Legends of Runeterra


Runeterra Open: How I got to Top 16 playing Aatrox Bilgewater

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In this article, I'll tell my story of how I got to Top 16 in the Runeterra Open April 15th and 16th, with a Xolaani list, besides also commenting on the process of decrypting the meta and reaching the conclusion of why it made sense to bring 3 super different decks for the tournament.

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переведено Joey Sticks

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рассмотрено Tabata Marques

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Since April 2020, I, Total, have been involved with the Legends of Runeterra competitive scene. I created various grassroots tournaments, cast 12 Seasonal Tournaments and 2 World Championships! But I had never played an official Riot Games LoR Tournament.

Recently, I have put great effort into the competitive scene as a player, as official broadcasts no longer exist, and I could never play in any Seasonal tournament, because I was part of the casting table.


Well, I embarked on a journey to decrypt the meta with a single goal: win the best exclusive cosmetic in the game, the board skin "Pinnacle of Glory".

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And to accomplish that, I would have to win 9 rounds in a row, classify to Top 64, and win at least two rounds more. And I did all that.

This is the story of the lineup that brought me to Runeterra Open's Top 16.

The Start of it All

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I started off on the wrong foot this year. Right out the bat in January, I ended up not participating in the last Seasonal Broadcast, and right afterward, the entire community got the news Seasonals were to end very soon. We still didn't know about Runeterra Open then, or the whole new Runeterra competitive season, so, my career as a professional LoR caster, apparently, had ended.

Even then, I never gave up on creating content for Runeterra. And in this new season post-rotation, I have a new goal in mind: to become an Elite player in the community.

The first step was reaching Masters - my campaign to masters was with Gwen Demacia, a very strong deck in the current meta; I recommend you read my article about how I got to Masterslink outside website with this list.

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Soon afterward, I started competing in every grassroot tournament I could. The coin prizes helped me get the Event Pass for this season, and also a few very cool skins as well.

But, the most important of all was everything I learned during this chaotic process of playing tournaments. My game skills got drastically better and my knowledge of the game had never been bigger. I felt prepared to face my greatest challenge: Runeterra Open's Open Rounds.

Decrypting the Meta - How I Built my Lineup

In tournaments, I was playing Midrange lists, Gwen Demacia and also Udyr Galio. My strategy had always been: hold a meta list hostage, by bringing 3 decks that win against that specific deck.

This way, even though my opponent might win a match, they'll be incapable of winning the whole round, because they won't be able to win against my lineup with the list I'm targeting. In case, the list I focused has always been Sett Karma.

However, I figured out it is much easier to create a lineup that wins against Sett Karma and, at the same time, it wins against lots of other meta decks, than just banning the Ionia Control deck. That happens because there is a problem with the current meta: Ashe LeBlanc.

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I've reached that conclusion because Ashe LeBlanc is a much more solid deck and has better matchups than Karma Sett. That means: The bad matchups this Noxus list has are still very tough games, averaging around 50% win rate for this list. And terrible matchups for Ashe LeBlanc are very tough to fit into a competitive lineup too.


We're talking about control decks such as Gnar Norra or Noxus Caitlyn, which basically only win against Ashe LeBlanc and Noxus Leona. The rest of the meta simply crushes these Noxus-Control lists.

And that is why banning Ashe LeBlanc is much more viable than banning Karma Sett.

The challenge was figuring out 3 lists that lose to Ashe LeBlanc, but win against almost 90% of the rest of the meta, including Karma Sett.

So, I reached a conclusion 3 hours before the Runeterra Open started. These are my three decks:

Top 16 Runeterra Open Lineup - Xolaani and Noxus

Leona Diana - Sacrificing Consistency for the Greater Good

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This list is a new version of the classic Leona Noxus archetype. Usually, this deck brings Samira, but I decided to shift her into another list that we will comment on soon. That happened because it was necessary to have the Daybreak archetype paired with another Noxus list in the lineup, preferably one that also wins against Karma Sett.

And to maximize my chances of victory, I found out that statistically Varus Samira (my second list), is a very solid option for the meta, because it is an upcoming deck that is still not well-known yet, and has very good matchups.

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Taking out Samira from this list is a double-edged sword. Besides the tournament being a closed decklist format, that is, you don't have access to what's in your opponent's deck in the first open rounds, the opponents in those open rounds don't usually play around Diana, which, in this list, performs her role in a very mid way, which Samira also does.

I decided Diana was a good bet for the open rounds because of that, and it worked out.

Even then, that list was the one that performed the worst out of the three, but I expected this, as I knew many players choose to focus on beating Leona Noxus, and therefore they bring good lists against that archetype.

