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Welcome, my friend! Welcome to the first Friday of a brand new Meta!
The changes brought by the recent balance patch have been on the mild side, with the majority of the strongest blends last week remaining strong – yet a couple of new faces can be found among the best medleys, while some formerly potent brews seem to have left the stage.
So, please, step inside and let me show you our selection from among what admirable APIarists Balco and Legna have collected, to which we have added insights from prominent pilots overhead at the Blue Bird Inn.
Glimpse at our New Meta
It has to be said, my friend, that if you are looking for something truly new among the best of the best…
… there is, sadly, not much new that the Patch has brought to relevance.
You may notice some notable absences, though – Thralls are nowhere to be found, for example, and Viego Noxus has dropped out of favor. While it would be a tad untimely to pronounce them dead, their decreased play rates will surely ripple through the Meta.
And there are a few fresh brews to be found among our Connoisseur selection, so let us proceed!
Cream of the Crop
These are currently the best of the best: archetypes that enjoy both a high enough play rate to be considered a Meta deck, and WR above 55%.
Vi Zoe Aphelios
Few blends are as happy as this one about Thralls' eviction from the top of the charts – with them gone, Vi Zoe Aphelios' matchup spread is nothing short of outstanding: TF Nami Shadows and Heimer Jayce are a somewhat uphill struggle, and Fizz Riven slightly more so, but everything else is either an even matchup, or heavily favored.
Strong Against: TF Annie, Azirelia, Ahri Bard, Annie Jhin, Ashe LeBlanc
Struggles Against: TF Nami Shadows, Heimer Jayce Shadows, Fizz Riven
Our recommended formula is the most popular in all three shards, and one of the best performers. If you're feeling adventurous, you can take for a spin the second most popular list, which fares a bit better although across a much smaller data sample.
Jarvan Poppy Bard
Nerfs to Petricite Broadwing and Brightsteel Protector don't seem to have had an effect on what pre-patch was, and currently seems to still be, one of the most potent brews to be found on the ladder.
Its biggest thread right now, interestingly, is one of the few fresh faces we'll talk about today: Ashe LeBlanc.
I shall recommend to you the second most popular list – the difference with the most popular is minimal (merely swapping one Vanguard Sergeant for one Penitent Squire), but the performance is better across more than a thousand games.
Strong Against: Azirelia, Annie Jhin, Ahri Bard, TF Nami
Struggles Against: TF Annie, Heimer Jayce, Ashe LeBlanc
Other Top Dogs
These, my friend, are amply-played archetypes that reach the 54% WR mark -- any of this should serve you very well on the ladder!
The Virtuoso takes center stage!
After its internal struggles during most of last patch – during which a sizeable number of pilots stubbornly insisted on playing really bad versions of this archetype – Annie Jhin has found both consensus on the best builds, and a Meta it seems to thrive in.
Its matchups, though, tend to be a bit more polarized than other medleys in this section. And, above all, seems to have trouble with some of the strongest blends, which could spell doom if they become prevalent.
Strong Against: Azirelia, Ahri Bard, Ashe LeBlanc
Struggles Against: Heimer Jayce and Vi Zoe Aphelios (horribly!), Jarvan Poppy Bard (rather badly)
Data sample for this patch is rather small, but this blends' performance is superb, and as you may have heard me say, this brew remained extremely potent – if, for some puzzling reason, not always popular – during the last patch.
With other Lux medleys currently absent, it would seem that Lux pilots have turned to what works.
Strong Against: TF Annie, TF Nami
Struggles Against: Annie Jhin, Ahri Bard, Heimer Jayce (rather badly)
Twisted Fate Annie
Ah, one of the success stories of this patch!
And, to be accurate, of last patch too – on top of changes to cards and the rest of the field brought by the recent balance patch, TF Annie's current success is in no small part due to the relentless refining process it underwent since Annie was released.
Faithful pilots stuck to this champion pair for weeks, even when it was mediocre at best, and by the end of last patch they had succeeded in turning this medley into quite the ladder menace…
… and it would appear the Meta has rewarded their efforts now, pushing Annie TF near the top when performance is concerned, and becoming the most popular deck on the Plat+ ladder.
