Boulevard is a Legends of Runeterra caster who is Master-ranked and was the most decorated player in the Force of Will TCG (winner of a World Championship, National Championship, Masters Invitational, and 4 Grand Prixs). In this Mobalytics Partners Program spotlight, he’ll be covering how to best prepare for competing in a LoR tournament based on its format. Enjoy!
LoR Tournament Guide: How to Prepare for Different Formats
If you’ve never entered a tournament for Legends of Runeterra before, fleshing out a 3 deck region locked lineup for Conquest can seem like a daunting task. There’s a good chance that you’ve got a small handful of regions that you really like and stick to constantly throughout your ladder grind, and you don’t even necessarily know where to start deckbuilding with your underused regions.
Tournament decklists don’t have much in the way of a centralized hub or even archives, so it’s easy to feel lost looking for assistance or resources when undertaking the first step in entering a tournament. So today, I’m going to help you build a tournament lineup.
There are 3 tournament formats widely being used right now:
- Three deck region-locked Conquest with 1 ban (Duels of Runeterra)
- Two deck region-locked with no ban (JamFest, GiantSlayerTV),
- Three deck Unified with 1 ban (BR Fest)
I’m going to focus primarily on the first as it lays the groundwork for some slight modifications on the other formats.
Duels of Runeterra Format: Three decks, region-locked Conquest, one ban
There are many different philosophies you can undertake when building a lineup for a tournament, and perhaps the most popular is the 3 OPs. Look at a tier list that you find yourself often referring to; we’ll use the Mobalytics tier list as an example here.
While this tier list was made for the ladder and isn’t a perfect translation into tournaments, it does a fair job at assessing the overall power level of a deck, which is a fine metric to follow when you’re just getting into things.
This leaves us with Shadow Isle, Piltover & Zaun, and Ionia. If we go down to the next tier and look for good decks that fit into our remaining regions, it looks like we’ll be finishing out our lineup with a Karma/Ezreal deck. And ta-da, you have your first lineup! You’re ready to enter a tournament!
And yes, it really is that easy. A lineup of Frostbite, Karma/Ezreal, and Scouts was a fairly popular one that you’d see pop up at least once in just about every tournament run last format.
3 Aggro Lineup
Another approach you can take is 3 Aggro. It’s not uncommon to identify the kind of deck that you like and play 3 decks of the same archetype, though it is the easiest and safest to do with aggro decks.
If we once again check our tier list we’ll find one aggro deck in the S tier – Scouts. This will be the starting point for our lineup, and we just repeat the same process as we did for the 3 OPs lineup.
But since we only found one deck in the S tier, we want to take stock of all of our options. If there’s an A tier deck we really like but the regional composition of it forces us to pick a B tier deck, we want to reevaluate our choices and see if we can find 2 A tier decks without any overlap.
In this case we’re going to probably round out our lineup with Kinkou Elusives and either Darius Harrowing or Discard Aggro. Personalization plays a big part in picking any lineup, and with a little independent research you can find some hidden gems.
It’s your lineup and you’re allowed to be picky about the decks you’re going to be running for 10+ hours through multiple days of a tournament, and no reason is too fickle to swap some things around.
Are Scouts, Darius Harrowing, and Kinkou Elusives just too mainstream for you? Is Piltover & Zaun your favorite region but you don’t like Discard Aggro?
Do you think Teemo is a highly underrated aggro champion but understand that Teemo/Noxus is just strictly worse than Jinx/Draven at the moment?
These are all legitimate reasons to look for a mix up in the lineup, and with a little digging in the right places you can find decks that have topped tournaments to suit your needs, like this Suit Up Teemo Elusive deck that you can replace your old, broken down Freljord version with.
At the end of the day you’re still bringing 3 aggro decks, and a lot of lineups will have at least 1 deck that struggles in that matchup.
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to beat every deck your opponent has brought – it’s enough to beat 1 deck, twice. Which leads me into our next lineup philosophy.
The Anti-Meta Lineup
The anti-meta lineup is something that a lot of players found success within Patch 1.5, as well as an identity that a lot of card game players hold dear to themselves.
Some players don’t feel like they’ve accomplished anything if they win with an S tier meta deck; they need to win in the deckbuilding stage of the game and punish players who net-decked the best lineup in the meta.
With so many different decks existing across so many different regional compositions, this lineup can be a little difficult to put together at the start of a meta.
But even with Patch 1.6 we see some trends from Patch 1.5 that have no reason to change, namely the prevalence of Scouts and Frostbite Midrange.
