LoR Competitive Week in Review for 4/11 - 4/18 by @CasterBoulevard
April is coming to an end, and with it will come the patch 3.6 balance updates. It’s promised to be littered with Champion updates, which should make it a very impactful one. Two weeks after that, on May 14th, we’ll have our Seasonal tournament for A Curious Journey. And that puts the patch 3.4 meta in an odd spot - it’s a stage setter. The opening act. It was a balance patch to lay the groundwork for the next balance patch. As such, it’s not the most appealing environment to compete or host events in. Last weekend we had no large events to gather data from, and two of our three Fight Night: Legends were canceled. “Aha, Boulevard”, you say. “I knew you couldn’t keep this up forever. Surely with only Fight Night AM you can’t write an entire article analyzing the meta!” While that would certainly be a fun little challenge, at present it’s an unnecessary one. Because there’s always something happening in Legends of Runeterra. So let me tell you about Aegis Esports.
Aegis Esports, formerly known as Runeterra Academy, is a weekly team league taking place on Thursdays (and I must say, something the competitive community speaks very highly of). 32 teams of 4 are divided into 4 groups, and each week teams play against 2 other teams in their group. Each team only fields 3 players each week, let’s call them A, B, and C for clarity's sake. Each player brings 3 decks, conforming to standard Riot Lock rules, and in order to win your set 2 of your players must win their matches. Additionally, each team is only allowed to play each champion and region combination twice across their team, meaning players A and B could have identical lineups but player C would not be allowed to play any of those champions or region combinations. After all, all 3 players running the same 3 decks would be a little boring, but making them all play totally different decks would likely require them dipping down into lower tiered decks and leaving one player much weaker than the other. Another reason to stop all 3 players from running the same lineup is it takes away the pick order advantage; you see we’re not doing a simple A plays A, B plays B and so on. One team will have ‘first pick’, meaning that once they have seen the opposing lineups they will decide one of the matchups. For example if my player A has a very good matchup into what your player C has brought, I can decide to make them play each other in the set. To balance this, the 2nd team gets to decide the two remaining matchups. So if my player A looks like they’ll destroy your player C, but your B beats my B and your C beats my A then I may need to rethink where I send my A. With each team playing 2 games each week, they are always first pick in 1 set and second in the other. Having talked with some players through their deck preparation process (since you play the same lineups in both sets), the mind games can run very deep.
As of right now Aegis Esports is heading into its 3rd week, meaning we’ve got 2 weeks worth of data to comb through that has all happened during patch 3.4. The document they maintain is very thorough, and I highly recommend combing through it yourself. Stats are broken down on a weekly basis, making it easy to track meta progression as well. I do also want to note that while they have an EMEA league, I’m going to be focusing on AM. Before talking about the actual meta, I want to shout out that despite only 4 sets being played so far, only 1 team remains undefeated in the League. Group 4’s Blood Trail Gaming, composed of Arax, Xeloo, Rogio, and Foreto, is the only 4-0 team out of the entire 32.
Much like Fight Night, Aegis Esports is not going to be a perfect representation of the meta for something like the Seasonal. The team aspect, the inability for all 3 players to play the same deck, and the overall nature of the 3v3 skew a few different things. So while this isn’t bad data by any means, it’s less than perfect. That said, let’s check in with a few of the crowd favorites. Let’s start with the Shurima trio of Ziggs/Taliyah, Sun Disc, and Zilean/Ekko. It’s been a popular triage amongst Fight Night players, but how does it perform on a more open stage? This week specifically, Ziggs/Taliyah was the most played deck of the event by no small margin, being brought by 25 of the 96 players. It went 21-25, giving it around a 46% win rate during week 2. Mono Shurima didn’t exactly impress either, going 10-11. Zilean/Ekko on the other hand went 14-4, giving it a 78% win rate over its 18 games. As you can probably tell by the disparity in playrates these decks weren’t always paired together, but in the triple Shurima lineup a lot of players have been asking the question of which one is the best. While Zilean/Ekko had the smallest sample size, it was close enough to that of Sun Disc that I think you can compare the two, and, well, the numbers speak for themselves on that one. But again, that’s 1 week of 1 tournament, not a picture of the meta as a whole, but still something you can point out to one of your friends if they get a bit opinionated.
Control has been another popular lineup choice for players looking to run 3 similar strategies, how did it fair? Darkness went 14-15, which honestly is better than I expected given that the 5 most popular decks were Ziggs/Taliyah, Sun Disc, Yorldes in Arms P&Z, Sivir/Akshan, and Scouts. Feel the Rush, after having a dominating performance last week, went 7-5. After that, there’s not a clear 3rd Control deck that players are flocking to, but in terms of playrate we had Thresh/Asol come in at #3 with a 5-6 record. With Shurima being as popular as it was, it's unsurprising that Control didn’t have the best week in the world, something that would likely fluctuate given enough time as people start to bring more aggro to beat Shurima. But time isn’t something we have a lot of. Still, I want it noted for when we look back on this format someday.
After that, we look at the outliers - what performed exceptionally? When looking through stats like this it's important to pick a bit of a baseline of what you want to consider, and here I’ve arbitrarily chosen 10 games played as my benchmark for things that I’ll look at. So for exceptional performance with over 10 games played, we unsurprisingly have Yordles in Arms P&Z with a 65% win rate (15-8). Surprisingly, we also have Viktor/Lee Sin with a 67% win rate (8-4). When looking at tournaments we’ve been close to having a triangle meta (a meta where 3 decks dominate with A beating B, B beating C, and C beating A) but in a 3 deck format that’s near impossible to actually attain. The 3 points were Shurima, Control, and YiA, but YiA also isn’t a lineup. You rarely even see 2 Yordles in Arms decks in the same lineup, let alone 3, making the triangle fall apart even further. The point I wanted to make is that Viktor/Lee is a deck that doesn’t fit into any of those categories and likely isn’t a great pairing with Yordles in Arms, continuing to topple the triangle it looked like we may be in for a week or two. Thanks Lee Sin, for once again kicking down some semblance of structure I wanted to make out of the meta.
Again, I highly recommend checking out the Aegis Esports spreadsheet for yourself as it’s quite expansive and in depth. Take all of it with a bit of a grain of salt given the formatting, but you’ll certainly find some cocktail party talking points. While Aegis Esports is a great fallback for weeks like this, don’t expect to get too many updates on it in these competitive wrap-ups. The team-based format makes it hard to give concise updates, and since there’s no “winner” it’s difficult to compile the decklists in with other tournament champions. I may throw out an anecdote or two here and there, but if you didn’t love this sort of breakdown of the league thus far don’t worry, that’s not quite the direction we’re headed. Since you’ve made it this far however I do want to let you know there may be more of these in the future as Fight Night is going on hiatus for a few weeks, meaning Aegis Esports is the only currently scheduled event for the week of patch 3.6. Regardless of what does or does not happen that week, I’ll still be here to break it down for you.