Ezreal/Draven Deck Guide & Matchups
Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.
This particular guide you’re reading is part of our on-going series of articles. Click on the spoiler box below to learn more:
We intend to publish a total of 10 deck guides for the most popular archetypes of the Cosmic Creation meta that are aimed to help both ladder and tournament players.
The main focus of these guides will be on exploring the featured decks’ matchups. I will be evaluating how decks stand against each other and assign percentages to determine how favorable/unfavorable particular matchups are. Additionally, I will be providing in-depth advice on how to play out those matchups, how to mulligan, and will be laying out the tech options that exist.
While playing on the Ranked ladder, you can use this advice to strengthen your knowledge and boost your confidence piloting against popular meta decks. If you are a tournament player, the matchup tables provided in these articles will help you build optimal line-ups.
After this series is released, we also plan to tie everything together with the comprehensive matchups spreadsheet of Cosmic Creation meta based on the info provided in the articles.
Going forward, I intend to continue writing new guides for other archetypes that were not featured yet and adding them to the series, while also keeping previously published guides updated as much as possible. Over time, the purpose of this series is to include a competitive-oriented guide for every prominent deck in the meta, backed up by in-depth matchup info.
This guide is dedicated to Ezreal/Draven – a deck that many have doubted in the past. Still, it has proven itself time and again as one of the very best archetypes in the meta.
Please be welcome to also check out our other guides of the series: Fiora/Shen guide, Scouts guide, Zoe/Lee Sin guide, and Discard Aggro guide. In the coming weeks, you can also expect to get similar guides for these archetypes: Kench/Soraka, Targon Plaza, Ashe Noxus, FTR Control.
Note: as soon as these guides are published the links to them will be also added above.
This deck deals with the opponent’s units with the powerful Piltover & Zaun and Noxus removals, all the while building its own board and sending some damage to the opposing Nexus. Because of its high density of removal, Ezreal/Draven is sometimes mistaken for a control deck. It is more accurate to call it a midrange/tempo deck because it actually often looks to proactively apply pressure, even though it can play somewhat of a control gameplan when it wants to. This unique identity led to the deck being misunderstood in the past. But this ability to adapt to any particular matchup and game state is actually one of its greatest strengths.
This archetype wants to use the tempo gained with efficient removals like Ravenous Flock or Tri-beam Improbulator to out-pace the opponent over a couple of turns, and then use this advantage to push Nexus damage. When the tempo pressure isn’t enough, it finishes the game with burn win condition of Ezreal and Captain Farron.
While Draven isn’t the key to this late-game win condition, he is the pillar that makes this deck cohesive. He is extremely difficult to block, pushing Nexus damage right from the early game, and gives you a lot of discard fodder. Most of the time, you should not look to level him up – as a level 1, he is already doing all you need from him in this deck.
Generating cards like Draven’s Axes or Shrooms and then discarding them to draw with Rummage or Sump Dredger provides a steady and very cheap source of card advantage. This deck consistently pushes the tempo backing it up by a stream of value.
- Keep track of your lethal potential. With a lot of ways to suddenly push a ton of damage to the Nexus, this deck has a great reach. Be aware of your possibilities with Ezreal, Farron, Arachnoid Sentry, burn spells, etc.
- Make good use out of Arachnoid Sentry. This card’s ability can net you a lot of advantages, and you want to make sure you gain the most out of it. Assess whether you want to use it on the defense to make the opponent’s attack a lot worse, or on the offense to develop a unit while removing a blocker for the turn. Arachnoid Sentry’s ability is also great in combination with Ravenous Flock and progresses your Ezreal’s level-up.
- Be flexible about the play patterns of Tri-beam Improbulator. While sometimes you just want to simply play out all your 3-cost cards and then use your Tri-beam Improbulator, there are other times where the patterns can get more complex than that. First of all, sometimes, you may want to cast it even before you’ve played out all your 3-cost cards. If playing it this way nets you a significant tempo immediately and allows you to remove a key unit and/or push damage – you might want to go for it. Another thing to keep in mind is that some unit mana-costs are more desirable than others. There was a great post on Reddit about it. One of the key takeaways from it is that upgrading your Tri-beam from a 4-cost random unit generation to a 5-cost one is particularly valuable. It is useful to know as these spots come up quite often.
