Welcome, my friend! Welcome!
Final day of the grindy workweek, and final Friday of the Season… Please, do step inside! Leave your worries at the door, and let me show you what I have gathered for you this time.
Admirable APIarists Balco and Legna have as usual supplied us with their finest wares, from exotic rares to meta staples; and, like last week, Balco has allowed us to rummage through his most coveted single-shard stash, with some truly wondrous findings…
… so, do let me show you, my friend:
- Their Eternal Majesties, Ahri Kennen Shurima,
- Fizz Lulu, aka YiA,
- Pantheon Taric,
- Miss Fortune Quinn, aka Scouts,
- Elise Trundle, aka Iceborn Spiders
- Champless Poros,
- Luzeldon's Muscle Dragon, aka Riven Zed,
- RickoRex's Akshan Sivir Noxus,
- Ahri Lulu P&Z,
- Elise Kindred Vi Sentinels,
- Lucian Zed,
- Frozen Bonds,
- Heimerdinger Jayce Shadows,
- Mom's Comfort Food for the Soul,
- Ekko Sivir Vi, aka Zilean-less Predict,
- Braurelion's Peak,
- Spicy Scouts, ft Jarvan,
- A blast from the past, Poppy Ziggs,
- Darius go-wide Noxurimaggro,
- Sivir Ziggs Noxurimaggro,
- Akshan Lee Sin,
- Burn, Teemo Burn!
- Teemo Tristana Ionia,
- Draven Viktor Ambush,
- Viego Zed,
- Iceborn Ashe Elise,
- Kindred Ziggs, which really shouldn't work by apparently does,
- Catalogue of Kindred Swain,
- Katarina's Hairy Rose,
- Crazy Red
Shards, Wildcards and Power Ratings: a Few Words about Next Week
Seasoned Ladderistas know these factors well, but in case you have arrived to Runeterra only recently, and above all if you are resource-starved, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind before proceeding further.
First and foremost: an Expansion with new cards is expected for next Wednesday, and it is not surprising for said Expansion to come along with a few nerfs to existing, over-performing archetypes.
If you are short on shards and Wildcards, you may want to refrain from crafting new decks until the Expansion arrives (and, I would say, even until a few days afterwards, just to avoid wasting your precious resources on "day one darlings", so to speak.)
In particular, any formula with Ahri in it is at some risk of being hit by the proverbial nerf hammer, and even if a deck is left untouched it's impossible to predict right now how the rest of the meta will shape up.
That being said…
… as a rule of thumb, the most powerful blends right now will likely still be strong in a week (as long as they dodge the above-mentioned nerf hammer), and will thrive in a Ladder chock-full of unrefined blends.
If your sights are set on climbing as high as possible next Season, making yourself acquainted with one of the currently most powerful decks may be a very sound strategy to profit from such Ladder turmoil and climb fast early on.
In case of doubt, our writers have compiled a list of their personal recommendations to scale the ladder (link). While there is no guarantee, I would say anything on that list save Ahri Kennen, and any of the Meta Staples I shall showcase below, should serve you well next week.
A League of its Own
Ahri Kennen Shurima (ridiculous winrate)
This is how the Season ends: the most powerful deck in the format increases its winrate this week, yet it sees its playrate decrease by half.
I confess, my friend, it puzzles me without pause, yet such is the tale that the metrics tell: compared with last week, only half of the Platinum-and-above pilots have chosen Their Recalling Majesties as their weapon of choice.
There is something in this archetype that seems to rub pilots wrong, in a way no other over-performing archetype -- say, Azirelia at its apex -- ever did.
There are two slightly different formulas for this blend, with the Shadow Assassin variant being what we could call standard (since it's by far the most popular), while the Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed blends seem even more successful.
Strong Against: Lurkers, Champless Poros, Pantheon Blends, Taliyah Ziggs, and the list goes on…
Struggles Against: Scouts, Elise Noxus Trundle Tryndamere, Pirates, Nightfall
Strongest Meta Staples
If you belong to the flummoxingly vast majority that would pilot the strongest meta staple as long as it is not Ahri Kennen, these are the tried-and-true blends that end the Season at the top of charts.
