4 Promising New Archetypes from Guardians of the Ancient

Here are the decks that caught our attention on the Day 1 of the new expansion.

Hello everyone, Sorry here! The new Guardians of the Ancient expansion is out, shaking up the meta – at least in the first week of the new season. Players are testing out the new cards to find the optimal builds that can be competitive.

I ventured onto the Ranked ladder to test the new champions – Irelia, Malphite, and Zilean, – while also keeping track of what everyone else is playing in order to figure out what’s performing well on the first day of the season.

Keep in mind that this is not a meta report, I’m simply listing what’s being tried on the ladder, and looks like becoming competitively viable in the future. But seeing that it’s still the first day of the expansion, players are still prioritizing experimenting above optimizing, so some of the decks listed might not end up top-tier.

Irelia Azir created by Sorry • last updated 2 years ago

Gameplay video

This was the first deck I had in mind when Irelia was revealed – the new Blade Dance keyword synergizes well with Azir and Emperor’s Dais. The deck is currently very popular on ladder and performing exceptionally well.

Azir Irelia is similar to the Lucian Azir deck that relies on Sand Soldiers to win the game but instead of running Scout units and Rally cards you’ll be taking advantage of Blade Dance.

This is where Irelia comes into play – when she’s summoned or on round start, Irelia will create a Flawless Duet that sends two Blades attacking. This is an important tool to keep your aggressive playstyle and speed up the level progress of your champions.

Additionally, both Ribbon Dancer and Blossoming Blade will also activate Blade Dance when they’re played. These are the two key cards that you might be looking to play your recall cards on – Lead and Follow and Retreat.

Azir and Emperor’s Dias will summon Sand Soldiers to attack along with the Blades – keep in mind that this will not use your attack token, this is a free attack that can be used either on your attack or defense turn.

The combination of Blades and Sand Soldiers will also accelerate the level-up condition for both Azir and Irelia. Azir and Inspiring Marshal will buff the attack power of both the Blades and the Sand Soldiers, which will eventually force your opponent to block them and take unfavorable trades.

Zilean Lissandra created by Sorry • last updated 2 years ago

A new version of the Watcher deck that actually takes advantage of the Frozen Thrall on the board, unlike the Matron Watcher version that finds the landmark more of a nuisance when setting up a Spectral Matron + Watcher combo.

Although Watcher is an important finisher in the deck, you do not need it to win the game every time. Huge 8/8 Overwhelm Frostguard Thrall does the job for you.

A similar older version of this deck didn’t end up working out because it was just a little bit slow, but with the addition of Clockwork Curator and Time in a Bottle you’ll speed up the countdown of Frozen Thrall by 2 rounds which will help summon Frostguard Thrall much faster – especially if you have Draklorn Inquisitor on board.

Predict is very important in the deck, it allows you to look for the cards you’re missing to set up for a good Frostgaurd Thrall attack or even get the Watcher online.

Zilean is a solid 2-drop champion in the deck, it allows you to set up for a strong AOE removal when combining Time Bomb and any other removal cards you’re running such as Avalanche, Ice Shard, or Blighted Ravine.

On top of that if you level up Zilean you can keep re-playing cards like Clockwork Curator and Time in a Bottle. Zilean will create fleeting copies of the cards played last turn allowing you to accelerate the Frozen Thrall’s countdown even further.

Zilean Nasus Go Hard created by Sorry • last updated 2 years ago

Although Nasus Thresh received two nerfs to the deck – Atrocity is now a 7 mana spell while Blighted Caretaker is now a 1/1, it remains the king of the meta with a high play rate on the ladder.

The expansion did give the deck a couple of new tools to add to its arsenal. The majority of players have opted to take out Blighted Caretaker entirely from the deck and substitute it with Merciless Hunter that fills the role of a solid 3-drop. A 4/3 unit with Fearsome that gives Vulnerable to an enemy unit is just perfect for the deck.

A lot of players have been experimenting with Zilean Nasus Go Hard version. It has more of an anti-aggro play style that runs a lot of removal and healing tools at its disposal such as Withering Wail, Go Hard, and Vile Feast in order to deal with the recent spike of numbers among fast decks in the meta.

Zilean acts as a value generation tool once leveled up, the ability to replay the cards you’ve played the last turn gives you a massive advantage over your opponent. Zilean will create a fleeting Go Hard the turn after it’s played, which enables you to get Pack Your Bags a little bit faster.

Cards that can predict like Ancient Preparation, Aspiring Chronomancer, and Zilean pave the way to find specific cards you need depending on the matchup. Usually, you’ll be looking for either your Time Bombs or Go Hard.

I’d like to add that I’ve seen some players completely take out Go Hard as an alternative win condition and add Rampaging Baccai or The Box, switching towards more direct unit removal tools.

Taliyah Malphite created by Sorry • last updated 2 years ago

Alright, so I didn’t want to end this article without at least talking about a deck with Malphite and our lovely Chip in it. Malphite was definitely the least played new champion I saw on ladder, he currently does not seem to be very popular but this list felt really fun when I was testing it out.

Chip, Blue Sentinel, and Rock Hopper provide us with an early board presence to combat aggro decks. The deck runs a lot of cheap landmarks so it’s very likely we’ll be able to trigger Chip’s effect and make him a 3/3.

Get ready for lots of Grumpy Rockbears! Hibernating Rockbear landmark has a short cooldown and combined with Clock Curator we can summon our Grumpy Rockbear much quicker.

Additionally, Desert Naturalist will summon a Grumpy Rockbear as well. Usually, you want to use her ability on Roiling Sands hence why I’m running 3 Unraveled Earth that will provide a good landmark at burst speed for you to destroy.

Leveling up Taliyah should be fairly easy, and will help progress the level up of Malphite while also being pesky when she attacks, pushing extra damage to the Nexus. She acts as a supporting champion in this deck.

Malphite is our win condition, once leveled he will generate an Unstoppable Force on round start or when he’s summoned if we have the attack token. Unstoppable Force will stun the opponent’s whole board setting up for a solid attack.


Before I wrap things up, here are other decks that have been popular on day 1, these lists get honorable mentions from me:

  • Miss Fortune Irelia. The deck can high-roll big time, it does though rely heavily on Miss Fortune.
  • Mono Shurima Zilean Azir. With the new cards added like Merciless Hunter, Time in Bottle, Clockwork Curator, and Soothsayer, the deck feels much more consistent than it used to be.
  • Zilean Twisted Fate. An old archetype is now enhanced with Zilean providing more value to the deck.

These are some of the new decks I’ve encountered on the ladder or played myself and found them performing well. Obviously, with the expansion just released, the meta has not settled down yet and new decks might emerge as players keep testing things out.

Undoubtedly though, old decks such as Nasus Thresh and Lissandra Trundle Matron remain top-tier decks and are very solid picks on ladder right now.

Thanks for reading and if you’d like to keep up with my content you can follow me on Twitter.


Alaa "TricksterSorry" Yassine is a competitive Legends of Runeterra player. His passion for card games ignited in his youth with favorites like Yugioh and Pokemon. Currently, he dedicates himself to achieving professional excellence in Runeterra, while also creating informative video and written content for the Runeterra community.

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