Empires of the Ascended Seasonal Tournament Metagame Breakdown
Hello, Asher here. With the Open Rounds of the Empires of the Ascended Seasonal Tournament over, we’re all looking forward to the playoffs on Saturday, and I wanted to take a moment to look over the decks and lineups that made it this far.
Specifically, I’ll be going over the lineups from the Top 32 in Europe. Collecting the data was a tad rough – even though Riot released the stats for champions and regions, the official data regarding lineup composition is not available. Hence, not every lineup was possible to include in the analysis – out of the 32 players that qualified for the playoffs, I managed to reach 24; out of those, 19 agreed to share their lineups.
The official infographic above shows that there are a few undeniable favorites, though it comes as no surprise. We find Nasus, Thresh, Lissandra, and Trundle all tied at 24, 23, 22, and 22 occurrences respectively.
Right around the corner is Zoe who is also found in 19 different lineups. She is not tied to any particular archetype but shines in four different ones: Zoe Lee Sin, Zoe Aurelion Sol, Zoe Diana, and Zoe Vi.
After that there is Lee Sin with 12 occurrences. In my sample of collected lineups, I’ve found him across 3 decks though they are variants of the regular Combo Lee Sin: Mono Lee Sin, Lee Sin Zoe, and Lee Sin Karma. The next highest play rate is held by Aurelion Sol and Draven with 6 occurrences.
There are 29 other champions represented, though none of them breaks through the 15% occurrence rate.
Out of the 19 gathered lineups, only one did not include any of the following three decks, and 6 included only one of these. It means we are left with 12 lineups fielding some combination of at least two of these three decks, i.e about 63% of the sample.
The deck has been rampaging on the ladder for some time, averaging 55% win rate across thousands of games both in All Ranks and in Masters. And sustains that win rate across different variants which can have up to 6 or 8 different cards, an undeniable feat of flexibility.
The archetype hits hard in the early game using the Shadow Isle’s early aggro package (Ravenous Butcher, Cursed Keeper, Blighted Caretaker) and can go easily go toe-to-toe with other aggro decks all the while building towards its late-game plan. The archetype is ruthless, and most decks have trouble answering both the efficient early game threats as well as the Nasus finisher.
The new face of Shadow Isles/Freljord control has seen a healthy play rate on the ladder with a solid win rate generally hovering between 52 and 55%. Not many decks can be fast or resilient enough to power through Lissandra SI’s AoE removal, and even less decks are able to deal with the Watcher, their other-worldly win condition.
Lissandra Trundle does tend to cave against certain aggressive decks such as Lucian Azir, Scouts, Freljord/Shurima Overwhelm, or Crimson Scargrounds, but it also suffers against Lee Sin without the proper tech cards. Finally, Spooky Karma can nullify the Watcher and outvalue Lissandra over time. Most of these options are fairly niche however and have problems of their own, which means hard-targeting Lissandra Trundle is not as simple as it may seem.
While Lee is not the most flexible champion (as mentioned in the section about champions, that title goes to Zoe), his deck still has the 3rd highest play rate. Combo Lee Sin has surprisingly low win rates on the ladder, barely breaking over 50%. Still, players in the Top 32 have favored it and did well with the archetype.
Its match-up against Nasus Thresh ends up being quite neutral, and while Lee Sin tends to be favored against Lissandra Trundle, that iteration of Shadow Isles/Freljord control is not as doomed as it used to be as they do not rely on big spells that are soft to Deny.
- Triple Tier 1: Thresh Nasus, Lissandra Trundle, Lee Sin
This lineup is all about maximizing the raw power of your lineup by fielding the most well-rounded decks that can be found. None of these decks have exceedingly bad matchups, and that makes up for the fact that their matchup spreads are different and can lead to awkward ban phases.
Incidentally, the lineup’s greatest pitfall is its popularity. Since most players would bring at least one of these decks, it was very likely for any of these three to be targeted in some way. Such a counter lineup, for example, could be Teemo Ezreal, Soraka Tahm, and Scouts, as they all have favored match-ups against Lee Sin.
To note, another deck that can easily fit within this lineup is Zoe Aurelion Sol instead of Lee Sin. We also have seen players removing Zoe from Combo Lee Sin with great results, allowing the lineup to field Zoe Aurelion Sol alongside Mono Lee Sin.
- Double Tier 1 + X: Thresh Nasus, Lee Sin, Deep
This lineup is more resilient to being targeted while still brings a well-rounded composition. By bringing two of the three, the lineup is sure to be powerful, but we must remember that any lineup is only as strong as its two worst decks, as the most powerful list tends to get banned.
By bringing the less expected third deck, the lineup is more focused on a certain part of its matchup spread and can gain an edge during the ban phase. In the example above, we chose to go Deep which happens to have a favorable matchup against Lissandra Trundle. By teching our other two decks accordingly, we can ensure a high win rate against that one deck.
- Triple Beatdown: Thresh Nasus, Overwhelm, Discard Aggro
With proper techs, this lineup does well into Lissandra Trundle and can still hold its own against a variety of decks. Thanks to the well-balanced matchup spread, the ban phase should always go smoothly. Of course, there’s always the risk of getting paired with midrange decks and having a bad time, but the presence of Lissandra Trundle and Lee Sin in the metagame has pushed those out somewhat.
Note that the lynchpin of the lineup is Thresh Nasus, and he could easily be paired with other aggressive decks for similar results, like Slow Burn and Nightfall, though in this case, we would look to ban Lissandra Trundle.
Going into Open Rounds, players didn’t need to overthink their lineups. Thresh Nasus and Lissandra Trundle were seen as two staples of the format, and both were clearly above every other archetype in Open Rounds in terms of play rate. However, now that the field has been cut down to 32 players, there’s much more room for counter-lineups to succeed.
So, what should we expect the Top 32 to bring to the playoffs? My bet is that there will be more soft-targeting of the Big Three – Nasus, Lissandra and Lee Sin – with less prevalent decks and potent tech choices. Moreover, I predict that both Lissandra Trundle and Nasus Thresh, if present in big numbers, will get abused and left in the dust.
Of course I could be completely wrong. But isn’t the point to tune in and see for ourselves next Saturday?