Worldwalker brought us four new exciting champions, with all of them are seeing a lot of experimentation and varying degrees of success. Today, I want to focus on Illaoi.
Illaoi came out with her new keyword mechanic “Spawn” which allows you to summon and grow a Tentacle to seize control of the board and finish the opponent off through Illaoi or The Sea’s Voice. At its core her archetype is a classic “Go Big” style of deck and she heavily benefits from attacking multiple times in a single turn. This means Illaoi found a natural home in Demacia but she is also seeing some experimentation in other regions.
Tentacle Smash provides Illaoi decks with an amazing tool for interaction that finds value regardless of whether you are ahead or not.
Eye of the Nagakabouros is just a great refuel tool for the deck, it’s often a bit expensive to cast in midrange decks but the card is even good enough to see play outside of the spawn archetype.
Illaoi is very straightforward to an extent, so most of her decks share the weakness to Disintegrate decks and Ionia and Targon control decks. However, she also dominates decks that go smaller and don’t go too wide, this makes her a great meta call in certain situations and a bit more lacking in others.
Without further ado, here are the top lllaoi decks as of right now:
Illaoi Jarvan IV
Illaoi with Jarvan IV is the most classic midrange version of Illaoi. Your objective is to gain control of the board while growing a Tentacle and then use it to end the game ideally with Cataclysm on a huge Illaoi.
Illaoi synergizes very well with Jarvan as both she and the Tentacle become hard to block which helps level him.
Illaoi also tends to want to open attack later in the game to attack again leveled with Cataclysm, Jarvan shines on those turns as he drags the biggest blocker and allows Illaoi’s Overwhelm to hit harder.
The deck shines against decks with low interaction. It’s very easy to get a huge Illaoi going and swing for lethal with Cataclysm in these matchups, not to mention Tentacle Smash dominates in this kind of match ups, for example, against Scouts.
Illaoi Lux is a decent alternative to the Jarvan List.
Lux’s list forgoes some of the rally spells as their game plan revolves around developing wide boards, and leverages Final Sparks to break board parity. Once you have more units than your opponent, For Demacia! becomes game-ending and gives the deck another win condition.
Lux is usually played on a defensive turn to stop and attack, and once she sticks it’s quite easy to start developing Tentacles, remove the enemy board and generate Final Sparks at the same time.
This list is less popular and successful than the Jarvan deck as of right now.
The main reason other than this build being harder to play is the metagame being dominated by midrange killers like Thralls and Viego Noxus, so going faster and being more explosive is currently preferred.
As I said in the introduction, Illaoi found her perfect pairing with Demacia, but this didn’t stop the community from experimenting with her outside of Demacia, we have seen her in Targon, Shurima, Freljord, and more…
The results for most of these brews weren’t spectacular, but some of them do show some promise. I’ll feature the two experimental lists that I find have the most potential so far!
Usually, Illaoi is the star of the show and the main beneficiary of the rally effects, but in this deck, the main focus is the Tentacle itself.
Buhru Leader allows your Tentacle to attack twice in a turn which can be devastating if the Tentacle has offensive keywords like Elusive or Overwhelm.
Ionia provides even more protection than Demacia it offers spells like the staples Twin Disciplines and Deny, but also some trickier ones like
Lastly, this deck gets to run Will of Ionia which is great in the meta. With that said, the deck is probably not optimized yet and often loses to itself quite often on top of being a lot harder to play than its Demacia counterpart.
There was a lot of hype for this combination before the expansion hit because Spawn has good synergy with Bard as it levels it decently fast.
This deck is not as good as others at abusing Chimes as there isn’t a surplus of Challenger, Elusive, or Overwhelm units, but with vulnerable effects and Illaoi, you still can put those stats to good use.
The vulnerable effects aren’t here only to make use of the Chime’s stats, they also activate The List making it essentially a 0 mana Cataclysm with a few catches. The main ones being that your Illaoi needs to be the strongest unit on board and that there needs to be a Vulnerable unit.
There is a lot less freedom when building this deck as you are essentially forced to run a mono Bilgewater deck but the lists that do not run The List are putting surprisingly good results.
Illaoi has found a lot of success so far when paired with Demacia and now demands respect as another big Demacia deck in the metagame.
Time will tell if she is going to survive meta shifts just like Fated did and if a successful Illaoi deck outside of Demacia will be found.
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