Rotation Candidates From Every Region in Runeterra Part 3: Freljord, Demacia, Bilgewater, and Bandle City

In this final entry of our article series about rotations in Legends of Runeterra, Raphterra enumerates his rotation candidates for Freljord, Demacia, Bilgewater, and Bandle City.


Raphterra here, for the third time today! This piece will be the conclusion of my article series on card rotation candidates from every region in Legends of Runeterra. This article will cover my picks for rotation candidates from Freljord, Demacia, Bilgewater, Bandle City, and Runeterra Champion Regions.

In case you missed out on my previous articles about rotations in Legends of Runeterra, check out the links below:

Criteria For Card Rotation Candidates

We don’t have information yet regarding the exact number of cards that will get rotated in 2023. For the sake of this article, I will be listing down 5-6 rotation candidates for each region. I’ll also briefly discuss some “controversial” or “hot” cards that I chose not to include in my predictions. Before we start, I’d like to share my criteria for the cards that I picked out as rotation candidates:

  • Cards that are difficult to balance – these are cards that are too strong or too meta-present if left as is, but are too weak in their nerfed states. These can potentially be unnerfed fully or partially as they get rotated into Eternal.
  • Cards that limit future card designs – these are cards that are so good in combination with something so fundamental to the game that future card designs are limited by those cards’ interactions e.g. Twisted Fate with card draw.

Author’s note:

  • Cards that underperform because they don’t work well within their regions – these are cards that are currently too weak, and will need radical departures from their current designs. This is the case for Vladimir; Riot has stated that he will potentially get buffed as he rotates into Eternal while they plan for his “triumphant return in 2.0 form”. These cards would be very difficult to speculate on, so I won’t be attempting to predict them in my articles.

Rotation Candidates for Freljord

Thralls and Transformers

Lissandra no longer sees competitive play in today’s meta because of the nerfs to Frozen Thrall and Watcher. Watcher could’ve been a very cool instant win condition for decks running multiple 8-cost units. Unfortunately, its broken interaction with Spectral Matron definitely warranted a heavy nerf. If Lissandra gets rotated into Eternal, fans of her archetype might be able to play partially unnerfed versions of Watcher and Frozen Thralls. Another option would be to completely rework Spectral Matron‘s effect, then maybe an unnerfed Watcher could exist in Standard.

Gnar is another champion who could be unnerfed and rotated to Eternal. Gnar was nerfed roughly a month after his release, and I personally didn’t agree with how he was changed (power reduction from 4 to 3). The developers might be wary of bringing back 4/3 Gnar in Standard; maybe Eternal is the appropriate format for him?

The Freljord Staples

Feel The Rush immediately became the premier late-game payoff for Freljord after its release in October 2020. That’s more than 2 full years of being meta-relevant! Rotating Feel The Rush could allow other Freljord late game win conditions to shine in the Standard format. Warmother’s Call meta incoming?

Buried In Ice is a personal, subjective pick because it’s a card that I really hate losing against. In the late game, it’s very close to being a one-sided, low-risk version of The Ruination. Furthermore, its combo with It That Stares feels very uncounterable and frustrating to lose against. It’s also possible that Buried In Ice just needs a small nerf and it could stay in Standard. Once again, this is a personal preference; take this pick with a grain of salt!

Notably Absent

Trundle is the standout champion from Freljord in the current meta, so including him in card rotation might seem logical. However, this is mostly because Freljord‘s other high-cost champions are mediocre at best. Rotating him to Eternal brings the risk of Freljord not having any competitive champions left in standard. I’d also love to see the Behold archetype receive more love, and Trundle‘s Ice Pillar is a key piece to help that archetype shine.

Rotation Candidates for Demacia

Scouts and Free Attacks

In terms of champions, it was very hard for me to pick rotation candidates for Demacia. Vayne is the most obvious choice because of her free attacks, but she was released very recently. Also, she’s probably the only card that’s still keeping Demacia relevant in the current meta. If she’s rotated, Demacia might descent into irrelevance for some time.

If I had to pick another champion aside from Vayne, maybe Quinn and Valor? This is a forced pick and is probably very hard to justify, but I’ll still take an attempt at it! Scout is probably one of the strongest keywords in the game, and Scout units can easily go from mediocre to broken as new cards are released. We’ve seen this in Valor‘s interaction with pre-nerfed Kai’sa, and then now again with Valor + The Darkin Harp.

Make Prime Demacia Great Again In Eternal!

Champions were very hard to pick for Demacia, but followers and spells were a lot easier and clear-cut! Demacia has multiple cards that could probably get the “revert and rotate” treatment. Golden Aegis and Brightsteel Protector were nerfed not necessarily because they were overpowered, but because they remained strong for too long. I wouldn’t mind seeing these cards become relevant again in Eternal.

The Grand Plaza is a bit of a different story. It was definitely too strong back when it gave +1/+1 to summoned allies. I think buffing its give effect to +0/+1 could be something worth exploring in Eternal. The release of The Grand Plaza created several new Demacia archetypes, and I think the landmark should be playable in at least one of LOR’s formats.

