Riot has just thrown a big monkey wrench into the LoR meta, by hotfixing the decks that, until Tuesday, were dominating the ladder.
Both the ladder and the Tournament metas are still in turmoil as pilots try to brew and find the best LoR decks, yet some early trends are emerging – in this article, I'll share three Tournament lineups that I think should work very well in the current field, and I'll showcase and break down a fourth: the lineup with which Dudu de Nunu just won a recent tournament.
If you are looking for something to bring next Saturday to MaRu's $1K tournament, these would be my weapons of choice!
The Meta Kings & Queens
In every meta, we have two or three decks that warp the field around them. As noted, Riot nerfed those in the recent hotfix, leaving room for some other decks to take over. There's very little post-hotfix data right now, but the three decks selected below are what I consider the best of the best currently, and in the hands of a capable player they can go anywhere. They are THE decks to beat.
Vayne Aatrox Quinn
Seraphine Ezreal Bandle City
With the nerf to Blooming Cultist and The Unforgiving Cold, Aatrox has found a better partner than Kayn. The combination of Aatrox and Vayne Demacia gives access to more strike spells, and leads to perhaps the best mid-range deck in the current game. Follow that up with classic Red Gwen (or should it be Green Katarina at this point?) and the best Seraphine & Bar deck around, and you end up with a very potent mid-range lineup.
These three decks are strong, and even more so together because they can literally do it all. From aggression to more nuanced control tools, these decks tend to feast on archetypes slower than themselves. The first strategy with our lineup is therefore to counter any brave soul who dares to bring control in this meta.
Following that up, we actually do very well against aggro decks. All our decks are even or positive into decks such as Annie Jhin or Ziggs Acolytes.
Finally, we are looking to target other Seraphine Bandle Decks, since both Katarina Gwen and Vayne Aatrox handedly beat them.
As for our banning strategy: with the good spread of positive matchups that we have, what are the things we struggle against? Aatrox decks, to start with – we should ban Aatrox Kayn, Aatrox Akshan or other Aatrox Vayne decks as they can beat our Seraphine. And Draven Jinx is another popular deck to watch out for: it's the one aggro deck we struggle against. Finally, keep an eye out for the rare Rumble Vayne decks.
For alternate deck considerations, we can always split the Aatrox Vayne pair. We could go for something like Aatrox Kayn and Vayne Rumble, replacing Seraphine – this should make us stronger into other Seraphine decks without having to rely on winning the mirror. You can also experiment with the new Seraphine Viktor Ryze variants instead of Bandle City. As long as you keep the core of one Aatrox deck plus Red Gwen, you should be set with this best-of-the-best lineup.
Two Red Steps Ahead
For many players, there is only one way to play the game: BURN BURN BURN!!
These decks are meant to do just that. Triple aggro has been seeing some success in tournaments and I think it's well-positioned to beat the lineups trying to counter the three-best-decks lineups.
This lineup is meant to be a 5-head strategy. Most players will be looking to beat the Aatrox, Red Gwen and Seraphine decks, and to do that, more often than not people will have one or two decks in their lineup that are meant as a counter pick (for example, AragOrnn’s Ziggs Taliyah in the World Championship). And these are the decks that this triple aggro lineup is looking to feast on – Annie Jhin and Draven Jinx are by far the two best aggro decks in the current game, but some recent stats show Pirate Aggro also picking up steam. Still, as it is always the case with triple aggro, you can shift things around to include decks you feel more comfortable playing.
So… which are our tasty targets?
The main counters we are looking to prey upon are Sun Disc, Ziggs Taliyah, Hecarim Zed, and Akshan Varus. All four of these decks have decent popularity, and get crushed by our triple-aggro lineup.
Other less prominent decks that we would love to face include any Ryze deck, Jinx Champions’ Strength, Teemo Zoe and Katarina Yasuo. All these decks have something in common: they are sort of mid-range style decks that need some time to set up or that do not like to trade their units, allowing our early attackers to put on a lot of pressure.
The decks I am looking to ban include two of the most popular decks you might see this weekend: Aatrox and Seraphine. Both decks have plenty of tools to stabilize and choke out our units, stopping our traditional high-pressure game plan. Other ban considerations include Lulu Jinx, Gangplank Sejuani, and Twisted Fate Annie – all decks that have a good combination of blockers and removal to slow us down.
