by ecoutepasca, SnakeFawdz and WickedGood
The first Hearthstone Masters Tour event has taken place in Las Vegas this week, drawing broad attention to the Specialist format. Meanwhile, the series of Qualifiers for the Seoul event continued, with meta trends of its own.
Warrior is very popular in Qualifiers, but not nearly as much as it has been in Las Vegas.
The data that powers this report can be found at offcurve.com/specialist-meta
The story of week six of Seoul qualifiers revolves around Bomb Warrior and the different ways that players have attempted to counter it. The week began with leaks from before the start of Las Vegas Masters Tour on Friday showing that over 100 players (of 297) had decided to bring Warrior to that tournament. As the week progressed, the frequency of Warrior has crept up to above 30% by the end of the weekend. Bomb Warrior isn’t necessarily the best deck in Tier 1 this week, but it is defining the meta based on how many times a player will need to play against it in order to qualify.
Bomb Hunter continues to defy the odds and take a slot in tier 1. It doesn’t seem to have a particularly great matchup against any of the decks that are prevalent in the meta, but it has an even matchup against Bomb Warrior, and the way the deck is built makes it hard to sideboard against for any other deck, so even though the matchups don’t look good, Bomb Hunter has a puncher’s chance almost irrespective of matchup, and it showed that this week. However, the move from tier 3 last week to tier 1 this week demonstrates the deck’s inconsistency; we could easily see it drop back to tier 2 or tier 3 next week.
Midrange Hunter (featuring Master’s Call and Dire Frenzy) is the traditional counter to Bomb Warrior and also has an even matchup against Cyclone Mage. As was the case with Cyclone Mage, the decline of Shark Rogue has made Midrange Hunter’s matchups more reasonable across the board even when it’s hunting classes other than Warrior.
Cyclone Mage remains in tier 2 this week, primarily because of its favorable matchup against Bomb Warrior, with the ability to go even greedier in the sideboard with cards like Astromancer, Harrison Jones and Archmage Antonidas to overcome the Bomb Warrior’s armor. It also benefits from the decrease in Shark Rogues, which were the deck’s biggest predator last week.
Mech Paladin joins Holy Wrath Paladin in tier 2, thanks to its good matchup against Warrior (though this decreases in games 2 and 3 as Warriors have learned to sideboard for it, as evidenced by Gallon’s Las Vegas lineup featuring three silences and two EMP Operatives). It also has good matchups against both prevalent Hunter decks, but struggles mightily against Cyclone Mage, which can get off to a faster start of gigantic nonsense than can the Paladin.
Holy Wrath Paladin remains relatively unchanged from last week, though it does lose a bit with fewer Rogues in the meta to beat up on. Note that only one player progressed to top 8 with Holy Wrath Paladin but then went on to qualify, so players planning on bringing this deck should be extremely confident in their ability to pilot it.
Freeze Mage is a new entry in Tier 3, and gained popularity thanks to Dog piloting the deck to top 8 of Las Vegas this weekend. The deck goes all in on freeze effects and large minions, hoping to play Luna’s Pocket Galaxy on curve and then draw into a steady stream of 1 mana threats. Freeze Mage is difficult to pilot correctly, but ultimately performs as a better version of Dragon Conjurer Mage, with the ability to crush Warrior under the weight of all the huge minions in addition to the standard Conjurer’s Calling package that already gives Warrior fits. It’s worth noting that the deck is in early days of refinement; it may get stronger as more players experiment with different builds.
Murloc Shaman is also in tier 2. True to the spirit of the Specialist format, Slysssa took the midrange build of Murloc Shaman that she originally piloted to a high finish on ladder and adapted it for Specialist, winning qualifier #173.
Control Warrior continues to have a generally less favorable matchup spread than Bomb Warrior, but fares better against Cyclone Mage, with more deck slots available for tools like Supercollider and Execute, allowing the deck to go all in on additional techs like Big Game Hunter in the sideboards. Should Cyclone Mage continue to rise in popularity, a switch from Bomb Warrior to Control Warrior could be a smart lineup choice.
