Zilean/Ekko is not a new concept by any means, the deck has been around for a while. To be frank, it has always been mediocre at best, but despite the middling results, it has built a loyal following, who always claims the deck is better than it looks on stats.
Did anything change?
The buff to Quicksands is very big for almost every Shurima deck and this one makes very good use of it. The patch also brought us a meta shift, Darkness and Fated are 2 of the deck’s worst matchups and both are seeing a lot less play.
On the contrary decks like Yordle in Arms and various aggressive Viktor decks are dominating and this deck performs very well against those.
The decklist has been optimized a long time ago, by Scathus. Nonetheless, you can still toy with some techs like Careful Preparation, Mystic Shot, and Golden ambassador.
Zilean/Ekko is one of the hardest decks to pilot correctly, you are presented with a lot of decisions, and if you don’t have a clear idea of how you win the deck becomes impossible to play.
To get started your objective is to spend your early game predicting to play a leveled Ekko on 4, then play Voice of The Risen to make your wide board more threatening and back it all up with Chronobreak.
If you keep this in mind the deck becomes a little easier to play, and you can imagine the predict priority to go like this:
- 1) Early game predicts to level Ekko and develop a board
- 2) Ekko
- 3) Voice of The Risen
- 4) Chronobreak/Station Archivist
You don’t deviate very often from this order, but situational cards like Quicksands and Rite of Negation gain priority in certain matchups and situations.
Your first few turns will be spent developing a board and predicting, you are capable of going deceptively wide thanks to all of your early predict units and Dropboarder.
These cards are not that threatening by themselves but don’t be too eager to trade them away.
In an ideal scenario, you have a wide board by the time you drop your Voice Of The Risen.
After you have your Voice Of the Risen online you can ramp up the pressure and look for Chronobreaks, remember Archivist is capable of finding one.
Zilean’s Time bombs and Fallen Feline’s Hexite Crystal give you the ability to slow down the game a lot because they allow you to pass and hold your opponent’s board hostage.
I don’t want to say that mana efficiency is irrelevant, but this deck becomes a lot better when you can play with 6 or 7 mana to keep your interaction up and protect your important pieces like Ekko and Voice of The Risen, so it’s very often correct to take full passes around turn 4 or 5.
A tip to make better use of Time bombs, Crystal, Chronobreak and to take full passes is to put yourself in your opponent’s shoes and try to imagine how they win and how they can interact with you.
Some important play patterns to highlight:
- On turns 7 with full spell mana you can play Archivist to look for Chronobreak and either Ekko or Voice of the Risen.
- Leveled Ekko Time tricks provide a lot of value, don’t be afraid to put him in combat, especially when backed up by your attack debuffs, and even without tricks just blocking him with him, and letting him die is not the end of the world.
- Your first Ekko will often die and just be there to get the Chronobreaks into the deck and your Voice Of the Risen online.
- Use HP as a resource, tanking damage in the early game from 1 Hp units in the early game is often correct, you can get rid of them with Time Bombs or debuff them later with Scrying Sands, preserving your early game bodies is key.
I peaked top 3 in Europe with the deck, I will attribute a lot of my success to the surprise factor.
For the time being, I consider the deck tier 1 on the ladder, but once people understand how to play against it I expect it to stabilize as a tier 2 deck for climbing and a very good tournament option.
With that said, if you are a fan of the predict archetype this is the best time to dust off Ekko and give him a shot again! Thanks for reading my article, you can follow me on Twitter to stay up to date with my content!