Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of my Seasonal Top 32 Power Rankings. This time of course we’re looking at the Top 32 players that will be competing in the Between Worlds Seasonal this Saturday. For those who don’t know, I am Blevins, and I actually have the privilege of casting the playoffs this time around. As always, there is a bit of subjectivity in these posts so if there is someone you thought deserved to be higher on the list, let me know on Twitter! With that, let’s dive in.
Gio is a player who we honestly didn’t get a ton of info on. He’s an 18-year-old student from Brazil, which is about all we have going into the weekend. What I can say is that, as I’ve said many times before, Brazil is one of if not the strongest regions for Legends of Runeterra players. While I’m not sure if Gio is on a competitive team, many of the top players in Brazil are associated with a team of some sort, and the community, in general, comes together for community events and pushes everyone to be a better player. This may be the first we’re seeing Gio on the big stage, but a good performance in the Top 32 is a great start to being a top LoR player.
Ajay is definitely a newcomer to LoR; he has only been playing the game for 4 months! While that normally would be a huge detriment, the fact that he’s made it this far really shows the natural talent and skill for the game that Ajay already has. There’s definitely something to be said about someone who can come into a game and dive right into it at the highest level of competition. The real question is whether or not that raw talent can hold up against the best players in the Americas this weekend.
Snugguls, as of the writing of this post, is sitting at 23rd on the Americas ladder; he has just over 400 LP. Ladder performance alone, however, can only take you so far in this event. Making the Top 32 is a feat in and of itself, but once we get to this point in the event, all of the street cred gained from ladder goes out the door. The field of this Top 32 is one of the strongest we have ever seen. Snugguls comes into the event having only played in a few small LoR tournaments beforehand, which is normally a good thing, but when we have the grizzled tournament veterans that are in this Top 32, the lack of experience makes it an uphill battle. We have certainly seen players with little competitive experience perform well in the Seasonal Top 32, but they have to start out with something to prove.
My vote for best name in the Top 32, Stromboli prince is another player who comes into the event with little competitive experience. I will say despite that, his reasoning for his lineup was quite sound. To paraphrase, he brought Darkness because it’s fun, Lee Sin because it’s a pet deck of his, and Plunder because he believes the deck is very good. A little bit of everything in terms of deck archetypes, as well as sound reasoning for choosing the decks. I’m wondering if he’ll use the same logic to pick his decks for the Top 32 as well.
Jcpennt is a player who likes to live on the edge. So much so, that they almost missed the deadline for confirmation of the event and were mere hours away from being replaced! This of course would have been a shame in general, but even more so specifically here because Jcpennt had one of the most unique lineups of our Top 32. Piloting Jayce / Heimer Ionia, Vi / Fizz Shellfolk, and Zoe / Poppy beatdown, Jcpennt certainly wasn’t trying to play on the meta. With such a wacky lineup performing very well in the Open Rounds, I can only imagine what he is bringing to the Top 32.
I would argue that the current meta of LoR is one of the most interesting and fun that we’ve had in a long time, but even if you think the ladder is ResidentSleeper, Paradigmz is fine with that. That is because he works as a sleep therapist… ok all jokes aside, Paradigmz is another player on the list that doesn’t have a ton of competitive experience outside of when he was younger. I always bring this up, but having a fresh perspective on a game can certainly be a benefit. Not having all of the same assumptions and opinions that come from playing a ton of high-level LoR can really throw opponents off. That said, the Top 32 players in the tournament are the most likely to punish inexperienced players. What I will say is don’t sleep on Paradigmz…
I’ll see myself out…
Cufa is the only player in our Top 32 from Argentina. I’ve spoken in the past about national pride being a driving factor in the Seasonal tournaments, as we've really only had the first Worlds event as a place to play as a representative of your country. The EU region has EU Masters, but the Americas region really just has the Seasonals right now, so this is the best way to represent your nation at the highest level outside of Worlds. Cufa also has played some other competitive games outside of LoR and has even been very successful there. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that he owns a bar. You really have to be able to adapt to anything that’s thrown at you (perhaps literally) when you own a bar, and that adaptability translates very well to LoR. I will certainly be keeping an eye on how Cufa rolls with the punches on Saturday.
