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.
To the community’s vast disappointment, there was no balance patch this week. Thus, not much has changed since our previous snapshot. Despite this, we’ve got a new spotlight by Ultraman on the raging battle for the best Midrange deck, as well as updated deck codes and write-ups that are concomitant with natural meta development.
Importantly, we’ve included Tier 4 this week, in order to discuss why some decks that are more prevalent at lower ranks tend to crumble at the highest level.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our Discord. Best of luck on your climb!
Editing: Wusubi, Sebodunum
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 card draw.
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-Trundle is one of the newcomers in the top tiers, and since the list is still being discussed, it has led to many hot takes about its cards and interactions. So, which variation is the best? A defensive version, or a combo one?
Although we call it “defensive,” most of the time it’s the inclusion of Commander Ledros and Atrocity that ends up preventing the addition of more combo tools, such as Fading Memories. In this variation, Spectral Matron is still played, but Ledros is only kept in as a secondary win condition, so as to not rely entirely on Watcher to obliterate the opponent’s deck.
More AoE, the possibility of accelerating the game and more healing added in the deck certainly makes it more stable, but less destructive. Not having the OTK combo into double Watcher means that the victory won’t be offered to you on a golden plate. Instead, you will have to take it bit by bit, wearing out your opponent until they lack the answer to Ledros, or until you’ve played enough 8+ cost units to finally use your Watcher.
The less stable approach drops some of the Ledros/Atrocity tools altogether, meaning there are fewer answers against Aggro opponents and no ramping at all. To compensate these losses, the combo version focuses entirely on playing Watcher as soon as possible, thanks to 3x Spectral Matron and 3x Fading Memories, as well as more 8+ mana cards.
These allow you to duplicate Trundle’s Pillar or Watcher, meaning that even if the opponent can answer the first two Watchers, you still have access to more. You can also duplicate Spectral Matron, as an easy way to level Lissandra in one go and to reduce the cost of Watcher to zero. The aim is to do this rapidly in order to overload the opponent’s capabilities.
This deck also utilizes Entreat, so as to avoid leaving drawing your crucial champions up to chance. Your win condition is way more complicated to set up, but it’s significantly more powerful as a result. That’s the strength of this version: against more control-oriented decks, it will force your opponent into situations from which they simply cannot emerge unscathed, almost guaranteeing a win even if your first couple of Watchers aren’t able to attack.
However, the combo variation will find facing Aggro decks rather tough sledding, as Fading Memories are pretty lacklustre in those matchups and the plethora of 8+ cost cards along with fewer AoE spells leaves you very vulnerable to being punished by Midrange decks, let alone hyper-aggressive ones.
Conclusion: For now, I will abstain from making a hot take myself. I think both versions have their own merits and should be used respectively based on your own playstyle and preference, also depending on what you tend to run into the most in your geographic region and at your rank.
Being defensive is great against aggressive decks, such as Azir Burn, Discard Aggro, Pirates and Fizz-TF, but the combo version is better for mirrors, Fiora-Shen, Lee Sin and Aphelios archetypes. Pick your (icy) poison! (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 early on 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 hit a surprise lethal. This is especially strong given that you now have access to Rite of Negation. (Write-up by Ultraman)
Despite being popular in the first few days of the expansion, Azir-Lucian has since lost a lot of momentum. When compared to the feared The Grand Plaza archetype that Miss Fortune and Quinn formed, it looks like this deck might follow the same route of the other Plaza deck: Lucian-Hecarim.
In a similar fashion to the deck we’re comparing it with, Azir-Lucian can bulldoze its way to victory, leaving no chance for your opponent who can only do so much against the army of cheap minions. Lucian and Azir are both perfect in the deck, making the various synergies stronger while gaining a direct advantage from it.
Lucian acts as the immediate threat that the opponent has to remove to prevent themselves getting overwhelmed with board pressure and multiple attacks each turn, while Azir is a long term investment, keeping the deck relevant as the game goes on.
But the downfall of Lucian-Hecarim came from its unilateral nature, being able to only produce pressure through the board and having limited ways to interact with the opponent outside of its attack turns. This leaves the deck with a very predictable game plan, and experienced opponents will know exactly how to punish you, if given the tools to do so.
While raw power can be a good thing, the current meta is dominated by very flexible decks. These can orientate the game to leverage a good position into a winning one. As good as Azir-Lucian is at what it does, the deck doesn’t give the pilot enough room to manoeuvre and thus isn’t flexible enough to be relied on at the highest ranks.
