In this article, I’ll go over the decks that have impressed me so far during the early days of the expansion. I’ll split them into two categories: ‘Brand New’ – these are the fresh novel archetypes introduced in the expansion that are showing competitive potential; and ‘Revitalized’ – these are old decks that we haven’t seen in a long time but with the buffs and meta shifts of Patch 2.11 they have found their way back.
Keep in mind that the power evaluations in this article are still preliminary and meta has not settled down yet. Players continue experimenting with the new cards and figuring out the best builds, so we might see the rise and fall of a lot of decks. Additionally, there’s another card drop on the horizon – the Ruination-themed Champion Expansion is coming July 14 – so it will be long before the meta will feel like it has been solved.
The Lurk deck is probably is the most popular archetype on the ladder currently. It’s a midrange deck that relies on getting some early damage in, buffing up the power of all your Lurkers, and closing out the game with your champions.
Lurk keyword grants powerful buffs to your units, making them into dangerous scaling threats. Although we’re running a lot of Lurk units and spells in the deck, we still need to make the trigger proc as consistently as possible. This is where Predict cards come in handy: with Feral Prescience,
The win condition usually comes from leveling up at least one of your champions.
Let’s talk about Pyke first, who has a mechanic that allows him to transform into
When leveled, Pyke effectively acts as a board clear if he gets to kill at least one unit. This allows cards with the Overwhelm keyword like a leveled-up Rek’Sai and Xerxa’reth, the Undertitan to push extra damage to the enemy’s Nexus. Position your Pyke to attack first – it will set up your Overwhelm units to do the maximum amount of damage.
Rek’Sai is great at accelerating your Lurk progress. She is usually played when you’ve Lurked enough and can fulfill her level-up condition. A Level 2 Rek’Sai will gain the Overwhelm keyword and will threaten to close out the game in most cases. Shaped Stone is often crucial in speeding up the process of leveling up Rek’Sai.
Ekko Zilean is a control value-oriented deck, that runs a lot of cheap Predict cards that help Ekko’s level-up, such as Ancient Preparations, Aspiring Chronomancer, Time Trick, and Practical Perfectionist. There are different versions of this deck that are currently being tested on the ladder. Some builds even feature
So, what’s the win condition? Ekko is valuable engine for the deck, once he strikes he’ll generate a fleeting Time Trick in hand. When he levels up that Time Trick is now 0 mana – that’s a free card draw along with the ability to Predict for the card you get!
Now here is where Predict becomes even more deadly: when Ekko levels up, he shuffles 3 Chronobreaks into the deck. Predict allows you to look for one of those powerful spells – the Rally effect alongside reviving your units is an insane game-swinger that’ll swing the board in your favor and will threaten to close out the game.
Additionally, this is probably the only deck that actually can somewhat consistently level up Zilean – and from there you’re just out-valuing your opponent in the late game.
If you’re a veteran player, you probably remember Karma Ezreal and its domination in the meta back in the day. Now that Karma and Will of Ionia have been reverted back to their original mana costs, players have started to pick up the deck on the ladder.
Karma Ezreal is a control deck that wants to get to the turn 10, where Karma unleashes her full power.
Once Karma is enlightened, you pretty much wreak havoc against your opponent – especially when both Ezreal and Karma work alongside one another.
The deck can sometimes take out a Nexus that is close to 20 health in just one single turn! Karma Ezreal is seeing more play on ladder and I expect we’ll be seeing the deck more in the tournament scene in the near future.
Last but not least: Twisted Fate Swain! This remains one of my favorite decks, I even brought it to a tournament a month ago and it performed pretty well.
Why is TF Swain seeing more play? Well for starters Make it Rain is 2 mana again! Make it Rain and Riptide Rex nerfs were pretty much the reason the deck fell off from the competitive scene in the first place, but now it is starting to reclaim its popularity.
The ability to potentially remove 3 units in the early game – especially if Make it Rain is combined with Dreadway Deckhand – is a powerful tempo swing and at the same time it accelerates Swain’s level up condition.
The Fangs nerf also gave the deck a bit of a breather, since Equinox pretty much single-handedly shuts down TF Swain’s late game. It’s usually played to silence The Leviathan, turning off your 8-mana win condition for just 1 mana.
However, I have to also mention that Will of Ionia at 4 mana will likely be more present in Ionia decks now and it will be a problem for TF Swain. Even so – it still does not shut down us as hard as Equinox does.
How does the deck work? TF Swain is a control deck but with an very good early game. You’re able to put a lot of pressure on your opponent with your cheap units and removal cards while also working on leveling up your Swain.
Once The Leviathan hits the board, the ship will start chipping down at the opponent’s health, but if you also have your Swain on board, your opponent is in big trouble. If the combo is unanswered, Swain will stun 3 units on the board, setting up for a massive swing that could threaten a lethal attack.
Right now it seems that all the new champions have settled in their synergy pairings: Pyke is with Rek’Sai and Ekko works best with Zilean. Players are still experimenting with builds in order to find the most optimal competitive decks.
What’s also exciting is that Patch 2.11.0 has brought back a lot of decks that were previously considered Tier 3 or even below. TF Gangplank is also receiving a lot of attention from players, a more aggressive that on a Noxus Bilgewater deck than TF Swain.
It’ll be interesting to see what gems players will find in the new expansion, maybe a competitive Heimerdinger deck? I guess time will tell.