Patch 3.0 was one of the most highly anticipated in history, with players and devs alike hyping it up for months in advance. While the day 1 perception was rather poor due to extremely negative reactions to Iceborn Legacy Poros, players lowered their pitchforks just as quickly as they raised them. What was left was one of the most diverse spreads across top cuts we’ve ever had, with 22 unique decks contained within to top 8 of the Mastering Runeterra Qualifier #4 and the RuneterraLife Showdown #3. While that may not sound like an insane number given the possibility of 48 different decks among the 16 players, it’s more decks than we’ve had in the top 32 of some Seasonals. While I’m not going to be covering the return of Fight Night in-depth due to a large disparity in the week 1 meta between the 2 and 3 deck formats, we do go up to 23 unique decks when including Sir Donald’s win in EMEA over Gamebreak0r thanks to their Aphelios/Nami. The one other anecdote I want to point out is that both EMEA finalists used The Absolver version of AK X, while America’s finalists both used Go Hard.
But that’s all the time we have for Fight Night, as it’s time to dive into the 2 major open events from the weekend. The lists are laid out below alongside their pilots and final placement, but I’m not going to lay out the numbers that each deck put up in top cut due to the high amount of 1 ofs. Instead, I’ll expand on the highlights below.
RuneterraLife Showdown #3
Mastering Runeterra Qualifier #4
22 decks is a lot, and with only 16 players it means that there’s not as much overlap as if this were a Seasonal. As such, only 2 decks managed to break through with 5 of them across the two top 8s that we’re looking at. Your 2 new champions of the patch 3.0 meta are, drumroll, please….Ahri/Kennen X and Shyvana/Pantheon! What a shocker, that the two top performers from the previous meta who received no changes would continue to dominate the new meta, it just goes to show that…hold on.
I’ve received word that it’s not actually those 2 decks specifically, in fact, it’s neither. The two top-performing decks this weekend were Darkness and Spider Aggro - polar opposites on the archetypal spectrum. Darkness had been picking up popularity toward the end of patch 2.21 for its solid matchup into many of the meta staples (including AK X), and was able to maintain its solid position thanks to its good matchups against the aggro decks that are rising in popularity as well. Spiders on the other hand do better than ok into AK X, and punish some of the more midrange leaning or greedier control decks that have taken a rise in patch 3.0. Overall, the core of the representation is that control and aggro are both doing well for themselves, it’s everything in between that is going to need to fight for its life.
When we bump the number in the top 8s from 5 down to 4, we find ourselves with Draven/Rumble and AK X. Draven/Rumble continues to be the breakout aggro deck from the end of the previous meta, sporting solid matchup charts and a more flexible gameplan than the more traditional 1 drop aggro decks like Spiders and Pirates. While in the previous patch we still saw Sion hanging on by a thread and fighting Rumble for custody of Draven, the nerfs to the undead juggernaut solidify Rumble’s position. That said, Draven/Rumble and Spiders alike were unable to crack into the finals of either event. And it wasn’t hard counters they were losing to; of the 22 unique decks, 11 of them were just the finalists. Darkness was the only deck to be repeated by any of the 4 finalists, and while Mastering Runeterra saw control gatekeeping aggro, RuneterraLife had as midrange a lineup you can get these days versus…whatever you want to call what xTacio won with. The takeaway here is that while aggro is solid and certainly popular, it’s not quite making the final push when getting to the top level.
AK X, after a dominating presence at Fight Night (11/16), failed to keep its energy into the weekend. It’s definitely still one of the strongest decks in the meta, but the chinks in the armor are fully exposed as players are countering it in both the long and short game. This week we had a 3/1 split of Go Hard and Icevale Archer (?), but the Absolver variant is by no means going away anytime soon and I fully expect it to consistently trade-off with Go Hard on a weekly basis. I was admittedly worried about what the meta would look like after AK X’s dominating performance at the start of the month paired with a lack of nerfs, but if we were going to see a total takeover from the deck it would have started off this week. The adaptation from Runeterra’s top players in the opening weekend of the new patch gives a ray of hope that we’ll be looking at the most diverse Seasonal yet, something Iceborn Poro’s couldn’t even ruin.
And when we tick the counter down 1 more to see what decks showed up 3 times, we are once again faced with 2 decks from the opposite ends of the spectrum; Pirates and Feel the Rush. Pirates and Bandle Pirates had a good long fight for the title of Supreme Gangplank Aggro Deck that kicked off at the first World Championship last year, and patch 3.0 was the deciding factor. In fact, Bandle Pirates has moved on from fighting Pirate Aggro for the spot of GP deck of the meta to fighting for its life in a gauntlet of “Most Nerfed Deck of All Time ''. The Plunder nerfs (Monster Harpoon) paired with the general Bandle City soup nerfs (Lecturing Yordle and Hidden Pathways) really did a number on the deck. Pair that with the Gangplank nerf in 2.21 and its 3 nerfs in 2.18 (Tenor of Terror, Aloof Travelers, Stone Stackers) and you start to wonder who at Riot really has it out for the deck. Feel the Rush, on the other hand, tripped and fell into a Trundle buff while it was already fringe playable. Better lucky than good it seems.
If you counted things out yourself you may have noticed a 3rd deck that topped 3 times; Sentinel Control. While Kindred was rapidly descending into meme territory rivaling that of Yasuo, patch 3.0 pulled them from the depths with the change into a 4 mana 4/3 and players were quick to inject them into the existing Sentinel shell. Kindred and the Sentinels have a common goal of killing enemies with spells, and the low to the ground Piltover & Zaun removal is a great way to clear out the fodder and let Kindred handle the heavier hitters. The builds are still in the early stages of development (like 3 different champions stages of development) but I’m optimistic for the deck and Kindred who seems to be an agreed-upon necessity. So congratulations Yasuo, you remain the undefeated meme tier emperor for the time being.
I implore you to click through some of the decks on your own, as I want to once again reiterate that these 2 events were more diverse than some Seasonals. It’s a great starting point for the Magical Misadventures Seasonal meta and there really is something for everyone out there. Be sure to check back next week for an update on who’s winning the control vs aggro war that is currently waging, and to stay up to date on what's performing well so you can make the most informed decision on your own Seasonal lineup that's just a few weeks away.