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Dr. LoR’s Meta Report – Patch 3.0 Week 1

Hey folks, Dr. LoR here with your first meta report for 2022.

Patch 3.0 ushered in the New Year with a total of 28 balance changes, but how have those changes impacted the meta? The answer, at least in the first days, is quite a bit.

Iceborn Legacy is buffing Poros and Spiders, Kindred is all over the place, as well as Shadow Isles control decks more generally with the buff to Vengeance.

Despite all the changes, Kennen Ahri is still a dominant presence, and only time will tell if the meta will shift to counter it or if another emergency patch will be needed.

  • The 120k matches of Platinum+ data and 48k matches of Gold data are from January 5 to 10, courtesy of Mobalytics Premium.
  • Mobalytics archetypes are defined as a champions + regions combo. This means, for example, that Bandle Tree Noxus is spread across multiple archetypes. I therefore combine some archetypes that are largely the same across different champion combinations. This mainly affects Sun Disc (Azir/Renekton/Xerath/Nasus), Iceborn Spiders (Elise solo or w/ Trundle, Kindred, Maokai, Tryndamere), Kindred P&Z Sentinels (w/ Vi/Elise/Senna), Bandle Tree Noxus (Poppy Noxus with Fizz/Teemo/Kennen/Lulu/Ziggs), Rally Elusives (Zed/Lulu/Poppy), Yordle Burn (Ziggs/Poppy/Teemo/Darius), Glorious Shellfolk (Fizz/Vi/Poppy), Poke City (TF/Gangplank/MF), Yordle Rally (Poppy Demacia w/ Teemo/Fizz/Lulu/Ziggs), and Targon’s Peak (Asol + Zoe/Braum/Tryndamere) archetypes. I have NOT combined various Rumble/Draven/Sion/Jinx decks because they show a lot more variance. I also have not combined Ahri Kennen because the non-Ionian splash affects the deck’s gameplan considerably.
  • Mobalytics ranks data are imperfect and come from optical recognition for Mobalytics deck tracker users. This is especially true at the start of each season, when ranks reset. There are many Ranked games that are therefore uncategorized (~45%).
  • I use Bayesian smoothing toward a win rate of 51.5% (which is the average win rate number in this sample of data). It is a technique that allows avoiding statistical flukes for archetypes with less data. If you want to learn more about the concept, check out this explainer.
  • I use Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) to calculate meta diversity. The smaller HHI is – the more diverse is the meta. For example, most of recent meta reports have been in the 250-350 range, but in Azir Irelia it showed number as high as 500. Read this if you would like to know more about the method.
  • I provide 95% Bayesian credible intervals when talking about WRs. The interval is represented by two percentage numbers, and we can be 95% sure that the ‘true’ win rate for the deck in question lands somewhere in-between these percentages. Margin of error is a single percentage number – we can be 95% sure that the true win rate of the decks is within +/- of their margins of error.

Most Popular Archetypes

Here are the play rates for the 20 most popular decks, sorted by rank. Each of these decks has at least a 1% play rate in Plat+. All of these decks together account for approximately 55% of the meta.

