As the next expansion is approaching, we share a final overview of which decks have been the winners of this season. We even get a small surprise candidate trying to topple the charts!
Note that you can click on bolded names for deck codes. Let’s do this!
This week, the data wasn’t taken on Sunday (like I usually do) but on early Friday, shortly after the cut-off for Seasonals. After that, the ladder loses value for most Masters players, so they start playing random decks instead of what’s perceived optimal. I think this way, we get a final accurate snapshot of the ladder meta this season before it succumbs into chaos.
Balco’s Meta Tier List shows us that Veigar Senna (Darkness) is the most played deck during the past seven days, with a 7,5% playrate (PR). MF Quinn (Scouts) and Pyke Rek’Sai (Lurk) share a 6% PR while both Ahri Kennen versions and Pantheon Taric share a 5% one (no sandwich anymore =().
Sorting by winrate, we see a new combination of well-known faces at the top, Lulu Ahri! They are the sole deck with a mind-boggling 57.3% winrate (WR).
Ahri Kennen SH lost some winrate but still comes in at second place with a 56.3% WR. Taric Pantheon, Scouts, and Fizz Lulu are all close to a 55% WR.
Furthermore, Ahri Kennen SI sits at a 54,7% WR, while MF GP (Pirates) have a 53.4% one!
The first noteworthy observation is that every deck at the top experienced a raise in PR. I believe this directly correlates to the Seasonals cut-off: People want to climb as much as possible to get the best seeding for the Seasonals Open Rounds (qualifying with a 7-2 score) or qualifying for the tournament in the first place.
This means that more people play the optimal deck instead of being experimental. Remember Cait Teemo from last week? Yeah, me neither.
Last week, we saw Fizz Lulu enter the most played decks of the week as well as Ahri Kennen SI. These two decks share an unfavored matchup into Darkness, justifying the renewed increase in PR for the deck. This week’s rise of Spider Aggro further supports this claim.
We see the protagonists of two dominant archetypes team up for an even stronger one this week: Ahri Lulu. The deck has been around for quite some time now, ever since Japanese streamer TealRed popularized it. I think it has always been around the same WR of Fizz Lulu but hasn’t shown up in Balco’s Tier List. It didn’t reach the 1% PR required to show up in the list!
The deck plays out similarly to Fizz Lulu, going for a Lulu Flame Chompers! discard combo, fitting in Ahri as a backup for Lulu. The difference between the two decks lies in their mid-game finishers: Fizz Lulu relies on Yordle Captain to buff up their small units and Yordles in Arms as a powerful finisher. On the other hand, Ahri Lulu has access to Sai'nen Thousand-Tailed and Windfarer Hatchling for board-wide buffs, and most importantly Sai’nen also gives the deck a little more longevity.
This is also the core point: Ahri Lulu has a favorable matchup into Darkness thanks to Sai’nen, while Fizz Lulu doesn’t. In the current meta, Lulu Ahri doesn't have a bad matchup. Its worst popular matchups are FTR (43% WR) and Ahri Kennen SI (48% WR), that’s it!!
Kennen Ahri SH got dethroned this week thanks to the increasing popularity of Darkness, Scouts, and Ahri Kennen SI. The SI version even overtook it in PR, so really a “bad” week for Ahri Kennen SH, right?!
Well, imagine going to Disney World as a kid and getting to go to every attraction possible. Heck, you even get to meet Seasonals winner Painas taking a stroll with his wife! But on your way out, you spot that luring capsule machine that contains all your favorite Disney Characters. You decide to pester your parents for 5 minutes until they finally give in and hand you 2 bucks to feed the pocket money hungry machine.
But… the capsule machine gets jammed and you don’t get your favorite Disney character (yes, every Disney character is your favorite at this age!). Was it still a bad day?
Well, chance has it that something like this happened to me. Of course, I started to scream like hell and swore that this was the worst day of my life. Aren’t pre-teens lovely creatures? =)
Pantheon Taric lost some of its momentum and succumbed to Ahri Kennen SI and Fizz Lulu, two bad matchups for the deck that experienced an increase in popularity during the prior week.
They say the weakness of one is the strength of another. This holds true for Scouts, who benefit from Darkness and Ahri Kennen SI being (even) more popular now. On the other side, Fizz Lulu is weak to those exact decks, which is why they lost 1.5% WR during this week.
To analyze why Pirates is a newcomer to this week’s data, let’s look at their matchup table from Legna’s website.
As we can see, the deck does really well into Ahri Kennen SH and Pantheon Shyvana. It’s also favored into Lurk, Ahri Kennen SI, and Pantheon Taric. As a trade-off, it does horrendously bad into Darkness and Scouts, the two most popular decks this week, as well as Fizz Lulu.
It should be fairly clear that Pirates won’t become the most winning deck any time soon but its couple of bad matchups get balanced by its many good ones in the current meta.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the coming week won’t be a complete mess where everyone plays just about anything they feel like.
For the last couple of weeks, Darkness has been heavily overplayed. I think the main selling point of the deck is that it does fine into almost anything, especially Ahri Kennen. But “doing fine” is not good enough to be the most played deck in the game. If you don’t want to play Ahri Kennen but have a good winrate, you will have to take the L against Ahri Kennen and smack most of the rest.
