Aphelios Twisted Fate Deck Guide & Matchups

Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.

This particular guide you’re reading is part of our on-going series of guides on meta decks. You can find the other guides and a matchup table on this page.

This guide is dedicated to Aphelios/TF – a very flexible deck that is built to snowball on the back of its two incredibly powerful champions.


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Aphelios/TF created by Agigas
Standard
TF Aphelios
Midrange

Playstyle: Midrange.

Aphelios/TF is a deck that has 3 key pillars: Aphelios, Twisted Fate, and The Veiled Temple. Each of these cards can generate lots of incremental advantages if it sticks to the board, and snowball the game. The rest of your deck is mainly there to support those cards.

Aphelios is an insanely powerful value engine, and can easily generate a Moon Weapon every turn. Crescendum has a great synergy with Boxtopus, summoning him as a 3/4 Challenger for only 2 mana. Aphelios can often level up in this deck, after which he will generate cheaper weapons – and more of them – to accelerate your snowball.

A very big strength of Aphelios is his flexibility – for every situation you have a particular weapon suited to it. Some of those are just good generally, like Crescendum, while others will not always be what you’re looking for but can change the game when you do pick them – like Severum, which is perfect to counter aggressive synergies. Because you are allowed to pick the weapons you want, Aphelios brings a lot of flexibility and finds the right answer to the opponent’s gameplan.

Twisted Fate is another very versatile champion. At level 1 he already is a great addition to the deck – the choice between 3 different cards will allow him to always find good use. The Red Card in particular can serve as a much-needed control tool against wide boards. Thanks to your protection spells and draw, Twisted Fate can also rapidly level-up if the opponent doesn’t find a way to quickly deal with him. When he does level up, Twisted Fate becomes an insanely strong value and tempo engine, and will single-handedly win most matchups.

Veiled Temple is your other engine. As the game goes on, it will make a unit very big. This stat buff is very good to help you stick a unit onto the board, and it also has a strong synergy with Aphelios’ Severum and Infernum. While Veiled Temple comes at an initial tempo loss, you will very quickly make up as it gives you back 2 mana each turn. As the game progresses, Veiled Temple gives a massive amount of tempo that will allow you to snowball ahead of your opponent.

Alongside your value engines, the rest of your deck will provide the draw, synergies, healing, and protection spells to allow your champions to shine. Starshaping will also find you powerful Celestial finishers to help you to close out games.

Overall, Aphelios/TF is an impressive deck for its flexibility and for how hard it can snowball when it sticks a key card onto the board.


It’s an Aphelios world

Something really interesting about the Aphelios archetype is that it can be built in many different ways, with each its own strengths and weaknesses. Here I wanted to quickly go over some other popular ways to build around the Aphelios + Veiled Temple archetype.

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Aphelios Zoe created by Agigas • last updated 18 days ago
Standard
Midrange

Aphelios Zoe allegiance is the most popular build around the Aphelios shell, and it recently even surpassed Aphelios TF in popularity. This build, instead of Twisted Fate and Burblefish, goes heavier on the Invoke mechanic and its synergies. This makes the deck arguably even better in the late game, with access to more powerful Celestial cards. The biggest downside comes from the absence of Twisted Fate: without the Red Card, this deck is left with very few ways to answer board floods and tends to have a worse matchup against the likes of Discard Aggro and Fizz TF.

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Aphelios Fiora created by Agigas • last updated 18 days ago
Standard
Midrange

Aphelios Fiora is somewhat of a mix between two Tier 1 decks, Aphelios Temple and Fiora Shen. It tries to bring the best of both of them and manages to do it surprisingly well. The access to Demacia gives the deck access to powerful removals and combat tricks, and Fiora brings not only control but also an alternative win condition, not to be underestimated in a deck with many heals and buffs. This Fiora win condition makes the deck better against decks vulnerable to it, but losing Boxtopus makes the deck a bit weaker in raw strength.

