Hi Runeterra, It’s been a little while, but I’m back from the Shuriman desert. Prior to the 2.5 patch notes, I thought we could possibly see Shurima as the biggest winner of the meta shift. Maybe there is an increase, but actually, the region that feels like the true winner of the patch is Demacia.
Shen decks have replaced Fiora with Jarvan IV or Lulu. We also see triple Demacia lineups appear in tournaments quite a bit. On the ladder, the deck that is rising back from the dead in a big way is Asol Zoe. Targon always seems to find a way to come back into the meta and it has paired itself up with Demacia this time.
Asol Zoe currently is the most popular Demacia deck at around a 7.9% play rate. Its win rate is close to 50%, but I do feel like the deck has a lot of room for skill expression and unique deck-building choices which can heavily swing matchups. Also, a good understanding of the deck will significantly increase your win rate as well – for example, recognizing your win condition and picking the right cards to Invoke.
Asol Zoe is what I consider to be a ‘heavy midrange deck’. This would put it closer to control than your classic midrange deck and demands for a more reactive playstyle overall (for example, Ashe LeBlanc would be on the opposite end of the spectrum, being aggressive and proactive midrange deck).
Overall the goal of the deck is to slow down the game plan of the opponent while still maintaining a good board presence. There are quite a few Challenger units in the deck that will help you get favorable trades.
The deck has several win conditions to close out the game. Against aggressive decks, your win condition often is just to sustain your life total through all the pressure. This is often achieved by stabilizing the board and then healing out of burn range. The most notable cards for this are Solari Shieldbearer,
Single Combat and Sharpsight also help you to control the board in the early turns. Single Combat is also a great card when used on Lifesteal units against aggressive decks as it will restore you even more health. Starshaping might look like a great card against aggressive decks and while it can be, it is fairly useless unless you’re in control of the board.
Midrange/control decks often can be outvalued by Zoe Asol. The reason behind that is all the Invoke cards which generate even more cards. This will often result in games where your opponent might be running out of value, and you will be playing a big unit that you Invoked earlier. Leveling Asol or pushing for the win with a big Elusive Celestial unit are often ways to close out the game against these types of decks.
Combo decks are always the trickiest to play against. This is because they often have an inevitable win condition which closes out the game fast once they have all the setup. Your plan here can still be to level Asol or a pull off a big Invoke, but often leveling Zoe is more of a consideration as this will allow you to make your whole board Elusive and close out a game faster. Cosmic Inspiration also is a great tool – in many matchups, not only against combo – and really allows you to create a bigger sustainable board against Lissandra Matron Combo for example.
- Think through your Invoke choices. Picking the right card often is tricky with Invoke because many options are good and feel like close calls. In some situations, you will be looking for a particular effect to use shortly, and that will be an easy choice. But often when Invoking you have to pick a card with some scenario in mind that will happen later in the game. This requires you to think ahead and plan strategically.
- Keep up mana when going into combat. The deck has plenty of combat tricks such as Single Combat, Hush, Concerted Strike,
Sharpsight,and even Judgment. All these cards can be huge blowouts if used correctly and will make your opponent hesitate to make certain moves as long as you are representing one or multiple of them. This is especially true for Judgment.
- If your unit has Fury, Judgement’s strike increases with every subsequent unit killed – ex. if the first unit killed will be hit for 7, then Fury causes your striking unit to grow and the next unit in order from left to right will get hit for 8, 9, 10 etc.
- Zoe is the universal keep in the deck. She shines in pretty much all situations, against all matchups she does fine, which makes her a great card in your opening hand. I think it is even fine to keep multiple Zoe’s as she often dies at some point and the ability to replay a cheap 1-drop with such incredible upside like Zoe is tempting.
- Dragonguard Lieutenant is usually a fairly good keep because a 3/2 Challenger early is good. You are likely to Behold a Dragon as we run 9 Dragons in the deck, but even without Challenger it is still decent in the early game and will help you fight for the board. Against decks in which you want to play the value game, he can be just not good enough and you might want to mulligan him for a better late-game card.
- Solari Shieldbearer, Solari Sunforger, and The Fangs are your cards to combat aggro. They are all great against aggressive decks. The Fangs can be a bit lackluster if that is the only early game card you have, so only keep it if your hand is already decent.
- Screeching Dragon is never a bad card and Challenger and Fury will help a lot in the mid-game against most decks. Overall it is a solid keep in most matchups and the power of the card increases if you are attacking on 5 and/or have Dragonguard Lieutenant in hand.
- Eclipse Dragon and Aurelion Sol are insane together and a great turn 7 into turn 8 one-two punch against slower decks. I would definitely consider keeping it in a slower matchup as a way to accelerate your Aurelion Sol turn and make sure you have a way to win the game. I would avoid keeping it against those aggro and fast midrange decks.
- Single Combat and Sharpsight are the cheap combat tricks. Keeping 1 of those in a good hand can help a lot as they both can help you dictate early game combat. Sharpsight also is very good against Ezreal and Zoe to block them for value.
- Hush usually is not a great keep, especially because if you end up with multiple Hushes it will clog up your hand. Hush usually gets more valuable as the game continues. It can be a very specific keep against something like Thresh Nasus and They Who Endure.
- Solari Priestess is slow, but a good chump-blocker and generates a decent card. It can be kept in good hands to round them out, but should not be kept in most matchups as there are plenty of cards that are better to keep.
- Heavily consider the value of Invoke, because if there is a high-priority Celestial card you want for the matchup, the value of Solari Priestess in your starting hand increases. A great example is Falling Comet against Soraka TK, as a good way to destroy Star Spring. I would keep Solari Priestess in my opening against Soraka TK with no regard to the rest of the hand.
The deck definitely has a spot in the meta right now. I would say that Asol Zoe is probably worse than it actually looks upon impression, maybe because the losses against this deck feel like they always had an answer for everything.
The deck probably is a solid Tier 2 archetype right now. I don’t expect it to increase much more in popularity or win rate on the ladder as I think it has gone beyond what we expected from this archetype already. It has been a while since we last saw this deck and it has taken a place in the meta quite unexpectedly.
The deck shines more in tournaments due to its flexibility as it makes it a good inclusion to round out lineups, which means we probably will see a lot more of this deck in the upcoming Seasonal Tournament. It should be able to fit into control lineups that are looking to beat aggressive decks. There are some weak matchups for Zoe Asol, which can be accounted for with a ban/supporting decks.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter (@Spaiikz). Till next time Runeterra,