5 Off-Meta Decks to Surprise Ranked Ladder
Hello, it’s Mezume here. Every once in a while, we like to share with you guys collections of decks that are a bit less meta, with which you can simply have fun – while still winning! That is exactly the aim of this article, so I hope you can find something for yourself.
Few rules before we dive in: the decks are shown roughly in descending order of strength – the first two are, in my opinion, the most powerful and then we move down the list to more fun and meme-oriented lists. In order to make this article, the archetypes had to fit the criteria: first of all, they needed to be powerful enough to win games; secondly, they could not be featured on our Meta Tier List.
Let’s start off with the off-meta deck that has actually been very meta in the past. Overwhelm has been around forever. It took a long time for it to earn the reputation of a truly powerful deck, but still, it tends to disappear from the competitive play – just like now. This list is straight from the Overwhelm master, RickoRex himself.
Overwhelm is a long-standing deck that relies on destroying your opponent’s Nexus without having to worry about chump blockers, due to the Overwhelm keyword. The way the deck is built is to have this critical mass of units with the keyword and good stats. Examples of such allies include Ruin Runner, Alpha Wildclaw, as well as champions in the form of Sejuani and Renekton.
The ability to create a board full of Overwhelm units means that your opponent has to either find units that are even bigger, or simply have enough removal to deal with multiple large threats. None are simple to achieve. Buffs such as Shaped Stone and especially Battle Fury help your units survive trades, but most importantly allow you to push a lot of extra Nexus damage.
This deck is tons of fun to play because of its simplicity. It wants to hit the Nexus, it wants to hit it hard and it just does it. No questions asked, no subtleties – just play big units, buff them with powerful spells and watch the opponent cower before your might! Its big weakness is aggressive decks, as well as those that can stall your units with stuns and recalls – but those are just a few weaknesses that do not at all ruin the fun of playing the list.
Another deck that has been around, but never really made it to the top of any meta is Thresh Aurelion Sol. I took this particular list from the top of the NA ladder, Kevor24, but the deck is flexible and you can mix and match to find the right amount of each card.
This is a control deck that relies on preventing your opponent from playing the game. You pack a lot of removal tools, as well as quite a bit of healing. Your gameplan is to stall the game, until you are able to get Aurelion Sol on the board. Sometimes you will do so by playing him from hand, but the real goal is to pull him with a levelled Thresh.
In order to get that late into the game, however, you have quite a lot of early units that are great at chump blocking, as well as multiple Invokes. These include Spacey Sketcher, Mountain Goat and much more.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, the list has removal for pretty much every occasion. Between Vile Feast, Withering Wail, Vengeance and The Ruination, there is little that will stay on the board for longer than a turn. This deck wins fairly one-dimensionally: by playing ASol or big Celestials and then using Atrocity for lethal on the opposing Nexus.
If Overwhelm was fun to play due to simplicity, this is the opposite – the fun comes from the multitude of choices you can make in order to find that win. You have to work hard to achieve it, as there are no freebies with Thresh Aurelion Sol; the number of decisions every turn will make every victory satisfying.
While it has its weaknesses and can be considered clunky, as a Targon and Invoke fan, I cannot recommend the strategy more.
Another archetype that has been tried way too often – but never really clicked – is Zilean Ekko. Ever since its release, players have tried to make it work; I believe I featured it in way too many of my articles… But it simply never made it. So here it is, in yet another off-meta article.
This is a midrange deck that aims to level Ekko as fast as possible – it runs as many viable Predict cards as one can reasonably fit into a list, while also having some extra pay-offs for Predicting in the form of Dropboarder and Fallen Feline’s Hexite Crystal.
Between Time Trick, Aspiring Chronomancer and the other Predict cards, Ekko should generally be levelled by the time midgame comes. Once he does come down, the ability to protect him with Rite of Negation can come in handy, so keeping mana up for that is a consideration for sure. The goal is to get to a point where you can always back up your trades with a Chronobreak – you can find those through predictions, as well as with Station Archivist.
The deck has clear weaknesses. If you miss the Prediction curve, you might simply be too slow to contest many of the currently powerful strategies. Your units are generally fairly weak stat-wise, so you will be relying on Chronobreak to fix that – and you don’t get that without a levelled Ekko.
The inclusion of Sivir and The Absolver does remedy that to an extent, but it is still a big weakness nonetheless. That said, the deck is interesting to keep an eye on – if not for its viability, then surely for its complexity. Despite looking simple at first glance, there is a lot of nuance going on; you can often choose what you will draw next, and those decisions could impact the whole game a few turns after you made them.
This is the wildest deck on this list, but also the one that I was extremely surprised by after testing. It was posted a week ago in our Discord, where it was said to belong to the NA Masters player EdyGH Warrior and I just had to try it out. While I’m not sure how much this deck can win in the hands of an average player, it definitely has some crazy potential.
Playing Soraka without Tahm Kench already seems insane enough… But paired with Zilean? Well, we just get a crazy list that reminds me of the most ambitious brews found only in internal testing.
Let’s start by saying that the deck does not have the clearest of win conditions – it wins by… winning. Between Soraka, Devoted Council and Broadbacked Protector, the deck has a ton of stalling potential, all combined with a ton of protection spells to ensure that your champions survive until they are able to level up.
Both Soraka and Zilean are great value generators after they level up and the list aims to do exactly that – outvalue your opponent. Most of the games I have played were actually won either by stalling out aggressive lists, creating my win condition with Starshaping or of course by filling up Star Spring, which you can tutor with Divergent Paths.
Zilean Soraka really pulled me in with how fun and different it was. I do not guarantee that it is a good deck – after all, it might just win many games based on surprise factor and pilot difference; but I encourage you to try it. We do not often get to play Soraka outside of her Tahm Kench pairing (or Braum, I guess!) and surely not with Shurima of all regions.
For some reason, tribal decks have never been too successful in LoR. Yetis never managed to break that trend, even if there have been multiple attempts, especially after the release of Abominable Guardian. That said, it is time to revisit the concept in this off-meta collection!
Noxus is a natural place to go for Yetis, as all of them except Yeti Yearling have 5 attack, which lets them synergize with the Noxus package. Between Trifarian Assessor and Whispered Words, the draw potential goes through the roof, while if we want to tech our deck with the likes of Culling Strike, Reckoning or even Noxian Guillotine, this region pairing gives us the option to do so.
The way the strategy works is quite simple – get Yetis on board through Yeti Yearling, Avarosan Trapper or later in the game Ancient Yeti and use Tall Tales to immediately create more of them. This can lead to extremely explosive turns due to Abominable Guardian being summoned for free. Your aim is to create a full board of those 5/5 Yetis so that you can use Pack Mentality and finish the game off with a flurry of huge Overwhelm units.
This deck’s biggest weakness is its own inconsistency. It is all great when you draw your Yetis early on, but in the late game… They are just a bunch of stats that can be removed, chump blocked or simply out-traded – after all, a single 5/5 isn’t that impressive at turn 6 or 7 anymore.
That said, the deck is capable of winning in the later stages, as it can get crazy removal turns with Ice Shard and Noxian Guillotine. The champion choice in the deck is actually quite flexible – I’ve seen versions with Lissandra, LeBlanc, Tryndamere and even Braum!
None of the decks above are currently on our Tier List – and that is for a reason. They are just not at the top of the power charts. That said, playing LoR isn’t all about insta-locking the absolute best decks, and the game is designed in such a way that it is possible to play off-meta lists and still get good results.
I hope you are able to achieve at least some decent results with the lists above, but I mainly hope that they will bring you some good fun – because that is what games should be about! So enjoy and see you in my next article!