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Sirturmund's & Monte's Recommended LoR Gauntlet & Tournament Decks
Portals are for Squares
With the rise of Norra Heimerdinger this week, I would expect to see a lot of these two in the tournament meta as well. Luckily for us, it’s not the hardest deck out there to counter, and its counters seem to work fairly well together.
Trundle Timelines (Decklist courtesy of Prodigy)
Viktor Karma (Decklist & Guide courtesy of Yangzera)
I’ve built this lineup in order to go after Norra Heimerdinger while also having a decent game into Timelines. This lineup is unfortunately kind of full of holes beyond that, though. You’re playing decks with obvious weaknesses that can be picked apart, but the lineup is really good at getting through Norra Heimer and we’re happy trying to 2-0 it and win the set 2-1.
The other sketchy but sometimes reasonable thing to do with this lineup is to leave Kennen Ezreal up – both Poppy Taric and Viktor Karma have a statistically good matchup into the deck.
Our ban strategy here is to ban Pirates, Gwen Noxus, and any Nami deck that you may encounter.
Are You Ready To Rumble?
This is the lineup Sqweeby and I used to take second place in last week’s RuneterraLife Duo’s tournament.
The idea behind this lineup was to beat both Pirates and Ezreal Kennen, and it worked out! Sqweeby and I were able to take second in last week’s tournament in large part due to Afaelios’s unexpected strength. Fizz proves to be quite a problem for Ezreal Kennen to get through, and Aphelios absolutely rolls over Pirates if he can get going.
Norra Nami happens to do rather well into Pirates too, and of course, Pirates does very well into Ezreal Kennen. We opted to play Norra Nami because it doesn’t take up the TF slot, which allows you to run Pirates in the lineup as well. Curious Shellfolk and Pranks do an excellent job of allowing you to pinch Ez Kennen’s mana, while Double Trouble and Heavy Metal help us keep the board clear against Pirates.
Alternatively, you could play Ionian Nami with Lee Sin over TF to let you play Pirates while also bettering your backline access.
With this lineup, you’ll probably want to spend your ban to protect Norra Nami or Afaelios; unfortunately, there aren’t any stats on Afaelios right now so you’ll have to rely on your gut there. Norra Nami, on the other hand, will struggle into Heimerdinger Norra, and Poppy Taric can be problematic.
This is my comfort zone and my fallback for when I’m unsure of what else to play, or for when I haven’t had the time to play much.
Falling back on old comfort picks which I have a lot of experience on is always a somewhat reliable strategy, so long as the decks exist in the current meta. Nightfall got access to Fireth, Reaper of the Sands and weapons, which is a solid upgrade for the deck, and Thresh Nasus received The Darkin Bloodletters. These three decks work decently well together as they’re all aggressive and can come out of the gate swinging, but I’m not playing this with a specific target in mind.
Based on my personal experience piloting these lists, I don’t think I’m forced into an Ezreal Kennen ban with this lineup. This may not be the ideal strategy, but leaving the deck up has worked for me in the past so I figure I’ll try it again.
We will want to ban Heimerdinger Norra – both Nightfall and Pirates struggle there. Nami decks can also be problematic for our lists, so be sure to take them out as well. Plunder (aka Sejuani Gangplank) has been making a bit of a resurgence over the past few days and that is also a deck that may warrant a ban.
The New Kids
If we are expecting a lot of Ezreal Kennen and Pirate Aggro in the Tournament and Gauntlet meta, then maybe this lineup built strictly around beating both decks gives us the best odds to get ahead.
Twisted Fate Akshan Bloodletters
By now Norra Heimerdinger should not be new to any of you. Within the past week, they went from nowhere to becoming one of the best LoR decks – at the moment of writing, it's the most played deck in Plat+, and for good reason. The deck does very well against the two top dogs, Ezreal Kennen and Pirate Aggro.
The second deck might be entirely new to you all, as 4LW just posted this deck on Wednesday. After playing it for a couple hours, I will side with 4LW in that it does very well into both Pirate Aggro and Ez Kennen, due to the ability to go wide.
To round it out, we finish with Scouts, which I also believe to be a strong contender in the current meta because, once again, we do well into both our targets.
It is rare to find a lineup that can target two different sets of decks, in this case letting us beat both aggro- and Ionia-based lineups. This drastically increases the odds of running into one or the other, improving our chances in the best-of-three. To me, this makes our lineup one of the most interesting and strongest choices you can pilot.
