Hello everyone, with the return of the LoR Masters Europe, we’re bringing back the ‘Play-by-Play Analysis’ series, where we’ll be breaking down high-level gameplay and digging into the pro player’s minds in order to understand every line they take.
LoR Masters Europe: Chronicles of Bandlewood is a 3 vs 3 team tournament, where the players representing the top 16 countries on the EU Ranked ladder compete against each other. It has a unique format, where each team brings a lineup consisting of 7 decks, and they are allowed to ban 2 champions from the opposing lineup.
Today I’ll break down Group Stage Week 2 game between Romania and Serbia where Romania piloted Akshan Sivir Demacia and Serbia played Ziggs Bandle Noxus aggro deck.
I have the captain of team Romania The CatAsUs here with me to share his knowledge and the thought process of the team during their game. In this article, I’ll be using his first-hand account to help with the analysis and understand the game from Romania’s perspective.
- Pick & Ban Phase
Romania’s Lineup: Lulu Poppy Bandle Demacia, Caitlyn Draven, Akshan Sivir Demacia, Fizz Nami Targon, Zoe Lee Sin, Ziggs Teemo Noxus Bandle, Twisted Fate Gangplank.
Serbia’s Lineup: 7 Bandle City Noxus decks.
As you can see, Serbia came into Week 2 with an unusual lineup that intentionally tries to mess up the opponent’s reads in a closed decklist format. They have 7 decks that all have the same region combination, two of them running no champions at all!
Almost any Bandle City and Noxus deck here can either be an aggressive burn archetype that focuses on ending the game as fast as possible, or it can be The Bandle Tree deck that focuses on fulfilling the landmark’s win condition. It’s difficult for Romania to guess which deck is of which type because it’s a closed decklist tournament.
First ban: Both teams ban Poppy. Romania prioritizes taking out a strong champion that buffs up the board. On Serbia’s side, Lulu Poppy Bandle Demacia is favored into all of their decks, so banning it makes sense.
Second ban: Serbia bans Gangplank, taking out Twisted Fate Gangplank from Romania’s lineup, another deck that performs well into their lineup. Romania chooses to ban Fizz – they have a read that the Fizz Noxus Bandle City deck is most likely a Bandle Tree deck.
Picks: Romania picks Akshan Sivir, a safe choice that performs well into all of their opponent‘s decks. Serbia goes for Ziggs version of Noxus Bandle City, which is a burn deck.
Akshan Sivir is slightly unfavored into the aggressive version of Noxus Bandle City, and it all comes down to preserving health early game by blocking early damage from cheap units.
Akshan Sivir will inevitably take over the board at some point, and Noxus Bandle aggro will shift their gameplan from unit damage to burn spell damage. Cards like Noxian Fervor and Decimate will be played as finishers. For Akshan Sivir, it is key to interrupt Fervor with Single Combat or Concerted Strike.
Once board presence is secured by Akshan Sivir deck, the Rally play from Golden Aegis sets up for a lethal – or at the very least, some very favorable trades that pave the way to end the game on the following attack.
- Mulligan Phase
Romania mulligans away everything except for Akshan.
According to CatAsUs, they were still unsure if they are against a Bandle Noxus Burn deck or The Bandle Tree deck.
The objective was to find a fast hand – like Fleetfeather Tracker, Merciless Hunter, and Sivir. Both Fleetfeather Tracker and Merciless Hunter are capable of removing Bandle City Mayor, a card that can accelerate the board swarm of team Serbia.
- Round 1
We can see as spectators that Team Serbia is on a purely aggressive Burn version of Bandle Noxus. However, Romania didn’t have that information, and the fact that Serbia didn’t play an early 1-mana unit additionally threw them off. Romania has been playing the early turns while still being unsure if they are against the Bandle Tree or not.
- Round 2
Romania decides to pass and hold mana for Sharpsight in case Serbia decides to attack. Serbia indeed commits to the attack with Stone Stackers and team Romania blocks with Fleetfeather Tracker + Sharpsight.
This leaves Romania with a solid early board position against an aggressive deck.
- Round 3
Team Romania has an attack token but goes for an open pass.
If Serbia decides to pass back, they will burn 1 of their mana and develop nothing, which is a good outcome for Romania.
If Serbia plays a unit, Romania will be able to play Brightsteel Protector on the Fleetfeather Tracker, giving it Barrier for a free Challenger attack. Alternatively, Romania could choose to develop Akshan after insuring that he can swing.
After Serbia plays Conchologist, Romania decides in favor of Akshan. Although the Brightsteel Protector seemed like a solid choice, Serbia still had 2 mana up, and a ping effect like Pokey Stick would remove the Barrier from Fleetfeather.
