Welcome, my friend, welcome!
… and what a Friday, indeed! First of this meta, and first of the year; first first Friday is frankly as fine and first-rate an alliteration as one could possibly fancy!
But you are not here for puns and wordplay, so do excuse my outburst! Please, step inside, and let me show you our current selection of fine brews and exotic blends, meticulously curated from notable numeromancers Legna (link) & Balco (link).
By the way, did yesterday's small sample succeed in whetting your appetite? Because we do have five-fold the options today! So, would you like to…
… check an overview of how this brave, recently-balanced Meta looks like?
… take fatty furry critters to the ladder?
- Legacy Poros, aka Champless FR P&Z, which took the ladder by storm,
- Braum Poros,
- Jinx Poros,
… relish in playing one of the new, competitive Kindred decks, which lets be honest, by itself makes this patch worth it?
- Kindred Viego, a variation of tried-and-true Thresh Viego,
- Elise Kindred Sentinels, which underwent a lot of experimentation during the previous meta but never quite clicked,
- A similar approach with Elise Kindred Vi,
- Yet another take with Elise Kindred Ezreal,
… aim for ruthless efficiency and climb with the still-ruling elite?
- Ahri Kennen Shurima, its rule uncontested,
- Pantheon Taric, now the best-performing Pantheon variant,
- Elise Noxus, clawing her way upwards,
- Draven Rumble, chuckling "Hey, we've got elusive Poros too!"
- Lonesome Pantheon, stoically standing in its former shadow's shadow,
- Pantheon Shyvana, punishing Poros with fiery rage,
- Lurker, because they are always there,
- Darkness, rooting for Spiders over Poros,
… take the not-so-popular, yet quite potent, for a spin?
- Elise Trundle, sailing the rather unpopulated Control waters,
- Pirates, thriving in the turbulent meta,
- Ahri Lulu,
- Fizz Lulu, not showing nowhere near the playrate it has last week, but still all the winrate,
- Lulu Poppy, aka Lulu Drift, aka Revenge of the Avatar of Azirelia,
- Ramp Aurelion Zol,
… or join the scientific efforts trying to bring Freljord to the Meta's top?
- Trundle Tryndamere P&Z,
- Trundle Sejuani Tryndamere, aka Feel the Ramp,
- Elise Tryndamere, proving there are many ways to make a spider fat.
Do bear in mind that all numbers and stats relate to a deck's performance on the Ranked Ladder (at Platinum and above, specifically).
If your interested in Tournament and/or Gauntlet lineups -- in case that, say, you're considering competing in the Fourth Qualifier (link) for our very own $5K Championship this coming Sunday -- you'd do well to check Wamuu's latest Tournament Tech article (link).
Kings, Beggars, and Newcomers: a First Glance to this Brave New Meta
These are the best performing decks, from among those that currently show a playrate larger than 1% in Platinum, Diamond and Masters:
… and these are the kindest, most munificent souls who generously donate LPs left, right and center:
… so, my friend, do tell the people what you have seen today: Sun Disc decks remain utterly underclassed poro poop, and other old, popular archetypes have apparently not received enough Riot love to return to relevance.
There are two interesting details to note, though, about the fickle nature of deck brewing:
- During the past meta, week after week Lonesome Pantheon showed superiority over the Taric variant by an ample margin… Yet this week, as the meta shifted around them, so did their respective performances. We shall see if this early trend proves true, but I do find it a beautiful example of how decks cannot simply be juxtaposed side by side when desiring to find out which is superior -- one needs to consider the rest of the field to reveal their power levels.
- Elise Freljord combines two concepts that most definitely work in this meta -- namely Elise and her spiders, and making small things big through Iceborn Legacy -- yet it does not seem to find success. Goes to show that what works on paper does not always do so on the ladder… yet, as we shall see, research is far from over in this particular direction.
And one so sharp-sighted as yourself surely noted Nightfall's nonattendance in the above two lists: Diana and her nocturnal crew seem to be the one old archetype that the buffs did manage to push into "playable" range, although for now not much farther than the 50% winrate mark where it currently sits.
The Pilose Poro Pack
If you have been anywhere near the ladders as of late, you have surely seen them: hairy, elusive Daring Poros made huge by Iceborn Legacy.
As it is customary tradition for any patch, harrowing shrieks for nerfs soon followed, yet as preeminent pilots have pointed, such bawls may have been perhaps a tad hasty: as noted below, these blends -- while objectively strong, and perhaps subjectively frustrating -- have no lack of very strong counters.