Rotation Candidates for Bilgewater

Easy Picks From Bilgewater!

In contrast to Demacia, Bilgewater was a very easy region to pick out Rotation candidates from. Twisted Fate was already confirmed for rotation due to being too synergistic with draw effects. Nami is another obvious candidate due to her synergy with spells (similar to Ezreal, Lee Sin, Seraphine). We could potentially see a partially unnerfed Nami (+1/+1) if she gets rotated to Eternal.

I don’t think more than 2 champions from each region will get rotated, but Bilgewater still has other rotation candidates outside of Nami and Twisted Fate. Fizz has great synergy with permanent buffs, and can be completely uninterruptible in the right builds. We’ve seen what he could do with pre-nerf Papercraft Dragon, and we’re seeing small shades of that currently with Bone Club.

It’s a long shot, but you could probably also make an argument for Miss Fortune. She has excellent synergy with free attacks, and she’s been part of several strong meta decks like Sejuani Plunder, Pirate Aggro, Miss Fortune Quinn, and Miss Fortune Swain.

Fishes and Tentacles

Wiggly Burblefish is in a similar spot with Nami. It’s very synergistic with spells, and its effects make it a great card to include in polarizing combo decks. It has the Elusive keyword, you can play it for free, and it generates a cheap spell upon summon. Even after Nami‘s recent nerf, some Wiggly Burblefish decks are already starting to make waves in the hands of strong pilots (4LW‘s Seraphine Twisted Fate).

For the “revert and rotate” category, Riot could be looking at two controversial cards from the Spawn archetype. Riptide Sermon and Tentacle Smash were powerful Spawn spells from Bilgewater. They were too powerful to the point where they became staple spells for the region, even outside of Illaoi decks. After their nerfs, both cards are nowhere to be seen in the current meta. Eternal could be the place where these cards can see play in their partially unnerfed forms.

Rotation Candidates for Bandle City

No Champions, just a Landmark, a Unit, and a Spell

For Bandle City, I couldn’t pick out any other champions as rotation candidates. I could mention Gnar, but I already chose him as part of my rotation candidates for Freljord.

My first two picks for the region are cards that got nerfed hard because of their polarizing nature. The Bandle Tree was infamous for being an instant win button in Beyond The Bandlewood. It was nerfed heavily through a card rework to the point where you probably can’t expect to get a decent winrate with any Bandle Tree deck.

Papercraft Dragon was nerfed because it was also an indirect “win button” when it was attached to units with the Overwhelm or Elusive keywords. Decks that ran it included Shurima Overwhelm with Renekton / Ruin Runner, and Targon Fae Swarm with Fizz / Aphelios.

Curious Shellfolk is a forced third pick because I wanted to have at least three rotation candidates for Bandle City. It hasn’t been part of any high-tier competitive meta deck, but its synergy with “selection” cards could easily break it in the future. It was also included in several controversial combo decks in the past.

Notably Absent

Notably absent from my rotation candidates are the discount engines for Yordles and Faes: Bandle City Mayor and Gleaming Lantern. These two engines haven’t been competitive ever since they were nerfed to stop the dominance of Yordles and Faes. However, as individual unit engines, I think they are at an appropriate power level. Bandle City just doesn’t have enough good units to run, but that could change with new expansions coming in 2023.

Rotation Candidates for Runeterran Champions

Now that we’ve covered all the major regions in Legends of Runeterra, it’s time to discuss Runeterran champions!

Bard is an obvious pick for rotation since he hasn’t been competitive ever since his nerf in Patch 3.13. Getting chimes on early units allowed Bard decks to snowball out of control right off the bat. Without a heavy nerf, Bard decks would’ve probably continued to dominate the meta. A partially unnerfed form of The Wandering Caretaker (if you have 2+ mana gems instead of 3+ mana gems) could probably exist in the Eternal format.

Evelynn only became meta relevant when Hate Spike was buffed to 1-cost in Patch 3.13. Unfortunately, this buff immediately got reverted because Hate Spike became a dominant meta staple for non-Evelynn, Shadow Isles control decks. This might be a hot take, but I personally wouldn’t mind having 1-cost Hate Spike in Eternal. This way, Hate Spike wouldn’t affect Shadow Isles decks in Standard, and Evelynn can be viable in Eternal while we wait for more Husk support cards.

Notably Absent

Despite the hotfix nerfs, I believe that Aatrox is still one of the strongest champions in the game. I personally think that Aatrox doesn’t need to get rotated; he could probably be fine with some more balance changes. One more small nerf, maybe to his healing effect, would probably make him a fun, healthy champion for the Standard format.

Closing Words

That wraps it up for my articles about card rotations in Legends of Runeterra! We should be receiving more official news and information about rotation at the start of next month, and I’m looking forward to seeing if my predictions will be accurate.

In the next days, I’ll be back to creating my usual deck guides for ranked ladder. Stay tuned!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on YouTube, Discord, or Twitter!

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