Hey, peeps! Hope y’all had a great end of the year and I wish a fulfilling 2023 to all of us.
Today we’re back for the second Countering the Runeterra Meta (CtM, for short). If you missed CtM #1, where I explain what this series is about, check it here.
This will probably be the last CtM before the next balance patch hits (Riot has not yet confirmed exactly when the next patch will land, but either next week, or the following, are the most likely), so let’s try to get ahead of the current LoR meta before it fades away.
Briefly, this is what the current meta is about, and it comes without substantial changes to the top three for most played decks:
Just as in previous weeks, we see Aatrox Vayne, Red Gwen and Bandle Bar at the top. The novelty is Red Gwen above Seraphine Ezreal, a change most likely pushed by the highest winrate of the former on the ranked stage.
Below the top three we see a variety of decks, where the most threatening – those with not only high play rate, but also high win rate – are Aatrox Kayn, Rumble Vayne, Discard Aggro and Trundle Tryndamere.
The current Masters ranked system (where you most often get +15 LP for wins and -25 LP for losses) feels a bit too punishing for wild experiments, especially if you have a good amount of points. After sinking a bunch of my own LP by testing a lot of combinations, these are the off meta decks I’m using to climb back (or that other people are having success with).
The first deck I’m highlighting this week is the same archetype I highlighted on CtM #1: Trundle Elise.
The main modifications I made from the previous list are the inclusions of Doombeast and Redeemed Prodigy, making the deck a bit more aggressive.
This Trundle Elise deck keeps performing for me – I have a good tournament record and over 70% WR on ladder, through the course of more than 60 games.
On CtM #1 I suggested it on the rationale that with Shadow Isles plus Freljord you get to play both Quietus and Buried in Ice, two strong cards to fight the meta. Since then, Trundle Tryndamere has rose in popularity and is now the most played Shadow Isles Freljord deck, also making use of both Quietus and Buried in Ice. Although FTR is currently more popular than Trundle Elise, they seem to have similar global winrates, or at least this is true whenever I check lormaster.com’s Meta Environment.
The main advantage of Trundle Elise over Trundle Tryndamere within the current meta is, in my experience, a better matchup against Aatrox Vayne. This seems to be true when we check Legna’s matchup section:
I said on the previous CtM that the combination of Shadow Isles and Freljord isn’t something especially inventive. For example, Gwen Sejuani should be a solid pick for that combination as well, as shown by its great pilot FuriousPorobear. At the end of the day, picking one of them depends on personal preferences and on what decks you expect to face the most.
The second deck for on today's CtM is Zed Gwen.
There are some Shadow Isles + Ionia decks around right now. Some include Zed, some include Gwen. But almost all of them have bad matchups against the most popular decks and heavily focus on Ephemerals, a Keyword and archetype with many problems.
The list I’m showcasing is slightly different from those just mentioned. Without the Ephemeral or Blade Dance Package, here we get to run a few more control tools (Vengeance is a very good card to have against Rumble Vayne, for example). Our aggression comes mainly from evasion, by using Ghost and Syncopation – very strong cards when combined with Hallowed buffs – and not from a swarm of units (which is what Ephemeral and Blade Dance decks usually go for).
Similar archetypes to the one I’m suggesting have been tried many times before, by me and others. The most successful usage of a similar deck that pops to my mind comes from a Seasonal Tournament run from the player weiseguy. The novelty here comes from Ghost (a good tech against Aatrox Vayne) and Syncopation (useful tech against removal-heavy decks, like Bandle Bar). On top of that, we get to use Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed, a card that recently had its nerf reverted and that is, in my opinion currently underused for what it does.
Our third deck is from RickoRex, Runeterra's best-known self-confessed Overwhelm abuser.
This is a very aggressive deck that relies on board spammig and Overwhelm, plus stat boosts. Current LoR stats show Freljord Darius doing well into Aatrox Vayne and Bandle Bar. Spamming units, with backup buffs, putting pressure on every attack is often too much for Bandle Bar, a deck without native heal and without good Equipment removal to destroy Bone Club.
Something similar goes for the Aatrox Vayne matchup, but for that one Freljord Darius seems to depend a bit more on combat tricks like Troll Chant and Whirling Death.
Although Freljord Darius can perform well into the two top dogs mentioned, it has an unfavored matchup against Red Gwen. This is also most likely true against the majority of Shadow Isles decks, a region that has access to Quietus, Vile Feast and Vengeance. RickoRex himself is currently showing, on his lormaster.com profile, an approximate winrate of 64% after 77 games, evidencing that the deck does not come without weaknesses. Even so, it should be a good meta breaker for these last days before a balance cycle.
Soraka Tahm Kench
You read it right, I’m suggesting Soraka TK as a meta breaker!
I often try to force that deck to counter the meta (and maybe more than I should). I profited a lot from abusing that archetype back on some old metas, like on the Go Hard meta and on the Ahri Kennen meta. It is a reasonable option again, as it does fairly well against Aatrox Vayne and Bandle Bar.
It does well against Aatrox Vayne because on that matchup there is no Landmark destruction to disrupt Star Spring, and because you can fight big stats with even bigger stats. Your main concern for that matchup is a discounted Condemn.
And it does well against Bandle Bar because most of the time the Bar player does not want to damage your units. The main concern for that matchup is not being able to set up your main pieces – namely Soraka, Tahm Kench and Star Spring – before Seraphine comes down leveled up.
The main predator of Soraka Tahm Kench decks is Quietus, which makes the Shadow Isles matchups very rough. For that reason, I believe it has a similar matchup table to Freljord Darius.
Fizz Gwen, aka Gwizz
The last deck featured today comes from the Red Pup Games folks.
Fizz Gwen is a clever mix of powerful mechanics right now. It uses Elusive evasion to kill Aatrox Vayne as fast as possible, a strategy that tends to work quite well now that we rarely see Sharpsight in Demacia decks. It also has access to the currently two best Equipment removals in the game, Quietus and Heavy Metal, to make the Aatrox Vayne matchup even better.
Fizz is a powerful menace to Bandle Bar, Red Gwen, Lurk and Trundle Tryndamere – especially when combined with Buhru Leader, which is very hard to deal with and can carry these matchups with ease, attacking with Elusive evasion multiple times. And the interactions between Island Navigator, the Scout keyword, Hallowed, Opulent Foyer and Buhru Leader are the icing on the cake, making matchups against Lurk and FTR, for example, even better.
The biggest issue for Fizz Gwen among the meta decks seems to be Rumble Vayne decks, as they can often win the race to kill the opponent. Even so, Fizz Gwen is certainly a solid and fun pick to fight most of the current best LoR decks.
Thanks for checking the second issue of Countering the Runeterra Meta!
As usual, if you have any feedback or if you have a spicy that can maybe be featured here next time, don’t hesitate in contacting me through Twitter or through the 4LW #8126 Discord.
CtM will be back whenever we have an initial shape of a meta for the next balance cycle, so stay tuned!