Hey guys, Jasensational here. Today, I want to dive into one of the most popular control decks in the meta, Feel The Rush. While this deck has been foundational to the core of Shadow Isles/Freljord decks in the past, it has only really seen a resurgence in the ladder meta recently. Let’s explore why it’s coming back and what makes it one of the best control decks right now.
The Identity of SI/Frej
Shadow Isles Freljord decks have existed since the beginning of time. The region combination has seen several evolutions with variants such as Anivia, Warmother's Call, Feel The Rush, and Trundle Lissandra Control. But at the core of the different variants, there are two main characteristics that define it: a strong and varied removal package, and an overwhelming late game.
The combination of these two regions provides us with the strongest arsenal of removal tools. We have slow speed and fast speed spells; pings and board clears; and single target removal and sweepers.
With any given hand, we have removal options for most board states that our opponent presents us with. The flexibility in our removal is what gives the deck so much agency and flexibility, as our opponent is left guessing how to best play around our hand. Does our opponent want to develop on their turn? Nope, get Avalanched. Think you can sneak an open attack in? Get Withering Wailed.
The second factor is our win condition which is hard to remove. Both our champions, Trundle and Tryndamere, have hard-to-remove stat lines. With Trundle’s revert back to six health (and seven when leveled), his baseline is already difficult for most decks to deal with outside of a Thermogenic Beam or Vengeance. Tryndamere needs to be removed twice to get him off the board. And with Feel The Rush, their attack and health are boosted up even higher to a 10/10 statline.
With both champions having the Overwhelm keyword, they threaten to end the game fast. Even if one swing doesn’t end the game, two copies of Atrocity will seal the deal. The deck even has Commander Ledros as a secondary win condition that can end the game even if the opponent is sitting comfortably at 18 health.
If you’ve played Legends of Runeterra before and have heard of this deck, then I think the first two things that come to mind are: reactivity is good, and pass frequently. And yes, both statements are true. As the control deck, the later we can commit to using our removal, the more information we have about what the most efficient answer is.
This brings up two points:
- How do we force our opponents to act first
- What is the first choice of removal
Let’s address the first point first, forcing our opponent to act first.
Generally, this concept is pretty simple; you just pass on your action, and then your opponent has to decide if they want to develop or pass back. But that doesn’t necessarily put us in a good position. If the opponent is far ahead on board, they can simply take the pass and threaten us with a strong attack, where we needed to spend mana on the previous turn.
So, let's expand on it. I think the easiest frame of reference in knowing when to pass is just thinking to yourself: “If my opponent wants to open-attack on the following turn, can I easily answer it with the cards in my hand?”
If the answer is yes, then we can safely pass our turn. The opponent will realize this as well, and either spend their current or next turn developing their board so they can get a meaningful attack in. Then we can decide how to properly answer their development.
Now let’s address the second point: figuring out the right answer for each board state. Sometimes the answer is pretty simple. They have one big unit, so we play Vengeance. They have a wide board of two health units, so we cast Avalanche and wipe them out. They have a unit with one health, so we Vile Feast it right?
Well… it’s a little more complicated than that. Yes, Vile Feast is one of our best and most efficient answers for one health unit, but we have to remember that pretty much any form of removal in our deck will answer one health unit. If we plan on casting Withering Wail or Avalanche on the following turn, perhaps we want to save our Vile Feast for later. This is where setting up forks and stacking removal spells come into play.
Let’s consider this imaginary situation. Our hand is the following cards:
Our opponent is attacking with two Forge Workers and a Forge Chief, so there are two 3/3s and one 2/1.
How do we remove his board efficiently?
Instinctively, we might think to Vile Feast the Forge Chief in combat. This denies him one spell mana and saves us two health while removing the unit from play. However, we need to think to ourselves, how are we removing the Forge Workers from play?
Nothing in our deck deals three damage directly outside of The Box or The Ruination which kills all units regardless of their health. Since we have neither of those cards, we have to stack the two damage from Avalanche with a one damage ping such as Vile Feast or Withering Wail. Now that we realize that we need to play Avalanche, and potentially Withering Wail, if we want to clear their board, we will see that immediately removing the Forge Chief may not be so efficient at all, since it will die to either the Avalanche or the Withering Wail. We can save the Vile Feast for another time, which helps us to conserve our resources for when we need them.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account our health total or mana points, but we could instead cast Withering Wail first on his attack, to set up the Avalanche on a future turn.
