Empires of the Ascended Tournament Meta Report from Week One

Mezume dives deep into stats and trends of this weekend's Runeterra tournaments.

Hello, it’s Mezume here with a new kind of content on RuneterraCCG: a weekend tournaments’ meta report!

I’ve watched lots of hours of some of the biggest Legends of Runeterra community tournaments this past weekend and looked at the decks that made it to the top spots. My goal is to bring you up-to-date on the tournament meta and highlight any newcomer archetypes that performed well right after the expansion.

Before I get into the actual breakdown, I’d like to remind everyone that it is only the first weekend after the expansion release. Many of the tournament participants are the players who care first and foremost about winning – thus the unrefined new decks are often going to be saved for later weeks when they would feel safer to bring. This is why most of the new decks we see at the top this week are just new versions of old archetypes.

Alas, due to issues with the cross-shard challenge, nearly all the data comes from players from the NA server, with a few exceptions. This led to a picture that has probably less of a meta diversity.

The tournaments I have taken into account were OLS (Online League Series), LoRGA (Legends of Runeterra Global Academy), and Fight Night: Legends EU and NA. In my analysis below I’ve included the winners, top 8 in OLS, top 2 in both Fight Nights, and everyone that went 4-1 or better in LoRGA.

  • Most played decks:

Shadow Isles Freljord Control was featured in 11 out of 25 considered top lineups.
Fizz TF was featured in 9.
Fiora Shen was featured in 9.

  • Most popular champions:

Trundle and Twisted Fate were featured in 13 lineups.
Aphelios was featured in 11.
Lissandra and Zoe found their place in 10 lineups.

  • Shurima champions:

Nasus was the most successful Shurima champion, with 3 appearances in the top 25 lineups.
Both Azir and Taliyah have been included in 2.
Renekton and Sivir did not make it to the top lineups; Sivir was the least played Shuriman champion across the board.

  • New non-Shurima champions:

As mentioned before, Lissandra was in 10 lineups.
Kindred found their place in 7.
LeBlanc and Jarvan IV were significantly less popular, with 2 and 1 appearances, respectively.

It is difficult to come up with solid well-refined decks within a few days after a new big card drop. This was really showing this weekend, as the best-performing decks were nearly devoid of any novelty. Old decks that have dominated the tournaments of Cosmic Creation are back to terrorize us for a bit longer, at least until refined and powerful lists including new champions and strategies emerge.

The lists that have seen the most success were, unsurprisingly, Fizz TF and Aphelios variants (Bilgewater or Shadow Isles). They were the most powerful decks during the previous patch and they remain at the top, especially that they are able to squeeze out wins even in unfavourable matchups, which they have very few of.

These decks at the top are joined by Fiora Shen – a centuries-old archetype that stays relevant due to its non-polarized matchup tables.

Shadow Isles is one of the most played regions – used not only control decks but also in swarm strategies. The addition of new cards seems to have brought the region back to players’ favor.

Lissandra Shadow Isles is actually the most played archetype in the top line-ups. While the hype of being a new and easily-slottable champion that is Lissandra might play a part in this, the list also gained many powerful tools in cards like Blighted Ravine and Ice Shard.

The other SI control archetype that gained some traction is with Piltover & Zaun; a deck slightly resembling old Corina Veraza strategies, but going for a more unit-heavy direction with Concurrent Timelines. Other than those, They Who Endure and a few Nasus decks made it far in the competition during the weekend, with some new additions helping the swarm game plan.

Finally, old and tried Ezreal Draven and Lee Sin Zoe decks were seen a fair amount, being a comfort pick for some of the players, while also providing a good amount of power level.

What is possibly more interesting to look at is not just what lists performed strongly, but to also consider the lineups they were in and why they worked in those. While any individual deck’s power level is a big factor in its relevance for tournaments, there are many more considerations to be made. You can read about those in an always-relevant article by Agigas.

First of all, Fizz TF appears in a big variety of different lineups that do not necessarily look for a specific ban strategy. This is because of how powerful it is and how difficult it is to target – it can win any game regardless of the matchup. Consistency in general seems to be the name of the game this weekend, as most of the top lineups look to avoid overly polarized matchups, including multiples of decks such as Fiora Shen, Fizz TF, and variants of Aphelios.

