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6 Decks to Counter Ezreal Kennen – Patch 2.21

Hey, Agigas here!

Ezreal Kennen has been the deck on everyone’s mind since day one of the new expansion, and it certainly deserves its title. With a 14% play rate and a 55% win rate in plat+, Ezreal Kennen is not only the most popular archetype, but it is also one of the best-performing ones.

With such high popularity, Ezreal Kennen is having a huge impact on the ladder. Decks weak to it, such as Pantheon archetypes and Zed Poppy, are having a tough time, and decks with a better matchup, such as Yordle Swarm and Gangplank TF, are on the rise.

In this context, it makes a lot of sense to look for strong counter options to Ezreal Kennen. In this article, I will look to share some of the best lists to do so, ordered by popularity, and explain how to play the matchup with those. I hope this will help you bear with the high popularity of the deck, and ease your climb.

All matchup stats are plat+ from llor-stats.


  • Win rate against Ezreal Kennen: 58.2%

Right behind Ezreal Kennen, Yordle Swarm is also showing great performances at a very high play rate – let’s spoil it already, the next article of this series will likely be about how to counter them!

This archetype looks to swarm the board with Yordles and let them buff each other to make relevant threats out of each one of them. The infamous Yordle Explorer, Yordle Captain, and Poppy are the key engines to that strategy as they make your other units stronger. Ranger’s Resolve and Sharpsight are very cost-efficient protection spells, helping us stick our key units to the board.

To close out games, Golden Aegis top-off our curve to capitalize on our massive board presence. Rallies also help us leverage Poppy’s ability, but also to level her up if the opponent cannot deal with her.

How to play against Ezreal Kennen:

  • Mulligan for Teemo, Yordle Explorer, Poppy. Keep Lecturing Yordle and Group Shot if you already have a good early hand.
  • Ezreal Kennen doesn’t have what it takes to stat-check you, and their lack of early removals can easily take them prejudice as your engines easily get to stick to the board.
  • Group shot, Pokey Stick, and Lecturing Yordle’s Poison Darts are great answers to their numerous low-health units, and will often be used to get rid of Kennen. Ideally, look to use them as an answer to a recall or when the opponent taps out, so they don’t get to freely answer your removal with a recall.
  • Eye of the Dragon is a key unit for them to stall of your aggression off. Use a buffed Fleetfeather Tracker to get rid of it. Try not to give them good opportunities to cast spells when they need to cast more to activate Eye of the Dragon, and to force spells out of their hand when they already have casted 2 spells this turn.
  • Golden Aegis is particularly important to get throught the finishing line before they get to stabilize the game with Eye of the Dragon and Kennens. Find the right window to cast it, and try to force them under 4 mana before casting it so they can’t use a Deny.

  • Win rate against Ezreal Kennen: 60.5%

Gangplank TF Bandle is an aggressive midrange archetype, and while it was completely outshined last season by Gangplank Sejuani despite strong results, it is rising up in popularity this season as a great counter to Ezreal Kennen.

The deck looks to consistently deal face damage thanks to ping damages, aggression, and impact. Thanks to those damages, the deck is able to quickly lower the opponent’s nexus health, and will often win games from its burn gameplan.

The ability to consistently activate Plunder will also quickly level up Gangplank, which will end the game on the spot at level 2 when not dealt with. With its numerous removals and high value, the deck is able to play a solid midrange game plan and outgrind the opponent.

How to play against Ezreal Kennen:

  • Mulligan for Crackshot Corsair, Inventive Chemist, Jagged Butcher, Twisted Fate.
  • We have a lot of early threats. In the early turns, Ezreal Kennen isn’t great at dealing with pressure, so we should use that to start creating some. The main goal is not necessarily to kill them right away, but to force them to rush their own game plan.
  • Once they are forced to play into your answer, the game suddenly becomes a lot easier. Your numerous ping damages are great answers to Kennen, and Twisted Fate’s Red Card will be devastating on their Kinkou Wayfinder turn. Look to keep Kegs for when Kennen levels up so your ping damages still get to threaten him.
  • Gangplank can have a hard time to get through their Concussive Palm and Homecoming. Ideally, try to play him on the end of their turn, after they tap below 4 mana, so you get to open attack and trigger his on-attack effect before they can cast any answer.

  • Win rate against Ezreal Kennen: 66.5%

Turbo Thralls is a deck that leverages Frozen Thralls with ‘advance countdown’ cards, Promising Future, and Taliyah. Tanks to the whole package, this deck is able to get multiple Frostguard Thralls out ahead of the schedule, and the very sudden burst of tempo on that turn will make it very hard for any opposing deck to survive.

The Thralls package is surrounded by the Freljord control tools and healing, helping the deck stall the game while it sets up its own game plan. Freezes and Entomb help the deck in the late game to prevent the opponent from stealing away the game right before they die.

With its combo-focused strategy, Turbo Thralls tend to have trouble against aggressive decks that won’t fold to the Freljord board-wipes but does extremely well into control archetypes, especially those without Landmark removals.

How to play against Ezreal Kennen:

  • Mulligan for Frozen Thrall and Lissandra. If you already have a good hand, keep Avalanche or Blighted Ravine.
  • Freljord removals are particularly effectives against swarm of small units. Keep Avalanche and Blighted Ravine for the Kinkou Wayfinder turn, and prevent the opponent from taking their Kennen back into their hand with Ice Shard.
  • Ezreal Kennen is usually not fast enough to race our Thralls, and when setted up correctly their will be no way for them to survive the onslaught. However, be careful not commit too hard on a landmark when they could bounce it with Homecoming. Ideally, try to split your resources over several landmark, and very suddenly summon several Thralls to overrun their Homecomings and Concussive Palms.

