There are several archetypes built around Viego that can be encountered on the competitive ladder during this patch – pairing him with Freljord, Shurima, or Ionia. Each region provides its unique cards and its own advantages and disadvantages.
This guide will be taking on the Viego Ionia version. I’ll talk about the basic gameplan, card techs, and matchup tips.
Gameplan & Tips
Ionia offers the Viego deck more tools to protect your champion, helping you secure Viego’s level-up, which is your main win condition.
Camavoran Soldier and
Cards like Glimpse Beyond and Spirit Leech aren’t only of importance for the card draw they provide. Playing those cards while Viego is on board will trigger his passive, allowing you to increase his stats.
The deck runs a lot of tools to protect your Viego if your opponent attempts to kill him. Cards like Deny, Syncopation, Spirit’s Refuge, and Twin Disciplines are essential to make sure Viego sticks on the board and levels up.
Once Viego has seen allies with 20+ total power die, he transforms and from there you should secure the win easily. The ability to steal the strongest unit from your opponent or kill off their champion will allow you to completely dominate the game.
Attacking with your buffed-up
Atrocity is your game finisher – once you’ve got your Viego or one of your Encroached Mists buffed up.
Here’s a tip on how to set up more blockers for your defensive turn. If during your attacking turn you have a Viego on the board along with an Encroached Mist summoned either from Camavoran Soldier or Invasion Hydravine, you can opt to not activate Viego’s ability this turn.
In this case, this is what will happen: at the end of your turn, your Ephemeral Mist will die, it will trigger Viego, and spawn another Mist. However, this new Mist will not die that same turn because the game already completed the ‘Ephemeral check’. It will ‘carry over’ into the next round where you can use it as a blocker.
Techs & Options
Ionia offers a lot of good cards for us to choose from, but sadly we’re limited to the number of cards we can have in a deck. The exact inclusions and ratios often come down to personal preferences and which matchups are you trying to do well in.
- The second champion
Viego is usually being played as the only champion in the deck – but he can be paired with Elise, Kalista, or Thresh. Both Elise and Kalista can make sense as early units that help you contest the board. You can work on leveling up your Kalista too, but it’s not your primary goal. Thresh acts more like a removal – the Challenger keyword can come in handy when you’re looking to deal with pesky units or key champions your opponent relies on. It’s not too difficult to level up Thresh in this deck as the Encroached Mists contribute to his level-up condition.
- Tasty Faefolk
- Concussive Palm
- Shadow Assassin
Vengeance is a heavy removal card but comes in handy when you need to take out a key win condition on your opponent’s board.
- The Rekindler
Viego is your win condition, and The Rekindler can revive him, acting essentially as another pseudo-protection tool.
Mulligan for: Viego, Camavoran Soldier, Fading Icon, Greenglade Lookout, Darkwater Scourge.
- Try to keep up with your opponent’s early aggression, Camavoran Soldier is the perfect 3-drop on defense to help negate some of the incoming damage.
- Vile Feast can remove one of your opponent’s 1-health units like Zaunite Urchin or Boom Baboon while also summoning a Spiderling on your board that acts as a blocker.
- Trading and removing units early turns is crucial as your opponent might be setting up for a Crowd Favorite. The fewer units there are on your opponent’s board the weaker Crowd Favorite will be.
- Deny is important to stop some of the burn cards your opponent might use to end the game, like Get Excited! or Super Mega Death Rocket! generated by Jinx. But you can also deny Augmented Experimenter‘s ability.
- Jinx is pretty much their main threat in this matchup, Death Mark can take her out, or leveling up your Viego will kill her at the start of a turn.
- Your opponent does not run cards that can reliably remove Viego off the board, you can work on growing his stats and setting up an Atrocity lethal.
Mulligan for: Darkwater Scourge, Greenglade Lookout, Camavoran Soldier.
- Your opponent plans on pushing early damage with their cheap units.
- Be wary of Noxian Fervor, you don’t run reliable tools to interrupt it aside from Deny (and Vile Feast if the Fervor was played on a 1-health unit).
