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Dr. LoR’s Meta Report – Patch 3.4 Week 1

Hey folks, Dr. LoR here to take a look at how Patch 3.4 has impacted the meta.

The biggest story of course is Sun Disc’s ascendance to the top of the meta. If the meta somehow stays like this, players will start getting tired of the Shurima movie (if they’re not already) but fortunately, players have taken up arms against the Shurima empire and I can’t imagine Sun Disc playrates will stay so high with so many unfavorable matchups on ladder.

  • The 288k matches of data are from March 30 to April 3rd, including 114k matches of Plat+ (Platinum, Diamond, Masters), courtesy of Mobalytics premium. Notably, Mobalytics ranks data are imperfect and come from optical recognition for Mobalytics deck tracker users. This is especially true at the start of each season, when ranks reset. There are some ranked games that are therefore uncategorized (~10% right now; help fix that by using Mobalytics Deck Tracker).
  • 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 Sun Disc (Azir/Renekton/Xerath/Nasus), Targon’s Peak (Asol + Zoe/Braum/Tryndamere),  Aphelios Viktor (sometimes with 1x Vi, Zoe, Yuumi), Yordle Rally (Tristana Demacia w/ Fizz/Kennan/Teemo/Gnar/Yuumi), Swain BC (Gnar/Teemo/Swain), Bandle Tree Noxus (some combination of Fizz/Teemo/Kennen/Lulu/Ziggs/Gnar/Poppy), Iceborn Spiders (Elise solo or w/ Trundle, Kindred, Maokai, Tryndamere), Kindred P&Z Sentinels (w/ Vi/Elise/Senna), Rally Elusives (Zed/Lulu/Poppy) archetypes. I have NOT combined various Pantheon X decks because they show a lot more variance.
  • I will be referring to Bayesian WR (bWR), which is win rate (WR) that has Bayesian smoothing toward 51.5%—the average WR in these data. To understand Bayesian smoothing, check out this primer…basically, we’re trying to avoid statistical flukes for archetypes with less data. A deck where one very strong player went 18-2 is probably not a “true” 90% WR deck. A deck with a lot of data (>1000 matches) is likely to have a WR closer to its “true” WR.
  • I calculated meta diversity using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI). TL;DR is that smaller HHI is more diverse and most of my meta reports have been in the 150-350 range, but as high as 500 in the Lurk and AzIrelia metas.
  • I provide 95% Bayesian credible intervals when talking about WRs (using a beta[35,35] prior since LoR deck WRs are essentially always between 35%-65%). 95% credible intervals provide a range of WRs around the average WR for a deck, and it means that we can be 95% sure that the ‘true’ WR for the deck lands somewhere between these two numbers. Of course, ‘true’ WR isn’t a static number since the meta is always evolving but the point of the 95% CI is to give a sense for the uncertainty in WR estimates.

Most Popular Archetypes

Here are the play rates (PRs) for the 20 most popular decks by rank (plus Plat+, the combination of Platinum, Diamond, and Masters). These decks mostly have at least 1% play rate in Plat+ and together they account for about 54% of the Plat+ meta.

