Finally, the poster child for the Predict archetype has arrived! There’s a lot to unpack about Ekko.
A lot of people’s first instinct will be to pair him with Zilean. I believe that would be a wrong approach since Ekko is quite clearly focused on a faster gameplan. However, we still will need to pair him with Shurima in order to have enough Predict cards to level him up consistently.
Thankfully, Ekko looks rather flexible and is unlikely to be confined to a single archetype, despite the Predict requirement. Below is the grading scale that I’m going to use while evaluating cards in this article:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, potentially a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes.
- 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes.
- 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes.
- 2.0: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
- 1.0: Unlikely to find its place in the meta.
Ekko – 4.0
Let’s start with the bad news: Ekko’s stats are awkward for a 4-cost unit. 2 HP makes him fragile and he will often touch the board only to be killed right away. On top of this, Ekko’s spell, Called Shot, is an underwhelming one.
The good news is that it shouldn’t be too hard to level up Ekko by turn 5 or 6, especially in matchups where we expect spot removal, as they will often be providing us with enough time and space to fulfill our need for Predictions.
Overall, it seems that even though Ekko has the potential to act as a win-con, he will need a lot of setup and help from your deck.
Ekko is an aggro-oriented value engine. He hits, then gives you card advantage via the generated Time Trick. It’s really good, but not game-winning.
The Quick Attack keyword is great when paired with Shurima, which has an abundance of ways to apply Vulnerable. It will enable Ekko to pick off enemy unit or two while drawing cards, which could contribute to some grindy, attrition-based win condition. However, by itself, that’s not applicable in every matchup.
Chronobreak is Ekko’s main payoff. We are going to need a board with which we can attack, and then revive our units and go again. If properly set up, its potential value is through the roof – but a deck centered on Ekko must be board-based for Chronobreak to function.
Is building around Ekko going to be worth it? I honestly do not know, and right now the direction of deckbuilding isn’t 100% clear either – his stats and keywords scream aggro, while his Predict and Strike effects scream control/combo.
Good thing that Ekko is quite flexible in this way – he can act as a build-around, but he can also be played as a simple value engine in decks that otherwise are not that interested in Predict. In that case, his role would be akin to the roles that Draven, Fiora, or Vi have taken up in the past in some of their decks.
I’m starting to think of Ekko as a 4-cost Zoe with extra steps – a rather solid support, at the very least. He is a very interesting champion for every homebrewer out there.
Ekko helps Heimerdinger’s game plan by adding a pinch of aggression to the deck while also granting long-term card advantage if left unchecked.
Simply stall in the early game, then leverage Ekko and Heimerdinger’s value over time. Thanks to Heimerdinger’s turret generation, and a large number of followers in the deck, we are ensured that Chronobreak will find some value eventually and will give us that lethal.
Called Shot – 1.0
Continuing the long legacy of absolutely atrocious champion spells, Called Shot does not help Ekko very much, or anyone for that matter.
Paying two mana to draw is alright, it’s at least some cycling as opposed to being a complete brick, but the Parallel Convergence payoff is too nebulous, too unlikely to happen for it to be consistent part of any gameplan.
Even with Predict, what are the odds to draw Parallel Convergence within the next few turns? I am not ready to pay 2 mana in order to maybe draw a card later on which requires me to still have a solid board position in order to possibly deal some damage.
It is quite sad since Parallel Convergence itself shows real promise as a combo piece or finisher, but finding it consistently at a tempo loss is going to be a real problem.
Timewinder – 2.0
Timewinder is odd. You could think of it as a Statikk Shock, but that would be a tad simplistic.
Statikk Shock is good because it slots into decks with control play patterns who sometimes need to reach certain damage thresholds to kill units, and they can make good use of the card draw. Timewinder is not like that, and its discard requirement asks you to sacrifice card advantage for tempo.
Of course, there are ways to enable it with some discard fodder, or discard payoffs like Vision or Flame Chompers!. The issue is that in a fast-paced gameplan like Discard Aggro, Timewinder is not as appealing as Mystic Shot or even Get Excited! which both have similar costs.
Right now a Bilgewater Ezreal deck makes the most sense with Timewinder. It is a cheap way of advancing his level-up condition, and Powder Kegs also should prove deadly in combination with it.
Dropboarder – 2.5
Dropboarder is hard to rate due to their somewhat polarized nature. Their stat-line is horrendous, a 1/3 really doesn’t get much done compared to a 2/2 in most cases. The fact that they can’t defend against Fearsome units can also be a big deal.
But they do have a niche, and they fill it well. We obviously won’t see Dropboarder outside of Predict decks, but they will give a much-needed tempo boost to these archetypes.
On turn 2, dropping an Aspiring Chronomancer, choosing our card for the next turn, while also gaining a 1/3 blocker can make a huge difference against aggro decks. One last consideration is that Dropboarder also thins our deck, which makes them perfect as a low-value tempo gain in an otherwise combo or control-oriented deck.
Time Trick – 4.0
You know how sometimes you’re playing Targon and just using Guiding Touch to cycle? This is like that but on steroids.
The ability to dig through our deck to find the one card we need is extremely strong and will surely increase the consistency of all Piltover & Zaun combo and control archetypes, and could even make its way in specific aggro decks.
There is also something to be said about future spell synergy, but that doesn’t matter. Time Trick is a solid spell that will easily find its way into many different decks.
Practical Perfectionist – 2.0
I am not hot on this card, though it has clear potential. 3 mana 4/2 are bad stats, but we are used to those when it comes to Piltover & Zaun. So the question is, what cards do we want to multiply inside of our deck?
Further, how many of such cards are we happy to include in our deck? Because we are never going to be guaranteed to Predict the card we want to copy if we only include 3-6 of those in our deck. We need much more than that, and by this point, is the deck going to look like anything else than a complete and utter abomination full of subpar cards with no direction?
While Practical Perfectionist has potential with Elnuks, for example, she will not find mainstream appeal. She is one of those cards that are really bad until they become too good once they find the right synergy.
Ekko was the missing piece of the Predict archetype. Zilean hasn’t been doing well on his own, and to be fair, I don’t expect their pairing to actually be the deck that will break it. However, Ekko can become a strong standalone champion solely based on his value-generating effect.
What’s certain, is that Ekko will spawn a large number of decks thanks to his flexible nature. Some will be good, some will be bad, and I Predict that one will at least be top tier.
Alright, that’s it for me and this review of Ekko. Come hang out in RuneterraCCG’s Discord and scream to me about how I don’t know how to build Ekko, or you could also do that on Twitter if you prefer.
Enjoy the patch notes, enjoy the expansion. The Shurima Desert might be vast, but we’re finally getting out of it.