Hey everyone. This week marks the end of A Curious Journey, and what a curious journey it was indeed. With cards revealed and champions crowned, what’s left to do is take a final look at the meta, and reminisce in our season’s history.
Sorting Balco’s Meta Tier List one last time by playrate (PR), we see the following:
We find the same proven contestants as last week. Viego Shurima (Viego SH) remains on top, while Pantheon Yuumi (PhDE) finishes second. It’s not a climb though – PhDE stagnated in PR – it’s that all other archetypes in its way fell down. Especially Miss Fortune Twisted Fate Gangplank (Pirates) took a hit, losing 2.5% PR.
Finally, the Lurkers (Pyke Rek’Sai) are lurking at rank tenth.
Much of this is due to the fact that LP is not important to Master players anymore after the Seasonal qualification cut.
Hence we see (well, we don’t in this graph, but on ladder!) more weak and meme decks played on ladder with small sample sizes, stealing PR of our famous contenders but donating WR to them.
Thus, a final turn to winrates (WR) reveals:
PhDE is the strongest archetype of the meta. With a 57% WR, nothing stands in its way and it can’t be stopped…
…to the demise of Miss Fortune Quinn (Scouts), being the only deck with a downward slope.
Heimer Jayce and Draven Sion have an enormous upward trend with a 2+% growth in WR. Their common ground? They beat Viego SH and Tri-Beam. Otherwise, both decks do opposite things – Draven Sion beats midrange decks like PhDE and Sun Disc, Heimer Jayce beats aggro.
Despite Pirates’ diminishing PR, its WR is strong as ever, benefitting from Viego SH and PhDE’s popularity. Just like the previous three archetypes, it ends the season with a 55% WR.
Sivir Akshan and Azir Irelia photo flash the end-of-season top cut with a 54% WR each. While Sivir Akshan is bullying swarm decks like Scouts and Afaelios, Azir Irelia is medium burning control lists like Viego SH and Sun Disc.
Taliyah Ziggs took a dip in recent times but has returned to a worthy finish with a 54% WR.
The same can be said about Tri-Beam, who was slowly but surely falling out of meta. With their strength versus Viego SH and PhDE though, they have made a comeback just in time!
Just like with the PR graph, Lurk is lurking on the edge at rank tenth with a 53% WR. The deck has similar strengths as Azir Irelia against control decks like FTR.
A Curious Journey
With this week concluded, let’s look back at how we got here in the first place, and dwell in nostalgia.
On February 17th, Patch 3.2.0 arrived, and with it the final expansion of Beyond the Bandlewood.
It was a much-needed breath of fresh air after the dynasty of one deck – Ahri Kennen. Luckily, the archetype got some much-needed nerfs and would never resurface again (even though one particularly sturdy minor variation, Ahri Katarina, can still be found at the very fringes of the meta).
This is how the first week after the expansion looked like:
An over-statted Gnar was all over the place, ruining the fun for anything that dared to not run the prehistoric furry. Especially Trundle Gnar Concurrent Timelines (Gnarlines) seemed to be the best Gnar deck after a few days of experimentation.
The exception was Fizz Lulu Yordles in Arms , an archetype that somehow dodged the attention of both the balance team and players. It was dominant before the expansion, and nothing stood in its way of overtaking the meta once again.
Personally, I was playing Gnar Swain on ladder and failed horribly with it. At the same time, the MaRu writers took a scramble with the MaRu Pro Team against stacked players like MajiinBae and Jasensational, where we managed to come out on top! What an annoying and exciting start to the expansion at the same time. =)
One week later, we saw a new Gnar deck take the lead – Teemo Tristana Gnar (Tristana DE). Two champions never thought possible to appear in the top stats were carried by one little dinosaur.
It also turned out that Demacia decks were pretty good against Gnarlines, who became the most popular archetype.
That week I was on an Ahri Lulu hype train. I found massive success with it on ladder and ended up bringing it to the Writers vs Wobbly Wombats scramble. Unfortunately, we writers lost that match but good memories were made nonetheless!
