Aphelios Be Gone
This is a lineup that I’m very confident in. I believe this to be an excellent choice for anyone who is looking to go after Aphelios PnZ, and it should give you game into other lineups looking to do the same.
This lineup’s goal is to find the Aphelios PnZ players and beat them up.
You’ll also have some game into Nami, as both Scouts and Akshan are good matchups, with Thralls being statistically good as well.
And, aside from having an excellent target for the Open Rounds, these three decks are still individually powerful and have a decent spread into the rest of the field. You should rarely have an awkward ban, nor should you encounter a lineup that leaves you feeling doomed.
Your ban strategy is to remove the biggest Demacia list from the equation. This might be Poppy Taric, Poppy Bard or even the opponent’s Scouts list if it’s teched for mirrors and Thralls (by having 2+ copies of Ranger's Resolve). Other good bans include opposing Papercraft Dragon decks like Fizz Riven or Akshan Renekton.
Alternate decks you could include in this lineup are Feel The Rush, Heimerdinger Jayce, Ekko Zilean, or potentially even Deep (the stats show it’s winning into most versions of Aphelios PnZ). Regardless of what you decide to bring, make sure you’re scrimming and teching your decks for the matchups you want to hit.
Hehe, it’s the aggro lineup of the season!
This lineup is the best one I can come up with for anyone looking to play some aggro in Open Rounds.
I was a bit suspicious of Nightfall’s stats (they make the deck look really good right now) so I spent a good bit of time testing it. It turns out that Nightfall is indeed quite good right now: The Winding Light did a lot for the deck, and gives it game into all of its traditionally poor matchups like Demacia.
Blades and Pyrotechnics
We’ve decided not to include Aphelios P&Z in this lineup for two main reasons.
First, Aphelios P&Z’s matchup tables don’t line up very nicely with our other two decks – not horrible for what we’re trying to do, but not good enough that I want to include it. And particularly not when the second reason comes into play: Nightfall and Sion want their third champ.
Aphelios is doing a lot for Nightfall at the moment, by allowing it to play slower if necessary, enabling your Nightfall cards with Moon Weapons, and letting your Diana act as a finisher with Infernum. And Vi is doing much of the same for Sion: she lets you control the board and acts as a finisher of her own on occasion.
This lineup’s goal is to go after the Papercraft abusers. While there aren’t many stats to back this up (only the Nightfall matchup appears) I have it on good authority (Mtuck’s, he played over 100 games of Papercraft in 48hrs to reach the top of the ladder) that the deck struggles into aggressive burn style decks, like the ones in this lineup!
Your ban should be used on SI control like Jayce Heimer, or Feel The Rush.
Aphelios PnZ is also going to be an excellent ban for this lineup: while Nightfall does have some game into it, our other two decks will suffer greatly so it’s best to take it off the table.
Alternate decks you could look at are Aphelios PnZ, and Annie Jhin (either replacing or adjusting the Ziggs deck to fit it).
You could also change your gameplan up a bit and shift your target to Annie Twisted Fate – in that case you could swap out Nightfall for something like Scouts or Fizz Riven, but this may make your bans awkward at times.
There must always be a Demacia lineup for Seasonal and, in my opinion, this is one of the best at the moment.
Scouts and Poppy make an excellent core for going after Aphelios PnZ, and to round out our lineup we’re simply going to pick a third deck that is also good into Aphelios PnZ. There’s no better deck for that job than Paper Croc, but since we’ve already put that in a different target Aphelios lineup, I’ve chosen to include an Aphelios PnZ list here that is teched for the mirror.
As previously mentioned, this lineup is looking to go after Aphelios PnZ, but it also has the added benefit of soft-targeting Nami!
We’ve chosen these decks because the Challengers coming out of Demacia let us deal with Aphelios and Nami’s threats very effectively. Aphelios PnZ with the right techs should come out ahead in the mirror match and the Nami matchup is very skill-based.
Our ban strategy is to protect our Scouts, this means you’ll want to remove stuff like Heimerdinger Jayce, Jayce Lux, opposing Bard Demacia, or Taric Poppy. Other good bans include Viego and Sun Disc should you encounter them; Ziggs Taliyah is also a difficult matchup, but I don’t expect too much Shurima to be running around.
Other decks that you could include are Papercraft Renekton, Ziggs Taliyah, or if you don’t mind opening yourself up to a poor Scouts matchup, then Feel The Rush.
Jayce Heimer can also fit nicely into this lineup as it does well into Aphelios and Demacia, so you’re not opening yourself up too much by including it.
You can of course also play Poppy Taric and then come up with a different Demacia Bard list to include as your third, although I would recommend something other than Bard Galio in that case as it draws different tables from the rest of Demacia.
Sirturmund’s Personal Choice for Open Rounds
Unfortunately I (Sirturmund) will not be able to participate in the Seasonal this time around due to a prior commitment (I’m going to a concert!).
However, if I was to play and you asked me what I would bring, this is the lineup I have settled on.
Gnar Akshan Papercraft
Bard Poppy Jarvan
You might look at this lineup and realize that it’s a very similar shell to the very first lineup we recommended today: Thralls, a Papercraft deck, and a Demacia rally deck. There is a reason for that: this combination of three strategies creates good matchups against the rest of the meta.
So why pick this one over the one recommended first?
Well, by choosing the Gnar Akshan version of Papercraft and going a bit of “bigger” Demacia with Bard Poppy Jarvan, we make ourselves better into lineups with Akshan Renekton and Scouts. So we would be slightly favored into that first 'Aphelios Be Gone' lineup at the top of this article.
