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.
Shurima and Ionia are the dominant regions at the moment. Thankfully, it’s not solely Azir-Irelia this time - Sivir and her SpellShield, as well as Akshan and Lee Sin are also painting the top tiers gold and pink. Othal is bringing you a spotlight on why this region combination has risen to such dominance.
Since our last snapshot, we have been blessed with two expansions, so there’s a lot to break down here. Naturally, things will clarify over the next few weeks, but for the time being, we present to you our vision of how the meta landscape looks.
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
Rating: 4.5 stars
Zed and Sivir pair up to be a frightening, albeit a fragile duo. Enabled by the combat tricks in Ionia and Shurima, they’ll rarely face an opposition able to resist their attacks and simply kill the opponent through Twin Disciplines or Shaped Stone.
Use Sivir’s level-up to give your whole board multiple keywords, the most juicy of which include Elusive, Double Attack or even Overwhelm if your version plays The Absolver. Why not gain all of them at once, for style points.
Zed is useful as a solo threat - his level-up creates a Living Shadow with his stats and keywords. While his main role is to apply early pressure, he can provide an alternate win con in his flipped form in desperate situations.
Finally, Ruin Runner is obviously terrifying, especially when given Quick Attack through the support of Young Witch. And if the opponent tries to defend against this, you can use Flurry of Fists! (Write-up by Ultraman)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Similarly to Sivir-Zed, this deck aims to exploit its strong combat tricks in order to kill whatever the opponent tries to block with. Once Sivir is leveled-up, you’ll be able to give your board a variety of keywords accompanied by SpellShield. This shouldn’t leave many other options for your opponent than to simply concede.
What differs here is that Akshan brings his amazing flexibility to the table, at the cost of the deck being less synergistic overall. Completing his first landmark will give you more consistency in your card draw, and completing the second one can give you access to many free trades and a free Ruin Runner, or more card draw with a mana cost reduction.
This represents quite a common situation with Akshan, where he doesn’t really synergize with anything, but his sheer value and ability to stay alive by himself makes up for this. He’s also a quite good enabler of The Absolver, as his level-up is easy to achieve. (Write-up by Ultraman)
Rating: 3.75 stars
The Reputation mechanic is finally viable! Just ignore the fact that it’s already power-crept by the Ionia version. If you enjoy the “glass cannon” archetype consisting of fragile bodies dealing big damage, you’re in for a treat.
LeBlanc makes for a nice combination with the 5 attack Incisive Tactician, allowing you to get multiple rallies. When combined with Sivir’s Quick Attack and SpellShield bonus, you should cut through most blockers. Your biggest problem is the lack of good combat tricks, making it hard to keep your followers alive, and even harder to resist any type of control.
Most things will cost an arm and a leg in terms of mana, so you’ll have to be very conservative until your opponent either runs out of steam, or you finally reach a point where your SpellShields provide sufficient protection so that you can commence the all-out destruction of the opposing Nexus! (Write-up by Ultraman)
I don’t know how many snapshots I’ve written so far, but if one thing has never changed, it’s this deck. Patch after patch, new cards arriving, Draven and Jinx keep terrorizing the ladder. Whether you like it or not, they also keep being the most versatile Aggro deck out there, serving as a great power check to most decks that arrived in the latest meta.
While the decklist hasn’t changed in spite of new support for the archetype (e.g. Boom Baboon), the deck is a good example of the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In practice, the deck is still very smooth at transitioning from one win condition to another. The first step is building the board, trying to apply early pressure. This can be done to build a big Crowd Favorite, deflecting the attention from an upcoming Jinx, or to push damage for a delayed race to the Nexus.
The second step is establishing how to win from the three possible ways the deck offers. The first win con is the continuation of early board presence, which can push a ton of damage thanks to Vision or Arena Battlecaster. Draven is usually the go-to option in that case, as the Spinning Axes giving us explosive reaction potential, as well as the ability to discard units or spells with ease.
Direct damage is another win con, where Crowd Favorite and Jinx are the centerpieces. Crowd Favorite gives us the chance of not attacking early on, ignoring the board and getting that big pay-off later on, which gets damage through with Overwhelm. Jinx is the powerhouse when looking to close the deal with damage, and the early board can serve as blockers to stall while we generate Super Mega Death Rockets.
The last win con is to try and outpace the opponent thanks to drawing cards continuously. This is a route that should be taken opportunistically. For example, if you see the opponent is using a lot of resources early on to answer you, it would be reasonable to go for a flipped Jinx or an Augmented Experimenter and aim to have more cards than your opponent.
