Jarvan Shen Deck Guide – Empires of the Ascended Season

After the Fiora nerf, Jarvan Shen is poised to take over as the new supreme midrange deck.

Hello! My name is Raphterra, I’m a Youtube content creator, a consistent Top SEA Master Player, and a Top 16-finisher at Cosmic Creation Seasonal Tournament. My Youtube channel focuses mainly on videos where I take decks (meta, homebrew, meme) to the highest rank I can.

For the past months, I’ve been writing several deck guides on Reddit in conjunction with my video guides. This is my first article here, I am looking forward to making more on the future!

The deck that I played most recently is Swimstrim’s Jarvan Shen Midrange deck, which I used to climb to top 6 Masters with 27 wins and 8 losses (77% win rate). With the changes to Jarvan IV and Fiora in the latest balance patch, this deck is the successor to the long-time top meta deck, Fiora Shen Midrange.

This is a deck guide that will cover the mulligans, tech cards, and tips against various decks in the meta. If you’d like to see the deck in action, the Jarvan Shen video climbing guide is available on my channel.

Jarvan Shen is a Demacia/Ionia midrange deck that focuses on controlling the board using Challenger units (Fleetfeather Tracker, Laurent Protege, Screeching Dragon) in combination with Barrier and other protection tools (Shen, Brightsteel Protector, Sharpsight, Riposte, Spirit’s Refuge).

Once board advantage has been established in the early turns, the deck usually wins on turns 6-9 with a leveled-up Jarvan IV, a well-timed Golden Aegis, or a killer turn with King Jarvan III’s effect. Jarvan IV is surprisingly very easy to level up in this deck since we are utilizing two keywords (Challenger, Barrier) that allow our units to survive strikes from enemy blockers.

Rivershaper is a key unit to protect as it allows the deck to replenish on much-needed spells – sometimes the card advantage that you get from Rivershaper will win you the game. Nopeify! and Deny from Ionia lets the deck react to spells, while Single Combat and Concerted Strike are the tools to deal with opponent’s units outside of combat.

Differences to Fiora Shen

This deck plays very similarly to Fiora Shen, so Agigas’s guide for that deck will also be a very useful resource if you are looking to master the list in this article. Here are the main differences between the two archetypes:

  • 3-Cost Challenger Unit: Laurent Protege vs Fiora

With Fiora being at 2 health due to the recent nerf, she is very easy to kill and cannot be used as a standalone card anymore. She would require another card (Shen, combat tricks) in order to kill multiple units now.

Laurent Protege’s stat-line (2 power, 4 health) is premium for a Challenger card. He is very useful to get rid of small units against aggro, and would usually trade 2-for-1 at least. A Shen + Laurent Protege opener is devastating against aggro decks.

  • Finisher Package: Jarvan IV + King Jarvan III vs Cithria the Bold + Brightsteel Formation

Jarvan IV is a very potent finisher in this deck for several reasons. He will usually level up 1 or 2 turns after he comes down, and his Barrier helps progress Shen’s level-up. Level 2 Jarvan IV is basically a free Vengeance every turn. Compared to Cithria the Bold, being a burst speed Challenger on turn 6 makes him not susceptible to slow speed spells and skills (ex. Arachnoid Sentry, Crescent Strike).

King Jarvan III gives us an option to draw our win condition in the late game. If you are able to activate his second effect by turn 7-8, you will usually win the game. Compare this to Brightsteel Formation which is a dead card until turn 9.

  • Matchups Table

In terms of matchups, I think the huge advantage of Jarvan Shen over Fiora Shen is that we are not as unfavored against Ezreal Noxus decks anymore. Laurent Protege is harder to remove compared to Fiora. Jarvan IV gives us something to rely on in the late game – particularly in the spots where Cithria the Bold would not be able to deliver (due to Thermogenic Beam, Arachnoid Sentry, etc). During my climb, I had a score of 4-1 against Ezreal Noxus. Obviously, this sample size is not reliable, but the games felt a lot more winnable compared to when I was playing Fiora Shen into Ezreal Noxus before.


The tips and matchup analysis below is based on what I faced during my climb. There are many other matchups that I was not able to cover since I do not have enough games playing against those yet. I recommend checking out Agigas’ guide on Fiora Shen, as most of the matchup tips there should be applicable for Shen Jarvan.

If you are looking to counter Jarvan Shen, you can opt for Ashe Noxus and Tahm Soraka. These decks should still have very favorable matchups against the deck.

*The tips in this section are also applicable whenever you face any swarm or burn deck (Discard, Pirate, Azir SI).

Mulligan for: All early drops, Spirit’s Refuge. If you have early drops: Shen, Single Combat, Nopeify, Deny, Sharpsight.
Tech cards: + Nopeify, – Riposte.

  • In the early game just keep summoning blockers as much as you can. Do not be afraid of summoning Brightsteel Protector just as a generic 3/2.
  • In the mid-game, Shen + any Challenger unit will allow you to pick off their small units and win the board.
  • Spirit’s Refuge will single-handedly win you the game if you play it right.
  • If possible, use it on a high-attack unit like Jarvan or a buffed up Greenglade Caretaker Screeching Dragon
  • Use Spirit’s Refuge together with Single Combat or Concerted Strike to get maximum value out of Lifesteal.
    • Make sure that the strike will connect. Your opponent will try to use Noxian Fervor or Glimpse Beyond on the unit that you are striking to prevent the lifesteal. Use Nopeify Deny to counter this.

