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.
Another week has gone by and the meta is still the same. To remedy this fossilization, we have four new and spicy decks that you can use to attempt to reinvigorate your game experience. The two new writeups in Tier 2 are the Cithria-Matron combo deck which can be threatening in the late game and an Elusives deck with Trevor Snoozebottom. On top of this, Othal has provided a spotlight on Zoe-Vi and Fizz-TF.
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
Azir-Irelia has quickly become one of the most disliked decks in the history of the game, with crazy highs and frustrating lows, leaving players dissatisfied when both playing with it and against it. That said, we’re here to hook you up with what’s best, and this list is one of the very best as of now.
This deck is a relentless attacker, using (and abusing) Azir and Emperor’s Dais to create multiple tokens, swarming the board until your opponent has no blockers left to protect their Nexus. This could happen in two ways, either because your opponent overreacted and used too much of their precious mana, or simply because you had too many answers for their own responses.
Because, yes, this is Ionia. And as soon as you’re ahead, you get to dictate the pace of the game, forcing the opposition to play proactively, then punishing them for doing so. In the subtle words of BoJack Horseman’s writers:
“Are you punishing me for smoking or for stealing?”
“I’m punishing you for being alive.”
Azir-Irelia punishes you for being alive, basically. Until you aren’t anymore. They’ll punish you with the likes of Lead and Follow, Nopeify! sometimes Retreat if they run it, Shaped Stone... If you land a removal, you better celebrate.
The sole known way of defeating this great evil is, quite simply, outpacing it. Aggressive decks can do that and Thresh-Nasus can still do it better than anyone. The presence of Thresh as a tutor for Nasus also helps with stopping the waves of attackers, since even Ionia fears the power of the almighty Doggo. (Write-up by Ultraman)
Heavily favored vs TLC
Favored vs Dragons
Unfavored vs Ezreal-Draven
Heavily unfavored vs Thresh-Nasus
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)
With the meta being as stable as it is, when a deck deviates from the norm but still performs, it’s often flagged as sleeper deck, something the community missed. Two of these decks are Zoe-Vi and, surprisingly, Fizz-TF. Both are performing quite well at Masters level, albeit with a small sample size. So why are these decks being played? Simple: the OTP factor or, to put it kindly, experience and habit.
Playing a card game is a question of repetition and knowledge. If you want to know what to do in a certain situation, you either have to have the Millenium Eye and see exactly what your opponent is about to do, or you need to have experienced it enough times to know what’s coming.
With decks focused on decision making and micro-interactions like Fizz-TF or Zoe-Vi, it’s possible to get ahead in bad matchups because you know what to do and when to do it, and while it won’t save you against an opponent with a perfect hand, it might be good enough to give you the win from time to time.
Are these decks bad? If you consider the raw power level of decks in the current meta, it’s hard to say OTP decks can truly shine. But do you throw away a good screwdriver because you need a hammer? No, you just wait for the moment you’ll need it again. Or use its handle instead. (Write-up by Othal)
On paper, Zoe-Vi seems to combine the best of both worlds: it has the removal from P&Z, Hush and Invoke from Targon, and packs quite a punch with a Tough Vi that can deal with board threats and turn into a win condition when boosted enough.
But raw power level isn’t the only reason that determines whether a deck is played or not: Zoe-Vi was popularized as a counter to Thresh-Nasus, with enough ways to deal with the board, heal oneself and make sure Thresh and Nasus wouldn’t have the opportunity to close the game easily.
While it works in that instance, keep in mind that this deck needs an immense amount of knowledge to be played correctly and, most importantly, to be paired against what it counters.
Using a Fire Pokémon in the Grass gym is awesome, but you wouldn’t bring a full Fire team against the Elite 4 right? Zoe-Vi is specifically tailored to win against Thresh-Nasus and has a 59% winrate at the higher ranks when facing it, but it drops almost instantly when paired against other meta decks like Dragons, TLC or Azir-Irelia.