Did you miss day 1 of the 2021 Legends of Runeterra World Championship? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. We don’t have much time for an intro though, we’ve got a lot of action to cover and we’ve gotta get you caught up for day 2!
Match 2 Group B
Pinpingho vs Aikado
(Discard/Pirates/BANNED: Sivir Demacia) vs (Zoe/Nami / Draven/Ezreal / BANNED: Lulu/Poppy)
For all the writing I did about the Discard Aggro pocket pick available to many of our Americas competitors, it was Taiwan’s Pinpingho that ended up being the only player to bring it. With 2 aggro decks and Sivir Demacia, Pinpingho was looking to target out the very Zoe/Nami deck that Aikado was running. But in game 1, Aikado decided to first find his footing with his signature Draven/Ezreal deck.
Draven/Ezreal is usually favored into aggro as the board control centric deck does a great job of cleaning up the low health units while developing effective chump blockers, but it is very susceptible to burn. The matchup is usually decided by how much unit damage Pirates will be able to push through in the early turns, and in this case Pinpingho did an alright job. He opened with an uncontested Crackshot Corsair, pushing 2 damage on turn 1. Turn 2 is where there was a bit of fumbling on the draw, as he was only able to play a Precious Pet. A 2 drop would have been great, and two 1 drops would have been perfect, but 1 was better than none and it would have to do. Miss Fortune was met with Get Excited as soon as she hit the board, and Pinpingho attacked with his 2 units to knock Aikado down to 14 on turn 3.
Having discarded Lost Souls for Get Excited, Aikado summoned Twinblade Revenant to pair with his Thorn of the Rose. Pinpingho responded with Iron Ballista. The Revenant killed the Crackshot, and the Pet traded with Thorn of the Rose. On turn 5, Pinpingho took some time considering his options. His hand was 2 Decimate, Gangplank, Iron Ballista and Legion Grenadier. With his opponent at 14, he decided the best course of action was to go wide with the 2nd Ballista and the Grenadier. When he opened with the Ballista however, Aikado responded with Aloof Travelers, forcing Pinpingho to discard a Decimate! With a 3/4 now on the field, he decided against playing the Grenadier and attacked with both units, trading away the board and triggering Plunder for the Jagged Butcher that had replaced his Decimate.
Turn 6 came and went with both players getting on board, and Aikado using his last remaining spell mana to Thermogenic Beam Pinpingho’s Gangplank to set it up for any of the 3 Ravenous Flocks he had in his hand. With a Miss Fortune top deck on turn 7, Pinpingho decided his best option was an open attack that yielded 0 damage as Aikado threw away his units for life preservation and played a Flock onto the Gangplank. Aikado developed Ezreal, and Pinpingho played a Decimate. A Noxian Fervor draw didn’t inspire Pinpingho to any action, as he took a full pass turn 8 while Aikado pushed some damage. He drew and played Zap Sprayfin, but hit Make It Rain instead of another Noxian Fervor. Aikado’s hand was actually really light in terms of fast speed removal, with just a single Mystic Shot to deal with non-damaged Fervor targets. He zapped the Zap with a 4 damage Tri-Beam Improbulator, and Pinpingho played out his last 2 units in Miss Fortune and Legion Grenadier. With Aikado at 8, the game hung in the balance of Pinpingho finding a window to connect the Fervor (and then top-decking Decimate). Miss Fortune was met with Guile, but Pinpingho held the Fervor since he had the attack token and wanted to get full use out of the Love Tap. Aikado fell to 6 and Flock’d the Miss Fortune. Pinpingho fired off the Fervor, but Ravenous Flock #3 put a stop to the madness and kept Aikado at a (healthy?) 6 nexus hp. With Ezreal leveling off the interaction, Pinpingho surrendered, sure they were dead next turn.
Aikado opened with the ideal Zoe/Nami 1-2 punch: Double Trouble and Nami. But Pinpingho found the triple 1 drop opener he was missing in the first game, and forced Double Trouble on turn 2 to protect from Legion Rearguard / Legion Saboteur / Jagged Butcher. He followed it up with a Miss Fortune for his turn 3 attack. Aikado cast Supercool Starchart for a Trickster and took some chump blocks with his 1 health 1 drops.
Aikado was forced to develop an unleveled Nami, pairing it with Double Trouble to try and stave off the now 6 wide board on the side of Pirates, but once again hit two 1 health units. Aikado fell to 2 Nexus health and only managed to trade back onto a Crackshot Corsair with Nami. He played a Trickster, and Pinpingho figured he was ahead enough that he could throw out Noxian Fervor and still win even if Aikado had a Guiding Touch to survive at 1. He lined it up on his Jagged Butcher, and Aikado responded with Nami’s Ebb, trying to snipe out the unit.
