LoR World Championship 2021: In-Depth Lineup Analysis

Agigas breaks down the lineups brought to the first Worlds by the best of the best LoR competitive players.

Hey, Agigas here! I’m a competitive LoR player since beta with several high-ladder peaks, tournament wins, and a Top 4 finish at the Empires of the Ascended EU Seasonal.

I was also a World Championship Qualifiers participant this year but wasn’t able to make it to the Group Stage. Therefore, I got to enjoy the Worlds as a spectator, but also as an analyst.

In this article, I wanted to provide you with my breakdown of the lineups we’ve seen during the tournament. First, we’ll analyze the lineups of the top 3 players – all of them are unique and very interesting. After that, we’ll look at other interesting strategies players brought to the tournament.

But first of all, let’s have a quick overview of the tournament’s meta:

(click on the deck names to inspect the decklists)

PlayerDeck 1Deck 2Deck 3
XxWhatAmIxXDemacia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
ArtefyDemacia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewater GP Bandle
BaJAtakDemaciaShurima Sivir DemaciaNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven CaitlynBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
RealkeyBligewaterFreljord GP SejuaniNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven CaitlynBligewaterNoxus TF Swain
AikadoDemaciaIonia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven EzrealBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
PingpinghoDemaciaShurima Sivir DemaciaNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven JinxBligewaterNoxus Pirate Aggro
CosimoBligewater GP BandleNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
HowtodieBligewaterNoxus TF GangplankNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven CaitlynDemaciaIonia Shen Jarvan
XelooBligewater GP BandleNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
AlanzqDemaciaShurima Sivir DemaciaNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven CaitlynPiltover & Zaun Vi Ez Shellfolk
RagnarosichDemaciaShurima Sivir DemaciaNoxus The Bandle TreeBligewater GP Bandle
YamatoBligewaterFreljord GP SejuaniNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionShadow Isles Darkness
KevinLoRDemaciaShurima Sivir DemaciaDemacia Lulu PoppyBligewaterFreljord GP Sejuani
MajiinBaeDemacia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
OdysseyDemacia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewater GP Bandle
SzychuFreljordShadow Isles Feel The RushNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven Cait EzTargonPiltover & Zaun Zoe Heimer

As we can see, there are 13 Draven midrange decks (7 – Draven Sion, 6 – Draven Tri-beam), 11 Demacia Rally decks (6 – Poppy Demacia, 5 – Sivir Demacia), 8 Gangplank decks (5 – Gangplank TF Bandle, 3 – Gangplank Sejuani), and 6 Zoe Nami decks. These archetypes are the cornerstones of the tournament’s meta.

Overall, there aren’t any surprises as to which decks were the most popular. The lack of Bandle Tree was too very expected – Gangplank TF Bandle, which rose in popularity in the week leading to the event, is a very bad matchup for it.

It’s also important to note that the meta was very diverse, as there were a total of 17 different archetypes brought by 16 players. Moreover, there’s a total of 10 unique decks that were brought only by a single particular player.

🏆 Alanzq’s Shellfolk Lineup

Vi Ez Shellfolk Alanzq created by Rainmaker • last updated 2 years ago
  • Good against: Poppy Aggro, Zoe Nami.
  • Ban: Draven Sion, GP TF Bandle.

Poppy Aggro decks and Zoe Nami are both Tier 1 Staples in the current meta and it was very expected to see them in numbers at the Worlds. Therefore, it also made a lot of sense to try and target these decks, and a lot of players opted to build their lineups in a way so that they would have a favorable matchup against one or the other.

Alanzq, however, was a bit more ambitious and wanted to have a good matchup against both. This is a very difficult task when you stick to meta archetypes – Sivir Demacia and Draven Caitlyn is a good start, but the third deck is harder to find.

GP TF Bandle and Draven Sion both are good into Poppy Aggro decks but are unfavored against Zoe Nami. Poppy Aggro and hyper-aggressive lists like Burn are considered to be the meta answer to Nami – but they both aren’t good if you count on beating Poppy as well.

In this situation, most players would have settled on Sivir Demacia, Draven Caitlyn, and a Poppy Aggro deck slightly tuned for the mirror. But Alanzq was willing to explore off-meta options to enable the exact matchup table he wanted.

