A famous treasure hunter enters the Blind Dragon bar.
"Give me one of your best. One that really knocks me over."
The bartender leaps into the air and kicks Akshan in the face.
"Gotcha. This one's on the roundhouse!"
Counting To Twenty – A Lee Sin Akshan Overview
Akshan Lee is the textbook definition of a combo deck. The archetype aims to delay the game just long enough to set up a powerful combination of cards that wins the game in a single round.
In Akshan Lee, this combination of cards consists of Lee Sin, The Absolver, and Shield of the Sentinels. Together, they allow Lee Sin (level 2) to Dragon's Rage the enemy blocker and Nexus for ten damage, and then normally attack the Nexus for ten damage again — last time I checked, 10+10=20, so that's a one-turn kill!
Let's go over the list card-by-card to get a better understanding.
Best LoR Deck: Lee Sin Akshan – Card Breakdown
As mentioned above, we run Lee Sin and The Absolver for our one-turn kill (or rather, one-round kill, as a certain editor would sneer=). Of course, we don't need Shield of the Sentinels to get Lee to ten Power, here are alternative ways:
All of them come with the benefit of activating Flow while costing us a single card, making Eye of the Dragon and Deep Meditation a natural inclusion.
In return, Sonic Wave becomes even better by combining it with a Dragonling. This is a sort of chicken-or-egg situation. Can we include Sonic Wave because of Eye of the Dragon, or Eye of the Dragon because of Sonic Wave?
Ionian Hookmaster is the other way to get Lee to ten Power. The weapon she Improvises also has the benefit of giving us a keyword — preferably Overwhelm with Fishawhack.
The other premium weapon choice is Upcycled Rake. It allows us to threaten lethal without committing The Absolver, but be aware – it provides the least amount of stats outright. Only pick it if you have enough time to play Upcycled Rake on a champion later, and don't need the front-up power.
Champs of Choice: Akshan and Lee Sin
Now that I got you invested in Akshan Lee with the fun and rewarding OTK combo, let's talk about the real MVP of this deck — Akshan.
Anyone that tells you Akshan Lee is a Lee Sin deck is lying. This archetype is all about Akshan and his landmarks.
Remember how we talked about activating Flow with a single spell? Well, if said spell also targets allies, we advance Warlord's Palace and Warlord's Hoard twice.
Recall how Sonic Wave was only playable because of Dragonlings? Turns out Akshan is just as good of a target.
And equipping Akshan with Upcycled Rake is straight up unfair, allowing us to strike twice with him.
This means that we turbo-level Akshan to find Lee Sin or The Absolver with Relic of Power (from Warlord's Palace). It also means that we quickly get to cast Shield of the Sentinels (from Warlord's Hoard), protecting Lee Sin from the likes of Minimorph and Homecoming.
Sure, Lee delivers the final kick, but did he really win us the game? Or was it Akshan, tying Lee's bandages, and physically putting Lee’s fist into the enemy's face?
That’s why we even run two copies of Vekauran Vagabond in the deck – Akshan’s landmarks are integral to our game plan.
This also answers the question you had ever since we talked about Flow:
"But Leer-sama, if we activate Flow so easily, why don't we run Master Yi?"
We simply don't have space for him. Akshan is not replaceable in this archetype, so Lee would have to make room for him – but Master Yi is slower and less powerful than Lee in this list. What we need is a champion that can end games the same round they come down. On the contrary, Master Yi needs extra protection and resources that we don’t want to invest. Monk beats Master here.
Going with the Flow
With this interlude out of the way, let’s look at our second Flow card in the deck – Deep Meditation. With all the cheap spells we pack, we are in danger of running out of cards. While Relic of Power is great at locating a specific finisher piece, Deep Med is amazing for refilling our hand.
Another way to cycle our hand is Vastayan Disciple. When it strikes the Nexus, it transforms into Shimon Wind. And it goes “SWOOOOOOOOOSH”. Do I need to say more?
Jokes aside, Vastayan Disciple helps us activate Flow and see more cards from our deck. Which is nice because we really want to see Lee Sin at some point.
And against aggro matchups like Pirates or Nasus Thresh, it can serve as a blocker and trade with a Legion Saboteur or Spirit Leech . While Vastayan Disciple is not the game-changer that Momentous Choice is in our deck, he is as flexible as any other card in our list and a nice-to-have.
Just like Vastayan Disciple can be a great anti-aggro blocker, we run Ionian Tellstones and Concussive Palm to buy us more time to find and set up our combo pieces.