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Aphelios Diana created by Agigas • last updated 18 days ago
Standard
Midrange

Aphelios Diana could also be called Aphelios Nightfall. While Aphelios and Veiled Temple are often used outside of the Nightfall package, this archetype is here to remind us that both these cards seem to be designed to go in a Nightfall deck. Losing access to the combo with Boxtopus makes the deck a bit weaker in row power, but Atrocity is an awesome combo with the powerful Celestial finishers, giving the deck the ability to close games more decisively.

Aphelios Viktor is one of the weirdest ones on that list but has been displaying strong results. Targon is the perfect region combination for Viktor, as it creates numerous cheap cards (ex: Gem, Duskpetal Dusk, Aphelios’ weapons, cheap Celestials). Gaining access to the strong PZ removals gives more reactive power to the deck, and Subpurrsible and Viktor can quickly be a real threat for numerous decks.

Yet another mix between two very strong decks, Aphelios Lee takes its strengths from both the Aphelios-Temple package and the powerful Lee Sin combo deck. Aphelios weapons are great at activating the deck’s spell synergies (Lee Sin, Eye of the Dragon, Deep Meditation), and Infernum is a great combo with Lee Sin, giving him Overwhelm when you don’t find your Zenith Blade. Losing access to both Boxtopus and TF makes it worse at dealing with very explosive strategies, but its emphasis on combo and counters makes it hard to counter and very decisive at closing out games.


General Tips

  • Protect your champions. One very important thing to understand is that your deck won’t go far without sticking some of its key pillars (Veiled Temple, Aphelios, TF) on the board. The rest of your deck is mostly there to support them.
  • Set up your turn 3 Aphelios. It can be easier said than done to activate Nightfall for your turn 3 Aphelios, especially if you also want to have the mana to play Crescendum on the very same turn.
    • Lunari Duskbringer is a great way to enable your turn 3 Aphelios.
    • Spacey Sketcher can also enable your turn 3 Aphelios, often with The Serpent or Moonsilver. If you do find The Serpent in particular, I would advise you to not play him right away even if you’re tempted and keep him for your turn 3 Aphelios.
  • Learn the Aphelios weapon sequence and plan turns ahead. Don’t be afraid of the Aphelios weapon sequence, with some practice it’s a lot easier to learn than it looks. You need to know the sequence to be able to plan ahead and make the best of your weapons. For example, if you really need Severum but have enough mana and/or time to play another weapon before, you might want to pick Crescendum first to get your 3/4 Boxtopus. Crescendum does give you the choice of phasing into Severum after.
    • While you want to stay flexible and always adapt to the situation, there are some weapon sequence patterns that are used more commonly than others. CrescendumCalibrumGravitum is a very common pattern in midrange battles. CrescendumSeverum is great as a stabilizing sequence against aggro, with a potential stop on Calibrum depending on the timing for Severum. Against a deck that could sacrifice its blocker so your Severum healing doesn’t go off, SeverumInfernum can help you make sure you do get your heal.

General mulligan tips:

  • Aphelios, Veiled Temple, and Twisted Fate are the pillars of your deck. Hence, they are the cards you’re looking for in mulligan in the vast majority of matchups.
  • Lunari Duskbringer and Spacey Sketcher are good early plays and they set up for turn 3 Aphelios.
  • Sunblessed Vigor is often a great keep when you have a champion against decks looking to remove your key units through damage.
  • Keep Pick a Card against decks that can struggle to remove TF, if you already have TF.

Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.


Matchups

Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Mulligan for: Aphelios, TF, Veiled Temple; Lunari Duskbringer – if you have Aphelios; Sunblessed Vigor – if you have Aphelios or TF; Pick a Card – if you have TF.

