Many of you have probably heard of this TF/Sivir deck that’s been running around.
Hi. I’m DrChekhov. I made the deck, and used it to climb to masters. I’ve been a bit of low-key player for most of Runeterra’s existence – I’ve hit masters the last 4 seasons but haven’t had time to push for more. I’m much more interested in deckbuilding, and I think I’ve finally come up with something pretty dang strong.
TF/Sivir is a tempo deck combining the extremely powerful Sivir package (Sivir, Ruin Runner, Merciless Hunter, Treasure Seeker) with the recently buffed keg package from Bilgewater. It’s currently underplayed but heavily overperforming on ladder. Despite its low playrate, a lot of top players rate it pretty highly. On the Mastering Runeterra podcast MajinBae said of the deck: “[When I first heard of TF/Sivir I said] That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my life. These things aren’t synergistic at all! Then I played it and — you level Sivir so fast. Like, SO FAST.”
I was waiting a little on this guide because of the new expansion to see how the meta would be – but thankfully the deck is still cracked.
TF/Sivir is a tempo deck. It’s looking to quickly and efficiently develop its board while hindering the opponent’s development. Sivir and Ruin Runner are perfect examples of tempo plays: they are quick, efficient, threatening units, and the opponent usually spends more cards and mana removing them than they cost to play. TF red card is another example of a tempo play, this time hindering the opponent’s development as well. Consider an opponent’s board of Zed, a Rock Hopper, and a Treasure Seeker. Using Line ‘Em Up + TF red card costs 6 mana, but it removes 6 mana worth of units from the opponent’s board, while levelling Sivir, dealing 2 points of burn, and putting a 2/2 on board. Not to mention the card advantage: the opponent has played 3 cards that we can remove with 2. If the opponent saves a unit with Twin, the card advantage trade becomes even more lopsided: 4 to 2.
This is the general strategy of the deck: Develop a threatening board while killing the opponent’s units, level Sivir, and hit face.
3x Baccai Reaper – a late addition to the deck, several players have questioned this card. I experimented with several other 1-drops in the deck (including jagged butcher and crusty codger), but I’ve had by far the best results with Reaper. This card can be incredibly powerful and difficult for midrange decks to deal with. It often demands removal, and nearly always trades up in mana (this is the foundation of a tempo deck – essentially, this deck’s whole purpose is to try to trade up in mana). Often, the card pushes 1 damage in the early game. Sometimes this card becomes a 3|2 fearsome for 1 mana, or a cheap 2|2 blocker vs. lurk on turn 2. But sometimes, we play a kegged red card, and reaper goes from a 1|2 to a 7/2 in one turn. Against Zoe/Lee, for example, this card is an absolute MENACE. Also of note, reaper’s 2 health often allows us to fix bad hands by playing Croaker on round 2.
3x Treasure Seeker – Riot released a broken card, so we’re using it. The 2|1 body is strong, and the waking sands it generates is incredibly powerful. There are lots of ways to make use of the free waking sands, but by far my favorite is what I call “waking sands pass:” When you want to play a kegged TF red card but need the opponent to develop a bit more first, you play waking sands. They usually need an answer/chump blocker, since 5 damage to the face is no joke vs. our deck. Only after they’ve played a unit do we play red card, usually to devastating effect.
3x Dreadway Deckhand – keg + blocker.
3x Fortune Croaker – This card’s damage actually levels Sivir, which I find hilarious. If you don’t have a unit you want to damage, you can use this card on a keg, which even counts as a slay, so you can use a ruinous path afterwards. Croaker is a super nice way to develop the board while refueling.
3x Merciless Hunter – Riot released a broken card, so we’re using it. Vulnerable effects synergize very well with quick attack and overwhelm, whether to kill a unit for free using Sivir, or to pull a big unit aside allowing Sivir/Ruin Runner to hit face. Hilariously, because of Merciless, TF’s quick attack is also relevant in this deck, allowing you to potentially get a free kill on something while Sivir hits face.
2x Zap Sprayfin – This is a place the deck could be potentially refined. Zap is a good card, and I especially like the way it guarantees to draw some kind of burn (line ‘em up, MiR, or ruinous path). That said, Zap competes somewhat for the 4-mana spot. Unless we’re against elusives or really need a MiR, we don’t generally drop zap on 4 – we’d rather play TF, Sivir, or Merciless. Since we don’t want to play it early, drawing zap in the mulligan is technically a brick. That’s why I prefer 2x and would be hesitant to go up to 3x – but any number 0-3 seems reasonable to me.