- Whenever possible, draw before playing out your 3-cost cards. Casting a card like Rummage before playing a 3-cost card can be very beneficial if you happen to draw into a Tri-beam Improbulator. However, don’t go for sub-optimal plays in these spots – you want to do this only when there is no downside to it.
General mulligan tips:
- Draven and Tri-beam Improbulator are 2 cards you want to have in your starting hand in most matchups. House Spider is another card that you might want to prioritize if you need some board presence early.
- If you already have Draven, Sump Dredger is the perfect card to gain value out of the Draven’s Spinning Axe without losing any tempo.
- Think about what are the opponent’s early threat, and keep the best-suited removals.
Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.
Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:
Mulligan for: Draven, Arachnoid Sentry, Tri-beam Improbulator, Mystic Shot; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven; Ravenous Flock – if you have Arachnoid Sentry.
- Their gameplan heavily relies on combat and securing favorable trades thanks to numerous buffs and Challengers. Arachnoid Sentry is a great tool to fight back against it.
- Defensively, Arachnoid Sentry is best used on Shen, a Challenger unit, or against Brightsteel Protector’s target to deny the value on its Barrier effect. It can also be used on offense to push Nexus damage.
- Tri-beam Improbulator is a powerful tool to gain tempo in the mid-game, but be careful for it to not get Denied. If possible, make them go under 4 mana before casting Tri-Beam (or force Deny out with another spell).
- Avoid going into combat when you don’t have mana and they do. You would give value to their combat tricks, especially Riposte. Force them to use Riposte when you can remove the Barrier with Mystic Shot or other spells.
- When you want to play Noxian Guillotine but worried of Nopeify, Ravenous Flock can bait the Nopeify out.
How to tech:
Noxian Guillotine, Statikk Shock
Scorched Earth, Get Excited!
Mulligan for: Draven, Tri-beam Improbulator, Thermogenic Beam, House Spider; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven; Ravenous Flock – if you have a good hand; Arachnoid Sentry – if you have Ravenous Flock.
- They can apply a ton of pressure early on with good curve-outs and combat tricks. However, you can often overtake them in the mid-game thanks to Tri-beam Improbulator and Flock.
- Miss Fortune is the priority target. You have a lot of removal to deal with her but if you fail to do so and let her level-up, they are in a very good spot.
- Be aware that they can shield Miss Fortune for a turn with Brightsteel Protector.
- They can capitalize on their tempo with Relentless Pursuit.
- Use Arachnoid Sentry to slow them down. This is even more effective when they have Plaza, or if they’ve used Brightsteel Protector offensively.
- With no fast removal and no lifegain, they are easy to kill with leveled Ezreal.
- Be aware that they can play Sharpsight to block and kill Ezreal.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: House Spider, Draven, Tri-beam Improbulator, Ravenous Flock; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven, Arachnoid Sentry – if you have Ravenous Flock; Statikk Shock, Thermogenic Beam – if you have a good hand.
- Both decks are midrange with Captain Farron as a top-end and have no healing. Getting an early tempo advantage can easily bring the opponent into Farron’s reach.
- However, when Farron is played, the game is not over yet. Casting Farron and Decimates costs a lot of mana and tempo. You have to be in a position where you can survive for the time necessary to finish them off.
- Their alternative way to kill you is through Ashe level-up; a way to play around that is to have Draven’s Spinning Axes in hand to give your units the ability to block.
- Draven’s Spinning Axes can also block them from using a Culling Strike (but they can play around that by having a Frostibite effect as a back-up).
- Apart from Farron win condition, your other way to kill them is through leveled-up Ezreal. This one doesn’t cost you as much tempo, but unlike Decimates, it can be countered by a Culling Strike.
- Whenever possible, play around Reckoning.
- With cards like Reckoning and Trifarian Assessor, their deck relies on having a solid board to gain access to an additional value. Remove their units and set up trades to limit their snowball potential.
