Ah! Welcome, my friend – glad you could make it!
Another First Friday is upon us, shaking up the meta and tossing playrates into disarray.
Step inside, please! Distinguished datamancers Balco and Legna have just allowed us a peek at their scholarly efforts, as the first formulas commence vying for supremacy.
So do let me know, my friend!
Would you like to…
… take a glance at the current, turbulent meta?
… check the most recent Viktor's blends, which are all the rage right now?
- Our old friend Riven Viktor Ambush, which looks like how "broken" should look like,
- Aphelios Viktor, one of the few true new blends we've seen, its luck marred a tad by its struggles against Mono Shurima,
- Akshan Viktor, little played but performing greatly,
- Draven Viktor, another well-known Ambush variation,
- Mono Shurima, bewilderingly popular in spite of its only-adequate performance,
- Azirelia, which was lurking at the fringe of the meta last patch, but now steps to the forefront,
… peruse through Old Top Dogs that are still doing great?
- Fizz Lulu, this time not forgotten,
- Taliyah Ziggs,
- Frozen Darius Gnar,
- Elise Noxus,
- Yuumi Pantheon,
- Ramp ASol
… check some high-performing, less-played options?
- Draven Rumble,
- Gnar Ziggs,
- Old-School Pirates, of course, because a stormy sea always draws them near,
- Pirates, ft. Twisted Fate, still kicking butts and taking names,
Glimpse into this Turbulent Meta
This is how things look like, as of right now. As a discerning pilot like yourself knows all too well, data this early after a large patch is merely indicative of some trends…
… yet some of those trends are markedly enough to allow us to think that, perhaps, it is not yet Shurima's time to rule the Meta.
Azir's large legion of devouts do have a warping effect, though, by sheer numbers if not for impressive performance – as you can surely imagine, my friend, most strong decks are those that have an easy time against said legions.
On the other hand…
… if taking a bet about future trends, one would think that those few decks that actually do poorly against Sun Disc (like, say, Aphelios Viktor) may be the ones rejoicing in the near future, as some of Azir's devouts lose faith and walk away from the vast sands, in search for greener pastures.
Raise of the Machine: Viktor's Blends
Although naysayers and unbelievers labeled Viktor's buff as somewhat inconsequential, we are currently witnessing what a bit more juice can do to a power generator.
For months now, Noxus P&Z – perhaps the most fruitful region combination, considering how many different Meta Staples it has produced? – has allowed Viktor to pair with the likes of Riven, Draven and Vi, along with a burn-heavy gameplan and an Ambush finish.
Now, a perhaps modest buff to Viktor means a huge leap for his already-existing medleys, while paving the way for completely new brews.
Riven Viktor – Silly WR
This, my friend, is how "broken" looks like – such a statement must be tempered with the caveats of this being too soon to make any firm affirmations, plus the evidently warping effect of Azir's somewhat misled devouts…
… but, thus far, the numbers are higher than anything we've seen in previous First Fridays.
Our recommended formula is the most popular blend both in Americas and EMEA, and quite popular in APAC. With 400+ games played with this exact medley, and 1500+ games recorded with the archetype in general, there is little doubt: if you want power, this is the formula you want to grasp.
You will notice it differs little from last patch's variants – this of course means there are pilots already well-versed in its ins and outs, in turns surely pushing its WR upwards. Also, since it happens to obliterate Sun Disc, its performance should wane once Azir's followers, once again, realize this is not yet Shurima's time to rule the world.
Strong Against: Murders Sun Disc – strong into Aphelios Viktor, possibly into Taliyah Ziggs and Tribeam blends
Struggles Against: Fizz Lulu looks a bad matchup too.
Aphelios Viktor – 50% WR
By far the most played Viktor blend (around 5% of the meta at Platinum and above), although also the worst-performer as of now.
Notice, though, that it is among the very few medleys that are unfavored – even if only slightly in this case – against Sun Disc. Once Azir's devouts diminish, one would expect this blend's fortune to improve.
And, also worth noting, it is currently the only truly new blend among the most played, being a Champion pairing unheard of as of yet. It is a fairly safe bet, therefore, that this blend lacks refinement, and that most of its pilots are as of yet unaware of its subtleties – regardless how skilled they may be overall – which would make one cautiously confident in this formula's future.
Below, the most popular blend in EMEA and APAC, and also the second most popular in Americas.
Strong Against: Azirelia, Fizz Lulu, slight edge against Ramp ASol
Struggles Against: Riven Viktor, Tribeam Blends, Taliyah Ziggs, possibly also versus Pantheon Yuumi – slightly unfavored against Sun Disc.
Akshan Viktor – Silly WR, only handful of games played
A blend very popular on the Atlantic shards, almost nowhere to be seen in APAC.
Less than 300 games on record in our data sample, so consider this one "Risky".
Strong Against: Murders Sun Disc
Draven Viktor – Dumb WR, only a handful of games played
Another of the traditional Viktor Ambush blends, this very little-played archetype also sees a lot of different lists, so tread very carefully.
Strong Against: Crushes Sun Disc
To much rejoice of his countless devouts – as numerous as dunes in the desert, truly – one of Azir's medleys has returned to the forefront, while another has been brought forth from meme to playable.
