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Greetings, my friend, and welcome to Forces from Beyond's First Friday!
Three new Champions have arrived, with their host of followers and additional variety cards…
… come, please, step inside, and please feel free to leave your workweek worries behind – time to discover what our turbulent new Meta has brought for us!
Best LoR Decks: A Turbulent, Blood-Soaked Meta
We shall breach usual protocol, my friend, and rather than opening with a glimpse of the very best medleys…
… I shall showcase you the very worst.
My reasons for such deviation are threefold.
On the one hand, I would like to stress that, with so many LP donors, there is nothing that can be said for certain about the strongest brews: any medley that preys upon these weak new blends may come out ahead without itself being more than an opportunistic fluke.
On the other hand, with some many bad blends, it would become tiresome for both you and I, if anytime I describe a strong blend to you I were to enumerate the numerous weak medleys our blend in question turns to shreds – therefore, unless stated otherwise, asume all formulas in our carefully curated selection are even or favored against those in the picture above.
And on yet another hand – surely three hands is not a rarity, when dealing with matters concerning demons and Void dwellers? – we shall not recommend lists for any of the blends in the aforementioned glimpse unless there is a gem among the poro poop.
Last but not least, to welcome our debutantes, we shall also deviated from standard protocol – which demands we list the most powerful blends first – and commence by introducing our recent arrivals.
Gwen's Ballroom Blends
The scissor-wielding seamstress has proven to be a most solicited dancing partner and, at least this early into the expansion, has provided a plethora of promising pairings.
While such concoctions still remain abstract in nature, pilots have soon found a much practical application in an old, tried-and-true, eight-legged formula: Elise Gwen has entered the ballroom and is, as of now, one of best-performing new blends.
It has excellent odds against one of the current powerhouses, namely Azirelia, and a slight edge on another: Annie TF.
Strong Against: Azirelia, Akshan Kai'sa, Sivir Kaisa
Struggles Against: Thralls, Gwennie
Another very successful Gwenoxian tune, with dancers this time flocking to the Ravenbloom Conservatory and adding Catalogue of Regrets to their repertoire.
This gem, with more than 700 games and above-55% WR, is hidden beneath a pile of hideous concoctions that are heavy on followers and light on spells – ignore those, my friend, and ask the below blend for a dance.
Strong Against: Viktor Kai'sa, Jhinnie
Struggles Against: Akshan Kai'sa, Annie TF, Thralls
Viego Gwen Ionia
Again, caution should be observed – this most tragic Champion pairing comes in two versions: Shuriman, and Ionian.
The former has, thus far, proven most disappointing – even though Viego Shurima has been a force to be reckoned with in the past – while it is the latter that enjoys a moderate degree of success.
Strong Against: Akshan Kai'sa
Struggles Against: Viktor Kai'sa, Azirelia (horribly on both counts)
A fairly experimental overture from the raucous Bilgewater pubs, featuring Riptide Sermon and an atrocious finale – less than two hundred games, but exceptional performance.
Strong Against: Thralls?
Struggles Against: Azirelia
Kai'sa is the most requested of the three debutantes, and we shall see three of her mutations below.
Her most popular blend, though – pairing her with Evelynn – has thus far proven such a mismatch that I have been unable to find a single formula that I am comfortable recommending.
Akhsan Kai'sa Demacia
This is Kai'sa's second most popular archetype (Evelynn Kai'sa being the first), and nearly tied with Azirelia for second most popular archetype overall, at Platinum and above. It splices the well-known Demacia-Shurima shell, and adds a heavy top-end featuring Genevieve Elmheart and Void Abomination to the pool.
I shall recommend to you the most popular version, which does fairly well – in the 52% WR – while noting that the second most-popular formula performs a point and a half better, by way of preferring a lower (and closer to the classic Akshan Sivir) curve and higher spell count. Also note that this is the path along which Sivir Kai'sa, which we shall cover next, is evolving.
And as yet another note: Akshan Kai'sa owes its success in large part to generous LP donors – its matchups against strong blends are, in general, not positive.
Strong Against: Viktor Kai'sa
Struggles Against: Azirelia, Yasuo Katarina, Jhinnie, Sivir Kai'sa
Kai'sa Sivir Demacia
While less popular than the AkKai mutation, Kai'sa Sivir looks like the most promising.
In KaiSiv's case, the matchup table is truly encouraging, with most popular matchups being even or favored.
Strong Against: AkKai, VikKai, Jhinnie, Gwennie
Struggles Against: Elise Gwen
A fairly straightforward splice: Viktor supplies the keywords, Kai'sa creates zero-cost cards, the early Discard package packs all the punch…
… then Supercharge mutates something big into something unstoppable and goes for the kill, reminding a bit of the Viktor Ambush medleys of patches past.
I shall recommend you the second most-popular version, which while deviating little from the tried-and-true, performs much better than the most-played variation.
In spite of its current excellent performance, do note that this archetype profits excessively from LP donors, having an uphill struggle against well-built blends.
Strong Against: Thralls
Struggles Against: Azirelia, Yasuo Katarina, Annie TF, Gwennie, KaiSiv
Here, my friend, we will find three blends that went from zero to hero since last week.
Away from ballrooms and genetic labs, below all the bells and whistles and shiny new champs, an old powerhouse stirs and yawns.
Fizz Lulu Yordle in Arms has awakened… and evolved, too, into yet another Chomper mutation that, if you were to judge by single decklists, may very well be one of the scariest things let loose on the ladder right now.
Note how this Lonesome Lulu variation has even shed Yordle in Arms, going for the flattest of curves and putting its faith solely in Sneezy Biggledust!