If you are looking for alternate decks, aggro certainly has them. The first that comes to mind that can slot in for any of these decks is Gwen Elise Spider Aggro. Other more fringe options include Teemo Zoe, Ziggs Acolytes or Kayle Zoe Noxus, although do verify with some matchup tables to make sure that these options don’t change your matchup spread too much.
We saw one take on the best-decks lineup, now here is a slight variation of it. As mentioned in that first lineup, we can split Aatrox and Vayne so that the opponent can only ban one but not both, then come out with two very strong decks with each of the champion pairs. And, in the process, removing the Seraphine weakness.
Kayn Aatrox might have received a significant nerf from the hotfix, but it is still a very powerful deck that opponents will need to be wary of. Rumble Vayne has risen from the ashes and made a comeback in full force into a meta where The Unforgiving Cold is not as prominent as it once was. And Katarina Gwen is the last touch – that fabled third deck that every LoR lineup requires to achieve perfection. Combine the three of them and you get a very powerful, yet different, best-decks lineup.
The beauty of our lineup is that it is even against almost everything else, giving us a lot of agency. For example, this is probably one of the few lineups out there that actually does not mind leaving Aatrox open. The matchups aren’t exactly favored against the big Darkin, but they aren’t unfavorable either, giving us the option to ban something scarier. Do feel confident that you can beat any lineup with yours, because it is absolutely true. Even our worst matchups beat at most two of our decks, but never all three.
However, just because we are even against most things, doesn’t mean we still don’t have a few decks that we would be absolutely happy (or sad) to see!
In the happy corner we have most Shurima landmark-based decks such: Ziggs Acolytes, Sun Disc and Ziggs Taliyah are great for us to bump into (and run over). Other Vayne variants, such as Vayne Illaoi or Quinn Vayne without Aatrox, are all very favored for us. Some fringe options you might see gain popularity like Lurk, Master Yi Ryze, and Seraphine Viktor Ryze are also easily dispatched.
From the opposite corner, we would like to avoid the two aggro top dogs, namely Annie Jhin and Draven Jinx, since both Red Gwen and Rumble have trouble dealing with them. Elusive-based Champions’ Strength decks such as Mono Jinx are also great ban targets due to our lack of Deny. And, finally, Twisted Fate Annie Conservatory has too many chump blockers and access to Ravenous Flock, which makes our life miserable.
For alternate decks, I highly recommend keeping one Aatrox and one Vayne deck, even if you end up trying different flavors of each. To replace Katarina Gwen, though, you would have to dig deeply – matching Red Gwen's aggression would require you to tap into the more aggro side such as Draven Jinx, Jhin Annie or even Kayle Zoe Noxus.
Winning Lineup Highlight
To finish off, I wanted to highlight a tournament-winning lineup from this week. Sometimes players bring some interesting stuff to smaller weekly or daily tournaments, and this lineup by Dudu de Nunu caught my attention. They used it to win Runescola Open #254 on Wednesday night. Don’t be surprised to see some people follow suit.
First of all, let's talk about that Hecarim Zed list. Oh my, what a spicy list that is! The Black Flame, The Darkin Fan and even Defiant Dance. Wow. Dudu is a well-known player so I am trusting that this list is good and I cannot wait to try it myself.
Onto the lineup itself, from what I am seeing, one of the biggest strengths of this lineup is the good matchup versus Katarina Gwen, which will likely be one of the most common decks you will come across, second only to Aatrox. This gives us a huge edge in being able to beat that deck twice and win the matchup through there.
It also seems to do even against Ezreal Seraphine, and doesn’t do as bad against Aatrox Kayn, with Jinx Lulu being the only suspect deck into that matchup. We would still probably look to ban Aatrox Vayne and aggro decks such as Draven Jinx and Annie Jhin, but then make it up by beating the trio of Shurima landmark-based decks (Sun Disc, Ziggs Taliyah, Acolytes).
Other less common options like Hecarim Zed, Lurk and Akshan Varus also do not do too hot versus this lineup, allowing us to take advantage of those players trying to get too creative.
And while it looks like we suffer a bit into some control decks like Feel The Rush, the likelihood of us seeing too many control decks is very low. Overall, this lineup offers a very balanced matchup spread where only full-aggro lineups are our concern.
How often will those show up?
Who knows, this meta is still quickly evolving – keep that in mind, and good luck!
About the author
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 to tournaments, you can find Sirturmund lurking around all the social media sites absorbing anything he can about the game, and in his YouTube channel where he uploads videos every day.