Thresh Nasus Deck Guide and Matchups

Updated for Patch 2.12! Thresh Nasus is a midrange deck that leverages sacrifice synergies, and it has been at the top of the meta for several seasons.

Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins. I love sharing my knowledge about the game and I have been a regular writer at RuneterraCCG. I write in-depth deck guides, articles for tournament players, and curate our constantly updated Meta Tier List.

This guide is dedicated to Thresh Nasus – a midrange deck that leverages sacrifice synergies and uses Nasus as finisher.

Playstyle: Midrange.

In the early game, Thresh Nasus has a lot of powerful units to get a good start on the board. The deck can build wide boards very quickly with its numerous cheap units.

Unless we’ve drawn into an unlucky and awkward hand, it will be hard for the opponent to keep up with all our sacrifice synergies. For example, Cursed Keeper into Ravenous Butcher can be very punishing. Thanks to this powerful early game with high-roll potential, Thresh Nasus can push a good chunk of early damage to prepare for the Atrocity win condition.

With sacrifice synergies also comes a high amount of draw (Glimpse Beyond, Spirit Leech), making this deck very consistent at finding the right cards, and enabling it to go into long and grindy games without running out of value.

In the mid-game, Thresh comes down and puts huge pressure on the opponent. The Challenger keyword makes him very strong at taking control over the board. Most importantly, with your ability to go wide and sacrifice your own units, Thresh levels up very quickly. When he does, slamming a free Nasus onto the board considerably accelerates your win condition.

Nasus is the finisher in the deck. He grows very quickly, and the 10/10 stat milestone is not very hard to reach as you’re approaching the late game. If the opponent can’t answer your Nasus, he will level up and add even more to your game plan. The debuff passive makes it even harder for the opponent to claw back into the game, and the Spellshield makes it very easy to finish the game with Atrocity.

Techs and Options

  • The Undying is very well-supported by our sacrifice shell, making sure we always have a disposable body. It can grow pretty fast and is very hard to deal with, but its lack of impact early on and the inability to block make him very bad into fast-paced matchup. Run it if you face a lot of grindy matchups.
  • Blighted Caretaker fits very well with our sacrifice package, and can find some great trades. It also has a great synergy with Thresh’s level-up condition. It doesn’t see as much play since its nerf, and the deck is already stacked with good cards, but it is definitely still worth considering as a unit.

General Tips

  • Value your sacrifice fodder. You need to always have something to sacrifice, else you might find yourself in this kind of spot.
    • You don’t want to see Cursed Keeper or Fading Icon‘s Prey die in combat if you have sacrifice payoffs in hand.
    • Try to leverage your Dunekeeper‘s Sand Soldier for sacrifice synergies when possible.
  • In combat, place your Baccai Reaper and Nasus to the last, right-most position. Both those units gain stats when you slay units. Positioning them last during your attack allows them to gain the stats from the other trades happening.
  • Keep track of Thresh’s level-up condition. Thresh can easily level up in this deck, very quickly. Always be aware of how many deaths you still need to level him up and how many death triggers you can enable with your current hand. It is often easy to level up Thresh during an attack, but ideally, you want to level him up before the attack so you can get your Nasus out rightaway.
  • Rite of Negation can be used on an empty stack as a sacrifice enabler. Be aware that if you really need a way to sacrifice a unit (e.g. to give Nasus an extra boost to level him up or save him, or to level up your Thresh), Rite of Negation can be used even if there is no spell on the stack to counter.

General mulligan tips:

  • Look for your sacrifice fodder: Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Dunekeeper. Running out of them early is the worst thing that can happen to you. Once you have enough fodder, you can look to keep payoffs, like Ravenous Butcher or Blighted Caretaker.
  • In many matchups, Thresh is the most powerful card in your deck, and you should keep him to make sure you can play him on-curve.
  • Vile Feast is a great keep against aggro strategies or important 1-health units.
  • You can keep Black Spear in matchups where you really need removal for a specific unit (e.g. Miss Fortune in Scouts).
  • Baccai Reaper is a great 1-drop to keep. If you’ve played him out early he’ll grow to very high stats.

