In most reviews and player’s opinions upon release of the Shurima expansion, there were two champions that were routinely listed at the bottom of the rankings: Nasus and LeBlanc. However, although both have glaring weaknesses evident from looking at them for the first time, they also have strengths to capitalize on.
Nasus as a card felt pretty weak initially – like a bad-to-average champion. But the amount of support – whether for the Slay mechanic or for Ascended – was great. Kindred synergy for Slay has also boosted my impressions.
LeBlanc on the other hand looked like a decent card – but doomed to become a failure. With Draven being a great champion, Sivir release, and a glaring weakness to Mystic Shot, LeBlanc felt like the competition and the metagame could prove to be too much for the champion to be included in decks.
In order to evaluate both champions, I played them in two different setups: 1) a deck tailored to get the most out of that specific champion; 2) a deck where the champion in question is just a nice addition to the game plan. Now that we know what we’re headed for, let’s dive into the review of Nasus and LeBlanc!
Obviously, Nasus asks for a Slay deck, and the archetype isn’t lacking ammunition when it comes to deckbuilding.
Featured as the finisher in the deck, Nasus quietly grows up while we keep the opponent in check on the board. The ultimate goal is that Nasus will be too much for our opponent to handle.The deck isn’t bad per se, and some players have already reached Diamond with iterations of the build.
The main problem is that the deck is very linear and while it is usually has a good board presence, decks that can win the early game battle make Nasus a big risk as we have to invest our whole turn into developing him. Right now, the metagame isn’t too centered around a specific group of decks, but I feel like Nasus would be immediately shut down by heavy removal decks once they fill up the met space.
Because of this obvious direction our deck has and the information we give our opponent when they see Nasus as one of our champions, we have to rely on aggression to really maximize the champion. Pushing for Nexus damage is the best distraction possible.
But once we have adopted this approach we quickly realize that Nasus is not the focus point of the deck – the pressure gameplan is. Therefore, even decks trying to build around Nasus eventually have to take a path that doesn’t focus on Slaying every turn but rather uses this synergy if the matchup allows for it.
Overall Nasus never felt like a champion I would want 3 copies of in a deck, but rather 1 or 2 to help me close out a contested situation on the board. This pattern makes him better as an option rather than as build around – in the section below we’ll cover the deck that isn’t trying to abuse him.
The good thing with LeBlanc is that she doesn’t require as much help from her deck as Nasus would need. In order to make LeBlanc a superstar, I felt the focus should be on solving her biggest issue: the 2-health stat-line. And this is where the Targon region and Aphelios come in to help.
LeBlanc is great while being the attacker, her problem is defending herself when targeted by a spell or challenged. Combined with Aphelios, Sunblessed Vigor, and Zenith Blade, LeBlanc staying power increases a lot, and evolving her becomes much more realistic. Her Mirror Image spell can also then be used to duplicate units, inheriting a Moon Weapon buff as a nice bonus.
While I doubt this deck will end up being a competitive option if we look at how fast the metagame is progressing, I still believe it is a good example of how we could build a deck trying to get the most out of LeBlanc and her level-up ability.
In Legends of Runeterra champions don’t necessarily have to shape the entire deck, they can also be just a nice commodity in a deck built around a mechanic that the champion could support or use as well.
I personally think this is the approach that, in general, fits Nasus and LeBlanc the best, as both champions have the capacity to take over a game when not answered, but also can be easily countered if our opponent figures out they are the key pieces to our strategy.
As a huge finisher that complements our strategy and also rewards us for trading, Nasus is a champion that is at his best when he comes to close out the deal in a hard-fought battle.
As such, this deck doesn’t aim to make Nasus big at all costs, but rather has earlier synergies that would force the opponent into a defensive stance and make them use up their resources before Nasus comes down.