Matchup tips:

  • TF is often the centerpiece of the game. Both of you can level him up rapidly and neither of you can easily deal with the opponent’s TF.
    • One of your best ways to remove their TF is with your own TF’s Gold Card.
    • The other way is by challenging him with Boxtopus. However, when they play their TF right after your attack it can make it difficult to deal with him quickly enough.
    • If their TF is close to leveling up, pre-emptively Hush him while you try to remove him so they can’t level him up with Salvage. If you’re only afraid of Glimpse Beyond, cast Hush after they cast their Glimpse.
    • Their best ways to remove your TF are Go Hard (sometimes combined with Powder Keg‘s) and their own TF. Withering Wail and Vengeance are other more expensive options.
  • Because their easiest way to remove a key unit is through cheap damage (Go Hard, TF cards), you want to keep them healthy.
    • Avoid blocking with a key unit if it would make it vulnerable to cheap damage.
    • Sunblessed Vigor makes it really hard for them to kill a key unit. They can use Vengeance, but it gets countered really hard by your Bastion.
  • Don’t underestimate their flood of units. If you don’t contest the board they will pressure you a lot and lower your Nexus health.
  • Around the start of the late-game, they’ll find their Pack Your Bags. Play around it by developing big units rather than flooding the board with small ones.
    • Veiled Temple helps you to get a big enough unit to keep some board presence after their Pack Your Bags.
  • After you’ve survived their Pack Your Bags turn, they tend to run out of value and pressure at that point, so it gets easier to close out, especially if you find a Celestial finisher.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, TF, Veiled Temple, Hush, Lunari Duskbringer; Pick a Card – if you have TF.

Matchup tips:

  • Zoe/Lee wants to win with a leveled Lee Sin buffed with Zenith Blade. Once Lee Sin hits the board, he shapes the game around him.
  • You also need to be careful about Zoe and deal with her. If you don’t she will level up and it will make the game a lot harder. If they still have enough units so they can get board-wide Elusive and Lifesteal, you’ll probably lose the game.
  • They don’t have a lot of good ways to remove units (only Zoe’s Sleepy Trouble Bubble and Challengers) so it’s not hard to stick an Aphelios or a TF. Hence, snowballing the game and taking control of the board shouldn’t be hard, but the hard part is to do it quickly enough to win before Lee kills you.
  • In this matchup, you should look to actively level-up TF. It is quite hard for them to deal with him, their most common way to do so being Lee Sin.
    • A pattern to know and use is: play TF after their attack, use Pick a Card, next turn use another Pick a Card. TF will level up before their next attack and Hush can’t counter the level-up.
    • Leveling up TF will make everything easier. However, be aware that it doesn’t make you invulnerable to Lee Sin – they can use Hush on a crucial turn to remove the threat of Gold Card.
  • Hush is a key spell to buy a turn against their Lee Sin. Be aware they can use Bastion pre-emptively to prevent your Hush. Your own Bastion can also buy you a turn by denying the kick.

Mulligan for: Lunari Duskbringer, Spacey Sketcher, Aphelios, TF, Guiding Touch; Starshaping – if you already have a great hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Their deck is very explosive and can quickly convert board pressure into Nexus damage, and finish with burn damage.
    • Be very conservative with your Nexus health.
  • They can level-up Gangplank rapidly. Try to prevent them from spreading Nexus damage dealt to you. To do so, you can for example force their Noxian Fervor or kill their Legion Grenadier on a turn you already took Nexus damage.
  • While it is important for you to protect your Nexus, remember to also set up your board. Your deck needs its key units to function. Once you get control of the board, it’s a lot easier to react to their burn with your healing.
    • Aphelios can quickly snowball the game with his weapon. The sequence Crescendum -> Calibrum -> Severum can be very hard to come back from for them.
    • Leveling up TF is sometimes a good way to snowball the game. Fervor is their only removal (note: they can also damage unit with Gangplank’s Parrrley, Miss Fortune’s Make it Rain, and leveled Gangplank’s ability), so it can be hard for them to deal with TF if you protect him.
    • Boxtopus also helps a lot to keep their board in-check, and you can heal/buff him so he can take multiple hits. Be aware healing spells are very valuable for your Nexus, but depending on the situation you can also use them to get control of the board.
  • To prevent the healing from Severum, they can use Noxian Fervor to sacrifice their blocker. To prevent it, you can target a Boxtopus with Severum to challenge a big unit, or cast Infernum the same turn on the unit you gave lifesteal to.

Mulligan for: Veiled Temple, Aphelios; Lunaris Duskbringer if you have Aphelios.