Legacy Poros, aka Champless Freljord P&Z
Currently the most popular deck on the ladder by a very wide margin: play elusive Poros, nourish and fatten the cute little buggers, punch face. As said above, weak to several of the strong Meta decks.
Strong Against: Darkness, Elise Trundle, Kindred Viego, Thralls.
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen blends, Draven Rumble, Elise Noxus, Nightfall, Pantheon Taric & Pantheon Shyvana, Ahri Lulu, Pirates
A somewhat different take with good performance over 400+ games, although it loses when facing the Championless version. Unrivaled for showing off that Santa Braum skin though.
Strong Against: Elise Trundle, Darkness
Struggles Against: Champless Poros, Ahri Kennen, Draven Rumble, Pantheon Taric
An experimental build with little data, very similar to the Champless variant but seems to actually be favored against it.
Also, it has Jinx!
You know me, my friend: I am not one to issue one caveat when I can furnish two or three.
And, right now, part of me feels compelled to mumble them by the dozens, because harshly learned life lessons have taught us that, when something is too good to be true, it usually is not.
Yet, here we are: competitive Kindred decks.
Let the hunt begin!
More than 1500 games at high level and a 52% winrate strongly suggest this archetype is neither meme nor fluke.
And our recommended list has performed above the 55% winrate mark, with more than 400 games under its belt.
It does have a hard time against several of the most powerful decks in the format though, but screw caveats: this works, my friend. This works!
Strong Against: Elise Trundle, Lonesome Pantheon, Aurelion Zoe
Struggles Against: Poros, Ahri Kennen, Darkness, Elise Noxus, Draven Rumble
Elise Kindred Sentinels
A blend that saw quite a bit of experimentation when Jayce and his support cards were released, now surging again after Kindred's buffs. With around 400 games played at high level, it shows an extremely interesting matchup table.
First, this seems to be one of the few decks that actually loses to Sun Disc decks, which one would assume is good news: once Azir's loyal followers get the message that their favorite deck is really, really bad, the meta may become more favorable to EKS.
Second, notice its favorable odds against two of the strongest decks in the format.
Strong Against: Poros, Ahri Kennen, Lurkers
Struggles Against: Sun Disc, Darkness
Elise Kindred Vi
A somewhat similar build but with a host of new tricks. Performs even better than the non-Vi version, has similar problems with Sun Disc (hence even more reason for optimism), and also appears to be a strong Ahri Kennen counter.
Strong Against: Elise Trundle, Ahri Kennen, Darkness
Struggles Against: Sun Disc
Elise Kindred Ezreal
An experimental version, favored by preeminent pilot 4WL in their ascension to Top 10.
Strong Against: Poros, Ahri Kennen, Elise Noxus
Struggles Against: Elise Trundle
The Ruling Royalty: Strongest Meta Staples
Much as the buffs may have shaken the Meta's middle tiers (and infested the ladder with fattened furry critters), the cream of the crop remains fairly unchanged.
If you favor the tried and true, my friend, then you probably know it already, because it is likely what you were piloting three days ago.
Their Royal Majesties, Ahri Kennen Shurima
Its rule currently undisputed and uncontested, Ahri Kennen Shurima shows winrates the likes of which nerf hammers are made of.
The SI version, featuring Go Hard, still packs one hell of a punch but (except when facing each other) remains an inferior choice.
Strong Against: Pretty much everything not list below
Struggles Against: Spider decks, Anivia SI, Pirates, Elise Kindred (& Vi). May be weak to Nightfall, too.
A potential case study of how a deck's strength cannot be measured in a vacuum: Taric Pantheon lived under Lonesome Pantheon's shadow the whole of last meta… yet the Taric variant now finds itself the clearly superior option, notably by its much better matchup against the fatty furry menace.
It is too soon to celebrate, though: this blend's Achilles' heel is Elise Spiders (its odds being in the 10% range), so the ebb and flow of the meta may again turn the tables next week.
Strong Against: Poros, Darkness, Lonesome Pantheon
Struggles Against: Elise Noxus, Ahri Kennen, Akshan Sivir
Now countering two of the most powerful decks, few are enjoying this meta as much as our Mistress of Many Legs.
This blend's matchups tend to be very lopsided one way or the other (good matchups are great, bad matchups are horrible), so it may not be a flawless formula if you fancy fair fights in most games. Having said that, great winrate and quick matches make it one of the most efficient ladder climbers currently.
