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.
Nothing has changed this week, except for an incremental increase in the malaise caused by Azir-Irelia. We have updates for that list, if you choose to embrace the dark side, as well as for one of its counters in Dragons. Othal has also provided a spotlight discussing the state of the EU competitive scene in the run-up to another country-based Masters tournament.
We hope some good balance changes will reinvigorate the meta along with the mystery event arriving on the 19th May.
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
Thresh-Nasus remains one of the best archetypes as of now, despite the nerfs to Atrocity and Blighted Caretaker. The addition of Merciless Hunter helps dealing with threats earlier (e.g. Ezreal) and allows you to make value trades, as her presence usually requires two cards from your opponent to be handled.
The early tempo of Ravenous Butcher, Cursed Keeper, Blighted Caretaker and Dunekeeper is still unmatched, granting you a great opener with which you can transition into Thresh. If your opponent failed to answer the early pressure every turn, they’ll have to kill both your minions and Thresh. This will force them into poor choices, proactive plays and suboptimal removals that you’ll be able to punish with Glimpse Beyond, Black Spear, Vile Feast or Rite of Negation.
And even if the opponent manages to withstand the early storm, they’ll still have to deal with Nasus. Depending on the deck you’re facing, Nasus can prove an insurmountable threat or a juicy Hush target. Either way, though, his pressure is undeniable and Atrocity will still obliterate the opposing Nexus, even if it costs one more mana now.
Ezreal-Draven especially struggles to answer Nasus - the deck can’t destroy him immediately, so he should be able to level-up and get Spellshield. Once this happens, you can kill them by responding to any spells thrown at you with Atrocity.
Thresh-Nasus also does quite well into Irelia builds, mainly by having access to a lot of early tempo, pressuring them while also taking advantage of the swarming Blade tokens playing directly into the hands of your champions. (Write-up by Ultraman)
Heavily favored vs Azir-Irelia
Favored vs Ezreal-Draven
Unfavored vs Dragons
Heavily unfavored vs TLC
Shyvana and her kin are trending, being able to answer Thresh-Nasus while retaining competitiveness against other popular decks, despite being statistically behind. Quite the conundrum, but fear not, all you have to do is replicate what the Top 10 players show you: play perfectly, and win. Simple recipe in theory, now for the practice...
This deck has ways of answering most opponents, but it requires you to anticipate most of their plays, as almost everything you do is heavy-handed in terms of mana and consequently doesn’t leave any room for error. One miscalculation can be the reason you won’t be able to use Concerted Strike on Turn 8, which can result in a threat getting through your blockers.
Blue Sentinel is strong at stopping the likes of Thresh-Nasus from attacking, as its potential to grant you a Shyvana on Turn 3 should be terrifying for the opponent. Your mid game is good, thanks to combat tricks such as Sharpsight, or just the regular Shyvana into Screeching Dragon play, helping you take back the board from your pesky opponent’s claws.
It must be said that Shyvana has bad matchups against most of the Tier 1 decks, statistically speaking, despite being built to resist the likes of Azir-Irelia, due to the Fury keyword and Radiant Guardian.
Make sure you mulligan for the early game, and don’t hesitate to greed in order to find your win cons. These are ASol against control decks, Hush vs Thresh-Nasus and Laurent Protege, Radiant Guardian or Shyvana vs Azir-Irelia! (Write-up by Ultraman)
Favored vs Thresh-Nasus
Unfavored vs TLC, Azir-Irelia and Ezreal-Draven
Surprising to say the least, a Landmark archetype is finally viable. While Taliyah still searches for a deck that would accept her, Lissandra takes it upon herself to provide this deck with a win condition, set-up, trades and some early game. She can do it all, and trust me, she will!
She’s not helped much by Zilean, though, as he’s mostly there to contain aggression and be a removal target. That said, your opponent usually won’t be able to avoid answering his potential threat, because a flipped Zilean is a force to be reckoned with. Time Bomb, Avalanche and Blighted Ravine handle aggressive boards, while the Thralls slowly emerge from their icy tombs.
Their emergence can be accelerated thanks to Zilean’s spells, granting you an earlier access to multiple 8/8 Overwhelm units. Draklorn Inquisitor also will also help with this, freeing the Thralls from their deep slumber faster than expected.
Force your opponent into carefully answering each threat, until they either have no pressure left to stop you before Lissandra levels-up, or they misses a removal and you get to have a board full of gigantic minions. (Write-up by Ultraman)
If you’re following the Legends of Runeterra competitive scene, you’re aware that Riot announced the second edition of the LoR Masters Europe. This is a team competition where three players are chosen to represent their country from a single method of qualification: the Masters ladder.
To be selected, one must be amongst the Top 16 countries on ladder, and be one of the 3 best-placed players from this country. As you can imagine, the competition is rather fierce and will be raging on until the cut-off on 19th May. (Write-up by Othal)
But how does this impact the current meta and the state of the ladder? Even if this tournament doesn’t have the same reach as the Seasonal, it’s still one of the biggest competitions LoR has ever put together. While the selections for Seasonal are quite forgiving with the top cut being 700 plus a Last Chance Gauntlet, LoR Masters Europe is more exclusive with only 48 players being selected. These odds give a player looking for qualification zero margin for error.
As this announcement came with a new expansion, the meta could’ve been expected to shift towards new decks. But not only are these new archetypes unrefined, they also pale when compared to the current meta’s King & Queen: Thresh-Nasus and TLC. These decks are powerful, and the players have played them for more than a month. They had the time to improve, modify and adapt them as much as possible.
Their matchups are well-known and practiced, to the point that there are no surprises left for the players. As such, in a situation where every crumb of LP matters and each loss can disqualify a player or their country, it’s only logical that they would go back to these tried-and-true decks. Even Dragons, which saw a recent rise in play due to the prevalence of Azir-Irelia, isn’t a new deck and just needed the right meta to shine.
Refining decks takes a lot of trial and error, which means losing games, losing LP and losing ranks. Only a deck which combines raw power, high-roll potential and fast gameplay (like Azir-Irelia) could manage such a rise in the current meta. That’s why, until the cut-off date, you won’t be seeing any cheeky decks and creative builds on top of the ladder.