As we all cast off on A Curious Journey, we begin the season entering uncharted waters. As exciting as it may be, many of us begin to realize that the waters are more dangerous than they seem, and it’s easy to get discouraged and want to go back to land and buy some fish at the store instead.
However, I encourage you this day to pick up your fishing poles once more, sit down and share a drink with me, and I’ll tell you all I know about how to fish for the best decks, and more importantly, how to navigate through the murky waters that make up the metagame.
I’m starting on my journey as an analyst, but we will also sit down with El Tiburon Blanco, a well-known shark in the LoR community and experienced coach for Pandex ESports. El Señor Shark will talk to us more about the importance of learning how to fish and knowing very well how to navigate the metagame waters. As such, he is experienced in using the data to make practical decisions in situations where there are big stakes on the line.
Since there are vast waters to chart, here’s a tour guide for ye:
Tackle & Bait, General Supplies, and Warehouses
To learn how to catch the biggest fish you’ll need the right tools, the proper supplies if you will. Since we’ve already started our tour through the waters, let me point you in the right direction, to the water store-fronts that are always open for business, the tools and supplies they have, and how to make use of them.
The list below are the shops I frequent the most, and they all come highly recommended. Yes, I do realize there’s one shop that just opened up (LoR.GG), but I’m hoping that if you all come and visit it too, it will become world-renowned.
Now for each shop, I’m gonna talk a little bit about the items I like to usually pick up while shopping there. I’ll warn you, these are my personal preferences, but the main takeaway shouldn’t be: “Here are the fish you asked for,” but “How to catch the fish that I’m after!”
Two shops that I like to visit every day are Balco’s Boondocks and Legna’s Lagoon. I’ll talk first about Balco‘s Boondocks.
Shortly after a new set goes live, Balco’s Tier List is the first place I look since the metagame starts to get mapped out here. It should first go live for us Westerners on Thursday morning, at approximately 12:30 am PST. Here we will get an idea of which fish are stronger (winrate) and how large, or popular, their school is (play rate). The nice thing is you can filter by both of these.
We get an automatic update every 8 hours so be sure to stop in whenever you please. A solid indicator to help me choose a deck to test out is its overall strength, and to a lesser degree, its popularity, but the popularity doesn’t tell the entire story. That’s when I look at the matchup table and/or the archetype tool.
When you want to see at a glance which fish are the strongest, or the biggest, or which fish prey on other fish, look at the extended matchup table. From there, you can decide if you want to swim with the strong fish or if you’d rather just try and avoid them and perhaps prey on the rest of the fish in the water.
Once an archetype/deck has reached a minimum of 1,000 games played, you can reel in the analysis report for it, including its:
- Matchup spread - the chosen archetype versus all archetypes that have a minimum sample size of 10 games;
- Specific decklists and their performance - listed are all versions of the deck with at least 10 games and the deck’s winrate over that sample size (try to use the versions that have a solid / larger sample size and higher winrate)
- Card analysis - analyzing this chart requires an entirely separate article, but know that this is an objective deck optimization table for your use and all decks that have a minimum of 5 games for the archetype are considered.
Best of 3 Ban Helper
I’ve heard this feature is popular with high-level fishermen. It’s as easy as inputting your 3 decks and your opponent’s 3 decks to view all of the matchup statistics. Note that the ban helper may suggest a deck that isn’t what you had planned to ban - it can be wrong, so be sure to use your best judgment.
Every Wednesday a weekly bulletin is published and it has a little something for everybody. Just to give you an idea, the highlights include:
- Region play rates
- Champion play rates
- Archetype play rates
- Meta scores
- Top 10 decks matchup grid
- Top-performing decks
- Interesting decks (with a minimum of 50 games each over the past week)
- Best players of the week
The shop owner has been gracious, is always very helpful, and to this date hasn’t charged for any supplies. That said, if you’d like to buy him some Ko-fi to ensure the building can weather any future storms, I’m sure it would be greatly appreciated.
Moving along to the next shop, we have Legna’s Lagoon.
For the connoisseur of everything having to do with fish, such as type of fish, catching fish, heck even if you like to analyze the fisherman, this is the place for you!
Legna’s Lagoon also publishes a weekly bulletin, however, it’s worth noting the differences from Balco’s Boondocks report:
- Included is the LoR Meta Index (LMI) rather than Meta Score, and the LMI measures how diverse the fish swimming in the water is,
- Wins marathon leader for each region
- Cards presence -- for information on not only the staples each region has to offer, here’s a good place to check if you’re using too much copium in your decks!
- At the end of the Season, the Seasonal Tournament report is created during the Open Round and summarized in the bulletin
This is a great tool where you can input your deck or decks of choice, filter by rank (High Diamond or Masters only), and see all of its matchup data in one location.
You can also view the current matchup grid and a grid from past seasons for reference. One of these days, when you find yourself getting wrapped up in the data and still feeling you haven’t had enough, you can download the raw data and look at it yourself in all its glory. It’s not for the faint of heart, so no need to rush into it!
Meta (LMI) & Decks
When you look at this chart, it looks very much like the Meta Score, however, this is a comprehensive list of all the decks in the metagame. It’s worth noting that, to get the specific decklists you’re after, click on the arrow in the left-most column, and a drop-down menu will show up with all of the deck codes and the number of games each has shown up.
Not for the faint of heart, but for the refined fisherman who loves to learn, or just have a nice quiet fishing trip while pondering the greater things in life, check out this area of the shop for a deep dive into Legna’s research!
For example, while you may think it must be very easy to define archetypes (deck clustering), there’s a lot more to it, and Legna has an entire article devoted to it, using a data-driven approach (come to think of it, I’m sure I’ve seen Drisoth and Sigmund there, talking about Burblefish, Nami, and Twisted Fate).
