Countering the LoR Meta, January 18
Hey there, Runeterra folks! This is my first writing for MaRu after the balance hotfix was released on January 5. Today we’re back for the third Countering the Legends of Runeterra Meta article (CtM, for short). If you missed the first issue of CtM, where I explain what this series is about, check it out here. Like in past installments, today we'll focus on how to counter the LoR ladder meta – next week I’ll most likely follow up with an article focusing specifically on the Legends of Runeterra Seasonal Tournament, so stay tuned. And don't forget: we have the $1,000 Mastering Runeterra January Open this coming Saturday!
Table of Contents
- Countering the LoR Meta, January 18
- The LoR Meta
- The LoR Meta Resistance
- Wrapping up
The LoR Meta
Briefly, this is what the current Runeterra meta looks like:
We see Jinx Lulu taking over as the most-played LoR deck. This is no big surprise: many people had it coming that Jinx would be a dominant champion post-hotfix. Her raw power is incredibly high, and her Lulu Jinx deck comes with an impressive 56%+ win rate. It's also a fairly easy deck to jump into, so players can grab it and start taking wins right away, making it a very popular choice for the Runeterra ladder.
At the second position among the most-played LoR decks we see Trundle Tryndamere, aka FTR. Trundle Tryndamere was already a very popular choice before the hotfix and none of its tools got nerfed, so it was expected to jump to the highest play rates.
In the third position, we see Sun Disc. This surprises me a lot – there are not many players at the top of the LoR ladder playing this deck, and its win rate is subpar. As the meta stats show, Azir Xerath does have some good matchups against a handful of meta decks (it is strong against Norra SI, for example), but I guess the high play rate is influenced more by the appeal of the deck than by its performance.
At the rest of the top 10 for play rate, we see a great variety of regions and champions. We’ll talk about most of them below, but if you want a more detailed overview of the current structure of the meta before advancing to counter strategies, make sure to check Leer’s Monday Meta Report and Herko’s By the Numbers.
The LoR Meta Resistance
In my opinion, the current meta is much more open and healthier than what we had pre-hotfix. The best decks in Runeterra don’t seem to be so far ahead of the rest as before, resulting in more room for alternative strategies to shine.
In what follows, I’ll suggest some counter decks that can beat the ones at the top of the charts. My suggestions will be biased by my own experience and personal tastes, but be sure that there are a lot of different routes to take to counter the current Legend of Runeterra meta decks. Feel free to profit from our discussion here to try your own shot at bringing the top dogs down!
Seraphine Twisted Fate
The first deck I’ll highlight this week is the one I used to climb 600+ LP and reach the top 20 of the Americas Masters ladder…
… after a lot of games and with a 75% win rate: Seraphine Twisted Fate.
My TF Seraphine deck started as an attempt to find the best Seraphine archetype after the Back Alley Bar nerf. I originally had one copy of Ezreal and only two copies of Twisted Fate, but with enough testing, I realized TF was overall much better, so I went full hat guy. In fact, one of the main upsides of cutting Bar is being free to use several copies of our cards, hence the full set of all of our units. Unlike Bar, Seraphine asks for unique spells, not for unique units.
Anyway, I won’t break its deckbuilding process into too much detail here – what's relevant to countering the LoR meta is that the deck succeeds not only because it is strong by itself (with powerful Champions and combos) but also because it is strong against a lot of the best LoR decks. During my run, I was able to reliably beat Lulu Jinx, Norra Shadow Isles, and both Katarina Gwen and Katarina Leona. It also reliably beats Aatrox decks, which I expect to raise on play rate soon.
Against aggressive decks like Lulu Jinx, you win mostly by removing their threats. You try to use single-target removals for core units (like Champions and the Mecha-Yordles) and AoE removal, like TF’s Red Card and Caustic Riff, for smaller units.
The last change I made to the list was the inclusion of Sump Fumes, so that we can have even better odds for removing Lulu, Jinx, Katarina, and other priority targets.
Against midrange and control decks, your better strategy is casting Glorious Evolution – GEv, for short – as soon as possible. Decks like Norra Shadow Isles, FTR, Katarina Leona, and Aatrox decks will usually have a lot of trouble surviving even a single attack after you cast GEv, since you will have many cheap or free threats, like Wiggly Burblefish. In these matchups, Acorn, the Hextechnician plus GEv will often be a strong opening hand.
Karma Master Yi Shadow Isles
The second deck for today's Countering the LoR Meta is Shadow Isles Karma Master Yi.
I said at the end of CtM #1 that this archetype was mostly being pushed back by the huge power of Seraphine and Aatrox decks. Now that these are nerfed, Shadow Isles Karma Master Yi has a better shot against the Runeterra meta. The list has few changes from the one I used to win the MaRu’s One Year Anniversary Tournament, and that Yangzera wrote about in his Karma Master Yi deck guide.
First of all, it has a very favorable matchup into FTR. We have Quietus to respond to an eventual Faces of the Old Ones and early Feral Mystic, Deny to answer Feel The Rush and She Who Wanders's skill, plus Stun, Recall and Vengeance to shut down incoming damage and problematic units.