Be aware that these are just the general guidelines to help you understand the deck’s gameplan. Mulligans are very matchup-dependant – please refer to the matchup section below for more specific advice on mulligans against different meta decks.


Click on the box to read detailed info about a matchup of choice:

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Vile Feast, Merciless Hunter, Thresh. If you have sacrifice fodder, keep Ravenous Butcher or The Wings And The Wave.

Matchup tips:

  • The hardest part of this matchup is surviving their attacks, as they can attack several times with lots of tokens. Use you units with higher health stats points to block their 1/1 Sand Soldiers. Try to keep your 1 health units to either block bigger attackers, like Sparring Student or tokens once buffed by Azir.
  • Blades are their lowest-damage units. Avoid blocking them unless you’re board is very strong and your units can afford to take damage and still be able to block Sand Soldiers later.
    • Unlike Sand Soldiers, Blades don’t die when they hit you, they are obliterated. Therefore, they wont progress Thresh’s level-up condition if you don’t kill them. Consider blocking Blades to kill them if it can help you level Thresh faster.
  • Thresh can level up extremely fast in this matchup, very often the turn right after you played him, thanks to their numerous tokens attacking.
  • Nasus level 2 is very effective at making their numerous tokens weaker, and can finish games very quickly. It is quite easy to get your Nasus very big very quickly because of their tokens.
  • While your champions are both very effective against their gameplan, Azir Irelia can sned them back to your hand with Defiant Dance and Will of Ionia (or Homecoming in some versions). Try to avoid getting out-tempo’ed too hard by it.
  • If you manage to assemble a strong board and limit their synergies, their best way to get damage through is Greenglade Duo. If you have enough board presence to block Sparring Student, consider not killing him with Vile Feast and keep it in case they play a Greenglade Duo.
    • Be aware they can protect Greenglade Duo with Shaped Stone or Twin Disciplines. When available, Black Spear is the safest option to remove Greenglade Duo, but you might also need it to remove Irelia.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Merciless Hunter. Ravenous Butcher, Spirit Leech – if you have sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • In the early to mid-game, you can go toe-to-toe with them thanks to your sacrifice synergies. Avoid taking too much damage to prevent Kato the Arm and Ruin Runner from finishing through Overwhelm damage.
  • Merciless Hunter’s ability goes through Spellshield – she is a key unit to remove Sivir or Ruin Runner.
  • You can use Glimpse Beyond on your blocker to prevent a Reputation proc. This is particularly effective against Sivir and LeBlanc.
    • This doesn’t work against Overwhelm units.
  • They have a hard time removing Nasus and don’t have any way to kill their own units in order to prevent Nasus from striking and leveling. Using Nasus’ Siphoning Strike is often a great way to grow your Nasus out of control.
    • Their best answer to this play is Bloody Business on a unit buffed with Shaped Stone. Some versions play Rite of Negation, but most don’t.
    • They don’t have healing either, so finishing games with Atrocity is also very safe.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Ravenous Butcher if you have early sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • Deep is a deck looking to Toss cards to go Deep quickly, usually around turn 6-7. Once it gets there, it plays powerful Sea Monsters to overtake the game (often with a Nautilus‘s discount) and quickly close things out.
  • Their early defenses are relatively weak – this is one angle you need to attack them from. You want to push as much damage as possible with your sacrifice synergies, as it will make the finish much easier with Atrocity.
  • Use your Black Spear to remove their Toss engines: Sea Scarab and Maokai. You can also use it to answer a Devourer of the Depths – but you need a unit to have died this turn, so it won’t be possible if they open with it.
  • Try to avoid going too wide with 1-health units when they have 5+ mana – most versions run Withering Wail.
  • Once they are Deep, the game gets much harder for you. However, they don’t have a good counter to Nasus + Atrocity. Only Vengeance can help them, and most versions don’t run it at all.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Cursed Keeper, Faded Icon, Merciless Hunter. Ravenous Butcher, Spirit Leech if you have sacrifice fodder. Rite of Negation if you have a great hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Lurk’s early aggression with numerous low-cost units usually won’t be enough to take you down, as you can match them on board.
  • Their gameplan in this matchup relies on powerful mid-game synergies. Pyke level 2 and Jaull-fish can wipe your board, clearing the way for the high-attack units.
    • Rite of Negation is a great counter to their mid-game powerplays. You can use it to counter Death from Below or Jaull-fish’s ability.
    • Pyke is the priority target for your Black Spear.
  • Because their units’ attack keep growing, units with large amount of health, like Thresh, have a hard time dominating the board.
    • Later on, large units are important to be able to block Overwhelm Lurkers without taking too much damage.
  • They don’t have any way to punish you for playing low-health units. Fading Icon and Spirit Leech are very effective.
  • Nasus’ Siphoning Strike is a great removal to get rid of their largest Lurkers. Try to cast it when they can’t answer with Bone Skewer.