It gives the opponent a way out if they know how to approach the matchup, which makes it easier to punish the higher up the ranks you go. For those reasons, we can’t consider this deck to be a reliable pick to climb the ladder once past a certain point.
The deck performs quite well in the lower ranks, though, as players there don’t necessarily plan ahead of time and may not have mastered the fundamentals of the game. This is also true for the Azir-Hecarim deck, which is basically the other half of the split Lucian-Hecarim archetype from the previous meta. (Write-up by den)
The Shuriman Expansion Monster Truck Competition: Who Does It Best?! Participating in today’s showdown: Renekton-Sejuani, Renekton-Sivir, LeBlanc-Sivir and LeBlanc-Ashe!
Alright, let’s drop the act, all of those decks have exploitable weaknesses that almost everyone can, or should, see at first glance. They have no healing and almost no answers for the opponent’s plans, and thus suffer against Aggro. It’s a shared weakness, so they’re all equal in this, at least.
But who does what well, and who does it best? This is the question we’re asking today!
While Renekton-Sejuani and LeBlanc-Sivir have been popular since pretty much day one of the expansion, LeBlanc-Ashe and Renekton-Sivir are less played and not as popular. Renekton-Sejuani is the classic Overwhelm deck.
The most recent addition to renowned Overwhelm player RickoRex’s arsenal allows you to take advantage of Renekton’s ability synergizing with Sejuani’s one, while Ruin Runner gives you a Spellshield target for Battle Fury. Nothing is scarier than losing a card you invested 8 mana on, so that Spellshield is the main reason the deck exists in the first place!
That being said, Ruthless Predator, Exhaust and Rock Hopper all help the deck greatly, both as a way to deal with problematic cards (such as TF or Aphelios) but also as a way to deal the maximum damage.
Renekton-Sivir takes the same idea as Renekton-Sejuani, but adds another layer of Spellshield interaction, thanks to leveled-up Sivir, sacrificing Sejuani in the process. A bigger focus is put on buffing your units in order to benefit from Spellshields.
Sivir can also be a great tool for trading, but watch out as some buffs might just end up costing you your Sivir and will probably lose you the game. It’s a less aggressive, slightly slower version that will need to put emphasis on protecting those Overwhelm units, but it’s also one that will play around more answers that your opponent might have.
Go to horny jail guys, those ladies wouldn’t even notice you. That being said, their alliance is fragile, and anything, and I mean anything, could break it until there’s nothing left. The deck is potent if left unattended for a while, but the lack of Overwhelm and the lack of survivability tools such as Troll Chant make it less reliable than the two previous decks, all the while sharing the same weaknesses.
Bloody Business and Whirling Death at least gives you something to answer the opponent, while Whispered Words gives you another round of fighting chances, should your first hand aggression get answered.
If only you could stand your ground against Aggro, the deck would be great. Yet, the sad reality is that most of the time you will be dead at the end of the first phase, while the control and Midrange decks will usually have too strong of an advantage when you start planning the second phase.
LeBlanc-Sivir certainly has strong highroll potential, but it struggles to stand its ground against most decks and archetypes.
Similarly to LeBlanc-Sivir, LeBlanc-Ashe will try to push you hard in the early and mid game before relying on its card draw to refuel some stamina during the late game. Slower, but bulkier, this list shares with all the previous decks its lack of answers against aggression, although Reckoning might hurt a fish or two if they forget to respect the might of Noxus.
Trifarian Assessor and Whispered Words are your bread and butter for the late game, but stay vigilant, as the former relies on being able to keep a board alive in order to function, thus making you afraid of most hard removals such as Noxian Guillotine, The Ruination, Vengeance and so on.
You’re more resistant to AoE spells like Avalanche, Ice Shard and Blighted Ravine, but not invincible. Avarosan Hearthguard will, as always, be the key against the control-oriented matchups, but nowadays it struggles to grant you a considerable advantage when compared with The Veiled Temple or Aphelios and of course Watcher in the late game.
Most top tier decks will find a way to end the game before you outvalue them, while the more aggressive decks will just kill you before you start gaining in power.
While all four decks have similar weaknesses, their strengths are quite different. Maybe a build that would combine all of their strengths would prove strong enough to scare the top dogs, but, as of now, they all seem quite a bit behind that apex group.
That said, the Overwhelm archetypes seem to hold the crown here, as they’re able to close their games faster while retaining some bulk, allowing them to survive some removals and finish the game with a remaining Spellshield. (Write-up by Ultraman)