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Katarina and 3 Champion Splits

Monte explains why, as LoR gets more champions, we'll see more decks using three champions instead of the usual two.

Hello everyone! I’m MonteXristo and for today’s article, we’re going to talk about what I believe to be the future of LoR: three champ splits.

As we get more champions, I think we’ll get more decks that want a third champion rather than the usual two. This is because some champions have bad champion spells, and some decks have an affinity for a specific one-of.

Some examples of this currently are:

  • Demacia Illaoi, which sometimes plays a copy of Twisted Fate,
  • Poppy Bard Demacia is commonly seen running Jarvan,
  • Most Ravenbloom Conservatory decks are playing some number of Katarina.

Kat has a long history of being splashed in decks as a third champion – over a year ago, when I first started playing competitively, I remember seeing early Ashe Nox lists that included her as a way to rally.

She’s long been overlooked, but due to the aforementioned effect of an increased champion pool and the addition of a new card, Disintegrate, Katarina’s potential has been unlocked!

While a rally on a stick is great, the fact that Katarina gives us a Blade's Edge to use with Disintegrate is amazing. It really lets her pop off in the decks she’s currently run in, and I’ve picked out four different decks for you guys to try out! 


Blades are Abundant in The Desert

The first deck we’re going to showcase is a perfect blend of a deck that wants different angles of approach, making a three-champ split particularly good.

Playing Annie, Katarina, and Ziggs, this aggro deck looks to close out the game A-S-A-P! Kat’s function in this deck is to apply pressure through rallies, although occasionally you’ll actually want to leave her on the board so you still have access to her champ spell, Death Lotus.

Regions
Noxus
23 cards
Shurima
17 cards
Rarities
23 200
champion
6
epic
0
rare
9
common
25
Mana cost
0
0
14
1
9
2
11
3
0
4
6
5
0
6
0
7+
Champions
6
1
Annie
2
3
Katarina
2
3
Ziggs
2
Followers
24
1
Baccai Reaper
3
1
Legion Rearguard
3
1
Legion Saboteur
3
1
Treasure Seeker
3
2
Imperial Demolitionist
3
2
Legion Grenadier
3
3
Merciless Hunter
3
5
Ruin Runner
3
Spells
10
2
Ruinous Path
3
3
Might
2
3
Noxian Fervor
2
5
Decimate
3

Knowing when and how to make tricky plays, like keeping Death Lotus available, is what allowed AK Kurone to pilot this deck to Rank #1 in the Americas shard.

Katarina’s strength as an aggressive tool that forces your opponent into awkward plays is readily apparent when playing this deck. The threat of a rally is often more impactful than the rally itself, and it can buy you a few extra turns of draws in many situations.

Alongside Kat, this deck uses Annie and Ziggs as a way to push additional burn damage in the early game. Annie can also in some cases provide you Tibbers to help you close out, something Kat assists with. 

Mulligan for aggressive early openers – look for three one-drops if you’re attacking on even rounds, or a good 1-2-3 curve if you’re on odds.

Don’t overvalue your champs: remember they’re there to help you push damage, and Ziggs and Annie can’t do that if they’re not attacking.

Use your burn spells to close out! As we’ve previously discussed, you’ll want to get used to playing Kat out and leaving her on the board, or just holding her and enough mana to play her to force your opponent into wonky play patterns. 

She finds her strength in the previous deck by allowing you to keep your foot on the gas and constantly pressure your opponents. In our next deck, Viego Noxus, we’ll be using Kat just a bit differently.


Camavoran Deserter

While she does similar things for this deck, in here Kat also enables Disintegrate and can act as a way to generate an additional ping if nothing else. 

Regions
Noxus
16 cards
Shadow Isles
24 cards
Rarities
26 300
champion
6
epic
3
rare
8
common
23
Mana cost
0
0
3
1
14
2
7
3
3
4
6
5
2
6
5
7+
Champions
6
2
Elise
2
3
Katarina
1
5
Viego
3
Followers
18
2
House Spider
3
3
Arachnoid Sentry
3
3
Camavoran Soldier
3
4
Spirit Leech
3
5
Legion Deserter
3
7
Invasive Hydravine
3
Spells
16
1
Ravenous Flock
3
2
Disintegrate
3
2
Glimpse Beyond
3
2
Vile Feast
3
6
Vengeance
2
7
Atrocity
2

This deck utilizes Kat a little bit more cautiously. While she can certainly win games on her own, she acts more as a support tool in this case. And, unlike in the previous deck, you won’t want to be rallying at almost every opportunity.

Instead, Kat's role is to help you pressure your opponent on critical turns. It’s hard to do anything and spend mana when you may have to deal with an attacking Legion Deserter on your attack token. 

Katarina also pairs well with both Elise and Veigo, since both champions have the Fearsome keyword.

And if you manage to curve Elise into Kat, you’ll suddenly begin to threaten an Elise flip every turn as well. There isn’t much that’s scarier than a constant threat of Rally paired with cheap Challengers to let the real threats get through.

Of course, once Viego gets going we all know how scary he can be. Pairing him with a rally lets you push his level-up condition by forcing your opponent to block down more readily. If nothing else you can get in for some juicy bonus damage.

With this deck there won’t always be spots where a Rally is useful, so that’s where Kat’s secondary role comes in: you can use her to generate a Blade's Edge to pair with Disintegrate, letting you remove pesky blockers. Kat’s versatility truly shines in this deck and you’ll quickly realize just how strong she can be after a few games.

