The Road to Nationals season kicks off this coming weekend, with the first of the 175 events around the world going down Saturday and Sunday. These events, particularly those in North America and Europe, mark the first time many players will be getting the chance to play above an Armory and Skirmish level, battling in competitive events for their chance to earn the invite to their National Championships later this year. The Monarch Classic Constructed season is effectively kicking off with these series of events in the lead up to The Calling Las Vegas, which will bring the shorter Monarch season to a close. So what can we expect to see from the first weekend of Road to Nationals events?
Chane, Bound by Shadow quickly became a Tier 1 boogeyman of the Classic Constructed format right off the bat. The ProQuest at the Auckland Calling weekend saw Chane representing over 20 percent of the meta and putting five players into the Top 8. The recently completed online charity event that had over 100 players battling out in Classic Constructed also featured a rather large amount of Chane, with three of the Shadow Runeblade’s pilots making into Top 8.
I expect we will see Chane out again in force for the first weeks of Road to Nationals as players still adapt to the more highly tuned Chane lists out there and find ways to beat the various Chane decks. It’s safe to say that if you aren’t prepared to take on Chane heading into the Road to Nationals events, you’ll likely find yourself having a difficult day unless you manage to find some luck and dodge the aforementioned Shadow players. I would think you’ll be needing a significant amount of luck though, as I would be surprised if Chane isn’t regularly representing around 20 percent of the meta and being the most played hero through weeks one and two.
If you’re looking to pick up Chane, you have a few options out in the wild already that have performed well. You can certainly pick up and go on these lists, but you also might want to adapt these where necessary for what you expect to face in your local meta…
Dan McKay – Chane, Bound by Shadow – 2nd Place Auckland Calling Weekend Pro Quest
1 Chane, Bound by Shadow 1 Nebula Blade 1 Arcanite Skullcap 1 Carrion Husk 1 Crown of Dichotomy 1 Grasp of the Arknight 1 Nullrune Gloves 1 Nullrune Robe 1 Snapdragon Scalers 3 Bounding Demigon (Red) 3 Chains of Eminence 3 Command and Conquer 3 Enlightened Strike 1 Ghostly Visit (Red) 3 Howl from Beyond (Red) 3 Meat and Greet (Red) 3 Plunder Run (Red) 3 Rift Bind (Red) 3 Seeds of Agony (Red) 1 Soul Reaping 3 Unhallowed Rites (Red) 3 Art of War 3 Dimenxxional Crossroads 1 Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath 1 Rift Bind (Yellow) 3 Seeds of Agony (Yellow) 2 Springboard Somersault 2 Invert Existence 3 Mauvrion Skies (Blue) 3 Mutated Mass 3 Rift Bind (Blue) 3 Seeds of Agony (Blue) 3 Shadow of Ursur 3 Spellblade Assault (Blue) 3 Vexing Malice (Blue) 1 Gorganian Tome
Dante Delfico – Chane, Bound by Shadow – 4th Place June Online Charity Event
1 Chane, Bound by Shadow 1 Nebula Blade 1 Arcanite Skullcap 1 Carrion Husk 1 Ebon Fold 1 Grasp of the Arknight 1 Snapdragon Scalers 1 Time Skippers 3 Bounding Demigon (Red) 3 Chains of Eminence 3 Command and Conquer 3 Enlightened Strike 3 Ghostly Visit (Red) 3 Howl from Beyond (Red) 3 Meat and Greet (Red) 3 Plunder Run (Red) 3 Rift Bind (Red) 3 Seeds of Agony (Red) 3 Shadow Puppetry 1 Soul Reaping 3 Unhallowed Rites (Red) 3 Art of War 3 Dimenxxional Crossroads 3 Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath 2 Rift Bind (Yellow) 3 Seeds of Agony (Yellow) 1 Eclipse 3 Mauvrion Skies (Blue) 3 Seeds of Agony (Blue) 3 Shadow of Ursur 3 Tome of the Arknight 3 Vexing Malice (Blue) 3 Whisper of the Oracle (Blue) 1 Ursur, the Soul Reaper
Not everyone will be prepared to enter these events with the big target on their back that Chane grants you and we’ll certainly see a diverse field in these events with a number of other heroes vying for Tier 1 status. What can we expect to see make up the other large chunks of the meta?
