Remember last week when I kicked off the article joking about how tournaments were a safe place free from the Shuriman terror that was Sun Disc?
It didn’t age well.
Fight Night: Legends
1st Iannogueira - Tri-Beam Control / Aphelios/Viktor/Vi / Thresh/Asol
2nd FNX Paimera - Viktor/Riven / Yordles in Arms P&Z / Ziggs/Taliyah
1st Gouda ddy - Sun Disc / Zilean/Ekko / Viktor/Lee
2nd GenesisCCG - Yordles in Arms P&Z / Yordles in Arms Demacia / Aphelios/Vi/Zoe
1st MajiinBae - Sun Disc / Ziggs/Taliyah / Zilean/Ekko
2nd Trivo - Sun Disc / Ziggs/Taliyah / Pantheon/Taric/Yuumi
Mastering Runeterra Cup #5
1st Mathonical - Yordles in Arms P&Z / Riven/Viktor / Pantheon/Yuumi/Taric
2nd 4LW - Ziggs/Taliyah / Viktor/Vi Ionia / Lee Sin/Akshan
Top 4 FloppyMudkip - Yordles in Arms P&Z / Aphelios/Vi/Zoe / Sentinel Control
Top 4 XxWhatAmIxX - Thresh/Asol / Darkness / Feel the Rush
Top 8 NNT eluwardhayk - Feel the Rush / Kindred/Viego / Darkness
Top 8 Jadecavy - Feel the Rush / Aphelios/V/Zoe / Darkness
Top 8 GrandpaRoji - Taliyah/Malphite / Pantheon/Taric / Sun Disc
Top 8 Kazooiebee - Viktor/Lee Sin / Zilean/Ekko / Taliyah/Ziggs
Online League Series #41
1st NNT Maitiri - Feel the Rush / Kindred/Viego / Darkness
2nd Shadawx - Pirates / Spiders / Ziggs/Taliyah/Renekton
Top 4 Kwoth - Feel the Rush / Zilean/Ekko / Sun Disc
Top 4 SnipeCrossGG - Feel the Rush / Thresh/Viego / Darkness
Top 8 NNT Nikejo04 - Sivir/Akshan / Ziggs/Taliyah / Sun Disc
Top 8 HDR Kevin - Sivir/Akshan / Renekton/Taliyah / Bandle Tree
Top 8 HDR Ez2win - Tri-Beam Control / Darkness / Aphelios/Viktor
Top 8 HDR BlackBoss - Feel the Rush / Sentinel Control / Thresh/Asol
You might be looking at the above with mixed feelings - happy that so many tournaments happened so there’s a lot of information to accurately assess the meta, but a bit lost in the sauce as it’s been a while since you’ve seen this many lists in one place. Don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for.
First, it’s important to understand the timeline of these events. First Fight Night: Brazil happened, where Iannoguieirra took a win over Yordles in Arms with what I would call a soft control lineup. Gouda ddy had a feeling that control would rear its ugly head to counter Yordles in Arms, and queued up a triple Deny(ish) lineup that was still able to take down Yordles in Arms as the P&Z variant is more vulnerable when its signature spell doesn’t resolve. Going into the open tournaments for the weekend, players had to prepare for a wider spread of unexpected matchups. This meant something as specific as Gouda ddy’s lineup likely wasn’t going to cut it. The result was a LOT of control decks, with Feel the Rush being the most popular deck amongst the top 8 competitors.
Despite players in the Mastering Runeterra Cup coming prepared, Mathonical was able to prove the resilience of the more known factors by picking up the win with Riven/Viktor, Yordles in Arms, and Pantheon. A closer look didn’t reveal any mystical secrets lurking below the surface in Mathonical’s decks, just standard builds and good gameplay to take home the crown. At the Online League Series, however, none of those decks were able to break into the top 8. The dark horse fighting for their life in that event was Shadawx, who brought a triple aggro lineup of Spiders, Pirates, and an aggressive Ziggs/Taliyah to a field overflowing with Shadow Isles. He was able to make it all the way to a 2nd place finish but Maitri took home the win thanks to some slick anti-aggro tech like Hapless Aristocrat still sticking around in their lists. In fact, team NNT as a whole had a phenomenal read on the meta with Eluwardhayk taking a top 8 at the MR event with the same lineup of Darkness, FTR, and Viego. Nikejo04 tried to go the triple Shurima route in order to beat control, but fell out in the top 8 as they seemed to be missing the secret ingredient to pair with Sun Disc and Ziggs/Taliyah.
