Hey Agigas here!
Recently, Irelia Azir has taken the ladder by storm. This new archetype has been showing a very high power level and is currently the most played deck in Ranked. However, Irelia Azir is a deck that has several effective counters – therefore, now is the best time to play them to rapidly climb the ladder! 😉
In this article, I’ll share a few lists that beat Irelia Azir and explain how and why they manage to do so. I’ll go from the least favored to the most favored. The winrate numbers provided are based on Mobalytics’ stats combined with my own evaluations.
- Winrate against Irelia Azir: 55%
- Advantageous mechanics: Fury, Lifesteal, Tough, Shyvana level-up.
Before the Guardians of the Ancient expansion, the Dragons archetype was divided into 2 builds: the Shyvana build, focused on the Dragon units, and the Zoe build, with more Celestial synergies. But now that Irelia Azir is the deck to beat, the Shyvana variant gained a clear edge, and Ultraman recently got to Master quickly after switching to a Shyvana build.
The Dragons deck has quite a few advantageous mechanics to help it win the Irelia matchup. Dragons all have the Fury keyword, which works very well against Irelia Azir’s tokens – your blockers will get stats every time your opponent attacks and feeds you with Blades. Shyvana will also level up very quickly in that matchup because your opponent’s whole game plan is to attack you several times each turn.
Lifesteal units are also very strong against Irelia Azir for the same reason. Radiant Guardian is especially powerful, as she also has the Tough keyword – a very powerful keyword against Blades to keep her alive for the whole game.
While Dragons has a lot of powerful mechanics to punish Irelia Azir, it is by no means a one-sided matchup. Sometimes, a very explosive draw from Azir Irelia will be enough for them to upset the matchup, especially if the Dragons deck gets a poor early draw itself.
- Winrate against Irelia Azir: 60%
- Advantageous mechanics: Slay.
Thresh Nasus has been a dominating deck for quite a long time, and the recent nerfs to Blighted Caretaker and Atrocity haven’t been impactful – it continues to be one of the very best decks to climb the ladder. Moreover, it also has a very strong matchup against Irelia Azir.
Thresh and Nasus are both very strong champions against the numerous tokens Irelia Azir will throw at you. Thresh can level up extremely quickly in that matchup, and Nasus can grow to indecent stats a lot faster than usual. Once Nasus levels up, the attack debuff on all the opponent’s units will be very impactful on their flood of tokens. All of this, combined with the fact that Thresh Nasus is an extremely consistent and powerful deck overall, makes the matchup hard for Irelia Azir.
While this matchup is clearly favored, it’s still not unbeatable for Irelia Azir. It can out-speed Nasus when it finds the superior draw, and the attack buff from Azir helps to mitigate the attack debuff from Nasus.
- Winrate against Irelia Azir: 60%
- Advantageous mechanics: Tough, unit damage triggers.
Right when Irelia Azir started to take off, Crimson got hyped up as a great meta answer. This deck wants its units to get damaged (Braum, Crimson synergies) and it actively benefits from wide attacks from small units of your opponent thanks to the Tough keyword from The Scargrounds.
Not only you’re strong at stoping
However, the matchup is not as deterministic as one could think. Crimson is quite inconsistent as an archetype – not finding The Scargrounds can hurt your game plan a lot. The deck can also lacks early blockers, which can result in defeats against Irelia Azir’s explosive draws. So overall, Crimson is a very good choice to beat Irelia Azir, but not the ultimate hard counter as some have it pegged.
- Winrate against Irelia Azir: 70%
- Advantageous mechanics: raw aggression, burn, exploiting the lack of defenses.
Sometimes, the best strategy is to simply get your opponent’s Nexus down to 0. This is what we learned from 4LW, who pioneered and piloted this Azir Burn list to become the first player to hit Master in the world this season.
Every deck I presented in this article until now was looking to counter the flood of small attackers in some way, but this particular list attacks another weakness of Irelia Azir: its lacking defensive capabilities.
Irelia Azir needs a few turns to set up and doesn’t do much defensively. Emperor’s Dais contributes nothing in that area, Blade Dance doesn’t do anything either. This lack of a cohesive defensive plan makes Irelia Azir extremely weak to hyper-aggro strategies, like Azir Burn. Their only way out is to try to race, which is very difficult because they don’t have any burn of their own.
Note that other Aggro Burn decks (Spider Burn, Pirate Burn, Discard Aggro) are also very effective strategies with a 65% win rate against Irelia Azir, but Azir Burn seems to be the best one to attack the matchup.
If you’re looking to beat Irelia Azir consistently while having solid matchups across the board on the ladder, hyper-aggro is the strategy I would recommend.
- Winrate against Irelia Azir: 75%
- Advantageous mechanics: Fiora win-condition.
Here we have it, the best counter to Irelia Azir. Despite her nerf, Fiora is still an extremely strong win condition against a deck looking to keep attacking with very small units.
This All-in Fiora deck got its name for a reason: Fiora is its only unit. The rest of the deck includes Entreat, to make the deck more consistent at finding her, combat tricks to help her survive, and strike spells to feed her kills at fast speed. Chain Vest is especially powerful in the matchup, enabling Fiora to kill Sand Soldiers without taking any damage.
On paper, it looks like Irelia Azir could upset the matchup somewhat regularly with Homecoming. But most of the time, playing Homecoming will be prevented by All-in Fiora’s strike spells, like Single Combat.
In fact, a significant part of the 25% of games that Irelia Azir wins against Fiora actually comes from All-in Fiora’s own inconsistency – with 3 Fiora and 3 Entreat, the deck has a 12.4% chance of not finding Fiora by turn 3 and losing this way.
All-in Fiora seems to be the very best way to attack Irelia Azir. However, unless the meta you play against is pretty much only Irelia Azir and at least some of its other favored matchups, I would advise picking an Aggro-Burn strategy instead, to get a better chance against a lot of other decks.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found ideas of how to beat Azir Irelia! If you have any questions I’ll be happy to read and answer you in this dedicated Reddit post or in the comments below!
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