Hail, Champions! With Guardians of the Ancient just around the corner (May 5!), we thought we'd do a quick rundown of Zilean and Malphite, the two champions that have been revealed so far.
Let's start with the sneak preview between streamer GrappLr and Runeterra Senior Producer, Travis "RiotDovagedys" Boese, that Riot showed during the Empires of the Ascended seasonal tournament this weekend. They alternated between 2 premade decks, a Taliyah + Malphite landmark tempo deck, and a Zliean + Sivir + Kindred + Nasus control deck.
With that context, let's start looking at the champions and some possible applications.
When you're looking at Zilean, the first thing you should notice is his 2 mana cost. We see a lot of champions -- Teemo, Zoe, Elise, Diana, Draven, Zed -- who get a lot of play in decks that they aren't necessarily built around just because their mana cost makes them so flexible. Of course, all those champions are also very attack-oriented and provide immediate board pressure whereas L1 Zilean is providing future value. There is a big debate going on right now about whether Zilean will be flexible enough to succeed without building the deck around him, or if he will need some draw and predict synergies to make sure he is consistent enough to include in decks. It's also worth noting that while his Time Bombs are very cool, they also require 2 unit mana to develop which might them too expensive for certain decks.
Possible applications for Zilean include:
- Taliyah (landmark synergies)
- Anything draw-heavy, but Go Hard and Teemo/puffcaps in particular
- Viktor ("created" synergies)
- Aurok Glinthorn and/or Swain (mass stun -> free open attack if a time bomb explodes)
- Noxian Guillotine / Scorched Earth / Ravenous Flock (damage Synergies)
- Funsmith / The Dreadway (damage multipliers)
- If you're running lots of predict: Khahiri the Returned
- If you can consistently level Zilean: cheap celestial cards
- Homecoming (replay to create another 4 timebombs while recalling an enemy)
Malphite, on the other hand, definitely wants to be built around -- his L1 body is mediocre and the difficulty of his level-up quest will be proportional to the number of landmarks you include in your deck. But if you can level him up, those reoccurring AoE stuns are insane! Basically, we're investing hard in early and mid-game landmarks for a payoff in late-game unblocked attacks -- the only question is how we leverage those attacks to finish the game. One final thing to consider about Malphite: his champion spell, Ground Slam, will normally be a stun plus 3 damage for 4 mana which is pretty powerful so you are not disappointed if you draw multiple copies.
Possible applications include:
- Taliyah (even more landmark synergies)
- Yasuo / Fae Bladetwirler (stun synergies)
- Swain / Ravenous Flock / Legion General (stun / unblocked synergies)
- "Midrange army" (e.g., Leona Daybreak package into Morning Light -> Unstoppable Force -> lethal swing)
- "Big landmark ramp" (e.g., either Catalyst or Wyrding Stones into either The Howling Abyss or Targon's Peak)
That will do it for now; Stay tuned for Irelia's upcoming reveal and our thoughts about how to build around her in the very near future!
What decks are you excited to play when Guardians of the Ancient comes out? Share with us below!
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Learn More About Guardians of the Ancient
Looking for all the card reveals and info in one place? Look no further than our Guardians of the Ancient expansion guide!