Hey, It’s Spaiikz. This article will get you all up to speed about the upcoming LoR Masters Europe – Chronicles of Shurima – a very unique month-long LoR tournament that will start tomorrow, May 29.
It is a special event organized by Riot for the EU shard, where high-ranked players compete in teams representing their countries. The qualification to the tournament was based on ladder performance, and each country fields three players, who work together to build decks for the event and act as one during the matches themselves.
This is the second LoR Masters Europe tournament – the first event (‘Chronicles of Targon’) took place during Call of the Mountain season in November 2020, and it was won by Portugal.
I was a member of the United Kingdom team last November in the first Masters EU. Unfortunately, this time I did not qualify for the event, but I’ll be here to give you a breakdown of this upcoming tournament and hopefully get you excited to watch it. Just as Seasonal Tournaments, it will be covered and broadcasted on the official Legends of Runeterra Youtube and Twitch channels.
Format and Ban Strategy
Each team will play a total of 6 matches on the Group Stage. After 6 matches, the 2 best teams in each group will advance to the playoffs. The playoffs will be held on June 20th (quarterfinals) and June 27th (semi-finals and finals).
To make sure that every group is fair and competitive, teams were seeded based on the average LP of the team members. Compared to the last EU Masters event, when the teams were seeded based on the LP of the highest player on the team, the groups should feel more evenly distributed this time:
The three players on each team play as a single unit – one player controls the mouse within the game, while the other two help with advice and can discuss the plays. The format is not very punishing if the level of players on your team is uneven, but having an overall higher level of players means people might be able to specialize in specific decks with a higher degree of proficiency.
LoR Masters Europe series has a very unique lineup/ban format. Each team will bring a new lineup of 7 decks for each week of the competition. No champion can be used in more than two decks, and no more than two championless decks are allowed.
All matches are Best-of-Three, decklists are closed, and before each match, the team can ban 2 champions from the opposing team’s lineup. You’ve read that correctly, the bans in this tournament are ‘champion bans’ and not ‘deck bans’ like in Seasonal Tournaments and Gauntlets.
During the 1st LoR Masters EU, teams had 9-deck lineups with 3 champion bans. One of the complaints then was that with such a big lineup there was a significant RNG factor involved when queuing decks. The new format should allow for more strategic banning but does not reduce the charm of this special ruleset where we can see a great variety of decks being brought to the tournament every week.
The most unique application of this format is bringing ‘bait’ decks. Closed decklists (with only regions and champions revealed) allow for the possibility to bring certain archetypes with intentionally misleading champion choices to catch your opponent off-guard. In the 1st EU Masters, this was most notably used to disguise The Undying decks by making them look like Go Hard decks, for example. This is a very interesting strategy – it weakens your deck, but in return, you get a surprise factor. However, champions in the deck have to be replaceable/interchangeable – otherwise, the deck won’t be able to function.
All bans during the ban phase will be done simultaneously. It is a significant improvement compared to the Targon EU Masters, where teams were taking turns to ban a deck with already knowing what their opponent had banned. The problem with this was that there was a big advantage for the second team banning because they already gained knowledge of their opponent’s ban and could adjust their strategy.
Week One Meta
Azir Irelia is the talk of the meta this patch, and we will see a lot of the deck in the lineups for sure. There are not many naturally good counters to it available, not unless you are not going out of your way to change the list or add weird tech. Even if a team decides to bring counters to Azir Irelia, the opposing team can just decide to never play it – in this format, after bans, there should be 5 decks available in a lineup to pick from.
Targeting a specific deck is a strategy that is very difficult to pull off in this format – and for that reason I also expect top-tier archetypes to be highly prevalent in the tournament overall. Something that is much more reasonable is to target certain decks which share similar bad matchups – this allows for more flexibility while not compromising your lineup too much.
For the first week, I do not expect much experimentation as teams adjust to the format and the competition. This probably will lead to a very familiar meta with few surprises.
