How I Won 1st Place for Jam Fest 7 (LoR Tournament Report) by Topher

How I Won 1st Place for Jam Fest 7 (LoR Tournament Report) by Topher

Hi all, this is a crosspost from our friend Tophur, who recently won Jam Fest 7! He’ll be sharing his decks and thought processes he had against different opponents. Tophur has also provided some bonus insights for an additional match that he didn’t include in his original Reddit post, so stick around if you saw it already!

Jam Fest 7 LoR Tournament Report

Hey Guys! I played in Jam Fest this past weekend and wanted to write up a tournament report. When I used to play MTG one of my favorite things to read was tournament reports where they’d discuss the deck they played, the matchups they ran into and how they went, and most importantly fun stories about food they ate and whatever traveling they did.

I played the whole event in my living room with my pajamas on and ate nothing the whole day, so I’ll be skipping that part, but hopefully, the rest will be interesting.

top 8 jam fest

The Tournament’s Format

The format of the tournament was 2 decks with 0 bans, which personally is a format I really enjoy. I’m sure not every format meta would reflect this, but right now the most skill-intensive deck in LoR by far is Ezreal/Karma, and it also happens to be one of the most powerful decks.

This means any tournament with a ban is going to almost certainly result in Ez/Karma lists being banned all tournament, meaning the most skill-testing deck in the game never even factors into the results of the tournament.

There are certainly arguments for 3 deck 1 ban, namely that it tends to encourage greater diversity in decklists being brought to the event, but that’s just not my personal preference for the format.

My Decks

That all being said, I knew I was going to bring Ez/Karma as one of my two decks, and was sorely tempted to bring Bald Eagle (Braum/Anivia), a deck popularized by the Lobster/Maverick/Presto playgroup, because not only did the deck seem to be quite powerful, but it was also putting up great results on ladder and in other tournaments.

I expected many of the high-level players I ran into to be on these two decks, with Heimer/Vi swapped out for Ez/Karma in some scenarios, and knowing that Bald Eagle is unfavored against Ez/Karma, although it’s not as bad as most people think, I began looking for other decks that could potentially give me a more favorable matchup into those two decks.

My solution is a deck that I’ve dubbed Casanova’s Call as a tribute to my boy Casanova, who has always had the utmost faith in both me and Warmother’s Call.

Casanova’s Call Decklist

topher casanovas call

In the past I’ve never been a fan of Warmother’s Call, it’s expensive, clunky, horrible against deny, and oftentimes failed to even end the game fast enough once it came down.

However, almost all of the old Warmother’s Call decks were running units like Avarosan Sentry or Icevale Archer, meaning you would frequently spend 12 mana to put a 2 mana creature into play, which would set you back far enough that your opponent could finish you off before you got enough value out of your Warmother’s Call to pull ahead.

warmother's call jpg

If you’ll notice, my deck doesn’t have any of those units, in fact, the cheapest unit in Casanova’s Call is Soul Gorger, meaning that you’ll get a lot more value, way faster out of your Warmother’s Call once it resolves.

soulgorger jpg

This is crucial as it gives you a fast enough clock after casting Warmother’s that you can stabilize and then turn the corner even if you’re a little behind on board when you get to slap your 12 mana spell into play, which is often the case.

To make up for the lack of units I’m running the full complement of Vile Feast, Avalance, The Box, Grasp of the Undying, Withering Wail, Vengeance, and The Ruination.

All of these spells are great at stalling the game until you get to a point where you’re safe to resolve Warmother’s or your other late-game threats and then take over the board.

The card I got the most questions on while playing the tournament was Fading Memories, which at first looks super strange, but actually worked great for me all day.

The idea of Fading Memories is that because you can’t play low-cost units you need something to smooth out your draws, which is where Fading Memories on your opponent’s units comes in.

fading memories jpg

You can frequently stall an attack step with a good Fading Memories, which can buy you a lot of time and allows your mass removal like Avalanche and The Ruination to get more value.

