How to Counter Zoe Lee
Today’s installment of Invoking Insight is going to be a bit of a departure from the norm for strategy articles.
We’re not going to talk about how to play or build a particular deck.
We’re not going to talk about bigger concepts like how to think about the game as a whole or playing to your outs.
Instead of making you good, today we’re going to flip everything on its head and talk about how to make your opponent bad.
Please welcome public enemy number one to center stage as we talk through some of the best ways to counter the kick master himself, Mr. Lee Sin.
Deck Code: CEBQOAYJBENSGKBJGNOAGAQCAMDASAIBAIYQEAIDBFKQCAYCCQBAEAYJCMVACAQCAU
The reason this deck gets so much hate is because of how hard it is to interact with.
It has an extremely linear game plan that it backs up with ways to deny, sometimes quite literally, any attempt to slow it down from the opponent.
With the relatively recent addition of Zoe it even has a second must-answer threat it can protect that comes down fast, so how do we go about answering all of this nonsense?
1. Go Fish!
The first deck in our lineup today’s response to that is that we quite simply do not.
If they are going to auto-execute us on turn seven or eight then this deck argues that the best response is to just kill them a turn or two earlier.
Sometimes the best form of removal is the kind you point at your opponent’s Nexus
Deck Code: CECAGAYEAUGREBQCAYEQ4GRGFMXAEAIEAETQCAYGCEBACAQEAMAQEBRKAA
The Game Plan
This deck, sometimes affectionately nickname “Twizz,” or “Go Fish,” has two major axes along which it attacks the Lee Sin deck.
First, you’re playing an impressively resilient and explosive Elusive aggro deck, backed up by some serious burn in the form of Ballistic Bot, Get Excited, and even a surprise Suit Up or Playful Trickster off of a second Fizz.
Depending on your draw you can get a turn six or seven kill through a surprising amount of the time.
Secondly one of the few weaknesses the Lee Sin deck has is that it is so focused on its own game plan it forgets to care about its opponents.
That means that they have very few ways to stop our Twisted Fate from leveling, something that we can do sometimes as early as turn five.
A leveled Twisted Fate is something, not even a Lee Sin deck can just shrug off.
For this matchup, you want your early aggressive units, your early synergistic units, and your Twisted Fate.
Mulligan for Twisted Fate, Fizz, and Ballistic bot above all else, but probably keep Poro Cannon as well for safety unless you are feeling very greedy.
The little guys might not look like much, but they stop an early Zoe and can get in some serious chip damage in the absence of a Sparklefly.
If you already have a Twisted Fate consider keeping a pick a card or a second Twisted Fate to heavily lean into the leveled Twisted Fate game plan.
Don’t be afraid to throw back Burblefish. They are 100% our best card, but we need to draw them later after we get off on our best foot.
Mind Meld is not going to look like your best card here, as playing it and getting Denied will pretty much always lose you the game.
Don’t be afraid to discard these in this matchup, part of this deck’s strength is that it can afford to run occasionally dead cards because of how much draw and discard it has.
That said because Deny is basically only good against Mind Meld in this matchup they will never keep it in their opening hand, and they often only have two in their deck.
If you’re being presented the option to Mind Meld for lethal give serious consideration to making them have it. They will fail this test a surprising amount of the time.
More than anything though focus on your role in this match as either an elusive aggro deck looking to run them down before they can combo you out, or a Twisted Fate deck looking to get that powerful engine online extremely early, and you should do just fine.
Next, we’re going to go to the complete opposite end of the reaction spectrum. Twizz did its best not to care about what the Lee Sin player was doing. Let’s see what happens when we care so much about what they are doing that not even they can ignore all of our interactions.
Deck Code: CECQMAIEBAMRWJBUHIBQCAIBBMVACAYBAIAQEBAKAEBQIFACAEAQCHQBAECDCAA
The Game Plan
Teemo Ezreal or “EzFreezy,” looks at the Lee Sin deck and decides that all of their Barriers and Kicks and Denies are really just adorable.
Freeze spells shut Lee Sin down extremely hard and their only answer is a pre-emptive Bastion that gets blown off by a Troll Chant or even just a second Freeze effect.