Additionally, playing Akshan as early as possible allowed them to start advancing Warlord’s Palace countdown. Romania’s hand currently lacks some value that it will need in the mid-to-late game. Also, Brightsteel Protector can be used later as a defensive tool and potentially shut down Serbia’s attack.
Team Romania goes for the attack with both units, pulling the Conchologist with Fleetfeather Tracker.
- Round 4
Team Serbia goes for Lecturing Yordle. They have two spell mana banked, which means they’ll be able to play both of the Fleeting Poison Darts they will generate this turn (one Dart on-summon and another one on-attack).
This is where Brightsteel Protector comes in useful for Team Romania, placing a defensive Barrier on Akshan and advancing Warlord’s Palace countdown by 1.
After Team Serbia removes the Barrier with the Poison Dart, they attack. Another Sharpsight on Brightsteel Protector allows Romania to block and kill the Lecturing Yordle. The second Poison Dart finishes off the Brightsteel Protector.
- Round 5
Romania’s hand still lacks proactive value, so they decide to go for an open pass once again.
This forces Team Serbia to either pass back or develop a unit that could potentially receive a Vulnerable from Merciless Hunter and then get removed by a Quick Attack Akshan.
Team Serbia plays Stone Stackers because the Tough keyword prevents Akshan from removing it cleanly.
Romania still goes for the Merciless Hunter play – but now they are planning to attack only with a Merciless Hunter, as the Fearsome keyword means Stone Stackers can’t block it.
Team Serbia responds with Iron Ballista, which forces Romania to offer the trade with Merciless Hunter. The trade with Ballista means that Romania will dodge 2 damage from Ballista’s Overwhelm on the upcoming turn.
- Round 6
After Romania draws a Single Combat for the turn, their hand becomes even more awkward – no units to play and two Golden Aegis that ideally require you to have a bigger board. Single Combat is at least a solid answer to a potential Noxian Fervor, and Romania planned to hold on to it for that scenario.
Serbia goes for the swing with both Lecturing Yordle and Stone Stackers as is, choosing not to remove the Akshan’s Barrier with a Dart. At this point, it seems that Serbia is willing to allow Akshan’s level-up and is fully focusing on pushing Nexus damage instead.
Romania blocks the Yordle – it saves the most health, and the Stone Stackers already have Vulnerable on them, so a unit with Quick Attack will kill it for free on Romania’s upcoming attack.
Akshan’s level-up gives Romania some refill they need as they go for card draw with the Relic of Power. The three options they get to see with Predict are: Vekauran Vagabond, Shaped Stone, and Sharpsight.
Not an ideal selection of choices – what Romania is looking for right now is an impactful value card, something like a Sivir or Vekauran Bruiser. Romania decides to ‘skip’ the prediction – at this point, any random card they can draw blindly couldn’t be that much worse.
Their gamble pays off and they end up drawing Sivir – a perfect card to bring them back into the game.
Romania plays Sivir and goes for the attack since they still have the attack token from the Golden Aegis. Akshan challenges Stone Stackers, the Quick Attack keyword allows him to remove the unit, and Sivir pushes 5 unblocked damage.
- Round 7
Romania draws and plays a Vekauran Bruiser – another solid card to start taking control of the board.
Serbia casts Noxian Fervor, prioritizing direct Nexus damage over removing Akshan – and because Romania is at 0 mana, they can no longer interrupt the Fervor with Single Combat.
Romania’s Nexus will be at 11 after the Fervor, while Serbia has 8 damage in hand between Decimate, another Noxian Fervor, and a Pokey Stick. If in addition to that Romania draws into three more Poison Puffcaps planted by
Level 2 Sivir shares her Spellshield and Quick Attack with the other attacking units. Serbia decides to block Sivir with Lecturing Yordle in an attempt to preserve as much health as they can.
As Serbia’s Nexus health goes down to 3, Romania is now looking to close out the game on their upcoming attack.
Romania plays the Lucky Find that Vekauran Bruiser generated on their Sivir. The reason they have chosen Sivir over other units is because of her ability to share her keywords.
The ideal Lucky Find for Romania would be the Overwhelm buff. Instead, they got a choice of Quick Attack, Fearsome, and +1|+1. Romania goes for the Fearsome keyword, which is the best evasive ability from this selection.
- Round 8
Romania draws Shaped Stone for the turn – it had a Poison Puffcap on it that lowered their Nexus health to 10.
Serbia opens with a Decimate, dropping Romania’s health down to 6.
Romania goes for the Golden Aegis and from there the game is in the bag. With 4 mana left, it’s impossible for Serbia to end the game or survive Romania’s attack.
Romania has been showing great performances so far in the European Masters tournament, making clean plays while going up against the top players in the region.
High competitive gameplay is always a great learning experience – it’s interesting to understand what goes on in the heads of the players when they’re performing on the big stage.
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