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Countering the LoR Meta Decks, January 18

Seasoned brewer 4LW shares five decks to counter the LoR meta: Seraphine TF, Karma Yi & Karma Ezreal, Kat Jinx, and Squirrel Akshan!

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!

January Mastering Runeterra Open Tournament

Table of Contents


The LoR Meta

Briefly, this is what the current Runeterra meta looks like:

LoR Best Decks: Legends of Runeterra Meta Tier List, sorted by play rate

We see Jinx Lulu taking over as the most-played LoR deck. This is no big surprise: many people had it coming that JinxJinx 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: SeraphineSeraphine Twisted FateTwisted Fate.

Regions
Bilgewater
20 cards
Piltover & Zaun
20 cards
Rarities
35 100
champion
6
epic
11
rare
8
common
15
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
5
1
17
2
1
3
7
4
4
5
1
6
5
7+
Champions
6
2
Seraphine
3
Seraphine
4
Twisted Fate
3
Twisted Fate
Followers
12
1
Acorn, the Hextechnician
3
Acorn, the Hextechnician
2
Coral Creatures
3
Coral Creatures
4
Zap Sprayfin
3
Zap Sprayfin
8
Wiggly Burblefish
3
Wiggly Burblefish
Spells
22
1
Piltovan Tellstones
1
Piltovan Tellstones
1
Poro Cannon
1
Poro Cannon
2
Ebb
1
Ebb
2
Encore
1
Encore
2
Heavy Metal
1
Heavy Metal
2
High Note
1
High Note
2
Iterative Improvement
1
Iterative Improvement
2
Line 'Em Up
1
Line 'Em Up
2
Make it Rain
1
Make it Rain
2
Mystic Shot
1
Mystic Shot
2
Rummage
1
Rummage
2
Swindle
1
Swindle
2
Time Trick
1
Time Trick
3
Sump Fumes
1
Sump Fumes
4
Caustic Riff
1
Caustic Riff
5
Drum Solo
1
Drum Solo
5
Eye of Nagakabouros
3
Eye of Nagakabouros
6
Hexbliterator
1
Hexbliterator
10
Glorious Evolution
2
Glorious Evolution
Open deck in builder

My TF Seraphine deck started as an attempt to find the best SeraphineSeraphine archetype after the Back Alley BarBack Alley Bar nerf. I originally had one copy of EzrealEzreal and only two copies of Twisted FateTwisted 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.

Red Card Caustic Riff Sump Fumes

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 CardRed Card and Caustic RiffCaustic Riff, for smaller units. 

The last change I made to the list was the inclusion of Sump FumesSump Fumes, so that we can have even better odds for removing LuluLulu, JinxJinx, KatarinaKatarina, and other priority targets.

Acorn, the Hextechnician Glorious Evolution

Against midrange and control decks, your better strategy is casting Glorious EvolutionGlorious Evolution – GEv, for short – as soon as possible. Decks like Norra SIShadow 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 BurblefishWiggly Burblefish. In these matchups, Acorn, the HextechnicianAcorn, 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 SIShadow Isles KarmaKarma Master YiMaster Yi

Regions
Ionia
24 cards
Shadow Isles
16 cards
Rarities
37 600
champion
6
epic
12
rare
15
common
7
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
9
1
7
2
4
3
6
4
7
5
6
6
1
7+
Champions
6
3
Master Yi
3
Master Yi
5
Karma
3
Karma
Landmarks
2
4
Catalogue of Regrets
2
Catalogue of Regrets
Followers
9
1
Vastayan Disciple
3
Vastayan Disciple
2
Eye of the Dragon
3
Eye of the Dragon
6
Scattered Pod
3
Scattered Pod
Spells
23
1
Go Hard
3
Go Hard
1
Quietus
3
Quietus
2
Nopeify!
1
Nopeify!
2
Vile Feast
3
Vile Feast
3
Undergrowth
1
Undergrowth
4
Concussive Palm
2
Concussive Palm
4
Deny
2
Deny
5
Deep Meditation
3
Deep Meditation
5
Unworthy Soul
1
Unworthy Soul
6
Vengeance
3
Vengeance
9
The Ruination
1
The Ruination
Open deck in builder

I said at the end of CtM #1 that this archetype was mostly being pushed back by the huge power of SeraphineSeraphine and AatroxAatrox decks. Now that these are nerfed, SIShadow Isles KarmaKarma Master YiMaster 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 QuietusQuietus to respond to an eventual Faces of the Old OnesFaces of the Old Ones and early Feral MysticFeral Mystic, DenyDeny to answer Feel The RushFeel The Rush and She Who WandersShe Who Wanders's skill, plus Stun, Recall and VengeanceVengeance to shut down incoming damage and problematic units.

Concussive Palm Unworthy Soul

Quietus is also a premium removal against SIShadow Isles Norra, as it removes all the usual Champions in those decks, including Norra, VeigarVeigar, and even HeimerdingerHeimerdinger when the latter is included over the Darkness package. Catalogue of RegretsCatalogue of Regrets helps us to keep up with the value battle and find our first Pack Your BagsPack 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 DragonEye of the Dragon, and Drain mechanics to prevent our total health from going too low. The main problem for SIShadow Isles + IOIonia 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 JinxJinx decks. Our best option would be Grasp of the UndyingGrasp of the Undying, but the version I’m featuring runs one copy of UndergrowthUndergrowth, 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 LuluLulu on curve, for example, which can lead to further issues within a game, but even then, we have many pings (from Go HardGo Hard and Vile FeastVile Feast) to handle their followers, plus VengeanceVengeance for Jinx, so our Karma Yi has a good matchup here.

