Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #19

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

Fifteen Open Cups have happened since the release of the Saviors of Uldum, and they have set the metagame in which the players will be submitting their lineups for Masters Tour Seoul this Friday.
This report analyses the data (4108 Hearthstone games) from these 15 official Qualifier tournaments, and nothing else. All the data below is about the Specialist format, not ladder.

Data summary from Offcurve:

Tier List:

We’re now one week removed from the release of Saviors of Uldum, and already we’re seeing some fairly serious shifts in the Specialist meta. The top three classes (Rogue, Warrior and Mage) are still at the top, but the individual decks that are performing the best for these classes has changed significantly, and the next tier down has seen some major shifts. If we see changes to the powerful cards in Mage and Warrior, the Specialist meta could blow wide open, but for now there are enough new decks to discuss.

The unquestioned winner of Week 5 was Tempo Rogue, which finds success without Spirit of the Shark for the first time since Raiding Party was nerfed. Interestingly, the only Uldum cards any of these lists add is Pharoah Cat for early card generation, but the shift of Warrior from Bomb to Control makes the Myra’s Unstable Element/Chef Nomi package more viable than constant value generation from Spirit of the Shark. Warrior does a lot of things well, but dealing with consecutive wide boards isn’t one of them. That said, the strength of this matchup declined as the week progressed, presumably because Warriors adjusted their secondary decks accordingly, so this will be a dynamic to watch going into Masters Tour Seoul. Tempo Rogue is also strong against all the other prevalent decks in the meta except Highlander Mage, so how the Mage distribution settles out will determine Tempo Rogue’s fate as well. (Of note was a single Hooktusk Rogue that also won a qualifier, so this approach may be worth looking at going forward as well.)

Armagedillo and Frightened Flunky have been enough to tip Warrior toward full control, and it’s a formula that’s extremely difficult for a good chunk of the meta to handle. Control Warrior may not be the most successful deck in the meta, but it’s easily the most popular (14% of all decks brought, and 100 more than the next most popular) so it’s responsible for shaping the meta. If you want to progress in a tournament you need to have a deck that can rush down or outvalue Control Warrior. So far, the only decks that have managed to do that consistently are various flavors of Mage and Combo Priest; Control Warrior is favored or strongly favored against nearly every other deck with significant representation.

Mage is undoubtedly strong, but which flavor of the deck is best to bring to a tournament is still being decided. The successful Mages brought to qualifiers this week break out fairly evenly between Cyclone Mage, Highlander Mage, and Conjurer Mage (which we’re currently defining as any deck running Conjurer’s Calling with duplicates, but without the Mana Cyclone package, which is inclusive of Freeze Mage and Big Spell Mage). Cyclone Mage started the weekend as the most prevalent but gave way to a split between Conjurer and Highlander as the weekend drew on, which probably means that Cyclone was brought to prey on the unrefined decks featuring new cards while the newer approaches were being tested, as well as the fact that Cyclone Mage has an even matchup against Control Warrior, while both Highlander Mage and Conjurer Mage are heavily favored (71% and 67%, respectively). As far as matchups go, both have good spreads against the field, while Highlander is better against Rogue, and Conjurer is better against the other Mages. It will likely take seeing both decks perform at Masters Tour Seoul to settle which is the Mage for Specialist going forward.

The newcomer making a splash this week is Combo Priest, with a new set of tools including Psychopomp, High Priest Amet, and Injured Tol’vir. While the sample size is naturally limited, it had positive win rates against every meta relevant deck except for Tempo Rogue and Midrange Hunter, and notably had a 56% win rate against Control Warrior and positive win rates against all three flavors of Mage. The play style presents multiple waves of must-remove sticky minions, which has always been the weakness of Warrior, while also benefiting from a lack of practice against the deck given how new it is.

