The Best Hearthstone Decks You Won’t See At Masters Tour Arlington

By NPH Pasca

The best Hearthstone players from around the world are converging to Arlington, Texas for this weekend’s Masters Tour event. Over 500 competitors have qualified for this tournament where the prize pool is $250,000 plus the money from the “esports bundle”. These earnings count towards determining the next Grandmasters.

I have reached out to six of the top competitive players who will not be in Arlington. FreddyB, RayC, CaraCute, LostHead, Torph and Maricochet share with us the lineup that they would use in this format, their predictions on the metagame, and their advice to those trying to bring it home this weekend.

The format of the competition will be Best of 5 Conquest, so the players have to bring 4 decks, ban one of their opponent’s decks, and win one game with all 3 of their decks that didn’t get banned.

FreddyB

Twitter | Twitch

FreddyB went 9-3 in Masters Tour Las Vegas, 6-6 in Masters Tour Seoul and 5-4 in Masters Tour Bucharest, which makes him one of the most consistent players on the Tour. He also won Hearthstone Global Games with team Denmark. His contract with team Nordavind just expired, so he is looking for a new home.

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Rogue: AAECAaIHCLICrwSggAOSlwPBrgPjtAOftwPLwAMLtAHtAs0DiAePlwP1pwO5rgP+rgOqrwPOrwOCsQMA
Warrior: AAECAQcEkAOvBOO0A8XAAw0WHJ0CnfACs/wC9KcD3KkD2K0D2q0D/q4Dqq8D0q8Dq7YDAA==

NPH: What do you expect the metagame to look like in Masters Tour Arlington? Which decks do you expect to be the most popular?
FreddyB: I think that we will see a 90+% Rogue appearance since it’s clearly the strongest in a tournament setting right now and can’t really be countered by a whole line up. I expect the other top class appearences to be Hunter, Warlock and Warrior. Hunter has a wide variety of different decent decks and the two latter would probably be with Galakrond.

NPH: What is the stategy behind your lineup? Does it target anything specifically? What would you ban? What tech choices do you think can have a big impact?
FreddyB: This lineup is based around the type of decks I like to play and usually perform best on (tempo). All the decks have in common that they wanna be in the driving seat and kill the opponents rather fast and I think they counter speculative techs or target line ups pretty well. It doesn’t really make sense to ban Rogue with it as I am actually trying to soft target Rogue (I know that it can’t really be done). Instead my main ban is Ressurrect Priest, which I expect to be an off-meta deck that sees some play. If I can’t ban that, it’s suddenly very fluid regarding the ban and really depends on tech choices etc. and would probably often come down to a mindgame.

NPH: What is the best advice you would give to a less experienced player who will play their first major tournament this weekend?
FreddyB: My main reason for choosing this lineup is that it fits me and I know all the decks very well. In a high pressure situation I think an important often overlooked thing is to make it as “easy” as possible for yourself. Even though another line up could be better when played 100% correctly, this is what I think I could perform the best with. It’s a very pragmatic view on the game and might go against some mindsets that won’t allow themselves to think that their own play abillities could hold a line up back, but this is my advice: Optimize your own chances of doing well and don’t go for some theory line up you are not comfortable with.

NPH: Any predictions on who could win it all?
FreddyB: I have been running into my former teammate Jarla on ladder all month long. He is grinding and has been #1 on EU and NA at the same time this month. I would put my money on him! I will of course be cheering for my fellow Danish friends aswell; Furyhunter, Hoej, NikolajHoej, Impyyyyy and Balorix. They are all great thinkers and have prepared well, so watch out for them too!

RayC

Twitter | Twitch

RayC is a professional Hearthstone Player and streamer for Panda Global. He has played in many tournaments, open and invitational, and is frequently at the top of the legend ladder. In last December, his version of Galakrond Shaman became the most popular list after he hit #1.

