Twas the weekend before the patch
The grassroots scene was going hard
Not an analyst was sleeping
Especially not Boulevard
While poetry may not be my strong suit, catching you up to date on what happened in the competitive Legends of Runeterra scene is, and we had quite a doozy of a closing weekend for patch 2.12. Fight Night Legends and RCO (Runeterra’s Chosen Ones) held 2 tournaments each, the Legends of Runeterra Global Academy (LORGA) returned from a small hiatus to run events again, and the DreamHack Community Clash reached its climax.
Keeping up with his performance at the OLS last weekend, Viego starts team Ruination off strong with a victory at Fight Night EU as Frey Bach (Spooky Viego / TF / Swain) took the win over shARPP (Discard / Sivir / Akshan). While last weekend we only got to see Viego paired with Shurima as he invited himself in for a hostile takeover of the Thresh/Nasus shell, the Ionia version to me feels more like a Viego deck. He’s the star of the show alongside Invasive Hydravine (who really feels like a champion in their own right) and also gets to utilize one of my personal favorite cards in all of LoR, Death Mark. While the Death Mark/Darkwater Scourge combo has been in nearly every first iteration of Shadow Isle/Ionia decks that have ever been conceived, it’s never felt as consistent as it does in the Viego deck. Because Hydravine and Viego consistently summon Encroaching Mists, you don’t have to wait until you have the Death Mark already in hand before you start running out your units. I’ll cut myself off here before this turns into a deck guide, but suffice to say that Viego has finally found his footing and can start to launch a proper assault against the Sentinels.
As Friday morning turned to evening for me here on the East Coast, I settled in with Fight Night Legends AM. The AM Fight Night tends to be a little more sporadic in its meta than EU, and this week was no different. While Briguy (Ez/Karma / Nab) picked up the win with some decks I was expecting to see that night, it was the runner up Krios (Aphelios/Boxtopus / Anivia) who left a huge impression with their blast from the past lineup. Aphelios has been relegated to the sidelines after his hostile takeover of the Cosmic Creation meta, but a recent buff back to 3 health seems to have been the bump needed for him to at least find a little bit of success. While Aphelios has yet to pick a side for the battle officially, I’m calling his finals appearance a win for the Ruination as he and Viego have almost certainly run into each other while clothes shopping.
On Saturday we had another EU Invitational to start off the day, this time the RCO Seasonal Tournament 4.5. While the tournament had less than 16 entrants, I’m making an exception and covering this one as it’s technically an invitational. Runeterra’s Chosen Ones (RCO) is an invite-only discord server filled with some of Runeterra’s top talent, so when they put on a show people tend to pay attention regardless of how many entrants there were. Sivir has been my topic of focus for a few weeks now, but in our third tournament of the weekend she had still yet to pick up a win as BratchedKata (Discard / Nab / Azir/Irelia) took down Darksoul (Zoe / Lee / Foundry / Sivir / Zed) in the finals. While Shurima/Ionia dominance remains on full display whether you’re playing Sivir or countering her, at least there’s diversity within the deck choices if not the regional ones. This is a trend that we noticed at the start of the meta and is continuing in full force, even having Discard widely take over the top P&Z/Noxus spot as Draven/Ezreal sits a little more on the sidelines. But to answer the real question on everyone's mind: this tournament is a victory for the Sentinels, as Irelia did join their side in exchange for a top notch skin patch.
The RCO, being the international melting pot of players that it is, held an AM tournament as well later that same Saturday. The Sentinels got a win thanks to Finni (Overwhelm / Sivir / Akshan / Shen / J4) who defeated Henneky (Draven/EZ / Nab / Azir/Irelia) in the finals. While Henneky’s lineup was nearly identical to the EU winner BratchedKata, it appears the decision to run Discard over Draven/Ez was the right one for the weekend. What surprised me more than the similar lineups however was the small resurgence of Overwhelm. At the Guardians of the Ancient Seasonal we saw a number of players have success cutting out Sejuani for Sivir, and it can be really hard to backtrack on progress like that to make lineup compromises. Overwhelm is still a strong deck for sure, but it’s one of the worst Sivir decks that we have. So Finni cut the Sivir out to make room for Sivir/Akshan, and Overwhelm had to rely on its other champions, Merciless Hunter and Ruin Runner. Er, Renekton and Sejuani. Either way, it's nice to know the archetype isn’t going to totally fade away into the background. Especially as Sejuani continues to take on a more focal role in the Nab resurgence, which looks like it would have fit right at home in Finni’s lineup. As we approach the Seasonal you’ll hear me and many others going on about how ‘comfort is king’, and Finni is a great example of that in practice. Nab is very often paired with Shen/Jarvan and a Shurima/Ionia deck so it wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows to include that as the Sejuani deck, but Finni went for something they knew a little better and were rewarded for it.