The person to highlight is definitely STAN, a Brazilian player who achieved a win in Online League Series and finished the Swiss with 5-0 in LoRGA. His overall set score over this weekend was 14-1 with the following line-up:

The combination of the first two decks is already well-known and has had tons of success in the Seasonal Tournament of Cosmic Creation season, while the last one is an extremely safe deck that relies completely on stalling the game until the infamous Commander Dreadros comes down and slashes the enemy Nexus’ health to 0.

These decks have very few bad matchups across the board and allow the player a pretty flexible ban strategy. Among all the top decks in the meta, nearly none are favorable against two of those at the same time, which makes them great to bring to any upcoming tournament as a part of a lineup.

  • Shurima champions

If we look solely at the stats, there is a very sad conclusion to be drawn: nearly no Shuriman champions made it to the top places in the tournaments this weekend.

I mentioned already that the lists are not yet completely refined, but what is even more problematic is that there is very little data on what matchup tables they have, which makes them a difficult add to a line-up. Bringing an unknown deck would make for an extra-awkward ban phase and could make the lineup much less coherent.

With a total of 7 Shuriman champion appearances, the region was very poorly represented – and skewed towards aggressive strategies. Azir has seen play in two different kinds of Scout/Rally decks, Nasus was played in swarm and Slay-based decks with Shadow Isles, while Taliyah was the odd one out, being matched with Aphelios for a much more value-based strategy revolving around The Veiled Temple.

With this small sample size, it is difficult to gauge what lineups these champions could fit in best. One of the interesting lineups that tried to leverage Shurima champions, was brought to LoRGA by Carsi. This lineup tries to swarm the opponent, preying on decks that can’t deal with such wide boards:

Other Shurima lineups mostly slotted into more standard paths, trusting in the general strengths of the new decks, with Aphelios Taliyah playing the role that the old Aphelios BW decks used to fill.

Sivir and Renekton have not been played to much success in the tournaments this weekend. The crocodile was played a fair amount, especially in Overwhelm decks with Freljord and Noxus, but to no avail. While that might be worrying, he also pops up a lot on the ladder and it is likely only a matter of time for a competitive and refined list to appear. Sivir appeared in very few lineups. She has yet to find a good home aside from the LeBlanc Sivir Reputation midrange deck that I expect to gain more traction in the next week’s tournaments.

  • Non-Shurima champions

Lissandra and Kindred stole the show when it comes to new additions outside of Shurima. Lissandra was, in fact, one of the most played champions the entire weekend, as she and her package is a big upgrade in power level for Freljord control strategies. Kindred is a similar story; a powerhouse that fits very well into many SI strategies, especially the ones combined with Piltover & Zaun.

Lissandra Shadow Isles is a deck that took over the role of Feel The Rush in lineups – but unlike FtR, it is not vulnerable to cards like Deny or Rite of Negation. It is a safe addition to most lineups, while it also does well in a double or triple Shadow Isles lineup (in which Kindred SI PnZ is a great option as well).

Last weekend, Kindred additionally appeared in Kindred Swain list: a list that is nearly identical to the old Swain SI, but with Kindred as an additional threat and control tool in one.

LeBlanc and Jarvan IV were much less popular. The former was included with Ashe in the standard Freljord Noxus pairing, which is just a midrange powerhouse. Jarvan IV might as well have 0 appearances, as the only showing from him was a Scouts list that ran exactly one copy of J4. While I do believe Leblanc will see a bit more play, especially in the Reputation deck mentioned above, I am afraid it will be difficult to find a working shell for the Demacian prince.

Closing Words

Watching the live tournaments and the VoDs this weekend, I was slightly disappointed in the amount of new decks popping up; it can get stale watching Fizz TF and Fiora Shen so often. It did not take me long, however, to realize how little this really meant.

While in the perfect world a post-expansion release tournament would consist mostly of fresh lists, here in this environment players want to win. There is no reason to blame them for it and with some more time to refine strategies with the new cards, I am sure there will be more exciting decks in the coming weeks.

For now, we at least have seen some of the new champions showcased in old and revived shells, especially Lissandra and Kindred showing up big. I cannot wait to see what the next tournaments will bring, especially after cross-shard challenges work again.

Thank you for reading! This is our first article of this kind and I hope it was something helpful and interesting enough.

Let us know if you interested to read more tourament meta reports in the future, either in the comments below, or in RuneterraCCG Discord.


Mezume is a competitive Legends of Runeterra player with an unexplained love for midrange decks. He believes the important thing is not the end result of the game, but the choices made within it. Loves learning more about the game and sharing that knowledge with others!

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