Hey, Agigas here!
Patch 3.4 is almost upon us – with 33 changes, we have here a very large balance update that should meaningfully impact the current meta.
In this article, I would like to analyze how the environment is likely going to evolve. First, we’ll go over the decks that have suffered from the changes in the patch, and then we’ll cover the ‘winners’ of the patch. If you are interested to learn more about the upcoming update, feel free to check out my Patch 3.4 review article.
I hope this article will help you figure out where the meta is heading and what decks you want to play in the new patch. Now let’s get into it!
Lurk has always been a very popular archetype on the ladder since its introduction to the game. However, it never really dominated the meta and was often more of a comfort pick rather than a true Tier 1 deck.
With a very impactful nerf onto Pyke, and Xer’sai Dunebreaker also getting hit, the deck’s power level now seems clearly lower. Pyke losing a point of attack will make it way harder to level him up, will prevent him to attack in some situations, and will make Death from Below less oppressive.
With this change, I expect Lurk’s win rate to go lower, which means a lot as it already wasn’t high. Players loving the archetype will likely continue to play it and, to be fair, it will still do fine. However, the deck will struggle to seduce new players from a power-level standpoint.
Zoe Lee has been a powerhouse since Lee’s buff a while ago, and while it often does not see much play on the ladder because of its few extremely unfavored matchups, it is always a top-tier contender in the tournament format.
The archetype gets hit by Twin Disciplines’ change, making it harder to kill the opponent or get a big chunk of life back with a Dragonling. Moreover, Crescendum gets changed to summon a random 2-cost unit from your regions instead of tutoring one from your deck – this defeats the main goal of the card in this deck, which was used to tutor Eye of the Dragon.
With Crescendum being changed, Gifts from Beyond might very well disappear from the core of the archetype. The deck could go back to playing Mountain Goat instead, or entirely cut the Targon package to go for Shurima and Akshan instead, which looks more interesting with Quicksand’s buff.
While this change in Lee Sin’s play patterns will not have a large effect on the ladder, it will have huge implications in tournaments, as it will give the deck a harder time facing aggressive strategies.
Yordles in Arms has been dominating this season, showing a 60% win rate on the ladder with this Tristana version. Its ability to flood the board all the while generating value and suddenly close out the game with Yordles in Arms and/or Golden Aegis make this archetype very hard to deal with.
While Gnar’s nerf is not very impactful, it will still make the deck miss some lethal or even prevent Gnar to attack from time to time. The other 2 nerfs are clearly more important. Loping Telescope is nowhere near as cost-efficient as before, and Sharpsight’s damage buff is now a lot less impactful.
So, will these nerf be enough to take the archetype back to a more reasonable power level? They certainly will lower its win rate a bit, but the deck will very likely still be a Tier 1 deck. The core idea of Yordles in Arms stays intact, and Loping Telescope can easily be discounted with Gleaming Lantern and Bandle City Mayor.
- Notable mentions: Pantheon Demacia, Sivir Demacia, Scouts, Darkness
Demacia’s decks all get hit by the Sharpisght nerf, which will be pretty impactful. Pantheon’s nerf is likely to have an extremely low impact on the deck, and because every other Tier 1 decks got nerfed too, the archetype is likely to stay in the same spot as before.
Sivir Demacia and Scouts’ nerfs hit them a little bit harder as they were not as successful and their nerfs are a bit more meaningful than Pantheon’s. However, they still keep their main strengths and should still be Tier 1 contenders.
Darkness also gets slightly nerfed by Twisted Catalyzer and Conchologist’s nerf, but should not suffer much from it.
Gnar Darius Overwhelm hasn’t been overly popular on the ladder but showed some good results so far this season. However, the deck was struggling against the numerous dominating Demacia decks and Lurk.
Not only does the deck avoid all major nerfs, only getting hit by the small one on Gnar, but it also sees its worst matchups getting tougher nerfs. With Sharpsight getting nerfed, Gnar Darius will become better against Demacia decks as it will be more difficult for them to get a good trade. Lurk should lose some power level and play rate, which is also great for Gnar Darius.
While I do not expect Gnar Darius to become a dominating deck by any means, this patch will clearly push the archetype forward. I expect the deck to be a very good Tier 2 decks, and, depending on the meta, might break into Tier 1.
While the Tristana version of Yordles in Arms is getting hit by a substantial amount of nerfs, it is not the case with the Lulu Fizz version, which is only affected by the Loping telescope nerf.
This different variant trades the power from Demacia for a more explosive board swarm thanks to the discard synergies. While it was performing slightly worse than the Tristana version, it was also a very strong deck, and this patch won’t help to stop it.
Moreover, Pantheon Demacia will very likely still be one of the most popular and successful decks. Lulu Fizz is one of the best counters to it, and therefore will likely continue to thrive in the upcoming environment.
While the deck didn’t get buffed in any way, it is still a winner from the patch as all other Tier 1 decks get at least 1 significant change whereas Lulu Fizz is barely affected.
- Notable mentions: Emerging decks
Aphelios was once dominating the meta with 2-mana weapons and the Veiled Temple, but after the increase of weapons’ cost and temple’s nerf, he pretty much disappeared from the meta.
This revert of the weapon’s cost is very meaningful for the champion, and will without a doubt make him way faster at taking over the game. While this can be quite terrifying, it is important to remember that The Veiled Temple is still nerfed and that the meta has evolved.
Crescendum is also changing to summon a random 2-cost unit instead of tutoring one from the deck, preventing it from getting consistently Boxtopus or Eye of the Dragon. This will make it harder for Aphelios decks to get ahead in the early game compared to what they were doing back when Aphelios was dominating.
While Aphelios will still clearly not be as powerful as he was at his best, this nerf will be very impactful and likely enough to push the champion back into the meta, and we can expect a ton of experimentation around him in the upcoming week.
Another potential emerging deck is Mono-Shurima. The deck has been a meme with awful results for a very long time and gets another buff, this time on Azir, to speed up the archetype. While this will probably not be enough to make the archetype competitive, it is certainly a meaningful change, and we will for sure see a large amount of mono-Shurima decks on the ladder during the first week of the patch.
If the meta is slow enough for the archetype to thrive, mono-Shurima could even get decent results for once, though this is still uncertain.
In this patch, every Tier 1 decks get at least one of their cards nerfed. However, several of these nerfs are actually quite small. Therefore, the top-tier meta should not move too significantly from the nerfs, even though they will even up the win rates. While Lurk was only a Tier 2 deck, its high ladder play rate might make its nerfs quite impactful in the overall meta.
The buffs to forgotten cards such as Aphelios or Viktor could also create new archetypes, which would then have a ripple effect on the meta and change a lot more things than what we can see at first.
Thanks for reading!