However, not everything is perfect – we have our targets, what about our bans? Decks that can both go wide and tall at the same time, such as Timelines, are very problematic for us. They can get favorable trades against all three of our decks to stabilize. Kayn decks, while rare, are also scary to deal with: with 5 Health, Kayn survives our Riptide Sermon.
After those, it’s all up to personal choice. We have an even spread against Norra Heimerdinger, for example, but maybe you don’t feel like having to win the mirror so it’s fine to ban it as well.
Alternate decks for this lineup are other aggro-oriented options. We can play Pirates ourselves, for example, and still have a good matchup versus Ezreal Kennen – you just have to be very comfortable in the mirror.
Half Control, Half Board Presence
One of the most popular decks in the current meta is Heimerdinger Norra. The deck came out of nowhere and exploded in popularity. This lineup of triple Shadow Isles decks intends to hard-target these Norra decks, playing some SI control tools with the ability to go wide for blockers.
Viego Thresh Ionia
We are in Shadow Isles, giving us access to tools like Vile Feast, Vengeance and other such tools to keep ourselves alive against the board presence that Norra and Heimer put out. And all three of our decks have enough board presence of their own to block and trade into the opponent.
Each of our choices also has some unique tools to deal with Norra Heimerdinger: Sejuani can freeze the opponent’s board over and over again; Thresh can easily level versus their deck; and Nami Twisted Fate has Elusives to prevent Norra from pushing new portals through.
In addition to Norra Heimerdinger, we do okay versus other aggro decks. We beat Pirates frequently, allowing us to target two of the most popular decks in the current meta. Our access to removal and freezes allows us to also stabilize versus Viego Evelynn variants, being able to kill their big key units when necessary.
Playing this lineup opens us up to being beaten by Demacia decks. Scouts, Kai’Sa, or Akshan decks do very well against TF Nami's slower approach, so I would focus on banning those. After Demacia, I would be very scared to go against Timelines decks, with their tendency to pump out very good value units.
An alternate idea with this lineup is to go more control-heavy, with Trundle Tryndamere or even Anivia to replace Gwen Sejuani. But I believe that would be way more vulnerable to the current meta than what we suggested here.
I have been having a ton of success with Lee Sin in Nami Ionia, and figured that the best way to fit it into a lineup is to take an anti-Pirate aggro approach, which Scouts and Viego Evelynn excel at.
Nami Lee Sin Twisted Fate
As mentioned, the main idea here is to consistently beat aggro decks, and Pirates in particular – all three of our decks do well into them. Following that, we also have a great matchup spread into Katarina Gwen decks, which are still relatively popular in the current meta even with all the Norra Heimerdinger running around.
And we do more or less evenly against the two other popular decks, namely Ezreal Kennen and Norra Heimerdinger, allowing the match to become quite a bit about skill expression.
Our problems are against decks that can go tall and wide, such as Timelines, Kai’Sa and Akshan Pantheon. They tend to outvalue us in trades, making it difficult to stabilize and get our own gameplan going.
For alternate decks on this lineup, we can play any other Nami flavor and still have similar success. However, trust me when I say Lee feels very good in this archetype.
We could also go a bit more Rally-heavy and bring Poppy Taric, but that makes us slightly weaker into aggro which defeats the whole purpose. We can also play Norra Heimer ourselves, to more easily beat Pirates, as other lineups have suggested above.
Good luck in Gauntlet this weekend!
About the authors
Sirturmund is a long-time player of the game, having played LoR since beta. He has found competitive success in the past year with a couple of seasonal top cuts finishes, rank 1 ladder placements, and first spot in a Qualifier of Mastering Runeterra's Championship. Best known for being one of the very few to still bring Star Springs to tournaments, you can find Sirturmund lurking around all the social media sites absorbing anything he can about the game!
MonteXristo has been playing the game since closed beta and has consistently made it to masters every season he’s been active. His accomplishments include having peaked in the top 20, taking first place in the “Streamer Sideboard Showdown” and LPP Riot Grand Prix. When he’s not writing for Mastering Runeterra he keeps his card-slinging skills sharp by playing in the Runeterra Academy tournament, with his team The Wobbly Wombats! He also hosts the weekly Mastering Runeterra Squadcast on his stream every Wednesday at 10:30pm EST.