With six hard Freeze spells to stop a Lee Sin in its tracks and a truly ridiculous amount of card draw to get them all between Hexcore Foundry, Veteran Investigator, and even Progress Day, this deck is such a hard counter to Lee Sin.
You can sometimes win simply by decking them out even if your Ezreal and Puffcaps don’t accidentally kill them first.
The absolute most important card in this deck is Hexcore Foundry.
If you can get a Foundry online then you will be drawing such a wealth of Freeze effects that Lee Sin’s kicks will feel more like gentle nudges than anything particularly scary.
Toss back anything that isn’t a Hexcore Foundry or an answer to an early Zoe.
If you already have a Teemo, Thermogenic Beam, or Mystic Shot, then you can consider keeping a Puffcap Peddler, but more than anything it’s about getting Hexcore online and not dying to a turn one or two Zoe.
Past that life is usually pretty smooth sailing.
Always remember that your life total is a resource.
Taking some, or even a bunch of early chip damage is fine if that’s what it takes to set up your engines and perma-freeze your opponent out of the game.
Slam Hexcore early and often, and if you don’t have one, look for the first opportunity you can to progress day so you can go find what you need.
When considering what Freezes to use on what turns keep in mind that dropping too low on health can still be problematic as cards like Pale Cascade and a Hush targeting a Lee Sin can get in those last few points.
Remember you’re giving your opponent lots of cards too so it’s usually safer to assume they have a given card in their deck than to try to hope they don’t.
Troll Chant is a great early game stabilization tool, but if you can afford to save it as an answer for Bastion it gets even better.
And last but not least track your own hand size. There is nothing more embarrassing than burning a Harsh Winds you needed to close out the game
3. Zoe Diana
Our third contender at the “who can curb stomp Lee the hardest,” game show flips the script one final time.
What if instead of killing them before they could get running, or even interacting on an axis they are not really prepared for, we simply met them on their own turf and overpowered their plans?
Deck Code: CEAQSAYJBERTQSKMKRKVMYACAQBQSDIXHFSAEAIFAEMQCAIDBEBA
The Game Plan
This is a version of Zoe/Diana that is teched hard against Lee Sin.
Their Zoe’s are going to have a hard time against your Zoe, Diana, and even Invoked serpents removing them from play.
Their Lee is going to face an onslaught of Meteors, Sunbursts, and Vengeances while Hush and even Moonlight Affliction stop him from doing any fancy business in the few turns he’ll have on the battlefield.
Your game plan here is to make them have it over and over and over.
Most Lee decks have two or maybe three Deny, and Bastion will often not be a good enough answer to your hard removal in the face of Hush backup.
If they blow everything protecting Lee sometimes they will even simply die to an Atrocity on a large Celestial.
As long as you keep asking questions, eventually, Lee will succumb to your onslaught of value and you can end the game in whatever way you see fit.
You’re looking for your early answers to Zoe and your Invoke cards.
Mulligan for Zoe, Diana, Spacey Sketcher, Solari Priestess, and Mountain Scryer.
Unless you have one of the first three seriously consider throwing back the last two unchecked Zoe is an easy way to lose.
If you already have a Sketcher strongly consider keeping Duskbringer for the one-two value and tempo play they provide together.
If you have both Diana and a way to Nightfall her then seriously consider keeping a Hush or Pale Cascade for additional insurance for the Diana turn.
While in most matchups we need our invokes to find us creatures this one is going to be the opposite.
It’s all about those removal spells.
Meteor is your number one pick followed closely by Equinox.
After that go for danger noodle if you need to answer a Zoe but otherwise, hope for Messenger or Traveler to try for a re-pick.
We usually want to be the control deck, but if you see a chance for a tempo swing then take it.
Remember you are also an Atrocity deck, so if you can get your opponent on the back foot Atrocity is another card that will demand a Deny.
We plan to just keep asking for Denys until they can’t give them to us, so that is quite a valuable resource.
Don’t be discouraged if your first one or even two removal spells bounce off the shields that form around Lee.
Just keep calm, use Hush, Moonlight Affliction, and Star Shaping to survive the attacks that follow, and keep pointing explosions at Lee until they run out of ways to dodge.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).