Welcome, my friend! Glad to see you again after so long!
Please, step inside, and as usual for a First Fridays of a new Patch, please excuse the mess – as more than one superb skipper has confided to me, it is indeed a bit of a challenge to find out which way is up, with so many changes to rules and cards.
Speaking of which, and before we wander deeper into today's selection: You may want to be made aware of a recent hotfix, taking place either late yesterday or earlier today, depending where your residence is located:
One would assume these chances will make Ashe Leblanc – currently among the most popular decks, although certainly not the strongest – less appealing that current data suggests.
So, what do you say? Shall we seek a suitable blend for you? Distinguished datamancer Balco has just shared his scholarly efforts and showed us the most potent blends and medleys.
Would you like to…
… take a glance at the current, turbulent meta?
… check the current cream of the crop?
- Discard Midrange, aka Draven Sion,
- Tryndamere Trundle,
- Yuumi Pantheon,
- Lux Jayce, a bright new face among the Top Dogs,
- Taliyah Ziggs,
… browse through other very strong options?
- Ezreal Caitlyn,
- Viego Shurima,
- Jayce Sentinels,
- Sun Disc,
… check some decks both new and old that, while not impressive right now, do show promise?
- Malphite Taliyah, apparently no longer demanding you be GrandpaRoji in order to succeed with it,
- Ezreal Swain,
- Miss Fortune Quinn, aka Scouts,
… maybe take a look at two currently somewhat disappointing medleys that may be in need of further tweaks and refinements?
- Thresh Nasus,
- Galio Udyr.
Glimpse at the Meta
As some are fond of saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Glancing at the first nearly two days of data, one could surmise such is indeed the underlying theme with which this Meta chooses to begin with. The order of things has indeed been shaken up plenty…
… yet while the abundant changes to not just cards, but to Runeterra's whole ruleset, has indeed produced winners and losers, experienced Ladderistas may notice a distinctive lack of decidedly new faces among the Top Dogs.
For comparison, the last batch of balancing propelled an until-then fringe blend (Viktor Riven) straight to the top while at the same time unleashing the formerly utterly unplayable Azir hordes upon the ladder.
We are indeed under the inebriating effects of a First Friday, though – we shall find out in the coming days and weeks which of these are flukes, and which are solid trends.
Stupidly Good – The Cream of the Crop
Here are the five strongest decks, when considering at least 1% play rate at Platinum and upper rungs.
Their winrates (WR) are all in the beyond-broken range – which is not unheard of this early in a patch, let alone a patch with so many changes.
You can fairly confidently expect more tempered performances in the future, although of course that is a far cry from utter certainty.
Discard Midrange, aka Draven Sion
The once undisputed Ladder Lord has returned to top. It is hard to gauge what, exactly, has propelled it so high (Sion's increased prowess is of course the first guess), but a first glance at its matchup table surely seems to indicate this medley is here to stay: except Pirates, most other popular matches are currently in its favor.
It is also worth noting that the most popular variant, which we recommend, is also one of the best performers – one could say this blend hits the ground already well refined.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Yuumi Pantheon, Ashe Leblanc – at least this early on, seems slightly favored against most popular options (data samples are TINY though!)
Struggles Against: Pirate Aggro
Another pre-refined brew – that was no stranger to the top by the end of last patch – Tryndamere and Trundle find themselves in the interesting spot of having both good and bad matchups among the other top dogs.
Like Draven Sion, the most popular variant is also among the best performers.
Strong Against: Ezreal Caitlyn, Pirate Aggro, Lux Jayce
Struggles Against: Sun Disc, Yuumi Pantheon
Yet another tried-and-true blend but, unlike the previous two medleys, in this case the most popular list is not the best performer – spicier variants, like adding a copy of Camphor, the Doubt, are showing far more success.
I shall supply a stern sample size stipulation here, though – a single Aspect-skilled skipper could be the reason behind this spicier formula's success.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Lux Jayce, Thresh Nasus
Struggles Against: Ezreal Caitlyn, Pirates, Ashe Leblanc
Ah, a somewhat new face at last!
No one seems to glow more lively than Lux under this patch, her dazzling brightness carrying her and Jayce from very strong off-meta medley to right between the Top Dogs pack, and showcasing such prowess as being a third of superb skipper's Brokenball 1k mix.