Mulligan for: Rivershaper, Shen, Greenglade Caretaker, Laurent Protege, Brightsteel Protector (if you have Greenglade Caretaker), Screeching Dragon/Jarvan IV/Golden Aegis (if you have a good hand).
Tech cards: + Golden Aegis, – Riposte.

  • They cannot pressure you early game. You will be able to pick off their early units with Shen + Challengers. If you establish board advantage, use Golden Aegis to win in the mid-game.
  • Jarvan IV will be very easy to level up in this matchup. On turn 6 he most likely will be able to pick off their strongest unit. Even when they are Deep if they don’t have Nautilus they can only play 1 unit at a time. Level 2 Jarvan can pick off big units every turn.
  • Keep in mind that they have Vile Feast to remove Barriers. Use Nopeify to counter this.
  • In the late game, always try to keep up mana for Deny to counter The Ruination, Obliterate skill from Devourer of the Depths, or Vengeance.

Mulligan for: Shen, Laurent Protege, Rivershaper, Sharpsight, Nopeify, Brightsteel Protector, Greenglade Caretaker (if you have a good hand).
Tech cards: + Nopeify, – Riposte.

  • This matchup is very grindy. They usually need 2 or more cards to get rid of your key units. Use this to your advantage, keep taking positive trades and grind it out until you win with Jarvan IV.
  • As long as it is possible, try to not take damage with your units through combat to avoid giving value to Ravenous Flock. Engage with your Challengers if you have Shen or Brightsteel Protector.
  • Keep in mind that they have Mystic Shot, Get Excited!, Statikk Shock to get rid of Barriers in combat. Use Deny/Nopeify to counter these.
  • A well-timed Spirit’s Refuge + Single Combat can win you the game and heal up all the early damage that they accumulate.

Mulligan for: Laurent Protege, Shen, Sharpsight, Rivershaper, Greenglade Caretaker, Fleetfeather Tracker, Concerted Strike, Brighsteel Protector (if you have a good hand).
Tech cards: + Concerted Strike, – Spirit’s Refuge.

  • This matchup can sometimes be very skill-intensive, especially if they have Lee Sin on board.
  • There are two ways that you can win this matchup: overwhelm them with board pressure, or kill their Lee Sin.
  • You can pick off all their early units with Shen + Challengers. Zoe can never level up, do not be afraid to use Sharpsight + 1 cost unit on turn 2 to kill an attacking Zoe. If they do not have Lee Sin, you will be able to win the game easily.
  • If they do have Lee Sin, this is where things will get complicated. You want to have as much mana advantage as possible in order to kill Lee Sin. You have a very short window where you can kill the Lee Sin. If you miss this window, you will often lose the game.
  • Concerted Strike is the primary spell that you need to kill Lee Sin. Remember to select the weaker unit first to remove the Barrier in order to then inflict maximum damage to Lee Sin.
  • On an attacking turn, you would want to force out the Lee Sin Barrier by attacking with Shen + Screeching Dragon into the Lee Sin. Let them react to your attack first, then respond with your own spells. Concerted Strike + Deny is the most common combo that you will use to kill Lee. Concerted Strike + Single Combat is also a viable option if your opponent uses Bastion.
  • ⦁ Use Nopeify to negate Zenith Blade.

Mulligan for: Shen, Rivershaper, Laurent Protege, Screeching Dragon, Sharpsight, Brightsteel Protector, Concerted Strike.

  • This matchup is very grindy. You aim to have mana advantage over your opponent. Patience is key, play reactively as much as you can. Do not be afraid to burn mana if you are unsure that you will win the combat.
  • As much as possible, attack without pre-commiting a significant amount of resources. You want to be able to react to your opponent’s spells. Examples of this are Shen + Challenger attack, Brightsteel Protector + Challenger attack, or Challenger attack into a smaller unit.
  • Turns 6/7 are crucial in the matchup. The player who attacks with Jarvan IV will have a big mana disadvantage. If your opponent slams down Jarvan, use your mana advantage to win the board. You can kill the Jarvan easily with a Concerted Strike, then still have enough mana to spend on other spells.

Mulligan for: Rivershaper, Shen, Greenglade Caretaker, Jarvan IV, Golden Aegis, Sharpsight.
Tech cards: + Golden Aegis, – Spirit’s Refuge.

  • Unlike other Freljord/Shadow Isles control decks, Trundle Lissandra does not lose to Deny. With the addition of Blighted Ravine, they now have the ability to efficiently kill our units since we cannot respond with combat tricks.
    • Take notice if your opponent is trying to set up for Blighted Ravine. Do not be afraid to use Deny on an Avalanche if your opponent will get a good Blighted Ravine.
  • The way to win this matchup is to establish a strong board, then finish the game with a Golden Aegis.
  • Trundle can be killed very easily with Jarvan or Riposte. They will usually need to use Vengeance to get rid of Jarvan. Keep mana up for Deny if you are planning to attack with Jarvan on Turn 7.


That’s it for the guide! If you’ve enjoyed the deck and want to see it in action, you can now proceed to the video climbing guide.

I showcase a lot of matchups here, you will be able to see how to win with the deck. For any questions, feel free to comment on this article or on the video guide!

Good luck climbing!

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