During Day 1, I suffered a lot against Piltover&Zaun lists that bring Hexbliterator, and because of that, for Day 2, I opted to add in a Xolaani The Bloodweaver and a Bastion, considering these two cards are extremely strong against Piltover&Zaun in general.

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This Targon Darkin ended up not changing things much during the tournament, because I ended up not needing her, or I didn't even draw her in most games. That is why I don't recommend her as much, unlike Bastion, which was very impactful in many games.

Samira Varus Riven - The Strongest Deck in the Format?

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This deck is an upcoming archetype in the meta. That is, it isn't that well-known, as it is quite hard and a relatively new idea, and also because players prefer to play Samira with Leona or Fizz.

Knowing that, and knowing that this list has an incredibly good win rate against most decks in the meta as well, including Karma Sett, I decided this deck should be a part of my lineup.


This list plays very dynamically, full of tricks and win conditions. But, out of the 13 Best of 3s I played this weekend in the Runeterra Open, I only played 1 match with this deck. In all other Best of 3s, this list was banned. And that is precisely what I wanted.

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This deck was supposed to be a ban magnet, to allow me to play with the Noxus Leona Daybreak list. And, really, it did its job. Actually, during the matches I even wished this deck was banned, because out of the 3 lists, this one was the one I had trained the least.

Xolaani Aatrox, Bilgewater - The Icing on the Cake

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2 days before the tournament I saw this deck, but I didn't pay much attention to it. Up to 3 hours before the start of the first day of the Runeterra Open, I was almost locking in my lineup with Ashe LeBlanc.

But, I was very hesitant to play this list, because I believed it would be targeted a lot. So, after facing Aatrox Xolaani The Bloodweaver in ladder, 3 hours before the tournament, I fell in love with the list.

This deck plays very similarly to the old and classic Endure Spiders, which was an archetype during beta days that I helped create and popularize in the Brazilian community. So, right out the bat I adapted to the list well and quickly.

I did a quick review of this list's stats: I played 4 games and decided: This deck is incredibly broken for a tournament lineup!

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That being said and done, this list was the one that best performed out of the three decks. For two reasons: most players didn't know what the deck was about, and had never played against it or seen it play. And, because the deck is really strong, as the list can approach new win condition concepts using Xolaani, Aspect's Bane, by pairing this unit with units that are common in the current metagame.

The deck basically plays lots of 1 cost units: you must equip these units or buff their attack stats, and hit with everything you got. Your opponent won't have any other option but to remove your followers - but, by them doing that, you'll be hoarding stats for your Xolaani, and soon you'll play her on board as a 20/20 or even more. There is only one archetype that deals with this sort of strategy: Shadow Isles Control.

Actually, the Shadow Isles region was a very big concern to me, considering none of my decks did well against control lists with that region.

During Open Rounds I only lost one Bo3, and it was against an Ashe LeBlanc lineup with two Shadow Isles control decks.

Card Gamer, the Winner of the Tournament, had the same idea as me

On Match 3 of the Second Day, with a quarter-finals spot on the line, I matched against Card Gamer, which afterward conquered the title of Winner of the whole competition.

Card Gamer brought a similar lineup to mine, with much more optimized ideas, and free of the biases and insecurities I had against the meta decks, as was the case of Vayne Aatrox.


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His Leona Noxus list was much more optimized and prepared to play against Midrange decks, unlike mine, which was prepared to play against control decks such as Sett Karma and Jack Seraphine. That is why I had to ban that deck, even though I probably wouldn't win against his Samira Varus list, and I'd have to win twice against Vayne.

That is what happened, I lost to Varus, but I had a very unfortunate game against Vayne right afterward and ended up getting knocked out 2-0.

Card Gamer's prep for this tournament was flawless. I think I, with just my own brain cells, managed to decrypt the tournament meta pretty well, but he went beyond. And he really deserved to win. Even more so because he played in the finals against the only two-time Seasonal champion, Runeterra prodigy, FloppyMudkip.

The Runeterra Open Finals were made of two players who are in the same Aegis Esports League team, and both brought the same decks, and reached their decision together.

Here are the 3 winning lists from that Tournament used by Card Gamer and FloppyMudkip.

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Final Words

I am extremely proud of my Runeterra Open performance, and I hope it is just my first of many in my new competitive journey. After all, I got what I really wanted: the Pinnacle of Glory board skin!

You can be sure that if anything new in the meta shows up, and every time the competitive scene shakes it up, I'll be here reporting it through my articles.

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