Quietus is also a premium removal against Shadow Isles Norra, as it removes all the usual Champions in those decks, including Norra, Veigar, and even Heimerdinger when the latter is included over the Darkness package. Catalogue of Regrets helps us to keep up with the value battle and find our first Pack Your Bags faster – it’s important to notice that Norra decks typically can’t destroy landmarks, so Catalogue will stick.
Against Jinx Lulu and Jinx Ekko we count on removal, Eye of the Dragon, and Drain mechanics to prevent our total health from going too low. The main problem for Shadow Isles + Ionia control is that we don’t have a very efficient way to deal three damage with a single card, something that can be problematic against Jinx decks. Our best option would be Grasp of the Undying, but the version I’m featuring runs one copy of Undergrowth, because overall I find it to be a better standalone card than Grasp. Our Yi Karma deck can have a bit of a problem removing Lulu on curve, for example, which can lead to further issues within a game, but even then, we have many pings (from Go Hard and Vile Feast) to handle their followers, plus Vengeance for Jinx, so our Karma Yi has a good matchup here.
Against Ganplank Sejuani, we can Deny their Spirits Unleashed, ping followers, and use Vengeance on their Champions, so we have a good toolbox. Against Leona Katarina, we try to survive until we get to cast a good The Ruination – Sunburn can barely come back from a big AoE removal.
The only real bad meta matchup for Karma Yi should be Sun Disc, but that’s good enough of a matchup table to make the deck our good option.
If we want to do even better into Jinx when playing Karma, we can move from Shadow Isles to Piltover & Zaun
Although some of the considerations about Karma Yi are also true about Karma Ezreal, by shifting from Shadow Isles to Piltover & Zaun we change our matchup table a little bit. For example, we do worse against Norra (since we lose access to Quietus) and against Gangplank Sejuani (because we lose access to Vengeance)...
… yet, as a trade-off, we do better into Jinx Lulu and Jinx Ekko, as we gain access to efficient removal for those matchups, like Mystic Shot, High Note, Aftershock, and Caustic Riff. And although we lose access to The Ruination, I believe that moving from Shadow Isles to Piltover & Zaun also improves the Katarina Leona matchup, because we’ll be more likely to remove Katarina and Sun Guardian on curve. We probably also improve the matchup against Zed Hecarim, since we get access to good landmark removal for Opulent Foyer and better removal for a round-three Zed.
In the end, choosing between Karma Shadow Isles and Karma Piltover & Zaun is a matter of personal preference, and choosing which meta decks you would like to beat the most. Both seem very viable to me right now.
Now, here we have an alternative take on Noxus Jinx, one more focused on spell damage, and that is currently underexplored.
The idea here is to have a stronger start than the more popular Jinx decks and to have more direct damage to throw at the opponent's Nexus, making our deck less dependent on board damage. By doing that, I believe we improve the Norra and the Aatrox matchups.
The Noxus package provides strong cards like Katarina, Crimson Pigeon, and the immune-to-Quietus Legion Rearguard.
In the end, this is an experimental build that I didn’t get to test much. But after brewing a bunch of burn decks, like the original Pirate Aggro and Azir Burn, my intuition says that a burn-focused Noxus Jinx deck has a lot of potential to beat the current LoR meta. After all, it kind of combines a part of Jinx Lulu with a part of Katarina Leona, two already successful decks, so we have good indicators for it. Test it out and let me know your results, I would be very interested in the feedback!
Akshan Master Yi, aka Squirrel Akshan
The last deck featured today is a Shadawx special.
I don't have much first-hand experience with it (yet!), but some people are truly enjoying it, and this Akshan Master Yi deck seems to have a good shot against slower meta decks like Sun Disc and Trundle Tryndamere.
This is a bulky-unit deck – you stack a lot of buffs on your units and hit the opponent until they are down. Our main stars are Master Yi and Swole Squirrel, mainly because they have built-in Power buffs, making it easier for our deck to achieve its goal; and if we don't find our key players, we can equip a Swinging Glaive on any unit to start rolling buffs and turn our board into beefy threats. And Dragon's Rage is a proper and scary finisher, especially when combined with Squirrel, as it gets its Power doubled before the Nexus strike comes in.
As mentioned, the deck seems to do very well against slow decks, like Sun Disc and Trundle Tryndamere. On the other hand, we seem to run into trouble against swarm decks – that's to say, decks that flood the board and tend to have multiple attackers – as we usually have only one or two blockers. That being so, it can be a powerful meta counter depending on what you are facing the most.
Thanks for checking out the third installment of Countering the Legends of Runeterra Meta!
Special thanks to Shadawx for guiding me through his Akshan Master Yi deck, and a big shout-out to Trinathan for building and popularizing his Katarina Leona deck – I initially planned to highlight Sunburn this week, but… err, it spread too much and is kind of the meta right now, the very thing we are looking to beat! =)
But it’s a deserved shout-out: it’s always nice to see the community innovating, especially when players discover well-performing decks.
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 ping me at 4LW #8126 on the Mastering Runeterra Discord.
If you are a competitive player looking to specifically improve at Seasonals, this week and the next I will fully focus my coaching sessions on preparation for the upcoming Seasonal Tournament, so you are a competitive player looking to improve, check my metafy profile: https://metafy.gg/@4lw/sessions