Matchup tips:

  • Veiled Temple is a key card in the matchup, allowing you to snowball on the tempo as the game goes on while making a key unit harder to deal with with the stats buff.
  • Try to create boards that are hard to control. Be especially careful to not completely run into a Blighted Ravine or Avalanche.
  • Celestial finishers from Starshaping are a great way to close out the game, especially when they come on top of the pressure you already built. The Great Beyond is often your best option (can’t get freeze), but the Immortal Fire is great too (harder to kill but can get freeze).
  • While your value and tempo can usually beat their control tools, the most dangerous part of their deck comes from their Watcher combo.
    • They can assemble it as soon as turn 8 if they already have Lissandra on board.
    • It’s a lot harder for them to do their combo when they don’t have enough board space, because of Spectral matron.
    • As long as they don’t manage to play too many copies of the Watcher you can delay/stop the combo with Hush, Aphelios’ Gravitum, TF’s Gold Card, and Celestials cards (mainly Equinox and Crescent Strike). They can often play 2 Watchers over 1 turn (1 with Spectral Matron and the original copy) but can make that number higher with Fading Memories.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Twisted Fate, Lunari Duskbringer, Spacey Sketcher, Boxtopus; Pick a Card – if you have TF; Veiled Temple – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Discard Aggro is looking to flood the board quickly with cheap units and discard synergies and capitalize on it with board-wide synergies (Crowd Favorite, Vision, Arena Battlecaster).
  • You want to contest the board very early to prevent damage and take trades. If you can limit their board presence their synergies get a lot weaker.
  • A lot of their units have 1hp. TF’s Red Card is often one of your best tools to stabilize the board.
  • Once you’ve stabilized, the snowballing power of TF and Aphelios is often too much for them.
  • Jinx is a major threat and can quickly win them the game if not rapidly dealt with, even once you stabilized. Unfortunately, it can be hard to kill her because you don’t have proper removals for her.
    • A leveled-up TF can kill her over 2 turns. Your other way is to challenge her with a buffed Boxtopus.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Veiled Temple, Lunari Duskbringer, Hush; TF – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Because of their powerful Challenger units, combat tricks, and removals, it can be hard to stick an Aphelios or Twisted Fate onto the board.
    • However, if you do manage to stick something you’ll probably be able to snowball and win off of it.
  • Avoid getting into combat with a Rivershaper if they have mana to protect him and you don’t have Hush.
  • Hush is a key spell in the matchup, it will allow you to deny their combat tricks. If you manage to deal with their key units it can make their deck very clunky.
  • Calibrum is a key weapon to deal with Rivershaper or Laurent Chevalier. Gravitum can also be very important, as Fiora/Shen gets a lot of its advantages through their attacks. The sequence CrescendumCalibrumGravitum will often be the best choice, but as always stay flexible.
  • In Spacey Sketcher‘s Celestial pool, Equinox can be a premium spell to remove the Challenger keyword, or better, silence a Brightsteel Formation.
  • Because they can deal with your snowball champions while building a strong board for themselves, it can be hard to keep up as the game progress. If you fall behind your best way to finish the game is with Wiggly Burblefishes and Celestial finishers.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, TF, Veiled Temple; Lunari Duskbringer or Spacey Sketcher; Pick a Card – if you have TF.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup tends to be very grindy. The winner will often be the one who manages to stick the biggest number of snowball engines on the board (Aphelios, TF, Veiled Temple).
  • TF can level up easily, as both of you have way more protection cards than removals. If one player has a leveled TF while the other doesn’t, he is heavily favored.
    • The most common way to remove TF is Boxtopus. Then, combat tricks (Pale Cascade, Sunblessed Vigor, Bastion, Hush) enter the fray for each player to try to kill/save the TF.
    • Because Boxtopus needs the attack token to interact with TF, playing TF right after the opponent’s attack will give you a long window to level him up with Pick a Card.
    • Another way to remove TF is TF’s Gold Card. Be careful when playing TF if the opponent’s TF isn’t already there.
    • Hush can be used pre-emptively to prevent TF from leveling up for a turn or to remove his ability for a turn if he is already leveled up.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Twisted Fate, Lunari Duskbringer; Pick a Card – if you have TF; Veiled Temple – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • They can quickly assemble a very powerful board pressure. To win the matchup, you want to contain that pressure while keeping an Aphelios or TF alive to set up your snowball.
  • Miss Fortune and Quinn can level up very quickly because of the Scout keyword and Relentless Pursuit. You want to remove them as fast as possible – if one of them does level up, it’s tough to come back from it.
    • This is often one of the main struggles in this matchup. You don’t have a lot of easy ways to deal with their champions. Your best way is with Boxtopus, backed up by combat tricks (mainly Pale Cascade and Hush).
    • When possible, aim to kill their champion through their protection spells (Ranger’s Resolve, Sharpsight, Riposte). In most situations, you want to open-attack to challenge their champion before they could protect it with Brightsteel Protector.
  • TF’s level up is a great way to win the matchup. They have no removal, so they can only remove him when they have the attack token with a Challenger unit (be aware of Relentless Pursuit though).
  • TF’s Red Card can be very helpful to contain their board, but be aware they might completely negate it with Ranger’s Resolve.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Lunari Duskbringer, Twisted Fate, Veiled Temple.