Strong Against: Azirelia (pounds to the ground), Thralls, (Jhinnie?)
Struggles Against: (Illaoi Bard?)
I doubt even die-hard Stun fans saw this one coming: Yasuo Katarina is a thing, and with performance across a data sample large enough to think it is not a fluke.
The formula I shall recommend below reaches a 54% WR in more than 450 games, while this other version performs in a similar range. Other popular variations (in the 200-games range) are putting the numbers, too.
It's indeed puzzling, since as mentioned yesterday the only new card is Windswept Hillock – was indeed a five-mana landmark all what this archetype needed to become a powerhouse?
Early matchup data is a bit pessimistic in that regard, with a handful of confrontations being in the truly atrocious range – in particular against Annie TF, a match that falls to a rock-bottom 20% for the Stunt crew.
Strong Against: AkKai, VikKai, Gwennie
Struggles Against: Azirelia, Annie TF (rock-bottom odds!), Jhinnie, Heimer Jayce Shadows
A wild medley that seems to have found a footing in these turbulent times.
Shiny new champions.
And nary a nerf this patch.
Care to guess what's next?
A carnage, my friend – that's what!
Last week's apex predators were either left untouched, or found a new trick to hide up their sleeve, and are right now running rampant with WRs that go from broken to ridiculous.
We shall see who remains on top once the truly bad blends get culled, and the promising refined…
… but if ruthless climbing is what you are after, my friend, then search no further: these are the tools you are looking for.
Oh, how the mighty have gotten mightier!
Azir's followers never forgot how high they soared during the Dark Age of Azirelia, and they always faithfully stuck by their blend of choice. And, during the mid-Worldwalker balance patch, Irelia gaining Attune allowed this blend to regain shreds of its former glory.
Enter Domination, and in these turbulent times there is hardly a doubt which is the Top Dog: Azirelia has not one, but two somewhat dissimilar decklists that are, when play and win rates are factored, the best weapons you can bring to the fight.
The best-performing list is recommended below, and you can find the second here.
Like when it ruled the meta with an iron fist last year, Azirelia absolutely demolishes anything that thinks that "Ladder" and "Fun" are overlapping pursuits…
… yet things are not so easy when facing other scarred, grizzled climbers.
I'd recommend printing LPs with this blend now, for the matchup table does not look overly rosie.
Strong Against: AkKai, Yasuo Katarina, VikKai, Thralls,
Struggles Against: Annie TF, AkSiv, Jhinnie (horribly!), Spider-Gwen, Illaoi Bard, Lulu Bandlezaun
Not much to say here, my friend: bullet buff and burning brat keep doing what they were doing last week, which is pretty much take names and kick butt.
And the Ladder is full of names, with such an array of unrefined concepts running around.
Strong Against: brutally murders Azirelia; AkKai, Yasuo Katarina, Thralls
Struggles Against: Illaoi Bard, Spider-Gwen, Gwennie, TF Annie
Another Worldwalker blend that needs no new toys to turn foes into a bloody, burning mess.
This is actually the formula with the highest WR from among those with more than 300 games played, and its matchup spread is superb: besides Thralls, there's nothing right now that Annie TF truly fears.
Strong Against: Azirelia, Yasuo Katarina (a bloody massacre), Gwennie, Jhinnie, VikKai, Illaoi Bard
Struggles Against: AkKai & KaiSiv (slightly), Thralls (horribly)
Lissandra's frozen crew is still pulling some solid numbers, although in much diminished play rate.
The latter may be mostly due to lacking that sparkly 'new toy' shine – although having some strong counters, Thralls' matchups speak of a blend deservin a larger pilot population.
Strong Against: Annie TF, Spider-Gwen, Gwennie, Heimer Jayce
Struggles Against: Illaoi Bard, Azirelia (horribly), Jhinnie, VikKai
(Note: thanks to GuiSim for catching a pesky typo!)
Other Strong Choices from the Previous Expansion
Pretty much every other blend that was strong last week is still strong (or stronger). There's scant data to speak in detail about matchups, but any potent Worldwalker brew should serve you well if you're looking to climb, above all if you have enough games under your belt with it to consider yourself an experienced pilot.
My recommendations would be:
Heimer Jayce Shadows, ever adapting to any environment,
Illaoi Bard, which was one of the Fresh New Faces last week,
Jinx Bard, another of last week's Fresh New Faces,
Fizz Riven, which, you know, having a Reck(oner) and a Paper, and now with Gwen in the game, well… some puns are just too good to pass, that is all I am implying!, and
Ashe LeBlanc, who I wouln't have called a powerhouse last week, nor I shall do so now, but is certainly getting the job done.
And so the Season starts, my friend!
It would appear that, thus far, our three debutants have started with a tad less gusto than the Worldwalker champions did when they arrive – as you may remember, on Worldwalker's First Friday we not only had a host of powerful new blends storming the ladder, but most until-then powerhouses had been pushed aside.
In our current case, though, the pre-patch powerhouses remain potent, with the debutantes showing promise but without being overly scary.
Evelynn, in particular, has failed to find a proficient partner…
… but Bard, himself another free-ranging Runeterran champion, also failed to impress early on, a failure that did not last for too long.
We shall see, my friend – for now, the above are the best of the best, old and new!
Any questions or comments, or more data you may need, please feel free to:
Poke me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HerkoKerghans,
Ping me on Discord: https://discord.gg/VNN5NmGhXY,
Or find more writings on substack: https://riwan.substack.com/
And good luck in your climb!