- In the late-game, they have the ability to outvalue you thanks to Avarosan Hearthguard and Trifarian Assessor. You need to progress your win conditions and actively try to close out the game while you’re still in control of the tempo.
How to tech:
Noxian Guillotine, Statikk Shock
Scorched Earth, Get Excited!
Mulligan for: House Spider, Draven, Statikk Shock, Thermogenic Beam, Mystic Shot; Arachnoid Sentry, Tri-beam Improbulator – if you already have a good hand.
- They can flood the board extremely fast and early to set up for synergies like Crowd Favorite, Arena Battlecaster, and Vision. Try to limit their spread and take trades to deny them a big Crowd Favorite.
- They have a lot of low-health units but can buff their attack stats aggressively. House Spider is your important early follower, providing two blockers for cheap that you can efficiently trade-off.
- When they develop a big Crowd Favorite, Arachnoid Sentry is a great way to buy you some time. It is also useful against Draven – a unit that is very inconvenient to block.
- Statikk Shock is a very powerful spell in this matchup. It can ping a Crowd Favorite or Jinx to set up for Ravenous Flock or Noxian Guillotine. They also have a lot of 1-health units that can be sniped by Statikk Shock.
- After their early board aggression has been stopped, they want to play and level-up jinx. Fortunately, you have a lot of tools to deal with her. Make sure you saved a removal for her once you got past the early turns.
- If you’ve managed to control the game and stay afloat so far, closing out with Ezreal or Farron is very easy. They have no healing and have a hard time dealing with a leveled Ezreal.
How to tech:
Statikk Shock, Thermogenic Beam
Scorched Earth, Noxian Guillotine
Mulligan for: Draven, Ravenous Flock, Noxian Guillotine, Scorched Earth; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven, Mystic Shot – if you have a good hand.
- Their deck is very unique and relies on the Star Spring win condition heavily. To accomplish that, they run self-harm units, healing, and protection spells.
- If you’ve managed to kill their key units, their deck becomes clunky and loses most of its power.
- Soraka is the key card that makes their deck cohesive; she represents a lot of healing and draw-power. If you’ve managed to remove her you are in a good spot.
- Be very aware of their protection spells (2 mana: Guiding Touch, Pale Cascade, Sunblessed Vigor; 4 mana: Astral Protection, Bastion) and play around them with your removal.
- Noxian Guillotine/Scorched Earth are very hard for them to counter. If they have some mana up, try to cast them with a Mystic Shot (or another fast damage spell) as a backup so they can’t make your spell fizzle with Bastion or just by healing their unit.
- Attack with your big units and force them to make blocks. After that, you can finish their units with cards like Flock a lot easier. Trading units is also to your advantage – when their units die, their protection spells become useless.
- When you attack they’ll often let some damage go through to avoid losing their units. If you can’t remove their key units and shut down their plan, winning by sheer board pressure with burn damage is also a viable option.
- They don’t have much Nexus healing outside of Broadbacked Protector. If they play him out early, it is still possible to win through the pressure/burn plan as long as you’ve slowed down their Star Spring.
How to tech:
Scorched Earth, Ballistic Bot
Get Excited!, House Spider
*There exist numerous versions of Targon Plaza decks, the main two variations currently being Garen/Asol and Leona/Asol. The advice in this section is mainly intended for use when facing the Garen/Asol version. Be sure to make adjustments when playing against another version like Leona/Asol.
Mulligan for: Draven, House Spider, Tri-beam Improbulator; Sump Dredger, Arachnoid Sentry – if you have Draven.
- Setting up for Plaza early causes them to lose out on tempo, use it to your advantage. However, Plaza is very quick to make up for its tempo cost.
- Their gameplan is to play out big units and take good trades with them thanks to Plaza. You can fight back against that with Flock, Guillotine, and Scorched Earth.
- Because they take time to develop their big units, you can look to out-tempo them and push a lot of damage in the mid-game, setting up for a burn finish.
- They have large amounts of healing, so relying only on burn damage can be risky. Try to keep the board pressure up for as long as possible to force them to use the healing to survive your tempo. This way you clear the path for your burn later.
