Hey, it’s Mezume here! New season has only just started, but we all have a fairly good picture of the metagame already. This is exactly why I decided to look in other directions and find some interesting decks that, in my eyes, are quite powerful, but have not yet made it to meta tier lists.
In order to make it into this article, the lists have to fulfill a few conditions. First of all, they need to take us off the beaten path. It is fairly unclear what is an ‘off-meta deck’, so for the needs of this piece, any deck that is not on our Meta Tier List (or has been added very recently) is going to qualify.
On top of that, the deck needs to be able to win. I’ve written about complete memes before, but this is not where I am going with this one – while I’m not looking for the next top dogs, I do want these to be decks that can at least reach Masters in a reasonable timeframe.
The final condition is much more subjective: I need to have had fun while playing the deck. I would not want to suggest decks that get old after two games because I simply want you to have fun as well – after all, that’s what gaming should be about.
There are five decks in total that I feature below. Some will be new archetypes, some new spins on old ones, but all are ones that I enjoyed playing and believe can win games.
The lists are all found through browsing Twitter and Runeterra leaderboards and if you want to see some more spice, check out Dr.LoR’s reddit post! So without taking too long – here’s what you should try out if you like to stay away from mirrors and enjoy exploring new options!
There is no better way to start off this list than to include an actual Rank 1 deck! This is a list by FaintHD, who I’ve featured multiple times before, as he is a great creative deckbuilder. Extra points for including Draven even after his nerf!
This deck is probably the most aggressive that I have included, but it is also deceptively flexible in how it approaches the game. It packs a ton of cards that are typical for a full-on aggro list: an early curve, lots of burn damage, and even Might to get past those pesky chump blockers.
There is much more, however, that this list can do beyond just mindlessly playing out your cards and pointing at the enemy Nexus. Cards such as Zaunite Urchin and Ballistic Bot provide a lot of value and synergize very well with the rest of the deck, while Draven – even with 2 health – is still crucial due to creating Discard fodder and activators for all the cards like Poro Cannon,
While Lost Soul is one of the reasons the deck can keep up on value, there is more to its alternative gameplans.
Viktor is a must-remove champion that gets stronger the longer the game goes, and both Might and Ambush provide him with essential keywords, should he fail to receive them naturally via his Hex Core Upgrade.
Ballistic Bot benefits from those in a similar manner, as the Augment keyword lets him grow his attack and make great use of both Elusive and Overwhelm.
The deck is tons of fun to play, it has hit Rank 1 multiple times this season in the hands of Faint and sports a pretty high win rate across high ranks, even if the sample size is not the most representative.
It has its clear weaknesses, as the units in the list are all fragile and have no protection – you will often need to be creative in playing around removal and healing in order to sneak enough damage through.
Interestingly, the deck seems to have a very even matchup spread when looking at the stats – there is a lot of 45/55 matchups, meaning that you will rarely feel like you lost before the game has even started.
It seems to be one of the best decks under the radar in the game currently – but some of that might be skewed because Faint is a great player. Even with that, however, I believe anyone who likes fast decks that can pivot to an alternative win condition will enjoy the list!
I wouldn’t be myself if I did not try to make P&Z + Targon work every patch – and I believe it is very much a viable option. This is the least “new” deck on the list, but it is so rewarding to play, while remaining under the radar of players, that I believe it is a great inclusion.
Zoe Vi relies on a slow and methodical play – fighting for the board is key and the deck has multiple tools to do so.
The early game of Zoe is never to be underestimated, as she can be a chump blocker, a value generator, or even a win condition, depending on the matchup.
Supported by Ballistic Bot, Spacey Sketcher, Loping Telescope, and a plethora of removal like Mystic Shot and
The Invoking allows for a lot of skill expression and flexibility, while Vi is simply a powerful card – it is fantastic to help you stabilize on board, but it can also threaten ending the game if unanswered. Finally, Starshaping is the real win condition of the deck – if in doubt, just pull a 16/8 Elusive Spellshield Celestial out of your sleeve.
P&Z and Targon has always been a region pairing that was played, but it never really made it to the top of the meta. Partly because it was quite difficult to play, but also because there’s always been a deck that was just stronger, while this region combination has always been a bit ‘too fair’.
This is still the case, but the meta is quite kind to it, as long as you dodge Dragons. On top of that, some of the awkward matchups are answered by a singular inclusion – Defective Swapbot. The card has been underrated for a while, but especially with Lurk around, making their Rek’Sai a 4/3 instead of a 10/6 is a pretty good deal – and all that while getting that 10/6 yourself.
Zoe Vi (or Heimer Vi earlier on) has been my pet deck for over a year now and while this is completely subjective – I recommend it to every single LoR player. It is a great way to learn more advanced LoR with how flexible the deck is, while also simply being fun to play.
The only article on this list that managed to make its way to our Meta Tier List is no other than Teemo Sejuani! It is such a recent addition, that I’ve decided to still go through with including it here, as it still seems to elude many players’ attention. This deck was originally posted on Twitter by FloppyMudkip.