Ever wonder about the mysterious “learning curve”? Yeah, Legna has too! If it’s something more of you are interested in, I’d surely consider collaborating with Legna to uncover those secrets (let me know in the comments!).
Legna Loves Coffee
Legna has also been very gracious and -- you know it takes dedication and love for the craft every time you lay eyes on the Seasonal Report -- has not charged anyone for supplies from his shop. However, if you appreciate his work and would love to visit his shop in the future, consider buying Legna a coffee and/or telling all your friends about it!
The next shop on our list takes credit for taking a certain well-known statistics site out for a walk on the plank! It’s none other than…
Our friends that run this shop, Vivo and company, keep furnishing their shelves with more attractions every passing day, so make sure you stop by regularly! While there, here are some of the key features you’ll find:
Sign up for an account and you can view your in-game profile! When looking out on the waters and you’re trying to figure out how to chart your course moving forward, it’s nice to see where you’ve come from and where you can view at a glance how many Masters badges you have, your top decks, and performance with them, as well as an in-game ranked match history.
Thirsty for spoilers? Aren’t we all!? You can view all the new cards, including flavor text, and artist here - this will surely help you get those creative brewing juices flowing!
This is a great visual tool that helps you view the metagame at a glance -- You get to filter by time, region, and player level (Master or all players). In addition, we see all the top decks, their winrate and play rate plus 3 versions that prominent members of the community are using.
A very neat feature is that you can click on champions to see all of the metagame decks they appear in -- give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Hopefully, I’m not missing the key point here, but you can search the metagame data by champions using a checklist filter rather than clicking on their icon/picture - this is surely a beginner-friendly feature.
This is where you want to look for the top fisherman and their choice bait and decks. You can find them by region and see their most recent decks used in ranked battles.
Pretty straightforward here -- you can view other deck builders' creations and also paste deck codes to view the list in the usual pleasing format you’ve come to know and love from Runeterra.ar.
The deck builder is an extremely helpful tool where you can brew decks, including using the new cards when they get spoiled, and check deck statistics as you go. Once you’re done assembling it, you can share it easily with your friends with deck images, deck codes, or even a handy link!
When you’re ready to try a deck out, it’s always helpful to plan and get an idea of what the deck is generally trying to do and a general mulligan plan. The guide section will take you to a sister website, here.
If you’re looking for any updates about the oceans of Runeterra, check out the shop’s news feed!
All that said, let’s visit the next shop on the list.
LoR Master Tracker
Leaderboards, top decks, metagame matchup statistics, and a hand tracker (that allows you to review your games after the fact)! These are the awesome features that bring us here and keep us coming back for more!
The leaderboards are intuitive and I’ll leave the use of the hand tracker to the non-mobile gamers. I also want to touch a bit on the meta environment section.
To get to this section, click on the menu and then on the pair of trees. Here you can view the top metagame decks, various versions of the deck in case you want to change up some cards, and all of the deck’s best and worst matchups.
For this last section, click on the deck statistics info, then on Details, and this will display the version of the deck and good and bad matchups laid out.
This brings us to the next shop, which is also a shop for other Riot games, Mobalytics.
Now, I mean no disrespect for this shop, and I don’t want to make the services they provide here sound minimal. Many of the shops described above also provide the same service, so I’ll list the services also provided here but then hone in on the meta stats.
Services you can get here include the following:
- Sync Collection
- Card Gallery
- Deck Library
- Deck Manager
- Deck Builder
- Meta Tier List
- Meta Stats
- New Cards
There are two key tabs here, Decks and Archetypes. In the Decks tab, you can view the best-performing version of only the top decks in the metagame.
In the Archetypes tab, you can view the top decks (for free), most common cards in the deck, winrate, and play rate. However, to get to the good stuff, you need to get past the paywall!
Should you choose to pay the monthly subscription fee, here’s what you can get for each deck, along with the ability to filter by rank for each section:
- Overview for the deck, including winrate, play rate, prominent players, and reference decklist,
- Matchups are where you look to see what the good and bad matchups are including the sample size,
- Mulligan is where you get to view information that’s key for optimizing the deck!
- Decks are where you can go to see the most popular version of a deck and the number of games using it,
Archetypes > Mulligan Data
The info you can see here is gathered from Mobalytics’ hand tracker. The key pieces of information include mulligan winrate, kept winrate, drawn winrate, and played winrate. Below is a brief description of each:
- Mulligan WR - average winrate when a card is in your opening hand after the mulligan is finished,
- Kept - the percentage of time a card is chosen to be kept in the opening hand,
- Drawn WR - average winrate when a card is in hand at any point in the game,
- Played WR - average winrate when a card is played at any point in the game (this metric is less important to a certain degree but it can still prove to be useful),
In combination with an objective optimization table, this mulligan data is very valuable when optimizing your deck(s) of choice!
To Be Continued...
Tomorrow, in the next leg of our epic tour, we’ll visit a few more shops as listed below and also have a chat with Tiburon Blanco (aka El Señor Shark):
- LoR-Tracker and LoR.GG
- Dr. LoR
- Mastering Runerterra’s Matchup Table
- bA1ance’s Tackle & Bait
- A Shark’s Perspective -- Interview with Pandex's Coach, Tiburón Blanco.
Before we visit the next storefront, now’s a great time to take a break from all these worries, lay back, and enjoy some ice-cold brews. Since it’s getting late, we can even call it a night and get back to the tour tomorrow…or soon, yes, soon enough!
If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to sound off in the comments and I can answer based on my knowledge or follow up with the shop owners to help you get those answers (you can also ask them directly, of course). You can reach me on Twitter @bA1anceLoR or Discord at bA1ance#0143.
The second part of this tour, which is one of our Premium articles, is now available in this link.