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How to Climb in a New Meta

If you want to climb fast on patch day, you have different options – Monte details five of them, depending how you prefer to attack a brand-new, turbulent meta!

Hey guys, MonteXristo here, and today we’re going to talk about climbing the ladder in the early days of a new meta!

If you want to climb fast on patch day, you have different options. 

The way I see it, you can do one of five things:

  1. Play the best deck from the previous meta that’s gone unnerfed,
  2. Play an old aggro deck,
  3. Play a promising new deck,
  4. Play a playtested homebrew of your own from previous a season that went untouched by balance changed,
  5. Counter your pocket meta.

The first two of these options are more reliable and are basically guaranteed to get you to Diamond or Masters as quick as a whip but all of them can work.

Before we get into which decks we should use for our early climb in the Worldwalker expansion, we’re going to talk a little bit about what makes these good choices.


The Advantage of Knowing your Game Plan

An overpowered deck, an aggro deck, and a playtested homebrew deck of your own all have one common element – they are decks with a stable build and a solid gameplan, while the early-days meta of any expansion is going to be filled with new decks and untested brews.

Any deck with a real gameplan will thrive in this environment simply because the deck, and you as the pilot, know what it wants to be doing – Pantheon will still win the game the same way but, right now, who knows what will make Bard or Annie strong enough to be a real meta contender?

Aggro decks particularly thrive in the early meta environment because they’re focused on one thing: killing your opponent as fast as possible.

Your own homebrew deck will also do well because it’s a tested deck with a solid game plan going up against various new builds that are still trying to figure out how they want to play and win the game. 

In the first week or so of a meta, you can mostly expect your opponents to be testing new decks or playing the Tier One meta staple of the last patch. With this knowledge, you can make some head’s up meta calls and put yourself at an advantage in the deck selection phase.

For example, if two of the top dogs of A Curious Journey, Pantheon, and Pirates, dodge nerfs, you can make a pretty good educated guess that Pantheon will still be running around the ladder feasting on all the unrefined archetypes.

Well, Pantheon and these new decks will have something in common – they’ll both be weak to Pirates, making Pirates the better meta call for the new patch. 


New Promises and Old Loves

Of course, this plan can go up in flames if some balance changes do come through. That’s where our latter two choices of playing a promising new deck and playing a playtested homebrew come into play.

Without the last meta’s top dog to keep things in check, the new meta’s most promising deck can often be worth the time and effort to refine early. If you make a good read, this can also give you a bit of a leg up in the latter days of the patch when you’re looking to compete and already know how the new meta king plays and wins. 

For the upcoming Worldwalker expansion, the deck I believe to be most worth experimenting with has to be some sort of Jhin/Noxus burn list as it is also an aggro deck you’re more likely to farm the unrefined concepts running around – check Shadawx's Jhin Annie build further down!

This is also a good point in time to break out your old favorite deck, in my case it would be Fizz Nami.

The reason this works is the same as the reason Pantheon or Pirates would work in our previous example: you're playing a deck with a stable build and gameplan in an unstable meta. There is the added benefit of it being your pocket pick and therefore a deck you know thoroughly – this will let you more easily come up with a game plan for the new decks on the fly. 

In this upcoming Worldwalker expansion we’re not expecting many balance changes. As such it should be fairly easy for us to pick out one or two decks that’ll be quite strong on patch day.

As mentioned, Pantheon looks like it’ll still be an excellent pick but if you’re a bit sick of the God of War then you might be interested in taking a look at Jayce Lux.

Riot did announce that they intend to change the way champion spell duplication works back to the way it previously did, meaning that whenever Jayce copies a spell, Lux will once again create a second Final Spark

I think Jayce Lux is poised to be quite strong, and it was also a tier-one deck of the previous patch – you’re not stuck with the BEST deck but it is advisable to pick one out of tier one. 

Jayce Lux

Regions
Demacia
22 cards
Piltover & Zaun
18 cards
Rarities
24 800
champion
6
epic
0
rare
17
common
17
Mana cost
2
0
2
1
16
2
4
3
5
4
5
5
6
6
0
7+
Champions
6
4
Jayce
3
5
Lux
3
Followers
16
1
Forge Chief
2
2
Brightsteel Protector
2
2
Ferros Financier
3
2
Mageseeker Persuader
3
2
Petricite Broadwing
3
3
Vanguard Sergeant
3
Spells
18
0
Thermogenic Beam
2
2
Mystic Shot
2
2
Sharpsight
2
2
Single Combat
1
3
Shield of Durand
1
4
Golden Aegis
1
4
Statikk Shock
1
5
Concerted Strike
2
6
Assembly Line
3
6
Back to Back
1
6
Shock Blast
2

