Drisoth's Stats Don't Lie
For those of you who don’t know, Drisoth (link) is a prominent community member with a mind for stats and he spent the weekend looking at a LOT of numbers.
The stats told him this is THE BEST lineup for this upcoming Seasonal and I can see why. Ahri Kennen Shadow Isles is favored into the mirror, Yordles in Arms is just quietly one of the best decks in the game, and after much debate Taric Pantheon seems to be the premiere Pantheon deck.
While Taric Pantheon and Ahri Kennen can both struggle with Aggro matchups, I do not expect there to be a ton of people on triple Aggro and a good pilot can still navigate their way through these difficult matchups.
With this lineup, first thing we want to take care of is Aggro -- pick the deck with the most Fearsome units (probably Spiders), if they have no Fearsome attackers in their lineup then you’ll want to take out the deck with the most burn. Count out the Decimates, Noxian Fervors, etc, and see which of their decks has the most to choose your ban.
Beyond the Aggro bans, I would probably look to remove Darkness from the equation and outside of that anything you just don’t feel like playing against.
The advantage to playing a “three good decks” lineup and being practiced on it is that you’ll know your matchups, you’ll know which you’re most comfortable playing into and your ban is flexible enough that you can spend it wherever you feel is best.
This is a lineup we’ve previously recommended and it’s still a good choice for this Seasonal! A lineup based around Scouts works best when it’s unexpected and the meta has cycled back to the point where I’m comfortable recommending this lineup.
This lineup is looking to feast on Control players.
Rally is one of, if not THE, best ways to push your advantage in LoR. Your game plan is to get your opponent to expend all their resources dealing with your board, refill your board, and get in for two attacks, with a Rally, while they are still tapped out of mana.
We'll focus on taking out Ahri Kennen first and foremost.
If your opponent isn’t playing Ahri Kennen then you can go ahead and ban Aggro decks -- I would prioritize banning something like Draven Rumble but you can take out Pirates or Spiders as well if that’s what you’d rather not play into.
If your opponent is on a triple Control lineup, be happy you hit your target, you’ll want to ban any list that’s on Deny (stuff like Feel The Minah sometimes shows up), then I would prioritize any list with PnZ removal as these decks typically have a bit more board presence and their removal is more flexible so they pose a larger threat to your strategy.
FTR (also Anivia or Iceborn Spiders)
This is a pretty standard option for a Control lineup. I expect there will be more Pantheon than Aggro so this may not be the best choice for the Seasonal's Open Rounds, but I have always been an advocate for comfort above all else. As such, I believe you should bring this lineup if it’s what you’re most practiced on.
You’ll want to prioritize banning Taric Pantheon as it is the most problematic Rally deck. Beyond that Ahri Kennen is always an excellent ban (and one you should consider taking over even Taric Pantheon). Unlike the previous lineups, you’re pretty happy playing into Aggro - if you encounter a triple Aggro player just ban the deck with the most burn spells (or the most spell shields).
This is a lineup I stole from my friend Snipecross after he mopped me with it in scrims. He also played it to win the most recent OLS. This lineup is a comfort lineup for him but that doesn’t mean you can’t also find success with it.
According to Snipecross, this lineup is looking to ban Pantheon Taric which makes sense as Rally can pressure you faster than you can set up, this means you’ll also want to ban out Scouts or Sivir Akshan.
Demacia is generally a good ban as Sharpsight can be very annoying for both YiA and Poros. The two Iceborn Legacy decks really only care about getting their game plan going and otherwise just look to stall, so they can find success in almost any matchup if piloted well.
If your opponent’s lineup lacks Pantheon Taric you’ll probably want to ban an Aggro deck as it can be troublesome for Poros. This might seem counterintuitive, as your other two decks have good Aggro matchups, but you can expect the Aggro player to ban out Spiders and then you’re stuck trying to get a win with Poros. I believe it's best to nip this problem in the bud and give yourself easier matchups if possible.
Monte’s Weapon of Choice
Plan B - Beat Pantheon
I am looking to beat Ahri Kennen -- some would call this a fool's errand, and honestly, I don’t think they’re wrong. In the right hands Ahri Kennen is such an unstoppable force that even Malphite is jealous. However, I like a challenge and I believe in my ability to play my three decks better than my opponent will play theirs.
The real reason I’m comfortable bringing this lineup is that I do not expect Control to be particularly prominent. As such, my Aggro decks are free to rain down a world of pain onto my opponents.
Your primary plan with this lineup is to beat up Ahri Kennen, they will usually ban Spiders so you MUST BE COMFORTABLE IN THE MIRROR! I really cannot stress enough how important it is that you know how to play this mirror matchup, I fully expect to play it in all 9 rounds.
IF there is no Ahri Kennen in your opponent’s lineup, look to isolate and 2-0 their Pantheon deck. Pantheon also struggles into Aggro, giving our lineup a good backup plan. If this fallback didn’t exist, I would in no way recommend this lineup. Lineups with target strategies are most effective when they target multiple decks that are currently in the meta as you’re never guaranteed to hit only your primary target.
If all else fails and you queue into a Control player, and we assume that they will correctly ban Ahri Kennen, you’ll want to ban any SI PnZ deck, then SI Freljord, then Darkness. But the real strategy here is to hope they leave Ahri up and ban Spiders. Pirates have a little bit more substance to it than Spiders and as such are more likely to steal a win against your typical Control lineup.