Also: Riptide Rex!
Strong Against: Azirelia, Ahri Bard, Heimer Jayce, murders Ashe LeBlanc
Struggles Against: Vi Zoe Aphelios, slight underdog to TF Nami
Feeling like going for something spicier? Here's a different take, featuring one copy of Miss Fortune (and three copies of Rex!) that is kicking behinds and taking names all over the ladder.
Heimer Jayce Shadows
The more things change, the clearer it is that the Professor and his Student have answers for everything.
Including not caring one bit to the nerf to Ferros Financier, although their current success has more to do with Thralls' sudden absence from the ladder.
A well-refined brew, with the best performer also being the most popular – interestingly, this medley is vastly more popular in the EMEA server, while for some reason not gaining traction in the AM shard.
Strong Against: Annie Jhin, Ashe LeBlanc, Jarvan Poppy Bard,
Struggles Against: TF blends, namely TF Annie and TF Nami; slight underdog to Ahri Bard
Other Strong Meta Options
Powerful archetypes that perform in the 52%-53% range, with play rates above 1%.
This medley had some ups and downs last patch, but would appear to have found a very solid footing in the current Meta, and enjoys popularity in all three shards.
It's a slight underdog to the most popular deck, TF Annie, but it is probably worth noting that is one of the very few decks that do badly against the otherwise truly hideous Zed Hecarim archetype – one could imagine Elise Annie's fortunes raising once Hecarim pilots get the message that is not yet the time for their favorite champion.
Strong Against: Annie Jhin, Heimer Jayce
Struggles Against: TF Annie, TF Nami, Zed Hecarim
Slowly gaining traction during the whole of last patch – it started making waves in the data in early June, although two weeks would pass before pilots took notice en masse – Ahri Bard now sits firmly among the Top Dogs, with our recommended list being the most popular in all three shards.
It is perhaps worth noting that, along with Jarvan Poppy Bard, this medley is the only Bard archetype to currently enjoy both high performance and popularity – those that dislike the Wandering Caretaker may have been granted their wish to see him less often.
Strong Against: Heimer Jayce
Struggles Against: TF Annie, Azirelia, Annie Jhin
As an alternative, here's the second most popular list, which is a bit more low to the ground and performs slightly better.
Twisted Fate Nami Shadows
Drisoth's creation has claimed a sizable chunk of the field, now sitting among the most played archetypes. Do notice, though, that we're talking about the Shadow Isles version – some pilots still stick to the P&Z variant, in spite of its awful performance.
TF Nami does not like Azirelia and Jarvan Poppy Bard – not one bit – but has an otherwise fairly even matchup table.
Strong Against: Heimer Jayce, Vi Zoe Aphelios
Struggles Against: Azirelia, Jarvan Poppy Bard
We should give credit to Azir: he really does seem to be the Champion of the People, with pilots jumping onto his archetypes whenever they seem promising – and, many a time, even when they do not.
The latter is not the case this time, though: while technically a tad overplayed (it is currently the second most popular deck, while its WR is far from being that good), this time Azirelia's performance does justify the popularity it enjoys.
It is also worth noting that pilots have ditched the truly hideous version that was the most popular yesterday, and now overwhelmingly prefer the best performer across all three shards.
One note of caution, though: Azirelia is one of the archetypes that prey the most upon the many awful Hecarim brews, while itself having a bit of a hard time against some of the strongest blends. Once the LP donors leave the stage, Azirelia's fortunes may take a dip.
Strong Against: Ahri Bard, TF Nami, every awful Hecarim brew out there
Struggles Against: TF Annie, Annie Jhin (rather badly), Vi Zoe Aphelios, Thresh Nasus, Jarvan Poppy Bard,
About Hecarim and Shen…
As we mentioned above, this does not seem to be Hecarim's patch.
Pairing him with Zed, Azir or Lucian has, thus far, proven an excellent idea if your goal is to help your opponent to climb – as far as your own LP are concerned, you'd do well to stay away from those blends.