  • Sun Disc has been restored to its full glory! With buffs to Azir and Quicksand and nerfs to T1 decks, this deck is finally seeing the light of day outside of meme tier. Starting off with a strong 55% WR on the first day, it’s since come back to earth with the meta largely targeting it. I would be remiss to not comment on the two types of Sun Disc deck (not to mention the non Azir/Xerath versions). Swimstrim made a turbo-leveling Sun Disc version with a ton of Predict cards and a more glass-cannon, combo feel; that version is performing at 46% WR and the more regular midrange version sports a solid T2 WR of 52%.
  • Riven Viktor is the latest and perhaps greatest iteration of the Ballistic Bot + Ambush deck. Looking to kill you with a little chip damage, some elusive smackdown, and burn to finish the game, this deck is very good at ignoring your gameplan and ending the game suddenly. It has a great match-up vs Sun Disc (a common theme in today’s report). Draven Viktor is a somewhat different take on the deck but it’s ultimately the same gameplan.
  • Caitlyn Ezreal has been missing from my reports for a while, but the old favorite is back, including gaining some popularity already at the end of patch 3.3. With the buff to Caitlyn’s flashbomb traps, the deck feels stronger and its toolbox is always good against midrange. That said, it has a surprisingly poor matchup against Sun Disc, which keeps it from being stronger in the meta.
  • Targon’s Peak (Zoe Asol but also other champ combos) is also back on the menu, with its highest popularity ever. She Who Wins (Wanders) received a big buff but Targon’s Peak itself is receiving collateral damage from Sun Disc hate. This is why some players are opting to play this as straight up ramp without Targon’s Peak itself.
  • Aphelios Viktor smashes together the two most buffed champs of Patch 3.4 (and sometimes splashes 1x Zoe, Vi, or Yuumi). When both are leveled, Aphelios moon weapons cost 0 mana! That said, the deck is hard to play and sports a pretty mediocre WR for now. Probably not your best choice for playing Aphelios OR Viktor unless you’re a strong player and indeed, some top players have managed to play the deck to high winrates.
  • Yuumi Pantheon Demacia (as well as Taric versions) are still around and still strong, but less popular thanks to seeing two nerfs (and perhaps boredom with the archetype).
  • Azir Irelia is back and this time it’s not the boogieman it once was. It has an impressive Sun Disc matchup, so the WRs are great, but the deck feels quite fair these days.
  • Ziggs Taliyah is another great midrange landmark deck, much like Sun Disc, but it trades in the Sun Disc end game for a burn from Ziggs, Taliyah overwhelm shenanigans, and sometimes The Arsenal. It has secretly been a T1.5 deck for months and has a good WR against Sun Disc decks.
  • Teemo Caitlyn focuses mostly on puffcaps but still benefits from the flashbomb buffs. It has some diehard fans and a decent Sun Disc matchup, but I can’t imagine it overtaking Tri-beam Improbulator as the most popular Caitlyn deck.
  • Spider Burn is always strong in week 1 of metas as a bully of unrefined decks, and this week is no exception. Great matchup against Sun Disc.
  • Fizz Lulu is the last Yordle in Arms deck standing at the moment. Standing tall in fact. This has been a T1 deck for the last two metas and I’ve always been surprised by its low playrate (perhaps because it’s counterable by removal heavy decks).
  • Gnar Darius is the meta’s overwhelm deck, packing big bodies and a few select combat tricks to keep your opponent on the back foot. It emerged in the last meta and it has a decent Sun Disc matchup.
  • Scouts got two nerfs but most lists still play both Vanguard Sergeant and Sharpsight as 3x. For Demacia + Rally or leveling MF are still great gameplans against much of the meta and its biggest foil Pantheon is much less popular now.
  • Darkness has fallen as low as it’s ever been since its release, and I could see it sink even lower given its horrendous WRs. On the other hand, it’s handicapped by <20% WR against Sun Disc right now…
  • Lurk’s nerfs have also taken it down a big, although its WRs have changed that much from before.
  • Akshan Viktor is the newest FaintHD special and is another take on the Ballistic Bot + Ambush strategy. I’m not convinced it’s better than Riven Viktor but it’s still a powerful deck, although it did get Faint to 4th on Americas ladder.
  • Zoe Aphelios is a deck that comes from a long line of Targon invoke piles. It mostly splashes SI for Atrocity but there are versions playing small packages of almost every other region, including a Noxus version playing the Sentry Flock package that has gained popularity in Masters. Very flexible but very hard to play.
  • FTR has been the best ‘true control’ deck in the last year or so and continues to be. A bit weak to Sun Disc.
  • Draven Rumble is another impressive aggro/burn deck that’s been secretly good for a few metas. The Rumble buff helps a tiny bit.
  • Fallen off top 20: Yordle Rally, Bandle Tree, Gnar Trundle, Akshan Sivir, Kindred Viego, Swain BC, Teemo Sejuani BC
  • Meta diversity report: With an HHI of 456, the Plat+ meta is the most concentrated its been in a long time due to the enormous presence of Sun Disc. Timmy/Tammy players finally got their time in the sun.

Most Successful Archetypes

Below, you can see the WRs for the 20 most popular decks at Plat+, again grouped by rank. The error bars represent 95% credible intervals for the win rates.

