Fiora/Shen 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 series of articles that we’ll be releasing over the course of the next few weeks. Click on the spoiler box below to learn more:

We aim 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 guide 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 previously 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 an in-depth matchup info.

This guide is dedicated to Fiora/Shen – a deck that has been at the top for so long now that it is hard to even remember a meta without it.

Please be welcome to also check out our other guides of the series: Ezreal/Draven guide, Zoe/Lee Sin guide, Scouts 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.


Fiora/Shen

Archetype: Midrange. 

Fiora/Shen is a proactive Ionia deck that looks to build a solid board of Demacian Challenger units and back them up with Barriers and combat tricks. The ability to protect Challenger units and leverage them for removal and favorable trades makes it one of the most powerful decks in the meta.

Rivershaper also prevents this deck from ever running out of resources if he is protected well enough. Shen is another way to gain a lot of value – he is a repeatable source of Barrier that synergizes extremely well with Challenger units.

The deck can win the game through sheer aggression and value by building up an oppressive board and constantly securing good trades. It is also capable of achieving Fiora’s win condition by protecting her with Barriers and scoring kills with Challenger, Single Combat, and Concerted Strike. The archetype also has good staying power in the late game – there are very few decks that are able to stand against the power of Brightsteel Formation, especially when combined with Shen’s level 2 passive.


General Tips

  • Value your units highly. You have a lot of spells, and all of them need your units to be efficient (or simply to be playable). Additionally, many of your units get stronger in combination with others (Shen, Brightsteel Protector, Cithria the Bold…). Whenever possible, you want to trade off your spells first and keep your units alive. Of course, this is a piece of general advice about the mentality you should have – further adapt depending on the matchup and the number of units you draw.
  • Play reactively. With this deck, you often want to bank spell mana and leave room for yourself to react with spells to whatever the opponent’s plan is. Your mana advantage would force the opponent to play around your spells (and be punished if they don’t). Don’t let them go for your units without having to deal with your spell-based counterplay.
  • Make good use of a Brightsteel Protector. Try and avoid playing her out as a vanilla 3|2 without getting some value from his Barrier. You can either use it on defense – to prevent the opponent from attacking, or on offense – to give his Barrier to a Challenger or another key unit like Shen. Being such a cheap Barrier effect, it also has a nice synergy with Single Combat. You must have a very specific reason if you want to play Brightsteel Protector out on turn 2. It is generally better to bank spell mana on turn 2 instead, in most situations.
  • Shen’s champion spell Stand United can enable an unexpected lethal attack. Once you’ve leveled Shen up you can use his champion spell to mess with the opponent’s blocks and allow for a very high attack unit to go through (usually a Greenglade Caretaker).

General mulligan tips:

  • The first thing you’re looking for is units. You have a lot of protection spells, but those are worthless if you don’t have units on board. Fiora is a key unit as she benefits greatly from protection spells. Rivershaper is also an amazing unit against decks that struggle to remove it. Shen is another very strong card to keep, especially if you already have Fiora.
  • Keep Sharpsight if you already have a strong unit to use it on. It’s a great early protection spell, and will allow your unit to do a lot more work.

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.


Matchups

Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Mulligan for: Rivershaper, Sharpsight, Deny.

Matchup tips:

  • Rivershaper is able to gain you a ton of value in this matchup. They can struggle to remove Rivershaper if you protect it well.
  • If they pass on turn 3 with 6 mana don’t attack unless you have Rivershaper. They are waiting for you to attack so they could cast Catalyst of Aeons or develop Wyrding Stones.
  • Deny is the key card in the matchup. They rely on their expensive spells (Feel the Rush, The Ruination) to resolve. These will win them the game if you don’t have a Deny.
    • Avalanche can be annoying for you sometimes, but because Deny is really important you don’t want to spew it on Avalanche. Sharpsight is a better answer to that.
    • Once you have 2 Deny in-hand and have a board built up, you are in a very good spot. Denying 2 big spells in a row will grant you a massive tempo advantage.
    • If you don’t have Deny, you really need to pressure them fast and hope they have a clunky draw that can’t deal with your aggression.
  • Using Riposte when they have Vengeance mana is risky.

How to tech:

Deny, Relentless Pursuit, Ranger’s Resolve, Swiftwing Lancer.
Nopeify, Spirit’s Refuge, Single Combat.

