Rally Rally Rally
Demacia lovers rejoice!
This is the season for you. At the moment rally decks are very prominent on the ladder, and I fully expect something similar to this to be the most common lineup of the weekend.
Tristana Gnar YiA
You’ll want to play this lineup to beat up on anyone foolish enough to bring control, and you’ll find success against Gnar of all varieties (Scouts boasts a fantastic matchup spread into Bandle Tree, Gnarlines, and Akshan Gnar - though it does lose to Sejuani Gnar).
In a mirror matchup, you’ll want to ban out Yuumi Pantheon -- as a rule, the bigger Demacia decks win Demacia mirrors. Yuumi Pantheon will be able to develop bigger units and finish out the game with Cataclysm or other Rallies. If that fails, they will just drop a levelled Pantheon and heal back to full, or remove your major threats. Best to remove the matchup from the equation and try to win the two matchups that are closer to fifty-fifty.
If you want to make some changes to the lineup you could play Sivir Akshan over Scouts or Tristana, to be slightly better in the Demacia mirrors.
This lineup comes from my friend SantaTCG who played it to second in one of our very own Mastering Runeterra daily tournaments. This is a bit of a riskier lineup as it relies on targeting Scouts: although Scouts is a deck I expect to be popular this week there’s no guarantee my meta read is good.
Sejuani Gnar is a deck that doesn’t appear to perform terribly well on the ladder but in a tournament, you can remove its worst matchups (Darkness and Bandle Tree) to let it thrive.
Alternative options for this lineup are to swap Scouts for Sivir Akshan, and Akshan Gnar for Sejuani Gnar. This will give you an equally good mid-range lineup that trades some power in the Scouts matchup for a more even matchup spread.
Ban strategy for this one is going to be to take out any burn decks you bump into. All of the lists in this lineup are going to struggle with a burn strategy as they lack healing -- this makes decks like Gnar Ziggs very threatening.
If you dodge all the burn players the Tristana can be a decent ban. Stats show we’re slightly unfavoured into Tristana with both Gnar Sejuani and Sivir Akshan.
Monte’s Weapon of Choice
This is the lineup I’ll be playing this weekend.
I personally believe Gnarlines is the deck that gains the most out of playing Gnar while also being the most fun, so I wanted to build my lineup around it. I’m still not sure if these decks mesh 100% perfectly and have a cohesive ban strategy, but that’s why I’ll be testing it out. My goal with this lineup is just to play 3 decks that I feel are very strong in the current meta. Since you can’t play Gnar twice, I had to make some changes to the Tristana deck -- it doesn’t lose much playing Poppy instead.
Our ban strategy is once again going to be to take burn decks out of the equation as Gnarlines will struggle into them.
If there are no madmen out there playing burn, or if they’re crazy enough to put burn in a lineup with Pantheon Yuumi (or Taric), you’ll want to take that deck off the table. While I believe the Pantheon matchup is fine for Gnarlines, the stats show otherwise -- bad enough it should be a ban on sight.
Everyone is on Pantheon? Okay then!
Pantheon Yuumi is probably the best deck of the current meta. It does well versus most things, and specifically does well versus both Scouts and Darkness, two decks I expect to be seen a lot in the metagame.
As such, a sound strategy might be to target the Pantheon deck strategies, so going back to the classic go-wide aggro is worth consideration.
Elise Noxus Spiders
Gnar Ziggs Aggro Burn
Fizz Lulu YiA
All three decks presented here have an almost 70% winrate versus Pantheon decks and have 60% or higher versus Akshan Sivir. So the strategy is simple -- leave those two midrange Demacia decks open.
Other decks that we do well into include Galio variants, Bandle Tree, and Lurk. Any of those you can leave fully open as your decks will beat them. We then have even matchups versus Trundle Gnar Timelines, Gnar Swain, and Lee Zoe, allowing you to leave them open if needed.
In terms of the ban, Shadow Isles is priority number one. Specifically, we want to ban the control Shadow Isles decks that are playing Withering Wail, The Box, or any other sort of Aoe/Heal control cards. Usually, if you face a triple control lineup, it will be very tough to win with this lineup but it's not impossible if you ban the deck with the most AoE and heal.
