- Origins :
Mono Shurima is quite an old archetype to be honest, the Sun Disc being around ever since the region was introduced last year. If upon reveal, the card looked promising, it wasn’t until Xerath’s reveal in August that the deck found a second champion who made sense for the build.
Even with Xerath now in the mix, the deck simply wasn’t good enough, and the lack of tempo in the early game coupled with very little available healing opened for too many punishing plays from an aggressive opponent.
Most of the time during the Bandle City era, the deck would lose on the board to a faster developing opponent. Because the Sun Disc was not summoning itself, it meant we had to basically pass turn 1, a big problem in several matchups. In Patch 3.0, the card changed from drawing itself to summoning itself on turn 1, which was considered the biggest buff to the archetype so far.
Fast-forward to patch 3.4.0 and two major buffs for the deck, as Azir is now much easier to level up and Quicksand is a much more flexible defensive tool, paired with nerfs to most popular decks. And suddenly, Mono Shurima is the most talked about deck for the first day of this patch.
Mono Shurima is a deck with a very obvious purpose: Get our champion to Level 3 and dominate the game thanks to the overpowered cards Azir gives us and the damage Xerath deals regularly.
In order to reach this perfect situation, we need to protect and level both our champions while keeping up with our opponent in terms of tempo. I want to insist on the last part of this sentence: tempo is key.
Shurima is a region that is incredible when ahead on the board, as it can control the pace and evolution of the game. The vulnerable keyword, Xerath passive ability, or the strong card draw the region possesses, all of those mechanics are much better when dominant on the board compared to trying to catch up.
For this reason, the deck features a lot of cheap options with a low curve and a mix of units and landmarks. Azir levels almost on its own without actively trying to help him flip, you can focus on his level up once reaching 10 or 11, before that point, just play for the board and Azir should advance naturally.
Xerath might require you to change your plans a little in order to level him up quickly. His best allies in that regard are Rock Hopper and Endless Devout, 2 cards that allow us to develop the board and work that landmark synergy at the same time. Once we are at 2/4 for Xerath, Unraveled Earth becomes our fastest option to get to the 4 landmarks conditions and should also force our opponent to play around his key units becoming Vulnerable.
Outside our 2 champions, our best cards are Desert Naturalist and Endless Devout, as they allow for the biggest development in the early game and serve as a great pressure or stabilizing tool. Mostly against decks who can destroy our Sun Disc, such as Ezreal Caitlyn, being able to develop pressure early is a much more reliable win condition than rushing towards a Level 3 we potentially will never see.
Whether you reach level 3 or decide to go for pure pressure, keep in mind this deck does not run any direct damage (Except level 3 Xerath), meaning you will need to establish on board dominance to push for lethal damage eventually.
While reaching level 3 means you could win with Xerath’s passive ability without ever attacking, being able to deal damage through the whole game is both valuable and a great insurance in case you cannot reach level 3.
Indeed, both our Level 2 champions are very good at creating opportunities on the board and outnumbering the opponent, creating great opportunities to open attack for large chunks of damage.
- Verdict :
To be fair, the deck performs so well over the first 24 hours that it is difficult to believe it can keep up the pace. The deck has been climbing steadily both for me in high masters rank or for 2 students I coached, one in low masters and one in Diamond.
While decks like Pantheon, Yordles in Arms or Scouts are for now nowhere to be seen as people look to explore the new options brought by the 3.4.0 patch, we can safely assume Mono Shurima has largely progressed with the latest update.
The quest to become a real contender in the metagame probably starts now, as staples of the previous metagame will return and other decks might start adapting to counter the new hype around Mono Shurima. So let’s see how the deck can perform when the pressure is on!
Good Game Everyone