Aggressive decks filled with Fearsomes and Elusives may be currently setting the tone in Legends of Runeterra meta, but it doesn’t mean you can’t effectively climb the ranks as a control player. For those who like the slower reactive style of gameplay, with a touch of explosive combo potential, we recommend checking out the Ezreal Control deck.
Over the last week several top players were able to rapidly climb and achieve high ranks in Master tier with various versions of the archetype. In this article, we feature the list recently posted by Prismaticism on Twitter, who managed to secure No.1 Rank over the weekend with Ezreal.
Here’s what you can expect to find in this deck guide:
- The thorough explanation of the deck’s win condition – the road to victory and many dangers on the way;
- Breakdown of every card in the deck and their roles within the archetype;
- Discussion of both the core and non-essential cards in the deck. Craft wisely!
- General mulligan guide;
- Overview of other popular variants of the Ezreal Control archetype you can try.
The Game Plan
The idea behind the deck’s game plan is simple – stall the board using removal and frostbite effects, level up Ezreal by targeting enemy units 8 times and then close out the game by repeatedly triggering champion’s ability for direct Nexus damage.
This deck plays out as an interesting mixture of control and combo archetype. Once leveled up, the Prodigal Explorer deals 2 damage to enemy’s face every time you cast a spell. If it is a slow or a fast spell, it could be countered with Deny or fizzled by an opponent in some other way. In this case, Ezreal’s ability won’t resolve. However, with burst spells the triggers resolve instantly – this is why the deck is filled with them! The dream scenario for this deck is to cast a flurry of cheap burst spells in a single turn with Ezreal in play. This one turn kill combo cannot be interrupted by your opponent in any way – a wonderful feeling in a meta filled with Denies!
But it is often a long and windy road before we get there, to your glorious OTK finish. Until then, you have to survive. Here’s where Piltover and Zaun’s removal suite comes very handy. Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot and Get Excited can all help you deal with any kinds of a threat. Note that the latter two also can double up as direct Nexus damage when you are trying to close out the game.
Ezreal’s region is paired up with Freljord because of its efficient frostbite effects serving as a pseudo-removal. You may be used to looking at frostbites as great combat tricks that help you force profitable trades. However, in this deck the effect is even more valuable. It is often good enough just to freeze the opponent’s board and survive for another turn before you assemble your uncounterable combo. In addition, Freljord has some great utility creatures. Both Icevale Archer and Avarosan Marksman provide useful enter-the-battlefield effects, progress Ezreal’s level up condition by targeting units and trade well into enemy units in combat.
The Core Cards of the Archetype
Now let’s talk about the cards that are necessary for Ezreal Control archetype. While builds preferred by different top players may vary, these cards still form the core of the deck.
He is our win condition, and you can’t play the deck without full three copies of the champion. However, you almost never want to keep him in your starting hand as it is rarely – if ever – correct to play him before he levels up. Remember, the deck’s game plan hinges on Ezreal’s passive ability – so you can’t afford to lose him before you’re able to set up for your winning turn. All you have to do early is to stabilize – and the champion can’t help you with that at all.
Ezreal doesn’t have to be on the battlefield to receive progress towards his level up quest. Don’t hesitate to mulligan him away, you’ll always draw into him later – Progress Days and Rummages will make sure of it. Play him out on a turn when you’re absolutely sure you can finish your opponent soon – don’t endanger your single wincon unnecessarily!
Icevale Archer, Avarosan Marksman, Chump Whump
Ezreal Control deck doesn’t aim to win the board, so it plays exclusively utility creatures. Archer and Marksman both have ETB effects that target an enemy and count towards Ezreal’s quest. Chump Whump adds two Mushroom Clouds to your hand – these cheap burst spells can either fuel your discard synergies (Get Excited, Rummage) or help with Ezreal’s one turn kill.
All of these followers have 3 attack or more – it means they do not fear the Fearsomes and can trade well in combat. Focus on using these creatures mostly as defenders. Your game plan is purely reactive, so don’t play out Icevale Archer or Avarosan Marksman on an empty board in a hope to push free damage (although it can be correct in some control mirrors and other marginal cases). And yet, keep your eyes open and take profitable attacks when an opportunity presents itself – your Ezreal will say thanks if he doesn’t have to OTK for full 20 damage.
Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot, Get Excited, Statikk Shock
Piltover and Zaun’s removal package can be compared in its overall quality only to Shadow Isles. Mystic Shot deals 2 damage for 2 mana at fast speed – a great way to deal with an early threat. Thermogenic Beam is a slow spell, but the scaling damage makes it a solve-all tool. You can get Elise, Darius or Hecarim with it – you name it. Reserve it in your hand to deal with bigger threats but always be wary of Deny or combat tricks.
Get Excited is a bit tricky to use in the first few turns as it requires a card to burn. Falling behind on cards against aggressive decks can be okay – tempo is a more valuable resource than card advantage in this matchup. Pitting an expensive drop to enable a crucial Get Excited early is fine because you can always get ahead on cards later thanks to Progress Days. However, against midrange or control builds you should look to use Get Excited with Mushroom Clouds or other generated cards to not lose value.
