7 Decks to Counter Dragons – Patch 2.18

Shyvana Aurelion Sol deck has taken the meta by storm - but it is an archetype that can be easily abused by its counters.

Hey, Agigas here!

With a 16.2% play rate since the 2.18 balance update, Dragons have been an omnipresent force on the ladder.

While Dragons seem to do okay with a 50.1% overall win rate – despite the whole meta starting to shape around it, it is actually a deck very susceptible to being countered.

With such a high play rate and several existing hard counters, now is the perfect time to play some anti-Dragon decks!

Let me share with you some of the best options out there. I’ll start with the most well-known and popular ones then progressively get into more niche options.

  • Win rate against Dragons: 73.9%

Players were rightfully very quick to jump on the Lurk hype train when Dragons started to be the most-played archetype in Patch 2.18. Lurk is currently the second-most played archetype after Dragons with a 6.8% play rate, showing an impressive 55.7% win rate. It was also the first deck to hit Master on the American server at the hands of Zult.

While the deck is very interesting and can be complex to pilot, the core idea is very simple: snowball Lurkers’ attack stat quickly to make a dangerous threat out of every single one of your units. Both champions are key for the deck to work correctly – Pyke can single-handedly win games once he is enabled, and Rek’Sai accelerates your whole strategy all the while being a powerful threat herself.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for Sharkling or Xer’Sai Hatchling. You want to go on the aggression, and get your Lurk triggers going as early as possible.
  • Your goal is to have your Lurkers grow enough to trade one-for-one with their Dragons. If you manage to get there, the game gets very hard to play for them, as their units are a lot more expensive than yours.
  • Their best removal is Concerted Strike. Try to play around it with Bone Skewer. Single Combat is often a fairly bad removal against your deck. Some versions also play Judgment.

Click here to read Lurk In-Depth Deck Guide!

Yordle Burn created by Agigas • last updated 2 years ago
  • Win rate against Dragons: 67.6%

Yordle Poppy is a hyper-aggressive deck looking to burn the opponent down. It plays a lot of strong early units to flood the board and push damage and combines its powerful swarm strategy with a very high burn reach.

The deck was hit by a big nerf to Tenor of Terror and a lighter nerf to Stone Stackers but was able to recover perfectly from it by replacing Tenor of Terror with Lecturing Yordle.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for your 1-cost units. You want to hit as hard and as fast as possible.
  • Dragons actually don’t have that much healing, so once you get them pretty low you should have no problem finishing them. Solari Sunforger is their most common heal, and it combines really well with Concerted Strike and Single Combat. Look to counter the healing by killing your own unit off with Noxian Fervor.
  • Outside of denying the Solari Sunforger’s lifesteal – or Radiant Guardian‘s, for some versions – the matchup is very straightforward. Flood the board quickly, and optimize your plays to push as much damage as possible.

Click here to read Poppy Ziggs In-Depth Deck Guide!

  • Win rate against Dragons: 68.7%

Draven Sion has been dominating the entirety of the last season and is looking to do the same this season. The deck is able to put down a lot of early pressure without running out of value thanks to the Discard package. Then, it tops it off with Sion to decisively close out games alongside burn spells.

While Draven Sion’s play rate dropped all the way down to 3.1% since its nerfs, the deck still shows a 56.9% win rate on the ladder so far, staying true to its Tier 1 status.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for Draven as he offers a strong early presence and synergies. Looks to start with a well-balanced hand, with both Discard enablers and Discard payoffs. Keep Mystic Shot to deal with an early Herald of the Dragons. You can also keep Sion if you already have a good early hand.
  • Dragons aren’t the best at handling aggressive strategies, and they struggle to deal with wide boards. Use that to push Nexus damage, and build yourself a board advantage.
  • They don’t have a great answer to Sion. The best they can do is blocking one hit with one of their big units, then kill the Sion Returned part with a Concerted Strike or Single Combat. It will be enough if you are solely counting on Sion as your main threat, but usually you will also have a strong board alonside him – dealing with Sion will cost them to much to also survive your other threats. Look to build up a strong board and lower their health, then Sion will provide the extra push to finish them alongside burn spells.

Click here to read Draven Sion In-Depth Deck Guide!

  • Win rate against Dragons: 66.3%

Sivir Demacia is one of the best decks among ones spared by the Patch’s nerfs, and it naturally got to a very strong position in this early season, especially with the large drop in Draven Sion’s play rate. The deck looks to build up a strong board and forces the combats and trades that are unfavorable for the opponent to snowball the game. The numerous combat tricks back up the deck’s playstyle.

