Hey, Agigas here! Patch 2.3.0 is a very important one, as it should re-shape the meta significantly with the addition of the Shurima region and 110 new cards!
In this article, we will take a look at how this patch should impact the known meta archetypes that shaped the Cosmic Creation Season. We’ll discuss which top-tier decks will fall, and which ones will persist – or even rise. I hope this article will help you get a sense of a direction where the meta is headed at the start of a new season.
To keep the article concise I won’t go in-depth into the new archetypes that are likely to emerge, but if you want to read more about them you can take a look at my list of the most promising new archetypes of the Shurima expansion.
During Cosmic Creation season, Frejlord/Shadow Isles wasn’t at the top in terms of win rate, but the new Frejlord control tools might give it that little push it needed! Both Blighted Ravine and Ice Shard are welcomed additions to the archetype. The deck featured above is a Feel the Rush list, but be aware that there are many ways to use this control package. Anivia Control is another very popular Frejlord/Shadow Isles deck, and it is very likely that some versions with Trundle and Lissandra will emerge.
In terms of matchups, this archetype is a great answer to Fizz/TF, which should keep a Tier 1 position. The matchup was very close before (Anivia had a 51% win rate against Fizz/TF) but the addition of new cheap board-clears should now give Frejlord/SI control a more clear edge.
Fiora/Shen list should be boosted with the inclusion of Golden Aegis. It is very likely to take Relentless Pursuit‘s slot, as it brings more value to the deck. Relentless Pursuit was a great card to close-out tense games but was useless in some situations. Thanks to the added utility of the Barrier on Golden Aegis, the card will find uses in some of those situations where a simple rally wouldn’t.
Regarding matchups, Fiora/Shen is a very flexible deck that has been at the top throughout numerous metas – it historically was never afraid of newcomers and metagame shifts. Still, Shurima looks to have some strong mechanics to should be good against Fiora/Shen.
Fiora/Shen’s biggest fear always has been Ashe Noxus (38% win rate against it last season), and the numerous attack debuffs means Shurima could play out similarly. Overall, Fiora/Shen should keep its Tier 1 spot without too much trouble, but we’ll have to keep track of how Shurima performs against it.
While Lee/Zoe didn’t gain anything new from the expansion, it didn’t really lose anything either.
It’s hard to predict how the meta will look like with so many new cards, but Lee Sin is unlikely to be touched because there aren’t a lot of new very impressive tools to deal with him. Quicksand will help to delay the Lee Sin kill by a turn, and Kindred could be the scariest card against him. If you don’t have a board, Kindred could mark Lee Sin, giving you very little ways to save him (unless you have the attack token and can challenge and get rid of Kindred).
Speaking of how Lee could win in the meta, the new expansion brings many control tools to Freljord – and Lee Sin could be a good counter to the potential Frejlord/SI control decks (except for Anivia).
The nerf to Aphelios makes this deck a pretty easy pick for the ‘losers’ category. But the real question is how impactful this nerf will be?
I personally expect it to be impactful, even if Aphelios was already sort of a backline unit until he levels up. 2 health is a dangerous number because it gets Aphelios in range of many removals like Mystic Shot or Avalanche.
Still, Targon has many tools to diminish this nerf by buffing and protecting Aphelios (Pale Cascade, Bastion, Sunblessed Vigor, The Veiled Temple), so I expect the deck to still be able to protect its champion. After all, it was already doing a fine job at protecting a 2-health Twisted Fate.
Nevertheless, Aphelios will be easier to threaten, forcing the opponent to keep mana open for protection spells.
In regards to the meta, Aphelios/TF is a very flexible deck with a pretty evenly-distributed matchup table. Overall, I don’t expect the changes of meta to affect the deck too much – unless another deck starts to really dominate. My expectation is that Aphelios/TF will still be a very solid Tier 1 deck, despite the nerf to Aphelios.
Discard Aggro is a very strong archetype, but there’s one thing that scares it: cheap board-clears. Avalanche, for example, is painful for Discard Aggro, and Withering Wail is even more threatening because the fast speed allows the opponent to cast it during the attack. Ice Shard is absolutely terrifying for Discard Aggro, while Blighted Ravine and Spirit Fire are also cards that are going to stifle Discard Aggro’s gameplan.
On the bright side, Discard Aggro will still be very powerful against many other decks. So how much Discard Aggro will lose will be heavily dependant on how popular archetypes playing these new board-wipes are going to be. Overall, I expect the deck to be one of the losers of the expansion – it might even drop down to Tier 2.
Fizz/TF has been one of the most dominating decks of the past season, and the fact that it dodged a nerf might suggest that it would continue to dominate. However, the meta is going to change, and not in Fizz/TF’s favor.
Firstly, the expansion brings a new powerful Shurima-based Overwhelm archetype (Renekton, Ruin Runner), and if Fizz/TF hates one thing it’s probably Overwhelm (34%-43% win rate, depending on versions, against it last season).
But this expansion also brings some control tools that are strong against Fizz/TF. Blighted Ravine will be annoying to deal with, as well as Ice Shard, and Spirit Fire is another board-wide removal. Blighted Ravine and Ice Shard might increase the popularity of Frejlord/SI control, which were already slightly unfavorable for Fizz/TF (49% win rate against Anivia Control and 45% – against Feel the Rush) and will be likely harder to beat because of the new cards they got.
Still, make no mistake, Fizz/TF is one of the strongest decks the game has ever produced and is probably not gonna fade at the first sight of meta changes. It will still have many favorable matchups and can upset bad ones. I expect Fizz/TF to keep a solid spot in Tier 1, but to be slightly less dominant because of the higher numbers of tools to equip against it.
Pirate Aggro is a very meta-dependant archetype, shining against greedy decks, but struggling against other aggressive decks or midrange decks with healing.
While Shurima expansion doesn’t bring much more healing and might create some decks that will struggle against Pirate Aggro, it is also a region with a lot of strong aggressive options, like Overwhelm (Renekton, Ruin Runner).
Outside of Shurima, Blighted Ravine is another card that should see a lot of play and that isn’t very friendly with our pirates. Also, one of Pirate Aggro’s favorite targets, Fizz/TF (Pirates Aggro had a 64% win rate against Fizz/TF), might suffer from the expansion, which might hurt its popularity and therefore Pirate Aggro’s meta stance.
The deck gains no new options from the expansion to help it adapt to the upcoming meta. Pirate Aggro will still be a strong deck and could be a way to punish some unrefined greedy lists, but overall the changes might be just enough to push it down to the Tier 2 category, before returning to glory when the meta will allow it.
Overall, it looks like the top-tier decks of the previous season will still be a dominant force in the new meta. However, it’s worth noting that the ladder environment should be extremely different in the first few days because most players will be looking to playtest with the new Shurima cards.
Hence, a ‘pocket meta’ might emerge, with some archetypes being weaker than they would be under ‘normal’ conditions, and some others stronger. But eventually, the meta will return to a more standard shape.
That’s all for the article, if you have any question, or feedback, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below and in this dedicated Reddit post! 😉
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Thanks for reading!