Greetings, my friend – welcome back!
Come, please, step inside, and let's welcome together what seems to be the return to a balanced Meta.
It is indeed a bit too early to tell, surely, but last Wednesday bugfix patch included a non-irrelevant 'nerf' to the until-then strongest blend, making it a tad tamer – so, plese, step inside and let me show you what we have in store today! The best LoR decks, curated from admirable APIarists Balco and Legna's findings, along with our own observations, and insights gathered from prominent pilots at the Blue Bird Inn.
Best LoR Decks: On Bugs, Balance, and Eternal Threats
Last Wednesday, the Devs released a bugfix patch – these tends to address minor malfunctions, but in this case one such malfunction was anything but minor: Sharpsight’s ability now no longer counts as a keyword for cards who count them, chiefly among them Kai'Sa and her mutating followers.
As of right now, if we peek at the top of the ladder, these is how the charts (last three days, Plat+) look according to Balco:
Since such three-day sample includes data from before the bugfix patch, we shall today take a peek at a 24hs sample – do note that such samples tend to be quite volatile:
It would appear that, thus far, the bugfix/nerf has been successful in toning down Kai'Sa, which last Tuesday was poised to overrun the meta.
Thralls appears as the new top contender on both samples; as we'll see below, it's gaining traction quite quickly, although we shall see what happens once the Meta adapts to its return.
Best LoR Decks: Cream of the Crop
These are the top decks in the LoR ranked environment right now: strong, popular, and well-tested. If climbing the ladder is your main concern, these are the best-performing tools for the job.
The Eternal Threat: Thralls, aka Lissandra Taliyah
Was the Sharpsight 'nerf'/bugfix one of Lissandra's plans within plans? As we noted last Friday, Thralls remained a potent brew during this expansion, with the sort of WR that made us suspect its low play rate was due more to pilot boredom than proper performance. Almost as if it knew how to bide its time and wait for when to strike, the Frozen Menace is now gaining steam fast, becoming the top performer in the last 24 hours.
It is hard to discern why that is the case, though: its odds against the most popular blends (Kai'Sa, Illaoi Bard, Jhinnie and Azirelia) are quite bad – yet they are balanced by Thralls' great performance against the rest of the field. In other words, what we would call a "polarizing" medley, with bad matchups being awful, yet with good matchups being great.
Strong against: Annie TF, Kat TF, Draven Sion, Pandemonium, Darkness
Struggles against: Kai'Sa mutations, Illaoi Bard, Jhinnie & Azirelia (horribly in the last two!)
The (former?) Broken Blend: Illaoi Bard
We dubbed Illaoi Bard "the Broken Blend" last Friday since its dominance seemed unstoppable; its unfavorable odds against Kai'Sa, and the ascent of Shen Bard and other counters (like Draven Sion) managed to turn the tide by last Tuesday, when Kai'Sa was close to becoming the next Meta Tyrant…
… yet with the 'nerf'/bugfix to Sharpsight, it's unclear now where the tide may take us. By current numbers, Illaoi Bard is undoubtedly one of this Meta's powerhouses, but with both its archetype as a whole, and its most popular formula – recommended below – reaching yet not surpassing the 55% WR mark.
Strong against: Azirelia, Annie TF, Spider-Gwen
Struggles against: Shen Bard (badly), Sivir Kai'Sa, Kat TF – slight underdog to Lone Kai'Sa & Draven Sion
The (dethroned?) Latest Tyrant: Lone Kai'Sa
At least until the recent bugfix patch, Kai'Sa was so strong that she forced top players to rage-quit. The fix to Sharpsight has toned down the archetype as a whole, even making the most popular list to become sub-par…
… yet the latest refinements make this blend still perform at past-broken levels: our recommended formula, the third most popular, punches above 56% in more than 1,500 games. Notice the switch from Merciless Hunter and Brightsteel Protector to Xer'sai Hatchling, Durand Protege and Greenfang Warden, and the inclusion of Chain Vest.
And, overall, Lone Kai'Sa remains the most popular archetype.
Strong against: Shen Bard, Draven Sion, Kat TF, Thralls – slight edge against Illaoi Bard and Annie TF
Struggles against: Jhinnie, Azirelia, Yasuo Katarina
A lot less popular, yet performing even better than the Lone mutations, Sivir Kai'Sa does not seem to have noticed the changes to Sharpsight. Its most popular formula punches above 56% in close to 1,000 games, and other variations are equally powerful.