Another new entry is Tempo Warrior, which uses self-damage effects like Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster in Conjunction with new card Bloodsworn Mercenary, which copies damaged minions, and weapon damage. This is a deck that can get off to an extremely fast start, sometimes presenting a 3/3 and two 5/1 Reborn minions on turn 3, and can also save the Mercenaries for large burst damage finishes by copying Inner Raged Kork’ron Elites or Leeroy. While it has a miserable 19% win rate against Warrior, the speed of the deck and burst from hand help it tremendously against Mage and Rogue, evading freezes and often getting its gameplan finished while its opponent is just starting to get set up. If Control Warrior gets targeted successfully or there are significant nerfs to cards in that deck, Tempo Warrior could well be the way of the future.

Highlander Hunter was a niche bring for a small number of intrepid adventurers, and had half as many top 8 entrants and won as many qualifiers (one, to be exact) as the more popular Midrange Variant despite only 20% as many players bringing the deck. It’s hard to say from the small sample sizes we have if this experiment is worth continuing, but given it advanced through a qualifier it’s notable and worth watching for now.

Finally, several decks from the prior meta are still viable enough to win qualifiers with minor changes. Aggro Shaman, like Tempo Warrior, continues to win along the “burn them down before they can play the game” vector. The deck isn’t significantly different than the Rise of Shadows version, but speed can kill. Midrange Hunter only introduces Desert Spear instead of Headhunter’s Hatchet, and performed well despite a considerably worse matchup against Control Warrior than it had against Bomb Warrior in the last meta. Shark Rogue exists as before, and only introduces Pharoah Cat for slightly more early game.

The tier of decks that reached top 8 but did not qualify this week is mostly made up of Rise of Shadows decks, sometimes with some card changes. We’ve spoken at length about Bomb Hunter, Bomb Warrior, Mech Paladin, Murloc Shaman, Secret Hunter and Zoo Warlock in past meta reports, so we’ll suffice to list them here but not discuss further; should one of these decks win a qualifier (or perform well at Masters Tour Seoul) we’ll revisit them at that point.

Two new decks showing initial positive results both feature their classes’ respective quests. Quest Druid showed some signs of life, and both lists that reached top 8 went with a heavy draw approach, featuring Chef Nomi as a finisher. The deck has some potential, but bad matchups against Warrior, Mage and Combo Priest mean that the deck likely needs further refinement. Similarly, Quest Rogue saw some signs of life, but given bad matchups against Warrior and Conjurer Mage that we can see from the small sample size, prospective Rogue players may want to consider dropping the quest for Chef Nomi instead.

Meta Defining Decks
Tempo Rogue
Control Warrior (with taunt package)
Conjurer Mage
Cyclone Mage
Highlander Mage

Qualifier Winners
Combo Priest
Hooktusk Rogue
Aggro Shaman
Tempo Warrior
Highlander Hunter
Midrange Hunter
Shark Rogue

Top 8 Capable
Bomb Hunter
Bomb Warrior
Control Warrior (without taunt package)
Mech Paladin
Murloc Shaman
Quest Druid
Quest Rogue
Secret Hunter
Zoo Warlock

Featured decklists:

Below are 26 of the most interesting loneups played this week. You can click on the deck title to get deck codes from Yaytears.
Huge thanks to the players who have accepted to share tips about their decks despite the secrecy surrounding the preparation for Masters Tour Seoul. You can click on their name to find their Twitter profile and see what else they are up to.

Primitive’s Tempo Rogue

When the new set dropped I hadn’t bought any cards on the Asia server as I’m primarily on NA so with only Tempo Rogue built I had to find a way to adapt to the new meta. I failed miserably in a cup with Quest Rogue and immediately scrapped it, then I saw a couple Rogue lists that featured Chef Nomi and I was instantly inspired to use it in the next cup. The list is fairly standard as far as a Rogue list but I wanted a bit of a more aggressive deck so I added Poisons, Deckhands, and Eviscerate but after a few test games I realized I really missed Sap and ended up cutting 1 of the Evis to put the Sap back in. Myra’s is incredibly powerful even if you whiff Nomi and I think I was underestimating it in the last meta. The secondary deck is for Warriors, it’s pretty standard but I want to say that I think Drakes are incredibly powerful in that matchup and Zihi almost never got played but the idea of him is still strong. The tertiary deck is for Mages and it’s just the staple techs and I think its very effective in the matchup and didn’t see a need to change it. In the cup I played 2 Warriors, 2 Midrange Hunters, 1 Mech Hunter and 1 Tempo Rogue (r1 bye) with a game score of 14-3.