3x Ruin Runner – Riot released a broken card, so we’re using it. Ruin Runner ends games. Most decks have to use multiple cards to deal with it, and they often take damage while doing so. Busted card.
3x Line ‘Em Up – Burst speed kegs are fantastic with TF, but they’re also good with MiR, Double Up, and even Sivir’s Ricochet. Getting the created card Knock ‘Em Down is very nice as an extra ping. The worst case scenario sounds pretty bad – a 3 mana slow speed mystic shot. But I’ve even got a lot of value out of that – this card can be very useful for burning them out at the end of the game.
3x Make it Rain (MiR) – along with TF, this is the main reason to run kegs. It’s a delicious tempo play, and beats a lot of aggro decks single-handed.
3x Ruinous Path – I’ve always thought this card was underrated. The healing is extremely valuable vs. aggro or Ez/Draven decks, and running 3x gives us a surprising amount of burn. If you need additional healing, you can even use a keg. Our deck is kind of a burn deck.
2x Rite of Negation – Having access to deny is extremely strong, that’s pretty much it. You almost always use the mana gem option. I have found 2x to be useful, but it’s up to you. With the new expansion, lurk is being played a lot less, so you could consider dropping it to 1x and instead playing a copy of The Absolver.
1x Double Up – Imo making the opponent play around this card is pretty valuable. 4 points of burn is no joke, and kegs help make sure this hits. This card also fulfills something we’re kinda lacking – fast speed interaction. It’s done well for me so far, but you could try a version without it.
2x Preservarium – Another generic shurima good card. Helps refuel cheaply. 3x seems too much to me – we want to be playing for tempo in the early game.
3x Twisted Fate – This is not a TF deck in the traditional sense – we rarely level him (although it is possible with all the draw in the deck). In fact, it is often worth playing draw effects PRIOR to playing TF, since being able to red card reactively is so valuable, though this is counterintuitive for many players. TF is a red card 70% of the time in this deck. One kegged red card can do half of Sivir’s level-up in one ability. This is why he is so valuable. I initially put in a Gangplank for an additional win condition, but it was clear to me we really needed 3x TF. Finding him in some matchups is the difference between winning and losing.
3x Sivir – Sivir as a champion is very strong right now. The combination of quick attack and spell shield renders her very difficult to remove. What this deck offers Sivir specifically is two things: 1) ability to level up extremely quickly and consistently, and 2) ability to ACTUALLY USE her champion spell. Sivir’s champion spell is Ricochet, a 6 mana slow speed spell which deals 5 damage randomly to the enemy board and the nexus. In most Sivir decks this is useless, but in this deck it becomes a legitimate burn finisher because of kegs. Since each hit counts as an incidence of damage, using Ricochet with a keg on the field deals a total of 10 damage to the board. If the opponent has an empty board, that’s 10 points of nexus burn.
Flexible Card Slots
This deck is pretty new, and has some flexibility, so don’t be afraid to try out new ideas.
Here’s my reasoning on why certain cards are not included – but try them out if you want to:
Rock Hopper + Shaped Stone: A lot of high-elo players are convinced these cards are broken and should be in this deck. They might well be right about their power, but I’m not convinced they fit here. The main reason is just that our curve already has a lot of 2-drops that we want to play in the early game. We don’t generally want to play rock hopper on 2 – our standard play is deckhand, threatening a round 3 MiR – so shaped stone doesn’t become active very early. Also, for this synergy to really be strong, we should really be playing 3x rock hopper, which is hard to fit. Alanzq tried to get around this by trying out a version with 2x rock hopper and 2x shaped stone, but this seems a bit wishy-washy to me.
The stats bear this out. The version Alanzq played on stream (with 2x rock hopper, 2x shaped stone, 3x zap, and 0x baccai reaper) had a 52% winrate last patch, according to mobalytics, with ~300 games played, while mine had a 60% winrate, with ~150 games played.
Ruined Rex: I really thought this card might have a home in this deck. Turns out, it’s just okay. You can try it if you like, it didn’t seem terrible. But Ruin Runner is by far the superior 5-drop.
Petty Officer: You might think this card does everything we want: early game pressure with flexibility for a keg or an additional unit to go wide. And you’d be right! Petty Officer synergizes well with the deck. I had decent success with 1x petty officer when the meta was really really aggro for a while there on ladder. That said, I think the power level of this card is currently pretty low. If this card ever gets buffed back to 3/2, it probably goes in the deck. As a 3/1, it’s just not good enough.