Fading Memories also has a lot of good value targets in the meta right now, like Shadow Assassin, Petty Officer, Dreadway Deckhand, or my favorite from the tournament, Riptide Rex.

riptide rex jpg

Casanova’s Call also features 2 Ledros, 2 Tryndamere, and 3 Warmother’s. The reality with playing this deck is you have a lot of expensive late-game cards that can make some of your draws feel clunky, so I did my best to cut as many of them as possible. That being said, the entire deck is designed around Warmother’s and you really need to be playing 3 of them.

It can lead to awkward hands, but it’s definitely worth it as the premier win condition in the deck. The reason to run the extra Warmother’s instead of the Ledros is that while Ledros is a necessity in this deck it isn’t quite as powerful of a finisher as it has been in decks like Corina in the past, because your only direct damage is 1 Atrocity.

Tryndamere is another great threat to have, and Overwhelm in conjunction with Anivia dealing damage to blockers and Ledros chunking out your opponent is awesome, but it’s not better than just having the 3rd Warmother’s in the list.

tryndamere jpg

As previously mentioned the two matchups I was most concerned with going into the tournament were Ez/Karma or Heimer/Vi and Bald Eagle. Warmother’s has a great matchup into Bald Eagle, because they’re a slow, clunky, value-based control deck which is what our deck is doing, except our deck is just way better at it.

What this means is that Bald Eagle will rarely be able to kill you quickly, barring any sort of insane set of Anivia draws, and once you get to the late game they don’t have anything that can keep up with a Warmother’s.

anivia level 1 jpg

As for Ez/Karma, the strategy of our deck is absolutely ideal for playing against it. The early game of Ez/Karma is spent controlling the board, potentially applying a small amount of pressure, and most importantly getting Ezreal Stacks.

One of the best ways to beat Ezreal decks has always been to not develop units, deny them their Ezreal stacks, and then kill them extremely quickly on the back of your late game threat before they have a chance to stack Ezreal and murder you instantly.

Casanova’s Call is the best deck for implementing this gameplan, and while I wouldn’t consider the matchup to be easy it’s the best you’re gonna get outside of another PnZ/Ionia deck.

Just spend the entire game refusing to do anything proactive, use your removal spells to counter your opponent’s threats and keep your life total high, and wait until you can drop Warmother’s or Ledros to end the game before Ezreal comes online.

Finally, the Heimer/Vi matchup can be tough, but that really depends on how high they roll.

The Box is one of your best cards in the matchup and can blow out even the craziest of Heimer draws if your opponent isn’t careful, you also have tons of removal to throw at Heimer, and cards like Withering Wail and Avalanche to deal with an onslaught of turrets.

the box jpg

The trickiest thing about the matchup is that Heimer decks usually like to play 2 Denys and that card is absolutely brutal for us. Do your best to bait Deny without allowing your opponent to blow you out with it, and then resolve your crucial spells afterward.

Sometimes you just don’t have the luxury of waiting though, and a lot of what makes this matchup difficult is knowing when you can afford to play around Deny, and when you have to just slam your spell and hope for the best.

In terms of other matchups, I really don’t think you sacrifice a lot with Casanova’s Call. You’re still heavily favored against low to the ground aggro decks like burn or elusives because of all of the removal and healing in the list. Slow clunky midrange decks are great matchups too as Warmother’s outpaces all of that, so most Sejauni or Swain based stuff isn’t much of a problem.

crimson elusives 7-6

The real awkward matchups are decks that are very aggressive, but with big individual units because our solutions like Avalanche/The Box/Withering Wail really only shine against small wide boards.

Think of something like Darius/Harrowing Aggro curving out with multiple Basilisk Riders into Darius with Harrowing backup, although to be fair I’m not sure what deck doesn’t struggle with that right now.

darius aggro 7-6

Even that matchup doesn’t feel bad, and as long as you have two Ruinations, one to answer those big threats that we can’t easily kill and the second to answer their Harrowing, you should be fine.

