The mana cost increase from 2-mana to a 3-mana card changes a lot in the dynamic of Zoe Nami, one of the best decks from the previous metagame. The simple fact that Gifts from Beyond can’t pull Sparklefly anymore meant the downfall of the whole deck.
So far, it looks like players agree that Zoe Nami isn’t a competitively viable deck anymore, and the archetype is nowhere to be seen currently on the ladder.
With one of its key units being at 3 mana, the health sustain isn’t good enough to go against the likes of GP TF Bandle or Poppy Ziggs. The nerfs to Draven Sion aren’t helping the deck either. It was the archetype that Nami Zoe was best against – and now it’s not as popular as it was prior to 2.18.
So what we can do with our beloved mermaid now that she has lost her most faithful ally? Well, a lot actually – Zoe Nami was just the tree hiding in the forest, and Nami has much more to offer apart from the deck that dominated the ladder in September.
For example, if you follow the competitive scene, you might have heard of the deck that is my favorite – Nami Fizz – it was barely impacted by the nerfs. There are also some of the more exotic builds featuring the Freljord region, as well as attempts at reviving the old Fizz TF magic through Nami.
Nami has been weakened in Patch 2.18, for sure, but let’s explore a few reasons why she might still be a champion to keep in mind when the metagame starts settling down and we have to evaluate which decks are competitive, and which are not.
Zoe Nami was taking up all the spotlight for the last 2 months, but there has always existed another competitive archetype for Nami – the one that didn’t get buried with the recent patch.
Obviously, Nami leveling slower will make the deck a bit worse, especially against what was already its worse matchups: aggressive and burn-oriented decks. The lack of healing and the need for a good setup to race usually meant it was hard to stabilize. Unless our cheap spells would be able to delay the early development of our opponent, these games were lost.
Fortunately enough, this group of opposing decks looks like they got hit even harder than Nami was in Patch 2.18, with Tenor of Terror and Stone Stackers being nerfed in Bandle City, alongside Draven and Twinblade Revenant – in Noxus.
Against slower decks, like Darkness, for example, the setup was more important than starting strong early, making Nami’s nerf almost irrelevant for these kinds of opponents. Barely any control deck was affected by Patch 2.18 – that should be good news for Nami as those matchups shouldn’t lose popularity, at least not until the metagame shifts.
The real question is about the newer match ups who rose to popularity this past week – they could become a bit of a problem.
Dragons are the big comeback in Patch 2.18, and Demacia isn’t a region we particularly like to face because of their common Challengers, and the combat tricks like Single Combat and Sharpsight to counter the Elusive keyword.
The other interesting comeback of this patch is Lurk – a deck that looked bad at the end of the last metagame but then benefited a lot from the return of Demacia decks, as those usually can’t trade efficiently against the evergrowing attack of the Lurkers. While Lurk does not run any direct damage, a solid start from them can also be problematic to deal with, especially with Nami’s level-up slowed down.
Overall, I still believe Nami Fizz alongside Bandle will be the best archetype for Nami in the upcoming metagame, in part because the deck already proved itself in the past, but also because of the direction the metagame is taking early on.
Unlike Bandle City, Freljord doesn’t have any Elusive units to add to the mix. But the region can contribute to the overall synergy in another way, thanks to the Starlit Seer.
The seer provides ‘a poor man’s Nami’ effect – in case you would not draw the mermaid. Also, as a 2-drop, Starlit Seer comes down earlier than Nami in the curve, acting as a nice distraction to buy ourselves more time – this is crucial now after Nami’s nerf.
Another great card for a Nami deck that Frejlord provides is Entreat, a spell that almost made me want to run a solo-Nami build. Reliably finding Nami is very important to these decks, and her champion spell Ebb is pretty good once you have her on the board.
The champion to complement Nami in this build is up in the air for me. Fizz is looking like a safe option almost every time, and being a Bilgewater champ, you can pair him with Nami in any deck you’d want.
I’d like to highlight the potential of Braum though, who could serve as a grind machine alongside Nami, and act as a huge wall against board-centric decks, summoning Poros every turn. Those Poros are no joke either, as their Overwhelm keyword makes them prime targets for Nami’s buffs.
Obviously, this iteration of the build focuses less on racing the opponent and more on locking down the board with humongous amount of stats. A Fizz variant of that deck would be built with a faster approach, looking to close the game instead of abusing the value generation.
With the return of decks like Dragons or Lurk, a more board-focused approach towards Nami could net some serious dividends. Instead of racing against opponents and getting blown out by good answers to our Elusive units, we are taking a slower but also safer approach to the game.
The Elusive units are still there if need be, but our capacity to block and brute-force our way through the board might be more suited to face Demacia or Shurima decks, both regions being very strong in board-centric battles.
This approach has been experimented with when Nami was first released – it was inspired by the Fizz Twisted Fate archetype of old, the concept that looked perfect to use a spell-abuser like her in.
For this archetype, if you are looking for a stronger position on the board and adopting a more thorough approach to the game, Twisted Fate should be your choice.
If your think the deck isn’t suited to go long and is better off being the aggressor in most matchups, then I would recommend Fizz.
From a standpoint of a competitive play though, I think if you are picking Fizz, you are most likely better off with the Bandle pairing, which is why we’ll explore Twisted Fate as our second option here.
The main upside to going with PnZ as your second region with Nami is the draw the region provides. It’s obviously great to level up Twisted Fate, but the cycling power of PnZ also increases your chances at finding Nami consistently, who is a key part of your gameplan.
Nami also has a lot of good support units in PnZ: the Poro Cannon being both a spell and a generator for Elusive units, or the Ballistic Bot giving you a cheap spell every turn that Nami will be very happy to abuse.
The draw-focused aspect makes this deck the most combo-oriented of the list and maybe the least suited for the current ladder. This deck can’t defend as well as the Freljord variant above or disrupt the opponent as well as the Bandle version.
In a tournament setting, or if the metagame would slow down though, there might be some upside to running this version of a Nami deck.
After the nerf, Nami will, of course, still feel different – no matter which deck you are running. Her change, although not as bad as the one that Draven has suffered, for example, will obviously leave a mark and her power level will be affected.
As such, I would recommend adopting a ‘clean slate’ mentality when trying these builds out – instead of trying to compare them to what Zoe Nami was in the previous metagame.
Maybe, of these decks, one will eventually reach Tier 1 status, depending on the environment, but I don’t expect meta to shape around them like it was the case with Nami Zoe, which forced almost everyone to adapt to it in September.
Still, we shouldn’t write off Nami, as I believe she still has the potential to be the centerpiece of a good deck and earn a spot in the Meta Tier List in a couple of weeks from now.
So consider this article a call to arms for every deckbuilder out there – it is time to be creative and see what we can do with our beloved Mermaid, whether it is switching to old reliable Nami Fizz or completely rewriting the book to build something new.
As usual, feel free to come and discuss this article or your own creations on our Discord. We have recently started a ‘Deck Doctor’ channel, where aspiring deckbuilders can submit their creations and get them looked at by our team.
Good game everyone,