Strong against: Illaoi Bard, Shen Bard
Struggles against: Jhinnie
The Keeper of Balance: Shen Bard
In spite of skepticism from some top players, Shen Bard has proven to be the real deal; our recommended formula comfortably surpasses the 53% mark in more than 1,800 games. Leer and Monte piloted it to quite good success across Diamond, as they retell in their Meta Voyage.
As noted last Tuesday, its jagged matchup spread makes it hard to guess how this blend's future will turn out: it's a severe underdog to Lone Kai'Sa, but greatly favored into Illaoi Bard.
Strong against: Illaoi Bard, Draven Sion
Struggles against: Lone Kai'Sa & Jhinnie (horribly in both cases!), Annie TF, Sivir Kai'Sa
Other Strong Meta Options
Strong blends with play rates over 1% in Platinum and above – any of these should allow the diligent pilot a fairly speedy climb!
Fresh 'n' Hot: Bandle Pandemonium Teemo TF!
A blend that Monte recommended yesterday in his "Gone Bananas" triple-aggro Gauntlet lineup, and that top pilot infinipatrons piloted to Front Page in the Leaderboard – a bit on the experimental side, but if you like new and spicy (with a side of crazy, I may add!), this should be the blend for you, my friend.
I shall recommend below the third most popular formula, which punches at 54%, with minor tweaks from infinipatrons'.
Strong against: Jhinnie, Annie TF, Kat TF
Struggles against: Shen Bard, Thralls (horribly!)
Katarina Twisted Fate
We're past labeling the 'Ravenbloom, but without Annie' idea as blasphemous: you cannot argue against such good results. It's by now the best Ravenbloom blend, and with the most popular formula reaching 54% in 1,000 games.
As with its Annie TF cousin, which we shall see below, there seems to be room for additional tweaks as the meta shifts – less popular versions, with slightly different spell compositions, are all doing wonderful.
Strong against: Illaoi Bard, Azirelia
Struggles against: Draven Sion (quite badly), Lone Kai'Sa, Pandemonium & Thralls (horribly in both cases!)
Annie Twisted Fate
Displaced both in popularity and performance by the Katarina variant, Annie TF still remains a solid ladder option.
Strong against: Azirelia, Shen Bard, Yasuo Katarina
Struggles against: Sivir Kai'Sa, Draven Sion – slight underdog to Kai'Sa, Illaoi Bard and Jhinnie
The 'Solved' Blend: Jhinnie
After a rough patch at Illaoi Bard's heyday last week, blazing brat and bullet buff have managed to carve themselves a solid spot in this Meta. They are one of the most popular formulas – well above 3,000 games in the last three days – perform at above 52%, and are arguably the best aggro choice in the current field.
Strong against: Kai'Sa mutations, Azirelia, Shen Bard
Struggles against: Illaoi Bard (quite badly), Draven Sion, Heimer Jayce
Azir & friends seem ready for a comeback: the Field Musicians variant being clearly inferior, most pilots are migrating to the formula recommended below, which with 1,400+ games and punching above 54%, looks like it's going to be quite the important factor in the Meta's next few days. Azirelia has one of the most jagged matchup tables, though, so I would recommend this blend only to the most faithful!
Strong against: Lone Kai'Sa, Yasuo Katarina, Thralls
Struggles against: Illaoi Bard, Jhinnie (horribly!), Kat TF & Annie TF (quite badly), Draven Sion
Less played, but fairly sturdy blends – the optimal marriage between a well-tested medley, and low odds of finding yourself in a mirror match!
Vi Trundle Timelines, ft. Viktor
Another of Monte's recommended blends for a Gauntlet or Tournament lineup – or, if you are feeling bold, for a bit of MaRu Head-Hunting! – Timelines is another archetype that has been slowly yet steadily gaining traction.
This ViVik version has proved quite solid in the last few days, with nearly 52% in close to 1,000 games – if you're feeling adventurous, you could take this CaitVi version instead.
Strong against: Annie TF
Struggles against: Jhinnie, Azirelia
This is the trend that some top pilots identified last week as strong counter to some of the Top Dogs, and that what Sirturmund considers the best third deck to round up a 'best decks' Tournament or Gauntlet lineup – Draven Sion is a slight underdog to Kai'Sa mutations, but roughly even against Illaoi Bard and fairly solid against the rest of the field, with the most popular formula punching nearly at 53% in 600+ games.