- Arachnoid Sentry is a key card in the matchup. You can use it to push damage when attacking, but it also protects your key units from their Challengers when on defense.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: Draven, Tri-beam Improbulator, House Spider, Thermogenic Beam; Sump Dredger – if you already have Draven.
- In the mirror, there are 3 things that matter the most: Value, Tempo, and Nexus health. You must optimize your value to keep up on cards, build up your tempo, and then convert your advantages into Nexus damage.
- Tri-beam Improbulator can provide a big tempo swing once it’s stacked. It’s also a great value spell.
- Neither of you has healing – every point of damage sticks.
- Tempo advantage on the board allows you to deal Nexus damage. Burning the opponent out with spells can be costly both in terms of card- and mana-investment, so the damage you’re able to get through with your units helps a lot.
- Arachnoid Sentry is key in mid-game to help push damage or prevent the opponent from pushing damage.
- Farron plays a crucial role as a finisher but needs a proper setup. Be careful about your tempo when you decide to play him out. The opponent could use Guillotine or Arachnoid Sentry to get ahead on tempo and win before you get enough time to cast your Decimates.
- Farron win condition is the more conventional burn finisher in this matchup but leveled Ezreal can also contribute by dealing Nexus damage without losing tempo.
How to tech:
Thermogenic Beam, Statikk Shock, Noxian Guillotine
Get Excited!, Scorched Earth
Mulligan for: Draven, House Spider, Tri-Beam Improbulator, Mystic Shot; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven; Thermogenic Beam – if you have a good hand.
- In the early/mid game, try to hit them with Draven while taking good trades to get ahead on the board.
- Avoid taking Nexus damage – you have no healing and they have a ton of direct damage with Commander Ledros, Pack Your Bags and Doombeast.
- In the mid-game, keep spell mana up to deny them Glimpse Beyond.
- Zap Sprayfin and Twisted Fate are priority targets for removal.
- Once Ezreal is leveled-up, you can finish the game off quickly. They can struggle to remove him if they don’t have Pack Your Bags. They can use Vengeance but it will lose them a lot of tempo.
- Depending on how fast they are going through their Go Hards you have 2 options to close things out:
- If they are not too close to Pack Your Bags (or if you can’t survive the upcoming Pack Your Bags anyway), you can try to go for the win fast and play out leveled Ezreal right away.
- If they are going to play Pack Your Bags very soon, focus on surviving and develop Ezreal right after they cast it.
- While Decimate plan can be too slow, Farron still does a lot of damage by himself thanks to Overwhelm. However, if they have a Vengeance Farron is losing you tempo.
How to tech:
Thermogenic Beam, Statikk Shock
Mulligan for: Draven, House Spider, Ravenous Flock, Tri-beam Improbulator; Sump Dredger, Thermogenic Beam – if you have Draven.
- If the first turns, apply pressure as they try to ramp.
- Wyrding Stones is a priority target; if you successfully remove it, their deck becomes a lot slower and clunkier.
- They use Trundle as a mid-game stabilizing unit, but you can make quick work of him with cards like Flock, or go past him with Arachnoid Sentry.
- The real threat comes from Avalanche and Withering Wail. A lot of your units have 3 health and will survive Avalanche, but it gets scarier when Withering Wail is added into the mix.
- Do not overextend into their board-wipes and make reads on their hand to know if they have it.
- They tend to pass a lot because the time is on their side. It is very important to recognize whether it is correct for you to pass back because you already have enough pressure. Sometimes you can’t afford it and should play into them to build up more pressure at the risk of giving them a better board-wipe.
- Unless many of your units have exactly 1 health point (for Withering Wail), it can be hard for them to deal with a wide open-attack.
- Your goal is to find a good turn in the mid-to-late game where you can push a lot of damage with your units. The best way to set this up is often through a strong tempo play like Arachnoid Sentry, Tri-beam Improbulator, or Flock.
- Once you got them low enough, you can finish with Farron and/or Ezreal.
- Farron kill can be tough to execute if they’ve ramped into the finishers of their own fast. Farron gives them a great target for Vengeance/The Ruination and Decimates spam can be too expensive.