Ezreal/Karma Decklist

topher ez karma

Ezreal/Karma has been one of the best decks in the format for a long time now. I’ve seen it’s win rate dip, resulting in some people downgrading it to tier 2 or tier 3, but make no mistake this deck is tier 1 with a bullet.

It’s absolutely the hardest deck in the game to play, and even high level experienced LoR players have commented that they feel that they play the deck suboptimally. I saw this deck played over and over in the tournament, the only people who didn’t bring it brought Veimer instead which probably has a slightly higher power level, but definitely lower consistency.

If you’re one of the people who think Ezreal/Karma isn’t good anymore please make your voice heard in the comments and everywhere else, I’d love for Riot to not nerf this deck into oblivion as it’s easily my favorite deck in the game to play.

karma level 1 jpg

Just know that every high-level player I’ve talked to thinks this deck is still one of the best. One final note on the deck overall is that I see people constantly quibbling over whether or not Ez/Karma is a control deck or a combo deck.

Let me say definitively that it is a control deck with a combo finish. Essentially everything in the deck is a control tool or card draw, with the exception of your champions that are used to combo your opponent to death.

For any MTG players, think of this deck as reminiscent of SplinterTwin, a deck banned in MTG because it was a two-card combo that allowed you to fill your deck with control tools instead of having to assemble some multi-card combo.

splinter twin mtg

Ez/Karma works the same way as that, having a two champion combo that only needs cheap spells to cast means you get to fill your deck with value spells and control tools until it’s time for your combo to come online.

The deck is well established so I won’t go over it too much, but I will offer you some insight into my decisions with how I filled out my list. Take this information with a grain of salt though, because Ez/Karma lists are always fluctuating 4-6 spots to try to keep up with meta adjustments, and the fact that I took a break from playing the ladder essentially since the reset means that my list may not be exactly perfectly tuned.

1 Yone, I will say that I’d never run this on ladder and might consider removing it from my lists for future tournaments. Essentially the idea behind running 1 Yone in an open decklist tournament is that your opponent is forced to respect the card late game or risk getting blown out by it if they don’t open attack.

yone, windchaser jpg

The reality is that Yone isn’t positioned wonderfully right now and it’s possible that it would be better off as something else, but I included it in my Jam Fest list as an attempt to keep people honest.

1 Deny, in general, I think that Deny isn’t great in Ez/Karma, in general, you want to stall the game until you get to a point that you have a comfortable window to drop your champions and win essentially instantly, rather than hoping to stick a champ and use Deny to protect it.

deny jpg

However, similar to my thinking with Yone, having a Deny in your list can keep other players honest, and if Casanova’s Call catches on at all you’re going to want at least 1 Deny, maybe even 2.

0 Claws of the Dragon, I thought Claws was going to be a really good card but honestly, I hate it. Almost everything in Ez/Karma is generating card advantage, even your removal kills units and gives you an Ezreal stack, but Claws of the dragon is the opposite of card advantage, it sacrifices a card to give you a tempo advantage.

claws of the dragon jpg

Theoretically, this card can come down early along with removal spells to try to keep the board under control and prevent your opponent from killing you too quickly, but I don’t think the 3/2 body is an excellent blocker in the meta currently and I haven’t enjoyed the card as a general rule.

I see a lot of high-level players including this card in their list though, so I’m definitely going to be testing them in the list and see if maybe I’m wrong on this one.

1 Get Excited, I see most people running 2 Get Excited and I’m definitely considering changing my list on this one.

get excited! jpg

The reason to not run 2 Get Excited is that you don’t need really any direct damage spells to kill your opponent with Ez and Karma online, and Get Excited is pretty brutal to have to play as removal because you’re automatically 2 for 1’ing yourself because of the card you have to discard.

That being said, having a second Get Excited makes it much easier to combo kill your opponent on just Karma, and for that reason I may be adding a second one to my lists in the future.