SebastianJo/CaraCute’s Tempo Rogue

So you use the secondary deck for Warrior and the tertiary for Mage and Priest. Since no one runs weapon removal atm, i really liked these aggressive lists with Waggle Pick and Deadly Poison. Pharaoh Cat is exactly the card which Rogue was missing, because you have a turn 1 play and you have about 30% to get a random reborn card from another class for Underbelly Fence or Vendetta. Later on it is a Combo activator and gives you also value. The last card which I want to point out is Nomi. It single handedly wins you games vs Control Warrior, which is besides Mage the most popular deck right now. I even keep Myra’s in the mulligan, if i play the primary and face Control Warrior. If i would change a card from the lists, it would probably be Harrison Jones from the Secondary Deck, because most Warriors only run Super Collidor and no Weapons Project. I would run Jepetto instead, because it enables you an earlier Toggwaggle or Nomi! πŸ™‚


Flidow/SaltOPepper’s Tempo Rogue

Strategy: It’s a Tempo style Rogue deck, so keep the pressure up. Know how much damage you can deal, and what card you have to save up, in order to achieve the quickest lethal. (E.g. when to use Shadowstep/Waggle Pick charge, and when not to). With the Burgle mechanics, this Tempo Rogue should have a lot of flexibility, value and tempo at the same time. One of the highroll potential of this deck is T6 Myra’s into Chef Nomi Shadowsteps. Most classes do not have answers for a Nomi turn or at least it is costly for most of them and can ensure you an easy win. The perfect curve is, Turn 1 Pharaoh Cat (getting a non-rogue class card) into Turn 2 Underbelly Fence and either Blink Fox, Backstab SI:7 Agent, Backstab Miscreant or even a big Edwin with free Vendettas. Mulligan: It is important to understand which card you need against which matchup. A very important factor is also if you have coin or not. Depending on it, you can choose to keep cards like Evil Miscreant and SI:7 Agent. Always think ahead in time, what will you do T1, T2, T3 and T4, and mulligan accordingly. Always keep Pharaoh Cat. Without coin I would definitely keep Blink Fox. Deck Build Up: One new and very good card is Pharaoh Cat. Rogue was missing a good 1 drop up until SoU. One of my tech choices were Hungry Crab, expecting more battlecry and overlord shamans. In hindsight, since there are not alot of shamans in tournaments, I would have swapped the 2 Hungry Crabs out for a Sap and Eviscerate. It was not too bad to have Hungry Crab as an activitator, but having Sap or Eviscerate to push more damage, would be better. Other than that, it’s a fairly standard non-shark tempo burgle rogue. Burgling keeps your hand from being empty, and cards like Vendetta and Underbelly Fence ensure you a high tempo. Why not Shark? Having a Shark in the deck would ensure great values, but thats not what I am necessarily looking for. What I am looking for is high tempo. Side Decks: 2nd deck is aimed at Warrior matchups. Toggwaggle’s Scheme ensures you to not fatigue and especially enables you to play “infinite Heistbaron Toggwaggles: Lackey, into Heistbaron Toggwaggle, Scheme the Heistbaron Toggwaggle and next turn play free Heistbaron Toggwaggles for even more value. Cable Rat gives you another Lackey, while Lifedrinker gives you some much needed healing and bonus face damage. You could consider to keep Leeroy in the deck and take one Lifedrinker out, to shuffle him instead of Heistbaron or to burst down your opponent. The third deck is a tech against Mage and the new “Buff Priest”. Not sure how to describe the new priest, but you need to remove any minions as soon as possible from that priest deck, otherwise it will be GG. Faery Dragon cannot be targeted and is hard to deal with as Mage. Walk the Plank and Betrayal is obviously great against Giants and buffed cards. For most other matchups pick the main deck.