Both champions can serve as powerful finishers. Sivir gives the whole board her keywords – and it can share Overwhelm thanks to The Absolver, while Akshan Warlord’s Hoard is usually enough to build yourself a win condition.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for Akshan and Vekauran Vagabond. If you level Akshan early enough, the second landmark will often win you the game.
  • Akshan Sivir is not a very aggressive deck, and you likely won’t be fast enough to rush Dragons down. Instead, look to build up a strong board and snowball the game out of control. Find good tempo plays to push the opponent out of the game.
  • Concerted Strike is a great removal to deal with their big Dragons. Look to use it when they can’t answer with a Concerted Strike of their own or a Single Combat.
  • They struggle to remove Sivir’s Spellshield. Set her up for the level up, and she will often finish the game with a Golden Aegis.

Click here to read Sivir Demacia In-Depth Deck Guide!

  • Win rate against Dragons: 68.9%

Zed Poppy, despite being the best version of Elusive Rally on stats last season, often has been underplayed. This season, the deck is being overlooked all over again, only hitting a 1.23% play rate despite a 60.4% win rate!

The game plan is extremely straightforward: play Elusive units, buff them, and Rally your way to victory. Zed and Poppy are both high-pressure champions, giving the deck an impressive early punch. Moreover, they both combine really well with your combat tricks and Rallies, making for a very synergistic deck.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for Fleetfeather Tracker, Greenglade Duo, and Zed. Keep a combat trick if you have Zed.
  • Zed can be awkward against their numerous 4-health units, but you can back him up with combat tricks. If they use a Sharpsight or removal to kill your Zed, this is one less defensive tool they’ll have to survive your Elusive units.
  • To finish them, set up big Rally turn with all your buffs on Elusive units. You can kill them from a very high amount of Nexus health if your setup is good enough and you already forced out some defensive spells.

Click here to read Elusive Rally In-Depth Deck Guide!

Frozen Shrooms created by Agigas • last updated 2 years ago
  • Win rate against Dragons: 66.4%

With this deck, we enter into spice territory. Teemo Ezreal is a deck that was rather popular a few seasons ago when Dragons were also prominent, but it was forgotten as time went by and Dragons disappeared from the meta. Now that Dragons are back, this deck shows great potential.

Unlike other decks presented in this list, this list doesn’t look to beat Dragons through aggression or high-tempo plays. Instead, Teemo Ezreal looks to stall the game with its numerous freezes and, with Hexcore Foundry, forces the opponent to draw more cards than they can make use of. The deck wins by burning the opponent down with shrooms and often finishes with a level 2 Ezreal.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for Hexcore Foundry. If you already have Hexcore Foundry, keep Mystic Shot, Teemo, and Puffcap Peddler.
  • Because Dragons spend the first turns setting up, they won’t be able to punish Hexcore Foundry’s tempo cost. Then, their gameplan lines up really poorly against yours – freezes always have been at their best when Demacia is popular.
  • Dragons play a lot of high-cost cards, and therefore will easily overdraw because of Hexcore Foundry. Look to kill Herald of Dragons so they don’t get enough tempo to benefit from the extra draws.
  • One of the trickier choices of the matchup is to decide whether or not you want to attack with Ezreal. If they have a Sharpsight, attacking could lead Ezreal into his death, and you don’t want to spend a freeze on your attack turn. Assess the situation carefully.

  • Win rate against Dragons: 75%

Ashe Noxus, like Ezreal Teemo, is an old archetype – once popular, it faded away as time went by and metas evolved. With the resurgence of Dragons, the deck is well-positioned once again – Ashe Noxus has always been known to be a Demacia-killer.

This deck looks to dominate combat thanks to the powerful Freljord freezes and combat tricks. Legion Marauders are able to snowball the game away extremely fast when not dealt with, and Ashe is a very powerful finisher once she levels up.

How to play against Dragons:

  • Mulligan for Trifarian Gloryseeker, LeBlanc, and Ashe. All those units will be able snowball the game and to trade with bigger Dragons, and Ashe is particularly strong at pressuring them.
  • Use your freezes and high-attack units to kill their Dragons and build board advantages.
  • It’s hard for them to kill Ashe if you protect her with freezes – their removals (Single Combat, Concerted Strike, sometimes Strafing Strike or Judgment) rely on their unit’s attack value.
  • Combine a freeze, most notably Icevale Archer, with a Culling Strike to remove one of their big Dragons.
  • Sharpsight is the card you must be the most careful about. Using a freeze on a unit only to still see your units die without even killing theirs because of a Sharpsight is the kind of bad scenario that can put you behind.

Closing Words

While Dragons certainly got off to an impressive start this season, we can clearly see that they have a lot of glaring weaknesses.

I expect Dragons’ play rate to decrease as the meta stabilizes, but right now is the perfect time to use this assortment of decks to go farm Dragons.

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, but also performances and best decklists! 

Thanks for reading!


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!

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