When building an anti-meta lineup you’re typically looking to go all-in on the concept I mentioned earlier of beating one of your opponent’s decks twice rather than beating every deck that they brought.
For example, let’s say you want to pick on Scouts. It’s a deck that isn’t necessarily always Bilgewater meaning your opponents can flex it in as the last deck in nearly any lineup, and it’s a linear enough deck that you can beat it with the same general strategy every time.
So if we’re looking to beat Scouts, we want to bring 3 decks that do a very good job of controlling the board. This is more of an advanced lineup, as you’ll need a depth of knowledge on what’s popular in the meta (so you know what to counter), how to counter that strategy, and if you can do that safely across 6 regions and still be able to beat players who aren’t running that deck.
Scouts is a great example because even if your opponent isn’t running Scouts specifically, there’s a good chance they’ll have at least one board centric deck across their lineup that you can still pick on.
During Patch 1.5 we saw High get to a top 8 finish of Duels of Runeterra Southeast Asia with an anti-Scout lineup of Karma/Lux, Corina Control, and Braum/Swain; 3 decks that all have a similar toolbox available to them to keep the board under control.
During Patch 1.6 we’ve seen a large turnover from Karma/Lux to Thresh/Lux, so keep in mind you’ll have to make some lineup adjustments if you’re looking to replicate High’s success this meta.
Previously we’ve also seen 3 aggro lineups used to counteract the high presence of Karma/Ezreal decks, and even lineups made to pick on aggro decks since Darius Harrowing was flexed across so many regions.
This is a strategy for a more developed meta, so in the early weeks of Patch 1.6 I would hold off on using this strategy unless you’re very confident in your read on the meta and how to beat it.
And for the last philosophy that’s more of a confirmation, we have Comfort lineups. You can net-deck all you want, but since Duels of Runeterra and many other tournaments running in this format have switched over to a no ban best of 5 for top cut, you have to know how to play all of your decks at a high level.
Previously you could include Heimerdinger/Vi into any lineup without a single clue how to play it since no one would dare leave it unbanned and never get punished for it, but those days of tomfoolery are behind us now.
There is a lot of merit to bringing a unique lineup simply made of the 3 decks you feel the most comfortable playing. The hours that you’ve put into a ‘meme’ deck will get you a lot further into an event than playing something you net-decked with no practice.
While it was a 2 deck format, Nolagold did pick up a win at GiantSlayerTV’s Reckoning invitational in Patch 1.6 with Casino and Harrowing Ashe.
This was one of the toughest tournaments we’ve had in Runeterra to date, and comfort was king on the day. But it is important to remember to objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of your lineup. If Teemo/Sejuani is the deck you’ve put the most hours into, understand and accept the inherent risks that come with playing an RNG focused deck like that.
GiantSlayerTV Format: Two decks, region-locked, no ban
On the surface, the two deck no ban format looks like it should be the same as the three deck format with everybody just dropping their weakest deck from the lineup.
In reality, the meta in the two deck format looks a lot different than the three deck one. During a time where the standard lineup in a three deck format was Heimer/Vi, Braum/Anivia, and Bannerman, the two deck meta the same weekend was Karma/Ezreal and Darius Harrowing or Braum/Swain.
With both decks feeling more exposed, Karma/Ezreal felt like a safer choice than Heimer/Vi as it was more consistent and fared a little bit better into the aggressive decks on the format.
Having this meta read, a lot of players elected to bring Karma/Ezreal for its raw power and one deck designed to beat the Karma/Ezreal deck they were expecting out of most players’ lineups.
Being able to read the meta is a lot more important in this format as you don’t have the ban to bail you out, but this also makes playing comfort/off meta decks a lot more viable.
As long as you feel comfortable on your decks going into the meta you think you’ll see, the unpredictability of your lineup pairs very well into what is typically a more anti-meta format.
At the most recent GiantSlayerTV event in Patch 1.6 we saw Nolagold win the tournament with Casino and Zombie Ashe, decks that played very well into the extremely board centric meta of the rest of the event.
BR Fest format: Three decks, Unified, one ban
Also known as the Unified format, this format runs with no card overlap allowed between decks as opposed to no regional overlap. The same principles as the DoR lineup building philosophies apply, although you no longer have to worry about making a hodgepodge pile out of your leftover regions.
There doesn’t appear to be a major shift in the meta from the DoR format to this one, but the overall power level of the decks can feel a bit stronger.
