Despite all odds, Shurima has found a way to Rise, fall, and rise from the sand once more. It turns out the buffs to Azir and Quicksand (making it the most backbreaking combat trick in the game) were a great way to bring back Buried Sun Disc in a format-warping way. If you want to climb in this meta, a strong consideration is any deck that also counters Sun Disc.
At the last check, Sun Disc is clocking in at roughly 12% playrate out of all games on ladder which is a far cry from the 25% playrate we saw on day one, but leagues above the next closest deck; Riven/Viktor with 6%.
In case you aren't aware, the latest patch buffed Azir by making Landmarks count towards his level-up condition. This change highly increased the efficacy of cards like Ancient Preparations, Rock Hopper, Endless Devout, and Unraveled Earth when it comes to speed-leveling Mr.Birdface.
It just so happens that Xerath also loves the concept of summoning landmarks, with this core, you level both Azir and Xerath VERY quickly. Their goal is to pop the disc, get a pair of god-like Level 3 Champions with Xerath shutting down any death synergies you may have and slowly zapping you into the dust. If that's not enough they can make use of the Emperor's Deck to pound you into the sand.
Their main forms of interaction are Rite of the Arcane (something they semi-often cast with the mana-gem destroying option), Quicksand which can act as a double-hush for decks that only have one or two medium-sized unit trying to get in for damage, and the various Roiling Sands creators trying to give vulnerable to your units so they can dictate combat.
With this circular golden menace in mind, let’s go over some prime ladder decks for climbing with shattering the sun disc (through winning against them) as our prime consideration. I'll be focusing on this specific matchup for the mentioned decks, and will link to the latest guide we have for the given deck when possible.
A fresh combo deck that came out with the same patch as the new Sun disc deck. We have a full guide (link) on the ins and outs of the deck here (link). Their only forms of interaction are Rite of the Arcane, making your units Vulnerable with Roiling Sands and Quicksand.
Rite can be mitigated by open attacking when applicable to push early damage with Daring Poros and other small units,then holding Survival Skills. You can avoid giving them a chance to play Rite by burst casting blade fragments and Ambush into the attack.
Roiling Sands can be played around by chucking a fodder unit down before something valuable whenever they get one out. Consider holding a 1 or 2 drop if you can. It's important to avoid letting your Riven or Viktor get tripped up.
Quicksand is trickier, and there are a few ways to approach it. First, you can simply try to fork your attack into three threats, such as a Riven, a Viktor, and a Ballistic Bot sporting an Ambush or overwhelm, this forces them to have multiple quicksands. This requires them to hold up or use a lot of mana when they want to play out things every turn to level their champs.
Second, you can consider their blockers and hold some sort of additional protection, such as a Survival Skills, or a Mystic Shot to kill their blocker.
The third option can seem strange, but some versions for this very reason run Might to push through damage after a Quicksand block.
Their interaction aside, you are a lot faster at killing than they are. If you play around their answers as best you can, you should be able to overcome them before the movie rolls.
Same as Riviktor, we have a guide on Fizz Lulu so I’ll stick to the specific matchup (link here).
Fizz Lulu Yordles in Arms is a brick house of pressure. When facing down Sun disc I tend to look to ‘complete’ Yordles in Arms (play 4 regions so that it gives a +4/+4 buff rather than +2/+2) and present Lulu + Flame Chompers!, as both paths lead to victory. This means more than usual, we really want to find Lulu, as she lends herself to both paths being both Bandle City and Ionia. I will typically keep one Fizz and one of either Bomber Twins or a Boom Baboon if they are offered to me, then throw back anything that doesn’t enable Lulu + Chompers ((a discard outlet like Poro Cannon)) or is a Yordles in Arms itself.
The common misconception is that if they kill your Lulu or Rite of Negation your Yordles in Arms , you lose. If that is the case then they already had you backed into a corner and you have already lost. You want to poke in for chip damage whenever you can, be it through Daring Poros made by a Poro Cannon, triggering a Fizz to slide in for two, pulling a Dunekeeper or Soothsayer with chompers to get in for 2-3, it all adds up and they have no healing.
If they’re pressured, then they can’t do things optimally and need to focus on responding to you rather than furthering their gameplan. Their deck is low on effective blockers aside from Endless Devout which you want to avoid killing if at all possible.
