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Kennen Azir: The Sandstorm Rises!

  • Origins

My goal is to find a new favorite deck for every champion I like, and, when it came to Azir, I quickly realized that he is in desperate need of a new groove.

His interactions with his Blade-Dancing partner, Irelia, have been nerfed into the ground – now, when played together, they fail to capture the magic that once was. Perhaps, a jaunty short purple fellow has the swagger to teach the Emperor some new moves and reclaim his groove!

Since release, Kennen has primarily been used with Ahri (after the short period of Ezreal Kennen’s domination), but I think there is another opportunity for him to shine alongside Azir.

This deck also uses Voice of the Risen, enabling punishing plays of 3/1 Blades and Sand Soldiers. You can level Kennen in a very short time frame – and once you’ve done that, the Voice takes your deck into overdrive!

  • Gameplan

The basic idea is similar to Irelia Azir – you want to Blade Dance to activate free Sand Soldiers from Azir and Emperor’s Dais. Except this time, the tokens become much more powerful threats.

Your opponent has no choice but to lose their units blocking your high-power Blades and Soldiers, or lose 3-4 Nexus health from every strike. Once Azir is leveled, these attacks become even deadlier.

Kennen is also a safe and effective attacker – thanks to his Quick Attack and solid 1-drop stat-line. It is often best to save Kennen until you can play him already leveled, as this will protect him from pings, and leave your opponent with very little time to react to an activated Voice of the Risen.

Your early plan is simple, use Dunekeepers to buy time against aggressive players for your Emperor’s Dais and Azir to come online. Once you have them, you can begin playing and replaying Ribbon Dancers with Navori Conspirators to hammer away at your opponent and level up Kennen.

Once Kennen or Azir are leveled, you drop your bomb with Voice of the Risen. During all of this, Field Musicians will serve to refuel your hand and mana, allowing you to play Lead and Follow to Recall your Ribbon Dancer, into Flawless Duet, and then replay your Ribbon Dancer once again.

Sandcrafters are not commonly used in the meta Irelia Azir builds, but are played here to keep your pressure up. They also make good blockers if you need to buy time, with a bulky 5 health that can limit the Overwhelm damage an opponent can do to you.

The final thing to keep in mind is that you need to stay on the offensive in order to prevent your opponent from developing their own board. They need to either feel enough pressure to begin sacrificing their blockers, or you need to be able to race them down before they do the same to you if they choose not to block.

During mulligan, your key units are Kennen, Ribbon Dancer, and Voice of the Risen. Against a slower opponent, it is good to keep Azir as well, and you need to get at least one Emperor’s Dais in play as soon as possible to augment your Blade Dances.

You don’t have access to Predict, unlike the other Voice of the Risen deck – Ekko Zilean. So, during mulligan, you will need to focus more on executing your own gameplan than on countering the opponent’s. While Predict decks can fish for their key cards later on, you are better off having them ready.

  • Verdict

While the combo can be tricky to pull off, the reward is extremely powerful and satisfying to see play out.

If you ever tried to make Shark Chariot decks work, you will like this list as well, as the payoff is extremely similar while more consistently achieved thanks to Blade Dance.

You are vulnerable to aggressive decks until you come online, but even they have to respect the amount of Nexus damage you can push.

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