All of them have reached or surpassed a 54% winrate in the last few days in Platinum, Diamond and Masters.
Fizz Lulu, aka Yordles in Arms
A story of forgetfulness and remembrance, that our frequent customers are probably well acquainted with: after being unceremoniously tossed away during the post-patch hype -- probably due to Bandle City Mayor, formerly a linchpin of this blend, receiving a substantial nerf -- Fizz Lulu steadily returned to the top, showing no signs of decreased potency and, as showcased in a previous article (link), being one of our writer's weapon of choice.
Interestingly, this is perhaps the closest to a solved archetype from among all Meta Staples: just like last week, the only disagreement between the best performing formulas is whether or not to cut one Fizz for an extra Scrapheap
Strong Against: Lurkers, Elise Noxus, Pantheon blends, Champless Poros, Kindred Viego, Taliyah Ziggs, Draven Rumble
Struggles Against: Darkness, Trundle Shadows blends, Kindred Sentinels
Pantheon Taric Demacia
Another interesting story from this Season, showcasing how decks do not exist in a vacuum.
Before the balance patch, this blend was the worst performing from among the three most popular Pantheon variants -- namely Lonesome, Shyvana, and Taric -- with Lonesome being arguably the best.
Even if no cards from this Archetype were changed, it rose to the top briefly after the balance patch…
… then fell…
… then rose again, proving in the last few weeks that this is, in the current meta, the best Pantheon build.
Whereas, it bears noting, Lonesome Pantheon is nowhere to be found.
Strong Against: Scouts, Darkness, Champless Poros, Elise Trundle, Thralls, Akshan Sivir
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen builds, Elise Noxus, Pantheon Shyvana, Fizz Lulu, Lee Sin Zoe, Lulu Zed Rally, Draven Jinx
Miss Fortune Quinn, aka Scouts
Another deck our writers recommend for a speedy climb (link), and perhaps an even clearer example than Pantheon Taric about how context is truly king: Scouts was nonexistent before the balance patch, yet -- fittingly for its nickname -- it quickly and swiftly struck, as if out of nowhere, as soon as the meta became favorable.
As another amusing detail, a blend that some would label as "linear" is still determining its optimal build: although three copies of Cithria the Bold have become the go-to formula, making some room for Genevieve Elmheart and Riposte seems to enhance this archetype.
Strong Against: Ahri Kennen blends, Elise Noxus, Champless Poros, Pirates, Thralls
Struggles Against: Pantheon blends, Sentinel Control, Jayce Lux, Vladimir Braum
Although the balance patch's effect rippled throughout the Meta, and made it one of the most varied in recent memory, it arguably brought forth but a single new Top Tier deck, when both playrate and winrate are considered.
Freljord Shadows Control is by no means a new idea, but the buff to both Iceborn Legacy and Trundle did manage to bring forth a Champion pairing that, as they say, "was not a thing" before these changes.
Strong Against: Lurkers, Scouts, Pirates
Struggles Against: Kennen Ahri Shurima, Pantheon Taric -- slight underdog to Darkness and Fizz Lulu
The Furry Kings of Shard-Effectiveness
Now, this is perhaps the most well-known tale from across all competitive games.
Characters and context vary (sometimes wildly) but the story goes more or less like this:
When, the day after a patch, a sizable and vociferous gaggle of everything from random redditors to apex Seasonalistas...
… all chant in chorus: "Nerf-This-Nerf-This-Nerf-This!!"...
… mayyybe, just maybe, wait a handful of days .
There is perhaps a chance that the meta will disagree.
Ribbings aside, and although nowhere the furry boogeyporo that it was decried to be at first, this formula has indeed proved to be a solid performer.
And, although not a match against the above-listed blends when raw power is considered, there's arguably no better choice if conserving Shards and Champion Wildcards is your main concern: other than Augmented Experimenter, which is an Epic, all cards in this blend are Rares or Commons.
Strong Against: Elise Trundle, Darkness
Struggles Against: Fizz Lulu, Ahri Kennen Shurima, Scouts, Pantheon Blends
If not in the mood for mirror matches, here is our selection of top-performing, well-tested yet scarcely-seen blends that you can take to the ladder with confidence in their performance.