Strong Against: Poros, Ahri Kennen, Kindred Viego, Lurkers, Pantheon builds
Struggles Against: Darkness, Draven Rumble, Pirates, Ahri Lulu
Making room for the full complement of Daring Poros, Draven Rumble went from "ain't no deck for Rumble" a few weeks ago to "top of the meta" now.
Strong Against: Poros, Elise Noxus, Kindred Viego, Lurkers, Thralls
Struggles Against: Elise Trundle, Elise Kindred blends (horrible matchup).
Standing stoic under its former shadow's shadow, the Lonesome blend is still one of this meta's most potent blends.
Strong Against: Elise Kindred blends
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen, Kindred Viego, Elise Noxus, Thralls
Another Pantheon blend capable of punishing Poros, this is preeminent pilot GrandpaRoji's recommended list, also providing appreciable performance in our favorite data sources.
Strong Against: Poros, Elise Trundle, Darkness, Lonesome Pantheon
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen, Elise Noxus, Kindred Viego
Pyke Rek'sai, aka Lurkers
While Deep fails to find its footing, there's no doubt who rules the seas.
(Spoiler: Pirates, probably, as we shall soon see! =)
Strong Against: Thralls, Dragons, Pantheon Taric
Struggles Against: Elise Trundle, Ahri Kennen, Elise Noxus, Nightfall, Pirates
Veigar Senna, aka Darkness
Still strong in this convoluted meta, Darkness keeps its fingers crossed while rooting for Elise to overrun all Poros.
Strong Against: Kindred Viego, Elise Noxus, Elise Kindred blends
Struggles Against: Poros, Pantheon Taric, Deep
In the look for something a bit more exotic? No better time than a first first Friday like today, when a big chunk of the meta falls into that category!
All archetypes below have at least 200 games under their belts in Platinum and above, which gives some degree of confidence in their overall performance. Do take everything with a healthy dose of caution, though.
Cephalopod and BaJAtakk swear by this Control deck, featuring The Howling Abyss. Its performance is more than decent across a fairly large number of games: a somewhat similar game plan as Poros (in this case Iceborn Legacy making spiders fat), but aiming for the late game via Trundle, Abyss and board wipes.
Strong Against: Lurkers, Draven Rumble, Nightfall, Elise Kindred
Struggles Against: Poros, Kindred Viego, Pantheon Shyvana
Turbulent seas means good time for a bit of old-fashioned piracy, and great matchups into some of the strongest decks out there certainly doesn't hurt.
Our recommended list adds a bit of go-wide punch via Brothers' Bond, and seems to be working wonders.
Strong Against: Poros, Ahri Kennen, Kindred Viego, Elise Noxus, Lurkers
Struggles Against: Not much save Akshan Sivir and Nightfall, apparently
One of the strongest decks last week, still performing very well. Quite solid into Poros.
Winged fire breathers are doing quite well in this generous meta, chock-full of LP donors.
Strong Against: Elise Trundle
Struggles Against: Ahri Kennen, Lurkers, Elise Noxus
Another deck that was extremely strong last week, to the point that it was poised as the greatest threat to Ahri Kennen's claim to the meta throne.
Strong Against: Poros, Darkness
Lulu Poppy, aka Lulu Drift
Tweaking Rally Elusives and sticking with a nerfed Poppy, preeminent pilot Darkodious swears by this deck, and shares some mulligan advice: Tracker, Champs and Tricks.
Strong Against: Poros
Ahri Kennen Noxus
Yet another Ahri Kennen variant, this one shows even better performance than the Shurima blend, albeit a much smaller data sample.
Strong Against: Poros, the Shurima blend
Struggles Against: Spider builds.
Ramp Zoe Aurelion Sol
This archetype as a whole does not show an encouraging performance, but our suggested list does, with a 55%+ winrate.
Risky Stuff, featuring Tryndamere
If Riot's goal with this balance patch was to make Freljord strong(er), the several experiments found on the ladder with Tryndamere as their common thread should make the Devs very, very happy.
These below blends all have minuscule data samples -- their performance is excellent, but pilots beware!
Trundle Tryndamere P&Z
This specific champion pair is the focus of a lot of different blends, coupling them with different regions. Shadow Isles is currently the most played variant by far, but it's the P&Z blend that shows the best performance.
For those unfamiliar with Concurrent Timelines: remember that Ice Pillar refills your mana, so you basically get to play a free eight-drop by turn eight.
Strong Against: Elise Trundle
Struggles Against: Poros, Lurkers