Here’s our weekly summary of the decks that were played and the decks that won in Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers in the past week!
Because it seems to be a source of confusion (judging by comments people leave on the internet), we want to clarify that this report doesn’t take the ladder into account at all. It uses all the data from the official Specialist format tournaments that award qualifications for Masters Tour Seoul, and only that data. Decks will show up on our tier list if and only if they reached the top 8 of one of these OpenCups during the week.
The data that we used can also be found at offcurve.com/specialist-meta, where it is updated daily.
NOTE: We’ve decided to retire the Tier 1/2/3 classification for meta decks because we found it was causing confusion with other meta reports that are focused on ladder play. Going forward, we will group decks into the decks driving the specialist meta, decks that have won qualifiers this week, and decks that have reached top 8 in at least one qualifier this week.
Week Seven continues to be the story of Bomb Warrior‘s dominance, both in representation and performance. There’s not much more to say about Bomb Warrior that hasn’t already been said; if you’re not playing Bomb Warrior, you should probably be teching a deck against it, and it’s worth considering whether that deck should be your primary.
Shark Rogue had a remarkable comeback this week, returning to the top of the list with just two fewer qualifier wins than Bomb Warrior. It continues to have a good matchup against nearly everything but Bomb Warrior, so it’s surprising to see it have this level of success, but even the matchup against Bomb Warrior isn’t disasterous (it had around a 42% win rate this week), and may be improving as players learn what techs fit into the deck. It’s important to note that Spirit of the Shark isn’t going away; we’re tracking decks not running Spirit of the Shark separately, and those decks aren’t performing nearly as well as the Spirit of the Shark versions. (What’s unclear from the view of only having data down to the match level is whether Spirit of the Shark is good, or if the deck is performing despite the card, but we’ll leave that to other analysts to discuss.)
Cyclone Mage remains in the third spot this week because of the prevalence of Bomb Warrior. It should be noted that while the deck has a fairly good win rate in Swiss, its performance in Top 8 is not nearly as consistent as last week given the likelihood of running into a Shark Rogue, which is by far Mage’s worst matchup.
Long story short, if you want to play the best deck, play Bomb Warrior. If you want to counter the best deck, play Cyclone Mage. If you want to next level all the people trying to counter Bomb Warrior, play Shark Rogue.
Midrange Hunter is the most popular of the qualifier winners that falls below the level of meta defining. Its fortunes tend to mirror Cyclone Mage’s; it wins when it hits Warriors, it loses when it hits Rogues, and it has a reasonable matchup against everything else (except Token Druid).
The rest of the qualifier winners have much lower sample sizes in terms of individual matchup win rates, but Holy Wrath Paladin, Murloc Shaman, Control Warrior and Token Druid all have good matchups against at least one of the meta defining decks, and the nature of all of those archetypes is that they can high roll into wins even when they’re heavily unfavored.
Bomb Hunter once again struggled to win its sole qualifier this week, despite being the terror of the meta just a week ago. As we suspected, this deck’s performance will continue to be volatile, given that it doesn’t have a consistently positive win rate against any prevalent deck in Specialist. (Note that this differs wildly from ladder, where Bomb Hunter is one of the best decks in Standard; some combination of knowing in advance that your opponent is on Bomb Hunter coupled with the ability to hard tech in silences and life gain makes a difference in a best of 3 format.)
Mech Paladin and Freeze Mage both take a step back this week as well. Mech Paladin suffers from the rise of Shark Rogue, not least because Sap is magnetic’s worst enemy. What’s interesting is that Mech Paladin’s win rate against Warrior, which is the entire reason to play the deck, is only 48%, likely a result of hard sideboarding as we saw in Las Vegas last week.
Freeze Mage increased in prevalence but had an abysmal percentage of players reaching Top 8, likely because the deck is much more difficult to play than Dog made it seem last week. It has a slightly better matchup against Bomb Warrior than Cyclone Mage does, but its matchups against Shark Rogue and Cyclone Mage are dramatically worse, so even if Warrior continues to increase in prevalence, the better play is still probably just to bring Cyclone Mage instead.
The rest of the top 8 participants, Aggro Shaman, Party Rogue and Resurrect Priest, were brought in such small numbers that we don’t have sufficient sample sizes on which to draw any conclusions. Suffice to say these are all decks to monitor for now.
Meta Defining Decks
Holy Wrath Paladin
Top 8 Capable
Party Tempo Rogue
This lineup borrows ideas from Gallon, Ace103, and Mick. The primary is essentially Gallon’s primary Vegas list. The secondary is Mick’s greedy list meant for the mirror and midhunter. Elysiana into Zihi can often win the mirror. Zihi on turn 9 vs midhunter can often buy you the time you need to draw Boom or snowball a favorable board state. The tertiary merges the anti-mech and anti-mage sideboards into one (Ace’s idea). I primarily built the tertiary for the current Asia server cup meta, but it’s entirely possible that on your server, going completely anti-mage or completely anti-mech is better. Snip-Snap was lowkey MVP in many of my close games.cmaccomph
Deck 1 vs Rogue and Mech Huntertars
Deck 2 vs Warrior, Paladin OTK, Midrange Hunter
Deck 3 vs Mage, Token Druid and Mech Paladin
You play it basically the same as normal cyclone mage, it’s just a better list. You use deck 2 against Rogue and dumb stuff like Token Druid and Murloc Shaman, and deck three against Warrior and dumb stuff like OTK Paladin.carvaggio
I played Holy Wrath Paladin in Las Vegas Masters Tour and I really liked the tertiary deck at that tournament (made for Rogue) so I decided to try it out as my primary deck and I won my first qualifier with it, so it worked out I guess. I would queue the primary in every matchup except for Warrior and Mage. You queue the secondary deck vs Warrior unless they run 3 silence in a deck (then you queue the primary because this secondary deck doesn’t run Holy Wraths so it’s very hard to win vs 3 silence). I would usually play Kangor’s Endless Army in my secondary instead of Lightforged Blessing but I can’t fit in Zilliax because it’s not in the primary deck (which is mostly because Zilliax is pretty bad vs Rogue since they can very easily deal with it). The tertiary is vs Mage – I tried out an extra Shrink Ray in this list so you have 4 removals but I found my hand to just be full of removal and no draw so I cut it again. You can also play the tertiary vs a control deck like Control Shaman because the 1 drops are not that good vs this deck and the extra draw from Soup Vendor can be nice. Sometimes it can come down to “mindgames” vs Warrior because if they think I will queue primary because they have 3 silence in a deck, they will not queue their 3 silence deck but then if I think they won’t queue their 3 silence deck I can just queue my secondary etc.furyhunter