Riven Zed, aka Luzeldon's Muscle Dragon
Ah, here we are! From among the exotics that we have gathered this week, this is perhaps my favorite.
They were immediately impressed by this build, its power evident as soon as they took it to the Master ladder…
… yet, since the data showed that this formula was mostly preferred by a pilot named ArbyTree -- a moniker which they were not familiar with -- they assumed at first glance that it was a new development.
It was only a bit later that they realized this was a very particular build, from a very particular maître brasseur: Muscle Dragon, from Luzeldon (link), about which its creator wrote an extensive deck guide.
And let me assure you, my friend: this brew is not just Muscle, but also Brains and Spirit, all rolled together like the finest tobacco you can dream of.
As Wamuu says, "This was the best performing deck out of the three we test-piloted. I climbed from 150 LP to 300 LP, and half of it was during the last day before the cutoff, when most players at Masters were try-harding. Muscle Dragon has so much raw power that some decks simply can’t deal with it."
"Out of all the decks we sampled," says Leer, "I think this has to be the most fun one. If you draw Zed and a pump spell, you are literally unstoppable. I have won a lot of games simply because my opponent didn’t expect me to have Might or play a Ruined Reckoner."
If you're looking for power and personality, my friend, I am glad to introduce you to your new favorite formula:
RickoRex's Akshan Sivir Noxus
This is another blend from Balco's Single-Shard stash that Leer and Wamuu took for a spin (link), although in this case the deck's creator was overwhelmingly evident, both from the data (he played 75%+ of this blend's games, according to our data) and from social media: RickoRex.
This blend also impressed our writers greatly.
"In my opinion," says Wamuu, "this is a very strong deck for Ranked because people usually don’t expect the huge amounts of damage you can pull with cards like Might and Whirling Death. It is very hard for opponents to keep up with our aggression while trying to develop their game plan, and it is way better into Pantheon archetypes than normal Akshan Sivir."
"While the Demacian version of Akshan Sivir focuses on controlling the board," says Leer, who is a bit of a specialist (link) of the Demacian variant, "the Noxian one is quicker at leveling Sivir through spells, and leveling Akshan. Our aggressive game plan works quite well against midrange decks like Pantheon and control decks like Darkness, especially thanks to our Spellshield units. And it's quite an intricate deck. I love having some choice when to play your buffs and planning out your turns with Merciless Hunter and Ruined Reckoner!"
As a notable LoR scholar says, some pilots don't like being blocked…
… others like being blocked, and blockers not mattering.
If you belong to that latter group, this blend may suit you most finely.
Ahri Lulu P&Z
After having challenged Ahri Kennen's throne last week, Ahri Lulu falls down a few pegs, while still packing a ton of punch.
Be advised that the wisdom of the crowds expects the Ahri Kennen archetype to be nerfed -- since that could entail nerfs to Ahri in particular, Ahri Lulu may not be the ideal deck to craft right now.
Strong Against: Champless Poros, Elise Noxus, Kindred Viego, Draven Rumble
Struggles Against: Trundle Shadows builds, Anivia Shadows, slightly disfavored versus Ahri Kennen blends & Scouts
Elise Kindred Vi Sentinels
The Season ends with at least one competitive Kindred blend -- even if not Top Tier -- with many different takes and variants. We've chosen this week's best performing formula, but this archetype seems to have a lot of room for tweaks, judging by the multitude of different builds to be found.
Strong Against: Elise Noxus, Draven Rumble, Ahri Kennen blends, Scouts, Champless Poros
Struggles Against: Pantheon blends, Darkness, Lurkers, Trundle Shadows blends
An interesting development this week -- our recommended blend is the most popular in each of the three shards, which usually indicates a fairly refined build.
Strong Against: Lurkers -- even versus Darkness
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen Shurima, Scouts
Frozen Bonds, aka Draven Darius Freljord
As you may remember, we showcased this blend last week, and it has not disappointed.