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Fiora, Shen; Screeching Dragon, Sharpsight, Single Combat, Deny – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • You have a lot of anti-Fearsome blockers so it’s hard for them to push through.
    • A lot of your units have exactly 3 power, so be careful about Frenzied Skitterer.
  • Nopeify has no target in their deck other than Glimpse Beyond.
  • They have no way of dealing with Barriers so you can force a lot of favorable trades.
  • They don’t have a way to stop Fiora win condition (they can only slow it down with Glimpse Beyond – that is if you don’t have Nopeify or Single Combat).
  • They have combat tricks (Pale Cascade and Mark of the Isles) so be careful when you enter combat without a Barrier.
    • Shen is often brought into combat without a Barrier. You don’t want to lose him – have a trick on the ready to protect him.
  • When they have Kalista on the board it means they can have access to Kalista’s Black Spear in hand.
  • Once you stabilize, The Harrowing is their best way back into the game.
    • If you have Deny in hand you have no problem against The Harrowing.
    • If not – you need to play around it. Let some weak units on their board live so they take space away from a potential The Harrowing. Build a big board of anti-Fearsome blockers and keep fast spells like Single Combat up. Also, try to keep track of the units that The Harrowing would bring back.

How to tech:
Judgment, Deny, Spirit’s Refuge.
Nopeify, Brightsteel Formation, Riposte.

Mulligan for: Fiora, Nopeify; if you have Fiora, keep Shen and Sharpsight.

Matchup tips:

  • Fiora is a potent win condition, they can struggle to deal with her if you protect her well.
    • Sharpsight and Shen are premium tools that help her survive damage.
    • Don’t tap under 4 mana when they have 7 mana for Vengeance. Represent Deny even if you don’t have it.
  • Nopeify is a key spell to slow down their Go Hard plan – however, that becomes less efficient as a counterplay if you did let them resolve and shuffle Go Hards prior. Avoid going under 2 mana.
  • Keep your Deny for Vengeance, The Ruination, and Pack your Bag.
  • Without access to Fiora, beatdown is still a viable plan for you. Cithria the Bold is a threat thanks to the Fearsome keyword she gives to allies – they don’t have many anti-Fearsome blockers.
  • If you would choose to run a version of Fiora/Shen with Fleetfeather Trackers and without Nopeify – it would make the TF Go Hard matchup unfavorable.

How to tech:

Nopeify, Relentless Pursuit, Deny.
Riposte, Concerted Strike.

Mulligan for: Shen, Fiora, Rivershaper, Sharpsight, Riposte, Brightsteel Formation, Brightsteel Protector.

Matchup tips:

This is an extremely complicated matchup with a lot to take into account, but here are some guidelines:

  • Be reactive and bank spell mana whenever possible.
  • Don’t play Brightsteel Protector out on turn 2, its value is in the Barrier.
  • Avoid getting yourself a combat trick war when you are at mana disadvantage and/or lack combat tricks. Go for the ‘war’ when you believe you’re positioned in this department better than your opponent.
  • There can be a lot of bluffing and ‘baiting’ in this matchup.
  • Try to ‘check’ for their combat tricks and spells when it wouldn’t cost you too much to see if they have it. Reads are extremely valuable to enable favorable combat phases.
  • Avoid getting into combat against a Rivershaper and trying to kill it ‘then and there’ when they have mana to protect it. Be also aware that even if the unit Rivershaper strikes has a Barrier, they still do draw a spell.
  • Avoid playing Riposte or Spirit’s Refuge if they have mana up for Concerted Strike (unless you have an answer to react with).
  • Barring some Shen’s champion spell shenanigans, this matchup is not about ‘going face fast’. It is about the value and taking over the board slowly but surely.
  • If you play a Brightsteel Formation you should win.

How to tech:

Brightsteel Formation, Riposte, Prismatic Barrier.
Relentless Pursuit, Greenglade Caretaker, Nopeify.

Mulligan for: Fiora, Rivershaper; Shen, Sharpsight, Concerted Strike – if you have Fiora or Rivershaper.

Matchup tips:

  • During the early game, they develop small key units like Zoe, Sparklefly, or Eye of the Dragon. Your Challenger units, Fiora in particular, line up against this plan very well, giving you the ability to remove those units at will.
    • They can use buffs to protect these units or get a trade with Pale Cascade.
  • Because a lot of their units are small, it can be annoying for them to go in combat with a Rivershaper. Their best early unit to face off against Rivershaper is Mountain Goat, and you would be pretty happy with that trade.
    • Avoid casting a combat buff on Rivershaper if they can use Hush as an answer.
  • They struggle to punish development – unless they have an access to Zoe’s champion spell Sleepy Trouble Bubble or have found Crescent Strike off of Zoe’s Supercool Starchart. Avoid going for open-attacks unless you have a specific reason.
  • While your strong units line up against their early plan pretty well, Lee Sin is their main win condition later. It can be harder to deal with him because of his innate Barrier and their protection spells.
    • It is very hard to race against an early Lee Sin, so you need a way to deal with him. If you can’t remove Lee Sin, you will often lose the game.
    • In the mid-game you want to remove Lee Sin immediately after they’ve played him out and are low on mana available to them. During these turns, play reactively around the possibility of Lee Sin arrival and keep mana up to answer him right away.
    • Concerted Strike is your cleanest way to remove Lee Sin. Even if they can give Lee Sin a Barrier, the second unit to strike will actually damage him. Their best answer to Concerted Strike is Deny, which is, in turn, the prime target for your own Deny.
    • You can also try to remove Lee Sin with a Challenger unit backed up by Single Combat to get rid of Barrier. This is harder to accomplish and often riskier. However, you need to aggressively approach the task of removing him – Lee Sin really shapes the game around himself.
  • Despite them having a lot of spells, most of them are Burst spells. Your Nopeify targets are a Nopeify of their own and Zenith Blade, while your Deny targets are their own Deny and Concussive Palm.