The general strategy with Viego Kat Elise is to play spider aggro early, drop a Camavoran Soldier at some point before round five, then get on the beatdown train with your massive end-game threats like Deserter, Viego, and Hydravine.

In your mulligan, you should be looking for aggressive early game options like House Spider, Elise, and Camavoran Soldier. In some matchups keeping removal options like Disintegrate and Vengeance can be important, use your head and you’ll be fine. Even if all seems lost, you always have the Atrocity top-deck out, or you may be able to rally into a win with Kat if given the token.


Yordles and Blades 

The last Katarina deck we’re going to touch on is Bandle Ravenbloom Conservatory.

This is a deck that really utilizes Kat exceptionally well. Blade's Edge gives this deck a way to easily activate Ravenous Flock and Disintegrate, while her ability to rally lets you push damage through turns where you’d have nothing else to do. 

Regions
Noxus
27 cards
Bandlecity
13 cards
Rarities
24 400
champion
6
epic
0
rare
15
common
19
Mana cost
0
0
12
1
12
2
9
3
4
4
0
5
0
6
3
7+
Champions
6
1
Annie
3
3
Katarina
1
4
Gnar
2
Landmarks
3
1
Ravenbloom Conservatory
3
Followers
11
2
Conchologist
3
2
House Spider
3
3
Arachnoid Sentry
3
4
Lecturing Yordle
2
Spells
20
1
Blade's Edge
3
1
Ravenous Flock
3
2
Disintegrate
3
2
Pokey Stick
3
3
Culling Strike
1
3
Death's Hand
2
3
Scorched Earth
2
10
Treasured Trash
3

I’ve chosen to highlight this deck despite its relatively poor performance because I truly believe it exemplifies the benefits of a three-champ deck better than any other.

Like the burn deck we discussed at the start, all three of our champs here serve their own role and play together to make the deck work: 

  • Annie provides early board pressure, a way to advance Ravenbloom, and occasionally an alternate win-condition in Tibbers,
  • Gnar provides card draw, Ravenbloom advancement, and acts as a win condition of his own when he levels up gaining Overwhelm,
  • Katarina provides cheap pings to activate your removal, rally pressure, and a way to deal with wide boards if you decide to play her in multiples (something I think is perfectly reasonable in this deck).

This is a deck that lives and dies by the Trash; Treasured Trash is the end-game you need with this list.

While you’ll have no trouble getting Tybaulk out, you may struggle to actually end the game without diving into the trash-heap to see what you find. Our champs also play well with this idea of dumping our hand for a better Trash turn: while Gnar does cycle you some, the rest of our units are all cheap enough (at level one) that we can play them out on a turn we’re looking to cast Treasured Trash. 


Bard Demacia

The final deck I want to cover in this article is a relatively new one, and it doesn’t feature Katarina but it does a good job of exemplifying the power of three-champ splits.

Bard Demacia has surged in popularity over the past week and with good cause: the deck is incredibly powerful! There are a few versions running around – Bard with just Galio, Bard with just Poppy, and I’ve even seen some Garen – but we’re going to be taking a look at Bard, Poppy, and Jarvan IV.

Regions
Runeterra
3 cards
Demacia
34 cards
Rarities
25 600
champion
6
epic
2
rare
10
common
22
Mana cost
0
0
9
1
10
2
3
3
15
4
2
5
1
6
0
7+
Champions
6
4
Bard
3
4
Poppy
2
6
Jarvan IV
1
Followers
26
1
Byrd, The Bellringer
3
1
Fleetfeather Tracker
3
1
Penitent Squire
3
2
Brightsteel Protector
2
2
Durand Sculptor
3
2
Petricite Broadwing
3
3
Laurent Protege
2
3
Vanguard Sergeant
1
4
Silverwing Vanguard
1
4
Swiftwing Flight
2
4
Vanguard Bannerman
3
Spells
8
2
Sharpsight
2
4
Golden Aegis
3
4
Relentless Pursuit
1
5
Concerted Strike
2

The brainchild of fellow MaRu Squad member Prodigy, this Bard Demacia list looks to buff up units in hand and control the board with Challengers before eventually finding a key turn to rally and close out.

We’re including it in today’s article for a number of reasons, the primary of which is that it’s very strong. The other reasons are that it has a three-champ split, featuring one copy of Jarvan IV, and it gives readers who aren’t super in love with Katarina something to try out. 

Set up your early game with chime-generating units like Byrd and Esmus, and aim to land the boons on some challengers like Broadwing or Silverwing Vanguard. Get a champion down on curve and continually take trades that keep your board alive so you can get a big rally turn in and close out.

The single copy of Jarvan can come up huge in this deck. We’re opting to play J4 over Poppy because Poppy’s champ spell, Keeper's Verdict is abysmal. Jarvan also provides us the option of a burst attacker/challenger which can help us close out or remove a pesky blocker that we’d otherwise be unable to interact with.

And, once leveled-up, Jarvan becomes a house, letting you take complete control of the board through his generated Cataclysms and his level two ability. 


Closing Words

All in all I hope you enjoyed this read and found a new deck to try out! Three champion decks will continue to exist in the future of LoR and become increasingly prevalent, this is just the start. Maybe we’ll see more 3-2-1 splits or perhaps 2-2-2 will become the new norm, but only time will tell.

Until next time, Monte’s signing off!