Our good old friend Lurk, just like last season, is also heavily overplayed. Like, how can you justify playing a deck that only has a 51% WR when you could play Ahri Kennen?
The deck has historically always been overplayed and I think it’s due to its high-rolling nature. When you get the attack token on turn one, a random Pyke Lurk, and kill your opponent on turn 5, who cares if you surrendered the last two games because you didn’t luck out, right?
I think the reason Ahri Lulu is experiencing such low PR is due to its unfortunate combination of champions. If you want to bring the archetype in a Bo3 format like Seasonals, you can’t bring either Ahri Kennen or Fizz Lulu, making the deck unattractive to practice.
Isolated in the ladder meta though, this deck is flying high and the perfect deck to climb quickly. Maybe this is the deck you could use to make a final push to, let’s say, Masters?!
Looking Back (Long Journey Edition)
Let’s reminisce about our journey through the Magical Misadventures season together.
On the one hand, Ezreal Kennen abused the fact that Kinkou Wayfinder could pull two Kennen's out of your deck and capitalize on the 0-cost Mark of the Storm to quickly level Ezreal.
On the other hand, Rally Yordles abused Yordle Explorer to buff up their small units and buff them again with Poppy.
(And let's give it to reddit: the wisdom of the crowd was this time on point when saying that Yordle Explorer, in its original form, was a tad too powerful).
The balance team realized very quickly that those mechanics were broken and had to be fixed for a balanced meta to emerge. Both decks had a 12%+ winrate, similar to Plunder and Rally Elusives from the prior season.
After the hotfix, Poppy decks vanished completely and the meta snapshot from Dec 20th shows a fairly balanced meta, with a slight preference of Pantheon decks. Funnily enough, it was our very own Ahri Lulu from this week that topped the WR chart in that week, with a 57%WR as well!
I remember in that week Ahri Kennen was fairly unknown and as I played a few games with the deck I realized it was cracked. I immediately messaged Herko stating I had to write a guide about it, but Wamuu snatched it away just a couple of hours earlier.
The week after that, we could see old decks like Plunder and Lee Zoe slowly vanish from the ladder. Ahri Kennen got a lot of traction now and TF Nami was found as well. It took a couple of weeks, but we seemed to have found our meta staples.
In the next week, we changed the last number of our date, but we didn’t change what we perceived was busted: Ahri Kennen. Darkness also rose to the top that week as one of the few decks that didn’t have a bad matchup into Ahri Kennen.
A week later, it was time for another balance change and various cards got nerfed, most noteworthy Curious Shellfolk and Hidden Pathways. This made TF Nami’s run for the money fall short.
It was also the week where Iceborn Legacy got buffed and two decks rampaging to the top: Iceborn Poros and Iceborn Spiders (back then Howling Spiders =)), while the first one was the vastly more popular deck.
Funnily enough, Ahri Kennen reached a 59% WR that week and left many with confusion as to why Nami TF got hit but not Ahri Kennen, an over-tuned deck back then.
We also saw Sun Disc become a meme, as it had a 3% PR and only 36% WR. IMO this is one of the most memorable moments of the season.
Quickly after the patch, people started figuring out that the Iceborn decks weren’t as hot as they seemed and Iceborn Poro dropped from a 12% PR to a 4% one. It was Ahri Kennen and Darkness back at the top again.
With the buff to Vengeance, we saw FTR make a comeback into the meta (well, comeback as in, a few seasons ago they were good =)).
Scouts were also discovered to be good again and the only archetype that challenged the 55% WR of Ahri Kennen SH.
As we are approaching the present, the meta has become more and more stable. Scouts overtook Ahri Kennen in PR for a moment, but now lost the battle to Ahri Kennen when it came to WR (54% vs. 58%). Pantheon decks experienced a huge jump in WR to 57% as the popularity of Ahri Kennen fell and Scouts became overplayed.
As it turned out, Pantheon Taric became the superior Pantheon deck. Previously, Mono Pantheon was figured out to be the strongest version due to Taric being an anti-tempo play. With the presence of control decks like Darkness though, Taric earned his pay in the deck as a crucial value generator that turned the matchup from terrible into favored.
Scouts slowly reduced its PR and we saw a new meta giant emerge: Fizz Lulu. The deck toppled the charts with a 56% WR, standing only below Kennen Ahri.
Today, we witness the overtake of the SI variant of Ahri Kennen, at least when it comes to popularity. Lulu Ahri has also overthrown its Fizz Lulu counterpart and is here to stay (until Ahri or Lulu gets nerfed next week =))
As we are approaching a new expansion and have passed the Seasonals Open Rounds, this is likely the last week we have seen a stable meta. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my meta reports over the season and could learn something from them. In the end, this is the reason I write these reports: I want to show you what’s going on in the meta, what you can learn from it, and what decks are worth investing your time in.
If there’s anything you would like to see changed, even on the website, new ideas added, or anything else that would make this series more helpful to you, please leave a comment with your thoughts! What do you think I can improve on as a writer? Would you like to see a 10-page review of the latest Webtoon I’ve been reading? I think we all know the answer to the last question - it would have to be at least 15 pages long =)
As always, thank you for reading. Seriously, your support has meant a lot over the whole season. This series will take a break next week and resume on Feb 21st!