So, I caught wind of this deck the other day. Figured I should give it a try, you never know. Plus according to some people the deck has been doing pretty well against the established meta, with Portuguese Masters player Manittas apparently going 11-0 with it on stream. Fair enough I thought, let me try it out.
The goal of the archetype is to leverage Shurima’s early-to-mid-game Vulnerable package to create targets for our Quick Attack champions. We use a few tricks here and there as well as some amount of Predict, but the important pieces of the deck are in the title: Zed & Sivir. For this deck, the best defense is a strong offense.
Zed‘s main purpose is to apply pressure via damage, though his Quick Attack also synergizes very well with Flurry of Fists and our multiple ways to inflict Vulnerable on our foes. Aside from that, Zed sadly remains a mostly mediocre champion. It is a big issue that his champion spell is near-unusable – an additional copy of Zed drawn is essentially a brick.
She blows Zed out of the water thanks to her Spellshield. Sivir can grant us a high amount of value when she has Vulnerable targets to pick off attack after attack. Once leveled, a Flurry of Fists can potentially turn your whole board into a spellshielded, double-attacking meat grinder.
- Vulnerable package
We are talking about Rock Hopper, Merciless Hunter, Baccai Sandspinner, and Ruthless Predator. They all serve to offer us good trades throughout the game while also providing us with solid bodies on their own.
- Flurry of Fists
We can call this one a combo piece or a finisher. Flurry of Fists obviously pairs well with Zed and Sivir, especially when either of them is leveled. Ruin Runner also makes very good use of it and becomes a real force of nature with Double Attack on. It becomes much weaker to use on other units though, and can easily clog our hand.
- Ruthless Predator vs Exhaust
In a vacuum, it is hard to deny that Exhaust is a more efficient spell. For this deck in particular though, we usually are looking to push damage rather than mitigate it when making use of the Vulnerable keyword. In a more meta-specific example, against Thresh Nasus, Ruthless Predator can boost Sivir, Baccai Sandspinner, or Merciless Hunter just enough so that they can take Thresh out. Exhaust could have a place in this deck if you found yourself in need of more removal, but I would not remove Ruthless Predator for it.
- Fae Bladetwirler and recall package
The usefulness of Fae Bladetwirler is gated by its reliance on Stun and Recall effects. There is no simple way to remedy this problem, though in this case, we could include the Dancing Droplet package, including Retreat, and perhaps Homecoming as well. This would of course alter the early curve of the deck significantly, and I am still unsure which way is preferable.
- Twin Disciplines
The deck definitely lacks protection for our crucial units. While Retreat can be an appealing option, it lacks the flexibility of Twin Disciplines that can also be used to push damage. I will say, I am not a fan of Twin Disciplines as I think it is overcosted, but it is nonetheless an option.
Considering the wealth of Vulnerable effects in the deck and how well Renekton synergizes with them, it can be strange to see other champions in his place. Trouble is, I am already playing eight 4-drops in my version of the deck, so replacing Zed would up that number to eleven, which is insane. Replacing Sivir instead could work, but that would alter the deck in a significant way where it would likely end up an inferior variant of Freljord Overwhelm.
Disclaimer: It is still early days for this archetype, and as a result, there is only so much data to confirm or deny my assumptions of its matchups. The only data I’m able to use is my own, as well as the impressions of a few other Master players who tried the deck.
Mulligan for: Sivir, Zed, Bloodthirsty Marauder (or Dunekeeper if attacking on odds). Keep Shaped Stone.
Zed can single-handedly carry this matchup if he lands a hit on turn 3, which is not all that unlikely if we have Shaped Stone against a potential blocker. In the early stage, play around the opponent’s available mana as best you can to avoid getting wiped, and later in the game look for a Flurry of Fists on Sivir or Ruin Runner to bring it home.
Merciless Hunter and Baccai Sandspinner are great answers to Lissandra and Trundle respectively. But remember that you have to push as much damage as possible, and that sometimes means having to play a Merciless Hunter against an empty board.
Mulligan for: Bloodthristy Marauder/Dunekeeper, Rock Hopper, Sivir, Zed, Nopeify.
In the case of the more control-oriented variants, outside of its tendency to lose to itself by drawing poorly, it has a very linear gameplan that involves a relatively small board size and big Lifesteal units throughout the early to mid-game. So play as you would against any control deck, respect the possibility of Vile Feast or Black Spear, and use Vulnerable on their big Lifesteal units to dispatch them efficiently.
The aggro version feels very much like a weaker version of Thresh Nasus. Trade evenly in the early game and outpace them in the midgame before they get a chance to drop Cithria, Lady of Clouds. It is actually possible to win games even once they drop Cithria since at that point we usually have board control and theirs has been mostly eradicated.
Mulligan for: Sivir, Scrying Sands, Ruthless Predator.
Trading one for one early is fine, but we want to leverage Sivir as much as possible. This is not a free win by any means, but Sivir gives us a large edge as they do not have easy ways to deal with her aside from a Screeching Dragon attack which is usually an even trade at worst.