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Priest: AAECAa0GBKUJ5fcC0P4CqaUDDfgC5QT2B9UI0QrSCvIM9wz7DK+lA9KlA/2nA4SoAwA=
Rogue: AAECAaIHBrICrwSSlwPBrgPjtAPLwAMMtAHtAs0DiAePlwP1pwO5rgP+rgOqrwPOrwOCsQObtgMA
Warrior: AAECAQcEnQKvBOO0A8XAAw0WHJADjgWd8AKz/AL0pwPcqQPYrQParQP+rgOqrwPSrwMA

NPH: What do you expect the metagame to look like in Masters Tour Arlington? Which decks do you expect to be the most popular?
RayC: Rogue (Highlander and Galakrond), Galakrond Warrior, Hunter, X will be the strongest lineup in my opinion. X is going to be Druid, Priest and Warlock most of the time unless the new cards shake up the metagame more than expected. There will always be those people who play a more controlling lineup with Holy Wrath Paladin, Mage, Warrior etc.

NPH: What is the stategy behind your lineup? Does it target anything specifically? What would you ban? What tech choices do you think can have a big impact?
RayC: You would ban anything anti aggro. The goal of this lineup is to just play the good decks and SMOrc. I think Rogue and Warrior are still nuts at the moment and fleshing out the rest of the lineup aggressively will punish people messing around with midrange shenanigans and slower decks like Galakrond Warlock. I think Spellbreaker could be popular this tournament with the rise of untargetable Druid.

NPH: What is the best advice you would give to a less experienced player who will play their first major tournament this weekend?
RayC: Play what you know. Don’t change decks last minute to a lineup you have never tested before just because you hear that X group of pro players are on it etc. Stick to your guns and have confidence in your ability. You qualified for a reason!

NPH: Any predictions on who could win it all?
RayC: HotMEOWTH because he really wants to win so he can get a girlfriend.
Wish I could go and hang with everyone but medical circumstances prevent it. I hope everyone has a good time and I’ll miss you all ❤

CaraCute

Twitter | Facebook

CaraCute plays for Team Liyab. She has a ton of experience in local and international tournaments such as HCT Bangkok, Electronic Sports Gaming Summit (ESGS), HCT Singapore, WESG and World Showdown of Esports 2 in California. She won the WCG Philippine Qualifiers. She was considered on the short list for the first cohort of Grandmasters. She went 7-5 in Masters Tour Las Vegas and 1-3 in Masters Tour Bucharest. Last weekend she won a Qualifier for Masters Tour Indonesia so we will see her again in Bali.

Hunter: AAECAR8eqAK1A8cDrwTJBOEElwjFCNsJmPAC7/ECoIADoIUDtpwD/KMD5KQDpqUDhKcDi60Djq0D+a4D+68D/K8D/q8Dh7AD57ADgrEDkbED2LIDn7cDAAA=
Rogue: AAECAaIHBrICrwSSlwPBrgPjtAPLwAMMtAHtAs0DiAfdCI+XA/WnA7muA/6uA6qvA86vA4KxAwA=
Shaman: AAECAaoIApn7AualAw7vAeAC+QPgBrDwAvbwAo/7Apz/AoyFA/aKA8aZA7WtA7atA/muAwA=
Warrior: AAECAQcGHJ0CrwTjtAOftwPFwAMMFpADnfACs/wC9KcD3KkD2K0D2q0D/q4Dqq8D0q8Dq7YDAA==

NPH: What do you expect the metagame to look like in Masters Tour Arlington? Which decks do you expect to be the most popular?
CaraCute: I feel like there would be a lot of Rogues. Galakrond Rogue is a sure bring for most players because of the power of the deck. I expect a lot of control decks as well with the likes of Resurrect Priest, Hand Warlock, Highlander decks etc.

NPH: What is the stategy behind your lineup? Does it target anything specifically? What would you ban? What tech choices do you think can have a big impact?
CaraCute: Basically this is a lineup that I have played a lot and I’m comfortable playing. It’s mostly good decks. Ban priority would be Resurrect Priest, then Galakrond Warrior. Target would be Rogue since all my decks are good against it, I just have to win the mirror match.