Alternate decks you can consider for this lineup are Ekko Zilean, Nightfall, and Shurima Nox burn. I wouldn’t recommend straying from the original lineup unless you’re extremely comfortable with one of these alternatives.
Visiting Runeterra’s Landmarks
Soraka Tahm Kench
This lineup focuses on hard-targeting Control/Slow decks and surviving against the rest of the field with a combination of heals, swarm units and AoE spells. All three decks have good winrates into your typical Control decks like FTR while also being able to defend themselves against full Aggro lineups.
The main weakness of this lineup will be more Midrange decks like Pantheon, or full Elusive decks. TK Raka and Bandle Tree, while not currently super meta, just won GiantSlayer’s Fight Night tournament on the hands of 4LW (he had Ahri Kennen over Thralls as 3rd deck) so the stocks on these two decks are up up up!
Here's our detailed guide (link) about Tahm Kench Soraka, in case you're not familiar with the deck.
Ban priority with this lineup will be Midrange decks like Pantheon, and Fearsome decks like Viego Kindred. If the opponent is not playing either of those decks, then you can target things that might have landmark removal, like Noxus with Scorched Earth or some invoke-heavy Targon decks.
The deck doesn't necessarily need to ban Ahri Kennen, as both Tree and Thralls can do okayish vs it, but probably better to be safe and ban it when the chance arises.
You should always leave Darkness, Lee Sin, FTR, Anivia, and other Control/slow decks open.
If running into triple Aggro, usually you can do decent versus anything except for Elusive. Bandle Tree can swarm the board wide enough to give you plenty of blockers while also having a lot of pings itself. Star Spring can stabilize with Broadbacked Protector. Thralls, while the weakest against triple Aggro, can do some good moves with Ice Shard and the rest of your AoE.
An alternate deck for this list is Ahri Kennen SI, possibly replacing either TK Raka or Thralls. If you replace TK Raka with it, it gives you a lot of points vs Ahri Kennen lineups. If you replace Thralls with it, it allows you to survive versus triple Rally lineups.
A Different Approach To Aggro
Ahri Kennen SI
This lineup’s purpose is to give you that Aggro feeling while not necessarily playing all the standard Aggro decks (Spiders, Pirates, and the like). All these decks can still present a ton of pressure against the opponent and can kill them quickly if the opponent is not careful.
Ban priority is a little bit all over the place with this lineup, so it has to be more of a judgment call based on what your opponent is bringing. Ziggs Taliyah, for example, can do well against Control while struggling with Ahri Kennen and full traditional Aggro. Nightfall does well against Ahri Kennen while struggling into Control a bit, and Ahri Kennen does well into almost everything except Scouts. Ideally, here you are banning your traditional Aggro decks, like Spiders and Pirates first, and gaining points towards midrange and combo type of decks.
This lineup is fun, is fast, and may present a great opportunity as both AK and Ziggs Taliyah are top-tier decks.
Lastly, if you are looking to replace any deck in this lineup, an alternate deck you can bring is Yordle In Arms. It is also an Aggro deck but not a full Aggro deck and improves your match-up points vs Control a bit. Other options include Scouts and Lulu Ahri if you don’t want to bring Ahri Kennen.
Sirturmund’s Weapon of Choice
Lee Sin Zoe
Ahri Kennen (Shurima or Demacia)
This last lineup is what I plan to bring to the Seasonals at the moment. I am expecting most players this weekend to either be on Ahri Kennen or be on Pantheon. I wanted a lineup that can always ban Ahri Kennen and do decent or be favorable versus Pantheon, and this is what I came up with.
Every lineup with Pantheon will almost automatically ban your Ahri Kennen, so really you’re playing with two decks: Lee and Viego.
Lee Sin is favored versus Pantheon as you can protect against a lot of their removal, and threaten their Pantheon or Taric/Shyvana in many different ways. We also run double Priestess to make the deck slightly more consistent and even give us an alternate way to deal with key opponent units.
Viego Kindred uses the removal tools from Shadow Isles combined with the stalls from Ionia (stun, deny, etc) to slow down Pantheon decks just enough for you to level up your big units and win. This match-up tends to be very favorable as well.
You are always banning either Ahri Kennen or Darkness. Those two decks have good matchups into both Lee and Viego Kindred, and the Ahri Kennen SI version can do well into our Ahri Kennen Shurima version.
If the opponent for some reason is not on any of those two decks, then it becomes more of a judgment call. I tend to go on banning the deck with the most removal, as our lineup relies on keeping key big units like Lee, Viego, and Kindred on the field.
We do well into Midrange and decently into Control too by targeting FTR (all our decks have Denys and Stuns).
Against Aggro, we have removal in Viego Kindred with Vile Feast, Eye of the Dragon in Lee, and just general nonsense Ahri Kennen can do. I would say you ban Spiders as that probably does the best against Ahri Kennen, and hope to race down the remaining Aggro options they might have.
And all our decks do very well against stuff like combo (Lee), as we have ways to stop their big combo turns, you just have to be comfortable to win the mirror.
If you’re looking to make some replacements, you can swap our Viego Kindred for Pantheon and switch your Ahri Kennen version to Shadow Isles. That gives you some points versus lineups like Scouts. If you instead swap Lee for Pantheon, you gain some points versus Darkness.
I don’t recommend taking Ahri Kennen out of the lineup as you want to force your opponent to ban it.
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 (link) 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 (link)!
Big "thank you!" to Mazaza for catching a big deck typo in the Control lineup.