- Ezreal will often serve as your better finisher. They can struggle to remove him, and when they do – it will cost them a lot of mana.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: Draven, Thermogenic Beam, Tri-beam Improbulator, Arachnoid Sentry; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven, Ravenous Flock – if you have Arachnoid Sentry.
- You have a lot of anti-Fearsome blockers and good removals to contain them.
- However, you don’t have any healing, while they boast an aggressive curve and staying power backed up by reach from Doombeasts + Stalking Shadows.
- Be mindful of their combat buffs (Pale Cascade and Mark of the Isles). If you use your removal during their attack, they can use the buff to make the unit survive the removal and push even more damage.
- Arachnoid Sentry is a great card to punish them when they don’t open-attack.
- Draven’s Spinning Axe makes a House Spider into an anti-Fearsome blocker.
- As you approach Harrowing turns, you want to avoid trading units whenever possible. This way, they would still have some board space occupied and can’t play Harrowing effectively. Only attack with units that would not trade off (Ezreal, Draven) or if you can instantly re-develop with no issue.
- To fight against The Harrowing, you want cards that can stop 2 of their attacking units (Arachnoid Sentry, Tri-beam Improbulator) and Fast-speed spells to remove their units during the attack.
- Before the Harrowing it can be correct to play your Fast removals before combat, so they can’t answer with a buff during combat. But once you enter the Harrowing turns, you want to remove units during their attack to not give them a better Harrowing.
- They have no answer for Ezreal so finishing the games with him is very efficient. Farron does a great job too, they can’t remove him and don’t have good blockers for the big Overwhelm unit.
How to tech:
Mulligan for: Draven, House Spider, Thermogenic Beam; Ravenous Flock, Tri-beam Improbulator, Mystic Shot, Arachnoid Sentry – if you have a good hand; Sump Dredger – if you have Draven.
- In the early game, they can struggle to build up a strong defense – use this window to pressure them. If they are able to stall the game enough, Lee Sin will eventually kill you.
- Whenever possible, avoid using your removal on their followers – you really need to save those for their champions. Zoe and Lee Sin carry their whole gameplan and the deck has protection spells to back them up. So, if you lack removal to fight them back it can be very tough. For example, I would advise against using Mystic Shot on a Mountain Goat unless the pressure it creates is exceptionally threatening for you.
- They can struggle to punish development. Don’t open-attack – not unless you have a very specific reason.
- Use Arachnoid Sentry mainly on the offense. If the game goes long and Arachnoid Sentry doesn’t accomplish much on offense, you can use it to stun Lee Sin.
- Despite the high density of removal in your deck, killing Lee Sin can be a headache. They have a lot of protection spells and Lee Sin’s innate Barrier is annoying. Do everything you can to find a window. If your hand doesn’t allow you to remove him you can also try to race him.
- The earlier they play Lee Sin, the easier it is to remove him.
- By putting them under early pressure, you can force them to block with Lee Sin (or attack without a kick ability). In these spots, you can try to remove the Barrier with a ping so Lee Sin takes damage from combat, and then finish him off with Ravenous Flock or another removal.
- Ravenous Flock and Guillotine are your best removal spells, but Lee Sin needs to be damaged. Be aware that they can heal Lee Sin with Guiding Touch. If you give them the priority they can also heal Lee Sin up with Gems.
- When they go for lethal and you can’t remove Lee Sin, you can try to kill off your own unit that he challenged to make the kick fizzle.
- Tri-beam Improbulator is hard to use efficiently in this matchup. In the early game, it is a weak card, and later it is often answered with a Deny. To set up your Tri-Beam, you need to create enough pressure and force them to tap under Deny mana.
How to tech:
Ezreal/Draven is a very flexible deck, able to adapt its gameplan and choose the speed at which it puts on the pressure. It is one of my personal go-to archetypes – I brought it to several tournaments and it’s the deck I played to get my main back to Masters this season.
Like I mentioned earlier in the intro, this guide is part of a series where I’ll go over all the top decks in the meta so you have all the resources needed to learn the deck you want and improve as a player. This series is my most ambitious project so far, I hope it will be helpful!
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