Concussive Palm is one of the most efficient anti-aggro cards in the game, stunning a unit while providing a 3|2 Fearsome blocker. It is effectively a two-for-one tempo play.
More than 80% of the time, Homecoming will be the spell we pick from Ionian Tellstones. It allows us to “shadow block” one attacker while recalling another. It can also serve as a disruption tool to prevent Poppy from attacking, or save us from Atrocity.
Ionian Tellstones into Health Potion can be a cheap way to activate Flow for Eye of the Dragon or heal for cheap.
The last thing we’re missing now is a way to protect our blind monk when he goes for the lethal roundhouse kick.
Nopeify! and Deny should be no surprise for you. Akshan Lee is an Ionia deck that needs protection, so of course we run those cards. The ratio between Deny and Nopeify! is a meta call, and currently Nopeify! stocks are high – we can stop Glimpse Beyond, Noxian Fervor, and Concurrent Timelines.
That being said, do not run more than four copies of these interruption spells. Akshan Lee is an aggressive combo deck that wants to cycle their cards, not collect them in hand and stay reactive.
You can cast Concussive Palm on the blocker of your The Absolver target (which is not Lee Sin (level 2)) to push lethal damage.
Lee Sin’s Dragon's Rage counts toward Flow activation since it is a skill.
Health Potion from Ionian Tellstones can cheaply advance Warlord's Palace and Warlord's Hoard. This might sound wasteful, but sometimes all you need is that one extra tick on Akshan’s landmark to cast Shield of the Sentinels and set up lethal. Trust me, it happens.
Playing Equipment advances Akshan’s landmarks. If you have two Weapons, you can cycle them on one unit to tick down the landmark without using card resources. Of course, don’t be a dummy – only do this if you have enough mana and tempo to survive.
Early on, a lot of lists ran Fireth, Reaper of the Sands, just like the #1-ranked EMEA player at that time. The problem with Fireth, I think, is that she is only good in a combination with very specific cards.
For example, she's an amazing target for Rite of Calling, also providing our called champion with a weapon. Or she works well with Sonic Wave and Entrancing Lure for efficient trading.
But if we don’t have these cards (which is even more likely due to the fact that we want to cycle Sonic Wave and Entrancing Lure ASAP), Fireth is an underwhelming draw. That’s why I don’t like to play her after some tests.
Still, if you want to go for a more aggressive list that is better at locating champions and advancing Akshan, at the price of being less reactive, this is the list that World Champion Alanzq has been piloting in recent days:
With this list, we run three Forsaken Baccai, as well as three The Darkin Bloodletters that summon a Darkinthrall, as targets for our two Rite of Calling. Another upside of Bloodletters is that we can much easier cycle weapons on a unit to advance Akshan’s landmarks.
Once we are ready, we can also play Xolaani as an additional Overwhelm threat to end the game. And even when she dies, Xolaani returns to hand as Bloodletters and continues to provide value.
That being said, we run fewer answers like Ionian Tellstones and Concussive Palm, making us more vulnerable against decks like Katarina Gwen where we rely on disrupting enemy units.
Other tech choices include Entrancing Lure, Will of Ionia, and Shuriman Tellstones.
Even with The Darkin Bloodletters, Entrancing Lure oftentimes felt like an awkward draw. If we don’t have the right weapon on the right target (Akshan), it is a dead card in hand. And even if we draw a card with Lure, it still doesn’t activate Flow. Sonic Wave simply does more on its own.
When you want to run more than three copies of Sonic Wave, you can run Shuriman Tellstones into Ruthless Predator. Why not run a copy of Ruthless Predator instead? Because we don’t activate Flow then, silly!
Will of Ionia is at max a one-of. Sometimes, recalling an enemy unit like Nasus, without having to worry about the targeted ally of Homecoming getting removed, is nice. But overall, we want to have the flexibility of Ionian Tellstones, so never replace this card fully!
LoR Deck Akshan Lee Sin: Mulligan
Some general mulligan advice:
90% of the time, I kick my whole hand if I don't see Akshan or Vekauran Vagabond. In reverse, I never kick the first Akshan or Vekauran Vagabond I see.
The 10% of times I keep a card without seeing Akshan/Vagabond is when that card tremendously improves our winning chances, e.g. Eye of the Dragon versus Pirates or Ionian Hookmaster versus Ezreal Kennen.
Once we see Akshan and other cards, we can think about keeping spells. Momentous Choice is a good keep with Akshan to protect him, or threaten to kill a three-Health blocker for Akshan.
