Hey, it’s Mezume here with a report from the battlefield! Since the release of Shurima, I have been devoting as much time to the ladder as I can to find out what works, what doesn’t – and what everyone is having fun with. In this article, I will present to you my findings in this regard; highlighting the decks I have seen the most, as well as the ones that worked for me.
Before I dive into it, I would like to clarify that this is by no means a meta report. The first few days are always a bit crazy. Everyone lets out their creative juices and wants to try out the newest cards with not too much regard for their power level. Treat this piece as more of an inspiration for what you could play yourself.
I have divided the article into two sections: what new decks are being played, to highlight the creativity that I have encountered on the ladder; and what old decks and archetypes I have seen were improved or revamped with the new cards. With that said, let’s get right into the thick of the action!
The first days of new big expansions are always a beautiful mess. There are fresh decks to look at, and while many simply copy what big names have brewed, there are also quite a lot of players that build their own strategies.
I’ve been following Twitter, Twitch streams, talked to other players, and most importantly, played myself, in order to see what the beginning of the Empires of the Ascended brought to the table.
It is hard to judge the power level of decks in the current circumstances, as most of them are far from being refined. Still, Shurima seems to be doing fairly well in the environment and most of the new champions found their homes relatively easily.
Before I start shooting with the lists – here are the decks that get honourable mentions from me: 1) Mono Shurima, which seems a bit better than expected, but possibly not good enough to make it into the meta; 2) Taliyah with multiple combinations; 3) Sivir when combined with Noxus or Vi in Piltover & Zaun. With that out of the way, below are the first of the new decks!
The Emperor himself makes an appearance in the first of the highlighted decks – he and his Sand Soldiers are the centrepieces of the strategy. Perhaps this is not an archetype fitting of a ruler of Shurima, as the deck’s game plan is very clear: hit the opposing Nexus as much and as early as possible and take it down to 0.
This is a swarm strategy akin to decks like Lucian Hecarim or Scouts with Miss Fortune. You want to keep reusing the attack token and abuse the strengths of Azir and Emperor’s Dais. For that reason, the deck features Scouts units such as Grizzled Ranger and Blinding Assault, but also Rally synergies in Cataclysm,
This list draws a lot of power from the new cards: the synergy between Azir, Emperor’s Dais, and Inspiring Marshal cannot be underestimated, as with Scouts or Rally effects, you can be creating insane amounts of pressure with the 3/1 or 4/1 Sand Soldiers.
The aggression can begin on turn 1, as it runs 3 Dunekeepers, arguably the best 1-drop in the game. However, most of the time you will rely on a more combo-oriented way to finish the game around turn 6 or 7, with a levelled Lucian or Azir and a swarm of Sand Soldiers.
The deck’s main weakness is mostly in facing faster swarm and burn strategies. While decks including Shadow Isles might seem like a bad matchup due to cards like Withering Wail, they are usually greedy enough that a well-timed Rally or Cataclysm can blow them out of the water.
Another Shuriman deck I want to showcase is yet another fairly aggressive strategy. With the new region, there came multiple tools for an Overwhelm deck – available outside of the regular Noxus and Freljord shells. Renekton and Sejuani are both great standalone champions that have small points of synergy on top of that.
The main reason an Overwhelm deck can function very well in Shurima is that the region has multiple ways of granting enemies Vulnerable. Between Rock Hopper, Unraveled Earth,
The region also has Dunekeeper, which deals 4 damage on turn 1 if unanswered, which is insane for any aggressive deck.
Freljord and Shurima both have many strong Overwhelm units and the addition of Ruin Runner fills the biggest gap that Freljord had – a strong 5-drop. Being able to follow Renekton up with Ruin Runner and then Sejuani or Alpha Wildclaw is a powerful curve, which very few decks can withstand, especially with the ability to dictate trades through Vulnerable and the finishing power of Battle Fury.
This deck has very few weaknesses, especially while Targon is still being played very little at the beginning of the expansion. Currently, there is not much Hush to prevent sneaky lethal with Battle Fury or take away
They Who Endure is a deck as old as Legends of Runeterra, and it has been a popular choice for a long time – until it dropped in popularity somewhere mid-Targon set. Today I have seen some of the players trying to revive that deck – but in this article, I would like to instead highlight the new version of SI swarm that instead dabbles into Shurima.
The new region has been given a fair amount of cheap and efficient aggressive units, which makes it a great pairing for any swarm-based deck, as shown by Lucian Azir.
