Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #11

By ecoutepasca and WickedGood

Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers Seoul #91-120 was the last week of open cups before the buffs to Boomsday cards. This is a report about the metagame for Standard Specialist tournaments between two consecutive rounds of balance changes.

The interactive data dashboard that powers this report can be found at http://offcurve.com/specialist-meta

Midrange Hunter remains at the top of the meta for the second week since the nerfs, regularly accounting for anywhere from 25-40% of the decks brought to any given qualifier. It succeeds because of its impressive matchup spread; it has an even or better win rate against all but two decks in the Specialist meta, and is maintaining a better than 50% win rate overall, despite a high number of mirrors. If you’re looking for a safe pick, Midrange Hunter is the deck you want.

Bomb Warrior remains in tier 1 for another week as well. While its matchups aren’t as universally good as Midrange Hunter’s, it is generally favored against most decks, especially the Rogues which have begun a resurgence as players have figured out the right mix of cards to play. One thing to watch this coming week after the buff patch hits is how successful Mech Paladin becomes with Crystology at 1 mana and Glowstone Technician at 5 mana. This deck preys on Warriors, so that could affect Bomb Warrior’s win rate if it gains popularity.

Tempo Rogue moves into tier 1 this week, accounting for the next most number of decks brought, players progressing to top 8, and players qualifying for Seoul. There seem to be two reasons for this swift recovery: One, Rogue still has a really strong toolkit, even after the nerfs to Preparation, Raiding Party and EVIL Miscreant, so the new decks that are emerging are still strong against the field. Two, Tempo Rogue is one of the only decks in the meta that is favored against Midrange Hunter, so it goes into a significant number of matchups with an advantage from the start.

(Note: There are a number of different variations of this deck, but there aren’t enough clear differentiations to justify separating the lists yet, so they are all currently combined into Tempo Rogue. We’re monitoring the developments and will update as the decks are refined.)

Tier 2 is where things begin to change from last week. Secret Hunter is the big surprise of week 4, responsible for 1 qualifier win and an eye-popping 64% match win rate within top 8. Though sample sizes are limited, the deck appears to be succeeding because of extremely favorable matchups against Midrange Hunter and Tempo Rogue, and is only slightly unfavored against Bomb Warrior. Time will tell if this success is because of actual advantages or because opponents haven’t practiced enough against the deck. If the meta weren’t about to change due to the introduction of the buffs, Secret Hunter would be a strong recommendation as a meta-breaker deck.

The rest of tier 2 consists of Zoo Warlock and Murloc Shaman, which have fairly similar matchup spreads, but have unfavored matchups against all of the tier 1 decks. Despite this, both decks have managed to secure a handful of qualifier wins, so a skilled pilot can still find success against the field with either list.

Cyclone Mage is a sadder story; for the second week in a row, it features the lowest percentage of top 8 qualifiers for any deck with at least one top 8 appearance, and secured only one qualifier win this week. In fact, despite having the most top 8 appearances outside of tier 1, it has the lowest percentage of appearances for any deck because of its popularity. While Cyclone Mage maintains its prevalence because of its performances at Grandmasters, players not yet at that level of play may want to look elsewhere.

Bomb Hunter rounds out Tier 2, with a better record of reaching top 8 but no qualifier wins this week. Bomb Hunter seems to be the deck hurt most by the resurgence of Rogue; its neutral matchup against Midrange Hunter and favorable matchup against Bomb Warrior help it get through Swiss, but once it reaches single elimination in top 8, it’s fairly likely to run into an unfavored matchup against Rogue.

Tier 3 contains a number of promising decks that have yet to secure a qualifier win. Token Druid is the best performing out of this group, but is easy to tech against, especially once players have an opportunity to switch to a secondary or tertiary deck, where all the techs against Zoo and Murloc Shaman also hurt them, The rest of the tier features off-meta choices like Heal Druid, Resurrect Priest, and Holy Wrath Paladin. Mech Paladin is also a deck we’re watching closely, as we expect it to get significantly better with the buffs to Crystology and Glowstone Technician.

Tier List:

Tier 1:

  • Midrange Hunter
  • Tempo Rogue
  • Bomb Warrior

Tier 2:

  • Bomb Hunter
  • Secret Hunter
  • Murloc Shaman
  • Cyclone Mage

Tier 3:

  • Zoo Warlock
  • Holy Wrath Paladin
  • Token Druid
  • Oblivitron Hunter
  • Lucentbark Druid

Tier 4:

  • Resurrect Priest
  • Miracle Rogue
  • Conjurer Mage

Featured decks:

Here are some of the best decks of the week! Special thanks to the players who once again were genrous enough to share tips about their strategy, and to Zflow who helped with Korean translation.

Soleil’s Midrange Hunter

I played Mage right after the balance changes. I prepared Mage because it was not a victim of the changes. But it turned out be a victim of its popularity and hype. Mage was teched by the meta more than it is supposed to be. That’s why I changed my mind into playing Hunter. Primary deck is a normal one. and Secondary deck is for Warrior match-up. Tertiary deck is for Rogue match-up since popularity of Mage was decreasing and that of Rogue was increasing. The strategy of Tertiary deck is adding Oozes in addition to Master’s Call. The reason why is that I think it’d be better to discover Ooze than to have 3 beasts so that I can destroy Waggle Pick. I defeated NaviOOT with this strategy who is my favorite player at #98. Destroying the Pick led me to the victory. Another key point of Tertiary deck is that there is no Zul’jin. I thought my Tertiary deck can’t stand late games, which means I didn’t need Zul’jin. I also used Leeroy addtionally at #98. But I cut it after I was defeated at semi-finals where Leeroy didn’t perform well. Tundra Rhino replaced Leeroy.