Statikk Shock requires some mastery to use properly as well. The value of the spell in the deck is through the roof – it targets two things for Ezreal quest and replaces itself with another card. The clever use of Statikk Shock can also help your followers to trade efficiently. Keep in mind that you can choose enemy Nexus as one of your targets to deal it some direct damage. However, Ezreal wants you to target units to level him up. As such, it is often more beneficial to choose units as targets for Statikk Shock, even if you do not see the immediate value from 1 damage to a particular unit.
Brittle Steel, Flash Freeze, Harsh Winds
Behold the ‘Freeze Mage Package’ – if any of dear readers remember the beloved archetype from Hearthstone back in the days. Brittle Steel – it is crazy how well-costed that effect is. It even requires no mana at all if you draw into it with Progress Day. Health clause is rarely ever an issue and the spell plays better than more universal Flash Freeze. Harsh Winds is a three-of in any Ezreal Control build ever. Wide freeze effect, two targets for the champion’s quest, reasonable mana cost – what more do we need? All frostbite effects are burst spells by the way – so they can serve as OTK enablers in some cases.
Any control deck looks to win eventually through raw card advantage, and Progress Day helps us achieve exactly that. It even makes any card drawn with it cheaper by one mana, which helps our combo game plan as well. Progress Day can be difficult to cast when you are under pressure from aggressive decks. The rule of thumb here is to cast it on your offensive turns with the idea to freeze the opponent’s board on the defensive turn.
The Flex Slots
Here we list some cards that can be included in the deck, but they are not considered essential for the archetype. Their effectiveness is either dependent on the current meta or it is that their role is just not crucial for the game plan.
It is an excellent value 2-drop in any slower deck. Sentry was an auto-include in Freljord builds until the rise of the Fearsomes. Currently the attack value render it less effective, but that may change is Elise decks get some nerfs.
Clump of Whumps
Some Ezreal decks run 1-2 copies of the card to generate more fodder for early Get Excited’s or Rummages. It can be argued though that Chump Whump doesn’t need any help in his department.
Its card selection effect is useful at any stage of the game, but it is hardly essential. Rummaging away Mushroom Clouds feels good but you sometimes won’t even do that as you want them for Ezreal’s OTK combo. Meanwhile, Get Excited alone are demanding enough so you often need another discard enabler in the deck to support both it and Rummage .
It certainly has a place in a control deck, but it is also too easy to navigate around. The value of this slow spell drops dramatically when you reach higher elo where players are able to play around it perfectly. As such, overloading on Avalanches can be detrimental. However, a one-of copy in the deck feels as a reasonable middle ground – it doesn’t punish you for drawing multiples but keeps the enemy on the toes at the same time.
Here we provide general mulligan tips for the deck. Keep in mind though – starting hand decisions can be complex in Legends of Runeterra, and especially so with control builds. Your best bet is to play the deck yourself and get a feel for it. Mulligan strategy suggested here is merely the starting point for players who pick up the deck for the first time.
Against fast decks:
- Keep all copies/look for – Thermogenic Beam, Brittle Steel, Mystic Shot, Avalanche;
- One copy is enough – Get Excited, Icevale Archer, Avarosan Marksman, Avarosan Sentry.
Against slower decks
- Keep all copies/look for – Thermogenic Beam, Get Excited;
- One copy is enough – Chump Whump, Avarosan Sentry, Avarosan Marksman, Mystic Shot, Statikk Shock, Progress Day.
Ezreal Control Variants
There are currently three distinct builds of Ezreal Control deck you can face on the ladder. The first one is pure control/combo build we feature in the article. Below we will talk briefly about the other two. It is hard to say which one of the three is strictly better as they all have their strength and weaknesses.
Popularized by Swim, this build uses the ‘Poro package’ to fuel discard synergies. Lonely Poro serves as an early drop that generates a random 1-cost Poro you can toss away. As such, this deck can afford to play full play-sets of both Rummage and Get Excited. Enabling the latter in early turns is the biggest win of this build. It can even drop some copies of Thermogenic Beam from the list as a consequence. Another unique inclusion is Poro Herder, which thins the deck effectively and presents a good body to fight in combat. However, the same cannot be said about 1-cost Poros – in the Fearsome meta, they often do nothing on the battlefield.
Petrify has recently posted a list which helped him reach No.15 Masters rank. It uses Bull Elnuks as efficient bodies and Troop of Elnuks as a high value drop to help Ezreal control fight for the board more. The ‘Elnuk Package’ makes prevalent Fearsome matchup much better. The deck plays out in more of a midrange way than combo style and can easily win on the board without much help from Ezreal. Troop of Elnuks feel like a very high-variance card though and can make the deck inconsistent.
Ezreal Control deck is one of the harder decks to master in the current LoR meta, but it’s definitely very fun and rewarding. The main difficulty comes from a reactive stance – you must be aware of threats your opponent will throw your way, prioritize and deal with them accordingly. As such, it relies on the pilot’s deep knowledge of the meta.
The deck may not be the best choice for beginners, but if you know what you’re doing – pick it up, and before long you will brag to your League of Legends buddies that you’re an Ezreal main now as well.