Matchup tips:

  • In this matchup, it can be hard to make something stick because they have both removals and a strong board pressure. Even Veiled Temple isn’t safe because of Scorched Earth.
  • It is a lot easier for them to remove damaged units because of Ravenous Flock and Scorched Earth. Avoid getting a key unit damaged if you don’t have a heal.
  • While they do have strong removal, you can make them run out of it if you have enough threats and ways to protect them. This will often be the way to win the game – if you stick a TF or Aphelios on board, you’ll be able to defend yourself and outlast them.
  • Be very careful in the mid-game to not fall to their powerful tempo turn. At this stage of the game, they have a lot of cards that create a tempo advantage (Tri-beam Improbulator, Ravenous Flock, Arachnoid Sentry) and can use it to push a lot of Nexus damage.
  • In the late-game, your powerful Celestial finishers alongside your value-generating champions make you a favorite. Use your healing to make sure they can’t finish you with burn damage (Captain Farron, level 2 Ezreal, burn spells).
  • Hush doesn’t have many great uses in the early turns. In the later stages, it can help you to deal with Ezreal or to not take damage while chump blocking a Captain Farron.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Veiled Temple, Lunari Duskbringer, Spacey Sketcher; TF, Hush if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • They don’t have any out-of-combat removal, so your important units are safe when they don’t have the attack token. However, be careful when they have the attack token, as they can easily give the Vulnerable keyword to your unit (Exhaust, Ruthless Predator, Sejuani).
  • In Spacey Sketcher’s celestial pool, Crescent Strike is a premium spell. Denying them their attack will slow them down a lot. Equinox is also a very useful card to remove the Overwhelm keyword from an Alpha Wilclaw or Ruin Runner’s Spellshield. Serpent is also great if you’re falling behind in tempo.
    • If you didn’t find something very interesting, consider holding onto it to force them to play around a potential Crescent Strike.
  • Hush is a key late-game card in the matchup. Removing the Overwhelm keyword can be crucial, but the most important thing is to be able to counter their Battlefury with it.
    • If they use Battlefury on a Ruin Runner it might be very hard to survive. Try to remove its Spellshield before combat if you want to Hush it.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Twisted Fate; Lunari Duskbringer – if you have Aphelios; Sunblessed Vigor – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Your Aphelios and TF can quickly snowball to counter their plan. However, they do have ways to remove them (Mystic Shot, Get Excited!, TF), so be careful to keep them alive with your protection.
  • If one player does manage to level up TF it will often be too much of an advantage to overcome for the other.
    • You have more protection spells for your TF, but it also usually levels slower and they have more TF removals.
    • Your best ways to remove their TF are Boxtopus and TF’s Gold Card.
    • You can Hush their TF to prevent him from leveling up for the turn. It’s a very useful trick to make sure he doesn’t level-up with a Rummage right before you can kill him with Boxtopus.
  • In Starshaping‘s Celestial pool, The Destroyer is the best aggressive choice. They have a lot of Elusive units but struggle to block a big Overwhelm.
  • If you’re too slow to snowball advantages they will cycle through their deck fast and kill you with a big Wiggly Burblefish + Iterative Improvement turn (and finish with burn spells if that wasn’t enough). Once you get ahead, be decisive and create pressure.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, TF, Veiled Temple, Lunari Duskbringer, Spacey Sketcher, Starshaping; Pick a Card – if you have TF.