Due to this great flexibility in the core build of the deck, Discard Aggro keeps on being a contender on the ladder, and should stay that way for weeks to come. (Write-up by den)
Sometimes, there are decks that seem to perform well for some and badly for others, and we can’t really put our finger on why. That is exactly what’s happening with Viego currently, as Alanzq is routinely piloting the deck in the Top 10 of ladder, while most people can’t manage a 50% win rate with the deck.
Because we all know the qualities of Alan as a ladder player, we have to come to sad conclusion that the deck may just not be as good as we would want it to be. The main reason for this is the amount of time it gives the opponent before punishing them. It’s also important to note that for now, there isn’t really a clear-cut best list with Viego. At the moment, he’s split between solo appearances, with Thresh and with Nasus.
In its core, the deck alternates from being a Midrange, board-based deck that looks like it will never run of steam, to a control, backrow deck that’s totally okay taking the raw value of summoning Encroaching Mist turn after turn, and threatening lethal through Atrocity and Viego’s level-up.
This dual threat ability is great when you’re the one in charge and direct the game as you please. It can be a bit different when you start falling behind and are no longer in the driving seat. The deck feels a lot worse when you start needing to take risks to keep your Viego alive or need to defend against Elusives or direct damage based decks.
Basically, Viego could be called the king of the board. But today’s game isn’t won solely on the board anymore, and decks like Lee Sin or Sivir-Zed are capable of finding a way through even the biggest units in the late game. It can be the same for Aggro decks now too, since the early game has been slowed down a bit with the absence of Baccai Reaper to pressure the opponent. Instead, the deck uses small units to set-up for Viego’s arrival, which ideally will lead to an insane mid game.
Don’t get it wrong, Treasure Seeker, Warden’s Prey and Cursed Keeper are all strong. But they can rarely match the early game explosiveness of Akshan or Draven, creating an awkward situation to transfer towards Viego afterwards. (Write-up by den)
Oh, how the crowd sang when Azir-Irelia died. People danced, named their children Rubin, parades celebrating the balance team started spontaneously in every corner of the world. There was much rejoicing. But in the shadows, while everyone was happy and joyful, their heir swore to return and avenge them. The world would hear from Ionia/Shurima once more, and the world would weep! (Write-up by Othal)
Sivir-Zed was the first herald of the return. Akshan was the second herald, and the innocents trembled when he joined forces with Lee and Sivir. And finally, they returned. Azir-Irelia, hand in hand, ready to take back the crown that was rightfully theirs.
While other region pairings have good synergy and are rarely seen one without the other (like Freljord/SI or Bilgewater/Noxus), Ionia/Shurima looks to be the dominating region pairing on the ladder currently. Ironic, when you remember they were both considered support regions a few patches ago. But that’s exactly the reason for their success.
Ionia and Shurima have many combat tools that put Demacia to shame: Twin Disciplines, Shaped Stone and The Absolver are all efficient burst-speed tricks that force opponents to stay on their toes, as just 1 spell-mana could suddenly mean having to deal with 3 more damage.
But they don’t have to choose between offense and defense, thanks to Ionia. Cheap cards like Retreat or Lead and Follow can protect key units while putting down more board pressure. Eye of the Dragon can help soak a lot of early game damage and opposing pressure. And the more expensive cards like Concussive Palm and Will of Ionia can reset the opponent’s game plan.
What’s more, Ionia/Shurima have access to 2 of the best disruption tools in the game: Rite of Negation and Deny. So while this pairing can apply some pressure and play to its game plan, they also have all the necessary tools to deny any opportunity for their opponents to do the same.
The addition of Akshan and the buff to Sivir allowed Shurima to better express themselves as a full-blown region, most notably by giving access to burst-speed Overwhelm (The Absolver) and helping them dominate the board - as was originally intended.
Their reliable access to SpellShield via Warlord’s Hoard, a flipped Sivir or a Ruin Runner also means that their opponents must use more resources to defend themselves, delaying their win con once again.
While this may seem a dire outlook, it’s very interesting to note the diversity of gameplay these archetypes offer. Sivir-Zed plays more like an Aggro deck, Azir-Irelia is a combo deck and Akshan-Lee is more of an OTK deck. Everyone can find something they like in this pairing, and as a player I find this super enjoyable.
Before lamenting about the state of the meta, we should remember one thing: even if the pairings are the same, diversity is still the name of the game. And in Gauntlet or Seasonal, you will only be able to bring one of them anyway, so choose wisely!