Strong against: Jhinnie, Azirelia, Annie TF, Kat TF
Struggles against: Shen Bard & Thralls (quite badly), Kai'Sa mutations
Jinx Bard has deflated quite a bit, both in popularity and performance – it remains a solid blend, above all if you enjoy the Flaming Chomper package (and, of course, you get to play Jinx!), but awful odds against both Lone Kai'Sa and Illaoi Bard make it a bit of a risqué choice.
Strong against: Jhinnie, Annie TF, Draven Sion,
Struggles against: Lone Kai'Sa, Illaoi Bard (quite badly in both cases)
Fluxes in the Meta?
The weeding of stunning wannabes, with only the die-hards remaining?
For whatever reason, Yasuo Katarina sees an uptick in performance, surpassing 53% in more than 400 games, perhaps pushed upwards by its very good odds against Lone Kai'Sa
Strong against: Lone Kai'Sa, Draven Sion
Struggles against: Illaoi Bard, Jhinnie, Azirelia, Annie TF & Kat TF
Recommended more on grounds of novelty (it is, after all, a Gwen deck with positive stats!) than performance, but the formula below does reach 51% in nearly 400 games, and we have seen this blend do quite nicely some days ago.
Caitlyn Gwen, ft. Vi
Piltover Shadows is not too exotic a mixture (Heimer Jayce being its prime example, and also the different Sentinel Control list that have flourished in patches past). This is a fairly different take, though, with an aggressively slanted early curve, and a good number of Hallowed units.
Strong against: Azirelia?
Struggles against: Illaoi Bard?
Zed was the first Bard pairing with some success (and lots of popularity) back when Bard was considered underwhelming, though later ditched to the side as soon as pilots reconsidered the power of Chimes and found other partners for Bard.
The original pairing has returned, and is proving to have quite the legs – it is one of the scariest blends in our today's Connoisseur selection, going easily over 56% in 300+ games, and has been putting numbers for well over a week now. Note that it's strong against the two most popular decks!
Strong against: Illaoi Bard, Kai'Sa mutations
Struggles against: Jhinnie, Annie TF (quite badly)
The Bard blend to punish (other) Bard blends! Quite the jagged matchup spread, so not for haters of roller-coasters.
Strong against: Illaoi Bard, Shen Bard, Draven Sion
Struggles against: Kai'Sa mutations, Azirelia, Jhinnie, Annie TF
A Walk on the Wild side
Our selection of more risqué options – low sample sizes, untested brews, and the thrill of the unknown, all mixed up in these spicy, nearly-unseen medleys!
Sneezin' Lone Lulu
A blend that punched hard on the early Forces from Beyond days, then fell in disfavor…
… yet, perhaps thanks to Card Gamer's treatise on how to Sneeze properly, is enjoying quite a good time in the fringes of the Meta.
Strong against: Jhinnie Azirelia
Struggles against: Illaoi Bard
Ziggs Annie, ft. Kat
Noxurimaggro doesn't quite punch hard enough this season to fully leave the fringes, yet it keeps doing all sorts of nasty, burny things to others while in there. In the last few days, this 3:2:1 split seems to be the best performing variation.
Now, tread carefully here, my friend – this is quite on the experimental side of things, and not something I'd recommend based on average performance alone. Having said that, this blend is getting some traction among the best pilots, so if you are really into the wild side of the Ladder, you may want to take this one for a spin.
For a bit of tried-and-true but with a pinch of spice on top, you cannot go wrong with adding Annie to Classic Spiders! This mixture is putting quite the numbers on the fringe, by the way, so this is not just spice for spice's sake.
We featured this blend a few days ago, and it seems to still be putting some interesting numbers – the fringest of medleys we'll recommend today, but anything able to survive for a week is worth taking a look, as long as the idea piques your interest.
Very well, my friend!
After a couple of wild weeks, and a bugfix patch that included what's in practice a nerf, we have what can be called, at least by the numbers, a balanced Meta.Kai'Sa remains quite divisive when it comes to enjoyment, though; we'll see if Sharpsight's fix tones her down, and how the field accommodates afterwards.
Any questions or comments, or more data you may need, please feel free to:
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And good luck out there!