  • Win rate against Ezreal Kennen: 74.2%

Scouts is an aggressive Demacia archetype, looking to dominate the board and run over the opponent with multiple attacks.

Miss Fortune is the key unit of the deck. Her ability is extremely powerful with our numerous Scout and Challenger units. Thanks to the Scouts units and rallies, she gets to level up really fast when not dealt with, and when she does so, closing out the game is often just a formality.

The deck is able to rapidly flood the board and leverage board-wide buffs to pressure the opponent and will do just fine even without Miss Fortune. Poppy is a particularly strong threat as well, and will also close out games quickly when left unchecked.

This particular version packs up an anti-spell package with 3 copies of Stony Suppressor, making it even better against Ezreal Kennen.

How to play against Ezreal Kennen:

  • Mulligan for Miss Fortune and Stony Suppressor.
  • Ezreal Kennen isn’t good at dealing with units early on, and Miss Fortune can get really threatening very quickly. Her effect is particularly strong in the matchup, as it prevents them from getting good blocks out of Dragonlings and Shadow Assassin.
  • Stony Suppressor will be extremely painful for the opponent, as their Kennen spam won’t be nearly as effective.
  • Sonic Wave is a strong effective way to remove a key unit early on. Look to play aound it with buffs and barriers when possible.
  • Rallies will be particularly strong to close out games quickly. Look to force the opponent under 4 mana to cast them without meeting a Deny.

  • Win rate against Ezreal Kennen: 57.1%

Anivia control is an archetype as old as the game, but that has fallen off of flavor lately because of its weakness to Rallies and anti-control decks.

With Frejlord and Shadow Isles for its regions, this deck has access to a ton of removals and healings and is very good at stalling out the game and dealing with the opponent’s units.

Anivia is the win condition of the deck and makes up for her lack of explosiveness by contributing the control gameplan with her board-wide ping on each attack. We can easily kill her ourselves with boards wipes, Gluttony, and Glimpse Beyond. Then, the zombie game plan begins, stacking multiple Anivias on the board thanks to The Rekindler and The Harrowing.

How to play against Ezreal Kennen:

  • Mulligan for Anivia, Avalanche. Keep Vile Feast and Blighted Ravine if you already have Anivia.
  • Anivia Control doesn’t need to play a ton of units early on. Look to make their kennen plays awkward – if you have no target for Kennen’s Mark of the Storm, their early gets really awkward.
  • The Freljord removals are particularly good against swarm of small units. Look to keep Blighted Ravine, Avalanche, or The Box for their Kinkou Wayfinder Turn, and hold a Vile Feast to prevent them from recalling their Kennen.
  • While you have all the tools to deal with their proactive plans, you should be careful not to overcommit on an expensive play at the wrong time. Because of Deny and Homecoming, those can result in a huge tempo loss, which they can use to get back in the game.

  • Win rate against Ezreal Kennen: 73.2%

Akshan Zilean is a very unique archetype and does really well against Ezreal Kennen. The center card of the deck is none other than Curious Shellfolk. Unlike some other archetypes using Curious Shellfolk as a value engine, this particular list is entirely built to abuse its ability.

With its early units, the deck stalls out the first few turns waiting for Curious Shellfolk. Things really start then, as the cheap Predict and Manifest completely degenerate into value and tempo engines.

With discounted and duplicated Time Bombs and Ruinous Path from the combos, the deck gets to close out games with a load of value and burn damage.

How to play against Ezreal Kennen:

  • Mulligan for Zilean, Akshan, Lecturing Yordle. Keep Curious Shellfolk if you have a good hand.
  • Ezreal Kennen is not the best aggressive deck, and isn’t the best at control either. What this deck is really good at is setting up a cheap, consistent, and effective win condition, all the while preventing the opponent from pushing forward. This does not affect us as much, as Zilean Akshan mainly cares about waiting for Curious Shellfolk to hit the board.
  • Early on, use your units to stay as close as possible to the opponent. You will likely fall behind at some point, especially on the Kinkou Wayfinder turn, but as long you stay in a okay spot for your Shellfolk turn things will turn out okay.
  • Avoid using predict spells early. You need those for your combo turns, and wasting too many resources could make you fail to close out the game and control their game plan later.
  • When Curious Shellfolk hits the board, Homecoming is their way to try to pull ahead. However, a lot of your payoffs are playable at burst speed, and you can use them to manifest a spell to prevent the recall, and/or use the Predicts to find Quicken.
  • Once their Ezreal levels up, try to keep a Minimorph at the ready to get rid of him and kill them before they find another one.

Closing Words

As we see in this article, Ezreal Kennen might be strong, but it is clearly not exempt from counters, with several of them beating it quite consistently. Moreover, Ezreal Kennen can be beaten using several very different playstyles, from aggro to control, without forgetting about combo.

Going forward, I do expect Ezreal Kennen to stick to a Tier 1 status. While the deck is beatable, it is still a very strong archetype, with tons of great matchups and a high player agency.


If you have any questions, feedback, or want to discuss those balance changes, I’ll be happy to read and answer you in the comments below! 

And if you like my content, feel free to follow me on my Twitter, where I share all my articles, performances, and best decklists! 

Thanks for reading!

Agigas

LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

2 Responses

  1. Kassadin says:

    The second expansion, features and overpowered Ionian deck? Anyone else getting deja vu?

  2. ScreaminSteve says:

    Thanks for making this article! 🙂

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