  • Poros made up ~15% of all decks on day 1 and 2 of the meta, and players were screaming for nerfs. Yet, things have calmed down considerably and Poros is “only” 10% of the meta over the whole patch so far (currently < 6%). With an easy game plan that feels godly when you can execute on it, it drew in a lot of players, but it kind of plays out the same way every game and it sometimes loses to its own draws so I’m not surprised players are moving off of it already.
  • Iceborn Spiders is a basket of control decks featuring Elise, Spiderlings, and Iceborn Legacy. Most decks also play a second control-oriented champion, including (in order of popularity): Trundle, Kindred, Maokai, and Tryndamere. Notably, I did not include Kalista versions that tend to be more aggressive.
  • Kennen Ahri Absolver has gained the lion’s share of the Kennen Ahri pie, with Go Hard as a distant second (roughly 10%), and Golden Aegis and Noxus versions becoming much rarer. It seems to be THE deck to be beat, and after a small dip in playrate to experiment, players who want to win have picked it up again in full force.
  • Sun Disc, on the contrast, is the deck for players who want to have fun. Its popularity has reached new highs (especially since there are now four Ascended champs to pick from). Sadly, I doubt this trend will last for long, as the win rates are just not worth it for the Timmy’s among us.
  • Spider Burn emerged as a counter to Pantheon and Kennen Ahri decks last meta, and it is still around. They also have Poros to beat up on as another deck soft to aggro, as well as all the other experimental stuff that usually folds to aggro.
  • Kindred Viego booted Thresh for the newly buffed Kindred but plays the same Ionia support package to protect its champs and life total. It of course also benefits from the Vengeance buff. SI control has multiple decks on ladder for the first time in a while!
  • Darkness and Lurk are still there, doing their thing. Neither deck has ever been dominant enough for people to call for nerfs, but they have both hung around as meta staples for a long time now.
  • Targon’s Peak decks have seen a resurgence of popularity with the buff to the AOE effect on It That Stares and Voice of the Old Ones, although I question why you’d need Targon’s Peak if you run the 8-mana double ramp card.
  • Pantheon decks are still around, but suffered from the Poro surge. In addition to the mono-Pantheon versions that were most popular by the end of Patch 2.21, the versions with Shyvana and more dragons became more popular recently both due to their general resilience in game plan and because it led to better matchups against Poros.
  • P&Z Sentinels benefited from Kindred’s buff, who slotted right into the shell that has been around for the last few patches. Paired with some combination of Vi/Elise/Senna, the overstated Sentinels in the early game and Ledros and/or Corina in the lategame make for a powerful deck. I suspect some version of this deck will be top tier when the dust settles.
  • Draven Rumble P&Z became the preferred Discard aggro deck towards the end of the last patch, with favorable matches in many of the top decks. With Sion’s (perhaps too late) nerf, this is even more true now.
  • Anivia SI and Feel The Rush (FTR) are two classic Freljord SI control decks that have defined the face of control for much of LoR’s release (minus the TLC period). They are both back in full force, although FTR seems to be performing much better. Anivia’s stats just don’t matter that much…
  • Ashe Noxus midrange has finally made it back to the top 20. Sadly, her performance doesn’t seem to justify it for now and so this return will likely be short lived.
  • Nightfall, another old favorite, is doing better, but still probably will see less play unless someone updates the deck to match the meta.
  • Plunder and Rally Elusives are almost falling out of the top 20. Rally Elusives actually seems to be make a bit of a reentrance, whereas players are finally ready to put down Plunder for the first time in months. 4-mana Harpoon is really tough to fit in sometimes.
  • Deep received a small buff with Maokai, but it’s just barely in the meta.
  • Fallen out of top 20: Poke City (TF Gankplank BC), Yordle Burn, Bandle Tree Noxus, Turbo Thralls, Fizz Lulu, Yetis, Ekko Zilean, Nami TF, Dragons.
  • Meta diversity: Despite Iceborn Poros’ brief surge, the Plat+ meta continues to be excellent with an HHI of 225 (and this is with me aggressively combining various Iceborn Spider and Sun Disc decks). I suspect diversity will get worse as people experiment less and start thinking about Seasonals soon.

Most Successful Archetypes

Below, you can see the win rates for the 20 highest play rate decks, grouped by rank. I also included 95% credible intervals (for the explanation of the concept, see Sources and Methodology section), which you can see as thin vertical lines on top of each bar.

  • Tier 1 is as large as I’ve ever seen it, with many decks finding various ways to exploit an early experimental meta. Rally Elusives is somehow back on top, with fewer Bandle City pings to deal with – which makes the Young Witch nerf less relevant. Kennen Ahri is most pro’s pick for the best deck of the meta and for good reason. Spider Burn and Draven Rumble look to steal wins with aggression. Lurk and Pantheon give good midrange options, and two control decks round out Tier 1, with FTR making it back to Tier 1 for the first time in a while.
  • Tier 2 is led by MonoPantheon and Darkness, but it falls off pretty quickly from there. Although Poros started strong, its more recent (last 2 days) WRs have fallen under 50%. Frozen Daring Poros burned bright, but not for long I guess. The rest of Tier 2 is SI control decks that will need refinement, more stable metas (since control decks need to pack specific tools), and more player practice to get better WRs.
  • Meme Tier: Below that, we have 5 decks with sub 50% WRs, which usually means decreasing playrates and falling out of the meta. As much as I want Deep, Ashe Noxus, or Sun Disc to be good, they’re just a bit too underpowered for now (or perhaps the right build is still waiting to be found).
  • Balance Watch: Too early to say, but Kennen Ahri will likely get nerfed sometime in the future given how often I hear top players complain about it. Oh, and it’s maintained >55% WRs for weeks, while being one of the most popular decks in the meta (though not at oppressively widespread levels). If anything, it’s not clear why more people aren’t playing it.