Ruin Runner is still a powerful finisher here, and with Flurry of Fists can even take on Eclipse Dragon and live to tell the tale.
Mulligan for: Dunekeeper, Rock Hopper, Merciless Hunter.
The early game can be a tad rough. If Discard has an explosive start there is little we can do to stop them apart from a defensive Dunekeeper, but things change once turn 3 rolls around and Zed or Merciless Hunter drops.
We can match Discard’s aggression at that point and dispatch important units like Draven and Jinx as we do so. The game might still come down to the wire, but double Nopeify! definitely helps prevent the worst, even if Jinx levels.
Mulligan for: Sivir, Merciless Hunter, any 1-drop.
As usual for Draven Ezreal, the matchup ends up being quite even. Both Sivir and Ruin Runner are extremely potent, and since Draven Ezreal tends to outlast us long term, we have to pressure hard in the mid-game, hopefully with a leveled Sivir and a Flurry of Fists.
We can punish an early Ezreal hard with Baccai Sandspinner, but other than that there is little edge to gain here. Keep the tempo up, leverage Sivir and Ruin Runner as much as possible. Zed is not very useful in this matchup as he usually just dies to Mystic Shot whenever played, but he can sometimes get some value on turn 3 if we have Nopeify! or Shaped Stone in hand.
Mulligan for: Keep Zed and Sivir. Mulligan for Merciless Hunter if attacking on odds, Baccai Sandspinner otherwise.
This matchup comes down to us having our Vulnerable when we need it to take care of their Azir and Irelia. If they have Retreat or Lead and Follow to protect themselves, things tend to get complicated.
The big issue is that once they are set up, Azir Irelia can pressure us both on attack and defense, while we can only do so on attack. Additionally, our units tend to be low-health, unable to block more than a Blade or two, and always risk getting blown up by Shaped Stone. This means we want to play our threats on-curve and race them before they can set up their crazy board state. Odds of winning significantly go up if we can kill Azir or Irelia on turn 3 or 4.
Mulligan for: Sivir, Zed, Merciless Hunter, Nopeify!
Getting good value out of Vulnerable is pretty hard in this matchup, and their Vile Feast does a lot to stop our aggression. Mostly we want to trade into them as hard as possible before turn 5 while keeping a way to target Thresh on turn 5.
If we can hit Thresh with a Ruin Runner on that turn, the game should be over, but it’s not usually that simple. Their early curve can be brutal, and we only have so many ways to apply Vulnerable compared to the number of units they pump out. We are also often forced to trade evenly and letting Nasus grow.
At the end of the day, we need to win before they can put a giant Nasus down, which means prioritizing tempo over value in many cases. It is sometimes possible to even punch through Nasus, which often means we are in Atrocity range. At this point playing around them having their finisher is not something I would recommend if doing so would extend the game by another two turns.
Mulligan for: Sivir, Zed, Merciless Hunter, 1-drops, Ruthless Predator.
This is our nemesis, the evil twin who uses boorish Overwhelm instead of graceful Quick Attack. That often means they’ll smash right through us. We have a lot of the same cards, but theirs are more efficient at immediately closing out the game and doing chip damage through early trading while we have to work for every point of damage we deal to the enemy Nexus.
Our best recourse is to make sure Renekton doesn’t get out of hand and that either Zed or Sivir stick to the board to gain some value over time by dispatching a few big units like an enemy Ruin Runner. But the longer the game goes, the likelier it is that they will find a unit to buff with Battle Fury and end the game without us being able to do much about it.
Mulligan for: Zed, Rock Hopper, 1-drop, Shaped Stone.
The major issue here is that we rely on our units being high attack, and Ashe Noxus can easily nullify this with Frostbite. Our best bet is to go hard at them early on and hope they don’t get a board big enough that we cannot push through them anymore.
A buffed-up Ruin Runner can also win the game in a pinch, but generally, we need to dispatch Ashe as soon as possible or she will promptly freeze our board and win the game before we can. Of course, that is easier said than done when most of our units can get Frostbitten and incur an unfavorable, back-breaking trade.
The deck is pretty fun and honestly has performed better than I expected at first, but I would not call it a “Meta-Breaker” like some others have. The deck has clear weaknesses and can often lose to itself by drawing many spells but few units and simply bricking since most of our spells are contingent on having a unit on board to be played, and the rest are reactive.
Still, it has interesting, if somewhat predictable, play patterns and has distinct enough tools and matchup spread to be considered its own deck alongside Freljord Shurima Overwhelm.
I wish there was a replacement for Zed, the champion is often quite clunky and doesn’t bring that much value or threat to the game. Sure, he pops off once in a blue moon, but most of the time he gets blocked once then dies. Sadly, no other champion currently fits the bill for this deck. What about changing his unusable champion spell? Seems harmless enough.
In any case, Zed Sivir has not redefined the meta but is an interesting new direction for Sivir. The deck has raw power for certain but lacks consistency, and that is what ultimately makes it unable to reach top-tier status, in my opinion. Still a good deck though, have fun with it.