We’re a few days into the Guardians of the Ancient expansion and decks are starting to take shape. Irelia has been by far the most popular champion on release, often seen with Azir or Miss Fortune, whilst Thresh Nasus has remained one of the decks to beat. We have compiled a list of some of the top decks seen so far, and their match-ups against other decks.
The newest deck on this list, Irelia Azir has been a powerhouse since the release of Guardians of the Ancient; it has the ability to swarm the opponent with 1/1 Blades and Sand Soldiers, and utilizes the new Blade Dance keyword into attacking multiple times in one turn. The deck plays out with an aggro game plan, eventually levelling up your synergistic champions, dropping Inspiring Marshal and then using Blade Dance to close out the game.
Although many of these decks will run the similar aggressive 1-drops and champions, we’ve picked out teneryx’s list. It has one Rite of Calling to speed up the process of drawing your champions, as well as 2 Nopeify!’s to combat the mirror.
This deck will have many favoured match-ups, particularly against slower midrange strategies such as Ashe LeBlanc or Taliyah Malphite. On the other hand, this deck can be unfavoured against decks that benefit from the swarm of 1/1s; in particular, Braum Vladimir decks with The Scargrounds and Tahm Soraka lists that both use the 1/1s to damage their units before benefitting from self-damage effects and self-healing respectively.
Since the introduction of Shurima’s powerhouse overwhelm units, Freljord Overwhelm decks have drastically increased in popularity. Renekton, Ruin Runner, and the host of cards that give vulnerable to enemy units have all seen plenty of play in this list. With the introduction of another strong midrange card in Merciless Hunter, this deck has gone from strength to strength.
Agigas’ list is a more controlling variant than the typically midrange list we are used to seeing. Ice Shard and Preservarium help extend the game out, before late game overwhelm units in Alpha Wildclaw and Ancient Yeti close out the game.
As a strong midrange deck, Freljord Overwhelm will dominate against slow control decks by building a tall board that goes over chump blockers, playing enough units that control decks run out of answers to. However, faster aggro decks such as Irelia Azir, Azir Darius and Draven Jinx will be favoured against this list.
The top deck of the Empires of the Ascended meta, Thresh Nasus boasted a win rate over 55% and play rate over 15% to become arguably one of the best decks Runeterra has seen. Inevitably, it was nerfed with hits to Atrocity and Blighted Caretaker reducing the deck’s power level. Despite this, it has still been very popular in Guardians of the Ancient.
Quabatchie’s list is familiar, but runs Rite of Calling to more reliably draw your champions and Black Spear as a great way to counter midrange strategies.
Thresh Nasus is generally favoured against most other meta decks because of its aggressive early game with Cursed Keeper, Ravenous Butcher and Dunekeeper, before closing out the game against slower decks with Nasus and Atrocity. However, one of its few weaknesses includes Targon decks as they have access to Hush and invoke cards that destroy opponent’s champions. Alternatively, Lissanda Trundle can counter any early aggression whilst keeping the number of slays to a minimum, and can potentially combo with the Watcher before Thresh Nasus' Atrocity has a target.
Originally in the form of Ashe Sejuani deck, this midrange list replaced Sejuani with LeBlanc for a faster game plan, as it particularly struggled with levelling Sejuani. Despite Ashe midrange being around for a longer time than any other decks in this list, it received a range of new tools in Bloody Business and Whispered Words for 5 power synergy with its Reckoning and Trifarian Assessor. Additionally, the release of Strength in Numbers for Legion Marauder synergy gave this deck an improved win condition.
Den’s list runs the new Thrashing Snapper and Incisive Tactician for some more 5-power synergy. This list has started to move away from the Avarosan Hearthguard, Trifarian Assessor style that buffed and drew lots of units. Instead, this deck has many more spells to attempt to keep the champions alive. As a result, this list can struggle against control decks, although the Legion Marauder package can negate this weakness. Against aggro, Reckoning can take out swarm decks, but it can otherwise struggle against burn decks, particularly Miss Fortune Gangplank decks.
The Scargrounds, released with Call of the Mountain, tends to make or break this midrange deck. The ability to grant your units extra attack and tough when they take damage has become more popular since Irelia Azir decks became popular. This deck is a great counter to the fast swarm decks that generate lots of 1/1s, because it can end up buffing your board significantly if you have The Scargrounds on board. Combining this with the Crimson cards: Crimson Disciple and Crimson Curator gives a bonus each time your units are damaged, before Vladimir swings the game with a huge attack.
Iannogueira’s list also runs the Scarmother Vrynna and Basilisk Bloodseeker combo for a devastating turn 7 attack. Ice Shard and Death Lotus both provide a chance to control the enemy’s board, particularly against Irelia decks, as well as an opportunity to self-damage your own units.
This deck is weak to Lissandra Thrall decks that generate 8/8 Frostguard Thrall quickly. Additionally, burn aggro decks can punish the slow start of Braum Vladimir decks.
Lee Sin has remained relatively popular since the nerf to 5 mana, because of its OTK potential with Zenith Blade. When Zoe was released in Call of the Mountain, the deck received an alternate win condition through playing the cheap invoke cards. Now, it sits on the edge of the top meta decks.
Pespscola’s Zoe Lee Sin features Sparklefly and The Fangs for dealing with aggro, and a combination of Syncopation, Bastion and Deny to keep the champions alive. As a result, this deck has a fairly well-rounded match-up, often losing to its own draws more than anything. However, Hush and removal spells can negate this deck’s win condition, so it struggles against slower control decks.
We hope this gave you an insight into the top meta decks in Runeterra, and how you can overcome them! Are there any anti-meta decks you have been using? Let us know in the comments!