How to tech:

Concerted Strike, Laurent Chevalier, Swiftwing Lancer.
Spirit’s Refuge, Screeching Dragon.

*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: Greenglade Caretaker, Rivershaper, Fiora, Shen, Brightsteel Formation; Concerted Strike, Brightsteel Protector – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Rivershaper is annoying for them to deal with: generally, only Solari Shieldbearer can block and trade with it in the first 3 turns. Later on, you can protect it with Shen or Brightsteel Protector.
    • Avoid using Riposte on Rivershaper when they could cast Hush.
  • They don’t have a lot of Fast/Burst-speed interaction (Hush and Single Combat are their 2 most impactful pieces of interaction). They are more focused on playing out big units of their own and buff them up with Plaza. You want to abuse that pattern and blow them out with combat tricks.
    • Riposte is the perfect trick to enable favorable trades into their big units. Try to play around Hush. Be aware that Leona versions often play some number of Concerted Strikes.
  • When they are close to their Asol turn, try to remove/limit their board power; you certainly don’t want Asol to level-up.
  • Despite them being a very greedy deck, you still can take things slow and look to beat them in the late game with Brightsteel Formation and Rivershaper’s value.

How to tech:

Brightsteel Formation, Riposte.
Nopeify, Relentless Pursuit.

Mulligan for: Fiora, Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Single Combat; Shen, Sharpsight, Riposte, Spirit’s Refuge, Concerted Strike – if you already have Fiora.

Matchup Tips:

  • They play a very board-centric game so they are vulnerable to your Challenger units and combat tricks.
  • Miss Fortune is the priority target, she enables their good trades and counters your defensive Barriers. Scouts can level her up very fast.
    • If you don’t open-attack with a Challenger to remove her, they can use Brightsteel Protector to protect her.
  • Your priority is to take control of the board; they don’t have good reach and have a hard time coming back once they are behind on board.
  • Because of their lack of interaction they are very susceptible to Fiora win condition.
  • Be careful to not use Single Combat with no backup into their Sharpsight or Riposte.
  • In the late game, Cithria can give them a lot of extra power and board presence. Concerted Strike is the perfect answer for her.
  • Nopeify has a limited number of good targets to hit (Relentless Pursuit, Blinding Assault, and champion spells). Deny is essentially a more expensive Nopeify in this matchup, so it feels even worse.

How to tech:

Concerted Strike, Fleetfeather Tracker.
Deny, Brightsteel Formation.

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Rivershaper, Fiora; Shen, Screeching Dragon – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Both you and your opponent value having a strong board. They want a very wide spread of units to enable Crowd Favorite, Arena Battlecaster, and Vision. You want a board to be able to cast your combat tricks and spells.
    • Limit their spread to shut-off their synergies. However, be also aware that if you trade too much of your own units you’re susceptible to ‘brick draw’ – more spells and tricks without units to cast them on.
    • Aim to trade off your spells and tricks with their units, as opposed to trading off units of your own. Of course, the best way is to remove their units at no card-cost at all – with Shen or Brightsteel Protector Barriers.
    • Screeching Dragon is really powerful in the mid-game, allowing you to pick-off their small units for free.
  • Once you’ve stabilized, their two remaining ways to get back into the game are an Augmented Experimenter and a leveled-up Jinx.
    • You can cast Deny on Augmented Experimenter’s play ability.
    • If you dominate the board, Augmented Experimenter generally won’t be enough to get them back into the game.
    • Keep Single Combat or Concerted Strike for Jinx.
  • Fiora win condition is a decent gameplan, especially when the game state is developing at a quick pace and you aren’t likely to have time enough to properly stabilize the board.
    • They can try to mess with Fiora using buffs and Get Excited, but you have answers in your deck for everything they can throw at you (Barriers, buffs of your own, Nopeify…)

How to tech:

Fleetfeather Tracker, Spirit’s Refuge, Laurent Protege.
Brightsteel Formation, Riposte, Deny, Relentless Pursuit, Nopeify.

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Fiora, Shen, Rivershaper, Nopeify.