Strong Against: Darkness -- even versus Ahri Kennen Shadows
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen Shurima, Lukers, Scouts, Pantheon Taric
Heimerdinger Jayce Shadows
Teacher and student have been paired with several regions during this Season -- Shadows seems, by and large, the most promising experiment.
Strong Against: Elise Noxus, Fizz Lulu -- slight edge versus Champless Poros and Scouts
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen blends, Pantheon blends -- slight underdog to Darkness
Mom's Comfort Food: Braum Vladimir Scargrounds
Judging by its winrate -- a meager 50% -- we would never recommend this blend.
Yet its spike in popularity this week (while some of the strongest staples' playrates, namely Ahri Kennen, nosedived harshly) speaks volumes about what some pilots prefer when the grind is done and it's time for fun.
Strong Against: Scouts
Struggles Against: Pantheon blends, Lurkers, Champless Poros
A Walk on the Wild Side
Either because you are done with the grind and are open to exploration and fun…
… or because you seek the thrill of reaching your coveted Rank under the wire, and with a risky brew…
… these are our recommended blends for those seeking the really rare. They all perform at or above the 53% winrate mark at the upper Ladder rungs, but with such small samples there is little that can be said with certainty.
Ekko Sivir Vi
A take on the Predict archetype, ditching Zilean for more aggressive Champions.
The exact same list is the most popular across all shards, which strongly suggests either a team effort, or a source/creator with a fairly large degree of influence.
Strong Against: Pirates, Jayce Lux, Fizz Lulu -- even versus Scouts, Elise Noxus and Darkness
Struggles Against:Pantheon blends, Champless Poros, Lurkers
Perhaps like Scargrounds, few things comfort the soul more than playing a huge, charming, zero-costed Space Dragon.
Strong Against: Darkness, Draven Rumble -- slight edge versus Ahri Kennen Shadows
Struggles Against: Champless Poros, Scouts, Pantheon Blends, Champless Poros, Lurkers, Fizz Lulu
Spicy Scouts, ft. Jarvan
Although due to smallish sample sizes we still list this blend among our risky brews, week after week it seems like the real deal.
Strong Against: Ahri Kennen Shurima, standard Scouts
Struggles Against: Lurkers -- slightly disfavored versus Darkness
Blast from the Past -- Poppy Ziggs
A single list from APAC -- somebody took notice of how Lulu Poppy, aka Lulu Drift, reintroduced Poppy, and is trying a similar strategy with a former powerhouse: Yordle Burn.
The Noxus-Shurima pairing has quite a bit of aggressive potential. We've seen RickoRex Akshan Sivir Noxus among our Connoisseurs brews -- this is a very different take with the same region pairing, focusing on a go-wide swarm strategy and the classic Noxus Burn finish.
Sivir Ziggs Noxurimaggro
As noted above, this region pairing has no shortage of saber-rattling strategies!
Strong Against: Champless Poros, Pantheon blends, Lurkers, Ahri Kennen Shurima
Struggles Against: Scouts (horrible matchup), Darkness
Akshan Lee Sin
This blend has a tough time against some of the strongest meta staples, yet for three weeks in a row it keeps producing -- albeit in small samples -- impressive results.
Strong Against: Pantheon Shyvana, Trundle Shadow Builds -- even versus Lurkers and Darkness
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen blends, Fizz Lulu, Scouts, Champless Poros
Burn, Teemo Burn!
The classic Nox P&Z burn package, with the one and only Used Cask Salesman.
Strong Against: Champless Poros, Ahri Kennen Shurima, Pantheon Taric
Struggles Against: Elise Noxus (horrible matchup), Scouts (horrible), Darkness -- slight underdog to Lurkers
Teemo Tristana Ionia
Go wide and go big, or go home!
Draven Viktor Ambush
I was wondering when this archetype would return -- and here it is, one of the Connoisseur's staples from before the balance patch, probably until now overshadowed by Draven Rumble since they rely on the same region pairing and an Ambush finish.
Versions with Riven and/or Vi exist (as they did pre-patch), but don't seem to fare very well.
Strong Against: Ahri Kennen Shurima -- even versus Darkness
Struggles Against: Lurkers