The Winners and Losers of Aphelios Patch
Hello, Agigas here! Patch 2.1.0 is a major one that will shake things up with a lot of balance changes and even some new cards!
In this article, we will take a look at how this patch should impact the meta. We’ll discuss which top tier decks will fall, which ones will persist or even rise, and I’ll also highlight some of the new decks that could emerge.
I hope it will help you get a sense of a direction where the meta is headed and to help you make better deck choices. The assumptions here are based on my personal opinions, but I will also back them up with Mobalytics win rate stats from the previous patch.
TF/Fizz popularity has been rapidly climbing lately, and for good reasons. The deck is extremely powerful and has an impressive win rate. And also – who doesn’t like to play Burblefish?!
The recent patch doesn’t look like it will slow down this deck by any means. None of its cards got changed, and this archetype is probably the best shell for Stress Testing – it capitalizes on Discard effects to cycle through the deck even faster.
Moreover, Scouts (60% win rate vs TF/Fizz) getting nerfed is exactly what TF/Fizz was hoping for! The Grand Plaza tends to be a pretty good counter to the archetype, especially when combined with pressure, so this nerf will help TF/Fizz to continue dominating the meta. Hush is another great card against TF/Fizz, and it has also ended up being nerfed.
Not everything is perfect for the deck – Go Hard (59% win rate vs TF/Fizz) and other counters still exist. Also, its prey Ezreal/Draven (37% win rate) looks like is heading into a rough spot which could mean a decline in the play rate. But overall, it looks like TF/Fizz is pretty happy with the changes and should be one of the major forces of this patch.
Fiora/Shen is without a doubt the record-holder when it comes to the time spent in Tier 1, and it does not look like this patch will change that. None of its cards got changed in the patch – and it didn’t get any interesting additions either.
However, it doesn’t mean that this deck didn’t get affected by the patch! The Hush nerf is great news for Fiora/Shen, and the meta changes should go the deck’s way too.
Ezreal/Draven (54% win rate against Fiora/Shen) should lose from the patch. Targon decks, which are generally good matchups, should be on the rise with the new Aphelios lists. Also, the worst Fiora/Shen matchup, Ashe Noxus (65% win rate against), is losing a lot with the uptrend of Fizz/TF, TF Go Hard, and Anivia Control.
Overall, Fiora/Shen should stay in a pretty similar spot as before, with some indirect improvements.
Scouts in this patch got directly nerfed in 2 ways. First, level 2 Miss Fortune loses Overwhelm. This will matter when trying to finish the opponent and might afford them more time, but it is not a major nerf. In fact, Miss Fortune does not level up extremely often, and when she does you’ll still be in an amazing spot.
The second nerf, however, is a bit more problematic. The Grand Plaza will no longer grant health to units. This will prevent a lot of good trades, especially with Scout units like Valor that could use this health buff to trade twice. Despite all that, The Grand Plaza should still be this deck’s best option. It is an important card to control the opponent’s board and get good trades, even though the nerf will be clearly noticeable.
The change to War Chefs does not make it a good enough 2-drop, so overall it looks like Scouts lost quite a lot for nothing in return.
However, I expect Scout to still be a major force, and I would not be too surprised to still see it in Tier 1. While these nerfs hurt, it looks like the meta could change in a very favorable way for Scouts. Lee Sin (34% win rate against Scouts) shouldn’t suffer much from this patch, and TF/Fizz (40% win rate) should be one of the dominating decks in the coming weeks. Ezreal/Draven (58% win rate vs Scouts) should be in a rough spot compared to what it used to. Finally, the 2 decks that I’ve listed below as ’emerging’, Anivia Control (34% win rate) and an Aphelios deck, will both struggle against Scouts.
Despite the impactful nerfs it takes, it looks like Scout should still find a nice spot in the meta. It is not the first time the deck got nerfed – it has risen time and again, and might do so again.
In this patch, Targon Plaza have seen a lot of its cards directly nerfed.
The change to The Grand Plaza should be less impactful for Targon Plaza than for Scouts because the stat buff matters more as you play more units. Targon Plaza tends not to go as wide as Scouts, and it cares a lot more about the Challenger keyword than the buff because it has units already big by themselves. However, it will still be a noticeable nerf that should not be underestimated and makes multiple Plaza hands a lot worse.
The nerf to Hush is important, as the deck is mana-intensive and needs Hush to make sure things don’t get out of control.
The nerf to Pale Cascade is also annoying. Pale Cascade is still a good combat trick, but the loss of attack will prevent some desirable trades, and sometimes will make it harder to level-up Aurelion Sol. Already, there has been a debate on which card to play between Pale Cascade and Sharpsight. Now with the nerf to Pale Cascade and the rise of TF/Fizz, I would not be surprised to see Sharpsight becoming the unanimous better option.
Regarding the meta changes, Targon Plaza is a deck with a very evenly distributed matchup table, so it should neither win nor lose too much from them.
Since the Ezreal rework, this archetype has been a top meta deck with very few bad matchups. However, it has recently found its nemesis in TF/Fizz (63% win rate against Ezreal/Draven). It doesn’t look like the patch will be of any help against the recent trends, as TF/Fizz should stay as a dominant deck.
