How to Mulligan Against Irelia Azir (3 Matchups)
We’ve got axes, we’ve got blades, we’ve got ghost and dragons more Mystic Shots than you can shake a stick at.
I’m tonight’s host Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and I’m here to welcome you all back once more to the Mulligan Show.
Tonight is going to be a little bit more focused than usual.
Instead of going wide, we are going to zero in on how to mulligan some of the top decks against the new-fangled Ionian menace, Irelia Azir, that seems to be terrorizing the Runeterra ladder.
We’ll be covering:
For any first-time viewers out there I’ve included a description of what we’re up to below.
If you’re an experienced Mulligan Show contestant then feel free to skip down to Stage 1 and I’ll meet you there in just a moment.
For each stage, I’m going to give you your hand at the opening of a game, describe the situation we’re up against and ask you what you think you should do and why.
Then when you’ve got your answer ready to go, go ahead and scroll past the “SPOILERS” underneath each setup and we can walk through my decision and thought process together.
These situations are set up to be intentionally at least a little bit tricky, so don’t just go with your first guess. Try to really think it through before you scroll below that spoiler button.
Let’s meet our first contestant.
Stage 1: Dragons
We’re kicking it off with some fire and fury, bringing Shyvana and Aurelion Sol out to play.
On the other side, Azir and Irelia are readying their swarms of soldiers for combat.
You look down at an opening four of Dragon Chow, Dragonguard Lieutenant, Single Combat, and Concerted Strike.
You know that you’ve got a total of ten dragons in your deck somewhere.
Who stays and who gets thrown back?
So the first part is pretty easy.
Concerted Strike has got to go, we just won’t cast it in time.
Dragonguard Lieutenant is arguably our best two-drop, at least when he has a friend, so he’s sticking around.
Dragon Chow is, in my opinion, part of too many winning lines to get the ax, and early blocks quite nicely, so Mr. Elephant also gets a pass.
After that though we are going to get into some math trying to figure out our optimal line.
For things to work out in our favor we are going to need a dragon in our hand by turn two, and we’d prefer it to be Shyvana or Screeching Dragon so we can also actually use the card.
If we throwback just Concerted Strike then we are only 41% to hit that preferred outcome, and still just 61% to get our Lieutenant to trigger at all.
If we’re willing to give up our Single Combat then those numbers jump to 51% and 72% respectively.
The question we have to ask is in what scenario are we the most likely to win the game as a whole?
The one where we have better shots at achieving basic functionality, or the one where we have Single Combat online when we do?
While Single Combat is an incredibly effective tool I think the base functionality of your deck is sufficiently powerful in this matchup that we should maximize our chances of getting it online.
Thus I would suggest keeping Chow and Lieutenant and throwing back the two combat spells.
Stage 2: Lissandra Trundle
Well, we started with a favored matchup, and, yeah, sorry folks, you know where this sentence ends.
We decided to bring Lissandra/Trundle hoping to dodge Irelia/Azir and our dreams have been crushed.
Our deck does its best though, offering up Spectral Matron, Withering Wail, Trundle, and Lissandra.
What’s the mulligan here?
When looking at a hand like this, or any hand really, it’s important to ask ourselves, “How do we win this matchup?”
In this case, when we manage to pull out a win it generally looks like them drawing only the half of their deck that our answers line up well against and us being able to run them out of gas.
That sounds like our opponent’s agency, not ours though.
We can only affect how we mulligan, not whatever cards our opponent’s deck gives them to play with.
What can we do to make our desired reality as likely as possible from our end?
We’re going to be looking to craft our own hand state to create as many losing scenarios as possible for our opponent’s hand state.
What that means is that good blockers and removal are at a premium, and as shiny as our combo is it really isn’t that important.
If our opponent stops doing things we’ll find some way to win eventually.
Thus that Withering Wail is staying, and the combo pieces of Trundle, Lissandra, and Matron are headed back, right?
Well, close but no cigar.
While in many matchups Lissandra is your most important combo piece to be protected at all costs, here she plays a significantly different role.
Sometimes all you need is a three health tough blocker. She can provide that magnificently so she earns her keep.
Stage 3: Thresh Nasus
Once more Irelia/Azir has shown up on the other side of the table, but today we came prepared.
We’re running an aggressive low to the ground Thresh/Nasus deck ready to kill them before they get going and punish their sacrificial attackers.
The first four cards we get to see are Thresh, Nasus, and a pair of Cursed Keepers.
Which of our cards do we sacrifice on the altar of the mulligan?
One of the most important things to think about in any mulligan situation is “what are my advantages in this matchup and which of my cards help me achieve those?”
The big advantages that this deck gets generally come from putting on immense amounts of pressure that force its opponents to interact, and then punishing that interaction with its champions.
That means our step one is to put on the pressure, and if we can get him a helper Cursed Keeper is one of our best tools for doing that, so he gets to stay.
He doesn’t do much on his own though, so our spare copy goes back to try to find some additional synergy.
Step two is the payoff with the champions so the rest of this hand is a simple keep, right?
Well, not quite.
Irelia/Azir moves very quickly, and if we keep Nasus then we are handicapping ourselves for the first set of turns.
He might be a powerful game-ending threat, but six is a lot of mana in this matchup, so he’s going to have to come back later.
Five is also a lot of mana and Thresh is really right on the line.
My take on this is that given we are throwing back two of our cards already to find our early pressure our deck is consistent enough that we can bank on that working out and hold Thresh.
This one is definitely very borderline and I wouldn’t fault anyone who let Thresh go in this scenario to focus even harder on those extremely aggressive Shadow Isles early curves.
So how did your plays and thought process match up at the end of the day?
Think that Mr. WhatAmI is making some absolutely terrible plays and want to help him improve?
I’m always open to thoughts and constructive criticisms either on my stream below or on Twitter @xxwhatamixx. Hope to hear from you there and see you next time I’m around to host The Mulligan Show.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).