I have a real nostalgia for the Welcome to Rathe heroes. I always like seeing them do well and be prominent players in the meta, especially Katsu, the Wanderer and Rhinar, Reckless Rampage! Katsu has definitely seen a lot of success in the Monarch constructed meta thus far, taking out both the tournaments I mentioned earlier. The ProQuest Auckland being won by a midrange/control Katsu deck that aimed to fatigue out Chane opponents and the Charity event by a midrange Katsu focused on traditional on-hit effects and combo lines with Surging Strike, Whelming Gustwave, Mugenshi: RELEASE, Lord of Wind, Leg Tap and Rising Knee Thrust.
Katsu will surely trade on this success and have a large share of the meta with players picking up arguably the most successful deck in this meta to date, whether that be players opting to go the control path or the more traditional combo based path.
Wynton Bedford – Katsu, the Wanderer – 1st Place Auckland Calling Weekend ProQuest
1 Katsu, the Wanderer 2 Harmonized Kodachi 1 Breaking Scales 1 Breeze Rider Boots 1 Fyendal's Spring Tunic 1 Mask of Momentum 1 Nullrune Gloves 1 Nullrune Hood 1 Nullrune Robe 1 Time Skippers 1 Ancestral Empowerment 3 Command and Conquer 3 Enlightened Strike 3 Fate Foreseen (Red) 3 Flic Flak (Red) 3 Fluster Fist (Red) 3 Leg Tap (Red) 2 Nourishing Emptiness 2 Plunder Run (Red) 2 Pounding Gale 2 Razor Reflex (Red) 1 Rising Knee Thrust (Red) 3 Sink Below (Red) 1 Soulbead Strike (Red) 3 Surging Strike (Red) 2 Torrent of Tempo (Red) 3 Unmovable (Red) 2 Whelming Gustwave (Red) 1 Art of War 2 Flic Flak (Yellow) 2 Hurricane Technique 2 Mugenshi: RELEASE 3 Find Center 3 Flic Flak (Blue) 3 Fluster Fist (Blue) 3 Lord of Wind 1 Rising Knee Thrust (Blue) 3 Soulbead Strike (Blue) 2 Timesnap Potion 3 Whelming Gustwave (Blue)
Kieran McEntagert – Katsu, the Wanderer – 1st place June Online Charity Event
1 Katsu, the Wanderer 2 Harmonized Kodachi 1 Breaking Scales 1 Fyendal's Spring Tunic 1 Heartened Cross Strap 1 Mask of Momentum 1 Nullrune Gloves 1 Snapdragon Scalers 3 Ancestral Empowerment 3 Belittle (Red) 1 Blackout Kick (Red) 3 Enlightened Strike 3 Flic Flak (Red) 1 Fluster Fist (Red) 3 Head Jab (Red) 3 Leg Tap (Red) 1 Minnowism (Red) 1 Open the Center (Red) 3 Plunder Run (Red) 3 Razor Reflex (Red) 3 Rising Knee Thrust (Red) 3 Scar for a Scar (Red) 3 Snatch (Red) 3 Surging Strike (Red) 3 Torrent of Tempo (Red) 3 Whelming Gustwave (Red) 1 Hurricane Technique 3 Mugenshi: RELEASE 2 Surging Strike (Yellow) 3 Crane Dance (Blue) 2 Find Center 3 Lord of Wind 3 Minnowism (Blue) 3 Rising Knee Thrust (Blue) 3 Whelming Gustwave (Blue)
Bravo, Showstopper and his collection of big Crush attacks seem to be very well positioned in the Monarch meta. With the ability to battle with one of Monarch’s other new popular heroes in Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light with natural six-plus attacks loaded throughout the deck. Bravo also has a fairly decent matchup into Katsu (both archetypes) and certainly has the ability to deal with Chane given the right setup. A lot of buzz is floating around the community right now about how Bravo might just be the hero to dominate the upcoming Roads season. I’m not sure that will be the case, but it’s clearly well positioned and I expect it to be the third or fourth most represented hero in the early Road to Nationals metagame.