Like I said, the deck has been basically talked to death, so I’m not going to go through an extensive matchup guide, but I would like to quickly touch on the Veimer matchup since that seems to be another thing that people like to argue about. Veimer is a more powerful deck, it can do more busted stuff with Heimer and Flash of Brilliance, and if your Veimer opponent goes off hard enough it’s gonna be real tough to get the win.

heimer combo 7-6

However, the games that your opponent isn’t on some sweet Heimer draw is going to favor you, and if they have the nuts then you just need to have all your Stattik Shocks.

Keep in mind that in this matchup Veimer is the aggressor, so Ez/Karma is free to sit back and wait for their opportune moment to initiate interactions.

The biggest mistake I see Ez/Karma players make in the matchup is to let their Veimer opponent play solitaire. If you tap out trying to remove a Heimer, you’re just setting yourself up to get blown out by a protection spell, have a whole ton of turrets hit the board, and get run over instantly.

Heimerdinger splash

If you don’t think you can beat the protection spells they could have available then don’t risk it, pick off turrets, stall the game, and let your opponent tap down low for a better opportunity to kill their Heimer.

If they insist on playing super slow and safe, then hopefully you can buy yourself enough time to get your combo online and finish them before they can squeeze out the win. The matchup is certainly close, and sometimes you’re just going to be incapable of beating their draw, but I won all of my games as Ez/Karma into Veimer during the tournament, so it’s definitely doable.

Round 5 against xYotsuba

[Watch Match VOD]

Yotsuba is a name that people might recognize, he’s a very strong player and one of the other members of the top 16 later on in this tournament, so I went in expecting a close match with a lot of complicated decisions.

Game 1 I was on Karma/Ez against Veimer. The game started relatively slowly, with Yotsuba deploying a Shadow Assassin on turn 3 and then opting to play removal spells early and develop Vi on 5 instead of banking mana for the early Heimer.

xyotsuba's veimer

I promptly Willed Yotsuba’s Vi, but he developed a fresh one on 6 and then went for his Heimer on 7 with 3 spell mana up. Instead of playing a Get Excited on his Heimer that I knew wouldn’t work out for me, I took a Concussive Palm to apply pressure and attempt to push through some damage, knowing that I could use a Will on the fresh Vi during his next attack as well as having Stattik up to deal with the turrets.

willed Vi

From there, I know that my removal can’t beat his protection spells, and instead of attempting to remove the Heimer and getting blown out, I simply pick away at his board while he’s forced to hold up mana to protect Heimer if I ever do go for it.

This allows me to stack Ezreal while staying at a relatively healthy life total, and after Yone buys us a turn and an Ezreal flip, I’m safe to just drop Ezreal into play, force an answer from Yotsuba, and then finish him in response. This is a great example of how to play this matchup, and how Ezreal/Karma can win even with an early Heimer.

Game 2 is me on Casanova’s Call against Yotsuba’s still on Veimer. The game starts off slowly with a couple of Shadow Assassins until Yotsuba drops his first Heimer, which we contest with a Box but a Twin Disciplines holds us off.

One note about this Box is that we knew if Yotsuba’s answer was Spirits Refuge we had a Vile Feast to force through the damage, but we were incapable of beating Twin Disciplines. Because of this, we made sure not to Box until Yotsuba burned his attack token, that way if the Twin Disciplines came down at least Yotsuba wouldn’t be able to develop his turrets for a strong attack that turn.

From there Yotsuba continues to intelligently hold up all of his mana, meaning we have to develop a Vengeance on the Heimer as damage spells will assuredly not hit home. Unfortunately for us, Yotsuba has his first Deny to keep his Heimer alive and move him into the next turn with a strong board.

deny vengeance

Our Withering Wail threatens to clean his board of all those pesky turrets, but the second Deny comes down to force through a ton of damage. This puts us at a precariously low life total but does at least allow us to be unafraid of Deny for the rest of the game.

We take advantage of this window to land a grasp on his Heimer and remove it from the board, and then we have the Ruination next turn to eliminate all the turrets with no fear of Deny.