Balorix/Pardub’s Taunt Control Warrior

I just want to advise people to play without Eternium Rovers. If you don’t run them you dont need to run draw cards because your cards have enough value. Also Plague of Wrath is good in every matchup and works with Boom’s deal 1 to all enemies hero power.
Second list is anti-Mage 3rd anti-Warrior.


Yogg’s Taunt Control Warrior

It’s pretty much standard stuff since months except we add the good package of Taunts of the last expansion. But i believe one Silence is MVP and you just can’t play Warrior without running one.


Killinallday’s Conjurer Mage (primary list from Apxvoid)

Osyris’s Conjurer Mage

Villain’s Highlander Mage

The lists could use some improvement, I just threw them together like 30mins before the cup haha. The secondary was for aggro decks like Murloc Paladin, Shaman, Zoo etc and i switched to it for the Combo Priest matchup as well, and the tertiary was of course for Warrior.


Maverick’s Highlander Mage

Empanizado’s Combo Priest

The deck gave me very good results in ladder so I decided to give it a try in the tournament, the list seems very good to make some changes, so I did not know what to change, I changed some cards that could help me generally, without affecting the essence of the deck, surprisingly Forbidden Words was very useful against Mage in the secondary deck, probably Topsy Turvy would be good too. Only used the primary deck, and vs Mage the secondary.


Ciprian04q’s Combo Priest

I have to be honest, I copied the list from Chobi, who took a top 8 with it in another Qualifer, and only changed a card in a side deck.
Also, have to be honest I did not spend too much time to practice with it, I was pissed that I failed constantly with meta decks and I wanted to play something different… I tried on Europe a different version of the deck and feeled pretty nice.
A big advantage of the deck was that most opponents had no clue how to play against Priest and won 2-3 rounds in swiss only because of this.
In the short experience with the deck, Rogue feeled like a bad match-up, Control Warrior pretty good match-up, Reno Mage also pretty good, Conjurer Mage and Bomb Warrior feel like 50-50… but the biggest issue is the Priest deck is you depend of good staring hand, if you lose tempo it’s very hard to recover.
I used primary deck against Conjurer Mage that was the top deck in the last week, secondary I used for almost everything that is not Conjurer Mage. Shadow Madness feeled a great way to steal some wins after you lose board.
Tertiary did not used at all, but it was for Aggro Shaman basically.


Duyyy’s Hooktusk Rogue

My deck is almost the same as the old version, I’ve update some new card into my decklist.
Bad matchup still warrior. Other matchup we could win all of them.


WolfSRB’s Aggro Shaman

It’s pretty much a standard Aggro Shaman deck as they get. I “decided” to play this old deck in the new meta, because it is literally the only deck I have on ASIA server πŸ™‚ On the plus side, it is the deck I am most comfortably with, and I have noticed that there aren’t that many Warriors on ASIA. Secondary is for the Warriors but it felt useless, probably better to switch for some anti aggro tech. Tertiary great vs Mages, Faerie Dragon MVP, Unbound Elemental not so much. As for the matchups, hard mulligan for Underbelly Angler vs Warriors to have a chance to win. Against Mages go for murloc early game always and Frog is important. New Highlander Mages are harder than Cyclone. Rogues are tough, Murlocs are not so good here, Thunderhead is your best bet. Hunters are super easy from my experience. Vs Mech hunter you just control the board and snowball after that. On the other hand against Midrange its not so much about board, but more about getting chip damage early on and then swiching to full face at one point. Always play around Vicous Scalehide. I faced two Combo priests and both games were nailbiters, which I have won even though I had one of the worst draws ever seen, and they had the nuts. Just remove their board at all costs, even if it takes playing two Lightning bolts on buffed Cleric turn two and killing another non buffed cleric with Lava burst on turn 4 πŸ˜€ Should be an easy matchup if you don’t draw terribly. That sums it up, and the most important thing with the deck I feel is counting damage over 2, 3 or even 4 turns for lethal with Frog draws included and cautious use of overload.