NPH: What is the best advice you would give to a less experienced player who will play their first major tournament this weekend?
Caracute: You will feel intimidated and overwhelmed at first, just try to relax and remember everyone here qualified so it just means that you are as good as them. Don’t settle on being happy just to participate try your best to reach the 2nd day and try to reach 7 wins to qualify to the next 2 stops.

NPH: Any predictions on who could win it all?
CaraCute: This is really hard. Hopefully not a GM so new players will be welcomed in the league.
Good luck to everyone playing this weekend. I will be watching from home and supporting Staz and Waningmoon.

Torph

Twitter

Torph went 9-3 in Masters Tour Las Vegas, 7-5 in Masters Tour Seoul and 2-3 in Masters Tour Bucharest. Now that PapaJason has taken Amnesiac’s spot in Grandmasters, Torph is the first name next on the list for the Americas region. In January, he qualified for MonkeyBubble Masters.

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Rogue: AAECAaIHCLICrwTdCKCAA5KXA8GuA+O0A8vAAwu0Ae0CzQOIB+/xAo+XA/WnA7muA/6uA6qvA86vAwA=
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NPH: What do you expect the metagame to look like in Masters Tour Arlington? Which decks do you expect to be the most popular?
Torph: I expect Rogue and/or Embiggen Druid to be present in the majority of lineups, and for Rogue lists I would say like 80% pure Galakrond and 20% highlander. Third on popularity I would place Galakrond Warrior.
I would say there’s a few types of lineups you should consider people will bring:
The one I consider will be the most popular, and also the best in this meta is the “good decks” lineup, as the best decks as of right now have extremely few counters, and I would say not enough to build a 4-deck lineup to target. They also have really high high-roll potential, so even if you DO face a bad matchup you could double down on that (ie: mulligan out “just ok” cards). I would say those decks are Galakrond/Highlander Rogue and Embiggen Druid. Below those, there’s a pretty big range of filler lists to include, naming a few: Galakrond Warrior, Galakrond Warlock, Highlander Hunter, Highlander Mage. There are some “harder” to include ones like Face Hunter, Token Druid, OTK Paladin, Highlander Warrior, Highlander(ish) Shaman.
These are only a few of the decks, and apart from the top lists the meta is pretty diverse. This is what makes it hard to build the second type of lineup, which would be to target 1 or 2 popular lists to counter. You could for instance try to abuse Rogue’s weak first few turns with an aggressive lineup. On the other hand Rogue is also able to fit a few cards like Zilliax/SNIP-SNAP, Lifedrinker, Bone Wraith, SI’s, Faceless Corruptors in its flexible slots which is also why it’s hard to counter.

NPH: What is the stategy behind your lineup? Does it target anything specifically? What would you ban? What tech choices do you think can have a big impact?
Torph: This is what I would consider a best decks lineup, that fare pretty well amongst most of the field I expect to see. In general I would say all the decks could at least come close to 50% against Rogue, allowing us to ban Druid. The bans can get pretty specific to a matchup though, and having certain techs allow us to better predict our opponent bans. So for instance, having the Dragonmaw Poachers is great against dragon lists, which include embiggen druid itself and highlander lists, so if our opponent have a few of those, it increases the chance they will choose to ban our Druid.
Also, with this lineup having poachers on both Hunter and Druid, together with the Warlock list having extra removal might also make our opponent think we would probably be ok facing Druid, and thinking we will ban something else. I really value those mind games on the higher levels of play. One other example is secrets, and without using tracker, is something can throw off a lot of players. I really would like to include a Freezing Trap on the Hunter list for that reason (and it’s good against Druid), as having a wider variety of secrets make the opponent have to play around more things, and doing less than optimal plays. Ended up with only two secrets which I think are the most useful ones in most scenarios.
What I mean to get to is the bans are not linear with this composition. If the opponent has Token Druid in his composition, it might look like a good ban considering the 4 decks of ours. It has but if the rest of his lineup suggest he will be banning our Druid, we can try to target something else to get an advantage. It’s also worth remembering that differently than on ladder, we know exactly which archetype we are facing, and that allows us to mulligan really aggressively for early answers against a deck like Token Druid. OTK Paladin I would say has two good matchups against us (Druid and Warlock), one even (Hunter) and one really bad (Rogue). If we again think his lineup suggest he’ll ban Druid or Warlock, suddenly on average we’ll be favored against it and could choose to ban something else instead.