Pantheon

Regions
Demacia
14 cards
Mount Targon
26 cards
Rarities
23 400
champion
6
epic
0
rare
10
common
24
Mana cost
0
0
4
1
16
2
13
3
5
4
2
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
3
Yuumi
3
4
Pantheon
3
Followers
13
1
Saga Seeker
3
2
Brightsteel Protector
3
2
Mountain Goat
3
3
Wounded Whiteflame
3
4
Blinded Mystic
1
Spells
21
1
Chain Vest
1
2
Guiding Touch
3
2
Pale Cascade
2
2
Sharpsight
3
2
Single Combat
2
3
Cataclysm
3
3
Hush
1
3
Zenith Blade
3
4
Bastion
1
5
Concerted Strike
2

How to Think like a Pirate

We already discussed Pirates briefly and how, barring any nerfs, I anticipate it to be one of the best calls for the early meta, but here I want to break down why.

In the early days of a patch, people will be experimenting with all sorts of garbage deck ideas – believe me, having previously tested awful deck ideas like Zilean Viktor on patch day, I should know!

These early deck ideas may not always be terrible, but they will always be unrefined. Tuning them up requires a lot of testing, as well as a stable meta. Simply put, these decks don’t know exactly what their game plan is, or how they intend to go about executing it. They may have a vague clue, or sometimes even a solid idea of their gameplan, but figuring out how the deck wants to go about achieving it takes time that people simply have not yet had on patch day. 

Any time a deck is unsure of how it wants to go about winning, you get a lot more time in-game to push it around.

That is why burn or even board-based aggro strategies are so good in the early days. A deck that wants more time to figure things out is obviously going to be punished by decks that want to kill you as fast as possible.

If you’re sick of Pirates, Draven Rumble Sion should also be an excellent choice for your early climb. It plays for a fast early game and then closes out with burn like Decimate, much in the same way as Pirates, but it has a bit more staying power in the later stages of the game due to Sion and Rumble.

That staying power might be valuable as sometimes these unrefined decks can be very good at stalling out while also being very bad at preventing you from leveling your champs – making something like Rumble, which gives you “infinite value”, very strong.

Draven Rumble Sion

Regions
Piltover & Zaun
16 cards
Noxus
24 cards
Rarities
24 800
champion
6
epic
2
rare
6
common
26
Mana cost
2
0
8
1
11
2
9
3
3
4
3
5
0
6
4
7+
Champions
6
3
Draven
1
4
Rumble
3
7
Sion
2
Followers
18
1
Draven's Biggest Fan
2
1
Reborn Grenadier
3
1
Zaunite Urchin
3
2
Ballistic Bot
2
2
Boom Baboon
3
2
Fallen Rider
3
8
Lost Soul
2
Spells
16
0
Poro Cannon
2
2
Mystic Shot
3
3
Get Excited!
3
3
Might
3
3
Whirling Death
2
5
Decimate
3

Pirates

Regions
Bilgewater
17 cards
Noxus
23 cards
Rarities
26 300
champion
6
epic
3
rare
8
common
23
Mana cost
0
0
12
1
9
2
8
3
7
4
4
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
3
Miss Fortune
3
4
Twisted Fate
2
5
Gangplank
1
Followers
28
1
Crackshot Corsair
3
1
Legion Rearguard
3
1
Legion Saboteur
3
1
Precious Pet
3
2
Imperial Demolitionist
3
2
Legion Grenadier
3
2
Marai Warden
3
3
Arachnoid Sentry
2
4
Island Navigator
2
4
Zap Sprayfin
3
Spells
6
3
Noxian Fervor
3
5
Decimate
3

Playing with Fire

Playing a promising new deck is likely going to result in a slower climb because you’ll have to learn and refine as you go. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the time or the effort, if you believe the new deck to be a serious meta contender it can definitely be worth investing some game hours into it.

By doing so, you can give yourself a leg up on your opponents through the first few weeks of the settled metagame while they are scrambling to learn it.

In this case, I expect Jhin Noxus to be the deck that’s most likely to actually make a splash in the meta. As an aggro burn deck, it should be really good for your early days of climbing and people should be unsure of how to properly play into it. At the time of writing, we don’t have all the new cards yet released but we do have enough that I felt comfortable suggesting this Jhin Annie deck that Shadawx cooked up! 

