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.
Tomorrow’s patch announcement should have a special significance, as a lot of players have been anticipating a serious shake-up of the current meta, which has seen top tier oppression for about a month now.
During this time, we’ve seen Azir-Irelia become the juggernaut of the meta, forcing every other deck into a secondary role and denying every attempt made by players aiming to counter the deck. Thresh-Nasus is good against it, but also allows other decks to exist, as they can rely on countering Thresh-Nasus.
This is the case for Lissandra-Trundle (TLC), a strong deck that wouldn’t exist if it had to rely only on its Azir-Irelia matchup. As time passes, and no new decks have found a way to establish themselves, players have wanted a considerable balance patch for weeks, and should have their wish granted tomorrow.
Until we know what will be touched in the game, though, Azir-Irelia looks solidly anchored as the best deck in the game and atop our snapshot. One deck that emerged from the attempts to counter the current meta is an archetype that saw some play about a year ago - Thresh-ASol. Ultraman has served you up a delicious new spotlight on this deck, with which you can take on both Azir-Irelia and Thresh-Nasus.
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)
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)
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)
In the midst of EU Masters, an old deck emerged after being in slumber for a year or so. Thresh-ASol was never too effective, and while it saw some play at the start of the Targon expansion, it was soon overtaken by the likes of Trundle-ASol (prior to Trundle’s nerf) and then Zoe versions, such as Zoe-Diana, Zoe-Vi or Zoe-ASol.
As Azir-Irelia has decimated most of Targon’s archetypes, from Lee Sin to Zoe variants, Zoe-ASol had to adapt in order to block more efficiently. It was the birth, or, rather, the competitive birth of Shyvana-ASol, a well-loved archetype and fan favorite since Shyvana’s addition into the game.
Despite being able to repeatedly block thanks to Fury and Radiant Guardian and able to handle the board with Single Combat or Challengers, it wasn’t enough. We needed more control, more reactivity, and we needed some answer to Inspiring Marshal.
The Targon equation in this meta was always one of destroying Thresh-Nasus, while losing to TLC and Azir-Irelia. Some versions could beat EZ-Draven, but you would still end up in a stalemate. As such, the situation was one of going back and forth having to rely on seeing more Thresh-Nasus than Azir-Irelia in order to climb.
A few days prior to the first games of EU Masters, a player called “shARPP” made a Tweet mentioning his arrival in the Top 50, playing a Thresh-ASol deck, focusing on control. The deck contained many efficient removals, such as The Box, Vile Feast and Withering Wail. But it still relied on Targon to create a win con, either through Starshaping or ASol.
Thresh discourages opponents from attacking you, not wanting to risk an early appearance from ASol. But he also helps you when it comes to not losing tempo against the likes of Thresh-Nasus or Azir-Irelia. The Box punishes their greed, while Thresh discourages them from attacking. All this gives you some breathing room in the few turns where your opponent doesn’t force damage, allowing you to stabilize the board state and keep enough mana for your removals.
It seemed like Thresh-ASol could solve the dilemma of the current meta, while being more stable than decks like mono Fiora. But how did the deck perform in EU Masters, which was a BO3 Conquest with 7 decks and 2 Champion bans, with the ruleset allowing Champion repetition?
Put simply, playing it didn’t equate to an instant win over Azir-Irelia. It’s been shown already how difficult (and almost crazy) it would be to try and make a full counter line-up, as this would just end in Azir-Irelia still grabbing a 35-40% win, or the opposing team simply refusing to play the mighty top tier.
Azir-Irelia was banned a total of 27 times in 32 matches played last weekend. What use would Thresh-ASol be, if your strategy involved banning Azir-Irelia? Well, it still retains the strengths of a Targon deck, with healing, a good ability to stall, and creative win cons, e.g. units with Elusive, Overwhelm and Spellshield.
It was a nice way to create a Targon deck that wasn’t as weak against Frosbite, Deep or Overwhelm as the other versions, while still being favored into Thresh-Nasus or EZ-Draven thanks to the combination of Starshaping and Atrocity.
It’s worst matchup is Trundle-Lissandra (TLC) and as such, you must ban it in order to make the most of Thresh-ASol’s value in a tournament setup. As the deck is very stable, this is the sole forced ban, leaving the door open for a second ban on Azir or Irelia, while you now have a flexible build able to go into Midrange matchups with a solid chance to win, due to the SI triple threat of Vengeance, Atrocity and The Ruination.
It should also be slightly favored against other popular Targon builds, with the exception of Dragons, that could summon ASol on Turn 8, a tad too early for your liking. With the many mind games that the 7 deck format engenders, it’s always great to have a solid and flexible deck that doesn’t have many bad matchups and even fewer terrible ones. (Write-up by Ultraman)