Hello everyone, and welcome back to another voyage through the Legends of Runeterra meta-game with Leer and MonteXristo!
The World Championship has just finished, we’ve got a brand-new batch of cards, and the competitors have also gifted us with a whole bunch of new decks to take for a spin. We’ll talk you through what we thought of some of the different decks that you might expect to see in the upcoming weeks. There may also be some decks here that disappear in a week or two (as it's always the case with early meta-games); things are unstable and decks that may seem good can fall off hard once things settle.
Mono Ziggs Reliquary
This Ziggs deck really surprised me. I made a few changes from the original netdeck to suit my personal preferences, but there was no major issue with the original list.
When I first saw Acolyte's Reliquary I assumed the card would be bad because it ends up bricking your draw. What I didn’t realize is that you don’t need to use it right away in a deck that is built around having landmarks to destroy. For example, leaving it on the board for use with Rite of the Arcane or Unleashed Energy was really powerful. You can also play really hard into this with Rite of Passage and draw cards to make huge Ruinous Acolytes in the late game.
This deck also has a surprising amount of burn through Ziggs! He ends up dealing tons of damage once leveled up, something that occurs rather quickly. We don’t have any real protection for Ziggs, though, so consider whether his attack is worth more than potential future damage off of landmarks. One cute trick is locking the opponent out with Ziggs (level 2) and Unraveled Earth, this can be quite difficult for any board-based deck to overcome.
I had a ton of fun playing this deck – I’ve been looking for an archetype that utilizes Ziggs in this manner for a long time. I found it fun and amusing because although it is really linear, you can take a lot of different lines to set yourself up to achieve your endgame in different ways. This early-game puzzle makes games very interesting and fun, so I would definitely recommend you try this one out soon because I’m not sure it sticks around!
I really liked Monte’s changes to the ladder list and netdecked his version (please don’t tell him). Waste Walkers are the perfect addition to pressure our opponent early, considering that we rapidly destroy landmarks. This also blends in well with Ziggs’ level-up condition.
I’m not gonna lie – I got steamrolled my first few games because I was confused about how to realize the full potential of Ruinous Acolyte. After a few tries, I started keeping Ziggs more often in my Mulligan, as he is an integral part in our combo and is usually leveled by round five.
Against Ryze blends, I’m looking for Preservarium to fill my hand and flood the board with Ruinous Acolytes on one to two rounds, when the foe can’t react to all of them.
I was impressed by the utility of Rite of Passage, as it allows us to either dig for a combo piece (by reviving Preservarium), or give us another Acolyte's Reliquary to pressure the board.
As Monte explained, Holy Ziggs will hit the spot for any puzzle lovers that like to find the perfect line of play. What is the optima time to pop Acolyte's Reliquary? When is the best spot to drop Ziggs and transition into a burn game plan?
Just keep in mind that you will fail the first few times trying to crack the code. But be reassured: the trouble is worth the effort. If “having fun” is not a good enough reason for you to play this deck, worry none –
Xerath’ Ziggs’ Acolytes have a 58% WR on the LoR ladder, making it one of the most powerful Legends of Runeterra decks right now!
Elusive SMOrc makes its return, slightly differently from the Domination build . With the nerf making The Sudden Surge to grow to 4/4 (rather than 5/5, as during Domination), we’ve abandoned Bandle City in favor of Piltover & Zaun. This is because we gain access to the incredibly powerful Acorn, the Hextechnician, who lets us make use of our expensive buff spells, Battle Bonds and Purifying Flames, a round or two earlier.
You don’t need to come out of the gates super fast every single game with this Elusives deck. It can be okay to pass into Purifying Flames for setup, before starting your Nexus beatdown.
I like this version more than the Bandle list because I felt the setup of weapons was always awkward. Targon got Winged Messenger this expansion, which gives us more than enough Elusive units to jump out of Bandle, and Celestial Blessing means that the Empowered activation is never a problem. As before, The Darkin Lodestone makes for a great way to buff up your units in the early game while also giving you access to a game-ending buff through Horazi.
This deck is going to be really good for climbing in the early days of the expansion – I felt a bit dirty playing it, to be honest. I would definitely be looking at Zoe Teemo for a tournament lineup, but I think I’ll stay away from it on the ladder for now. It’s not unfun but I’ve played enough elusives at this point, I’m good for now. If you’re looking for a strong deck to get under your belt, I expect this one to stick around.
As Monte observantly pointed out, Acorn, the Hextechnician and Purifying Flames are powerful additions to Zoe Teemo Elusives. Additionally, Mystic Shot makes for powerful burn that we lack in Bandle City.