Tincho’s Tempo Warrior

The decks is extremely offensive with strong starts like Rover/Town Crier, into another drop 2 and then still pushing with some drop 3 or buff some minions. Also this has really good rush minions and the weapon that helps a lot in the aggro matchup. For the mulligan, Rover/Town Crier always, also Temple Berserker is a really nice drop 2 to keep, Frothing is really nice too against slow matchups. Taskmaster is a good keep with Rover on 1, since you just play it on tempo and making 3/2 2/2 turn 2 is strong in the slowest matchups.


Habugabu’s Highlander Hunter

Chpatro’s Midrange Hunter

Well, main list is teched against Mage with double Deadly and Hunter’s Mark, which turned out well because half my opponents were Mages. Strategy here is complete smorc and remove their Giants. Secondary is vs Warriors, the goal is to extend the early pressure with bigger threats in the midgame, and eventually hit that huge 0 mana Rhino+Zuljin burst thanks to Scarlett Webweaver. Last one is for Rogue, I actually couldn’t test it because I didn’t faced any Rogues but I think it is far from optimal (I shouldn’t cut Desert Spear).


Bequiet’s Shark Rogue

I’m starting with the overview of what was played in the previews cups. I’ve checked the cups and saw a lot of Mages and Warriors and some Druids and other stuff which is not worth to mention :D. So beating these 2 Decks was the key. So I’ve decided to play Rogue, like I did in the past. As you can see the primary deck is pretty normal besides Myra’s, Cat and Crab. Especially Cat helped me a lot in mirrors and some aggro decks. Crab was just a safety to have a higher % vs Shaman and Murloc Paladin, it ate once a 4/6 Taunt Murloc :D. And Myra’s is there to find the last damage you need to win the game or in rare cases to fill up your hand. The secondary deck ist to beat Mages. Worked out pretty well. Maybe i would fit in a Sap in my primary for that case. I was missing it vs some Reborn cards in Mage. And the last deck is especially to beat Warrior but specially for Control Warrior. Because it got more Popular in the last day. I just took Nomi and Scheme like i did in the past. I’m a huge Nomi fan :D. Scheme synergizes with Togwaggle and as well as a 3rd and 4th Step. It’s like you go Myra’s and hit maybe 1 Step and Scheme and then you’ll wait a turn and shuffle 2 Nomis in your deck. You can always bridge a turn after Myra’s cuz you have a lot of stuff to play. I would tech hard towards that matchup but I didn’t have the time to figure out what else I can put in πŸ˜€


FrKaKTyCmst’s Bomb Warrior

Felkeine’s Murloc Shaman

Kirm’s Control Warrior

Nova’s Quest Druid

TWJohnSunVGC’s Quest Druid

Tboyswizzal’s Quest Rogue

IIdollarCwon’s Secret Hunter

Secret Hunter is a good deck against Mage and Priest. It’s weak for all aggro decks, anti-aggro customization is a must for the 2nd deck. Although I did some anti-Warrior customs on the 3rd deck, Hunter’s Pack is more powerful (vs Warrior) than I thought, so it’s good to use 2 Packs in the first deck and another build in the 3rd deck. The difference with the Highlander Hunter is that it lost the Warrior match win rate and regained the Rogue match win rate. Seven Secret cards are appropriate, and 2 Rat Traps are very good. 2 Snake Traps look good on the ladder, but I think the Highlander version is more competitive on the ladder. Good luck!


Theflash’s Zoo Warlock

Kadak’s Quest Paladin

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