NPH: What is the best advice you would give to a less experienced player who will play their first major tournament this weekend?
Torph: Best advice I could give, and always mention to my friends, is to try to keep calm and always focus on what you’re doing next. Past games shouldn’t matter, neither should future ones. If you’re 5-0 on Swiss, don’t let that get to your head, and focus as hard as any game, because you could end up losing all the next ones. If you start 0-2, keep focused, as not everything is lost, and you can still win all of your next games. Just telling you to focus harder or keep calm might sound like impractical, because you can’t control those things really.
So here’s some practical things you can do: Firstly, the day will be really long, you’ll play lots of matches, and will probably be exhausted at the end of it. Take breaks whenever you have a little spare time, and try to eat something if possible. Also, avoid going to your friends telling what awful RNG you had last round, and how little were the odds of exactly that happening. That’s precious time you could be resting your mind a bit, and when you keep talking about situations like this, you’re probably more likely to get tilted when something doesn’t go your way the next round. And when you’re in a match, you can take your time to think. Make sure you know your win condition(s) going to a matchup, and consider important cards you and your opponent can have that could swing the game. You could take notes of those cards, and the way I would advise you to do it would be to use the first turn of the game to write these key cards (either yours or your opponents), and then later just cross them out when they’re drawn (for yours) or played (your opponents). Ideally you could write literally everything down like a deck tracker, but I feel that just distracts you too much and take too much effort, and again, the day is long and you need to be focused.

LostHead

Twitter

LostHead plays for team Swagoi. He was in the HCT playoffs, fall 2018, and has achieved multiple high ladder finishes. He went 8-4 in Masters Tour Las Vegas, 6-6 in Masters Tour Seoul and 6-3 in Masters Tour Bucharest, which makes him one of the most consistent players on the Tour. He played 83 Arlignton qualifiers with 62,1% win rate (no one else can boast a win rate this high over that many tournaments) but lost in the finals multiple times. He is already qualified for Indonesia.

Paladin: AAECAZ8FDPoBhQPtBfQFzwb7DP37AoT8Ar2GA/yjA4iuA/22AwmcArMD3AP2B6f3Avz8Atn+As+GA+yGAwA=
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NPH: What do you expect the metagame to look like in Masters Tour Arlington? Which decks do you expect to be the most popular?
LostHead: Despite the second wing of Galakrond’s Awakening coming out a few days before the tournament I don’t expect the new cards to change the meta too much. Galakrond Rogue is definitely the strongest deck right now and finding any counter-strategy for it feels impossible. Embiggen Druid has raised in popularity recently so I would expect a lot of Rogues and Druids combined with other decks players already know and can rely on such as Galakrond Warrior or Highlander Hunter.

NPH: What is the stategy behind your lineup? Does it target anything specifically? What would you ban? What tech choices do you think can have a big impact?
LostHead: These are just very good decks that can also soft target Embiggen Druid. The deck is going to be popular but it doesn’t feel as unbeatable as rogue. Hard targeting anything doesn’t feel right since there’s one really good deck (Rogue) and then there’s plenty of solid tier-2 decks that you may or may not encounter. I can’t imagine not banning Rogue in the current meta.