Pantheon (and often Yuumi) goes very tall very fast. whether you’ll be able to push enough damage fast enough in your average game, boils down to finding overwhelm in the form of Zenith Blade. Mono Shurima does have a decent ability to chump-block your big Wounded Whiteflames and Saga Seekers.
Four health is the key number you want to keep in mind for the matchup, as they can’t do more than that unless they have double Rite of the Arcane, and even then only as slow into slow (allowing for things such as Gems or Brightsteel Protector to be used in between if you feel a tad nervous)).
A large advantage you have compared to most decks is that you can very efficiently answer whatever champion they play with a Single Combat or Cataclysm. Unless they have a Ancient Hourglass or Rite of Negation at the ready, their champs are doomed.
This turns down the threat of them popping disc on seven with no counterplay, as they physically cannot go Azir, Negate your removal, then Xerath. They can play hourglass, but that does require them to have banked mana earlier, and you can try to plan for this and hold two pieces of removal to stop their shenanigans.
They are a Quicksand deck so a Pantheon without Spellshield is less of a guaranteed win than we’d like, but even a base-stat leveled Pantheon is hard for them to kill with a block. Especially if you have even one combat trick like a Pale Cascade to give him the health to live through everything aside from a leveled champ, a Sandstone Charger, or a Restored Devout. If Pantheon lives through their attempt to Quicksand him, then they’ve likely lost their one shot at stopping you.
It turns out that the deck that just wants to play solitaire and make its numbers go down is bad against anything that can go face multiple times per turn. As a result Azir Irelia is very favored in the matchup.
They have almost no good blockers for the onslaught of Blades and Sand Soldiers you can throw at them. If they do block with Azir and you have a chance to burn a couple pump spells like Twin Disciplines or Shaped Stone to kill him, it is definitely worth it, as that will slow their clock SUBSTANTIALLY.
Each time you summon a blade or soldier, it will pop any Roiling Sands your opponent has left, making it almost impossible to give anything you care about vulnerable. It’s also relevant to note that anything that has Blade Dance will result in the Vulnerable going on the attacking Blade/Soldier rather than the dancer itself, as Play effects go off BEFORE the unit touches the board, then the unit counts as being on the board.
Same as the other decks, watch for when they can play a Rite of the Arcane for profit (ie; when they could pop a Sarcophagus to do so) in a way that kills one of your champs, keep tossing knives at them and it’s quite easy to rush them down before the credits roll.
Pirate Aggro - 70.6% Winrate into Sun Disc
Similar to Azir Irelia, you massively pressure Sun Disc with your onslaught of low-cost high-impact units. Their blockers are poor and trade at best, or die to Miss Fortune’s attack trigger at worst. This combined with their only removal being three mana and slow adds up to a bad time for them.
If you run Twisted Fate then don’t be afraid to use him for a Gold or Blue card if you need more gas or want to push in more damage on an attack turn. Miss Fortune is an evergreen threat, that if they Rite of the Arcane on curve, then they’re typically popping a mana gem to do so, don’t be too afraid to play her. At the top of the curve Gangplank is as straightforward as usual; try to plunder him up to leveling if possible, but don’t put everything into that. A 5/4 overwhelm and a keg for five mana is often good enough to push in and close things out.
They have no removal outside of slow speed, so your Noxian Fervors and Imperial Demolitionist triggers are guaranteed outside of a Rite of Negation. The average Sun Disc list only runs two Negations, so even if they do stop that Fervor that would slam the nail in the coffin for them, you’re typically alright with that since you have more burn coming while they need the stars to align to find their second rite.
Attack often, and rely on your spells and play effects to burn them out at the end. It’s fairly easy to force them to spend mana first to try and develop blockers before you go for the burn. They can’t sit around and hold up four mana forever, while you can soft-pass by playing one-drops and still hold up mana for burn if they lower their guard.
There is almost no case where you want to use spells to remove their champions or units except perhaps Gangplank's Parrrley, or Make it Rain. Although typically you’re better off aiming the Parrrley at the face to guarantee the damage, three Decimates is a lot of reach to take them down with and every point of damage counts.
Sun Disc is strong and popular but far from unbeatable, it has a fairly polarized matchup table, with 30% vs Pirates, and +60% vs Trundle Tryndamere for example. A big part of the points it gains or loses in matchups comes from players being wise to their tricks, and not playing into the obvious pitfalls.
The calls to winrates and playrates are courtesy of Legna's data posted on https://www.llorr-stats.com/, thanks to them and all others who help the community with their data analysis contributions.