This was a duo that already shone at its peak when LoR was released, abusing ephemeral units and proposing a fast and aggressive game style alongside the control and removal tools of their regions.
The Ephemeral Kings
Ever since LoR was released we've had Zed and Hecarim decks working really well, as their mechanics are based on using ephemeral units to attack their opponent. Zed actively helps level up Hecarim and when both are on board, the victory is certain.
Broad view of the deck: Summoning the whole battalion
Zed and Hecarim's skills complement each other by benefiting from ephemeral aggressors and they depend a lot on them to level up. Some units shine more than others among the many ephemerals that we have in the game, but Shark Chariot is the indispensable ally to bring us to victory, as it fills the board with more ephemerals at each round.
Zed is a very solid unit and we already have some decks that also use Zed as an aggressive unit in the meta. His mechanic of creating another attacker on the table puts on a lot of pressure and demands the opponent to spend some resources to remove him as soon as possible.
His early summoning on board causes a sense of urgency in your opponents, because they know that after he levels up, Zed is very hard to deal with and can be the match's finisher.
With his big status and, just like Zed, working with the summoning of more attackers on board, Hecarim demands from opponents the use of a quick solution, otherwise the pressure he puts on board cannot be ignored.
He will almost always be summoned close to level up or leveled up already, because once we reach the round we can drop him, we will already have developed many offensive ephemerals in the match. It is with a board full of them that we will force out a finish, as we will also demand so many answers from our opponents that eventually they will all be spent.
For this deck to work well, we depend on units that will set their mark on the board in turns before the turn we summon Hecarim, and one of them is the Shark Chariot, which will add up to the board on offensive turns, as it will always be an extra problem for our opponent to deal with.
As for Sparring Student, he will rarely come in as a key unit in this sense, because we will try to get value through him in the offensive turns by helping him grow with our champion's skills or the comeback of another The Stagehand on board.
Shadow Apprentice has the potential to be so aggressive and valuable in your offensive turns as a champion, as it will grow in power as the match prolongs itself and if it is ignored for too long it might be one of the main responsible cards for the match to be finished.
All spells have as their primary function the creation of new ephemeral units, and one of them is very interesting because of its versatility: Fading Memories, which copies units from your board or the enemy board. One of the most popular ways to use this card is to copy Shark Chariot to make your offensive turns even more aggressive.
Sapling Toss is an excellent trigger to activate a Shark Chariot in offensive turns, specially in the mid to late game when things aren't going as expected. The Sapling will be the ideal tool to turn the tables in this situation, besides the spell being an excellent activator for Moonlit Glenkeeper.
Onslaught of Shadows can be necessary in case your resources are almost through and the enemy is in a more advantageous spot, as the addition of two units with good status can intimidate your enemy when they're trying to attack and it can also be an excellent damage output to their Nexus too.
As for defensive turns, Haunted Relic or Dragon Ambush can be excellent resources to have as many blockers as possible or even to get back a few health points, meanwhile also leveling up Hecarim and retaking the game's rhythm.
Mulligan and Game Style
We don't have to focus a lot on summoning Zed or Hecarim early on, we can focus on cards that get us more value in the first few rounds, such as Shark Chariot or Shadow Apprentice, as they gain more value if we drop them early game.
The strong point in elusive decks are the extremely unfavorable trades in offensive turns and it is very important to have resources to mount a very powerful attack. It is recommended that in order to do that, we save our mana in the defensive rounds.
Closer to mid game, it is very important that the ground is ripe for Hecarim to come in, as usually he will be close to leveling up. Throughout the match it is always nice to have in mind that the main finisher in this deck is Hecarim, so we need to play with that in mind.
Once on board, it will be necessary to go for all or nothing and if we piloted this deck well so far, just a few things can be proposed as answers for Hecarim and his legion of ephemeral allies' offensive.
This deck starts out slow and cannot deal well with so many ephemeral units, which will demand them to lose a few units to save a bit of health, and this is very bad for a Lurk deck, as losing their units can be very risky.
A deck with mid game potential, but that revolves around leaving the enemy board vulnerable or weakened. Our deck ends up not having as many nice targets for them to weaken and makes plays more complicated, as it ends up having difficulty dealing with the ephemeral units' attack.
This deck is full of units that force blocks really well from the enemy board and it ends up affecting any attempt to develop anything to the board, and as we don't have as many non-ephemeral units and the few that are left become easy targets for attackers or a potential Get Excited!.
Another deck with excellent aggressive units that deals well with our more fragile units. As they are very important to our deck's performance, all the stuns and offensive attackers on board wrecks our plans of attack. The most severe threat in terms of spells is Disintegrate, which sometimes appears in this list and can deal with Hecarim in seconds.
This is a very fun deck that sees a bit of play still, as its fast and aggressive pace fits in very well with the theme of ranked ladder. Many times it won't be highlighted as one of the best in the season, but it can really shine against other very strong lists, and it also gains a bit of space as it is so easy to play it.
This is my cue, see you next time!