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LoR Competitive Week in Review for 6/7 - 6/13

The last weekend before the Seasonal is usually one of the most hotly contested among organizers to jam in a last-minute testing tournament for everyone, but this time around things were a little different: it was nearly barren. Of the criteria that I laid out last week for grassroots events I’d be covering nothing passed the bar, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. 

While I will almost exclusively be covering the Americas shard events, it would feel weird not to talk about EU Masters playoffs. Going into the event, I had my expectations that the countries I recognized the most individual talents from were going to perform well; Italy, France, Portugal, Germany, Russia, and Spain. I could probably make a top 10 list of the players from each of those countries as they’re brimming with consistent talents. So in a team-like event, the argument of “you’re only as good as your best player” doesn’t necessarily apply. After all, multiple top-level talents coming together could beat a team of slightly weaker players. Once the dust was settled and the playoffs were set in stone, out of the countries I listed only Russia was able to secure a spot. Former finalists team France, with two returning members in Flaxeau and Elyx, wasn’t even able to pick up a single match win, falling out at 0-6. While the format has changed slightly, that alone doesn’t feel like enough to account for the winds of change blowing as hard as they have. If you’re tuning in for the top cut this Sunday and are looking to send all your remaining luck that you didn’t use in the Seasonal toward a country, your choices are Russia, Poland, United Kingdom, Turkey, Belgium, Ukraine, Finland, and Lebanon. The crowd favorites are almost certainly going to be team Poland consisting of popular streamers Szychu and Alanzq, and rounded out by strong tournament performer shogoPASS. If you’re looking for the underdog to root for, look no further than Lebanon, the only team with a Diamond rank player in the tournament, and spearheaded by none other than Sorry. 

Now the lack of tournaments doesn’t mean I can’t speculate to the moon and back about the Guardian of the Ancients Seasonal Tournament this weekend, and that’s exactly what I intend to do for the remainder of this article. Obviously, with no events happening I don’t have any tournament-specific trends to update you on. But I did have a conversation over the weekend that prompted some digging on my end and I’d like to share my findings. As always, the week leading up to the Seasonal tests the resolve of a lot of players. Who can hold fast and steady with the lineup they’ve tested for weeks, and who will switch to three aggro decks? Who among you is brave enough to bring Star Spring? As we start on the back half of the Seasonals, a lot of players should have learned from their past mistakes when it comes to lineup composition and what does or doesn’t work for them. This is where I would reveal the nature of my research and my findings, but we’ve got a smidge more preamble to get through if you’ll indulge me. 

Archetypes. Usually meant to simplify things for players, the traditional tags of aggro, midrange, combo, and control don’t feel as black and white in Legends of Runeterra. Now there are a few reasons for this ranging from the spell mana system to the unique development cadence from being able to untap and play units on your opponents ‘turn’. While some decks like Spiders are clear cut, others like Draven/Ezreal are a little less so. Don’t believe me? Ask 5 of your friends what archetype Draven/Ezreal is. If all of them, without talking to each other, agree on just 1 of the above archetypes (none of this “control/aggro-ish nonsense”) then you’re lying and I want you to then ask them about the Go Hard list from the Monuments of Power Seasonal. If all 5 of them again answer the same thing please let me know what they said. I have a $10 bet riding on this one from December and I want to collect. Ultimately, this discussion feels very useless to me in Legends of Runeterra. The game is too unique in the way it plays out for these archaic labels to hold as much power as they once did, which was a long-winded way of me getting to my main point: I’m about to talk about aggro, and we may or may not agree on what fits the definition of aggro. 

A lot of players talk about bringing three aggro decks to counter the soft meta counter lineups, or just spike out one of the meta decks. This led me to wonder about how well aggro has historically performed throughout the swiss rounds of the Americas Seasonals, and the answer may surprise you. Of the 96 top 32 players we’ve gotten over the course of 3 Seasonals, only 2 lineups have been something I’m willing to concede as triple aggro. Both topping during the Cosmic Creation Seasonal, we had GwentarTV with Pirates/Endure/Overwhelm and TheMidnightCobra with Pirates/Scouts/Discard. Even within those lineups, arguments could be made against whether some of those decks really count as aggro but the overall point stands; triple aggro is a very poor performing lineup. Now aggro itself has been more or less fine, with Aggro/Aggro/X lineups topping 8 times and Aggro/X/X topping 17 times. Now, that's not at all to speak on the popularity of aggro during the swiss rounds, but we came off an uneventful weekend and get to the point where we're heading into one of your last chances to qualify for the World Championship later this year. So I thought some historical evidence might help set your mind at ease that you made the right choice in sticking with your practiced lineup even if things don’t pan out for you this time around. That said, we’ve never had an aggro deck as one of the boogeymen before. First came Go Hard and Feel the Rush/Anivia, then TF/Fizz and Aphelios, and most recently Nasus and Lissandra. Now with Azir/Irelia on the scene aggro feels like it finally has a champion to send through en mass to the top 32, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it's going to carry up 2 other aggro decks in the same lineup. 

I hope I’ve been able to ease some of your concerns about the aggro boogeyman as the final stretch approaches. While this week was a little light we’re getting into the thick of it for the next few weeks so be sure to check back for the wrap-up of the Seasonal swiss rounds, which you can watch live on Twitch this Saturday at 12 pm PT.

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