Matchup tips:

  • Be conservative with your units; they have a lot of removal and you run the risk of eventually running out of threats.
  • By open-attacking, you are playing around Arachnoid Sentry.
    • However, sometimes you can consider developing to purposefully bait out the Arachnoid Sentry. Them having no access to Sentry will make developing easier on your next attack turn.
    • Because of Arachnoid Sentry, Brightsteel Protector is often safer as a defensive play, or when you have Single Combat.
  • Avoid playing a Barrier spell if they have mana for Mystic Shot.
  • Keep your Deny for Tri-beam Improbulator.
    • In the mid/late-game countering Tri-beam is especially important, the tempo they gain with it can be outright game-winning.
  • Nopeify is a great counter for Ravenous Flock, or, even better, for Noxian Guillotine.
  • They have a lot of burn damage, but Spirit’s Refuge can help you beat that plan.

How to tech:
Nopeify, Deny.
Riposte.

Mulligan for: Greenglade Caretaker, Brightsteel Protector, Fiora, Sharpsight, Single Combat, Riposte; Shen, Concerted Strike – if you already have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Greenglade Protector can grow very big if you protect her.
  • Soraka is the priority target. If you fail to deal with her they will outvalue you.
  • You want to kill-off their key units at opportune times without giving them the occasion to heal them back up. Keep in mind that letting a unit of theirs survive at low health makes it a prime and valuable Astral Protection target.
  • Hush is their great counter to your combat tricks.
    • Avoid giving a Barrier to a Rivershaper with no backup plan for Hush. It would deny you the combat trick AND Rivershaper’s draw.
    • Try to make them use Hush when you’re set up to answer with another combat trick.
    • Don’t play around Hush too rigorously. If you need to use a Riposte to kill a unit but can’t beat Hush – go for it anyway.
  • Nopeify and Deny have no other targets than their champion spells and Tahm Kench’s An Acquired Taste.
  • They can struggle against wide Cithria attack, they don’t have many anti-Fearsome blockers.
  • If they are not gaining advantages from both players passing rounds (ex. if they are yet to threaten you with Star Spring win-con), don’t be too afraid of taking things slow. Having enough mana for ‘buff war’ is crucial, and in the late-game Brightsteel Formation gives you an inevitability.

How to tech:

Riposte, Concerted Strike, Brightsteel Formation.
Deny, Spirit’s Refuge.

Mulligan for: Brightsteel Formation, Fiora, Riposte; Shen, Brightsteel Protector, Sharpsight – if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Just like Fiora/Shen, Ashe/Noxus wants to build a dominating board and snowball it. What makes them favorite is that their frostbites are very strong against your units and spells.
  • Avoid using Riposte proactively when they have the mana for frostbite. You want to make them use the freeze first, only then use Riposte to protect your unit and give it attack.
  • Getting a read on which freezes they have in hand (Brittle Steel, Flash Freeze, Harsh Winds) is key.
  • Your Nopeify targets are Culling Strike and Ashe’s Crystal Arrow. Deny can also target Reckoning. The counterspells tend to accumulate and rot in your hand because of the low number of targets.
    • However, don’t underestimate the importance of counters in the matchup. They do still play a crucial role in protecting your key threats and win-conditions (ex. Nopeify on Culling Strike attempting to kill a frostbitten Brightsteel Formation).
  • Ashe is a priority threat to deal with. If they level her up and freeze your units with Harsh Winds they can find lethal through your board.
  • The difficulty of this matchup is that it’s very hard to have a tempo advantage and beat them down because of their freezes and Avarosan Trapper. In the late-game, their deck has more snowball potential (Trifarian Assessor) in addition to strong finishers (leveled Ashe, Farron).
  • However, they can really struggle to beat Brightsteel Formation, especially if you have some protection for it. This card, when combined with board presence, can single-handedly carry the game.
    • Whenever you have Formation – unless you’ve found another window to win the game – take things slow, don’t run into their frostbites, remove Ashe, and try to just survive. Build up a board presence going into turn 9+ – then drop Brightsteel Formation, protect it, and enjoy the fruits of your victory.

How to tech:
Brightsteel Formation, Riposte.
Single Combat, Relentless Pursuit.


Conclusion

Fiora/Shen is the typical example of a strong midrange deck, and it has proven itself as a working winning formula in LoR over a long period of time.

Like I said earlier, 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!

If you want to share feedback, have a question, or want to discuss this guide, I’ll be happy to answer you on this dedicated Reddit post! 😉

If you like my content and don’t want to miss out on anything, you can follow me on Twitter, where I share every article I make, but also my tournament performances, my most successful decks, etc… 😄

Thanks for reading!

Agigas

I am a master player since Beta, with several #4 peaks and tournaments win (EU DoR 2, NA DoR 13, GiantSlayer). I am also TSM/Blitz.gg LoR consultant. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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