Both players opened game 3 with less than ideal post-mulligans. Pinpingho threw down his Legion Rearguard and hit the ground running turn 1, and both players passed turn 2. Reborn Grenadier discarding another copy started off turn 3, and no Double Trouble from Aikado meant all he could do was Line’em Up // Knock’em Down onto the non-ephemeral unit, and take 6 damage. He was down to 11 on turn 3 (not ideal) but Pinpingho’s hand was left at an awkward tempo with no board as he held Jinx, Augmented Experimenter, Crowd Favorite, and Get Excited.
Aikado burst pass with Guiding Touch. Pinpingho played Jinx, and Aikado responded with a leveled Nami. With 2 Gifts from Beyond in hand, things were looking great for Aikado to take complete control of the game with massive Sparkleflies. One Sparklefly came out, and as a 3/3 lined up a block onto House Spider. Pinpingho used Get Excited with Vision to try and kill the Fly before things got out of control, but Pale Cascade and 2 Gifts From Beyond climbed it up to 7 health thanks to Nami, leaving Aikado at 16 nexus health when the turn was over. He did lose the Sparklefly to an Augmented Experimenter that leveled Jinx, but Aikado had a 2nd Sparklefy ready thanks to the Gifts. With his new Fly and a Wiggly Burblefish, he raised his nexus health to 20 while taking Pinpingho down to 11.
Pinpingho’s hand after his 2 Jinx draws wasn’t anything special, but it was something he could empty to play a rocket and it contained a Poro Cannon so he could buy himself some time. Pinpingho went 6 wide, and Aikado used Severum on his Burblefish to try and dissuade any aggression. It didn’t work, and while he picked off some units, he did fall to 14 at the end of combat as neither of his units had the health to block Jinx. Pinpingho used a Super Mega Death Rocket to knock Aikado to 10, and developed the Poro’s to survive a little longer.
Aikado played Fleet Admiral Shelly and Pinpinho got another Rocket thanks to Zaunite Urchin, but had to discard the Rocket to a top-decked Poro Cannon after he lost a Daring Poro to a Make It Rain. Aikado went in with his 3 elusives, and while the 2 largest ones were blocked, he was able to climb Shelly to 7 attack and finish off the last 4 nexus health with a stolen Super Mega Death Rocket.
Aikado (1-0) W vs Pinpingho (0-1)
With Bandle Tree going from the most played deck in the qualifier (thanks entirely to Realkey’s triple Tree lineup) to the least played, it was unclear how Realkey was going to perform on the day after doing a total 180 on his lineup. Both players had found a win in their respective Fight Nights last week, and each would only get to play 1 of their winning decks in this series. And thus, the first EU vs AM match of Worlds kicked off.
I’m going to bring you in on turn 4, where Realkey had already developed a Maria Warden, Flower Child, Jagged Butcher, and Fortune Croaker. BaJAtak had a Zoe, which he was able to protect from Make It Rain with Pale Cascade, and struck the nexus to even up the life totals at 18 apiece. Realkey played Gangplank and Baj responded with Fleet Admiral Shelly after finding Moonsilver off his Starchart. He proc’d Shelly with Moonsilver and Make It Rain, killing Flower Child and the Keg. A post-combat Monster Harpoon finished off the damaged Shelly, and Baj summoned a Burblefish.
Both players went to turn 6 with no spell mana. Baj played Spell Thief (stealing Monster Harpoon) then cast Guiding Touch on his Nexus and summoned a Sparklefly, leveling Zoe and spreading the lifesteal to herself and Burblefish. Realkey used Gangplank’s Parley to kill the Burble and only take 4 damage, then nabbed a Pale Cascade with Yorlde Grifter. Realkey opened the next turn with Warning Shot, leveling GP, and swung out. Exchange of resources was made, and Baj was able to come out the better of a trade onto Jagged Butcher with Zoe to stay at 7 nexus health. It did take most of BaJAtak’s mana, so he had to wait until turn 8 to summon Fleet Admiral Shelly. When he did, Realkey snuck a Dreadway into play. Baj didn’t quite have lethal since Realkey had a Zap Sprayfin in play, so he used Line’em Up // Knock’em Down to take out the only elusive blocker. This gave Realkey, who controlled a Keg and a Dreadway, an opportunity to fire another Gangplank’s Parley at the nexus for 3 and finish the game with 2 Warning Shots.