The whimpering throes of despair about the overwhelming power of Mono Shurima, overheard barely hours after the patch was unleashed…
… Well, let's just say one should not be too hasty in their reaction during the first few hours of a new meta.
Mono Shurima is definitely a force warping the whole meta around it, but that is simply due to its devouts' passion, willing to play this archetype in numbers unheard of in recent months: more than 25% of all blends at Platinum and above follow this formula.
Its power, though, seems somewhat lacking.
There may still be time for refinements and deck-building that may push this beloved medley to the top; for now, though, we shall recommend it only on grounds of novelty – and personal preference, of course – and point out its WR is far from stellar.
In fact, our recommended formula is the fifth most popular formula, which is the first from the top with above-50% WR stats.
Strong Against: Tribeam Blends, Darkness, slight edge versus Aphelios Viktor and Tristana Faes
Struggles Against: Pretty much all other popular decks – Riven Viktor (horrible matchup), Azirelia, Taliyah Ziggs, Elise Noxus, Ramp ASol, Pantheon Yuumi
On the other hand…
… Azir, now escorted by his stalwart blade-dancers, has indeed made its way to the top.
The archetype seems in much turmoil, as brewers try to decide whether the inclusion of additional Landmarks brings better performance. Thus far, data seems to suggest the inclusion of cards such as God-Willow Seedling and Ancient Preparations is not optimal, and formulas closer to the original design apparently fare better.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Ramp Asol
Struggles Against: Tribeam Blends, Aphelios Viktor, Elise Noxus, Riven Viktor
Old Top Dogs
New, turbulent metas tend to be the ideal hunting ground for old, tried-and-true blends that have suffered few or no nerfs.
Another bit of interesting news: at long last, this Meta Staple has not been forgotten!
Pilots have finally caught on this blend's power (which, on past patches, usually disappeared from among the top meta decks, forgotten and discarded, only to resurface a few weeks later), and its current matchup spread is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
While nothing is certain in these turbulent times, if you want a tried-and-true medley to stick to during the next few weeks, you could do much worse than this one, my friend.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Tribeam Blends, Ramp Asol – probably strong against Riven Viktor
Struggles Against: Scouts, apparently bad matchup into Aphelios Viktor
Perhaps not surprisingly given the rise of Sun Disc, an already-strong blend with built-it Landmark destruction is doing great.
This medley has changed little since last patch; we shall see how it evolves as the meta settles.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Tribeam Blends, Aphelios Viktor; looks very strong into Ramp Asol
Struggles Against: Seemingly weak against Azirelia
Having axed its way among the Top Dogs last week, Frozen Darius Gnar remains a solid choice. Our recommended formula is the most popular in all three shards.
Strong Against: Sun Disc
With the resurrection of Azirelia, so comes to the fore one of its nemesis – which also happens to be quite good into the crowd favorite.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Azirelia, Yuumi Pantheon
Struggles Against: Tribeam Blends – seems to be weak to Aphelios Viktor (horrible matchup), Riven Viktor
This medley finds itself in an interesting position, seemingly weak to Riven Viktor, while not among the strongest decks against Sun Disc – I would not like having to bet on this archetype's performance next week, although it would be surprising if it ends pushed out of the meta.
The best current formula goes for a spell-light, units-heavy, rather expensive top-end approach, with four units on the six-mana slot.
Strong Against: Ramp ASol, Yuumi Pantheon
Struggles Against: Tribeam Blends – seemingly weak to Riven Viktor
Warrior and feline Fae are a lot less popular this week, compared to the last – yet solid matchups against both Azir's devouts, and the currently best Viktor blend, makes one suspect we will see much more of Yuumi Pantheon in the coming weeks.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Ramp ASol, seemingly strong into Riven Viktor
Struggles Against: Tribeam Blends, Scouts
Aurelion Zoe Ramp
Peak makes its way at the top – weak matchups into most other strong blends, and mostly praying on the crowd favorite, may be a cause of concern for this medley's future fortunes.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Tribeam blends
Struggles Against: Azirelia, Yuumi Pantheon, Riven Viktor, Fizz Lulu
Other Promising (and Aggressive) Options
The Americas shard seems to be Drumble's current home, visiting APAC from time to time.
Interestingly, the most popular blend does not run Ambush which, as we've seen in the Rise of the Machine blends, is arguably one of the favorite tricks of the Riven Viktor formula.
Even more interestingly, this medley seems to be one of the few – along with Aphelios Viktor – that do poorly against Sun Disc.
Struggles Against: seems at slight disadvantage against Sun Disc
In times of turmoil, punch them in the face, them burn them down.
Strong Against: Sun Disc
Punch them in the face and burn them down…
… but with Pirates!
Strong Against: Sun Disc
Pirates, ft. Twisted Fate
This medley was kicking behinds and taking names last patch – it is currently very, very little played, but its performance remains dumbly-high good.
Strong Against: Sun Disc
And so, my friend… until the Champions Balance Patch it is, this time!
I hope some of our blends have caught your attention this turbulent First Friday…
… and, this time, I shall bid adieu to you until the Friday right after the next Champion Balance patch, which Riot has decreed will arrive on April's last week – I am afraid that other matters elsewhere claim my presence until then, and shall not be able to properly present to you our medleys and mixtures until such date.
Farewell until then, my friend, and good luck in your climb!