At the last Runeterra Open weekend, we had in the tournament's winner lineup a Varus Jax deck, a rising deck which, up until the end of the Open, still inspired countless questions among the competitive community. After all, is this list good, or bad?
Even after the grand finals, there were still many questions left in the community among competitive players, which still discussed whether it was strong or not. For that reason, I brought a thorough analysis of the list, so that all of you, once and for all, can understand the true strength of this deck.
Jax Varus - The Format's Surprise
This list came to be as an answer to a meta full of Vayne Midrange lists, but, it is a deck which brings two Runeterra champions, which means the card pool that is available to build this deck and form this archetype is relatively small - making it quite limited when the matter is card variety, and also when we discuss specific resource options to specific matchups, the Tech Cards.
Unlike Vayne lists, which you can adapt to any matchup, Jax Varus decks can't prepare themselves that well for adverse situations and bad matchups. And, as a result, right after this list started appearing in tournaments and the ranked queue, right away it was considered the format's bait deck.
So, if this is a bait list, why was this deck champion of the Runeterra Open? And, to the surprise of many, this list showed up as a winning lineup in APAC's Open as well, which caused even more confusion among the competitive community.
This list brings together two champions which converse with each other really well. Varus' Cultist package has enormous synergy with equipped units, and all Jax followers Auto-equip through Improvise as soon as they get on board. So, it is quite clear that there are strong synergies between these two champions, but it always seems like there's something missing.
One problem here is Varus' history, as, so far, all his decks have been combo lists, which use this champion as their main win condition. And, in Varus Jax lists, that doesn't happen. In fact, Varus is just another equipped unit, which has countless synergies with the deck's spells and interactions.
As many players are used to playing in a more rhythmic way with Varus, many didn't adapt to the new style, which is more aggressive and fast, and that helped build this idea in the community that this is deck is bait.
The Standard Open Meta was Extremely Favorable to this Deck
It was to be expected that the Runeterra Open meta, this last weekend, would be full of Vayne lists, besides decks that win against that archetype. Nasus was a reasonably safe bet, and other Midrange decks which had Frostbite elements, such as Ashe and Jax decks, were also expected to perform well.
The package of units which Improvise with the Cultist spells, together, form a deck which is great at being aggressive, and can deal with enemy threats on board punctually. Entrancing Lure is a card which helps that sort of strategy, as it really helps this deck control the enemy board, all while drawing cards. Another strong card that goes in that deck is Fish Fight, which is also part of the Vayne archetype, being, currently, the most common removal in the whole meta, and matching, literally, all units in the Varus Jax list really well.
These strong cards, alongside the Cultist and Weaponmaster follower, made the Jax Varus list one of the safest options to play at the last Runeterra Open's meta. One of the reasons why this list's win rate numbers were so low is because the ranked queue meta isn't favorable to this deck in any way, shape or form.
As you can see, most of the bad matchups for this list are against aggressive Teemo decks, which are very popular in the ranked queue, and Neeko lists - and all those decks aren't viable for the competitive scene.
These bad matchups make it hard for you to identify that this deck is in a good spot in the meta, and it really is necessary a lot of training and dedication to make it work in a lineup. Many players will only look at the stat website's numbers, and won't consider that specific cards such as Fish Fight, Entrancing Lure and Furious Wielder are great for the meta, and they are all found in the Varus Jax list.
The deck is great, consistent and strong, but that is only valid for last weekend's Open meta.
This list suffers a lot against the ranked queue meta, and, as we're approaching a Patch Notes with variety cards and balancing, which will bring us new cards, the trend is that this archetype becomes even worse for the ranked queue formats. That happens because the cards that form this list are exclusive to the card pool of the Runeterra champions that are added to this deck at the time of deckbuilding, Jax and Varus, and these archetypes will hardly get new cards. Even more so considering that Jax has just gotten new support cards.
So, I don't recommend playing this deck, except you want to play it in some grassroot tournament. And, even then, I still think there are better options for such tournaments, considering that each has its very own unique meta. Jax Varus really is a very strong deck, but only at the last Open's meta.
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