Game 2 was again relatively light on action until turn 4, where BaJAtak was sitting on a few units summoned from Double Trouble and Realkey had no board. BaJAtak used Gifts From Beyond to make Crescendum and summoned a leveled up Nami, which Realkey hit with a Death’s Hand. It was healed up instantly though with Guiding Touch, which buffed an Affectionate Poro. The preemptive Flock play around was cute, but thanks to Death’s Hand hitting the nexus, Realkey was able to Monster Harpoon the Nami. Another Gifts was used to grab Calibrum and give a parting buff over the Zaunite Urchin, and Realkey fell to 13. Gold Card was used to clear out the Urchin, and BaJAtak responded to the weak Twisted Fate by playing out Zoe and 2 Sparklefly.
Turn 6 opened with a Burblefish for BJAtak. Realkey tried to match the elusive play with a Zap but was hit with the Crescendum. Culling Strike was used to stop Zoe from hitting the nexus, but Realkey was still pushed down to just 9 health. We were fast approaching turn 8, but Realkey didn’t have the board presence to think about Leviathan. He played another Zap, then rolled some dice with a Make It Rain. He landed on Zoe, and when it was saved with Sunblessed Vigro he took the opportunity to kill the Affectionate Poro with Death’s Hand, ensuring he could freely block as he wanted with Zap on the next turn. We finally made it to the Leviathan turn but Realkey was in survival mode, playing out his 3rd Zap Sprayfin in response to Fleet Admiral Shelly. Sleepy Trouble Bubble stunned Zap, and Arachnoid Sentry stunned Shelly back. Realkey fell to 3 and cast Pick a Card. His Twisted Fate had been around for quite some time and was able to level up on the draw - not something you see too often these days. Unfortunately for Realkey it wasn’t quite enough, and with yet another Shelly coming down for BaJAtak the Red Cards weren’t strong enough to chew through all the elusives, so he died on the next attack turn.
If there’s one thing to know about Worlds, it's that the randomly generated cards are likely to create the most hype moments. So when Realkey hit a Mageseeker Conservator off Marai Warden to start the deciding game, I knew we were in for a wild one.
The Conservator gave his life in the line of duty by running headfirst into a Merciless Hunter so Realkey could push damage with some of his 2 attack units, and out popped a Vengeance. With BaJAtak cutting Ruin Runner from his Sivir Demacia, there were more prime targets than ever and it sat in Realkey’s hand like Chekhov’s gun, waiting for its time in the final act.
But in the 2nd Act (turn 5) a large resource war was underway. Baj summoned Akshan, and Realkey tried to kill it with Death’s Hand. Sharpsight saved it, and Brightsteel Protector suited it up. Make It Rain killed the damaged Merciless Hunter and pinged the Protector, but the barrier on Akshan remained intact. BaJAtak went into combat but a 2nd Make It Rain hit the only 3 targets available, killing the Brightsteel Protector and popping the barrier on Akshan who already had a Flock aimed at him. Realkey had aligned a safety block onto the Brightsteel, and BaJAtak used the last of his mana to cast another Sharpsight to force a trade.
Realkey played Swain and was met with another Merciless Hunter. With 1 less mana than necessary to stun it with Make It Rain, he just attacked with his Marai Warden and kicked the nexus down to 8. Baj summoned Sivir on his own turn, but Make It Rain + Monster Harpoon made quick work of her. Flock took out the last blocker, and another Merciless Hunter took its place. Realkey summoned Crusty Codger and passed.
Realkey elected to attack only with Zap Sprayfin. A Preservarium and Treasure Seeker later, BaJAtak was sitting on a very intimidating number of cards in hand, including 2 rally effects and a Concerted Strike. He started his attack turn with Waking Sands. Realkey played his drawn Death’s Hand onto Merciless Hunter, which as an added bonus would stun the Bruiser. BaJAtak responded with Concerted Strike, and the Vengeance came in. The Bruiser died without getting off a Strike, Merciless Hunter died, and the Sandstone Charger was stunned. BaJAtak was forced to use his Relic of Power to summon a Sandstone Charger and finish off Swain. Thanks to Fleetfeather Tracker and some previously applied vulnerability, the board was left clear except for a Marai Warden for Realkey. With BaJAtak left at 2 after the open attack, he started to pick up some steam. He drew Akshan into Vekauran Vagabond, giving him both a Warlord’s Palace and Hoard. Akshan was killed by Culling Strike before he could strike, but the Hoard was in play.