AL is the first former MTG player on our list for this Top 32. As I’ve spoken about many times previously, I am a bit biased towards former MTG players in LoR as not only is that where I got my start in competitive card games, but we’ve also seen many former MTG players have a lot of success in LoR. He mentioned that he has had good performances at Grand Prixs, which are very similar in size and scope to a Seasonal tournament but never quite made the Pro Tour. I can definitely relate to that level of play, and while it obviously is the top of the top, there is still a lot of room to be a great player and not have made the Pro Tour. I for one am always happy to see what new players to LoR Top 32s bring to the table. We’ve seen players like Erigby come from a similar place as AL and actually win the entire event, so never count anyone out.
Makantor comes from the Hearthstone Collegiate scene. This is generally a good indicator of success in LoR, as playing in tournaments of that caliber is certainly analogous to playing in a Seasonal. What’s more interesting about Makantor is that he always chooses his lineup at the last minute. I’ve seen players agonize over Seasonal lineups for weeks if not longer, only to switch too late and not have enough time to have practiced. The great Boulevard always tweets out “you’re overthinking your Seasonal Lineup” and I tend to agree with that sentiment. No worries on that front from Makantor, as they are going into the event loosey-goosey. I truly believe that there is an element of advantage to be gained from not having the pressure of thinking too much about a lineup. It’s worked so far for getting into the Top 32, but we’ll have to wait to see if Makantor also picks their lineup in the final hour for the Playoffs.
Beastllama has only done a few community tournaments before making the Top 32. I won’t go over again how a fresh mind can be a benefit but instead will focus on Beastllama’s deck preferences. The two preferences that he mentions are Combo decks and a love for deck building in general. Those two in combination are very interesting to me as a lover of combo decks. There are a lot of different ways that a combo deck can be built; from the traditional Lee Sin to something obscure like the Akshan / P&Z which barely sees any play at all. That’s the beauty of the Seasonal though: anything is possible in terms of a deck lineup. Especially if you’re coming from a place of not being the most experienced player, something completely off the wall and original may actually over-index in an event like the Seasonal Playoffs.
Many times in the Seasonal we see players who come from many different card game backgrounds: MTG, Yugioh, Hearthstone, etc. Usually, players will have played in any of those games and make the transition to LoR. We don’t always see players who have played multiple games competitively, but sCBASSs is certainly one of those players. He plays yugioh, weiss, Flesh and Blood as well as TFT competitively. This is of course on top of LoR which he’s obviously playing at a high level. There is definitely something to be gained from honing in on one game, but I would argue that there is a completely different advantage to be gained from playing multiple different games. I can specifically say that my own skills at LoR have improved from playing other games because it had me think about concepts in LoR from a different perspective. This Saturday will answer the question of what works better: 1 game or many?
Zult is the player this Seasonal who is going for my heart. He played a little card called Shark Chariot in the first year of LoR and hit Master with it. Shark Chariot is one of my all-time favorite cards in LoR, but it, unfortunately, is not known for its consistency. There were some points early on that Shark Chariot was at least decent (us old folks remember the reign of Hecarim early on), but even then Shark Chariot wasn’t always played, and it's time in the sun was short-lived. Jamming our favorite ephemeral 3/1 into a world of Bannermen and 4 cost Lee Sins is admirable. This actually ties into the other point I wanted to bring up about Zult: he played Smash Bros. competitively. Smash Bros is a community that is just as diehard as any, but we’ve seen very few Smash folks come over to LoR (shoutout to my boy Hugs). Smash players are known for sticking to their competitive scene through thick and thin as well as playing their main regardless of anything else. This is a noble cause especially in card games and it’s even nobler when your main is Shark Chariot.
