Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #16

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

This week, the transition from Seoul Qualifiers to Bucharest Qualifiers translated into a reset of the open cups playerbase. This amplified the impression of a stale Hearthstone metagame. Four of last week’s winners (Hatul, Disq, Languagehacker and MaeveDonovan) proceeded to qualify for Masters Tour Bucharest in the first week, in an unprecedented hotstreak. NAGON, matff and KNMDehua did really well too. In other words, it was a lot of the same players playing the same decks.

Data summary from Offcurve:

With the metagame mostly settled down, we have tried to trend specific decks themselves to try to find which version of each archetype the community is coalescing to. Below are Bomb Warrior, Midrange Hunter, Shark Rogue and Cyclone Mage.

Languangehacker’s Cyclone Mage is the unanimous pick. It also won multiple open cups this week, after Languagehacker won the last Seoul Qualifier and the first Bucharest Qualifier back to back.
In Bomb Warrior, Gallon and NAGON are two versions that gained a lot of traction.
Players are copying Tars and Cosmo when it comes to Shark Rogue.
The other archetypes are still all over the place at the moment.

Week 1 of Bucharest qualifiers picked up where Week 8 of Seoul qualifiers left off, with the same four decks vying for what appear to be three spots in the tier of meta defining decks, and accounting for the overwhelming majority of decks brought by qualifiers participants. As the meta seems to have settled, we’ll cover any major developments, but barring any surprise nerfs or other meta shakeups, the majority of the meta seems to be Shark Rogue, Cyclone Mage, Bomb Warrior and Midrange Hunter (with a non-trivial amount of Bomb Hunter sprinkled in for variety) between now and the release of Saviors of Uldum. As our tier score formula accounts for top 8 representation (which roughly aligns with Swiss win rate) as well as number of qualifiers won, the positions of the Fab Four decks may shift around over the next month, but if there was a deck waiting in the wings to unseat one of those contenders, we likely would have seen it by now between Las Vegas Masters Tour, the experimentation at Grandmasters and players trying to outsmart the meta in qualifiers.

That said, Shark Rogue rose in representation this week, accounting for 25% of all qualifier entries and 11 qualifier winners. Our working theory is that the fact that the other three popular decks all take time to set up (barring Cyclone Mage with the perfect start) paves the way for a slower, greedier Rogue build to thrive, with less worry that a deck like Murloc Shaman or Token Druid will be able to capitalize on that slowness. We continue to track other rogue builds and none of them seem to be as effective against this field as the Spirit of the Shark build. (Just don’t complain to us if you try to take it on ladder and don’t do as well as expected.)

Cyclone Mage saw a big uptick in representation following Languagehacker’s win in qualifier #1 with the deck, and as we began tracking the trend of specific lineups, we saw his exact 90 card lineup was the most popular Cyclone Mage lineup for the remainder of the week. Since Bomb Warrior isn’t going away, Cyclone Mage is still a reasonable pick to bring given its even matchup against Shark Rogue and its favorable matchup against the Warrior.

Speaking of Bomb Warrior, it improved in its win rate in Top 8, but still sits at a 44% win rate at that stage as opposed to a 52% win rate overall. Given its positive win rate against Shark Rogue, there may yet be a chance for Bomb Warrior to regain its spot as king of the hill.

Midrange Hunter was the odd deck out this week, likely because of the proliferation of Shark Rogues. If those numbers change and Cyclone Mage or Bomb Hunter becomes more popular again, Midrange Hunter should rebound.

Bomb Hunter continues to hang around despite having no favorable matchups against meta decks except Control Warrior, which is not being brought in enough quantity to matter. Despite the odds, some players are managing to win qualifiers with it, so if that’s the deck you’re most comfortable with, you could do worse. (There’s probably something to be said for shorter match times as well.)

This week’s surprise performer was Mech Paladin, piloted by Adriano to the top of qualifier #2. The deck is actually not as bad as it is on ladder given that it has positive winrates against Midrange Hunter and Bomb Warrior, but it also had a below 50% win rate overall, so players planning on bringing Mech Paladin should be extremely confident in their ability to pilot it in unfavored matchups.

Token Druid was one of this week’s surprise performers, qualifying gtapack and Hatul for Bucharest. As with Bomb Hunter, it doesn’t seem to have any overwhelmingly positive matchups (except against Bomb Hunter itself), so much like past surprise performers, there probably isn’t too much to read into this in terms of predicting future performance.

The other top 8 contenders are the usual suspects, and none are brought in enough numbers to justify discussing in detail. One note on a deck not on this list – 84 players brought Control Warrior (without bombs) to qualifiers this week, but the deck performed miserably. It had a 38% win rate, and not one of those players progressed to a top 8 bracket. This is one of the clear cases where Specialist and ladder diverge; if you want to bring Warrior, do yourself a favor and set yourself up the bomb.

Meta Defining Decks
Shark Rogue (Tars | Cosmo)
Cyclone Mage (Languagehackr)
Bomb Warrior (Gallon | Nagon)

Qualifier Winners
Token Druid (Hatul | gtapack)
Bomb Hunter (Tiki | Jobsad | Disq)
Midrange Hunter (Haffax | eg99)
Mech Paladin (Adriano)

Top 8 Capable
Aggro Shaman (Drujbanul)
Freeze Mage (Dog)
Holy Wrath Paladin (Fungggg)
Party Tempo Rogue (KNMKarsa)
Secret Mech Hunter (Maricochet)
Specters Mage (Scharhrot)
Zoo Warlock (KNMDehua)

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