Mulligan for: Dunekeeper, Baccai Reaper, Fading Icon, Vile Feast. Keep Thresh or Black Spear if you have a good early hand. Keep Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder for it, and keep Cursed Keeper if you have Ravenous Butcher.

Matchup tips:

  • Discard Aggro leverages discard synergies for a very explosive early game. Some games are won through the board-flood and board-wide buffs – and when they are not enough the deck looks to close with powerful payoffs like Jinx and Crowd Favorite.
  • You can flood the board yourself pretty well, so you can match their early game. Keep trading units so they don’t get a big Crowd Favorite, which would be much more problematic for you.
  • Once you’ve got through the early turns and somewhat stabilized the board, Jinx becomes their main threat. She can quickly run away with the game when unanswered. Black Spear is your best answer to Jinx, though you can also kill her with Atrocity or challenge her in combat.
  • Augmented Experimenter is another great end-game card for them to find more tools to win. You can deny his ability with Rite of Negation.
  • Because you both are looking to flood the board, Thresh can level up quickly.
  • If you manage to counter their game plan and survive, you shouldn’t struggle to finish – they don’t have good answers to Nasus.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Vile Feast, Cursed Keeper, Merciless Hunter. Ravenous Butcher, Spirit Leech if you have sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • Merciless Hunter’s ability goes through Spellshield, making her a key unit to remove Sivir or Ruin Runner. Try to force them to play into it and get a very good Merciless Hunter.
  • They also have their Merciless Hunter of their own. Play around it when possible.
  • They have ways to deal lots of damage through your board with Ghost or Ruin Runner’s Overwhelm keyword. Try to protect your Nexus health. Chump block Sivir and Zed if you have small units.
  • Don’t overplay around their buffs. Try to force them to use Shaped Stone and Twin Disciplines in suboptimal situation, so you can run them out of ressources and start getting good trades.
  • They don’t have any efficient way to deal with Nasus if he grows too large. They can only try to delay his attack with Concussive Palm.
    • Most versions play 1 or 2 Deny, and that’s their only way to prevent the Atrocity lethal.
  • Be very careful when they have a leveled Sivir on board. They can give her Elusive or Double Attack and she will then apply the keyword to their whole board.
  • If you have a great early draw and they don’t, you can put a lot of pressure on them. If you can force them to block with their quick attack units it will make the game much easier.
  • Sometimes they’ll have the perfect combo and kill you with Sivir + Ghost + Flurry of Fists (+ buff) very early. There is unfortunately nothing you can do about it a long as the opponent plays correctly, so you have to accept it.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Fading Icon, Vile Feast. Ravenous Butcher if you have sacrifice fodder. Cursed Keeper if you have Ravenous Butcher. Merciless Hunter if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Pirate Burn is a very aggressive archetype and will go directly after your Nexus with all they got. Therefore, you need to get a strong curve out to match their aggression and protect your health as much as possible.
  • 1-health units will struggle because of Make it Rain and Miss Fortune‘s ability. Try to force trades with your 1-health units and prevent spots where they would die for free.
  • Try to prevent them from spreading out their damage between different turns. Gangplank leveling up too early will be a huge problem in the mid-game, but if you can slow him down until Nasus comes down, it wil be much more manageable.
  • Rite of Negation’s best target is Decimate. Some versions also play Double Up, which you can counter very effectively with Glimpse Beyond.
  • If you can limit damage you take, there isn’t much they can do to defend themselves against a big Nasus. You should be able to take over the game at this stage. Try to close out quickly so they don’t get more time to topdeck more burn damage.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Ravenous Butcher or Spirit Leech if you have good early sacrifice fodders. Keep Black Spear if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Ezreal Draven is a midrange deck that uses powerful mid-game units and removals to keep up early. It has strong tempo turns in the mid-game with cards like Tri-beam Improbulator and Arachnoid Sentry. The deck uses this tempo advantage to push a lot of damage and then finishes with burn (level 2 Ezreal, Captain Farron, burn spells).
  • Your strong early game with sacrifice synergies generally allows you to be the aggressor. They don’t have any source of healing in their deck, so if you can lower their Nexus health it will make finishing with Atrocity that much easier.
  • On the other hand, you don’t have that much healing either (only Vile Feast) and they have a lot of burn damage. Make sure you stay as healthy as possible to prevent their win condition.
  • Thresh doesn’t get to stick on board very often. They often run Culling Strike, which is a great counter to Thresh. Ravenous Flock will also get rid of him once he takes 2 damage.
  • Resolving your Glimpse Beyond is very important – you can often grind them out in a long game. However, they have a lot of cheap removals, the most notable one being Mystic Shot. Try to find a safe window for your Glimpse.
  • Their easiest way to kill you is with a leveled Ezreal. Make sure you have a Black Spear to prevent it from happening. You can also use Nasus’s Siphoning Strike, but be careful about Scorched Earth if Nasus is already damaged.
  • They have a lot of removals, but most of them are not ‘big’ enough to deal with Nasus (ex: Mystic Shot, Ravenous Flock). Their best way to remove a very large unit is with Scorched Earth – which requires Nasus to already be damaged. Therefore, casting Atrocity on a full-health Nasus to finish the game is perfectly safe.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Thresh, Nasus, Vile Feast, Rite of Calling.