Against Ganplank Sejuani, we can Deny their Spirits UnleashedSpirits Unleashed, ping followers, and use VengeanceVengeance on their Champions, so we have a good toolbox. Against Leona Katarina, we try to survive until we get to cast a good The RuinationThe RuinationSunburn 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.


Karma Ezreal

If we want to do even better into JinxJinx when playing KarmaKarma, we can move from SIShadow Isles to PZPiltover & Zaun

Regions
Ionia
15 cards
Piltover & Zaun
25 cards
Rarities
32 100
champion
6
epic
7
rare
15
common
12
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
8
1
11
2
6
3
5
4
8
5
2
6
0
7+
Champions
6
3
Ezreal
3
Ezreal
5
Karma
3
Karma
Followers
11
1
Acorn, the Hextechnician
2
Acorn, the Hextechnician
1
Fallen Feline
2
Fallen Feline
1
Vastayan Disciple
2
Vastayan Disciple
2
Eye of the Dragon
3
Eye of the Dragon
3
Station Archivist
2
Station Archivist
Spells
23
1
Death Ray - Mk 1
1
Death Ray - Mk 1
1
Piltovan Tellstones
1
Piltovan Tellstones
2
High Note
3
High Note
2
Mystic Shot
3
Mystic Shot
2
Time Trick
2
Time Trick
3
Aftershock
1
Aftershock
4
Caustic Riff
1
Caustic Riff
4
Concussive Palm
2
Concussive Palm
4
Deny
2
Deny
5
Deep Meditation
2
Deep Meditation
5
Drum Solo
2
Drum Solo
5
Unworthy Soul
1
Unworthy Soul
6
Hexbliterator
2
Hexbliterator
Open deck in builder

Although some of the considerations about Karma Yi are also true about Karma Ezreal, by shifting from SIShadow Isles to PZPiltover & Zaun we change our matchup table a little bit. For example, we do worse against NorraNorra (since we lose access to Quietus) and against Gangplank Sejuani (because we lose access to Vengeance)...

High Note Piltovan Tellstones

… 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 ShotMystic Shot, High NoteHigh Note, AftershockAftershock, and Caustic RiffCaustic Riff. And although we lose access to The RuinationThe Ruination, I believe that moving from SIShadow Isles to PZPiltover & Zaun also improves the Katarina Leona matchup, because we’ll be more likely to remove Katarina and Sun GuardianSun Guardian on curve. We probably also improve the matchup against Zed Hecarim, since we get access to good landmark removal for Opulent FoyerOpulent Foyer and better removal for a round-three ZedZed.

In the end, choosing between KarmaKarma SIShadow Isles and KarmaKarma PZPiltover & 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.


Katarina Jinx

Now, here we have an alternative take on NXNoxus JinxJinx, one more focused on spell damage, and that is currently underexplored.

Regions
Noxus
21 cards
Piltover & Zaun
19 cards
Rarities
25 300
champion
6
epic
3
rare
3
common
28
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
18
1
10
2
9
3
3
4
0
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
3
Katarina
3
Katarina
4
Jinx
3
Jinx
Followers
21
1
Crimson Pigeon
3
Crimson Pigeon
1
Legion Rearguard
3
Legion Rearguard
1
Legion Saboteur
3
Legion Saboteur
1
Reborn Grenadier
3
Reborn Grenadier
1
Zaunite Urchin
3
Zaunite Urchin
2
Boom Baboon
3
Boom Baboon
2
Fallen Rider
3
Fallen Rider
Spells
13
1
Poro Cannon
3
Poro Cannon
2
Mystic Shot
3
Mystic Shot
2
Rummage
1
Rummage
3
Get Excited!
3
Get Excited!
3
Noxian Fervor
3
Noxian Fervor
Open deck in builder

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 NorraNorra and the AatroxAatrox matchups. 

The NXNoxus package provides strong cards like Katarina, Crimson PigeonCrimson Pigeon, and the immune-to-Quietus Legion RearguardLegion 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 AzirAzir Burn, my intuition says that a burn-focused NXNoxus 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.

Regions
Ionia
26 cards
Shurima
14 cards
Rarities
29 500
champion
6
epic
5
rare
13
common
16
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
4
1
16
2
8
3
8
4
2
5
1
6
1
7+
Champions
6
2
Akshan
3
Akshan
3
Master Yi
3
Master Yi
Equipments
3
3
Swinging Glaive
3
Swinging Glaive
Followers
12
1
Forsaken Baccai
3
Forsaken Baccai
2
Eye of the Dragon
3
Eye of the Dragon
3
Merciless Hunter
2
Merciless Hunter
4
Swole Squirrel
3
Swole Squirrel
6
Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed
1
Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed
Spells
19
1
Wuju Style
1
Wuju Style
2
Momentous Choice
3
Momentous Choice
2
Nopeify!
1
Nopeify!
2
Payday
3
Payday
2
Sonic Wave
1
Sonic Wave
2
Twin Disciplines
2
Twin Disciplines
4
Concussive Palm
1
Concussive Palm
4
Deny
2
Deny
4
Spirit's Refuge
2
Spirit's Refuge
5
Deep Meditation
2
Deep Meditation
7
Dragon's Rage
1
Dragon's Rage
Open deck in builder

I don't have much first-hand experience with it (yet!), but some people are truly enjoying it, and this AkshanAkshan Master YiMaster 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 YiMaster Yi and Swole SquirrelSwole 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 GlaiveSwinging 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.

Swole Squirrel Swinging Glaive

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.


Wrapping up

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



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