LoR in 2021 has a lot of great things going for it. One of those great things is the community tournaments. I’m obviously a bit biased with GiantSlayer, but there are also many other great folks putting on community tournaments including the Mastering Runeterra Open series. SamanthaHoney was the champion of one of their events. The Mastering Runeterra events are quite a big deal because they are some of the higher stakes tournaments that take place in NA, and therefore have some of the toughest competition. They are also the tournament that is the closest to what the Seasonal is, so SamanthaHoney is already in a good position to do well in this Top 32.
Eluwardhayk is another Brazilian player on the list as well as another player who is part of a competitive team. That’s all well and good, but I want to take a look at his favorite deck, Ekko Zilean. This deck is an off-meta pick, to say the least, and it’s one that I haven’t really seen since the first week of Ekko’s release. It is a very interesting deck for sure, as predicting is an inherently strong game action to take and leads to the deck being very decision-heavy. A player that prefers to play a deck like that is certainly in a game for the long haul, as you need to not only be thinking about the current turn but also be focusing on setting up future turns with predict and the other synergies. While we won’t necessarily see him play this deck in the Top 32, I can say that the strategy gained from having played that deck will help him regardless of what his lineup looks like on Saturday.
Pasquale is the first player on the list to be a multi-time Seasonal playoff player (unless I’ve missed someone, which happens from time to time… Sorry if I did!). This of course is a massive feat to achieve, but the fact that Pasquale is only the number 18 player on our list really speaks to just how stacked the Playoffs are this time around. As I mentioned in the Beyond the Bandlewood Top 32 Power Rankings, Pasquale A) comes from a Chess background and B) likes to give some meme answers on the player survey. Granted, I can’t tell if the Ezreal Elnuks answer as his favorite deck is a meme or an ode to an unironically dominant deck back in the olden days of pre-Rising Tides. Either way, Pasquale is a very strong player in this pool of many other top players.
Rusticles has one of the most interesting stories of the Top 32 in my opinion. Rusticles plays LoR by using foot pedals, a mouse and an eye tracker because he has ALS. To me this is a massive feat, as I can barely be bothered to do anything with even the slightest inconvenience. Not just playing the game, but playing at a very high level as well really requires a dedication to the game. I also absolutely love the mindset that Rusticles has in regards to how he approaches each game. The line he gives is “if they have it, they have it”. Many times at the highest level, players can actually go too deep down the rabbit hole in regards to bluffing and playing around things. At some point in the game, you can’t play around everything, and in fact, the desire to play around too many different cards can actually lead to losing a game itself. I honestly think that if more players adopted this philosophy, they would actually improve overall at LoR.
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Santa in the Top 32 of the Seasonal, but I suppose December would be the most opportune time for him to reappear… All jokes aside, Santa did make the Top 16 of the Empires of the Ascended Seasonal Tournament. We have entered the point of the Power Rankings where we’re starting to not only see folks with two Seasonal Top Cuts, but players who have had multiple Top 32s, top performances, and even wins. I said it before; this is a stacked field. I will say that Santa making it back after a bit of a hiatus from Top Cuts does speak to his longevity in the game. We see players make a flash in the pan top performance and disappear from ever getting a Top 32 again. Santa is going to be doing his best to deliver the gift of another great finish this Saturday.
Prodigy is another player on the list that is in their second Seasonal Top 32. In the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal, Prodigy ended up making a Top 8 run which is certainly an amazing accomplishment. I wrote extensively about Prodigy’s past in other games and areas of competition in the previous Power Rankings writeup, and honestly, it’s no surprise that he made it back again. There’s only so much better you can do after a Top 8, but I know he’s going to be looking to improve upon that score this time around.
