If you have playing the game since Wednesday evening, or log into a LoR related social media, you might have noted that Mono Shurima has been pretty popular lately.
Comments like the one above have started to flourish online, showing how quickly the deck reached a level of frustration comparable to the Iceborn Legagy Daring Poros deck back at the very start of 2022.
Back then, I wrote an article about the fact that the deck was very linear, and although powerful, wouldn’t last in a metagame prepared to go against it. Iceborn Legacy did get nerfed recently, but Iceborn Poros never dominated the game like many envisioned, let alone was considered a tier 1 deck by a majority of experienced players.
If you are following this website, you probably read my Deck of the Day article about Mono Shurima, and I was amongst people who were happy to see the deck perform at various level. In the conclusion, I also said that because the deck was only getting very popular, the climb towards being a top tier deck was just beginning.
Well, I believe the deck is good, but that we also have seen enough in the last 48 hours to safely assume Mono Shurima should follow the same path Iceborn Poro did, towards being a great gimmick but an average deck at best. And here are a few decks that should feature the deck’s key weaknesses.
1. Ezreal Caitlyn
Decks with the potential to quickly remove the Sun Disc play completely differently against Mono Shurima, as they look for a value-oriented battle that no other deck would think of even trying.
And because Mono Shurima is built with the knowledge that no deck should try to go against it in the long run, most lists are currently built to be quick and reactive, looking to make sure they aren’t being beaten tempo-wise early in the game.
Once Scorched Earth destroyed the Sun Disc, the game changes completely in terms of the role each deck is supposed to have. Suddenly, Ezreal Caitlyn can play very defensively, focusing on removing the opponent’s champions and waiting for Captain Farron and Tri-Beam Improbulator to slowly build an edge and deal big chunks of damage.
Obviously, Mono Shurima plays Soothsayer, which helps a ton in that regard and allows the deck to keep its original game plan once the Buried Sun Disc is granted Spellshield, as nothing outside Scorched Earth can remove it. Forcing the opponent to find the card twice and use 6 mana to destroy it.
Currently, the mainstream list of Mono Shurima is heavily influenced by Swim, who posted a very aggressive take on the deck, one that doesn’t look to be able to change its gameplan and is therefore tied to drawing the Soothsayer to perform against a deck with Scorched Earth in its list.
*If you look on Runeterra.AR for stats, you should see that Ezreal Caitlyn is a fairly good match-up for Mono Shurima, listed at 58% favored. This is true for builds with Endless Devout and Desert Naturalist who can be more flexible once their Sun Disc was destroyed. Also, this stat gets much close to 50% as we look for higher ranks.
2. Swain Teemo
Swain Teemo, Swain Gnar, Swain Ziggs, I tried a lot of pairing for the archetype, but in the current situation, it doesn’t matter much: Scorched Earth creates the situation we are looking for.
Just like with Ezreal Caitlyn but with a different deck, once we managed to destroy our opponent’s late-game win condition, we can play a value oriented gameplan and dominate the game with Swain, The Leviathan, or even abuse the value of Treasured Trash.
Because of The Leviathan, a Swain deck, just like an Ezreal one, doesn’t necessarily need to attack in order to win the game, which makes it extremely hard for a Shurima only deck to remove a threat without being able to deal combat damage to it. Most of the time, the deck’s best removal is Rite of the Arcane which deals 4 damage.
Without a level 3 Xerath and his passive 5 damage ability, the deck isn’t so good at removing large units. Even with 3 damage from a level 2 Xerath, Noxus based decks usually can deal with Xerath with any trigger and a Ravenous flock, removing the champion before he can impact the game, tilting the balance even more against Mono Shurima.
Once again, the answer to this matchup usually is to rely on tempo, which isn’t the main focus of the Mono Shurima popular builds for now.
3. Pantheon Demacia
While not destroying the Sun Disc is obviously riskier against Mono Shurima, some decks are doing just fine ignoring it, like Pantheon for example. And the reason for that is simply that a Pantheon Demacia deck is capable of developing enough pressure to race the Sun Disc countdown. It also helps that it possesses great ways to deal with both Azir and Xerath thanks to Single Combat, Cataclysm, or Concerted Strike.
Shurima is a pretty good region when it comes to the combat phase, but Mono Shurima actually isn’t so good in that department, and would rather protect Xerath and keep him in the back lane while he does the heavy lifting removing the opponent’s board.
But just like the deck has a problem removing late-game units like The Leviathan in a Swain deck, the ever-growing Fated units aren’t much better to deal with for Mono Shurima. And once those units are bigger than the 4 health threshold of Rite of Arcane, there are out of the deck’s reach and can safely play their striking spells as removal to Azir and Xerath.