For example, we typically see Bannerman dropped from Unified lineups in favor of Nab decks as they play the same general strategy but the Nab deck is a little more versatile and higher in power, and only plays 2 Freljord cards, making it easy to still fit into a lineup with a Freljord deck.
During BR Fest #3 we saw Goblin pick up a win employing this exact thought process, bringing both Braum/Anivia and Nab into his lineup.
The Unified format contains the highest average power level across a lineup, so comfort lineups may struggle here a little more than they would in the other two formats.
The difference between tournament decks and ladder decks
While for the most part, things that are very good on ladder will translate well into tournaments, there are some tournament specific hidden gems.
Decks on ladder have to be geared toward a very wide range of matchups to climb effectively, and generally aggressive decks are placed higher on tier lists because of the effectiveness of climbing with them timewise.
A great example of this comes from Duels of Runeterra 13 NA winner Agigas. Reactive decks like control decks have a much harder time going into a very wide, unknown spread of matchups.
For example with this specific deck you could run into decks where Grasp of the Undying and Withering Wail have a very hard time getting value, like Vlad/Braum.
Going into a tournament you know almost certainly no one will be running that, but the ladder is a lawless wasteland where anything can happen and reactive gameplans are harder to line up.
You could run into a lot of Swain decks where your stun effects aren’t nearly as effective. Proactive gameplans like aggro work out great on ladder because you don’t have to worry as much about matchups; you stick to your own game plan, and because that plan doesn’t involve your opponent much you can stick to the same plan and play it the same way nearly every game.
Decks like control that require heavy interaction with your opponent require you to know what cards most effectively answer each threat, as well as when to save specific removal spells for larger threats.
The open decklist nature of tournaments helps with this greatly as well, since ladder can sometimes offer up blowout situations because someone is playing a card you weren’t prepared for. Let’s say you’re playing this Spooky Karma list against Teemo Elusives.
You throw out a Vengeance onto a unit that’s been hit with a Suit Up, saving your Grasp of the Undying and Vile Feast to play onto two separate units at a later time.
If your opponent then drops something like The Empyrean on you, suddenly you’re in a very awkward position.
It’s not standard for this deck to play Empyrean, and you get blown out because of it. In a tournament situation, you would be aware of this potential scenario because you have access to your opponent’s decklist, and it helps you play your deck more properly for fringe scenarios like this that can make or break a game.
How to adjust ladder decks for tournaments
If you’re bringing your favorite deck you dominate the ladder with to a tournament, it’s important to check if there are any broad use cards you can exchange for something a little more focused.
Two cards that always immediately come to my mind are Withering Wail and Grasp of the Undying.
The ladder is full of aggression and unknown decks, and these removal spells with life gain attached to them can make you feel very safe.
But if the tournament meta is more midrange and control focused, how much value are these cards going to get you? If you look at the top-performing tournament decks, how many of them are going wide with 1 health units?
These cards are by no means bad in tournaments, but if you’re playing a midrange Shadow Isle deck like Sea Monsters, could you find more effective tools to deal with the decks you expect to see?
It’s a consideration to be made and mostly applies to anti-aggro tech that you keep on ladder.
How to keep up with the scene
While playing in tournaments is the best practice you can get, watching tournaments you’re not in can be a great help.
Every Friday, I take last week’s tournament results and try to help you make sense of them so you can know what to expect going into the weekend.
During the first week of Patch 1.6, I got a lot of things wrong.
One of the key reasons for this is that my video came out Friday afternoon, and Friday evening GiantSlayerTV’s Reckoning tournament took place, during which BBG debuted his Thresh/Lux deck that then went on to have a big impact on the meta during the tournament weekend.
While I’m a great resource for you to use, I’m just a resource. Individuality and personalization are heavily rewarded in Legends of Runeterra, and it’s encouraged that if you think someone is wrong about a tier list or the most effective lineup, that you follow your gut.
Thanks for reading!
That’s all I’ve got for you this time around! It can take a lot of work to stay on top of the meta in a digital card game, and it’s a big-time commitment.
If you don’t have the time to keep up, that’s what I’m here for. My YouTube channel is mostly content focused on helping people who want to stay competitive but don’t have time to keep up with people who do Legends of Runeterra stuff nearly full time.
And if you liked what I have to say be sure to give my Twitter a follow so you can keep up to date on when and what I’ll be casting and you can hear me say even more words about Legends of Runeterra.
If you’d like to see more from Boulevard, he posts sporadic videos on YouTube throughout the week, with a new tournament prep video every Friday. He also casts every weekend on Twitch, usually at twitch.tv/schitjustworks around 2pm EST.