Cayle McCreath – Bravo, Showstopper – 1st place Dice Jar Games Crucible Win a Case
1 Bravo, Showstopper 1 Anothos 1 Arcanite Skullcap 1 Crater Fist 1 Ironrot Legs 1 Nullrune Boots 1 Nullrune Gloves 1 Nullrune Hood 1 Tectonic Plating 3 Blessing of Deliverance (Red) 3 Crippling Crush 3 Crush Confidence (Red) 3 Crush the Weak (Red) 3 Out Muscle (Red) 3 Pummel (Red) 3 Sink Below (Red) 3 Spinal Crush 3 Disable (Yellow) 2 Forged for War 1 Remembrance 3 Blessing of Deliverance (Blue) 3 Chokeslam (Blue) 3 Cranial Crush 3 Crush the Weak (Blue) 3 Debilitate (Blue) 3 Disable (Blue) 3 Last Ditch Effort 3 Pummel (Blue) 3 Rouse the Ancients 3 Show Time! 3 Stamp Authority 3 Stonewall Confidence (Blue) 3 Towering Titan (Blue) 3 Unmovable (Blue)
The newest class introduced to Flesh and Blood, Illusionist is quickly becoming a fan favorite and Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light is a hero that a large proportion of people have been trying to find a winning strategy for. Prism has very powerful attacks with the Phantasm key word, so naturally she has pretty favorable matchups for the most part against decks that can’t deal with key cards like Herald of Protection (Red), Herald of Erudition and the one Shadow players loathe to see, Herald of Judgment. The popularity of Prism, regardless of the hero’s actual viability in this meta, means I expect it’ll be showing up in significant numbers at almost every Road to Nationals event.
Prism can definitely find success in this meta. In fact, not only is she popular, but she’s most definitely viable. Players will need to ensure they have a plan for the heavy-hitting Heralds and Auras that can give Prism players the ability to really get ahead by building board presence. If you plan on playing Prism, then your challenge is going to be how you deal with those decks that naturally break your Phantasm attacks. You also want to ensure you have a plan for those pesky Shadow Runeblades! If Prism is the hero you are considering but not sure where to start, then you can find a deck tech video below on the below list from myself and fellow ChannelFireball content creator Brendan Patrick.
Hayden Dale – Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light
1 Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light 1 Iris of Reality 1 Luminaris 1 Arcanite Skullcap 1 Dream Weavers 1 Fyendal's Spring Tunic 1 Phantasmal Footsteps 1 Vestige of Sol 3 Herald of Protection (Red) 3 Herald of Triumph (Red) 2 Prismatic Shield (Red) 3 Snatch (Red) 3 Wartune Herald (Red) 3 Arc Light Sentinel 3 Celestial Cataclysm 3 Genesis 3 Herald of Erudition 3 Herald of Judgment 3 Herald of Protection (Yellow) 3 Herald of Tenacity (Yellow) 3 Herald of Triumph (Yellow) 3 Merciful Retribution 2 Phantasmify (Yellow) 2 Plunder Run (Yellow) 3 Soul Shield 3 Tome of Divinity 3 Wartune Herald (Yellow) 3 Herald of Protection (Blue) 3 Herald of Ravages (Blue) 3 Herald of Rebirth (Blue) 3 Herald of Tenacity (Blue) 3 Herald of Triumph (Blue) 3 Illuminate (Blue) 3 Wartune Herald (Blue) 1 Great Library of Solana
Warrior (Dorinthea & Boltyn)
Dorinthea Ironsong and Monarch’s latest warrior Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn will likely drop outside of the top five heroes played across the early Road to Nationals events. Since Monarch’s release, Dorinthea has slipped out of favor, with many players feeling like she struggles naturally against Prism and somewhat against Chane. However, I think Dorinthea is still a more than viable choice to take into the first weekend. Players just have to have plans for dealing with these two new heroes. We recently saw a Dorinthea go all the way to the finals of the Charity Drive event and the Warrior class is one that rewards good, tight play throughout an event, never really having a truly bad or unwinnable match up.
Boltyn we know much less about, and so far have seen very little of him across competitive events. If you’re looking to understand his playstyle or are intrigued by the thought of possibly picking up Boltyn for Road to Nationals, I would recommend checking out the Dev-astation video posted by Legend Story Studios. Boltyn has what I personally think to be a very cool playstyle, and Raydn, Duskbane is a really sweet weapon. I love free stuff!
While the six heroes above are the ones I expect to see dominate the meta over the early part of the Road to Nationals season, you can never rule out any hero making an impact. One of the great things about Classic Constructed in particular is that players who are very experienced with certain heroes, even if they aren’t perceived to be the current top tier heroes, can build strategies for the meta and have success.
I expect we’ll see a few Top 8’s and maybe even wins coming with Azalea, Ace in the Hole, Rhinar, Reckless Rampage and Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire. I personally would like to see Levia, Shadowborn Abomination taking some players to a Nationals spot! We’ll have to see what happens as the first week of the Road to Nationals season kicks off this weekend!