- Blackwater Scourge is the MVP of this matchup, you might find yourself playing the unit just to heal up even you don’t have Death Mark in hand. Your opponent can still deny the healing by blocking and playing Noxian Fervor.
- Deny is ideally saved for a Decimate over a Fervor but depending on the scenario, you might make an exception.
- Try not to kill Legion Grenadier on your attacking turn (unless they have already damaged your Nexus somehow that turn) as as it will unnecessarily advance the level-up requirement of Gangplank.
- Do not value Viego too much in this matchup, if you feel the need to sacrifice him in order to preserve your health or remove Gangplank, you should go for it.
Mulligan for: Viego, Greenglade Lookout, Camavoran Soldier.
- The Ionia package offers a lot of cards to protect your Viego from removals such as Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth.
- Your main goal is to level up Viego before your opponent can set up The Leviathan and Swain stun-lock.
- It’s difficult for your opponent to interrupt Death Mark if played on an Ephemeral unit with higher health than 3. Usually, you want to save it for either Swain or The Leviathan.
- Keep in mind that your opponent does run Monster Harpoon – if they’ve activated Plunder it will cost 3 mana.
Mulligan for: Viego, Camavoran Soldier, Fading Icon, Greenglade Lookout, Darkwater Scourge.
- Main threat you have to watch out for is Lulu supporting Elusive units like Young Witch which will push a lot of damage.
- Your opponent doesn’t run reliable tools to remove your Viego off the board, so leveling him up should be hard to stop.
- Preserve your health early on even if you lose units to unfavorable blocks.
- Death Mark should usually be saved for either Lulu or Jinx.
- Your opponent could set up to remove your Viego with a Flame Chompers! supported by Lulu along with a Twin Disciplines, make sure to keep mana up to protect him.
Mulligan for: Viego, Invasion Hydravine, Greenglade Lookout.
- This is pretty much a mirror matchup, the difference is that the Ionia version has more tools to keep Viego on the board.
- Leveling up Viego first is the main objective for both players, a leveled Viego will dominate the board.
- If there’s a leveled-up Viego on both sides of the board, the player with the attack token at the start of the turn will have their Viego’s ability trigger first. This means the other player will lose their Viego if it is the strongest unit on board.
- Always keep Deny mana up if your Nexus is in range for Atrocity lethal.
- Remember that the Shurima version runs Merciless Hunter which could potentially remove your Viego with the Vulnerable keyword she gives.
- Depending on the scenario you might opt to not attack to deny the progress of your opponent’s Viego level-up. Attacking will allow your opponent to trade their units with yours and advance their Viego.
Mulligan for: Viego, Camavoran Soldier, Fading Icon, Greenglade Lookout.
- Preserve your health early game, your opponent will start pushing a lot of damage later on with both of their Overwhelm champions.
- The main threat in this matchup is Sejuani, once leveled she’ll be able to freeze your whole board denying you from taking good trades or ending the game. Removing Sejuani off the board is a top priority.
- If you have your champion spell
Viego’s Despairin hand you can play the spell on Sejuani to remove her.
- Leveling up your Viego can turn into a nightmare for your opponent, Sejuani is the strongest unit in your opponent’s deck, meaning Viego will in most cases kill the Sejuani at the start of the round.
- Sejuani can freeze your whole board only once a turn, you can take advantage of that by summoning a buffy Encroached Mist and playing Atrocity to close out the game after they’ve triggered Sejuani.
- Spirit’s Refuge on Viego can heal your Nexus by a lot, your opponent doesn’t have effective tools to deny the healing, unless they’re running Flash Freeze.
Mulligan for: Greenglade Lookout, Viego, Camavoran Soldier, Invasion Hydravine.
- You’re not an aggressive deck, you won’t be able to close out the game before Lee Sin sets up his combo. Your goal is to level up Viego as soon as possible.
- Play Darkwater Scourge for the purpose of advancing Viego’s level-up.
- Once Viego is leveled it’ll be hard for your opponent to keep Lee Sin on the board. They’ll have to play him and set up the one-shot combo all on the same turn.
- Denying the kick with cards like Glimpse Beyond and Atrocity can potentially buy you an extra turn.
Mulligan for: Fading Icon, Greenglade Lookout, Viego, Camavoran Soldier.