Sadly Yotsuba drops second Heimer after our Ruination and has his 3rd Heimer to Progress Day, reload his 3 card hand, and generate an 8/8 turret which hits the board right away.

This prompts us to blow another Ruination to clear the board, and then we finally get a turn to stick a Warmother’s.

topher ruination

However, at this point, we’re at 6 life after weathering the storm of double Deny triple Heimer, and even with a Warmother’s Call active the outcome of the game is tenuous at best. Yotsuba pushes through a little more damage with Solitary Monk and a protection spell, forcing us to use the last of our healing just to stay alive.

Luckily Yotsuba’s last burn spells were near the bottom of his deck, and after holding on for a little while longer, our giant units from Warmother’s manage to finish the game off for us.

Round of 16 Against Blue Flower Dragon

[Watch Match VOD]

Game 1 I was on Casanova’s Call against an Ashe/Sejuani midrange deck. This matchup is super easy for Casanova’s Call, I just stalled the game, played a Warmother’s, and my opponent died to it, not much to see here.

blue flower dragon ashe sej

Game 2 ended halfway through the match with my opponent conceding because he was DQ’d from the event. I’m not going to discuss details here to avoid any sort of animosity or witch-hunting, but hopefully, all parties involved have learned from the situation and will avoid future mistakes.

Quarterfinals against ItalianEx:

[Watch Match VOD]

Game 1 I was on Casanova’s Call against Darius/Harrowing Aggro.

italianex darius harrowing

Remember what I said about triple Basilisk Rider into Harrowing for this matchup? Yeah, that happened. I used my first Ruination to stabilize the board he developed and if I’d had a second Ruination I almost certainly win the game, but unfortunately, I didn’t have it and wasn’t able to stabilize.

ruination opening hand

I kept a Ruination in my opener for this matchup knowing how pivotal it would be but didn’t get to the second one before my opponent found a good enough Harrowing to finish me off.

I think my opponent made a good call not to play around the second Ruination on the final turn. It seems to me that if I’d had the second Ruination in my hand at that point I win the game every time, and ItalianEx seemed to agree with me which prompted him to go for it instead of giving me time to get there, props to him for making a solid heads up play which earned him the win in game 1.

Game 2 I was on Ez/Karma against Veimer.

italianex's veimer

There isn’t much to say about this game other than that ItalianEx’s draw was horrifying. He had no champions the entire game, and there’s just no way for him to win the matchup if he can’t draw a champion. Tough break for him who knows what would’ve happened if he’d had a better draw.

Game 3 is back to Casanova’s call for me with ItalianEx still on Veimer. ItalianEx had a much better draw this game with a turn 3 Shadow Assassin, which I traded off with a Fading Memories, a Vi on turn 5 which ate a Vengeance, and then a Heimer on 6.

While Heimer did stick through my first two removal spells I eventually got him with a Vengeance and the lingering turrets were easy to clean up with a Withering Wail.

withering wail into turrets

A second Heimer game down just a couple turns later, but between a couple of Grasps and a timely Box I was able to clean up that one also, at which point Anivia and Tryandamere got things done.

Semifinals against Cr0cAI:

[Watch Match VOD]

I knew going into this round that this matchup would be really tough, I’ve played Cr0c in a tournament before and he played really well for some very close games between the two of us, so I was expecting more of the same here.

Game 1 I was on Casanova’s Call against Ez/Karma.

cr0caI's ez-karma

The early game featured me doing my standard nothing to prevent Cr0c from stacking Ezreal while I kept Warmother’s in my opener knowing how important that card is in closing the game out quickly.

After dealing with his early aggression I resolved Warmother’s on turn 10 and from there was in the absolute driver’s seat.