Most players I talked with are seeing Nasus as the new big finisher in the Endure archetype (it is actually what is featured in the first part of this article). Here instead, we’re simply playing an Undying pressure deck, being annoying for our opponent through a ton of different ways and Nasus comes in as a fourth copy of The Undying pretty much.
The Undying is the card that probably received the most help if look at the whole expansion, and it is begging to be a Slay target turn after turn.
The main change in the approach here is that I’m taking Kindred out of the deck to instead focus on Slaying as much as possible and create a situation where Nasus isn’t in charge of winning the game on his own.
When going for the Undying synergy, we can play cards that help Nasus grow a lot – like The Ruination for example. We can also play more draws to reliably find our answers and suddenly the 1-of Nasus is always on time when we need him.
In case we won’t able to find Nasus in time,
Whether or not this deck will end up being good is still up for debate, but playing this kind of archetype, there are no big expectations towards Nasus. He becomes a good surprise more than a central win condition, a role that fits him better.
Overall in constructed play, Nasus has been average at best to me, he sure is flashy when he comes in with a huge stat-line and wins the game with a timed Atrocity. But overall, decks built around him are too predictable and the Slay mechanic appears too slow to keep up with the more established decks.
If you’re looking to make Nasus work, I would recommend a pressure deck that relies on pressure and high tempo, Nasus will win you some games when he comes on time and unanswered.
I feel like I tried a lot of things that could compensate for LeBlanc‘s huge problem of only having 2 health, and in the end, the best solution felt to play even more of low-health units and ignore the problem.
LeBlanc will always be easy to answer, but if she manages to stick on the board – it will be game-winning a lot of the time. But building a deck to make it happen reliably is a tough task.
The game right now is dominated by champions that do not need to go into combat to do their thing – which makes sense, because every time we send our main game-piece into combat, we take a risk. LeBlanc is a risk-taking champion in this sense and the deck she felt the best in is one that embraces it to the fullest alongside Sivir.
The deck is very simple – develop your units and set up the best possible attack turns in order to close the game through combat domination.
In this situation, LeBlanc is not in charge of anything, she comes in and does what she does best: being a threat and forcing some reaction from the opponent. She also finds herself in the deck full of units trying to do the same thing and create as much pressure as possible.
To be honest, the deck is very linear and doesn’t look so good, and it wins games mostly because pressure is a generic-good strategy early in an expansion. But as soon as I started facing some of the old more refined archetypes, I immediately felt like I was behind in the matchup.
LeBlanc feels much better when, like Nasus, we don’t expect too much of her and she is a nice surprise when she stays on board, evolves, and closes out the game with Mirror Image. But overall, Sivir was a much better champion in the deck and one that was able to protect herself and allowed to build a gameplan around itself.
Just like Nasus, LeBlanc feels like a champion that is nice to have when the time is right but too unreliable to build a deck around. The first days of the expansion clearly allowed some breathing room, I fully expect those two champions to disappear, or just be splashed in some decks that would have space for them.
Overall, both champions haven’t convinced me too much, and that feeling is even stronger since the first days of the expansion as always had a ton of unrefined decks filling up the meta.
After 48 hours of testing, I’d say Nasus and LeBlanc are indeed on the weaker side of the expansion, and their predictability or weakness to popular mechanics makes them even more difficult to use.
Nasus looks like he has much more support than LeBlanc currently so he has more room to grow and be used as a threat. While I believe the current Shadow isles deck he is paired in aren’t using him to the fullest, he still works as an efficient end-game puncher alongside Atrocity.
Shurima is still in the early days of its development and we haven’t seen any deck that looks remotely close to taking down Fizz TF or even a Lee Sin, if I’m being honest. I don’t think any of the decks in this article will be competitive when the time for tournaments comes, and there are much better options available in the game already.
That shouldn’t stop us from trying out new decks and searching for new contenders in the Shurima metagame.
Thanks for reading everyone and while my conclusion is pretty sad when it comes to Nasus and LeBlanc, I do believe the best of the expansion is ahead of us!
Good game everyone,