Chunkzer is one of the two Mexican players who qualified for the Seasonal. Chunkzer is also another player who is in their second Top 32. He was in the previous Top 32 for Beyond the Bandlewood where I wrote about his previous competitive experience in Marvel VS Capcom. I always love seeing players come from the FGC because I see a lot of similarities between the LoR community and the FGC. We’re both scrappy communities that are very passionate about our game, but also want nothing more than to see their scene grow. Seeing so many back-to-back Top 32 players from Beyond the Bandlewood really makes me happy about this new wave of players making moves towards the top of the scene.
13 + 12
Wasrusso + Master Doran (Team FNX)
This is the second Seasonal in a row that I’ve dedicated a block of spots in the Power Rankings to Team FNX. If you can believe it, the two teammates from Team FNX are actually only half of the players from the team that made the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal Playoffs. The fact that two players making the top cut is actually a worse performance than the last time is just insane to me. There is no team right now in LoR that is putting up these kinds of consistent tournament results, with one possible exception (who I’ll mention later.) Regardless, 6 spots in the Top 32 in the past two Seasonals is actually an insane run, and I believe that the success of Team FNX will inspire the creation and progression of other competitive teams in LoR.
As I alluded to earlier, this field is absolutely stacked. We’re not even into the top 10 and we’re at Damian who is playing in their 3rd Top 32. Even a player as good as Damian is not infallible when it comes to deck choices. He noted that he only had two decks that he was really comfortable with going into the Open Rounds. He made the game-time decision to play an Aurelian Sol control deck as his third deck, which I would consider something like a Tier 2 deck at best. He says that the deck ended up being one of the best in his lineup. Even in a meta where the top decks are pretty well established, there is still room for comfort picks to be relevant in a tournament meta. Damian is out here proving one of the most endearing and important aspects of LoR; Just when you think everything is figured out, it isn’t.
Mtucks is a player that has been on my radar for a long time. I actually wrote about him in my very first Top 10 Players to Watch article for the Monuments of Power Seasonal. Mtucks has been a top player on ladder and in tournaments for quite some time now. He has even been a deck building pioneer for quite a few meta decks. The most notable one that comes to mind for me is the old Teemo / Ezreal Freljord deck that was a popular tournament deck for a while. He is a master of both popular decks as well as the lesser-known decks that he brings to the table. That combo is very scary as an opponent coming into the Seasonal because having wild card decks to factor when building your lineup can really throw things off. Mtuck might not be the most accomplished player in this event (again, this one is stacked), but Mtucks is certainly a solid pick if you are looking for someone to root for.
Zorig is yet again another player who has multiple Top 32s and one that folks who follow the competitive scene likely have seen in tournaments and high on the AM ladder. Zorig Dungu also has the very interesting situation of having a sibling who is also a top player, FilthyGamerWeeb. In fact, both of them made their first Top 32 together in a relatively crazy series of events. Not only are they siblings both playing at the top of the game in the same tournament, but when they qualified, the Open Rounds were basically single elimination, so they also needed to dodge each other the entire time. If I were in a high-level tournament with my brother I don’t know if I’d be happy that we were both doing well, or really just want to make sure I did better than him. Having talked to both Zorig and FGW, I think they’re somewhere in the middle of those two sentiments.
Pixer is not only in his second Seasonal Top 32 representing Mexico, but he also played in the first LoR Worlds event. Perhaps not quite as impressive (I’d argue it is, but I digress) but Pixer did also make the finals of the most recent Giantslayer Fight Night Seasonal Smackdown. The Smackdown is an event where we invite players that have all made Seasonal Top 32s already. This was just a few weeks ago, and a few of the players from that event are actually in this Top 32, which could be an indication of how he’ll do in the Seasonal this time around. In an event so stacked, Pixer still stands atop many of the other players in the Top 32.