Matchup tips:

  • The mirror is mostly about who has the biggest Nasus. Your game plans naturally match each other as the game goes on, and once you get to the Nasus turn the player with the bigger Nasus will dominate the board, get to level up, and will make it a lot harder for the other player to use their own Nasus. Look to get as many slays for Nasus as possible while denying the opponent’s slays.
    • Withering Wail is a very strong tech for this matchup. It will allow you to kill opponent’s units without trading off yours, and therefore it will buff your Nasus without buffing theirs.
  • Thresh is very important in this matchup. Being able to cheat out your Nasus helps a lot to win the tempo.
    • Avoid challenging or blocking a large unit with Thresh – you don’t want Thresh to be finished with a Black Spear.
    • When both players have Thresh on board you should try to set it up so your Thresh will level up on your attack turn with the attack token still up, so you can get your Nasus first.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Merciless Hunter. Keep Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder. Keep Thresh if you have a good hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Zoe Lee is a combo deck looking to stall out the game early and then give Overwhelm to Lee Sin to OTK their opponent, all while backing him up with protection spells. If you give them too much time, they’ll eventually win with Lee Sin. Unless they make a mistake or are forced into a weird line, it’s very unlikely you will remove him. However, they have a bit of a lackluster early game, where you can pressure them a lot.
  • Zoe isn’t a very big problem for you, as you can challenge her with Merciless Hunter. Vile Feast can also work, although keep in mind they have numerous ways to answer it (Pale Cascade, Nopeify!, Twin Discplines, but also bigger spells like Deny and Bastion).
  • Eye of the Dragon is their best defensive unit against you. Try to get rid of it with Merciless Hunter or even with a Black Spear.
  • They don’t have removals, their best ways to get rid of a key unit is by challenging it with Lee Sin or Sonic Wave. Therefore, Thresh can level up pretty easily to give you a lot of tempo.
    • Eye of the Dragon’s Dragonling will greatly accelerate Thresh’s level up.
  • If oyu pressure them enough, you can prevent them from finding time to stack spell mana and play Lee. Against them, the best defense it often a strong attack.
  • When they go for the Lee Sin OTK, you can try to delay it by using Glimpse Beyond or Atrocity on the challenged unit, Rite of Negation, or Black Spear your own unit.