Because of knowing there is close to no chance the champions are staying on board if the opponent has a unit on his side of the table, the Mono Shurima player is usually pressed to wait until there are leveled to play them, as a way to guarantee they advance the Sun Disc. While this sounds like a good plan on paper, the need to answer the opponent’s board might force Mono Shurima to play Azir or Xerath before they wish to.
Another problem Mono Shurima has to deal with is the overwhelm keyword, something that should have been addressed in the patch with the buff to QuickSand. First, not every list of Mono Shurima runs the card, as those focused on reaching level 3 as soon as possible tend to play 1 copy of the card at most. Second, because of Cataclysm and Golden Aegis being in every list of Pantheon, it is really hard to know when to keep the 3 mana available for Quicksand and can lead to a lot of slow playing.
Overall, Pantheon shows us that even though Mono Shurima did get much better with patch 3.4.0, there are still flaws that can be abused, for example being able to build threats bigger than what Rite of Arcane can remove and pushing damage to the nexus with the Overwhelm keyword.
4. Spider Aggro
Apart from some rare occasions, Spider Aggro (or Yordle Burn, Discard Aggro, Pirates…) usually is a great benchmark to know if your deck has a shot at making it in the long run in a metagame. The reason for that is that Spider Aggro is a simple and effective deck, with a simple game plan that you can or can’t do something about.
The reason why it’s important to be able to play against these kinds of decks is that they tend to be an easy pick for a lot of people, and can very quickly become a popular pick if the news that it counters a dominant deck spreads in the various communities.
The reason why Spiders does well against Mono Shurima is its ability to quickly get on the board and go very wide. For a region like Shurima, which specializes in single target combat, this kind of strategy can quickly be problematic and result in a ton of damage to the nexus, which then snowballs with Decimate and Noxian Fervor later on.
Similarly to what Pantheon does, very aggressive decks will force you to be able to adapt to their gameplan, and either be able to race them to the finish line, or sustain the pressure long enough. When you are somewhat of a specialized deck like Mono Shurima is, and try to enforce a game plan on your opponent, you have to sacrifice some flexibility. Upon facing another deck with an unbalanced gameplan, it is usually the one capable of enforcing its gameplan the best who will emerge victorious, something Mono Shurima can’t do when it needs to protect its nexus.
5. Riven Viktor
With a catastrophic 27.6% win rate against Viktor Riven, another new popular deck thanks to Viktor’s buff in the patch, Mono Shurima has found its nemesis in this early metagame.
With once again a very linear gameplan, looking to grow Viktor, Riven, Ballistic Bot, or NyanDroid to double digits attack points to then smash the opposing nexus with either elusive or overwhelm, Mono Shurima does not have enough even with triple Quicksand. In addition to this, Rite of the Arcane is crucial to answering both Champions on the spot, but Survival Skills can deny that possibility a lot of the time.
The problem of this match-up lies in the way Xerath levels up, and his need for landmarks to be played. Although they are getting better with time, landmarks still are a rather slow way of playing the game, something a deck like Viktor Riven will punish you for as the deck can be ready for a huge blow to your nexus as early as round 5.
If we add in the good direct damage potential of the deck, something Shurima can only answer with Rite of Negation, that is at best a loss of mana in the trade, we have a recipe for disaster every time we see an opponent playing this Noxus-Piltover combo deck.
In this match-up, Mono Shurima is almost forced to try and be the aggressor, as it’s very unlikely the deck can sustain the damage Viktor Riven develops over time. While aggressive builds of the deck have a shot at reaching level 3 before it is too late, the race favors their opponent most of the time, and it really is based on the quality of drawing from the Viktor Riven deck more than anything else.
If the question you are asking is “Did Mono Shurima get much better with patch 3.4.0 ?”, the answer is a big and resounding yes. The deck has grown a lot, benefiting both from the buffs it received and the nerfs to most popular decks.
Now, if you would ask “Is the deck anywhere close to Tier 1?”, I’m afraid I have to answer negatively. We can already see many decks being capable of beating it, and the patch still looks to be in an early stage of its complete discovery.
After a few more days, it would look like Viktor, for example, could have a bigger impact on the upcoming metagame once we have a more stable environment.
As usual, I hope this piece was helpful to some of you out there, feel free to join us on discord for anything related to Legends of Runeterra, and find me on Twitter where I post decklists I’ve been trying with the new patch.
Good Game Everyone.