And, perhaps more interestingly, a clear case of an ongoing, turbulent refinement process – for example, three copies of Mystic Shot are an ingredient of one the best-performing formula, yet completely absent in others.
For the time being, we shall recommend the most popular mixture, which indeed performs far above average.
Strong Against: Ezreal Caitlin, Ashe Leblanc
Struggles Against: Tryndamere Trundle and Yuumi Pantheon seem like really awful matchups – Sun Disc looks like an uphill struggle too.
Another known face among the strongest blends as of late, but with an interesting quirk: this is the first of the Top Dogs for which the most popular list is actually performing badly (as in, showcasing a WR below 45%). There's also a huge performance disparity, among the most popular lists, between those that do well and those that do not.
The overall trend seems to be to cut down on units, and rely more heavily on spells, but more tweaks and improvements seem required…
… and we are left wondering how powerful the result will be, if the still-unrefined formulas are this impressive.
We'll recommend the second most popular list as per Balco, which is the best performer.
Strong Against: Ezreal Caitlin, Ashe Leblanc, Tryndamere Trundle, Jayce Sentinels
Struggles Against: Pirate Aggro (badly), Yuumi Pantheon
The following six medleys sport WR around 53-55%, again in all cases with play rates above 1% at Platinum and superior ladder rungs.
Such performance is what one would expect of the Top Dogs of a somewhat stable meta – that these blends are merely second-bests speaks volumes of how turbulent the current times are.
The Kingmakers: Pirate Aggro
Not content with stemming the Sun Disc tide last patch, Pirates are positioning themselves not just as a powerful blend in their own right, but the sort of medley that defines the rest of the Meta: as you may have noticed above, Miss Fortune's bold crew is often a Top Dog's Achilles heel.
And they are doing so while still being, by all intents and purposes, an unrefined brew: not even the exact Champ breakdown is set in stone.
Which leads us to an affectionate tip that I, but most importantly the data, may have for you, my friend.
If you are playing a card game which is highly praised for the amount of choice it provides to pilots, and for your blend you have to decide between a crude, unrefined Champion that is no more than a bunch of stats and maybe a bit of fairly boring damage boosting, and a Champion whose graceful and subtle skills – not to mention his magnificent card art, and also his stunning level-up animation – revolve around, you know, choices and cards…
… would you care to hazard a guess about which the data would kindly recommend you to include in your blend?
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Ashe Leblanc (cakewalk!), Yuumi Pantheon
Struggles Against: Ezreal Caitlyn, Trundle Tryndamere, Thresh Nasus
Not much to say currently about this tried-and-true blend: the most popular list is indeed so by a huge margin, indicating most pilots are sticking to what works (and for good reason, judging by current WR).
One of the most popular medleys currently, and with a sharp matchup spread (good matchups tend to be quite favorable, bad matchups tend to be quite bad) – shifts in the overall meta could, one would expect, impact this blend more than others.
Strong Against: Pirate Aggro, Ashe Leblanc, Yuumi Panth, Viego Shurima
Struggles Against: Sun Disc, Tryndamere Trundle, Lux Jayce, Jayce Sentinels
Another new face at the top, propelled from the fringes to center-stage – in this case data samples are smallish, so I shall recommend you the most popular list (which indeed fares very, very well) rather than more spicier takes.
Strong Against: Tryndamere Trundle?
Struggles Against: Ezreal Caitlyn, Pirate Aggro
The same comment for Ezreal Caitlyn applies here: the most popular blend is so by a landslide, signaling most of this medley's skippers saw no reason to tweak their weapon of choice (a decision which, by current data, seems to be beyond reproach).
Strong Against: Ezreal Caitlin, Pirate Aggro, Ashe Leblanc
Struggles Against: Murdered by Sun Disc – weak also against Yuumi Pantheon and Tryndamere Trundle
The Crowd Pleaser: Sun Disc
After its refinement process last patch, Azir's legions proved to be a force to be reckoned with – and current numbers strongly suggest that they still are.
In particular, the most popular list is the best performer (and by a good margin at that) – expect Sun loyalists in the Ladder aplenty.