Once the weekend was over, MajiinBae was happy to show us that the chemical X of triple Shurima was not Sivir/Akshan as Nikejo04 had thought, but Zilean/Ekko. 5/6 decks in the finals of Fight Night AM were Shurima, showing that it was the proper choice for countering the meta just day prior.
That’s a lot of information to take in, and it only gets more complicated from here. In a normal card game, we’d likely be in what’s known as a “triangle meta”, where deck A beats deck B, B beats C, and C beats A. There are likely other decks in the mix, but they play similar enough to one of these decks that they don’t disrupt the flow or they’re not powerful enough to go toe to toe with 2 of the 3 and therefore get pushed out of relevance at higher levels of competition. In Legends of Runeterra it’s nearly (if not actually) impossible to have a triangle meta since we play with 3 decks, meaning our triangle would likely consist of aligning strategies rather than decks. An example would be that Control beats Yordles in Arms, Yordles beats Endless Devout, Endless Devout beats Control. It doesn’t make much sense, does it, since no one is actually running 3 Devout decks, and GenesisCCG is the only one still running more than one variant of Yordles in Arms in the same lineup. (Un)fortunately it’s not so simple, leaving the meta in a more wide open state and more cracks to be filled out by decks like Pantheon, Riven, Apehlios/Viktor, all the Lee Sin variants we keep seeing, you get the picture. It’s already hard enough to try to compartmentalize Runeterra decks into your standard ‘control, aggro, midrange, combo’ boxes, and a triangle meta requires more nuance than that. It can’t be done I say.
So what happens now is people try to think ahead, and plan very specifically for the kind of event they’re playing in. Is it like Fight Night, where it’s a small field and I have a general idea of what everyone’s playing? Is it a more open field of 80+ competitors where someone may have not read any of Boulevard’s incredible articles and is so out of the loop that they brought 3 awful decks that all happen to beat me? Or worse yet, is it Runeterra Academy where I have a small window for success against an unknown opponent on unknown decks that I think I’m smart enough to metagame? If you don’t want to go that deep, there are still just the cards to look at. Control did well on the weekend, but we know that Shurima beats that. So is this week going to be full of Shurima, or what beats Shurima? And if so, what flavor of Shurima beating is going to be the most popular? Is it going to be popular enough that I need to tech for that instead of Shurima? The trials and tribulations of trying to be a top player are near endless, and this is but a small insight into what goes into a single week of preparation. It can feel overwhelming, but at the end of the day we’re still in a relatively low-stakes environment and 2 weeks out from a balance patch that’s bringing big promises with a confirmed Bandle Tree rework and major updates to a few champions.
There’s a lot of talk about what cadence balance patches should come at because the meta needs time to settle and be solved before intervention is required. It’s not a philosophy I agree with, as I don’t like to wait for things to get stale before they get shaken up. Throw me in a rock tumbler, let the party keep going. The point of this is that I don’t think we’re in a meta that is going to get solved before it ends. We’re likely to continue to see big swings over the next 2 weeks as players find something new that beats the last thing instead of the old thing that beat the last thing. If that was confusing, let me rephrase: in our hypothetical triangle meta, Shurima is C. This means that this week everyone should be playing A (Yordles) or overthinking and trying to get ahead of the curve and playing B, but I’ve got a feeling there’s a D out there that’s going to throw a wrench in things. Then players have to scramble to adapt to D, but it may turn out that B beats D, we don’t need to invent a new letter to deal with it. Those kinds of changes are the ones that I expect to be the hallmark of our short time left with Patch 3.4, and I for one am a little thankful for my spot on the sideline where I can watch the storm pass, and try to play meteorologist for those of you at home. If you find yourself caught in the storm or are one of the people running into it trying to catch lightning in a bottle, I hope you’re at least stopping to enjoy the flowers that come with the rain.