Three weeks in, the meta showed no signs of settling. PhDE speared to the top (pun intended) and single-handedly made sure that Tristana DE wouldn’t become the next meta bully.
Akshan Sivir also reached high this week, with similar matchups as PhDE. While aggro decks seemed to lessen, Gnar Ziggs and Draven Rumble remained in the top cut.
Unlike any previous weeks, no archetype reached the 55% WR mark, indicating that the meta was well balanced.
We writers won the third and final scramble, against Pandex eSports this time. I believed in Ahri Lulu again and played my most intense game of the season that day.
In the second week of March, the battle for
world domination ladder control was fierce. PhDE extended its popularity but Tristana DE was ultimately the archetype coming out ahead thanks to its incredible matchup table.
While the meta reporter (hey, that’s me!) was dumbfounded as to why Pantheon Yuumi and Pantheon Taric were not counted as the same archetype in the data (due to their almost identical lists except for one copy of Taric), Taliyah Ziggs took a dip in the top cut.
I collaborated with Between Worlds Seasonal champion Painas on an Aphelios Lux guide back then. I was dumbfounded once again – this time how I managed to get in touch with such a legend.
The following week marked the comeback of Fizz Lulu. There was no good reason why this archetype was underplayed in the previous weeks (which is why it didn't show up in the data).
It seemed that Tristana DE and Fizz Lulu would be potential problems if they stayed on top permanently, as they had too high WRs.
One short week later, we could see the same cycle from some weeks ago – Tristana DE growing and in response PhDE and Sivir Akshan ascending as well.
Looking back at it now, it’s fascinating how we had a mini-ecosystem in those three weeks with almost identical metas at the beginning and end. =)
As we experienced this meta phenomenon, everyone was getting ready for the highly-anticipated balance patch which was promising multiple champion adjustments.
And when patch 3.4 arrived…
In the first week after the patch, players were trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Most successful archetypes were seeing less than a 2% PR. The reason? Mono Shurima!
Mono Shurima got some neat buffs that finally lifted it out of meme tier and into a 23% PR.
Yeah, you’ve read that right. Twenty. Three. Percent.
Demand met supply that patch, with one too many card buffs one could say! =)
Riven Viktor was a surprising result of this Shurima-dominated meta. Nobody thought much of the Viktor buffs at first, but they turned out to be exactly what Riven needed to become a Sun Disc smasher.
While no patch ever has the exact effect as intended, I think this one had many good changes. Several champions got resurrected and dead cards revived. Personally, I rejoiced at the sight of Aphelios being competitive again.
I also had the pleasure of writing a guide about Azir Irelia with bA1ance, a long-time enjoyer of the said deck, at my side.
The second week of April showed that Sun Disc wasn’t the only archetype allowed to have a busted PR. Riven Viktor grew to 9% PR and gave Sun Disc, now having a 12% PR, a serious run for its money.
While not Invoked beforehand, Riven Viktor’s fate was already written in stars. In the coming month, archetypes that were especially good at beating Viktor Riven and Sun Disc would shine.
This was also the week that showed how good Viktor’s buffs actually were. Three archetypes made it into the meta report at that time.
Also, a passion project I started with two friends began to gain some traction. We first intended to only interview some less-known community figures, like a gaming grandmom. But after our Azir Irelia Sonnet guides did well on Reddit, there was no going back. We became a full-blown LoR poetry Discord server that people thoroughly enjoy to this day! =)
In the third week of April, Pirates saw the light of the day for the first time. TF fit surprisingly well into the deck and replaced part of the long-ago nerfed Gangplank.
A lot of decks were on a slight downward trend and if you squinted a little, one could’ve thought that this meta looked pretty settled. In reality, two trends were telling indicators of what was to come:
Riven Viktor (remember the Written in Stars pun? =) was destined for a life in oblivion, while Sun Disc made it into top cut for the first time – with a worrisome 11% PR.