Now we come into the final act. Realkey ran out his entire hand: Dreadway Deckhand, Hired Gun, and an Arachnoid Sentry that came just as Golden Aegis was used on the Vagabond. With the Vagabond stunned it was all BaJAtak could do to kill the vulnerable Warden and Keg before Realkey attacked for lethal with his 1 unit advantage and BaJAtak at the perfect 2 nexus health.
And then, Realkey accidentally pressed the space bar, passing the turn rather than attacking for lethal.
BaJAtak open-attacked, forcing full blocks out of Realkey and using a Shaped Stone to pump up his Treasure Seeker to clear the board. He played Waking Sands and Relentless Pursuit, and the Zap Sprayfin blocker Realkey developed was all he could do to survive at 3 health. With Baj at 2, Realkey was and had been for quite some time 1 Leviathan topdeck away from lethal. And on his last possible chance...he drew it! He slammed it to the board and had to simply hope that BaJAtak’s final topdeck was not Concerted Strike. With the game totally out of Realkey’s hands now, BaJAtak played his drawn card: The Absolver. This final target was enough to finish the countdown of the Warlords Hoard, which he used to cast Fount of Power, finding another Absolver and Brightsteel Protector. He used The Absolvers Return to finish the countdown of Warlord’s Palace, and the Relic of Power was able to predict into the 2nd Concerted Strike and kill the Leviathan! When BaJAtak open-attacked, Realkey revealed his top deck: Whispered Words. He only needed to find 2 damage and off the top, so he drew Death’s Hand and...Swain.
BaJAtak (1-0) W vs Realkey (0-1)
Match 9 Group A
XxWhatAmIxX vs Realkey
(Zoe/Nami / Lulu/Poppy / BANNED:Draven/Sion) vs (Plunder / TF/Swain / BANNED:Draven/Caitlyn)
We come into this match with XxWhatAmIxX sitting at a 2-0 record, and Realkey at 1-1. A win here for WhatAmI would mean advancing to the top 8 as the highest seed from group A, and if Realkey won there could be a 3-way tie depending on the results of Artefy vs BaJAtak that was yet to be played. With everything on the line, let’s go over the first North vs South America match.
We start the game at parody, both players happily putting the “trade” in Trading Card Games. A Fleetfeather Tracker for a Crusty Codger? Why thank you, sir. Loping Telescope for Solari Soldier (created by Marai Warden)? Yes, I believe I shall. Charger for Marai Warden? Well, I don’t see why not. Keg’d up Gold Card for Poppy? WhatAmI felt that last trade might not be the most fair, so he offered up a Ranger’s Resolve instead. Next turn, WhatAmI summoned Lulu and Realkey once again made an offer for the Poppy - a Make It Rain. WhatAmI countered with Ranger’s Resolve again, so Realkey sweetened the pot with a Death’s Hand. It still wasn’t enough for WhatAmI to give up his Poppy, so he gave him a Sharpsight Instead. Thanks to Lulu, Poppy was fully healed, and in return, Poppy made Lulu into a 4/4.
Realkey summoned Zap Sprayfin and WhatAmI countered with Relentless Pursuit. Realkey was finally able to get WhatAmI’s Poppy thanks to Make It Rain and Ravenous Flock, so WhatAmI paired his Lulu with Yordle Smith. Realkey attacked with Zap to knock WhatAmI down to 11, who responded with a sucker punch to kill Twisted Fate and hit Realkey down to 9. With a Poppy already in hand, WhatAmI drew his 3rd copy for turn, and played one instead of taking the open attack. She was met with a Monster Harpoon, and WhatAmI had to attack with his Smith and Lulu again as he was 1 mana shy of jamming out the 2nd Poppy. Lulu leveled up, putting her outside the range of Yordle Smith and letting Zap knock her down to 2 health as Smith knocked Realkey down to 5 health. Realkey tried to kill Lulu with Gold Card but was again countered by Sharpsight, and Arachnoid Sentry was used to push a little damage. When WhatAmI played Tenor of Terror on the next turn it was just enough to keep him a little wider than Realkey could match, and he took game 1.
Realkey swapped over to Plunder and opened with a nice curve, getting down Crackshot Corsair on the first turn to start his champions’ level-up procs early. A Fortune Croaker forced WhatAmI to run out a Sparklefly instead of waiting to play Double Trouble on the next turn, which he did use defensively to combat the Marai Warden and Jagged Butcher coming out of Realkey. The fast pace of the game continued, with WhatAmI playing a 2nd Sparklefly and Realkey playing Yorlde Grifter over a defensive Zap. He managed to nab a Hush, which would certainly be a blowout down the line. He open-attacked on the next turn, trying to whittle down the Sparkleflies before Fleet Admiral Shelly could buff them too high. Shelly was immediately hunted out by Monster Harpoon, but not before getting off a single use of his ability and Spell Thief-ing the very Harpoon that killed them.