Outside of control, we do have a bad matchup versus Scouts, so it is worth considering when running into it. My last ban suggestion would be combo type decks like Akshan Gar Papercraft dragon, as they can ignore your rush and just set up their one-turn kill.
If there is one of these decks you do not have access to or enjoy playing, an alternate would be Pirate Aggro with Miss Fortune and Gangplank.
Counter The Counter Line Up
As I mentioned in the previous section, Pantheon decks will be all the rage this weekend. As such, counter lineups like the one above will be popular. So why don’t we 5head them and bring the counter to the counters??
The idea here is to expect an influx of aggro decks or YiA decks and to counter them. I present to you below two approaches to accomplish this: A control approach for those of you who love control, and an atypical aggro approach for those of you who enjoy playing non-typical aggro decks.
So with this control approach, the idea is simple: triple Shadow Isles to make Aggro’s life miserable. All of these decks also run some variant number of The Box or Withering Wail to allow you to effectively deal with very swarmy boards. Your main target will be aggro decks, so leave those open whenever possible. The more low-health units they have, the better. Aside from aggro, you do surprisingly well versus Gnar Swain and GP Sejuani, so you can leave those two decks open as well.
Kindred Sentinel Control P&Z
Alternate: Thresh ASol, FTR
In terms of bans, you want to not face Scouts most of the time. Their rallies are a very big deal versus your decks. Other rally decks like Sivir Akshan and Pantheon Taric could also present a big issue, but against Pantheon, you might be okay due to the Vengeances and other removal tools you carry. If you see Bandle Tree in the opponent's lineup, you have to, unfortunately, instant ban it due to how miserable that match-up versus your Darkness and Anivia can be.
If you are not an Anivia believer, an easy swap is to play Feel The Rush Trundle Tryndamere instead. A similar level of AoE removal, but just a different win condition. Another alternative is Thresh Aurelion Sol. I would check out XxWhatAmIxX’s profile to see what latest version of Thresh Aurelion Sol he is on.
The idea with this aggro approach is that we are playing fast aggro decks that can beat the other typical aggro decks like Spiders and Pirates. These decks all sport great winrates versus those types of aggro decks, and in comparison to the control approach, you can win versus Scouts too. It will be more even than straight-up countering scouts, but the tools provided by this deck allow you to pull wins versus them.
In terms of bans, we do want to still target those super control archetypes. So our main ban priorities will be Darkness, FTR, etc. Following those decks, I would prioritise Pantheon Yuumi or Gnar Trundle Timelines. Against Pantheon, you don't have the tools to go wide enough fast enough to beat them. Against Gnar timelines, they have too much random removal and you have no answer to Buried in Ice.
Other alternatives to the decks above include Scouts themselves and Gnar Fizz Yordle In Arms. Just be careful since you will lose some points versus some of the typical aggro decks when playing Gnar Fizz.
Stuns and Flocks Might Break My Bones -- Sirturmund’s Weapon of Choice
I have suggested this triple Noxus control lineup a couple of times in the past now, and every time I did so was because of how much I expected Pantheon and other Demacia midrange decks to dominate the best of three tournaments and gauntlet meta. This meta is no exception as midrange decks, especially those from Demacia, dominate the scene. Best way to counter them? Stuns and flocks.
Kindred Sentinel Control Noxus
Ezreal Caitlyn Noxus Control
Swain Gnar Freljord
The game plan is that you WANT to face those Demacia decks that rely on attacking and their units surviving. Those units tend to be damaged more times than not, allowing you to capitalise with Ravenous Flocks and Scorched Earths.
We also carry enough big units to get some favourable trades on our side and deny the opponent the value they seek. These decks tend to not have a lot of draws, so you usually run them out of resources. Aside from Demacia midrange, we also tend to do well versus things like Gnar Sejuani midrange, Lee Sin Zoe, and Akshan Gnar Papercraft -- all decks that rely heavily on attacking and combo pieces surviving. So feel free to leave any of those open.
Lastly, we do well versus any landmark deck due to our Scorched Earth, try to beat those too!
In terms of a ban strategy, we want to ban control matchups. So things like Darkness or FTR are troublesome versus the lineup. We also have terrible match ups into Trundle Gnar timelines, so would suggest banning that on the spot. Things that can avoid our removal spells, like Fizz, are also worth considering as ban targets.