Matchup tips:

  • When they don’t find quickly their landmark you should be able to snowball your advantages and pressure to win the game.
    • Use this window without Star Spring to force their heals out of their hand.
  • When they do find Star Spring early, it makes the game a lot harder. Their units are big and they have a lot of protection spells, so it is very hard to attack without accelerating their healing synergies.
  • They don’t have a lot of ways to deal with your key units when Tahm Kench isn’t on board – only Boxtopus during their attack.
  • Veiled Temple is very helpful to make a unit big enough so they can’t block it while keeping their blocker alive. However be careful about Hush, you might have to pre-emptively Bastion your unit to play around it.
  • TF can level-up pretty easily when Tahm Kench isn’t there, but be aware that leveling him up isn’t always a good thing. If you don’t have a form of strong pressure to capitalize on TF’s cards or a way to counter their plan, the Red Card will accelerate their Star Spring a lot.
  • Starshaping is a key card in the matchup. Among the units, The Great Beyond is very helpful to finish the game. Cosmic Rays can also do wonders against their board because all their units have a low attack. Supernova gives you the ability to remove landmarks.
    • Starshaping’s Celestial spells need you to behold a Celestial to be cast. Consider keeping Spacey Sketcher‘s Celestial card in hand to enable them.
  • If you want to improve this matchup, consider adding Solari Priestess to your deck to get access to Falling Comet.

Mulligan for: Aphelios, Veiled Temple, Lunari Duskbringer, Twisted Fate; Sunblessed Vigor – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • It is not hard to take control of the board as the game goes and snowball your units. However, they have a lot of freezes to stall the game until you die from shrooms and level 2 Ezreal.
  • Teemo is a priority target in the early turns, you want to prevent him from hitting your Nexus as soon as possible. Challenge him with Boxtopus or Hush and block him during the attack.
  • Puffcap Peddler is another unit you need to remove as fast as possible. It is the perfect target for Calibrum. You can also look for Equinox in Spacey Sketcher‘s Invoke pool.
  • Be aware they can protect their units with buffs and freezes (Troll Chant, Elixir of Iron, Flash Freeze, Brittle Steel, Harsh Winds).
  • Their best answer to Aphelios is Thermogenic Beam. Ideally, keep a buff to protect him.
  • Build your incremental advantages to create a strong board and a lot of pressure. It will force their freeze out and if they start running out it will be easy to finish them.
    • You can Hush your own unit to unfreeze it and push damage.
    • Pre-emptive Bastion can make it harder for them to freeze the unit. Be aware that Troll Chant helps them to break SpellShield.
  • Use Starshaping in the late game to both sustain their shroom damage and look for a powerful SpellShield finisher.
  • Drawing card isn’t always a good thing, especially once your deck is stacked with shrooms. Avoid casting draw effects in the late game.

Closing Words

Overall, Aphelios/TF is a very flexible deck that gives the pilot a lot of decisions to make. It also has a quite evenly-distributed matchup table, giving you a shot against pretty much much anything you could face. This makes it a great deck in a wide meta.

If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below and in this dedicated Reddit post! 😉

If you like my content and don’t want to miss out on anything, you can follow me on Twitter, where I share every article I make, but also my tournament performances, my most successful decks, etc… 😄

Thanks for reading!

Agigas

I am a master player since Beta, with several #4 peaks and tournaments win (EU DoR 2, NA DoR 13, GiantSlayer, LORGA). I am also TSM/Blitz.gg LoR consultant. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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