However, in this other case, we make use of Baccai Reaper and Dunekeeper, as well as the Slay synergy of Shadow Isles – all of it to overrun the opponent in the early game. This deck has a large number of options for a turn two 9-10 damage opener – between Ravenous Butcher, Cursed Keeper, Barkbeast, Dunekeeper,
This deck’s top-end is Nasus. He grows really fast in this deck, as a lot of self-slaying and combat slaying is happening naturally. The big strength of this list over something like They Who Endure is that a level 2 Nasus comes with a Spellshield, allowing for Atrocity to be cast much safer; especially that Shurima gives us access to Rite of Negation.
The deck’s clear weakness is Hush, but Targon has been rather absent currently due to the influx of the new cards and excitement connected to that.
Aside from Shurima, four of the older regions also received new champions and a lot of interesting cards to play with.
The cast of the new champions was mostly designed to synergize with Shurima, creating pairings like Nasus and Kindred, Renekton and Jarvan IV, and so on, but players have been creative in finding different ways to use the new options.
With the addition of Kindred and the vastly controversial Concurrent Timelines, this good old PnZ/SI control deck earned itself a revamp. The archetype has been already rising in popularity before the recent Seasonal Tournament due to its ability to shut down Fizz TF and other aggro decks. And after the expansion, it was the archetype I met the most during my ladder play so far (not including Shurima decks).
There are two main ways that players have been building this deck: a spell-heavy version running Corina Veraza as an additional board clear, and one that is more unit-heavy, getting more value from Concurrent Timelines. The one I will highlight is the latter, as I believe it is better to have more units to be able to stall the game until Commander Ledros. Additionally, trading off units allows Kindred’s mark to be more consistent.
This strategy relies on chump blockers and removal spells in order to stall the game as long as possible. AoE cards like Withering Wail and The Box, alongside The Ruination, are capable of preventing wide attacks, while efficient single target removal helps activate Kindred’s ability. The deck’s win condition is simple: Either play Ledros followed by Atrocity next turn, keep replaying him until the enemy Nexus is at 0, or play Concurrent Timelines and OTK the opponent with Dreadros.
Shadow Isles benefited a ton from the new expansion, as here’s another old control archetype being revamped using the new cards. While it remains to be seen whether Lissandra Control can take the place of Feel The Rush and Anivia, it is a sweet list that has a lot of potential.
While the deck contains a huge win condition in the Watcher, gained from Lissandra’s level up, usually the onslaught of 8/8s with Overwhelm and a leveled Trundle is more than enough to win the game. This list contains multiple ways to survive until those Frozen Thralls awaken from their slumber. Among others, it stars some of the newest cards in the game: the Blighted Ravine and Ice Shard – to keep the opponent’s board narrow, and Three Sisters – for versatility.
Shadow Isles is an important part of this deck, as it does what Shadow Isles always does: helps board control with Withering Wails, The Ruination, and Vengeance, while also providing Atrocity; an additional win condition that can steal away close games, as you will have plenty of high attack targets in the late game.
This one is more of a personal addition rather than something I have seen much on the ladder, but I have played this deck for a bit and I really enjoyed how LeBlanc feels in this archetype. I want to showcase this build also because LeBlanc has been probably the most underrated and even a berated champion of the release, alongside Nasus – and they both seem to be better than expected by many.
Ashe Noxus is a very well-known strategy utilizing minions with 5+ attack as well as Avarosan Hearthguard to overrun the opponent in the mid-game while keeping card advantage thanks to Trifarian Assessor. It was pretty obvious that Leblanc could be tried in this deck, and it appears that it is working pretty well.
The second champion slot for this list has been fought for by Sejuani and Riven, but LeBlanc – having 5 attack on turn 3 and a level-up condition that synergizes with all the high-attack units in the deck – seems to outclass them. In my games, LeBlanc has been creating a Mirror Image by turn 5-6 consistently; and copying a Hearthguard or Trifarian Assessor is a huge power play.
Of course, the deck has its downsides and one of them is losing to most Shadow Isles control strategies, as well as swarm aggro. This means that it is very polarised and can be frustrating to play on ladder. Nonetheless, it feels good to play, and possibly LeBlanc is a very useful addition to this archetype.
Those are the decks that I have encountered or played myself and found working very well, utilizing the new cards and champions.
These are, of course, not all of them, but if I wanted to include every deck I liked, you’d be reading this for a whole afternoon; and wouldn’t you rather just play the game?
I also omitted decks that I saw but were not different at all from previous iterations; such as the dreaded Fizz Twisted Fate, as well as Discard, Spider Aggro, and all those aggressive strategies that tend to be used on day 1 to race to Masters.
Thank you for reading and I urge you to try out the highlighted decks, but also build your own. Enjoy!