WhatAmI’s 2/3 Flys seemed a world more threatening now, but without an elusive of his own Realkey was forced to take the damage. He managed to snag some nexus damage while killing Zoe with a Make It Rain, and his Sejuani on turn 7 came down on the level 2 side. With a Warning Shot and Hush in hand, Realkey looked like he was all but ready to move on to game 3. WhatAmI still had a few tricks up his sleeve though and used Line’em Up // Knock’em Down to set the Sej into Harpoon range. Realkey knew what was up and tried to snipe the Keg with Make It Rain, but missed. He was able to kill a Sparkefly thanks to the vulnerable from Sejuani, and with a Hush available for the living one it looked like WhatAmI was going to stay at 6 health while Realkey figured out the most effective way to finish him off, which started with a Gangplank. WhatAmI amassed an army of 1 cost followers with Double Trouble, but nothing that was going to get him through Realkey’s 4 wide board and 13 nexus hp. He used Calibrum to kill Zap and clear the path for Sparkefly, but the nabbed Hush did its due diligence and WhatAmI lost his last Fly. With just a Hush and Starchart in hand to try and navigate his way around the incoming lethal, a Dreadway from Realkey made it an impossible task.
We start game 3 the way any good WhatAmI game starts; with a turn 1 Zoe. Realkey was able to respond with an early 4 damage thanks to Codger and Deckhand, but when we got to look at WhatAmI’s hand we realized how much danger Realkey was in. With Nami and Double Trouble waiting in the wings to level her, and a Gifts From Beyond to get a Sparklefly, Realkey was going to need to do better than 4 damage. His own hand was rather light, sitting entirely on removal spells and a singular Whispered Words. This was to be a game of questions and answers, and it was one that Zoe/Nami was built for.
WhatAmI played his Nami on turn 5 with a Sinister Poro as his only other unit. Realkey tossed out a RNG-proof Make It Rain, to which WhatAmI responded by stealing one and playing it back with Spell Thief, hitting Realkey’s Keg. He followed up with another Starchart grabbing another Trickster, and attacked with his 7/3 Sinister Poro. Realkey only had 2 attack units and was forced to Flock it and finish off Nami with Culling Strike. He had cleared the board and had another decent 4 damage open-attack available, but WhatAmI was holding all the cards. He played a Trickster. Realkey played a Zap, getting Scorched Earth. Sparklefly joined the party thanks to Crescendum, and Realkey dug deep with Whispered Words to try and even out the cards a bit. WhatAmI didn’t have Shelly or Nami, but that didn’t stop him from going wide with elusives as he played a Burblefish that pulled Heaven’s Aligned. Make It Rain sought to end the Burble, but WhatAmI protected it with Pale Cascade. He attacked with his 4 elusives, losing his Sparklefly to Zap and Burble to Flock, but connecting with both Tricksters to take Realkey down to 11 and boost himself a little back up to 9. Realkey went 6 wide and jammed an open attack, and all the blocks only amounted to 4 damage saved, which put WhatAmI down to 2.
With a hand of 2 Line’em Up, Hush, Sunblessed Vigor, Spell Thief, and Double Trouble, he cast the randomly generated Heaven’s Aligned. What else was he gonna do, right?
Out popped Eclipse Dragon. He cast that too.
Out popped Screeching Dragon and The Destroyer.
WhatAmI drew Gifts From Beyond, and summoned the Destroyer.
WhatAmI played his Gifts, grabbing Infernum and playing it onto Eclipse Dragon.
Without a way to damage the nexus, the 6 mana Monster Harpoon was too much for Realkey to play everything out. He needed Swain as a blocker, Scorched Earth and Monster Harpoon to all be playable to handle the massive pressure WhatAmI had just thrown down.
It would seem that at a certain point, you can actually master a region, as WhatAmI has mastered Targon. I knew that if WhatAmI could find a way to make Eclipse Dragon work he would surely move on to the top 8, though this isn’t quite what I, or anyone, was expecting.
XxWhatAmIxX (3-0) W vs (Realkey 1-2)
With Groups A + B played to conclusion, it was XxWhatAmI and Realkey who would be moving on over Artefy and BaJAtak from group A. Group B sent on Aikado and Cosimo over Pinpingho and Howtodie. Now that you’re all caught up, be sure to tune in to groups C + D as we finalize the top 8 at twitch.tv/legendsofruneterra!