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LoR Competitive Week in Review for 6/28 - 7/4

With the release of Patch 2.11 and Rise of the Underworlds at the same time, players seemed to be a little overwhelmed with all the options laid out as we headed into the opening weekend of our last competitive season before the World Championship. There are 2 tournaments I want to focus in on this week: Giant Slayer’s Fight Night Brazil and the Online League Series #28. While normally I won’t cover Fight Nights, I’m making an exception this time around because we’re really looking to just get as much information as possible in regards to what the top players are building out of the gate.

New cards usually take a little longer than 24 hours to figure out completely, so it’s unsurprising that players decided to play it a little safe at Fight Night BR last Thursday. While Lurk and Ekko were both absent from the event, we were treated to some nostalgic favorites from last year like Ezreal/Karma and Twisted Fate/Swain. Plus Shen/Jarvan IV as a replacement for Shen/Fiora. While players are still scrambling to answer a plethora of deck building questions around these lists, (Nab in TF/Swain? How many followers is the right number for Ez/Karma? Is Twin Disciplines better than Riposte?) it was João Frango who took the win with Twisted Fate/Swain and Shen/Jarvan IV over Muganga and their Shen/Jarvan IV and Rubin Pile.

Then on July 4th the 28th Online League series kicked off the weekend with over 100 players competing. Twisted Fate/Swain and Shen/Demacia continued to show a strong presence in the meta, and they were joined by an old favorite in Thralls to round out the 3 most popular decks. While Thralls did receive substantial buffs in patch 2.11, they’ve been playing 2nd fiddle to Overwhelm for a while since they compete for the Shurima/Freljord spot in a lineup, and Overwhelm also received a buff in the form of Sivir. In fact, one of the biggest discussions to come out of this weekend that will likely continue to evolve over the course of the format is how players feel about the same regional combination having multiple decks. Shurima/Freljord and Noxus/Bilgewater both have multiple top tier decks, in the form of Thralls/Overwhelm and TF/Swain / Pirates respectively. So is it nice that we can explore different play styles within a regional combination, or is it detrimental to the health of the meta that we have a more narrow range of top tier region combinations? Tweet at me and let me know what you think.

But back to the OLS; let's take a look at our top 8 decks from this weekend

Thralls - 3 

TF/Swain - 3 

Feel The Rush - 2 

Lee Sin - 2 

Overwhelm - 2 

Nasus - 2 

Shen/J4 - 2 

Nab - 1 

Draven/Ezreal - 1 

Taric/J4 - 1 

Lurk - 1 

Yetis - 1 

Pirates - 1 

Endure - 1 

Frostbite Midrange - 1

The first thing I want to focus on when looking at this top cut is Ionia. With Will of Ionia perhaps being the most controversial buff of the patch, there certainly wasn’t a lot of it in the top cut. Ezreal/Karma actually turned out to be one of the worst performing decks of the event with Ez/Karma lineups putting up a miserable 33%, not too far behind Azir/Irelia’s 40% win rate. But believe it or not, this was to be expected. Slower Ionia decks and really Karma decks, in general, tend to thrive more in a tournament environment than on ladder, so it can be a little disheartening for fans of the archetype to see these numbers after a round of buffs. In early stage metas, ladder tends to default to aggro because it’s easier to play a more proactive gameplan; to be the one asking the questions rather than answering them. Tournaments function in a similar manner, though we tend to go for consistent known factors over aggro. The TF/Swain and Shen/Jarvan decks that shined this weekend are on the more proactive side of the spectrum and look very similar to the older builds of the decks. Core cards for Ez/Karma like Ezreal and Rummage are worse than they were the last time the deck was played, and there’s also a lot of new cards they need to try and slot in. Ballistic Bot, Tasty Faefolk, Time Trick, Fallen Feline, and even Twin Disciplines in its newly buffed form are all cards the old Ez/Karma didn’t have access to and might upgrade the build, but you’ve got to find the balance of all the old and new while still finding the right answers for the threats of the format. That's a lot to ask of players to figure out in the first tournament.

To further emphasize this point, the top 8 are full of proactive decks. Thralls and TF/Swain were both present in each finalist’s lineup, with Al3x and their 3rd deck of Feel the Rush taking it over Greenseers with Draven/Ezreal. Lurk made a quick exit from the top cut but at least it made it, while Ekko seemed much more removed from the conversation again. Nab is still being heavily experimented with, and the question of whether Jarvan is better with Shen or Taric remains unanswered. This is wherein a traditional write up I would begin to speculate about next week and what adaptations will be made, and how long it will take to solve the meta, but not this time. No, this is a meta that won’t get solved. We’ve got some great conversation starters for your next cocktail party for sure, but the fact of the matter is the Ruination event and accompanying champion expansion launch on July 14th, meaning this upcoming weekend is the last in this meta. While we only have 1 previous champion expansion as a point of reference, big splashes were made with the release of Aphelios. We also know that a lot of the Runeterra team as a whole behind the scenes got pulled from other projects to work on this expansion, so the idea that it will be low impact is one I won’t even entertain. I look forward to it, but it does mean things are going to be changing rapidly in the weeks before patch 2.13 (our Seasonal balance patch) so keep an open mind when there are drastic changes from one week to another, and I’ll be here keeping you up to date on all of it.

Tagged: esports
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