It doesn’t help that TF/Fizz popularity means decks that are good against it will see more and more play, like Anivia Control (55% win rate against Ezreal/Draven) or FTR (64%). Lee/Zoe (58% win rate) keeps being a problem for Ezreal/Draven. Aphelios deck might employ a very similar game plan to Targon Invoke Atrocity, which would also be a problem for Ez/Draven as it is a difficult matchup. Scouts (42% win rate against Ezreal/Draven) loses from the patch.
Finally, Ezreal/Draven also gets directly nerfed with Captain Farron nerf. This is a sizable nerf, as Farron is one of this deck’s main finishers. I expect this nerf to matter quite a lot in close drawn-out games.
Despite a lot of things going bad for Ezreal/Draven, it is important to also be aware that there are some positives. Fiora/Shen (46% win rate against Ezreal/Draven) and Discard Aggro (43%) will still remain popular, and Scouts should still also be popular due to meta shifts. Because of its flexibility, Ezreal/Draven is a great archetype against a wide variety of archetypes and should stay a very strong meta deck – just not as dominant as it once was.
At the first glance, Zoe/Lee looks to be a loser from this patch – two of its cards have been directly nerfed.
The nerf to Hush should make the deck a bit mana-intensive, which will force the pilot into more difficult decisions about how to use mana. However, Zoe/Lee isn’t a deck that relies on Hush too much – it is more focused on developing its own game plan rather than trying to control the opponent. Another important factor of the Hush nerf is that Hush is one of the major cards used to counter Zoe/Lee. This nerf, despite hitting a card that is in their own decklist, might actually end up beneficial to Zoe/Lee.
The Pale Cascade change, however, is an actual nerf to the deck. While the draw 1 clause is still the most important component of the card, the attack downgrade will prevent some very desirable trades and will make it a bit harder to OTK with Lee Sin.
However, the changes are still pretty inconsequential and the deck should be able to overcome them for sure. Regarding the meta, Scouts (64% win rate against Zoe/Lee) getting a nerf is very good news.
Discard Aggro is one of the Tier 1 decks that avoided a direct nerf. Moreover, it could even get some help from one of the new cards, Stress Testing, though I am unsure if it will end up playing it.
Discard Aggro’s stance in the meta should not change too much, though it might suffer from the increasing popularity of the decks trying to counter TF/Fizz: FTR (63% win rate against Discard), Aniva Control (75%), and Go Hard (68%). However, it is an excellent deck at beating down clunky experimental lists, which will be numerous at the start of the new patch.
TF Go Hard wasn’t directly targeted in the current update – its power level has been already addressed in the patch 2.0.0.
Right after its nerf, the archetype lost some steam, but it is progressively regains it as the meta shifts. It has a good matchup into TF/Fizz (41% win rate against TF Go Hard), which looks to be one of the most important matchups in the upcoming patch.
However, TF/Fizz’s bad matchups tend to be tough for TF Go Hard as well – Scouts (62% win rate against TF Go Hard), FTR (67-83% depending on versions), Anivia Control (56%). Despite being a great answer to TF/Fizz itself, TF Go Hard will also suffer from the meta shifts targeting that deck.
- Anivia Control
In recent days, we have seen Anivia Control rising in popularity as a way to beat TF/Fizz. With the nerf to Scouts (66% win rate against Anivia Control), the deck does look even better positioned.
The archetype also gets a new and interesting option – Gluttony, which is a pretty nice combo with Anivia to tutor The Rekindler. However, I don’t think it is a major and obvious improvement to the deck – the list already had many ways to create Anivias. Gluttony is less flexible than Chronicler of Ruins – but it also has its upsides, being cheaper and castable off of spell mana. We’ll have to see through experimentation if Gluttony actually makes the deck better.
With or without Gluttony, Anivia Control should be a deck on the rise thanks to the meta shifts.
- An Aphelios Deck
The new champion from this patch, Aphelios, should be a major new player in the meta. He could fit in quite a few different decks, but it seems the safest bet is to use him in the Targon Invoke shell – an archetype sometimes referred to as “Aphelios waiting room”.
This build heavily invests into Targon as a region and Invoke as a mechanic. Mountain Scryer is a key piece. With cheap cards like Zoe, Spacey Sketcher, and 0-3 cost Celestial cards, it should have no problem to activate Aphelios’ Nightfall ability.
However, this deck tends to struggle against Twisted Fate. It is really dangerous to have a bad matchup against TF these days, so the version might see some changes to be able to remove that champion. An interesting option could be to look into Piltover & Zaun instead of Shadow Isles to gain access to Mystic Shot (as TF answer) and Iterative Improvement (which has synergies with the archetype). There should be still a lot of experimentation, and the nerf to Hush and Pale Cascade is something that this deck will have to overcome somehow.
This archetype was already strong, but never really caught on in terms of popularity. With Aphelios in the picture, it will see a lot more testing and experimentation. I expect that some strong variants will eventually come out of it.
The TF/Fizz hype should continue throughout this new meta, and we should also expect the rise of its counters. Another important axis will be figuring out the best Aphelios shell, and this one could shake things a lot as it will create a new popular deck.
I also expect a lot of experimentation, especially with the new cards, but also with the newly-buffed Viktor and Riven. It is difficult to estimate whether or not these experiments will be successful, but it’s unlikely their archetypes will rise as much as to break into Tier 1.
I hope this article helped you get an early look into the new meta. Once the patch is live, I will follow closely how it evolves and keep the Meta Tier List updated, so feel free to pass by if you want more insights!
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