This one is a bit of a spin-off on the previous big hit – Bandle GP. In this case, however, the pay-off for all the small damage units and spells is Sejuani and her ability to shut down any board once leveled.
Teemo makes an appearance here and surprisingly he’s not only here for the pings – as some of the cards naturally add shrooms to the opponent’s deck, he will level more often than you might think and be a threat not only on turn 1.
Lecturing Yordle is an all-powerful 4-drop that synergizes with both champions and is amazing even standalone. As for spells, the multiple pings are great with Sejuani, but they can also double down as great anti-aggro tools, especially in the case of Ice Shard. Finally, some combat tricks and draw finish off the deck.
The deck is a great answer to the meta, beating Lurk, Dragons and Draven Sion, while holding its own against the rest of the field. It holds a decent win rate across all ranks, but that may or may not be due to a fairly low sample size and players not knowing much about how to play against it.
Decks that do not care about Freeze cards, while being able to stave off the aggression are a big weakness of this strategy, so beware of Darkness and Bandle Tree. If you want to learn more about this deck, check out Agigas’ recent write-up.
I personally find this deck quite fun (otherwise I wouldn’t have included it) and powerful, while having enough decision points to not get boring after a while – If you like Teemo, but are not a fan of the P&Z package and playstyle, definitely try this one out!
One of the more controversial decks in the game – by far. It is also decently powerful and in good hands can be very viable, but it is really difficult to pilot and well, frustrating to play against. The list featured is created by Broken Ball and inspired by Scathus’ idea.
Akshan Infinite aims to do exactly what the name suggests. Go infinite. This list does very little other than aim to achieve this gameplan, bar a few cards that can help stall the game – namely Treasure Seeker and Aspiring Chronomancer.
Because the deck is built around being able to play multiple Founts of Power in one turn, with cards such as Promising Future, buffs and landmark advancing, soon all the cards in the deck will cost 0.
That leads us to our win condition – being able to play out infinite Thrumming Swarms that are bound to threaten lethal damage. If the opponent can somehow survive that onslaught, the 1-of Ekko is able to resurrect them through Chronobreak – there is no losing once the combo is in full force.
This strategy is, due to its deckbuilding cost, quite weak to aggressive decks, as staving off aggression is nearly impossible with such big focus on the combo. That said, any deck that can’t kill you before the combo will have two choices: watch you play 10s of cards in a turn while summoning an unstoppable onslaught of Overwhelm units, or surrender.
There’s been quite some complaints about this sort of combos in the game, especially with the Ionian version, meant to essentially trap the opponent in the infinite loop. This version, however, plays an actual win condition and in my opinion is a perfectly fine deck – just surrender when the combo goes off! If you love bending the rules of LoR, this is the deck made especially for you and I have to recommend it to anyone that does!
The patch nerfed multiple top contenders, most notably Zoe Nami – this is why I can include Ziggs Taliyah in this article and not feel like I’m feeding you a deck that doesn’t win enough. The inclusion of this deck was inspired by PVH.
Ziggs Taliyah is the more aggressive spin on landmark-focused decks that aims to threaten lethal by turn 7 or 8 at the latest. Due to this, the curve is kept pretty low and the deck is filled with landmark synergies.
While it is fairly aggressive, its early turns are actually rather mediocre and instead are a build-up for what happens in the midgame. This includes cards such as Inventive Chemist and Rock Hopper, to have bodies on the board while still progressing the level up on both of the champions.
The deck begins to shine from turn 4-5 onwards, due to multiple power cards that begin ramping up at that time. Endless Devout is a great example of that, as its Sarcophagus allows you to swing the game by using Rite of the Arcane or Unleashed Energy to get a 5/3 Fearsome alongside another upside.
Waste Walker can come down on turn 3 too to begin growing, and having Overwhelm means that this growth cannot be underestimated.
Ziggs and Taliyah both level while those power turns are happening and can come down as threats that deal tons of Nexus damage. Especially if backed up by The Absolver, turning their abilities into even more damage.
This deck works great when it does get its pieces at the right time – and that happens quite often, as there is a multitude of options both for landmark creation as well as their destruction. It is a very synergistic list, which means it also just feels very good to play, as you are doing things that simply make sense together.
This does bring one big problem to the deck, however, and it is that it can whiff spectacularly. In a similar vein to decks of old like Fiora Shen or the newer Shen J4, you can draw all the cards in the wrong order and feel utterly helpless as you watch your Nexus explode.
If you’ve always wanted to play landmarks but Xerath Zilean felt too clunky and Thralls got old – here is a completely different approach, that I can wholeheartedly recommend!
This patch feels very fresh to me in what decks it brings out – even if many of the previously good decks remain at the top. It feels like with the gap between top decks and the rest closing a bit, it is a field day for experimenters that wish to play less played out decks.
The decks above are ones that I found fun to play, but I haven’t tested them extensively, as they are supposed to be fun – and I trust their builders that they are good, as they got to Masters or at least climbed some ranks with them.
I hope you will try them out and enjoy them as much as I did!