soleil

GreenSheep’s Midrange Hunter

The initial list is quite standard and should be fine against most decks. 2x Deadly Shot since Mage was quite popular.
Secondary list i use vs Warriors and the mirror. Since Deadly Shot gets worse vs those i cut it and added Highmanes since they are good in the mirror and vs Warrior. Lifedrinker is a good minion to play on 4 since you dont have 4 drops.
Tertiary is used only against Mage. Bloodfen Raptor applies pressure. Double Hunter’s Mark and Deadly Shot for Giants. Rat Trap also makes it hard for them to have optimal turns.

greensheep

Ostkaka’s Raiding Party Rogue

Felkeine’s Vendetta Shark Rogue

Mikelemata’s Bomb Warrior

Bomb Warrior is a very strong deck but is difficult to play in a specialist format beacuse every lineup have a side deck targeted at it. The primary deck is a standard Bomb Warrior with Rush package, Darius is very good vs aggro/midrange like Hunter, Druid and Lackey Rogue. The secondary is for mirror, Alexstrasza face is like 3 Bombs and is good for mindgames, playing around it is a difficult turn 9 for the opponent. Grommash is a good choice too, i win 70% of mirror with Grommash+Warpath! The terciary is for Mage. I played this and i won also vs Deathrattle Hunter, the worst matchup for Bomb Warrior. A little tip: vs Midrange Hunter Omega Devastator played like a Yeti 4-5 in turn 3 with Coin or tunr 4 is very very good! This deck can win tempo or with value, depends of your starting hand.

mikelemata

Cydonia/Aviously’s Bomb Warrior

IllustBeast’s Bomb Hunter

Mojomaster Zihi is in the primary deck to prevent Midrange Hunters from playing Zul’jin. The secondary is built to counter control decks, but can also be used vs Midrange Hunter.

Illustbeast

ZhangFei’s Secret Hunter

I believe Secret Hunter is the strongest deck in Standard on the ladder and it only improves in the specialist format. I’ve only been playing Hearthstone one month and I exclusively played Secret Hunter but I was able to finish ranked in the top 200 this season, peaking at 25th, and after 7 qualifiers I finished 1st, 2nd, and 4th. I felt it was best to remove Deadly Shot, Unleash the Hounds, Baited Arrow, and Zilliax for Tracking, Harrison Jones, Cairn Bloodhoof, and Unleash the Beast from my Secondary deck which I used only against Warrior decks. I wasn’t sure if it was worth it to craft the Cairn Bloodhoof on speculation before the tournament but in my first game with it I was able to Marked Shot to discover Nine Lives which I was able to cast again with Zul’Jin. I removed Freezing Trap, Deadly Shot, Kill Command, and Kill Command from my Tertiary deck for Snake Trap, Explosive Trap, Unleash the Hounds, and Baited Arrow. Mixing up the traps felt like a natural way to make myself harder to play against and after studying the Hunter decks from Hearthstone Grandmasters I saw a lot of Tertiary decks adding Baited Arrow. This deck was only used for Token Druid and Warlock Zoo. My Primary deck was used most often and has great matchups against Midrange Hunter, Mage, and Rogue.

zhangfei

Fled/Pinche/Topopablo’s Murloc Shaman

The first list is the most standard I could find. No tech cards and the intention is just to play on the curve.
The second list is to win aggro. I was able to win a Rogue and a mirror with it.
And the third is for Mage. You do not need value, you have to be very aggressive. I only faced Mage in the final and also managed to win

fled

TIZS’s Cyclone Mage

The main strategy of these decks I use primary deck against Hunter and Rogue. Even though Rogues use 2 Waggle Picks these days, I still dont use cards like Harrison Jones and Acid Swamp Ooze because I fear Hunter more. The secondary deck is built to counter Warrior. The strategy against Warrior is giving pressure every turn after turn 4. And end the game with big minions or Antonidas. Some people choose not to put Zilliax into the deck against Warrior because it is a defensive card. But bomb warrior is very aggressive nowadays. Zillax is a key card to recover from Bombs. I build the tertiary deck to beat Zoo and Murloc Shaman. However, my only loss in the Masters Qualifier Seoul 110 is against Zoo. So I think i should improve the the tertiary deck.
The main strategy of these decks is use Giants and Conjurer combo or Cyclone and lots of spells combo.
You need to keep the amount of cards in your hands and try to reverse the situation in one turn.

tizs

RazieL’s Zoo Warlock

Alan870806’s Holy Wrath Paladin

Nerdstrom’s Holy Wrath Paladin

I saw a couple of people in GM playing OTK Paladin this week and thought it could be fun…and it was! None of their tertiary decks accounted for Murloc/Zoo/Token though since they’re much less likely to face it, so I found a list that Sequinox was using that seemed like it might give a better shot. Most of the matchups were Hunter, which is winnable as long as they don’t get snowball early into something real nasty that you can’t answer. Against Bomb Warrior I lost every first game. If they just armor up to past 50 health it’s unwinnable. But the secondary deck just out-values them. You have to be careful with your healing since you’re drawing so much and they’re going to be on their list with even more Bombs. By the second Undatakah, they usually can’t handle all the 7/7’s. I lost in the first round of top 8, but definitely think I could have taken it all the way. By that point though, it was late and I was making little mistakes. That is not good in general, but VERY not good for this deck.

nerdstrom

Meliador’s Token Druid

가짜자유’s Oblivitron Hunter

2nd deck for Warrior and 3rd deck for Token type deck.
Play this deck when you dont like Warriors.
After the patch I’m thinking remove Countess Ashmore and Batterhead and add Necromechanic.

가짜자유

マイマイ/YeHo’s Lucentbark Druid

CheeseNaan’s Resurrect Priest

VampireZ’s Miracle Rogue

ColaPopcorn’s Conjurer Mage

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