Sirturmund is no stranger to the competitive scene for Runeterra. One of the more impressive feats for me is his mastery of the classic tournament deck, Tahm Kench / Soraka. The deck that always finds its way back into the fold when Seasonals come back around. Many metas ago it was actually at least a semi-viable Ladder deck, but these days it really isn’t as viable in an environment where you can’t choose your matchup at least a bit with a ban. That’s why it almost always comes back during Seasonals; it has many favorable and polarizing matchups that you as a player have much more control over. Sirturmund takes this to another level as he has made multiple top cuts with the deck. The true beauty of the deck, and part of the reason that some players really excel at it, is that the deck has remained relatively unchanged since it was released. It’s a very linear deck, but also has a lot of play and decision-making. I fully expect to see Sirturmund not only bring the deck to the Top 32, but also for him to do quite well with it.
Ceph may have one of the best tournament records in competitive LoR. I wrote about Ceph’s absolutely crazy record when he made the Top 32 in the Guardians of the Ancient Seasonal. The tl;dr (though I do suggest reading the old post as well) is that Ceph at the time had almost a 70% set winrate and roughly a 50% conversion rate to top cut. Half of the tournaments he was playing in (and mind you, it was a lot) he was making the top cut of. Those conversion rates are absolutely insane. The other note on Ceph is that he is a master lineup builder. He has one of the best theory crafting minds in the game, and will elegantly craft a lineup to really target an expected meta. If you look at nothing else this Seasonal, pay mind to what decks Ceph brings to the Top 32 and really think about his reasoning.
As we enter the Top 5, we are truly entering rarified air. All of these players have made multiple top cuts, some have played in Worlds, and one has even won a Seasonal. Lazyguga has spent most of this Season at the Top of the Americas ladder. Lazyguga is also part of one of the other top teams in Brazil: Team Hydra, who is known for having a lot of top performances. They were honestly one of the original competitive teams in LoR, and they have put many players through to the top cuts of many tournaments. Lazyguga was in the Top 32 of the very first Seasonal and is back again now, showing the longevity of him as a player. This does feel like it could be Lazyguga’s time to really shine, and it will be in one of the strongest fields we’ve seen in a Top 32.
You may remember Kochua as the finalist of the Beyond the Bandlewood Seasonal Tournament. Since our previous winner is not in this Top 32, that means Kochua did better in the last Seasonal than any other players in our Top 32. Just about every Seasonal, there is a player who is really on a hot streak coming into the tourney. Kochua not only got 2nd last Seasonal but also has been doing well in the past few GiantSlayer Fight Night events, which again are a smaller but highly concentrated and competitive field. He personally guaranteed to me (I may be embellishing a bit) that he would improve upon his performance in the last Seasonal which really can only mean one thing...
For many, TheBlackBoss’ reputation precedes him. He is arguably the best player in Brazil, if not the entire world, and inarguably in the conversation for both of those honors. I would be doing you the reader a disservice by conjuring anything else up about TBB when the amazing Boulevard already did a fantastic writeup on him for Giantslayer. Do yourself a favor and read that article to get a full breakdown of the history of the Legendary TheBlackBoss.
Fresh off of being newly minted (by me) as a Seasonal Hall of Fame player, WhatAmI takes the reins and qualifies for yet another Top 32. I believe that this is his 6th top cut, which really is insane to think about. Not to mention being qualified for Worlds, and being one of the best personalities in LoR. WhatAmI plays by the philosophy of wanting to “play a beautiful game”, and it really has paid off dividends in a way that no one else has really experienced. WhatAmI also happens to be on the Mastering Runeterra pro team which is quickly becoming one of the best performing teams in the world. Honestly, in almost any other field of players, WhatAmI would be the number one pick but...
I am a simple man. I see Majiin in a Top cut, I put him at number 1. A member of the Mastering Runeterra pro team as well as the first class of my Seasonal Hall of Fame, I think I could make a pretty compelling argument that MajiinBae is the GOAT of competitive Runeterra. This is not to mention the top performance at Worlds and the fact that he is once again the only player with the chance to be a Two Time Seasonal Champ. I honestly don’t have much more to say that hasn’t already been said. Majiin good.
And that is it for our Top 32. This is truly one of if not the most stacked Top 32’s we’ve seen. Let me know what you think of the list on Twitter and make sure you check out the Playoffs on Saturday!