NPH: What is the best advice you would give to a less experienced player who will play their first major tournament this weekend?
LostHead: First of all try to enjoy the overall experience while you’re there. Qualifying for this kind of tournament is no small feat so remember no matter how it goes you’ve already won just by making it there. Don’t get too fancy with your lists. Even if you think the deck is good but you’re uncomfortable with it better give it a pass since it’s going to be the worst possible time and place to learn. Stick to what you’re comfortable and confident with. Remind yourself to take time on your turns even if the play seems obvious. Be cautious with your diet before and during the tournament so you don’t get unnecessary distractions. And of course try to get good sleep the night before!

NPH: Any predictions on who could win it all?
LostHead: It’s absolutely impossible to make any predictions for a field of 300+ players who vary from “very good” to “genius” in terms of skill. So I’m going to say Orange just because of the storyline.
Shoutouts to my SwagoiGaming teammates Gle and Coookiemonst, and also to my friends HonestZaib, StormFever, bobbyex, CmaccompH, and Eggowaffle, all of whom will be competing in Arlington this week!

Maricochet

Twitter

Maricochet plays for Esports Pandaria. She is one of the top players on the French Hearthstone scene, with an impressive history in local tournaments. She went 5-7 in Masters Tour Seoul and is already qualified for Indonesia. This past weekend, she also qualified for MonkeyBubble Masters in a best of five format that looks a lot like what will take place in Arlington.

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Rogue: AAECAaIHCLICrwSSlwOEpwPBrgOCsQPjtAPLwAMLtAHtAs0DiAfv8QKPlwP1pwO5rgP+rgOqrwPOrwMA
Warrior: AAECAQcGnQKvBI4Fs/wC47QDxcADDBYckAOd8AL0pwPcqQPYrQParQP+rgOqrwPSrwOrtgMA

NPH: What do you expect the metagame to look like in Masters Tour Arlington? Which decks do you expect to be the most popular?
Maricochet: I think that most lineups will contain Galakrond Rogue and Galakrond Warrior. These two tier 1 decks fit in any lineup and are very hard to counter.
It’s much harder to choose a third deck: Galakrond Warlock? Embiggen Druid? Highlander Hunter? Highlander Mage? Quest Resurrect Priest? Quest Hunter? Holy Wrath Paladin?

NPH: What is the stategy behind your lineup? Does it target anything specifically? What would you ban? What tech choices do you think can have a big impact?
Maricochet: If I was going to Arlington, I would take Galakrond Warrior, Galakrond Rogue, Embiggen Druid and Highlander Mage.
This lineup dodges polarising matchups. It has a lot of 50% and a lot of highroll potential. The bans would be Face Hunter, then Highlander Hunter, then Galakrond Rogue. Of course we need to anticipate the opponent’s ban to give the best possible shot to our weakest deck. This lineup can 4-0 Galakrond Warrior, but there will probably be a mirror, and Mage vs Rogue is very close.Against Highlander Warrior we’re extremely good. If we face a Galakrond Warlock, our Rogue, Warrior and Mage are clearly favored.
My favorite Warrior list is the one with the single Rover, a Frothing Berserker, double Bomb Wrangler, Leeroy and two Kor’krons.
Galakrond Rogue is pretty standard, the version without SN1P-SN4P / Zilliax, but with Siamat.
My Mage doesn’t run Ooze or Azur, but Karthut Defender is excellent against Galakrond Warrior. I haven’t had time to test it, but the Elemental Evocation, Water Elemental and Arcane Amplifier package could be solid. Ampliifier would be a good answer to Bomb Wrangler (problematic for Mage), for example. Dragonmaw Poacher is super strong versus Embiggen Druid and decent against Highlander Hunter.

NPH: What is the best advice you would give to a less experienced player who will play their first major tournament this weekend?
Maricochet: Trust in yourself, don’t fear your opponent, no matter if they’re a Grandmaster or if you’ve never heard of them, assume that they will make the best play every turn. Don’t hold back, play agressively. Make the best plays and don’t have regrets… but most importantly enjoy the moment!

NPH: Any predictions on who could win it all?
Maricochet: I will bet on the French folks by support but also because they’re so hot right now. LooGiiQ, Gunzerker and totosh to just name 3 of them.

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