Masters Tour Bucharest: LostHead’s Recap

Hi! I’m LostHead, a competitive Hearthstone player from Ukraine representing the team Swagoi Gaming. I’ve been playing since early 2016 and so far my achievements include qualifying for Fall Play-offs 2018, finishing Rank 5 Legend in December 2018, and qualifying for all three Masters Tours this year. Last weekend I played in Masters Tour Bucharest and finished Swiss with 6-3 score.

Preparation

My prep for this tournament actually didn’t go that well. Back when they just announced the tournament was going to be best of 5 Conquest my immediate thought was to bring aggro because I was confident there was no good 4 anti-aggro decks in the game at the moment. But re-introduction of Wild cards changed a lot since they generally made anti-aggro strategies stronger. Druids started to play Kun, Nzoth priest became a thing, etc. I was still trying to make aggro work and played it a lot in qualifiers. I had a decent winrate with it but couldn’t even make top-8. Single elimination is the worst but it obviously made me question my strategy. I played some Bo5s against a few high level players and neither aggro or non-aggro (midrange-y anti-druid luneup I was also thinking about) were not working. I was very stressed about the lineup up until the evening before the tournament but decided to go with aggro after intense testing with my former teammate Rebobson (big shout out to him) we learned that despite not being able to consistently beat Priest aggro decks are actually alright against a few other tier 1-2 decks (e.g. Quest Druid and Holy Wrath Paladin).

My lineup:

Notes on lists: Evolve Shaman list is just the one I played the most. I really wanted double Bolt vs Priest and Soul vs Druid (also that’s why Evolve and not Quest). I netdecked Zoo and Warrior from BabyBear. I didn’t test them much but she won an Arlington qualifier a week before so I assumed the lists are good enough. I really liked Amani Berserker in Warrior. I think this particular Rogue list was made by J_Alexander although I’m not sure. It had a very high winrate on hsreplay and Questing Adventurers made the Druid matchup so much better. My ban strategy was simple: ban Shaman unless they have Control/Nzoth warrior, in that case ban Warrior.

The tournament (Day 1)

Round 1: played vs BlessTheFall with Priest and Druid, won 3-1 with one win vs Priest and two vs Druids. He banned my Rogue which was unexpected and probably wrong.

Round 2: lost 3-1 to Sialed who played Secret Highlander Paladin, Tempo Rogue and Combo Priest. I likely messed up against Paladin. Priest was my chance but got alittle unlucky and lost to it with Warrior.

Round 3: won 3-1 vs TechnoGoose. One win was in a very intense game vs Highlander Secret Paladin with Rogue, I got two others with Warlock and Warrior vs his Priest.

Round 4: got matched with a fellow Ukrainian, Neirea. That was my first opponent with anti-aggro lineup, and I told him I really don’t want to play vs his lineup right before the round started. Somehow I managed to beat his Shaman and Mage with Warrior and Shaman respectively. Then I proceeded to lose two games with Zoo. His last deck was Priest (Combo, not Nzoth) and I was really close to losing it but Shadowflame discovered from a Lackey saved me that game. So 3-2 in the end. Going forward, highrolling anti-aggro decks would become a theme for me at thattournament.

Round 5: that was the only anti-aggro lineup I didn’t beat and my only 0-3 loss. Korean player Seulsiho beat me with Secret Highlander Paladin, Quest Shaman and Highlander Warrior. I thought I had a chance to reverse sweep vs Highlander Warrior but my terrible draws with Zoo made it impossible.

The tournament (Day2)

Round 6: played vs Romanian player Hanniballz2. I lost to him back in Seoul and lost again in Bucharest with 3-2 score. He was playing Secret Highlander Paladin, Zoo Warlock and Combo Priest. I got very unlucky in a Zoo mirror and in Zoo vs Priest butto be fair I likely messed up again in Rogue vs Paladin.

Round 7: won 3-1 vs NaySyl. She had anti-aggro lineup (Nzoth Priest and Warrior,Quest Shaman, Wrath Paladin) but I highrolled Quest Shaman three times in a row! She just couldn’t draw MCT whenever I decided I couldn’t play around it and went all in.

Round 8: won 3-1 again vs another Brazilian and former GM Rase. His lineup was similar to NaySyl’s but he had Druid instead of Paladin and that was his major weakness I managed to exploit. What was interesting about that series is that I also managed to guess the pick order correctly. I lost game 1 with Rogue vs his Quest Shaman but went with Warlock for game 2. I knew he really wants to queue Druid into Rogue and most players queue the same deck after losing with it. So I managed to get an easy win in a very favorable matchup, otherwise I would struggle to get a win with Zoo vs his other decks.

Round 9: won 3-2 in a very intense series against OTK specialist Zananananan who surprisingly didn’t bring any OTK decks. He was playing Secret Highlander Paladin, Quest Druid and Combo Priest. It was another series where I managed to queue Zoo when my opponent expected me to play Rogue and queued Druid. The 5th game was Rogue vs Priest, I had bad draws (sapping Pyromancer just so I don’t die level of bad) but right when I was about to concede I played Tog and evolved him with a lackey into 5/8 taunt which allowed me to survive a few more turns during which I had perfect topdecks and discovers and eventually won the game.

So 3-2 Day 1, 3-1 Day 2, 6-3 total.

Conclusions

I still think aggro wasn’t the best strategy (although a decent one) for that tournament and my relatively good results were mostly due to extreme luck in a fewimportant games but at the same time it was probably the correct choice to submit something I felt comfortable playing and had enough practice instead of completely changing everything last minute. At least this approach allowed me to get to the point where I had getting good RNG as an out and was able it to fully utilize it. In general I feel like my mistake was heavily relying on playing qualifiers as my main practice/testing. It worked with Specialist back when MTs had the same format as qualifiers and Specialist itself being way simpler format (at least in my opinion) also helped a lot. I hope I’ll be able to qualify for Arlington and other 2020 MTs and keep improving both my gameplay and lineup building skills.

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