Regions
Runeterra
3 cards
Noxus
23 cards
Rarities
22 000
champion
6
epic
0
rare
3
common
31
Mana cost
0
0
15
1
13
2
6
3
3
4
3
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
1
Annie
3
4
Jhin
3
Followers
28
1
Crackshot Corsair
3
1
Legion Rearguard
3
1
Legion Saboteur
3
2
Boomcrew Rookie
3
2
Imperial Demolitionist
3
2
Spell Slinger
2
2
The Stagehand
2
2
Tusk Speaker
3
3
Arachnoid Sentry
3
3
Doombeast
3
Spells
6
1
Blade's Edge
3
5
Decimate
3

Fair warning, opting to go for this strategy will likely result in a slower climb and a greater time investment to get where you want to go. You may save time later by learning what ends up becoming the best deck, or even cheat some time right now if you stumble upon the right 40-card build, but it’s a shot in the dark and not guaranteed.


The Homebrew Advantage

Playing a playtested homebrew of your own can be another excellent strategy for early meta days.

My personal pick would be my Fizz Nami deck. Elusive aggro is generally good, and once again this is a deck with a stable gameplan and a stable build in the middle of an uncertain metagame.

You’re going to be able to knowledge-gap your opponents by virtue of understanding your deck and how it plays far more than they will understand theirs. This will let you run amok on the ladder and climb effectively.

By the way, you should choose a deck that you’re comfortable or practiced on – I’m only putting Fizz Nami here because, in my case, it is the perfect example of a ‘pet deck’ that can thrive in the early days. 

Regions
Bilgewater
20 cards
Bandlecity
23 cards
Rarities
32 100
champion
6
epic
7
rare
15
common
12
Mana cost
0
0
10
1
13
2
7
3
0
4
2
5
6
6
2
7+
Champions
6
1
Fizz
3
3
Nami
3
Followers
17
1
Otterpus
3
2
Conchologist
3
2
Coral Creatures
3
2
Kelp Maidens
3
5
Fleet Admiral Shelly
2
6
Wiggly Burblefish
3
Spells
17
1
Group Shot
1
1
Trinket Trade
3
2
Line 'Em Up
1
2
Pokey Stick
3
3
Double Trouble
3
3
Wallop
1
6
Hidden Pathways
3
7
Mind Meld
2

If you’re really confident you can pull a FaintHD and come up with an entirely new brew that you run to the top of the ladder on day one… Not everyone, myself included, has the skills (or time) to build and pilot a new deck to #1 Masters in an expansion, but it is certainly an option.

If you look back through Faint’s Rank #1 Masters decks, they all have one thing in common – they’re incredibly cheesy! Ambush Bots, Overwhelm Give it All Vi, SI Nami Fizz, all of these decks look to cheat big damage turns and win the game in a single turn when possible.

If you’re going to try this method of attack, I would suggest looking for some sort of cheese win condition and trying to scam games away from your opponent by hitting them with something unexpected.


The Counter-Fun Police

The final strategy available to you is to try countering your pocket meta.

This means playing the counter deck to whatever you’re seeing the most of on the ladder at any given moment. If you’re only queuing into Pirates, consider Feel the Rush. If you’re seeing Pantheon, consider Pirates. If you’re seeing Feel the Rush, consider Pantheon.

This is a strategy I personally do not use, as I believe it’s better to just stick to one deck when climbing and eventually you’ll hit the matchups you want. Nonetheless, this can be a viable strategy for climbing – in the early days of a patch, the pocket metas change quite frequently as new decks pop up but in my experience, you can get a good idea of what’s on the ladder at the moment after a few games.

This means you can adapt your deck choice early on and stick with it until you decide to end your play session or notice a shift. A good way to get an idea of what people might be playing is to check twitch and see what the current #1 streamer is playing. If they’re experimenting with an exciting new archetype, there are good odds that their chat will be as well. This means you can pick your counter deck effectively and set yourself up for success.


A Handful of Tips

To close out, I’d like to go over some general climbing tips!

  • Take breaks! I personally get up and walk away for at least (but often more) five minutes after three losses in a row. I also take a minute or two after every victory to collect my thoughts and reflect on the game.
  • Change decks when it makes sense to but don’t flip too frequently. You want to be playing towards your pocket meta but those two counter matchups in a row could just be bad luck. If you’re changing your deck too frequently you’re going to decrease your chances of success as you’ll not be developing an understanding of your deck’s matchups into the new stuff.
  • Focus on the process, not the outcome. You’re going to lose games, that’s just a fact of competing – what matters isn’t the W or the L but the lines you took and the plays you made with the information you had. If you can learn to separate your decision-making process from the outcome and judge yourself based on that, you’ll start to improve a lot faster. You’ll also be a lot less likely to suffer from ladder anxiety or go on tilt from a loss.

Thanks for reading folks!

I hope this article helps you find success on your climb in the upcoming weeks and it gives you some tools to help you climb in future expansions. If there are any topics you’d like to see me cover in future articles please let me know either in the comments below or on Twitter. Until next time and happy climbing!