The matchup spread for our three decks is either even or favored into many of the meta decks, giving us a very good chance throughout the Open Rounds to not run into a full counter lineup.
We want to see TF Annie, Renekton Akshan, TF Nami SI, Aphelios Vi, Scouts and Feel The Rush. Two of our decks are favored against each of these targets, with our third deck being either favored or even.
Our bad matchups are decks that I do not expect to see a lot of this weekend. For example, our nightmares are Ashe LeBlanc and Illaoi archetypes – you might run into one of them, but probably never both in the same lineup, so you can simply ban the bad matchup.
If running into more popular decks, my preferred bans are Thralls and Azir Irelia.
Overall I think that by making the swap from Scouts to Bard Poppy and from Renekton to Gnar we still keep most of the same matchup spread while improving our odds versus Scouts and Renekton, both of which I expect to be very popular this weekend.
Control’s Only Hope
Control hasn’t been the greatest choice this meta. However, with the expected high play rate of pseudo-aggro decks like Aphelios P&Z, this triple Shadow Isle lineup might just have a chance to make control fans happy.
Twisted Fate Nami
Feel The Rush
The idea here is simple: these decks will do very well into any of the Aphelios P&Z piles.
All our lists have access to Shadow Isle tools like Vile Feast – on top of other forms of removal from their second region – which makes it really difficult for opponents to keep a heavy board presence for their The Winding Light turn.
We also have a decent showing versus any off-meta deck you face, especially versus Noxus midrange. Your lineup will outvalue decks like Annie TF, Annie Ezreal, or Ashe LB. Our matchup into aggro is very favored too, in case you run into the crazy person running a full aggro lineup (wink wink Monte).
Lastly, I really like our odds versus other Nami TF decks. Feel The Rush and Heimer Jayce are both favored into it, so then you’ll just need to be comfortable with the mirror match up. Tech cards like Withering Wail end up being decent in such cases.
So what makes us sad?
Unfortunately, three different strategies can do very well versus us.
Triple Demacia would be our boogeyman, as they can abuse their great matchup into Feel The Rush to win the match. Akshan Renekton and Thralls are also bad for our decks, so ideally we want to prioritize banning one of those two.
If you’re looking for an alternative swap, you can either opt to go a more Freljord route, or stick with Shadow Isles. Thralls wouldn’t be a bad fit in this lineup (it still keeps your good matchup versus Aphelios P&Z and Nami Tf, but now you’re a bit worse into aggro. From the Shadow Isles side, you can try Anivia or even Nasus Thresh. Just need enough units or removal to stop the aggressive opponents.
Just The Best Decks
To finish up this week’s recommendation, let’s just put the best three decks together and call it a day.
Nami Twisted Fate
Aphelios Viktor Vi
Might look a bit lazy, but there is a reason I am leaving this for last. If you have been a reader of MaRu for a while, you know we do a reflection of our results from the Open Rounds.
Two of the biggest takeaways almost every time are: 1) Play strong decks and 2) Play what you’re comfortable with. There is no doubt that these are the best, if not close to the best, decks in the game at the moment – with Nami and Aphelios being what MajiinBae calls the 'Tier 0' shell of Seasonal lineups – and if you have played Ranked at all this season, you’re probably comfortable with at least one or two of them.
To put even further validation into sometimes just playing the best decks, a player called Void won one of the MysticShot Podcast tournaments this week with this exact lineup, and I decided to showcase their exact decklists so you all feel more comfortable with something proven. In other words, this concept is good enough even when going against other great players that surely know our decks well.
So what are we looking to beat with this lineup?
Our biggest strength is that we have a lot of even or positive matchups – nothing feels outright unwinnable unless you’re being hard-targeted, which we will discuss later.
Our biggest edge comes against Annie Jhin, other Nami TF SI decks, Vi Zoe Aphelios (our Viktor version should be favored), and against many of the off-meta decks we outright win due to just playing the best decks ourselves.
With that said, because we are playing the 'Tier 0' shell, we are a lot more vulnerable to being hard-targeted. As we saw in previous lineups, most of our recommendations hard-target Aphelios, for example. However, this should NOT deter you from running this lineup.
Every time I have made top 32, it has been off the back of winning what should have been unfavored matchups, and you’ll see the same sentiment across other top 32 players. You’ll face bad matchups no matter what lineup you play, and have to be willing to beat that.
Our absolute worst possible matchups are Thralls and Akshan Papercraft, so I would focus on banning those two decks first (with priority to Thralls if you think you can win the Papercraft mirror).
After that, almost every other lineup is fine except for counter lineups. If you face a triple Freljord or SI lineup for example, they’ll always ban your Akshan Renekton deck – keep this in mind when picking which of their three decks to ban (usually FTR would be my choice).
Similarly, if someone tries to hard-target your Nami TF with triple Demacia, I would opt into banning their most consistent deck.
If you’re looking into alternate decks while still keeping that feeling of playing the best of the best, both Scouts and Thralls complete what I would consider the top 5 decks of the meta, together with the three above. So you can slot one or both of those here instead – you really can’t go wrong with picking three of these five decks.
Hope this article helped you all out today and good luck with your seasonal run! Let us know if you end up taking any one of our lineups and what your result was, we are always interested to see how our readers end up doing.
About the authors
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!
MonteXristo has been playing the game since closed beta and has consistently made it to masters every season he’s been active. His accomplishments include having peaked in the top 20, taking first place in the “Streamer Sideboard Showdown” and LPP Riot Grand Prix. When he’s not writing for Mastering Runeterra he keeps his card-slinging skills sharp by playing in the Runeterra Academy tournament, with his team The Wobbly Wombats!