On Sunday afternoon the Legends of Runeterra Global Academy (LORGA) played out day 1 of their open event, and will return for top cut next Sunday. While this was the large open tournament of the weekend, I don’t want to list out the top 8s decks like I normally do for 2 reasons. Number one, there is going to be a balance patch in between the swiss and single elimination portions of this tournament during which the players will be able to switch decks. Number two is this article is already getting really long and we still have one more tournament to go, and the top cut had an absolutely unprecedented 21 different decks among the top 8 competitors. With 8 players at 3 decks a piece the maximum you could have is 24. Unsurprisingly, the 3 decks that were brought twice were Discard, Sivir/Akshan, and Frostbite Midrange. And even among the insane amount of one off decks that topped this event, I found that most if not all were not really a surprise. Go Hard, Keg Control (featuring Viego), and Invoke (Zoe/Diana) were among the more unexpected decks, but outside of those I was mostly just faced with the reality of how many different decks we have in the competitive scene right now. Without a winner declared you might think this was a Sentinel victory since Akshan was one of the only decks to appear twice, but we have a tie since there was 1 Viego/Ionia and 1 Viego/Shurima. So for our tiebreaker we’re giving it to the Ruination, as the tournament name was the LORGA Ruination Open.
Then came the DreamHack Community Clash, and by no small margin, the most important tournament result of the weekend. For those of you who recognize the name DreamHack but didn’t know they were holding an event this weekend, what we’re looking at is actually the invitational climax of a series of qualifiers that took place on Thursday evenings throughout the summer. Now the prestigious name of the backing organization wasn’t what made this win important. Neither was the fact that this was an invitational that was qualified for rather than arbitrarily handing out invites. What made this win important was Shadawx’s lineup. Shen / J4, Nab, and...Eggs. Before I get into the rant, I also wanted to congratulate the runner up, Greenseers, who played Sivir/Akshan / Nab / Shen / J4. So the Akshan Infinite Combo, or Eggs as it’s sometimes been called, referencing a similar combo deck in Magic the Gathering known for also taking a lot of real time to perform the combo, finally made its way into a tournament and took home all the bacon. While I’m not going to explain the combo in depth, the shorthand is that the goal is to resolve multiple Fount of Power to reduce the cost of all your cards, and draw through your deck finding multiple Time Bombs to clear your opponents board and attack for lethal. You can see why this would take a while. The reason this win is so important is because while the deck has been a pretty hot topic and known factor since the opening weekend, its ladder and even tournament presence have been extremely low, but it’s been hotly debated in its theoretical implications vis a vis the in game timer. Even outside of that, it’s divided the community on whether or not combos like this are good for the game or kill the user experience for the opponent, who has to idly mash the pass button for ~15 minutes while their opponent performs a complicated mostly non-deterministic loop (with potential to become deterministic). Regardless of which side you fall on, the deck can’t be ignored as it picked up the biggest prize pool of the weekend and may very well be legal going into the Seasonal as is. While Akshan is the main focal point of the deck as you can’t Fount of Power without him, this deck is inherently evil, so this win is a point for the Ruination as well.
Which brings our total score for the weekend 4:2 in favor of the Ruination! The Sentinels won last week so we’re currently tied at 1:1. Now if you’re looking for some wrap up points for my longest article to date, the main takeaways are that Shen/Jarvan and Nab have entered the arena full force. While the DreamHack event may get overshadowed because of the Eggs deck, it was Shadawx’s other anti-Sivir decks of Nab and Shen/Jarvan that forced players to leave the deck open, lest their meta titan get swiftly 2-0d. Greenseers also brought a near identical lineup, and overall Nab appeared in 3 of the 5 winning lineups from over the weekend. Old favorites seem to be coming back in spades, but there’s still a balance patch (albeit an expectedly small one) between us and the Seasonal so nothing is set in stone just yet. We’re full force from here on out so buckle up, pick a side, and maybe pick up a hobby that you can do while your opponent is looping you.