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LoR Competitive Week in Review for 6/14 - 6/20

While many won’t be happy to see that Azir/Irelia is the most represented deck, 11 copies would put it outside of the top 3 at any other Seasonal. When I look at tournament top cuts and I’m trying to determine what’s out of line, the first red flag I look for is “Is any deck consistently taking up more than half of the top cut?”. I’m happy to say that this is the furthest we’ve ever been from a deck being that dominant, with last Seasonal having 23 copies of Nasus in the top 32. On top of that, there’s some really interesting decks scattered among the 1 ofs, like XerathUnleashed’s Zoe/Zilean Starbone Invoke and Dior’s Noxus Feel the Rush

When we take a step back and look at the meta as a whole, it’s very aggressively postured. Obviously Azir/Irelia is the best performing aggro deck we’ve ever had, but it doesn’t perform well against other aggro decks. Last week I had mentioned the poor performance of aggro, especially triple aggro lineups, historically during the Seasonals. This time around 4 players, including the 9-0 Mr eMOEtional, made it in with a lineup of Spiders/Discard/Azir Noxus, and another player with Spiders/Pirates/Azir Noxus. And as much as you personally might not like aggro, getting a good mix of strategies in the top cut is a GOOD thing. On top of getting some real aggro decks in the top cut, the current Nasus builds are as aggressively postured as they’ve ever been. It’s almost to the point of acting like some of the Bannerman decks of old where they play aggressively against decks that don’t handle it well, and switch to a more board control style midrange against aggro decks. Draven/Ezreal on the other hand, seems to have leaned hard on the latter strategy, mostly cutting House Spider froIf you clicked on this link then I’m going to guess you’re aware that the Open Rounds of the 4th Seasonal Tournament, Guardians of the Ancient, which happened last weekend and that it is the sole event I’m going to be focusing on this week. This weekend we’ll crown a new champion, secure more players for Worlds, and start to get a good idea of who is actually going to qualify through seasonal points. But before that, we’re going to take a look at what the competition looked like.

Now it’s no surprise that public opinion of the meta is at an all time low, with Riot promising big balance changes coming with the release of Rise of the Underworlds. The online complaints have certainly been abundant about the state of the ladder meta, which we actually got evidence of within the seasonal itself, with the LP requirement to be top 700 Masters at an all time low. For Monuments of Power, the cutoff was somewhere around 130LP, and steadily rose from Seasonal to Seasonal, always hovering within the area of 150LP. But this time, the cutoff was just above 70LP. That’s a pretty big tank. So with the ladder meta at its lowest in recent memory, surely this Seasonal  would be a bust too, with Azir/Irelia taking up all Top 32 spots. Right?

Quite the opposite, actually. This Seasonal will go down in the history books as ground 0 for people quoting how different the tournament and ladder meta’s are, as I tend to do when I criticize how much impact ladder has for Worlds qualification through every means. But as for this Seasonal, it was actually the most diverse Top 32 we have ever had, with 25 unique deck archetypes. Despite being in a comparable meta this is a huge upswing from the last Seasonal, which was actually our least diverse with only 16 unique archetypes in the Top 32. 

Those 25 decks were:

Azir/Irelia: 11

Nasus: 8

Draven/Ezreal: 8

Overwhelm: 7

Rubin's Zoo: 6

TLC: 6

Asol Demacia: 6

Discard: 5

Spiders: 5

Deep: 5

Thralls: 5

Azir/Noxus: 4

Frostbite Foundry: 3

TF/Fizz: 2

Frostbite Midrange: 2

Thresh/Asol: 2

Invoke: 2

Feel the Rush: 2

Targon's Peak: 1

Matron Cithria: 1

Shen/J4: 1

Lee Sin: 1

Pirates: 1

Diana/Draven: 1

Star Spring: 1

Going into the weekend I had thought the most popular lineup was going to be Draven Ezreal/Dragons/Nasus given the lineup's natural soft counter to Azir/Irelia as well as the presence of the individual decks on ladder. This particular lineup did put 4 players into the top cut, and another 2 who substituted out one of the decks for Rubin’s Zoo to hedge against Nasus since Dragons was typically what we were seeing banned in the mirror. It functions similarly to the top lineup from Empires of the Ascended (Lissandra/Dragons/Nasus) in that it has a naturally good aggro matchup and can handle most of the random nonsense you’re going to see in the swiss rounds thanks to the high skill expression of the decks. So where did Azir/Irelia end up, if not in the 2 most popular lineups that each put 4 players into the top cut? There were 6 players who made it in with Irelia/Overwhelm/X, perhaps looking to pick on the TLC stragglers of the format. While the numbers for each lineup may seem extremely low, that's what happens when you’re in more of an open meta. When we take the 5 aggro players I mentioned, combined with the 6 Irelia players and the 6 Standard players, we’ve got just over half of the top cut laid out already, and we haven’t even touched on a single one of the 6 TLC players. So I come away from this with no fun facts or wild stats to impress people with at a cocktail party, and the Legends of Runeterra player base comes away with a healthy meta and a variety of successful strategies nearly all equally represented. Trust me, I’m just as unhappy about this tradeoff as you are. I’m sure a lot of you have mixed feelings about Azir/Irelia being the star of the most diverse meta we’ve had, even if it is just tournaments, and that's understandable. But the important part is there - every kind of strategy is viable and has a lineup it fits into, so come cheer for your favorite this weekend at twitch.tv/playruneterra as we crown a new champion and find some new faces to represent us at Worlds!

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