Sonic Wave is our best spell, keep it when you see Akshan or Eye of the Dragon.
LoR Deck Akshan Lee Sin: Matchups
Ezreal Kennen – unfavored (25% winrate)
Mulligan: Akshan/Vekauran Vagabond, Ionian Hookmaster,
Do not keep Lee Sin in the mulligan, he’s a liability that easily gets answered by Concussive Palm and Homecoming. If you happen to draw him anyways, play him early as a removal/pressure tool rather than for the OTK.
Ionian Hookmaster is key to apply pressure early on. Especially if we can find Fishawhack – we can then push Nexus damage when they Recall their blocker. Upcycled Rake on Akshan is another wincon.
Nopeify! can stop Kennen’s Lightning Rush and hence the extra copy of Kennen for Kinkou Wayfinder
Pirates – slightly unfavored (45% winrate)
Mulligan: Akshan/Vekauran Vagabond, Eye of the Dragon
While they are an aggro deck, try to out-race them with Akshan. If they give you easy Eye of the Dragon activations by developing/attacking before we cast spells, this matchup is very winnable.
Once they have six mana available keep Deny mana open to counter Riptide Sermon. Nopeify! can stop Noxian Fervor, especially after they play Zap Sprayfin to fetch one.
Do not be afraid to take damage, you can Deny their burn later. Casting The Absolver on a Dragonling will protect your Lifersteal unit from getting shadow-blocked with Noxian Fervor.
Timelines – favored (65% winrate)
Mulligan: Akshan/Vekauran Vagabond, then Eye of the Dragon
Although Lee Sin would be a solid keep in this matchup, I had to learn that he oftentimes gets discarded by Aloof Travelers. Don’t keep Lee in the mulligan.
Once we see Akshan/Vagabond, Eye of the Dragon is an amazing unit because our opponent can’t deal well with chump-blockers until round eight when they level Trundle.
In this matchup, we’re mostly on the defensive against their insane tempo plays, until we OTK them with Lee Sin. Apart from Three Sisters into Flash Freeze, they don’t have a way to prevent Lee's spin to win, and a well-timed Shield of the Sentinels can prevent that as well.
Akshan Lee – Mirror Match (favored, after reading this guide)
Mulligan: Akshan/Vekauran Vagabond
Akshan is the key to winning the mirror. If one player draws Akshan and the other doesn’t, the game is over. Level Akshan ASAP to get Warlord's Hoard and protect your champs with Shield of the Sentinels.
Akshan Lee lacks cheap spells to pop Spellshield, so once you get Spellshield on Lee and have Deny mana up, they won't be able to prevent the OTK.
One sneaky way to prevent the OTK, though, is to only have Spellshield units on the board. This way, the opposing Lee Sin has to challenge a Spellshield unit that blocks Dragon's Rage. Keep this in mind when setting up your own OTK, and keep one non-champion enemy unit on board if possible.
Nami TF Ionia
Mulligan: Akshan/Vekauran Vagabond, then Lee Sin, Ionian Hookmaster
Nami TF Ionia can’t deal well with Lee Sin since they lack hard removal such as Vengeance. The only way they can interact with him is through Homecoming, so don’t fret to play Lee early as a control tool.
Since we can’t stop all of their Elusive units, we are the aggressor (aka the beatdown) in this matchup. Try to push damage early with Akshan/Hookmaster and race them down.
Be aware of nasty lethal combos like two Elusives + Nami + Deny for your Stuns/Recalls. Always keep enough mana open on defensive turns.
Katarina Gwen – even (50% winrate)
Mulligan: Akshan/Vekauran Vagabond, Eye of the Dragon, Concussive Palm
Concussive Palm can stun Gwen or Katarina while providing a blocker. Shadow blocking Katarina with Homecoming prevents her from leveling while also Recalling a different enemy for tempo.
Katarina Gwen can’t deal with your Overwhelm damage well, but it’s difficult to get there for Akshan Lee. If it’s later than round six, don’t attack before you have lethal or they have tapped out of Eternal Dancers mana.
"That sure kicked like a mule," says the treasure hunter, massaging his chin.
"Why, you smell like a mule yourself, stranger," says the blind bartender.
"That was a compliment, my short-tempered friend."
"Oh. Then mine was, ah…"
"A compliment to mules, I'm sure," smiles the hunter.
"Mules do kick hard…" nods the barkeep. "You do take kicks like a champ, stranger." He smiles faintly. "Another round?"
The hunter smiles too. "Yeah." He slaps a gold coin on the counter. "Not on the house this time, though!"