Hey there, Raphterra here! With just one day left before the Awakening expansion goes live, I’m sure that most of you are excited to get your hands on the new champions!
We are getting a whopping five new champions in this set, so I thought it would be fun to share my predictions on the power level of these champions. In this article, I will be ranking the five Awakening champions from worst to best!
It’s likely that some of my assessments will turn out to be incorrect, as it can be difficult to judge new champions without playing them first. Nonetheless, pre-patch predictions for new cards are always fun to discuss. Without further ado, let’s start with my rankings!
5. Master Yi
Out of the five new champions, I think Master Yi might turn out to be the worst. Here are my thoughts on what Master Yi does as a champion:
- Round Start Effect: I believe his Round Start effect will be hard to utilize effectively. It targets a random spell in hand, and it only discounts that spell for the round. You can’t reliably plan your turns ahead if the discount effect happens at random.
- Flow Effect: Master Yi‘s Flow makes him a proactive champion, but Ionia decks nowadays usually want to play reactively. We can take a look at Eye of the Dragon, which has a similar activation requirement with Flow. The only meta deck that runs Eye of the Dragon is Ezreal Kennen because it can consistently generate free Mark of the Storms.
- Level Up Condition: The Wuju Master’s level condition feels slightly difficult to fulfill. Even if you’re able to activate Flow once, you would need a minimum of three attacks before you can level-up Master Yi. You’d also need to make sure that he doesn’t get removed for these three attack turns. Opponents can still play around Levelled Master Yi by leaving fodder units for his attack effect.
I don’t see any existing archetypes that can use Master Yi effectively. I’d imagine his best pairings would be combo decks with Noxus or Shurima, regions that can give him Overwhelm. Master Yi with Aphelios in Targon is another potentially decent combination.
Ahead of Master Yi in my list is the Darkin, Kayn! Just to clarify, I think Kayn is a decent card. He’s just not as strong as the remaining three champions in this set. With his challenger keyword and heal effect, you can probably get at least one positive trade with Kayn. I also think that cards with “auto-equip” or “improvise” will be meta-defining. Even if they get removed, you can still reuse the equipment that they leave behind.
However, I feel that there’s an issue that might prevent Kayn from seeing success competitively. Most notable cards in Kayn‘s package seem to be great support cards for their respective regions. However, The Cultist package don’t really synergize well with each other. This might be detrimental in deck building since you’re sacrificing a region to run Kayn in your deck.
Some cards in the Cultist package look amazing, although not necessarily in Cultist decks specifically.
Keeper of the Box looks really solid; Fearsome + Lifesteal on a 2-cost 2/2 body is nothing to be scuffed at. This is a great unit to add to Shadow Isles control decks as long as they can incorporate equipments to their build. Taarosh Control maybe?
Following Kayn in my Awakening power rankings comes The Forger, Ornn! My assessment of Ornn is straight forward: he looks like a very simple, strong, solid finisher for Freljord equipment decks. Combining Jax with Ornn seems to be the most obvious starting point, but I’ll discuss more about Jax later in this article!
I think Ornn will be relatively easy to level up. There will be plenty of time for Ornn decks to get a decent equipment by Turn 7. Ornn can level up the turn that you play him as long as you have access to an equipment with +4/+x stats. I’d imagine this will be easy to set up in a deck that’s already built around equipments and forge. Once levelled up, Ornn‘s Spirit Of The Ram can close out games in a single attack.
Gift of the Hearthblood is another support card for the deck-buff archetype. This card may see play in slower Freljord decks looking to outvalue opponents over a long game.
Taking second place in my Awakening power rankings is Legends of Runeterra’s first exclusive champion, Norra! Out of all the five new champions, Norra is the card that I’m most afraid of. There’s a huge factor of randomness with the units from Mysterious Portal, and games will depend a lot on which card the Mysterious Portal shuffles into.
My assessment of Norra is that she is either incredibly broken or unplayable garbage. I’m leaning more towards the possibility that Norra will be incredibly strong. Recent information suggests that most units summoned by Norra‘s Mysterious Portals will be at least decent (see tweet below).
Her power level depends a lot on how fast you can fulfill her level up condition. Bandle City already has access to several good cards that create units: Grandfather Fae, Bandle City Mayor, Fae Sprout. I’m certain that there will be a region combination that can turbo level up Norra. Getting multiple decent high-cost units for free with Level 2 Norra is very, very scary.
The number one spot in my Awakening power rankings is taken by Jax, the Grandmaster at Arms! Jax is a very solid 2-drop on his own. He’ll be able to attack into most early units with his statline and The Light of Icathia‘s Quick Attack. If Jax dies, The Light of Icathia is still a strong equipment that can grant Quick Attack to other units. You can build Jax decks around this concept e.g. combining Quick Attack with units that have Challenger or Overwhelm.
Jax‘s support package is what makes me think that he’s the strongest out of all the new champions. Most units and spells in the Weaponmaster package look great. I think Jax can fit into multiple decks just because of his package’s raw strength. Some possible combinations that come into mind are Jax Ornn, Jax Pantheon, or Jax Demacia / Challengers.
Improvise is a very powerful keyword because some of the equipments that you can create can be game-winning. Upcycled Rake, Fishawhack, and The Fix-Em 5000 can transform mediocre units into combat powerhouses. Combat Reel‘s mana gain can setup big tempo plays with multiple attacks.
Now, let’s look into the Weaponmaster spells! Just at first glance, you’ll figure out that Catch! and Sharesies will provide much higher stats for their cost. Entrancing Lure is potentially a 2-mana cycle plus removal spell, since you can give Challenger to units with Quick Attack. With Jax being a Runeterra Champion, you can run these premium support spells with any region!
If you thought that things couldn’t get any better with Jax‘s package, you are wrong! Parts Made Whole is another premium spell for draw/refill. The discard requirement isn’t even that bad since you’re bound to get some bad Equipment cards in your games. It’s almost straight up better than Salvage and Hidden Pathways, and arguably better than Eye of Nagakabouros.
Blade of the Fallen is interesting because it has combo potential when used with Gluttony. It’s likely that someone will come out with a degenerate combo around these cards!
Getting five champions in one expansion can be quite overwhelming. I’m expecting the meta to shift in a big way in the following weeks. Do you agree with my assessment of the champions? Which of these new champions are you looking forward to playing?