Hey folks, Dr. LoR here with a first dive into the Curious Journey meta.
The newest expansion has seriously shaken up the ranked environment, introducing new cards along with a few well-placed nerfs to Ahri, Kinkou Wayfinder, Wounded Whiteflame, and Iceborn Legacy.
Let’s check out this brave new Gnar world we live in!
- The 100k matches of data are from All ranks, February 16 to 21, courtesy of Mobalytics Premium.
- Mobalytics archetypes are defined as a champions + regions combo. This means, for example, that Bandle Tree Noxus is spread across multiple archetypes. I therefore combine some archetypes that are largely the same across different champion combinations. This mainly affects Swain Bandle City (Gnar/Teemo/Swain), Bandle Tree Noxus (some combination of Fizz/Teemo/Kennen/Lulu/Ziggs/Gnar/Poppy), Field Promotion Attach (Bandle City Demacia with Yuumi/Teemo/Fizz/Quinn), Sun Disc (Azir/Renekton/Xerath/Nasus), Iceborn Spiders (Elise solo or w/ Trundle, Kindred, Maokai, Tryndamere), Kindred P&Z Sentinels (w/ Vi/Elise/Senna), Rally Elusives (Zed/Lulu/Poppy), and Targon’s Peak (Asol + Zoe/Braum/Tryndamere) archetypes. I have NOT combined various Rumble/Draven/Sion/Jinx or Ahri Kennen decks because they show a lot more variance.
- Mobalytics ranks data are imperfect and come from optical recognition for Mobalytics deck tracker users. This is especially true at the start of the season, when ranks reset. There are many Ranked games that are therefore uncategorized (~20%).
- I use Bayesian smoothing toward a win rate of 51.5% (which is the average win rate number in this sample of data). It is a technique that allows avoiding statistical flukes for archetypes with less data. If you want to learn more about the concept, check out this explainer.
- I use Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) to calculate meta diversity. The higher is the HHI – the less diverse is the meta. For example, most of the meta reports have been in the 250-350 range, but in Azir Irelia it reached 500. Read this if you would like to know more about the method.
- I provide 95% Bayesian credible intervals when talking about WRs. The interval is represented by two percentage numbers, for which we can be 95% sure that the ‘true’ win rate for the deck in question lands somewhere in-between these percentages. Margin of error is a single percentage number – we can be 95% sure that the true win rate of the decks is within that range.
Most Popular Archetypes
Here are the play rates for the 20 most popular decks, sorted by rank. Each of these decks has at least a 1% play rate. All of these decks together account for approximately 30% (which is the new record low).
- Swain Bandle City (mostly Swain Gnar but some Swain Gnar Teemo) is the newest iteration of an old deck that combines Bandle’s ping effects with the power of Noxus removal and Swain end game. Yet, it doesn’t even reach 5% PR.
- Ziggs Gnar was the return of Yordle Burn, swapping Poppy for Gnar and it was dominating day 1 meta. Yet, it soon fell off at higher ranks as people figured out how to counter its straightforward game plan.
- Bandle Tree Noxus now features Gnar, with many combinations of other Yordles in the same overall package. It’s the most play deck in Diamond+ by far and high-level players are already complaining about the landmark win condition.
- Darkness still hasn’t been nerfed since its inception and it continues to be a decent choice in this meta although it’d still have many players even if it weren’t. There are a LOT of Darkness fans and they are very loyal. Ditto for Lurk.
- Akshan Gnar was WhatAmI’s early Masters deck and it seems to be legit, grabbing the fifth place in Plat+ and second place in Diamond+. Turns out Papercraft Dragon is a good card after all, and it gives the deck an Akshan Sivir Ionia combo finisher feel.
- MF Quinn Scouts is one of the strongest decks that didn’t see any nerfs. The most popular version adds Durand Sculptor and Petricite Broadwing and was popularized by BlackBoss’s early masters climb.
- Gnar Trundle Timelines sounds like a meme but is a surprisingly strong midrange deck relying on Concurrent Timelines. 4LW has been playing versions of this deck for seasons and it’s finally gained enough of a power boost to get into the limelight.
- Soraka Galio is a new take on a Star Springs deck with a more robust lineup of units. Be thankful that this deck isn’t stronger, as I’m not sure players would stand for TWO strong landmark win conditions in the meta.
- Yuumi Pantheon Demacia dumps Shyvana and Taric for the newest champ. It’s not clear that this is actually an improvement, but players are desperate to try new things and Yuumi has otherwise been disappointing. Yuumi Pantheon Bandle loses the Demacia combat spells for Assistant Librarian and Attach units, and seems to be significantly less popular.
- Fizz Gnar P&Z is a new take on the aggro Yordle in Arms deck that wasn’t nerfed by Patch 3.2. In fact, Fizz Lulu P&Z is still around as well. Both look to push some early chip damage, make a big YiA push as early as turns 4-6, and then finish the game with burn if necessary. Gnar trades off the synergy with Lulu and Flame Chompers for just raw effectiveness.
- Gnar Sejuani and Gnar Gangplank are two takes on the Plunder and Poke City archetypes that were obvious early homes for Gnar. It seems these decks aren’t quite optimized though or perhaps Gnar just isn’t a good enough fit.
- Gnar Galio Freljord is somehow a popular midrange deck. Although the champions don’t have many obvious synergies, it turns out Gnar is so good (and perhaps fun) that people are just jamming him with everything. Braum Galio is arguably a more obvious combination but that means playing one fewer new champion.
- Spider Burn has been a boogeyman of formats for years, although it’s been a bit squished in this one.
- Fizz Riven is an aggressive deck looking to abuse Fizz’s uninteractivity with Papercraft Dragon and other power-boosting spells for a combo finish.