  • These 20 decks are sorted by Plat+ WR. Just for fun, I also grouped them by tier. This is purely based on WR (plus top 20 PR) and is not an evaluation of raw deck strength. The right pilot can probably play most of these decks to a Tier 1 win rate and most can be part of a cohesive tournament lineup. There are also decks that would be Tier 1 or 2 that don’t show up here because they aren’t played enough for me to be confident about their win rates.
  • Tier 1 is basically all the decks that are strong against Sun Disc. Riven Viktor is 71%, Draven Rumble is 62%, Fizz Lulu is 58%, Spiders is 65%, Ziggs Taliyah is 57%, Gnar Darius is 60%, and Yuumi Pantheon is 57%.
  • Tier 2 is unusually narrow and is still decks are great against Sun Disc but with slightly weaker game plans otherwise: Akshan Viktor (65%), Azir Irelia (67%), and Draven Viktor (67%). Scouts is the exception, with a decent Sun Disc (53%) matchup but overall good matchups otherwise (except vs Pantheon and Tri-Beam). As mentioned above, I think midrange versions of Sun Disc are a solid T2 deck as well, maybe even low T1 if the meta wasn’t targeting it so hard.
  • Meme Tier: Zoe Aphelios is doing surprisingly poorly, owing to having many choices (i.e., it’s hard to play). Darkness is shockingly bad in this meta; it was hit by Conchologist and Twisted Catalyzer nerfs but more importantly, it has a 17% WR against Sun Disc and only 46% vs Riven Viktor.
  • Balance Watch: Riven Viktor has uncomfortably high WRs and the fact that the top three decks all play 3x Mystic Shot and 3x Get Excited! is a bit concerning. Then again, I think things are bound to change with Sun Disc losing popularity. Fizz Lulu is perhaps the biggest concern, since its high WR suggests Yordle in Arms will remain on the nerfing block.

Here’s a longer list of the top 45 decks at Plat+, sorted by WR. The super-columns are split by rank, including Plat+ (platinum, diamond, and masters combined), Diamond+ (diamond and masters), and Silver- (silver, bronze, iron).

Under each supercolumn, you’ll find how many matches were recorded with that deck, the playrate (PR) percentage, the raw winrate (WR), the Bayesian WR (bWR), and a 95% CI (credible intervals), which corresponds to a range of values we’re 95% sure the “true” win rate lies within. More data = tighter CIs.

The last column is the change in Plat+ playrate from last report.


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: Riven Viktor, Fizz Lulu, Ziggs Taliyah, Spider Burn, Yuumi Pantheon, Sun Disc. Although Sun Disc is not a T1 deck by winrate or even playrate, it’s definitely still shaping the meta around it. All of the top decks have a great matchup against Sun Disc and all the ‘bad’ decks have a bad matchup.
  • Overplayed: Targon’s Peak, Ezreal Caitlyn, Aphelios Viktor, Teemo Caitlyn, Lurk, Darkness. ALSO Sun Disc. Many of these are playing with buffed cards or are decks that were recently nerfed. Sun Disc is overplayed because the meta is hard targeting it. I can imagine it settling in at around 10% stable playrates. Lurk and Darkness diehards haven’t let go yet…
  • Underplayed: Draven Rumble, Scouts, Gnar Darius. More aggro/midrange decks with decent Sun Disc matchups.
  • Hidden Gems: Viktor Vi SI, Kindred Sentinels, Pirates, Plunder. Pirates is always good but the deck hasn’t changed in 2 years so it’s more like buried treasure. Plunder has a positive matchup against Sun Disc and you can nab their Emperor’s deck for maximum luls. Kindred Sentinels has also been secretly strong forever, while waxing and waning in popularity. Viktor Vi SI, 4LW’s latest creation, is perhaps the most surprising, since it’s a P&Z allegiance deck that even plays Sumpsnipe Scavenger!

Summary

I think it’s safe to say that Patch 3.4 shook up the meta quite a bit. On the one hand, we have the biggest playrate deck we’ve had since Lurk days; the Shurima desert is vast indeed. On the other hand, we have lots of ways to counter the deck…they just happen to be mainly aggro/burn decks. Let’s see how the meta changes as Sun Disc players get sick of their mediocre win rates.

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