Strong Against: Ezreal Caitlyn, Tryndamere Trundle, Ashe Leblanc, Jayce Sentinels
Struggles Against: Pirate Aggro, Yuumi Pantheon, Thresh Nasus
Veigar Senna, aka Darkness
A returned well-known Meta staple, although it is the blend with the smallest sample in today's selection. Seems strong against one of the main counters (Pirates) of the most popular medley (Sun Disc) – certainly an interesting spot to be.
Strong Against: Pirate Aggro
Struggles Against: Sun Disc
Some Assembly Required
Overall, these three medleys hover around a 50% WR in our sample – yet do notice that, in all three cases, the most popular version (which shall be the one we recommend) achieves a comfortable 52% WR.
As skippers become more skilled and medleys more refined, any (or all…) of these could claw its way upwards.
As noted, the most popular formula for this medley presents a rather respectable 52% WR (over a bit over 200 games), so performance could increase in the future.
The matchup against Pirates seems extremely lopsided, though (albeit across a very small sample), favoring Miss Fortune's bold crew nearly 80% of the time.
Strong Against: Ezreal Caitlyn
Struggles Against: Sun Disc, Pirates (a bloodily bad matchup, apparently)
If you are looking for an alternate take, the Aspect of Malphite himself has been paying a lot of attention (and trampling no small number of foes) with Udyr Malphite.
Kindly yet stern warning here: ungodly high piloting skills are surely involved in the above results.
Like all three medley in this category, the most popular list boasts a respectable 52% WR across 200-plus games. Numbers suggest an abundance of either bad pilots, bad formulas, or both, polluting this archetype – we'll learn in the following days which seems to be the most likely explanation.
Strong Against: Pirates, demolishes LeBlanc blends.
Struggles Against: Sun Disc, Ezreal Caitlyn (and, across a microscopic sample, horribly butchered by Trundle Tryndamere)
The Skin Queens of Arcadia, aka Scouts
Oh, how the mighty have (apparently) fallen!
One would be too hasty to disregard this pair, given their time-tested resilience, but even though the most popular formula shows a promising 52% WR over 200 games, prowess is far from what we've come to expect for this medley.
These two blends hover, like the previous three, around 50% WR, but with one key difference: even when looking at their different formulas, there's either not enough data, or not good enough numbers, to be too optimistic about their future.
A blast from the past, but too small samples to say much about this returned blend.
Strong Against: Sun Disc, Pirates
Struggles Against: Ezreal Caitlyn, Trundle Tryndamere, Ashe Leblanc
The most popular formula is actually (slightly) below 50% WR, and data is too scarce to recommend anything else – do take the below recommendation as the first step of a refinement process.
Strong Against: Sun Disc
Struggles Against: Ezreal Caitlyn
Not Currently Recommended: Elites, or LeBlanc Blends
For all the buffs and new cards that they received, neither the Elite package (currently usually seen under Garen Jarvan IV), nor LeBlanc (either alongside Sivir and the Reputation package, or alongside Ashe) have shown promising results thus far.
Whether or not it is due to the patch missing the point, the optimal formula being yet undiscovered, or a hostile environment for them to thrive, that remains to be seen.
Among formerly strong decks that we have no enough data for (that is to say: their absence in today's selection should not yet be construed as them being weak), we have:
- Fizz Lulu: it would be easy to conclude that the nerf to Yordles In Arms has pushed this deck to irrelevance, but this blend has a long history of being discarded early on in a patch, only to resurface later… and with a vengeance at that.
- Darius Gnar, Riven Viktor and Akshan Sivir: reasons for their absence are harder to guess, but it could simply be the lack of novelty.
As data samples grow larger, we should be able to take a deeper peek and find out these blends' fate.
Very well, my friend…
… I hope this first taste of the Meta has been to your liking. Perhaps not as much change as one would have expected given the amount of tweaks and buffs to cards and rules, but on the other hand these are very much untested waters – jump onto a ship that catches your fancy, I would say, and set sail to where thrill and discovery awaits.
Any questions, comments or feedback – or any exotic blend you're after – feel free drop a comment, poke me on Twitter (@HerkoKerghans), or ping me on Discord (https://discord.gg/VNN5NmGhXY). And you can find more of my writings on Substack (https://riwan.substack.com/)
And good luck in your journey!