing Fizz-TF and Aphelios-Zoe, you will be outpacing the competition by sheer value and tempo. What else do you need? (Write-up by Othal)