This is where Ezreal Vi Shellfolk comes in. This deck works pretty well into Zoe Nami, and has a great matchup against Poppy Aggro decks, fitting the lineup perfectly.

Moreover, this completely unexpected archetype comes with the power of surprise – the other players weren’t as knowledgeable and trained for this matchup as they were for meta decks, and it showed. The deck was banned in 5 of the 6 of Alanzq’s matches, and the only time it wasn’t, it won partly due to the opponent seemingly not being familiar enough with the matchup.

The only worrisome matchup for Alanzq was a lineup that would combine GP TF Bandle and Draven Sion, as you can’t ban both and will have to rely on beating the third deck. However, those kinds of lineups always brought either Nami (see Cosimo, Xeloo) or Poppy (see Artefy, Odyssey) as their third deck, giving Alanzq a good shot to take the match.

All in all, this lineup is powerful, synergistic, and innovative, and Alanzq went all the way to a very deserved trophy.

🥈 Yamato’s Darkness Lineup

  • Good against: Draven Sion.
  • Ban: Poppy Aggro, Zoe Nami.

In the second place, we find the lineup that is built on principles opposite to that of Alanzq. Yamato presented a lineup that looks to ban Poppy decks or Zoe Nami, and focuses on beating Draven Sion.

The core of this lineup is the Darkness. This deck, despite slightly underwhelming performances on the ladder, is actually a lot stronger in tournaments. You can get rid of all your worst matchups with a single ban, eliminating Poppy Aggro and Poppy Bandle Tree at once.

After that, Darkness becomes essentially Tier 1 deck, as it performs well against Draven Sion, Zoe Nami, and GP TF Bandle – all the other meta pillars!

Building around Darkness, Yamato additionally brought Draven Sion and Gangplank Sejuani – two powerful and flexible decks, that don’t require much from the ban phase. This way, he could fully focus on protecting his Darkness deck. And if the opponent didn’t bring any Poppy decks, then Yamato could redirect his ban to protect Draven Sion from Zoe Nami instead.

This strategy of protecting the Darkness deck has proven very effective, and Yamato secured a 5-0 record with it. His other two decks weren’t as successful, as they had to deal with unfavored matchups frequently – but when you have 2 shots at winning those kinds of games and good piloting skills in even matchups, Yamato proved that bringing flexible decks to protect a more polarized one is a great strategy.

🥉 Szychu’s Heimerdinger Lineup

  • Good against: Draven Caitlyn, Gangplank Sejuani, Zoe Nami
  • Ban: Demacia Rally, Draven Sion

If you thought it couldn’t get any spicier than the first 2 lineups in the World Championship, you couldn’t be more wrong, as Szychu comes in with the most out-of-the-box lineup of the tournament, bringing Feel the Rush and Zoe Heimerdinger!

It isn’t easy at first to understand how this lineup works – Zoe Heimerdinger is a completely under-the-radar deck, and both the FTR deck and the Draven Tri-beam list are tuned in very specific ways.

This alone might have thrown a couple of opponents off. The power of surprise was definitely one of the core narratives of this tournament, as all podium players brought unique and unexpected archetypes!

The thing to learn about Zoe Heimerdinger’s matchup table is that it really dominates Draven Tri-beam decks. Equinox, Hush, and Sunburst make it impossible for the Tri-beam list to exploit the infinite Lost Soul value. Therefore, Zoe Heimerdinger will inevitably outscale them thanks to Turrets, Invoke, and Manifest.

The rest of the lineup goes really well to complement that strength. FTR control has the reputation of being one of the very best counters to Tri-beam decks. Finally, Szychu’s own Tri-beam deck is teched to win the mirror with Ezreal and Captain Farron.

This major strength against Tri-beam isn’t the only thing going well for that lineup. It also has good matchups against Zoe Nami (where Despair is exceptionally great) and Gangplank Sejuani.

Finally, this is also a pretty flexible lineup – the bad matchups like Demacia Rally and Draven Sion are far from unwinnable, giving Szychu the ability to adapt his ban on the fly, including the lineups where he has to play against both.

Anti-Poppy Lineups: Artefy, Howtodie, Odyssey

ArtefyDemacia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewater GP Bandle
OdysseyDemacia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewater GP Bandle
HowtodieBligewaterNoxus TF GangplankNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven Caitlyn DemaciaIonia Shen Jarvan

When it comes to beating Poppy, Draven Sion and Gangplank TF Bandle are an amazing combination. Both decks are at the top of the meta, and both share a great matchup against Poppy Aggro decks.

