What Makes A Good Finisher in LoR
Despite the small card pool that Legends of Runeterra offers, each region and region combinations include different possible archetypes, competitive or not: Deep Sea Creatures with Nautilus, Vlad Self-Damage decks, Yasuo Stun decks, Lux with expensive spells, Dragons with Shyvana, and so on.
These are all very diverse archetypes that play differently, but none of them can be actually considered “ competitive” or viable at high ranks.
This article will cover the reasons behind that.
The topics we’ll be discussing stem from my video that covered why certain champions like Riven and Viktor are struggling to establish themselves as competitive decks.
Be sure to check it out as well for more context and examples:
Lacking a “real” finisher is something that all the archetypes I mentioned earlier have in common.
As a rule of thumb, a card that costs 6+ mana needs to either finish the game or heavily slow down or completely stop the opponent’s game plan.
Here are some examples of competitive and non-competitive cards.
Atrocity and Cithria the Bold both have the ability to reliably finish the game which makes them playable competitively.
Compare to Sheriff Lariette Rose and Icy Yeti that don’t exert any kind of pressure or ability to stop the opponent’s game plan.
Augmented Experimenter is a card that doesn’t directly threaten to finish the game or stop the opponent’s game plan, it’s only seeing play in one competitive deck because it works as a combo card in Discard Aggro.
It levels up Jinx instantly and allows you to refill your hand while dealing damage or removing a unit.
Eclipse Dragon has two effects, but neither finishes the game or interacts with the opponent in any way.
It’s seeing play in Targon decks in this meta because it works as a combo card that allows Aurelion Sol to be played on turn 8, it functions as a finisher support in a way, making Asol playable.
It can also be played without Asol in invoke decks like this one:
Deck Code: CEAQSAYJBEOCGSKMKRKVMYACAQBQSFZZJNSACAIFDEBAEAYJFJOACAIFAE
Combined with Lunari DuskBringer, Eclipse Dragon can be played on turn 6 if you have 1 banked spell mana using Duskpetal Dust to reduce its cost.
Plaza Guardian, Scuttlegiest, and Arbiter of the Peak are cards that technically can cost less than 6 mana but usually still cannot be played before turn 6. They also don’t have the ability to finish the game by then.
They represent a way to cheat stats for a very low mana cost but unless they’re coupled with an additional effect that threatens to finish the game, their stats are usually not good enough to be considered as late-game finishers.
The problem with archetypes that aren’t seeing play in the competitive scene is mainly due to the fact that they rely on expensive cards to top end the archetype but most of them aren’t able to close out the game effectively, making the entire archetype not make sense.
For example, Deep decks were semi-competitive for a while especially right after Bilgewater came out.
They share the same problem as other archetypes, not having a reliable way to end the game.
However, some versions run Atrocity to finish the game, but it makes the deck a weak Atrocity deck and not a Deep deck because there are other more reliable ways to use Atrocity in SI decks or other regions.
Deck Code: CECAOAQGDUSSOLBPGU4AGAQFA4EAUAIBAUUACAYGAEAQEAIFDU3AA
Yasuo decks struggle in the same way.
We’ve seen some Yasuo/Swain decks in tournaments and ladder for a while in the past, that was the closest Yasuo has been to competitive play.
The same problem appears where Swain/Leviathan is the main finishers of the deck, making Yasuo/Swain just a sub-optimal version of Swain + Bilgewater for example.
What does a finisher need to be competitive?
1. It needs to be able to open attack on the final turn
Unlike cards that force you into developing like Give it All and Pack Mentality, a good finisher doesn’t have that condition and allows you to open attack.
This is comparable to Riven, she’s associated with a Slow speed spell finisher that doesn’t allow you to open attack.
Some exceptions like Feel the Rush is still considered one of the best finishers even though it depends on a slow speed action. The low amount of counters to this card (only Deny) makes it hard to play around or disrupt.
Captain Farron is another example, it’s one of the only cards with a split win condition.
It does this by developing into an attack gives the opponent many opportunities to disrupt or stop the Overwhelm damage from Captain Farron, but the generated Decimates represent a way to finish the game on their own.
2. It needs to have defensive capabilities and be able to reliably stop the opponent from winning on their turn
Twisted Fate is a great defensive tool using either Gold or Red cards on the turn he is played.
When he’s leveled, the ability to Stun use both Red and Gold Cards every turn usually totally stops the opponent’s aggression and finishers.
Karma’s leveled effect also provides some insane levels of defense when doubling cards like Withering Wail or Starshaping.
3. A finisher needs to not lose to most common tech cards of the current meta
Right now, we’re in a meta where Hush is a very common card, finishers that get hard countered by Hush are generally unplayable.
This is one of the main reasons why Viktor isn’t playable in this meta, his archetype doesn’t have a finisher that doesn’t get completely stopped by Hush, like Nyandroid.
For a deck to be competitive in Legends of Runeterra, it needs multiple finishers, decks that only have 1 finisher generally cannot make it to a high placement on a tier list.
Ez/Draven has both Captain Farron and Ezreal as reliable finishers, Fiora Shen has either Brightsteel Formation on a wide board or the Fiora win condition as finishers, Pool Scouts has both champions, MF and Quinn as win cons when leveled.
The addition of Zoe and her independent win condition in Lee Targon made it move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 in the current meta.
At a certain point having some non-competitive archetypes is not necessarily a bad thing, and have some that are only viable at lower ranks and not always only geared for top play totally makes sense.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask Swim during his streams (10AM-6PM PDT).