Despite these facts, I am personally not a big fan of the dip into Piltover & Zaun. This is because we lack blockers that give us the time to deal lethal damage with our Elusives. In Bandle City we had access to Byrd, The Bellringer, Bandle Commando creating Hungry Owlcats, and Wandering Shepherd to fill that role – in Piltover & Zaun, we run none of those.
Another part I can’t wrap my head around is Poro Cannon. Except Supercool Starchart, we have no efficient discard targets, and we do not lack Elusive units to justify running this card. It might be that I am missing something about Poro Cannon, but in most of my games it sat dead in my hand, forcing me to discard a Battle Bonds or Mystic Shot to play it. In the end, the best discard target for Poro Cannon was another copy of Poro Cannon... =)
I like Teemo Zoe Elusives (to the point that I’ve written a guide about the Bandle version!). It is true that the nerf to The Sudden Surge is huge, to the point that for example we can’t kill Kayn anymore, and while this encouraged players and World competitors to scrutinize other regions for a better Elusive pairing, I believe that the Piltover & Zaun version overlooks the necessity to block enemy units. In a lot of games, I had to take suboptimal trades, giving up my Elusive units to survive an attack, where a non-Elusive one would’ve gotten the job done more efficiently.
There is definitely something here, with the addition of Purifying Flames and Winged Messenger, that needs more testing to be translated into a refined update of Teemo Zoe…
… or maybe I’m just being a dumbo and miss the point of this new version. I’d say 50/50! =)
Taliyah Malphite & Taliyah Ziggs
I opted to group these two decks together as I feel they’re similar. Taliyah Malphite is World's competitor GrandpaRoji’s signature deck, and this is his list card for card. I was really impressed by how good the deck felt to me, but I have been a long-time Taliyah Malphite fanboy.
Still, I don’t know if there has been a better meta-game for the Taliyah Malphite deck: Roji brought it to worlds, and previous World Champion Alan praised him for his lineup choice.
The other deck, Taliyah Ziggs Ionia, is the brainchild of our new World Champion, EMEA’s Aragornn. This Greek player managed to brew up something no one else seemed to even consider, and it’s quite strong!
Making use of the new landmark, The Black Flame, as a way to duplicate your Taliyah (or any other powerful unit you have) was absolutely genius! This landmark is also just a good way to gain extra value out of summon effects. You can even use it as a way to heal a unit, by capturing and releasing it.
Both these decks were a lot of fun and brought me a good amount of success. They were a good bit stronger than previous iterations, namely due to Rockbear Shepherd. They did, however, suffer when I began to encounter aggressive players on champless burn, Discard aggro, and Annie Jhin. I expect there to be some form of a landmark deck in the upcoming meta, although which one exactly is left to be seen. But, you should definitely pick one to learn and play as there are a lot of transferable skills on these decks.
Whichever one you choose, be sure to manage your board space. One of the trickiest things is knowing when you can develop, or and when you have to refrain so you have space for Taliyah: the last thing you want is to find yourself in a spot where you’re burning your duplicated landmark off Taliyah’s summon effect. There are spots where it’s correct to do exactly that, but more often than not you’ll want to get your value.
When I saw Leona being brought to Worlds, I just had to try it out myself. I netdecked this list card for card from Worlds competitor Da Tank Buster.
As noted in the World Championship decks article from yesterday, Zoe Leona is supposed to counter Champions' Strength, and since those archetypes are not too common in the LoR ladder I didn’t have high expectations for this list.
And what ended up happening was exactly that – I didn’t run into any Champions' Strength blends ,and found letdowns like Solari Shieldbearer and Laurent Duelist in my hand. The games I did end up winning were against Ryze decks, because they are free
like AM players at Worlds, and when I drew Champions' Strength. With how this list is built, we lack the late-game to out-muscle control archetypes, and instead run two-drops that in reality serve no other use than being Champions' Strength targets. Unfortunately, this reliance on Champions' Strength makes us weak against Rite of Negation and we lack the usual alternative of The Winding Light.
If I had to go again, I’d go for the Leona Demacia version of another Worlds competitor – ABG Aurora’s Leona Aurelion Sol.
This list scales down the amount of two-drops and replaces them with the value-seeking Solari Priestess and Eclipse Dragon for more longveity, and Aurelion Sol over Zoe makes us less reliant on Champions' Strength to close out the game.
… and that’s it for our first dip into the early Legends of Runeterra meta that World Ender has brought us! With Worlds decks tested, and a new World Champion crowned, we are in for an exciting and chaotic meta. And, as we can see in brews like Mono Ziggs (which nobody in Worlds found), the LoR meta is far from figured out.
We hope you got an idea of what some of these archetypes do in this article, and encourage you to try them yourself!