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.
Heartbreakingly, the hefty balance patch we all wanted and needed didn’t materialize. There were a few minor changes that may affect Azir-Irelia’s curve, but it’s unlikely that much will change overall. That said, we have updated the decklists and write-ups to reflect how we expect the next couple of weeks to play out.
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 debated decks in the history of the game, with crazy highs and frustrating lows, leaving players dissatisfied when both playing with it and against it. The deck reached an incredibly high playrate and winrate before Patch 2.9, but was left almost entirely intact, with both its curve and power level largely unchanged.
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 mana, or 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)
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 fails to answer the early pressure, they’ll have to kill both your minions and Thresh. This will force them into suboptimal removals which can be punished with Glimpse Beyond, Black Spear, Rite of Negation or Vile Feast.
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 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 Azir-Irelia, 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)
The patch arrived earlier this week and nothing suggests to us that Azir-Irelia will diminish in popularity or power level in the coming days. It’s only logical that one of its biggest counters still makes sense in the current meta. Although outshined by a more stable Noxus/Piltover combination in the form of Ezreal-Draven, Discard Aggro remains a relevant deck and forces other lists to account for hyper aggressive strategies.
The deck has shifted toward a more board-centric strategy, with the return of triple Arena Battlecaster for example, a strategy that floods the board with units and overwhelms the opponent with damage, something that Azir-Irelia struggles against.
Obviously, that induces sacrifices in other matchups and most Freljord decks with triple Avalanche are capable of destroying the crucial early game the deck looks to establish, but as long as some of the better decks won’t be able to handle that kind of aggression, Discard Aggro should still find a reason to be played.
The now board-centric core forces a more high-risk, high-reward kind of gameplay, especially in the earlier portion of the game, which puts the emphasis on mastering the mulligan phase and being alert to the types of defensive tools your opponent could have access to.
If the early aggression finds the opposing Nexus, it’s usually a clear sign of a game well-engaged and on the right tracks, where transitioning to Draven, Jinx or Crowd Favorite is a great power move that our opponent needs a perfect answer to in order to simply stay in the game. When that phase gets stalled, the deck can feel like it lacks the tools to rebuild the pressure outside of drawing the two champions or an Augmented Experimenter to refill our hand.
For those reasons, Discard Aggro looks like it has a good place in the meta, but could be losing some of its old aura as an overall powerful list, morphing to now fit more into the role of a counter-pick to some of the dominant decks. (Write-up by den)
Ashe and LeBlanc make for a perfect pair, each of them being 5+ attack champions, both helping each other gain Reputation and card draw in the form of Trifarian Assessor and Whispered Words.
It’s useful to have more bodies that can activate Reckoning - this card is crucial to survive against Aggro and Midrange decks. Those two archetypes are, paradoxically, both the reason Frostbite is able to perform and the reason it doesn’t perform too well in the current ladder environment.
With the multitude of aggressive decks out there, this list has trouble staying alive. The combination Freljord and Noxus lacks healing and cheap removal to deal with the swarm of minions that’s so often seen on the ladder at the moment.
On the other hand, it has a great matchup against decks that focus on trading, such as Demacian decks. It also has a decent matchup against Lee Sin, due to its Freeze cards, but can often sometimes to finish the game unless a well-timed Reckoning can avoid the opponent’s Deny. (Write-up by Ultraman)