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The Road to Worlds: Duckling Player Profile

Legends of Runeterra can feel like an RPG sometimes. When you start off you’re inclined to pick a role, in this case your role within the community. Are you a tournament player, caster, streamer, ladder grinder, tournament organizer, reddit/discord navigator, wizard...there’s a lot to choose from. In a video game when you get to choose a class or character you’ll usually notice there’s a disparity in the base stats between each one; some will sacrifice one stat for another, some will be flatline average across the board, and some will be well rounded but spike in one area. If you’re a fan of the last one, the jack of all trades AND a master of one, then you might just want to pick Duckling as your favorite for the World Championship.

Duckling’s certainly been around the block within the Legends of Runeterra scene, sampling everything there is to offer and trying at least a little bit of everything. He’s organized a tournament alongside fellow player/streamer Sqweeby, did commentary for a few events, streams, has a youtube channel, and of course won the Guardians of the Ancient Seasonal. Now of course, this does stretch him pretty thin as all of these things can take an immense amount of work. So it’s all the more impressive that he was able to overcome the “jack of all trades, master of none” title and accomplish the current pinnacle a player can in LoR. But Duckling has been leveling up in the player department for quite some time, and doing it in a pretty flashy manner. He’s got a couple of top 4s under his belt in some of the more high profile, streamer run community tournaments-- notably Sqweeby’s Community Celebration and the 2nd Mastering Runeterra Podcast Open. The reason I make the distinction of these streamer run events specifically is because they tend to be bigger, draw in a more diverse crowd of players than a normal bi-weekly event, and at the end of the day should have more of a cutthroat top cut as we mingle the tournament grinders with the ladder stars who usually only show up for these kinds of events.

As someone who keeps an up to date tournament list myself, I go all the way down to tier 3. In tier 3 you’ll find the decks that can win a tournament but are unlikely to, and if anyone has brought them to a topcut it’s very unlikely to be more than 1 or 2 players. Duckling is the kind of player tier 3 is kept around for, so I have a contingency plan when masters of off-meta make their way into a top cut. Duckling’s Seasonal winning lineup was the same as his Mastering Runeterra Podcast top 4 the month prior, Matron Cithria / Frostbite Foundry / TF/Fizz. During the Mastering Runeterra tournament, this lineup was probably as close as Duckling ever got to being on meta due to Frostbite Foundry and Matron Cithria being 2 of the most popular decks in top cut. He also wasn’t the sole TF/Fizz player in top cut, so his lineup certainly didn’t raise any eyebrows. A month later at the Seasonal when he ran it back, however, was a different story. We were very settled into an Azir/Irelia, Dragons, Nasus, Draven/Ezreal type of meta, with Matron Cithria dying out as quickly as it came and being largely unheard of since the deck’s debut. But it turned out to be a focal point of Duckling’s success, because one of the great things about a lineup like this is it really throws the opponent off of their game in the ban phase, something that can make or break a match. Matron Cithria went largely if not fully unbanned throughout all of the top cut, and Duckling was made into a martyr of memes for piloting the deck so well and so far. Alongside that, Frostbite Foundry, while not as off-meta, has Teemo in it. And a Teemo victory alone was something a lot of players at home had been waiting for since Seasonals started.

Whether you want to use the phrase “meme” or “off-meta” when describing Duckling is totally up to you, but either way the results speak for themselves. Coming into the World Championship, players are going to be rigorously testing their lineups against the meta. If Duckling can reach far enough off grid that he can find a suitable lineup of decks that players aren’t the most well versed against, we could very easily see a repeat performance during the round of 64 this September. While we love to watch him play and certainly hope he’s not the last one to do it, Duckling is currently the biggest memer qualified for the World Championship. Whether he decides to explore some of his other roles in the community in the meantime will just be the cherry on top for those of us who enjoy his content, as he’s got a little bit of time to relax before he needs to start prepping for the end game. Whatever role he decides to level up next, I have full confidence he’ll be able to put his unique charm on it, and win our hearts all over again like he did as our Guardians of the Ancient Seasonal Champion.

Tagged: esports
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