The biggest story in tier 3 is the fall of Shark Rogue, last week’s terror of the meta. As we stated last week, Shark Rogue’s primary counter is Bomb Warrior, so as more players moved to that deck, Shark Rogue’s performance dropped. Despite being the second most popular deck, it showed a disappointing win rate in top 8 and hovered around 50% overall. There also is some debate whether Spirit of the Shark is even worth running in the deck, and Rogue may go back to the drawing board in favor of Raiding Party focused builds (which are also in tier 3 and have a 55% win rate in Swiss), or Burgle style Rogues that cut Spirit of the Shark for more proactive cards.
Tier 4 consists of a number of somewhat off-meta decks with one top 8 appearance apiece, though this list does feature decks that had some deep runs in Las Vegas, including Secret Hunter and Token Druid. One new deck worth highlighting is Mech Priest, which abuses magnetic synergies while taking advantage of the buff to Extra Arms and the classic Divine Spirit/Inner Fire finishing combo; it makes tier 3 despite a very low representation, so this could be a deck to watch over the coming weeks (though the tendency for decks to load up on silence effects to counter other mech decks could hurt it as well).
- Bomb Hunter
- Bomb Warrior
- Midrange Hunter
- Mech Paladin
- Cyclone Mage
- Holy Wrath Paladin
- Freeze Mage
- Murloc Shaman
- Control Warrior
- Shark Rogue
- Control Shaman
- Mech Priest
- Raiding Party Rogue
- Pogo Rogue
- Secret Hunter
- Token Druid
- Token Shaman
YAYtears.com is currently unable to provide deck codes and visualisations, due to Battlefy updating thei API to fix the issue that caused the leak ahead of the Las Vegas event. This is why the images displayed here are inconsistent and why there are no links attached to them.
S4mule’s Bomb Hunter
The first deck is what I considered the most standard for the meta. The secondary is a beast against Warrior, practically free win. And the third list is focused only against Rogue that is possibly the worst confrontation on the deck. I would have liked to put Harrison Jones in the second list but in Asia I do not have it.s4mule
Gallon’s Bomb Warrior
Step 1 : put bombs in opponents deck.gallon
Step 2: play Blastmaster Boom on turn 6 or 7.
SomiTequilla’s Bomb Warrior
Primary list is for everything except Warriors and Mech decks, secondary has Elysiana and some extra Bombs for long Warrior matches and tertiary uses 3 silences and 2 EMP Operatives because of Mech Hunter’s popularity. At a specialist format, this lineup is pretty weak against the old school Control Warrior, it also struggles with Mages but with a decent draw it can rush pretty easily. The qualifier we used the deck was the same time Vegas event occured, so all the good Mage players were AFK, thats why i didnt use an anti-mage sidelist. The main concept is to look for Dr.Boom as always, other key cards to keep is 1drops vs aggro and Augmented Elek-Clockwork Goblin vs everything. Usually at mirrors i tend to smorc the enemy and pray for bombs to explode fast, most people use greedy lists so punishing them asap is almost always better than going for the outvalue plan.somitequilla
Ipackman’s Midrange Hunter
2nd deck is better against Warriors, 3rd deck is better against Mages.ipackman
ShinePG’s Mech Paladin
Posesi’s Cyclone Mage
にん’s Holy Wrath Paladin
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to place high using Holy Wrath Paladin, so I’d like to write about Holy Wrath Paladin.にん
Last month, I was able to finish top 100 in Asia, and top 200 in NA with this deck.
This month, I was able to place top 2 in the Master’s Tour Qualifer for Seoul and decided to go to Seoul.
Since combo decks are fairly simple at a conceptual level, I felt that it was a suitable deck for me.
Empty out your deck with cycle cards, play Shirvallah, shuffle a copy in with Baleful Banker, and then deal 25 damage with Holy Wrath to your opponent.
This is the optimal combo you want to play with this deck.
You have about three different ways to win with this deck.
– Use your Shirvallah Holy Wrath combo to your opponent’s face, and deal 50 damage.
Rushdown your opponent’s face with the Shirvallah Holy Wrath and cards such as Truesilver Champion, etc. (In this case, a Shirvallah Baleful can be used at anytime outside of the combo)
Take control of the board with Shirvallah(You will often take the board mainly against aggro decks.)