Gameplay video

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon, Black Spear. Keep Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder. Keep Rite of Negation if you have a good early hand.

Matchup tips:

  • Ashe Noxus is a midrange deck leveraging Frostbites and 5+ attack synergies, like Trifarian Assessor or Reckoning.
  • Ashe Noxus is often considered to be a counter to Thresh Nasus. It has the ability to win trades, heavily swing games with Reckoning, go for lethal with Ashe, and freeze Nasus to deny him a level-up or Atrocity finish. While it is true that in theory, Ashe Noxus has a strong matchup against Thresh Nasus, in practice the matchup is very close. Thanks to the efficiency of your draw, to beat Thresh Nasus they will need a lot of answers and missing one will often be the end for Ashe Noxus.
  • Your powerful early start can pose them a lot of problems if they can’t match it. It is unlikely to result in a quick aggro win for you, but the pressure can force them to use valuable resources like Culling Strike or Frostbites.
  • Thresh tends to underperform in the matchup, as they can easily remove him with Culling Strike or Reckoning. However, if they don’t have an answer, or if you have a Rite of Negation for it, he can quickly level up.
  • Reckoning is a very powerful tool, but it can really hurt them if you manage to counter it with a Rite of Negation. Keep mana for it when they are in a good Reckoning spot and are keeping 6 mana up.
  • Keep your Black Spear to remove Ashe. Without Ashe, their deck can struggle to finish games.
  • If you manage to keep the board clear, you can outvalue them – they don’t have much draw outside of a Trifarian Assessor.
  • Nasus can only be frozen so many times. Brittle Steel won’t work on him, so their burst speed spells for Nasus are limited to Harsh Winds, Three Sisters, and Ashe’s Flash Freeze.

Mulligan for: Baccai Reaper, Dunekeeper, Cursed Keeper, Fading Icon. Keep Ravenous Butcher if you have a sacrifice fodder.

Matchup tips:

  • Overwhelm Shurima is a very straightforward deck: it plays big Overwhelm units and hits you. It has some combat tricks to back them up, as well as the ability to give the Vulnerable keyword to pick their fights. It often finishes games with Battle Fury.
  • This matchup can be difficult if they have the right tools. Your numerous 1-health units aren’t exactly good anti-Overwhelm blockers. You often won’t have enough time to grow your Nasus which can make it hard to kill them before they kill you. You don’t have an answer to Battle Fury.
  • Your best way to upset the matchup is to go on the offensive. If you let Overwhelm too much time, they’ll eventually kill you, but they can be quite Vulnerable to aggro strategies.
    • Going for powerful early sacrifice synergies early and pushing a lot of damage is a very effective strategy.
    • They don’t have any healing, so every point of damage will stick, and they have no removal or counter for Atrocity – you can even safely cast your Atrocity on your buffed Baccai Reaper.
    • Their only “counter” to Atrocity is Troll Chant, allowing them to lower the attack of your unit by 2 to take less damage. Some version play Three Sisters.

Mulligan for: Ravenous Butcher, Baccai Reaper, Cursed Keeper, Merciless Hunter, Rite of Negation.

Matchup tips:

  • This matchup can be difficult because of their cheap board clears (Avalanche, Ice Shard, Blighted Ravine), and their numerous 8/8 Frostguard Thralls that usually come out before your Nasus gets large enough.
  • Outgrinding them if often not an option because of their Overwhelm beaters, so you need to go under them. Try to be very aggressive.
    • Play around Avalanche, Ice Shard, and Blighted Ravine if possible, but if you can’t you need to recognize it and play as if they don’t have it.
    • Having Cursed Keeper on board can make their board clears awkward.
  • Thresh is hard for them to get rid of, if you play him on a large board he can level up and accelerate your plan.
  • Sometime, their deck can have clunky draws (no Frozen Thralls, or, the opposite, many Frozen Thralls but no activators), which can give you more time to beat them down and build a large Nasus.

Closing Words

Thresh Nasus has been one of the most effective and successful midrange strategies for a long time, and it’s likely to stay that way for a while. With a mix of good aggression, strong value, ways to out-tempo the opponent, and a powerful finisher, the deck can adapt to pretty much any matchup.

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LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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