The main point that should be taken away from here is that we want to be as conservative with our resources as possible. Mastery of this deck will involve knowing when to use removal and when to save it for another point where we may need it more.
Why Playing Trundle on Turn 5 is (Mostly) Wrong
Trundle seems like an ideal turn-five play. He’s a 4/6 with Regeneration, making him a formidable-sized blocker that can chump block almost anything else coming down this turn. So on turn five, if I have Trundle in my hand, I will play him. This will usually be correct, but it shouldn’t be our first instinct.
Following good habits, the first thing we should do is pass (if we can afford to) and see what our opponent is up to. Should they develop in a way that we can answer easily on the following turn, then we can safely play out Trundle as a good blocker. But if we fall into the trap of playing Trundle and then our opponent goes wide and open-attacks us, we can get punished. This logic falls with playing any unit on the curve, such as Avarosan Sentry or Kindly Tavernkeeper. Always prioritize our mana on removal if necessary, and then play out units.
Teching the Deck
Another flexible aspect of the deck is its ability to tech itself for specific matchups, or whichever ones you wish to target. Freezes for midrange, Ice Shard/The Box for swarm, Passage Unearned for Thralls, Ramp for control, the list goes on.
But be careful trying to tech your deck against everything. It’s simply not possible, and probably not correct depending on the ladder meta or your tournament lineup. Choose a few and put in cards that you need.
(60-70/30-40) Favored: Aggro/Burn (Spiders/Nightfall/Draven Rumble/Fizz Lulu)
To no one’s surprise Feel The Rush aims to farm any aggressive, go wide board decks. With plenty of healing and removal options, we essentially nullify our opponent’s gameplan, provided we draw the removal we need. These matchups will come to a good understanding of what removal is good in this specific, like Vengeance for Rumble, or Vile Feast and Withering Wail into decks with lots of one health units.
(60/40) Favored: Kindred Sentinels/Other Control decks
One of the reasons Feel The Rush is so strong is the fact that we can go so much bigger than other control decks. Most control decks simply do not have an answer to Tryndamere or Commander Ledros. Because we don’t care about early board states, it makes the Kindred Sentinels deck even worse as they have no targets to slay (if you want to know more in detail how Kindred Sentinels play, here's the link for Waumuu's guide about that archetype).
Look to stack early removal to deal with three health units such as Elise Kindred and Buhru Sentinel. Finish the game with Feel The Rush.
(55/45) Slightly Favored: Pantheon Decks
With access to cards such as Vengeance and The Ruination, it can be quite easy to pick off single large units or a couple of loose threats. The matchup can be teched for even harder with freezes or more copies of big removal spells. Just watch out for Spellshield.
(50/50) Even: Kennen Ahri
This matchup is heavily debated and heavily dependent on how teched your Feel The Rush for the matchup. Cards like The Box or potentially even Ice Shard can completely devastate board states for little mana. Freezes like Flash Freeze and expensive removal like Vengeance and The Ruination suffer in the matchup.
Ultimately the matchup probably favors Kennen Ahri at the highest levels with Denys and bounces, but a slip-up may spell their doom.
(40/60) Unfavored: Scouts/Demacia Rally Decks
Historically most Demacia rally decks have been known to do quite well into Feel The Rush. Efficient combat tricks like Ranger's Resolve and Sharpsight can protect units from expensive removal tools, and Scout attacks with rallies threaten to end the game fast.
Early units to chump and trade matter in this matchup, but be careful of tapping too low. Casting a The Ruination if our foe over-develops can swing games too. Play greedily and look to punish bad plays -- if you want to see the match from the Scouts' point of view, Leer wrote a guide about it (link).
That’s a wrap! I hope this guide helped you to step up your control game to the next level. If you are interested in seeing some gameplay for the deck, I have a video linked: here.
Let me know if you have any questions! You can find me here:
Discord: Jasinsane #0246