Against Warrior, or control opponent’s such as Shaman:
If they have higher than 25 armor, you would use the first route as you cannot pierce their armor.
Against Mage, Mid-Range Hunters, or Rogue Opponents:
I think that the game will often be decided by the second plan, as their recovery is poor.
Against Zoo, Murloc Shaman, Token Druid, or other such aggro Opponents.
– I think that it’s alright to go with the third plan, as once you often get board control when using Shirvallah in a similar manner to the second plan during the early stages of the game.
You should watch how your opponent can recover, what your opponent’s deck type is, and these will affect how you win a little.
It is better to think about which plan to take from the beginning of the game.
Every match is a must-keep. Of course, 1 mana draw 2 is strong, but if you pull it in the second half of the game, you will often find that there is no 1 attack minions left in the deck, and I think that this is the card I want the most in the mulligan.
Keep on Control Warrior or other such opponents that are not very fast. As they do not play minions at the beginning of the game, it is not a problem to draw at the cost of board development. From the middle stages of the game and onward, removal with ShrinkRay is used! Such a nice defensive card is surely in your hand, so boards can be dealt with without difficulty.
Keep on Bomb warrior, or other such opponent’s that summon troublesome minons in the early game, such as Rogue, Midrange Hunter, Etc. I think the early stages of the game will change entirely depending on whether you can keep it. It is often the case that you will lose the board control without a way to remove it before being able to Holy Wrath Combo. Therefore, by equipping the weapon on turn 4, the opponent’s attack is delayed and you have an easier time to play the combo.
Wild Pyromancer, Consecration.
Token Druid, Zoo, Etc, or any deck that wants to go wide with minions. The reasoning is similar to Truesilver Champion, as often the minions cannot be cleared before playing out the combo. On wide board minion decks, the Truesilver Champion won’t keep up with enough removal, so I keep 2 pieces that can totally remove the board.
This deck is recommended for people who do not want to fight their opponent’s deck in their current enviorment, as they can refuse to interact and decide on doing the combo without fighting the opponent. There is only one impossible match, and that is Bomb Warrior, I think that it’s a deck that is easy to win against if it can be controlled early.
If anyone wants to talk to me personally, it’s possible to reach me through Discord, Hearthstone, Twitter, etc. Please feel free to speak to me about it.
Dog’s Freeze Mage
Since the Masters Tour in Las Vegas was so Warrior heavy I wanted to play Mage, and because Open Cups tend to catch up with bigger tournments’ metas, and Dog was 8-0, I ended up using his line up. The deck looked better against Warrior than Cyclone Mage because it is more pro-active while not playing straight into Big Game Hunters after game 1. The deck has a lot of impactfull minions that aren’t 10 drops, so it’s easier to use conjurer’s call earlier in the game and I felt this was an important factor to beat warrior. Regarding the secondary deck, I used it against Rogue since Rogue goes really wide these days with Lackeys, and it can also be used against other aggro decks. Finally, the terciary deck is, once more, against warrior with a few more value cards and healing in the form of Deranged Doctor.reliquary
Slysssa’s Murloc Shaman
datLMF’s Control Warrior
I always loved to play Control Warrior, even if it’s a very slow deck and games can take you much time. Personally I feel like the deck is better than Bomb Warrior, because it has more reactive tools against aggro classes and can pressure late game anyway with Dr. Boom’s aura and Mechs. The primary list tries to be well rounded against every matchup, trying to win game 1; but the main target is Bomb Warrior, especially with the Scheme tech, since game 2 and 3 are harder to win because opponent may have greedy sides vs you. On ladder I have 46-29 (low sample size but games are long), but I would advise to play Theo’s list instead, since it looks way cleaner. Secondary deck is for Mages, not much to say about that. The tertiary list is the one that you run vs most matchups that require you to clean board and put late game pressure. Rogues go greedy in side, so your goal is to kill them. Midrange Hunter is the worst