Cr0c took a very smart line, knowing he couldn’t stack Ezreal in time he instead set up for an Enlightened Karma filling the stack with lethal burn spells, but luckily for me, he only had 16 damage instead of the full 20. And even though the full stack prevented me from casting my Grasp and Wail in hand to heal, I was able to play Catalyst because it’s a burst spell which healed me to 19 and kept me out of range just long enough for my lethal attack to go through.

catalyst vs cr0cAI

One note for this game is that when I went for the lethal attack, I could’ve pre-committed a healing spell onto the stack, that way I would have some healing guaranteed to happen and he wouldn’t have had enough room to kill me out of nowhere.

Luckily the mistake didn’t cost me. That all being said, I don’t think I could be more opposed to the stack having a spell limit than I am. I like card games to be focused on interaction, and preventing that from happening at an arbitrary size of the stack isn’t a feature I enjoy.

Game 2 was the Ezreal/Karma mirror. The beginning of this game was quite crazy and I felt like I navigated it well coming out ahead on Ezreal stacks and life total.

However, Cr0c found a window to stick a Karma and I didn’t have any combination of removal spells to deal 4 damage to get her off the board, after which Cr0c smartly used his Enlightened Karma to gain huge card advantage and then burn me out of the game without ever stacking Ezreal.

croc game 2

I do think that Cr0c’s list with 2 Get Excited made winning with just Karma a much more consistent strategy for him and probably made the mirror much more difficult given I would have a much harder time winning on Karma alone.

Game 3 was my Ezreal/Karma against his Bald Eagle, which is definitely favored for Ez/Karma but not quite as much as a lot of people seem to think.

croc's bald eagle

I killed an early Anivia from Cr0c which I think may have been a mistake as it activated the 2 Rekindlers in his hand and gave him an incredibly threatening board presence.

I think it was probably in my best interest to leave Cr0c’s Anivia alone and just weather the damage it dealt me slowly instead of allowing him to get so much value and pressure from his Rekindler’s, but I obviously didn’t know he had them at the time and hindsight is always 20/20.

After Cr0c assembled double Anivia he had a quick enough clock to give me a ton of issues and had enough removal left over to prevent me from sticking Karma and Ezreal on the same board.

croc game 3

Eventually, however, I managed to find lethal with Ezreal after stalling the game, despite sequencing my final spells in a slightly sub-par manner and pulled it out in an absolute nail biter.

Finals against 4LW:

[Watch Match VOD]

4LW is another player I’ve seen a lot on ladder and in tournaments before, so once again I knew I was in for a tough series.

Game 1 saw me on triple Catalyst into Warmother’s, a very nice curve for me, and despite 4LW digging as hard as he could he didn’t find a Deny to answer it.

4lw ez karma

After assembling Warmother’s with a healthy life total and mana for healing and removal finding a way back into the game was going to be very tricky for the Karma/Ezreal deck, and I closed out the win.

Game 2 I was on Karma/Ezreal against Braum/Swain, which is exactly the kind of matchup that Ez/Karma preys on.

4lw braum swain

I spent the early game running 4LW out of cards while taking some damage from burn but not so much that I felt like I was going to get finished off out of nowhere. Once 4LW was low on cards and the board was relatively stable I deployed my stacked Ezreal and used him to find lethal before any sort of Swain + Leviathan interactions could be assembled.

Closing Thoughts

Overall the tournament went really well for me, obviously. I had a lot of great draws and a few different times that my opponents didn’t have exactly what they needed to finish me off, which is exactly what it takes to take down a tournament.

If you want to win 9 out of 11 rounds of a card game, you’re gonna need to get some luck and play really tight along the way, and luckily for me, I had just enough to get there.

Shameless plug here’s my Twitch channel at twitch.tv/ag_topher. After winning the tournament, Casanova offered me an invite to Fight Night which is happening Friday, July 10th. I eagerly accepted so catch me live at the event if you’re interested!

Thanks so much to everyone for all of the support, it’s not always easy to keep grinding away and it’s the kind words from everyone out there that really keep me going! If you’ve got any questions or comments feel free to leave them behind and I’ll do my best to answer whatever or can, or stop by my stream and I’ll be happy to talk you through whatever.

Cheers!