- Udry Vladimir just barely finishes off the top 20, showing that the worst champion of the new expansion still has its fans. Well, HAD its fans. I doubt this can last considering the terrible WRs.
- Meta diversity report: With an HHI of 67, the Plat+ meta in unprecendented. Yes, Gnar is everywhere and Diamond+ meta is much less diverse, but the rest of us non-tryhards are having a great time trying out all sorts of wacky stuff in this brand new environment.
Most Successful Archetypes
Below, you can see the win rates for the 20 highest play rate decks, grouped by rank. I also included 95% credible intervals (for the explanation of the concept, see Sources and Methodology section), which you can see as thin vertical lines on top of each bar.
- Tier 1 tends to be pretty large in the first week of the expansion, and this season is no exception, week one coming in at a record 9 decks that qualify as Tier 1.
Yordle in Arms P&Z decks make up the top two, showing that a strong deck going unnerfed is often to be feared. Akshan Gnar comes in close behind, and is possibly the best deck in Diamond+. In contrast, Scouts is great in Platinum but significantly worse in Diamond+. Pantheon Yuumi is the newest iteration of this archetype, although not necessarily the best one.
Gnar Trundle Timelines was popularized by 4LW, who used it to reach early Masters. Fizz Riven is another strong Papercraft Dragon deck. Ziggs Gnar is incredibly strong in lower ranks but is downright mediocre in Diamond+. Bandle Tree Noxus rounds out Tier 1, although I’m sure that one of its many champ combinations will rise to higher Tier 1 and continue to tilt players on ladder.
- Tier 2 features a number of Gnar and Galio decks, along with always popular Darkness and Lurk. Gnar Sejuani and Gnar Gangplank both try to take over the old Plunder or Poke City style deck but doesn’t seem that optimized, yet. Braum Gnar Galio offers solid midrange and board control but doesn’t have a consistent enough game plan. Finally, Swain Gnar Bandle is the most played deck but can’t really justify that with it’s barely 50% WR…perhaps it requires more skill than other Gnar decks?
- Meme Tier: Spider Burn has been good for a while but is doing shockingly bad at the start of this season, which is surprising since aggro usually does great into unrefined decks. Yuumi Pantheon Bandle loses too much from cutting Demacia combat tricks. Soraka Galio is an interesting idea but hard to execute. Finally, we have our lowest WR deck of the expansion, none other than Mogwai’s Udyr Vladimir. Self-damage feels great when you get an early Scargrounds but so often just is doing weaker things than other decks.
- Balance Watch: Gnar is in 20% of decks, which has had players calling for his nerf as early as Day 1. In general, Bandle City continues to feel like it needs some tweaks but only time will tell whether a specific deck needs extra nerfs.
Below is a spreadsheet of the top 45 decks according to our data, sorted by win rate. The table is split into super-columns by rank. Under each super-column, you’ll find a sample size (match), the play rate (PR), win rate (WR), and the win rate adjusted using the Bayesian smoothing technique (bWR). The last column – Plat+ΔPR – shows the change in play rate for the archetype since the previous report.
In addition, the data includes a margin of error (for example, we can be 95% sure that in Plat +, Fizz Gnar Yordle in Arms has a ‘true’ win rate that lands somewhere between 54.6% and 60.9%). More data available leads to a smaller margin of error.
Underplayed and Overplayed Archetypes
In the chart below I’ve plotted win rates versus play rates of 20 decks to demonstrate which archetypes can be seen as the ‘kings’ in the current meta, and which decks can be labeled as ‘overplayed’ or ‘underplayed’.
In the graph, you can see dots and vertical error bars (‘whiskers’) for each archetype. These ‘whiskers’ represent the 95% credible intervals for win rates (the true win rate is 95% likely to be in this range). The X-axis (play rate) is placed on a logarithmic scale to prevent too much lumping on the left.
I also included the ‘hidden gems’ – 10 additional decks represented as red dots without ‘whiskers’. These decks have lower play rates, so they have no error bars – they would’ve been would be huge and distracting.
- Meta Kings
Yordles in Arms, Akshan Gnar, Gnar Trundle, Scouts, Yuumi Pantheon, Fizz Riven.
A lot of Gnar and some decks that are really good at killing you. About what you’d expect for week 1 of a new expansion when people are trying lots of nonsense to see what sticks.
Swain Gnar, Lurk, Gnar Sejuani Gangplank, Spiders, Anivia, Udyr.
Please stop playing Udyr so that Riot will buff him sooner.
Yordles in Arms, Scouts, Yuumi Pantheon.
Yordles in Arms has been one of the best decks for an entire season but very few people have played it. It was my main deck in the start of last season and it’s only better with Gnar. Scouts is also strong and reliable but a bit boring. Yuumi Pantheon is good but isn’t obviously better than Taric or Shyvana. Final decks will probably be a 3-2-1 champion split.
- Hidden Gems
Draven Rumble, Draven Sion, Gnar Swain Freljord, Predict.
Discard is secretly OP again, as somewhat resilient aggro/burn decks. Gnar Swain Bandle is underperforming but swapping for the Freljord control package seems worth exploring more. Ahri Lulu is also still around and good despite being much weaker to Mystic Shot.
With a new peak in meta diversity, it’s an exciting time for LoR players, assuming you don’t mind seeing Gnar in 20 percent of your games!
The primitive Yordle is a bit too strong and fits into pretty much any deck to give you a lot of midgame board control. Meanwhile, Galio is pretty good but overshadowed while Yuumi and Udyr have been harder nuts to crack. What will Week 2 bring to change this state of the meta?