This week I went on a hunt – searching through numerous lineups for that one deck that stands out.
I also was only interested in lineups that performed well (6+ wins), so it was a struggle going through all the Poppy Zed and Plunder decks, but after a long hard search, I managed it. Five decks that aren’t top of the meta but have found their way in a lineup!
There are different reasons to bring non-meta decks into a tournament, one of which is the element of surprise, another reason is to target the popular meta decks, giving you an edge into what you expect the majority of players will bring.
The lists I’ll feature in this article are unexpected decks that aren’t part of the ranked meta as we know it but have found their way in some of the players’ lineups and still performed well in the Open Rounds.
We’re kicking it off with Zoe Poppy Shelfolk that was brought by BlowMyNexus along with Fizz Vi Glorious Shelfock and Jayce Heimer Ionia.
Zoe Poppy Shelfolk focuses on going wide on the board with cheap units like Spacey Sketcher, Conchologist, Loping Telescope, and Starry Scamp to help stall out the game. While playing those cheap units you are still Invoking/Manifesting cards that’ll create resources for later turns.
If you manage to get a Poppy on the board she will buff up those cheap units and turn them into a force to reckon with.
The idea of the deck isn’t to really win with Poppy but to prolong the game, put early pressure, and then play
You’ll eventually run your opponent out of resources while making existing cards in their hand much bothersome to play with the Prank debuffs they’ll receive. You’ll set up to close out the game with either your board units or the cards you’ll end up copying from your opponent’s hand.
The deck performs well into aggressive decks, Draven Sion, and Zoe Lee Sin.
This version of Feel The Minah with 3 Trundle, 2 Tryndamere, and a Sejuani was brought to the Open Rounds by MajiinBae, Cosmic Creations Seasonal Tournament winner. He ended up going 7-2 just enough to make it as one of the top 32 players that’ll move on to the playoffs.
Feel The Minah is a control deck that looks to punish lists that rely on expensive units to win the game.
Champions with Overwhelm is your main source of damage, they will act as your primary win condition.
The deck is great at stalling, especially against archetypes that depend on high-cost finishers. Will of Ionia and Minah Swiftfoot can set your opponent behind on-board presence, slowing down their win conditions. Minah Swiftfoot can turn into a finisher herself, shifting the board-state to your favor in one action.
Feel The Minah is a perfect choice if you’re looking to target line-ups that run Draven Sion, Thralls, or Teemo Swain. The Freeze spells along with the Recall effect can be enough for you to start setting up your win condition and taking over the game.
Good old Miss Fortune Gangplank Pirates deck, brought by Prodigy from the American shard. They went 7-2 in the Open Rounds and the Pirates ended up banned 3 times during their run.
Miss Fortune Gangplank used to be at the top of the meta back in the day, but it slowly fell off with the rise of Zoe Lee Sin and Zoe Nami, and nowadays Poppy Ziggs has overtaken its spot as the go-to burn aggressive deck.
Prodigy’s line-up brings both those burn decks together along with Draven Sion as the third choice. It is clear that not a single Poppy Zed player was happy to encounter that line-up.
Miss Fortune Gangplank starts off with an aggressive early game, swarming the board with cheap units like
Gangplank is your mid-game champion, although having him leveled up will most likely seal the deal with the additional damage he deals, you might find yourself playing him before he levels up, the Overwhelm damage might just be good enough to set up for the burn plan along with the Powder Keg he’ll summon.
Once you’ve dealt your early unit damage, now it’s time for phase two – go directly after their Nexus with some burn. Noxian Fervor and Decimate are your finisher cards once you’ve put your opponent at low enough health, Prodigy’s list also runs 3 Double Up.
Pirates deck is the ideal pick if you’re looking to target Zed Poppy – the addition of Arachnoid Sentry means the deck will also hold its ground against Sion Draven and Plunder matchups.
Teemo Tryndamere, a deck I never expected to be in the Open Rounds was played on the Asian server. The player that brought it – Bonzu – ended with a 6-3 score, let’s see what this deck is all about!
Mid-game you’ll be looking to maintain your board, prolonging the match until you can get you can set up for your win conditions. At the same time, you’ll be planting Poison Puffcaps into your opponent’s deck. We aren’t relying on the Puffcaps as a win condition, but the damage dealt can come in handy later in the game.
Feel The Rush will summon Teemo and Tryndamere with 10|10 stats, which will be difficult for your opponent to deal with both of them at the same time – one has the Elusive keyword while the other has the Overwhelm keyword, both are a nightmare for their own reasons.
The list also seems to run an additional ‘side’ win condition – Battle Fury. Usually, you’d want to slap the 8|4 buff card onto either Teemo, Bandle Commando, Wolfrider, or Tryndamere to deal extra damage that could sneak in a win.
Last but not least, Ekko Zilean brought by Morpice along with Deep and Thralls that ended their Seasonal run with a 6-2 score.
This well-known deck that so far can’t make it in the Ranked meta, revolves around the Predict keyword, allowing you to set up for future plays by looking for a suitable card depending on the situation in the game.
Zilean is your early game champion, leveling him isn’t a difficult task as you’ll be able to Predict and find your Time Bombs. A leveled-up Zilean is a pure value card, allowing you to break the game by replaying cards you’ve cast on your previous turns.
Throughout the game you’ll be working on leveling up your Ekko who will create 3 Chronobreaks in the deck. Your Predict cards allow you to look for those Chronobreaks and set up for game-ending attacks with the Revive + Rally effect as a follow-up.
The archetype is slow and value-oriented, you’re looking to run your opponent out of resources while setting up for your combo play, in time completely overtaking the board.
There’s different viable strategies possible when going into the Seasonal Open Rounds. You can pick up the popular meta decks and mash them together, counter the most expected lineups, or go completely off the script and play off-meta decks that players wouldn’t anticipate.
It comes down to the player’s preferences, creativity and understanding of the current meta the tournament is being played in.
Although the decks featured in the article weren’t part of the popular meta, they did perform well in the Open Rounds and some even made it to the playoffs – which is a testament to the things possible in LoR Bo3 format.