Other potential techs:
Vs. Big boy decks (Viego, Yetis, etc.):
-1 Rite of negation
+1 The Absolver (This tech has the potential to become the standard build, depending on how the meta shifts)
Vs. SI/Freljord control
-1 Double Up
On the Mulligan:
Since this is a tempo deck, the general policy is to mulligan for a decent early curve. All else, to some degree, is secondary. However, it’s worth thinking about what threats your opponent could present to you early. With this in mind, you generally want at least a bit of the keg package in your early hand, in order to meet early aggression from your opponent. The most important thing is to keep your damage:keg ratio even. Deckhand + line ‘em up is a bad hand, but so is two MiR. Finally, I’ve found that, unless I’m vs. some sort of SI/Freljord deck, TF is almost always a keep in the mulligan. An early red card can completely swing the game in your favor, and holding TF in hand puts immense pressure on your opponent not to overcommit to the board, allowing you to play strong tempo threats while maintaining reactivity. Having a keg on board and TF in hand will often “fork” the opponent – if they open attack, they lose to MiR, while if they develop, they lose to TF red card.
In this deck you really want to keg your MiRs and red cards. Even if everything is 1 health, sometimes a keg is STILL worth it – it levels Sivir, and makes sure your opponent can’t save the unit with a +1 hp protection spell. A good rule of thumb for the deck is that board damage nearly always translates to nexus damage. The more you damage their board, the easier it is to push damage. Double up needs an enemy unit to be low health in order to work, and Sivir’s Ricochet deals the most damage when the opponent’s board is empty.
This deck has a couple of “mini-combos” (keg + MiR, keg + red card, Merciless Hunter vulnerable + Sivir quick attack) that are each much more powerful than the cards individually. For this reason, it pays to be GREEDY with damage effects. Situation: Opponent plays Teemo turn 1 and open attacks turn 2. Do you MiR to kill Teemo? Answer: No. Even if the opponent doesn’t have a protection spell, this deck demands FULL VALUE from its damage effects. Hitting only Teemo and the nexus is not enough. Let Teemo hit you and save the MiR for when it hits multiple units, preferably with a keg (or two).
(TL;DR: good vs. small boys. Bad vs. big boys. Meta is mostly small boys, so deck is good)
Karma/Ez: Very Favorable.
It’s possible that vs. a reallyvgood Karma/Ez pilot this is only “favorable,” but against diamond players this matchup feels incredibly free. My winrate against this deck is 100%, with no close games, and I’m pretty sure GameBoyRob’s winrate is at or near 100% as well. Sivir and Ruin Runner are nearly impossible for them to deal with, and Eye of the Dragon/Faefolk are free food for our red cards and MiRs. Merciless hunter is also key in this matchup, strong against basically all their units, particularly Ezreal. Unless they manage to slam Karma we even outvalue them. Their best card against us is the new card Scattered Pod, but even that dies to Ruin Runner or levelled Sivir. If they make it to turn 10 we even have rite of negation.
Lurk: Very Favorable.
There are two key cards for this matchup: TF, for his gold card to stun Reksai, and Rite of Negation, to stop Death From Below. I almost always keep these cards in the mulligan. As usual, you mull for 1-drops and MiR to stop their early aggression. Even though a kegged TF red card may seem juicy in this matchup, I wouldn’t play it unless it wins the game; Reksai is that important to deny.
If you draw these two cards and a decent early curve, this matchup is nearly unwinnable for the opponent, even with the kind of highrolls Lurk is known for. With a worse draw, it’s a typical Lurk tossup: highroll and win, or lowroll and lose.
Pirate Aggro: Very Favorable
Key cards: TF, MiR, keg package, merciless hunter, ruinous path.
If the opponent is brainless and plays on curve, we generally stomp them with MiRs and red cards. A smarter opponent who doesn’t overcommit to the board can be much trickier – if we don’t get a massive MiR or red card they can burn us out. Overall though, I farmed this matchup all the way to masters. Ruinous path healing is low key in this matchup. If I have a decent hand otherwise, I’ll even keep it in the mulligan.
The above applies to most other aggro. If you’re looking for a solid deck that beats aggro, look no further. We have solid matchups against basically everything: vs. discard, spiders, Nightfall, Nox/Shurima piles, etc.
Ez/Draven: Mildly Favorable
Like many spell-based decks, Ez/Draven has a problem dealing with the Sivir package – Sivir and Ruin Runner generally each demand 2+ cards to remove, and Merciless Hunter is super strong vs. e.g., Ezreal and Ballistic Bot. The 3 hp of their units means we have to use multiple cards to remove their units as well, but it doesn’t feel that bad, since your 2 power units + a MiR trade well. Typically, don’t play waking sands when they have 3 unit mana up, because of arachnoid sentry (although I have occasionally used this to bait sentry and then red card). Ruinous Path is also a really high-value card – it does basically everything you want vs. Ez/Draven. I’ve only rated this as “mildly” favorable because I suspect I haven’t played against the very best pilots of this deck.