- Trade with your opponent’s Lurk units before they swarm the board.
- Watch out for Redfin Hammersnout as it can threaten to remove your Viego off the board with the Vulnerable keyword it gives.
- Keep Deny mana up as long as your opponent has at least 4 mana, stopping
Death from Belowis important to not lose on board presence.
- Outside of Bone Skewer,
Death from Below, and Vulnerable effects, your opponent cannot remove Viego off the board. Once leveled you’ll be able to steal strong units off their board and add them to your side.
- Your opponent is forced to attack to activate Lurk, so Encroaching Mists can come in handy in this situation by blocking and removing some of your opponent’s units for free.
Mulligan for: Vile Feast, Viego, Camavoran Soldier, Fading Icon, Greenglade Lookout.
- Your opponent relies on value trades and dominating board presence to win the game.
- Shen will be the main problem early game, you can attempt to remove him by blocking him with a Twin Disciplines cast on your unit.
- Most Shen Jarvan lists have opted to remove Nopeify! from their lists, so getting Death Mark to apply Ephemeral keyword on either Shen or Jarvan IV should be easier. They can interrupt it with either Deny, Single Combat, or Concerted Strike.
- Vile Feast can remove a Barrier – usually, you’d want to save it for Jarvan IV.
- Watch out for Jarvan’s turn 6/7 attack, he’ll join the battle at Burst speed challenging your strongest unit.
- If your opponent has played a Greenglade Lookout and managed to strike with it, expect that Jarvan could potentially join the battle earlier.
- Deny is usually kept to either protect your Viego or to stop the Rally from Golden Aegis.
- A leveled Viego that sticks on the board will shift the game to your favor as your opponent will struggle to find answers to kill him.
Mulligan for: Viego, Fading Icon, Greenglade Lookout, Camavoran Soldier.
- Your main goal in this matchup is to level up Viego as fast as possible, a leveled Viego will kill your opponent’s Sivir at the start of the round. If your opponent has a Ruin Runner on the board, Viego will instead steal it.
- Protecting Viego is necessary, your opponent might attempt to kill Viego by giving him the Vulnerable keyword by Merciless Hunter and challenging Viego with a unit that can take him out.
- Syncopation, Twin Disciplines, and Spirit’s Refuge are crucial cards to keep your Viego alive.
- Spirit’s Refuge is important to hold onto to remove your opponent’s Sivir. The Barrier it provides will allow you to kill Sivir through her Quick Attack.
- Sivir is the main win condition for your opponent, you might opt not to attack if it means your opponent’s Sivir will level up. A leveled-up Sivir can give all her keywords to the other attacking units, meaning they might all have Elusive and Double Attack threatening a lethal that cannot be answered.
- In some scenarios, your opponent will initiate a non-lethal attack that’s setting up for a Fist of Flurry on Ruin Runner after you declare blocks. You might consider not giving them priority back to do so – skip blocks and let the attack resolve as is. Even though you’re taking a lot of damage, your opponent could have ended the game if you would’ve actually blocked.
Mulligan for: Viego, Greenglade Lookout, Vile Feast, Camavoran Soldier, Darkwater Scourge, Death Mark.
- Darkwater Scourge can aid with sustaining our Nexus’ health. Usually, you want to play Death Mark and grant the Ephemeral keyword onto either Azir or Irelia.
- However, your opponent runs a lot of tools to save their champions from Death Mark.
- Your opponent has access to Homecoming and Defiant Dance, two cards that can recall Viego back to your hand. This will reset your level-up condition. Deny and Syncopation are your only cards to shut down this kind of play.
- You can potentially remove an attacking Irelia if you block with one of your units and give it Twin Disciplines or Spirit’s Refuge.
- Vile Feast in most cases is saved for Greenglade Duo or Sparring Student, depending on the scenario.
The archetype is yet to be solved and there’s no consensus on which specific list is optimal. Players keep testing different champions and cards with Viego Ionia, but it comes down to which matchup you want the deck to perform better in.
I’ve found the deck entertaining to play – but it requires time to master, your mistakes could easily decide the outcome of the game.
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