Hey there, Raphterra here again! Today, I’m adding a new entry to The Runeterra Archives, a series where I dive into Legends of Runeterra‘s rich history. It has been more than two years since the official launch of the game, and since then we’ve seen several decks go in and out of each meta. Some of these decks were strong, balanced decks, but a good number of them were extremely dominating. In this article, I’ll be taking a journey to the past two and a half years of LOR, and share my picks for the Ten Strongest Decks in Runeterra History.
The following are listed in no particular order, since there’s no way to tell which one of these is truly the strongest. As I write this, I wish that Riot would implement a Timewinder Gauntlet where we can use the unnerfed versions of all cards in the game. Could you imagine the chaos that ensues if all of these Tier 0 decks would face off against each other?
Setting my fantasies aside, let’s get on with the list of the strongest decks in Runeterra!
Ezreal Seraphine Noxus
Headlining this list is the most-recent meta menace from Patch 3.17 to Patch 3.18, Ezreal Seraphine Noxus. This combo-control deck is notorious for killing opposing Nexuses at burst speed with leveled-up champions. Another factor that made this deck very strong was that it was impossible to play around randomly generated cards. Furthermore, you also need to take into account the mana discounts from Drum Solo and Back Alley Bar.
Azir Irelia Combo
The Shuriman desert was very vast indeed! Azir Irelia was the most controversial deck in LOR, mainly because it took very long for Riot to nerf it. This deck dominated the meta from Patch 2.7 to Patch 2.14 with its ability to make continuous attacks even on defensive turns. This archetype would be one of my picks if I had to predict which one would come out on top among this list of the strongest decks in the game. Thankfully, the developers have recently changed their balance philosophy and we no longer see long periods of dominance from Tier 0 decks.
Azir Irelia might be the most-nerfed deck in Legends of Runeterra, with the following cards being hit with several nerfs: Azir, Irelia / Flawless Duet, Dancing Droplet, Blossoming Blade, and Inspiring Marshal.
Taliyah Lissandra Thralls
Following Azir Irelia is another combo deck from Shurima, Lissandra Taliyah Frozen Thralls. This midrange-combo deck played at a pace that escalates very quickly, as it can summon four copies of Frostguard Thralls out of nowhere with Taliyah and Promising Future. Even after the initial nerfs to this archetype in Patch 3.10, the deck was able to adapt to a more control-oriented playstyle running multiple copies of Buried in Ice.
Twisted Fate Fizz Elusives
As I continue writing this article, I’ve started noticed that most of the decks in this list are combo decks.. This is an interesting pattern, as we move on to another combo deck, this time from P&Z Bilgewater: Twisted Fate Fizz Elusives. This deck utilized the pre-nerf versions of Twisted Fate and Pick a Card; Twisted Fate often leveled up if he wasn’t killed within two turns of being played. If Twisted Fate is answered, the deck can fall back to the elusive gameplan with Fizz, Wiggly Burblefish, and Mind Meld.
Aphelios Twisted Fate
In the era where Twisted Fate Fizz dominated, there was another Tier 0 deck alongside it at the top of the meta: Aphelios Twisted Fate. Aside from using Twisted Fate at his prime, this deck also used Aphelios and The Veiled Temple at their peak. Pre-nerf Crescendum had a broken ability to summon Boxtopus directly from the deck. This interaction gave this archetype all the control it needed in the early game. Aphelios and The Veiled Temple can then just start outvaluing opposing decks from the mid to late game.
Aphelios Twisted Fate was a top meta deck from Patch 2.1 to Patch 2.4. The following cards from this deck were nerfed: Aphelios / Crescendum, Twisted Fate, The Veiled Temple, Pick a Card. Alongside Azir Irelia, I think this archetype also has a good chance of beating out the others in this list of the strongest decks in Runeterra.
Turbo Mono Shurima
Mono Shurima was mostly a meme strategy until Azir was changed to include summoned landmarks for his level-up requirement. Following this change, a Mono Shurima deck that focused on turbo-flipping the Buried Sun Disc dominated ranked ladder. This archetype was capable of activating the Buried Sun Disc as early as Turn 6, which usually meant game over against most decks. The only decks that could consistently beat Mono Shurima were ones that could end games before Turn 6.
Nami Lee Sin Combo
Yet another combo deck makes this list! Nami‘s dominance is still relatively fresh, as it was only a few patches ago before she was nerfed. Nami and Lee Sin both benefited greatly from the introduction of equipments to LOR. During this time, Riot also released several powerful spell cards for Ionia: Ionian Tellstones, Momentous Choice, and Wuju Style. This deck combined Ionia‘s flexible utility spells with Nami/Fleet Admiral Shelly‘s ability to grow small units into big, must-answer threats.
Nami Lee Sin was the best deck in the game from Patch 3.14 to Patch 3.16. The following cards from this deck were nerfed: Nami, Lee Sin, Vastayan Disciple/Shimon Wind, Ionian Hookmaster, Ionian Tellstones.
Ahri Kennen Combo
I’ve started to notice that being a combo deck isn’t the only the common pattern in Tier 0 decks.. Ionia seems to be a common region for strong combo decks to thrive on. Ahri Kennen Elusives is yet another Ionia combo deck that makes this list! This deck used God-Willow Seedling and pre-nerf Kinkou Wayfinder to get multiple leveled Kennens on board in a timely manner. Pre-nerf Ahri was also quite hard to deal with because of Ionia‘s protection capabilities.
Mono Kai’sa Demacia
Kai’sa was a beast of a card upon her release in the Forces From Beyond expansion. Kai’sa‘s focus-speed Second Skin and 3-cost Supercharge allowed her to win games as early as Turn 5. If she can copy Valor‘s Scout and Challenger keywords, Kai’sa can pick apart opposing boards with ease. This version went all-in on this strategy, utilizing Rite of Calling to secure drawing Kai’sa in every game. Once drawn, the deck can then protect her with Shurima‘s Ancient Hourglass and Rite of Negation.
Trundle Lissandra Control
Trundle Lissandra Control was a deck that instantly won games as long as it could stall until Turn 8. This was the turn where the deck cheated out Lissandra‘s Watcher with Spectral Matron. Pre-nerf Watcher used to obliterate the entire opposing deck once it attacks; the combo was fairly easy to setup since Shadow Isles + Freljord had all the tools needed to stall the game.
Here are some other archetypes that I considered to include in the list of the strongest decks:
- Lee Sin Zed – Included 4-cost Lee Sin, repeatable 2-cost Hush, and 3-cost Bastion.
- Twisted Fate Elise Go Hard – Included 1-cost Pack Your Bags.
- Yordles In Arms Swarm – Included pre-nerf Gnar, Conchologist, and Loping Telescope.
- Draven Caitlyn Lost Soul – Included Challenger Twinblade Revenant.
- Kennen Ezreal – Included 3-damage Mark of the Storm.
- Hecarim Lucian Grand Plaza – Included +1/+1 The Grand Plaza (shoutout to dragomaster2422 from Reddit for reminding me of this deck!).
That’s it for the list! Did I miss out on other archetypes that should be included in this list of the strongest decks in LOR? Which one of these decks would dominate if they could all face off against each other in their peak form? Personally, I think it would be a toss up between Azir Irelia, Ezreal Seraphine, Aphelios Twisted Fate, and Nami Lee Sin!