matchup, followed by Mech Hunter and Mech Paladin, and here your goal is to get Boom going quickly and kill them, using the silences to clear the greedy cards. OTK Paladin may be tricky, here you have to read if opponent switches to Undertaker list or keeps the main deck, but the answer probably is the second one. I haven’t met any shamans, but on ladder list 1 is fine and list 3 should win more against them. Priest and Warlock sadly don’t see play, so Nomi Priest being a bad matchup is irrelevant, and Zoo should still be fine if he doesn’t get some explosive Rafaam going. Conclusion: in tournaments Elysiana decks may be pretty problematic to people, especially because games take so much time when we’re talking about control mirrors. But I found this to be the best performing deck at the moment, and even if the meta changes every day, I feel like CW will keep its spot until the new expansion, with many players being constantly in high legend.datlmf
Neirea’s Shark Rogue
I think the deck is built pretty straightforward. I didn’t like Sea Giant in the meta (felt like a win more card). Secondary deck is for Mages, tertiary is for Warrior. Me and Rdu had exactly same lists and Thijs had 1-2 cards off. Secondary deck techs were copy pasta from existing lineups. We tried to build tertiary to make Warrior feel awkward removing our minions and mechs plus Magnetic were good for that! Also we threw in Zihi because when it denies Omega Assembly and Omega Devastator it feels so good! Overall, i didnt have much experience with meta as i only got legend from rank8 this month, so i had to trust Radu and Thijs.neirea
DarkBeef’s Shark Rogue
The primary deck is copied from Yogg’s winning list in Qualifier #148 minus 1 Preparation plus one Zilliax because of the synergy with Sn1p-Sn4p. The secondary deck (anti Warrior) has 4/5 additions the same with mine adding a Harrison in place of the 2nd scheme and cutting 1 SI instead of a prep since I am playing 1 only. My tertiary deck is tuned to battle flood decks that want to make use of Sn1p-Sn4p and Replicating Menace that create board states that Tempo Rogue usually can’t effectively trade into or race hence the double Fan of Knives and 1 Vanish. Also Faerie Dragon on 2 is usually backbreaking against Mages and that’s one of the things that made me really want to play Yogg’s lists and it proved itself vs the Mages in this qualifiers forcing them on some really suboptimal lines in order to deal with it.darkbeef
xin’s Control Shaman
Yachster’s Mech Priest
Primary is really strong against Warrior which is what I made it for as long as they don’t run EMP and Silence, secondary targets decks that go wide like Zoo, Murloc Shaman (Hungry Crab to make them mad) and Zoo with the Holy Novas, tertiary is for Rogue if they are running Waggle Pick. Don’t use it if they are not using the Pick. And you can switch to Tertiary if it is a Bomb Warrior or even Control with Weapons Project/Super Collider. Primary also does decent against most decks.yachster
Control’s Raiding Party Rogue
Bunnyhoppor’s Pogo Rogue
bronynosets’s Secret Hunter
PapaJason’s Token Druid
Jambre’s Token Shaman
Deck one is mostly a ladder deck. It has good techs vs Warrior. You can play Mojomaster Zihi the turn before Warrior has 10 mana to block their Omega cards and 5 damage Warpath. When it rolls round to just before their 10 mana turn again you can Shudderwock to reset the mana, usually making a big board and refilling your hand. The Warrior will have the mana to Brawl only and you will just pull ahead in tempo. The format is mostly Mage Warrior Hunters and Rogue. There aren’t great tech cards vs Mid Hunter or Rogue so dedicating a sideboard to them probably wouldn’t gain much %. Instead, I wanted to have a heavy teched sideboard for OTK Paladin and Mech decks, even if I’m unlikely to face them. Spellward Jeweler and Earth Shock are so gamewinning vs OTK and Mechs respectively that I could combine them into one deck and have it be powerful in each matchup i.e. I don’t mind playing a Spider Tank vs Mechs or an extra Earth Shock vs OTK as long as I draw the power cards. The 3rd deck is anti-Mage. Late game cards are largely irrelevant as the game has been won or lost before turn 7+. When the opposing Mage plays Sea Giant for cheap the board often stays the same number of minions, so you can swing back with your own cheap Sea Giant turn. This deck can also be okay vs Zoo. 1 Murloc Tastyfin is a nice include since it will usually draw you 2 Murlocs to start your Underbelly turn.jambre