Complete History of the Classic Gangplank Sejuani
Did you know the Legends of Runeterra Brazilian community is responsible for creating a big portion of the decks players use in the ranked ladder, and even in high-stakes tournaments?
Well, great names such as "4LW" and "Sudrakon" were responsible for popularizing ideas and put Brazil on the competitive map as the region that creates decks. Due to that, Brazil has always been a powerhouse in international and local tournaments.
The Beginning of Everything
Our story starts in May 28th, 2020. The official date of release for LoR, alongside the first expansion, Rising Tides, which brought a new region to the game, Bilgewater.
At that time, the local Brazilian tournaments were starting to sprout quite intensely, and the game was very popular. It was still a phase in Runeterra's history in which the meta was seen very experimentally, even more so because more than 120 new cards were added into the game, and a lot of the community was still forming. So, it was hard to know precisely what was strong, and what really worked.
We had just left a Control decks meta. Karma was very strong in beta, but soon in the first updates of Rising Tides, she was nerfed. That gave way to the first Midrange era in Legends of Runeterra.
The First Midrange Era
With the arrival of the new region, the game got faster, and plenty of aggressive decks started to sprout. We still had a few elusive decks seeing play, and because of that, frostbites were a great option to contain all that aggression.
At this time, Noxus started to slightly transition into a region with Control elements.
“The first Bilgewater set of cards was very strong.”
It's not certain who was the first person who created the first list. But one thing is certain: these champions were made to be together. Up to today, they are the only ones who have identical level up conditions. So, the synergy between the two is quite clear, but it wasn't that popular early on.
It wasn't so easy at this time to deal damage to the opponent Nexus every round. And other Bilgewater champions were much more popular, such as, for instance, Miss Fortune and Twisted Fate. As a result, Gangplank and Sejuani didn't see much play.
“The deck was good against Ashe Sejuani, but it wasn't a very meta list at the time”
- Ian "Iannogueira" Nogueira
The "Nab" mechanic at that time drew cards from the top of the opponent's deck. It was great against the archetypes which ran Enraged Yetis because you could steal them from the opponent's decks.
Also, historically, it has always been quite effective to steal cards from Noxus Control decks because you take out Burn elements from a list that naturally doesn't have much card draw and runs out of gas quickly. As a result, Gangplank Sejuani started out as a list that was made for players who like slower decks, with very punctual tools that were strong against the meta and, simultaneously, had a win condition which was quite synergistic with the rest of the list.
As the Nab mechanic was the main focus of the deck, and the best Nab card was Yordle Grifter, which came with the Allegiance mechanic, the deck always brought at most 6 Freljord cards, and the rest were Bilgewater cards. This way, the player had more chances of activating their Allegiance.
Throughout the history of this list, there were 3 famous Brazilian players which were great appreciators of this deck. They are "4LW", "Sudrakon" and "Blackboss". So much so that the Bilgewater unit, Slippery Waverider, until today is called "Blackboss" by the Brazilian community because he was the first person to use this unit in the Gangplank Sejuani lists.
In sum, it was a meta counter list, but not very popular. It had around 50% win rate against most decks, was consistent, but there were other better and stronger options, such as:
During this year, the deck remained asleep for a long time. In 2021, we had the addition of two new regions; Shurima and Bandlecity, which stole the spotlight all year, and didn't add anything to this archetype.
However, in the midst of August and beginning of September 2021, World Championship times, the deck rose from the ashes. It was also protagonist in the first Brazilian win in a Legends of Runeterra Seasonal Tournament. Blackboss brought home US$10.000 dollars using this list.
At this time, the deck was already referred to as a classic, and it started seeing play again to answer a Midrange meta. Sion Draven decks and The Bandle Tree decks were dominating the competitive scene, and Gangplank Sejuani was a great answer. Once more, the list had good matches against everything, with stats very close to around 50% win rate against most of the meta.
It was at this time that, during Worlds 2021, the deck became popular because it brought a different idea which so far no one had thought of: bringing one copy of Feel The Rush.
That, in tournaments, became popular due to one Brazilian player, "Realkey", and in Twitch and the ranked ladder due to "Mafraju", the best female LoR player in Brazil. It was so iconic that in that year's Worlds, the use of Feel The Rush was mentioned as the "Mafraju Touch" in the Brazilian scene, and in the international broadcasts it was referred to as the "Brazilian Spice".
Another detail is that it was because of this Feel The Rush addition that the deck stopped using 3 copies of Sejuani, as it was still very focused on using the Nab mechanic. So, reducing the number of Sejuanis to maximize Yordle Grifter's chances of activating its Allegiance effect was that time's meta.
2022 and 2023
It's necessary to say that this list was constantly nerfed throughout its history. Not because it was a strong deck, but because it was an Allegiance list. That means, it's natural for this deck to bring almost all Bilgewater cards in its sum. The region is until today possibly the most nerfed region of all times.
This way, the nerfs weren't focused on Gangplank Sejuani, but rather on other decks which used strong Bilgewater cards. And as naturally Allegiance lists try to always have the best cards of their regions, all nerfs ended up affecting Gangplank Sejuani indirectly. Let's take a look at all the cards which were nerfed from this list throughout its history:
Make It Rain remained nerf for a good portion of 2021, but afterward had its original mana cost reverted. Riptide Rex also lost one of its cannons, but had its nerf reverted later on.
2022 and now the beginning of 2023 for sure were the best years for this deck. As now, we won't have any new regions coming into the game, the focus for changes is quite well-distributed in older regions.
As a result, many new cards were added to Gangplank Sejuani's set. The deck starts out the year really nicely, but gets a bit faded out with the release of the new champions, which made the game a bit too fast, as was the case of Jhin and Annie.
However, unlike 2021, the deck is now more popular and known, showing up here and there, but still quite present in grassroot tournaments throughout the whole year. It was really just now at the end of 2022, during the World Championship times, and during the first Seasonal tournament in 2023, that this deck came back, and hit hard.
Let's see a version of the list played in the middle of 2022 and another one, more updated, from the first Seasonal Tournament in 2023.
It is quite noticeable that this list changed its play style a lot, and it is now an entirely different deck. The current list is focused on the card Spirits Unleashed, which makes this deck either play very actively, or very passively - it depends a lot on your initial hand.
If you start the game with cheaper cards, it plays as an Aggro. If you start with heavy cards, it plays as a Combo. The return of Gangplank Sejuani this time is due to the fact the game is in one of the most varied and open metas of all times, and, as a result, players saw the necessity of having in their hands a safe, consistent list.
As Gangplank Sejuani still has a 50% win rate against most of the meta, it is the safest option for players, both in tournaments and in the ranked ladder, to play against the various decks that are seeing play. It doesn't go in a tournament lineup to win specific matches, and rather as a deck you're sure can perform well.
Nowadays, the deck is held together through one card, the best card draw in the whole game: Eye of Nagakabouros. In fact, the whole list is built and thought today to adapt to this card. That's why cards such as Shellshocker are present in the deck.
“The deck holds as its base this card, Eye of Nagakabouros, and if for some reason it gets nerfed, you can be sure we won't see this deck play for a long time.”
This list is one of the most curious ones, and it will always come back into the meta when the game slows down and needs answers to Midrange decks.
I hope you liked getting to know a bit more about the history of this incredible list. If you liked the article, don't forget to comment and share it to your friends! See ya!