Lee/Zoe: Mildly Favorable/Even, Lee/Akshan: Even
On the one hand, our aggro curve is really powerful vs. them. Zoe/Eye of the Dragon/Mentor are quite easy for us to kill. We go really wide, and if they go wide in response, TF red card is super strong. Ruin Runner is a house. If they brick, we can punish extremely hard. On the other hand, we have very few answers to Lee. It depends a lot on the draw. The Akshan version seems a bit stronger against us, but still has a lot of the same problems as the Targon version.
SI/Freljord control: Even/draw dependent
Whether it’s FTR or Howling Abyss or Anivia doesn’t really matter. Sivir/Ruin Runner/Treasure Seeker destroy them, but the kegs package is pretty useless. Look for opportunities to use MiR early, don’t be greedy with it like in other matchups.
Sivir/Zed and Sivir/Akshan: A highroll/skill matchup, evenish
I’ve beaten these decks really badly but I’ve also been highrolled really badly. Both players really want to play Merciless Hunter on a valuable unit and kill it with Sivir. Be VERY greedy with kegs/damage effects in this matchup. If it loses to Twin Disciplines, don’t play it. Don’t be afraid to take some damage early in order to get ahead on board.
Thralls: Even/Highroll dependent
If they brick we win, if they highroll we lose. The kegs package is pretty useless against them, but Sivir and Ruin Runner stomp them, so our draws matter a lot too. Honestly a pretty toxic matchup, feels all about the draw.
This matchup is really fun! It’s a bit of a skill matchup, and creates really interesting play patterns. Their units are extremely vulnerable to the keg package and Ruin Runner is extremely powerful vs. them, but they have a ton of counterplay with glimpse, rite, and vile feast on our kegs, and we have a tough time killing their champs. It’s a battle for slays!
Scouts: Mildly unfavorable
I’ve won this matchup a lot but I suspect if my opponent knew more about my deck they would hard mulligan for ranger’s resolve, when I think scouts might be slightly favored.
J4/Taric and J4/Shen: Mildly unfavorable
Generally we lose against decks with high health units, because it’s hard for us to control the board. That said, there are a surprising amount of ways to steal games vs. these decks, either through straight burn or through outvaluing the opponent, as both of these decks can struggle with card draw if we stop their engines.
Both Jaull Hunters and Dredgers are tasty snacks for us, and if they don’t draw the broken card Sea Scarab they can lose. Unfortunately, the second we get behind on board against Deep there’s no clawing our way back, since our burn is mostly board-based. Once they start slamming big units there’s no way to win.
Viego decks: Unfavourable.
I don’t know which Viego deck will end up being the strongest, but he himself is very strong against TF/Sivir. The only way our deck has to deal with Viego is to Merciless Hunter pull him with Ruin Runner while keeping up a damage effect, and our board-based damage has a hard time dealing with his ephemeral mists as well. We also have a tough time blocking fearsomes. It’s still preliminary but this looks like not an easy matchup.
Taliyah/Malphite: Very Unfavorable
This deck hard counters ours. All their units have a ton of health, and you can’t red card landmarks. Basically unwinnable.
Other favorable matchups: Ashe/LB, Sivir/LB, TF/Swain, TF/GP, Ekko/Zilean, TF/Fizz, Ez/Teemo.
Other unfavored matchups: Yetis, Demacia Piles, Shurima Overwhelm.
Finally, special shoutouts to GameBoyRob. Rob was a huge part of my process in learning and refining the deck, and he is in my opinion the deck’s best pilot. Rob also used the deck to climb to masters, and even brought it to the latest Sqweeby tournament last weekend. Although Rob didn’t make top cut, he piloted TF/Sivir to a shocking 6-0 game score, not losing once on the deck. I would encourage everyone to PLEASE check out Rob’s video on the deck – it is informative, funny, and showcases some of his complex decision-making on the climb to masters. Thank you, GameBoyRob!
GameBoyRob’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0OPHshqsOs&ab_channel=GameBoyRob
Thanks for reading!
EDIT: As of now, GameBoyRob is #2 on the NA ladder with this deck, with the important new tech of -1 rite -1 double up +2 quicksand! Congrats Rob!
EDIT #2: Also, check out MajiinBae’s video on the deck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7JVAF7ZzUQ&ab_channel=MajiinBae