At the top, we will have Azir Irelia and Nasus Thresh. Both decks will be staples throughout the whole tournament unless they will suffer from heavy nerfs in the next week’s patch. Azir Irelia overall probably is the strongest deck, but Nasus Thresh is quite strong into Azir Irelia specifically. This means that the deck people will be looking to ban a lot probably is Nasus Thresh.
A deck that becomes much more appealing if you ban Azir Irelia is Trundle Lissandra Control. It is likely that a lot of teams will bring it too – Azir Irelia, Nasus Thresh, and TLC will be pretty much the core of any team’s lineup.
The next group of decks I expect to see lots of are Overwhelm and Deep. They have had recent success in tournaments and both are good into TLC. If well-piloted, these decks can bully TLC very well – Overwhelm wins off spellshielded units bashing the face of TLC, and Deep can repopulate their deck after it gets obliterated by Watcher. I expect a lot of teams to bring these decks in order to have a few good counters to TLC.
Two decks that I don’t expect will be brought a lot are Shurima Aggro and Discard Aggro – despite their popularity on the ladder. Shurima Aggro uses up Azir – it is possible to bring both this deck and Azir Irelia, but most teams will be reluctant to run them in the same lineup because a single Azir ban would eliminate two decks in your lineup.
Discard Aggro is a hard choice to justify because of the existence of Draven Ezreal, which could substitute Draven for another champion like LeBlanc or Riven, but it would lower the overall power level of the deck. It also does not help that Discard Aggro is weak against a lot of decks I expect to see in this tournament such as Thresh Nasus and TLC.
Draven Ezreal and Ashe Noxus will be interesting choices I think as well. Both these decks include 3 Culling Strike which allows you to possibly let Azir Irelia and Thresh Nasus through. Both decks also can win against TLC, without making sacrifices during deckbuilding. Ashe has a harder time being justified if you ban out the top-tier decks and it struggles against TLC if they run two The Ruinations instead of the standard one copy.
Soraka Tahm Kench is similar to Ashe in terms of its matchups. If a team brings Ashe + Ezreal Draven, I can easily see Tahm Soraka slot in just because it has very similar matchups. Overall Ezreal Draven is the one with the best power level out of these 3 and you should expect to see that one a lot.
Now let’s talk about Dragons. I expect teams to bring this deck the first week, but it is already on a decline on the ladder. Overall I don’t think Dragons is well-positioned. It has a lot of bad matchups in this environment. Ashe, TLC, Deep, Matron Cithria are all decks that can easily beat Dragons. Even Ezreal Draven is not a great matchup.
Lastly, we got the spicy outliers. Matron Cithria is on this list as it has a strong matchup against certain decks like Dragons while being decently positioned into Azir Irelia and Thresh Nasus. The problem is that this deck is heavily draw-dependent and overall just lacks a bit of power. The one thing that is interesting and could lift this deck is the versatility it has in terms of champions and how you can build this deck.
Spiders is also interesting because it is one of the best counters to Azir Irelia. This makes it possible to bring this deck and just kind of only play it when you know your opponent only has decks with good or even matchups for your Spiders.
Lee Sin and TF Fizz have not seen play on the ladder in a while but could see play in this format. TF Fizz and Lee Sin both punish midrange/control decks which probably would make up a good chunk of the decks brought to the tournament. Personally, I expect that both of these forgotten archetypes are viable choices and either of them could take the tournament by surprise.
It is really hard to predict the exact meta of a format that has seen quite a lot of changes compared to the 1st LoR Masters EU. It will be evolving week-to-week as players adapt to other teams and analyze their decks they brought previously – which makes this whole month-long event so exciting.
I hope this gave you an insight into the possible thoughts and ideas teams could be coming up with, but I would not be surprised to see quite a few surprising lists. Tune in tomorrow at 13:30 CEST to the official Legends of Runeterra Youtube and Twitch channels!
Thanks again for reading and if you would like to keep up to date with my articles or deck ideas, you can follow me on Twitter. Till next time Runeterra.