This trend would remain true the following week. Sun Disc was climbing in PR again while retaining its competitive WR – thanks to the absence of Riven Viktor.
Elise Jayce (Sentinels) made a short entrance into the scene, while Fizz Lulu and Scouts were once again on top of the meta, alongside Pirates.
For me, this was the second week working together with Hazy to make the stats more appealing to the eye – I met him on the above-mentioned poetry server. While the beginning phase of deciding the style of the graph and refining it wasn’t easy, we got an overwhelmingly helpful amount of feedback from you, the readers, that guided these graphics in the right direction. Thanks for that! =)
This was also the last week before another balance patch. As the meta was getting a little dry and approached equilibrium, this was a much-appreciated breath of fresh air to come.
Personally, I got some coaching from Dr. LoR on my meta reports, after which I reflected and adjusted a few things in response.
Whereas the first balance patch of the season was bringing many new archetypes into play, this one was more successful at nerfing prevalent ones.
Most importantly, Sun Disc got hit and turned from an over-tuned, must-beat archetype into a competitive, balanced one.
Furthermore, Riot finished off Riven Viktor with some clean nerfs and ended their suffering.
Draven Sion and FTR were two meta giants that dominated the early part of this new meta, while Taliyah Ziggs came back once again. FTR, in particular, had no popular bad matchups and was meant for higher places.
The new patch also introduced a game rule update, to the repulsion of many. I personally didn’t mind it and was sure the Dev team only had the best intentions in mind to drive the game forward.
The coming week resembles most of what we see today – Scouts and PhDE being on top, together with Pirates forming a Rock-Paper-Scissors relationship.
FTR’s higher meaning turned out to be fodder for Demacia decks, as well as Taliyah Ziggs. It was a clean jebait like it stands in the history books. =)
On the other hand, Afaelios was a late burner that seemed to have no bad matchups in the meta except PhDE – similar to Scouts. This was also the time when most people decided on their Seasonals lineup and committed to Afaelios and Scouts in their lineups.
To me, Taliyah Ziggs was most appealing because of their enjoyable and rewarding playstyle. I ended up writing a guide for the deck and formed my Seasonals lineup around it.
The next week was going to show that Afaelios was an archetype of big promises that it couldn’t keep. Viego SH and Afaelios both rose in PR but didn’t in WR. Actually, it was quite the opposite.
And that week, something weird happened: Every single deck in top cut lost in WR. This was most likely due to experimental archetypes like Akshan Udyr falling out of trend.
This week marked for me the beginning of accompanying these written meta reports with a YouTube video. I did a test video the week prior to see how it goes, and we decided to continue this project!
This leaves us with today’s data. It has been an incredible journey with many different metas thanks to the continuous effort of the balance team.
Sure, not everyone likes where the game is going. Especially that the Pro scene isn’t the main target group of the game. But I think we are getting way more than players in other games. I have a history in Hearthstone and Gwent and, trust me, this amount of frequent balance changes and transparency is not normal!
I think it’s important to realize that real-life people are sitting in the dev team and they are trying their best. Especially RubinZoo has been super communicative through Twitter, even asking players directly what cards they’d like to see changed and how.
Thank you so much for your patience reading this week's meta report and for making it this far. If against all odds you’re still here reading this, leave a “Hi” in the Reddit thread comments, I will reply! =)
If you'd like to watch me as I go through these numbers, here's the companion YouTube vid:
The data has been due to the amazing website by Balco while the matchup tables have been from Legna’s brilliant homepage. They are doing an insane job at collecting all this data and presenting it to us in an approachable manner. They deserve all the praise in the world!
The talented Hazy has been converting Balco's data into these stunning graphs for the Monday Meta Report, I can't express my gratitude enough to him!
Thanks also to Herko Khergans, he has been doing lots of editing and proofreading that deserves appreciation!!
You can reach me on Twitter (@Leer97) or on Discord (Leer#2026)!
Thanks for reading and see ya next
week season! =)