Below is a spreadsheet of the top 45 decks in Plat+, sorted by win rate. The table is split into super-columns by rank. Under each super-column, you’ll find a sample size (match), the play rate (PR), win rate (WR), and the win rate adjusted using the Bayesian smoothing technique (bWR). The last column – Plat+ΔPR – shows the change in play rate for the archetype since the previous report.

In addition, the data includes a margin of error (for example, we can be 95% sure that in Plat +, Fizz Lulu has a ‘true’ win rate that lands somewhere between 54.2% and 61.0%). More data available leads to a smaller margin of error.


Underplayed and Overplayed Archetypes

In the chart below I’ve plotted win rates versus play rates of 20 decks to demonstrate which archetypes can be seen as the ‘kings’ in the current meta, and which decks can be labeled as ‘overplayed’ or ‘underplayed’.

In the graph, you can see dots and vertical error bars (‘whiskers’) for each archetype. These ‘whiskers’ represent the 95% credible intervals for win rates (the true win rate is 95% likely to be in this range). The X-axis (play rate) is placed on a logarithmic scale to prevent too much lumping on the left.

I also included the ‘hidden gems’ – 10 additional decks represented as red dots without ‘whiskers’. These decks how lower playrates, so I’m less confident about their winrates, and the error bars for them would be huge and distracting.

  • Meta Kings: Kennen Ahri Absolver, Spider Burn.
    Both decks are very good at killing you before you can get your gameplan executed. Spiders are faster and beat Ahri, but they are weaker to control strategies.
  • Overplayed: Sun Disc, Iceborn Poros, Iceborn Spiders, Ashe Noxus.
    Sun Disc feels amazing to win with but saving 1 mana on Sun Disc turns out to not be a big deal. Xerath’s buff I thought would’ve mattered more, but perhaps a non-Sun Disc deck will have to be where he shows his might.
    Iceborn Legacy feels incredibly busted when you attack with a board of 5/5 one-mana units, but the decks seem to have inherent weaknesses. Poros is a bit of a one-trick pony and is easily countered by aggro decks and Kennen Ahri.
    Iceborn Spiders just seem like a worse control deck with too much weird combo stuff going on with Spiderlings. Ashe Noxus just doesn’t line up well against the meta right now.
  • Underplayed: Draven Rumble, Rally Elusives.
    Two decks that also happen to be very good at killing you quickly, and a bit more resilient than Spiders, are currently performing well but not getting a ton of play. Rally Elusives is honestly a surprise to me, but I could see it taking up a bigger role in the meta soon.
  • Hidden Gems
    Most of the decks that I included in this category have 700+ games, so their WRs are actually pretty reliable. Kennen Ahri Noxus is the exception with only 400 matches, but we know the shell is good (Eniamor hit #1 NA playing 2x Sunk Cost as the Kennen Ahri splash), so playing Might and maybe even Shunpo can be good options.
    Ahri Lulu was good last patch, and it wasn’t nerfed, so it’s not clear why people aren’t playing it. Fizz Lulu was hit by the Mayor nerf, but players were quick to slot in Mystic Shot or other discard outlets instead. Pirates…are always good, ‘nuf said.
    Most surprising is that Scouts (good old MF Quinn), is good again! Turns out Quinn was never bad, but just overshadowed by Poppy. Dragons also remain solid.

Conclusion

Although the patch wasn’t as “big” or groundbreaking as expected, it’s certainly done its fair share to shake up the meta.

Iceborn Legacy at Burst speed was the most talked about change, and for good reason, but this statement may well be in the past tense as the meta seems to be moving on from Iceborn Poros and perhaps soon from Iceborn Spiders as well!

Control decks are finally seeing their time to shine as aggro decks have been pervasive on ladder and the SI and Freljord control tools continue to get buffed. Still early days though, so very curious to see what else the buffs will bring us!

My next full meta report will cover week 2 of the meta. Follow me on Twitter for mini-meta updates and deck optimizations in the meantime!

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