Hecarim Kalista Ionia is the only Hecarim pairing that is not disastrous – this is very much not a brew I would normally recommend, my friend, and I am sharing with you this version (the only one reaching a 50% WR) only on grounds that, if you absolutely MUST play a Hecarim blend, at least make sure it is this one.
On his part, Shen is the other Champion that was buffed – in this case, his pairing with Jarvan IV does show some promise, but across a somewhat small data sample.
Not a blend I can wholeheartedly recommend, mind you, but if you are a regular of our Wild Side selection, then this blend would perhaps fall in that category.
In these somewhat turbulent times, it is too early to tell which blends fall into the Meta and Off-Meta categories – an archetype not seeing play today may simply be due to pilots being more interested in novelty than performance.
With that in mind, these are the archetypes that, while falling below the 1% play rate mark, still perform greatly across a large enough number of games.
Katarina Ziggs Annie
Aggro tends to do well in the early post-patch days – and Kat Ziggs Annie is providing ample proof that the concept is true: our recommended list reaches 55% in more than 700 games.
The nearly-identical non-Kat version is doing even better through nearly 250 games.
Not a new pair, or a new concept, but Ashe LeBlanc has never been hotter – small sample sizes, of course, but our recommended blend performs well above 55% in more than 200 games.
It does get brutally murdered by TF Annie, though, and its success is in part explained by how easily Ashe LeBlanc shuts down Hecarim blends, so please do keep that in mind.
This may be, my friend, the biggest winner of the patch – its playrate is small, but if we were to judge by performance alone, Fizz Riven could perhaps be called the best deck right now.
Lurk, aka Pyke Rek'sai
Lurkers are thoroughly enjoying the current field, with the below recommended list surpassing 55%, and other versions also performing excellently.
It would seem like our Meta has deemed fit to give younger pilots a taste of one of Runeterra's most iconic rivalries: Thresh Nasus against Azirelia – in which the former is heavily favored.
This is one of MajiinBae's recommended decks for new players, by the way, and performs admirably in the current field.
Pushed to the fringes of the meta after enjoying quite the spotlight during the Worldwalker early days, Zed Bard performs quite well as of now.
It is, like Azirelia, one of the fiercest predators when Hecarim is concerned – one such easy prey goes extinct, Zed Bard may find things tougher.
Usually overshadowed by other Poppy blends, Taric Poppic always did well last patch, and does very well right now.
Ezreal Twisted Fate
A little-played brew that, despite Ezreal's nerf, is doing great.
News of my Death…
While pronouncing a deck "dead" would be ill-timed right now – our Meta has a wonderful tendency to bring back what we usually forget about – the data does suggest several former Top Dogs may have been pushed to the fringe.
- The nerf to Legion Deserter seems to have hit Viego Noxus more on its popularity than in its performance – the Katarina variant is doing quite well, albeit across a small data sample.
- Thralls appears to have been hammered quite harshly, and I currently have no list I would recommend,
- Likewise, Annie Ezreal – which was doing just okay by the end of the patch – has been pushed to below-50% territory,
- We also find Ezreal Caitlyn among this patch's biggest losers, arguably due to Ezreal's nerf… although this Katarina variation, across a tiny sample, is doing great.
- Interestingly, Galio Bard appears to have felt the full brunt of the nerfs to Demacia, even though Jarvan Poppy Bard brushed them aside – there is currently no Galio Bard list I could recommend, with the most popular list not reaching 50% in nearly 1,000 games.
- With a whopping total of twelve cards nerfed, Pantheon Yuumi still clings to life, but across a minuscule sample.
- It seemed yesterday that Deep was gaining traction, but current data suggests it was no more than a fluke – there's currently no list I would recommend.
Very well, my friend!
The nerfs and buffs seem to have had a bigger effect on what they pushed aside – Thralls, Viego Noxus and Galio Bard in particular – than what they brought to the fore.
We shall soon see what other blends bubble from the bottom, once the LP donors go extinct and brewers have enough time to iterate their creations against the refined archetypes that now reign supreme.
Any questions or comments, or more data you may need, please feel free to:
Poke me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HerkoKerghans,
Ping me on Discord: https://discord.gg/VNN5NmGhXY,
Or find more writings on substack: https://riwan.substack.com/
And good luck in your climb!