For the third deck, however, it can get a bit harder to find something consistent at beating Poppy. Going with Poppy Lulu Rally makes a lot of sense – this Poppy deck does well into other Poppy decks, and the version by Artefy and Odyssey (they run the same lineup with identical lists) is even teched for the mirror with a copy of Riposte.

The ban priority for this lineup will either be Zoe Nami, to protect Draven Sion and Gangplank TF Bandle, or Poppy Lulu’s worse matchup.

Howtodie also wanted to beat Poppy decks but went their own way. Instead of picking the most obvious and popular archetypes, they went for more niche options, sacrificing some sheer power level for more synergies. Their particular lineup choices also enabled it to do well against Zoe Nami, so that deck wouldn’t require a ban, while Draven Sion would be a very obvious ban every time.

‘Protect the Queen’: Cosimo, Xeloo

CosimoBligewater GP BandleNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami
XelooBligewater GP BandleNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven SionBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami

Cosimo and Xeloo went for the exact same lineup, differing only in particular card choices. This lineup plays the three very best decks of the format and has a slightly favored matchup against Draven Sion.

Additionally, this lineup adopts what I call the ‘Protect the Queen’ strategy. In this strategy, you’re playing an extremely powerful and popular deck – Zoe Nami. Because you’re pretty much expecting it to be regularly targeted, you are also bringing 2 other decks that have strong matchups into the archetypes that are commonly used as the counters for your ‘Queen’.

Draven Sion and Gangplank TF have strong matchups against Poppy decks, Sivir Demacia, Draven Caitlyn, and hyper-aggressive strategies – all of which are commonly used to build the anti-Nami lineups.

While the Nami deck will still be unfavored against an unbanned matchup you will have to play, having two shots at winning a single game makes the odds pretty good.

In general, the ‘Protect the Queen’ enables you to create a less polarized lineup. Against anti-Nami lineups, you can look to ban the worst matchup for Nami and then leverage two attempts at winning a single game with her. And against other lineups, you’re happy to ban Zoe Nami and enjoy playing a lineup consisting of some of the best decks in the format.

Anti-Nami Lineup: Pinpingho, Aikado

PinpinghoDemaciaShurima Sivir DemaciaNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven JinxBligewaterNoxus Pirate Aggro
AikadoDemaciaIonia Lulu PoppyNoxusPiltover & Zaun Draven EzrealBligewaterTargon Zoe Nami

While Zoe Nami is considered to be one of the very best decks at the high level of play, it still does have has quite a few weaknesses players can abuse.

It is interesting that despite Pinpingho and Aikado had the same goal of targeting Nami, they ended up with two lineups that do not have a single deck in common!

Pinpingho opted for the hyper-aggression with his two aggro/burn decks: first, a new spin on the old Draven Jinx archetype, trading some midrange power of Draven Sion for more aggression and a high-roll potential, and second, the classic Pirate Burn archetype.

Sivir Demacia is a bit slower than the previous two decks, but still has a good matchup into Zoe Nami thanks to high pressure and efficient removals.

With this lineup, Pinpingho opted into a high-risk high-reward type of deal. All three of his decks were strong against Zoe Nami, but his lineup had a bad matchup against GP Bandle and Draven decks.

Aikado, on the other end, went for a more measured anti-Nami lineup. Lulu Poppy is his only aggro deck, using Rallies to pressure Zoe Nami. Draven Ezreal takes things slower, looking to beat Zoe Nami in longer games thanks to its numerous efficient removals.

Finally, Zoe Nami made it here since, I assume, Aikado was comfortable in his ability to play the mirror match, making it a solid choice to round up this lineup. Speaking of the ban phase, Draven decks (Tri-beam or Sion version) and Gangplank TF are all good calls.

Closing Words

I hope you enjoyed the World Championship, it has been an amazing tournament with plenty of great and innovative lineups. The competitors have gone above and beyond to provide us with the best spectacle they could and we can all appreciate that.

If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this article, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below! 😉

And if you like my content and don’t want to miss out on anything, you can follow me on Twitter, where I share every article I write, but also my tournament performances, my most successful decks, etc… 😄

Thanks for reading!


LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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