With a minuscule 8 hours between the release of Scholomance Academy and the first Master Tour Madrid qualifier, the first dominant line-up of the qualifiers was born. The first 3 events were won by an identical 90 Hearthstone cards. Guardian Druid, Dragon Galakrond Priest and Egg Warrior which set the pace for the weekend and took the tier 1 place on the lineup stats over the entire weekend. But with such a massive shake up literally hours before the weekend. There were meta shifts every day.
In qualifiers 1-3, the five most popular decks were Enrage/Egg Warrior (48.5%), Ramp/Guardian Druid (47.8%), Tempo Demon Hunter (27.5%), Galakrond Priest (19.5%) and Aggro Rogue (16.1%). A natural transition from the previous meta, the new most feared deck in Druid rising to almost eclipse the previous top dog in Warrior and some aggressive strategies to likely beat the Druid. Priest was a natural fit to combat the returning Warrior presence and was able to be slightly adjusted from previous lists. Notably adding a Dragon package to fight a bit better on board.
In the next set of 4-9, the five most popular decks were now Ramp/Guardian Druid (62%), Enrage/Egg Warrior (34%), Galakrond Priest (25.2%), Pure Paladin (19.7%) and Tempo Demon Hunter (19.5%). Players had started to accept this week’s meta king Guardian Druid and the meta had evolved into ban or target the king. Warrior began to drop because of the following two classes’ rise, despite still being a strong deck to fend off any aggro coming Druid’s way. The rise of Paladin and Priest are to be expected as they both received powerful new tools and could combat the high presence of Warriors and Druids at the top. The newly created Aggro Rogue is a fair option to target Druid (and did manage to win #6), but because of the much less refined state of the deck, it fell off in favor of decks that adapted to the new set rather than were born from it. Tempo Demon Hunter finds itself in a similar state because it was struggling to find its same footing at the end of the last meta and is undergoing a lot of testing and refinement itself.
In the final set of 10-15, the five most popular decks were now Ramp Druid (66.8%), Pure Paladin (33%), Enrage Warrior (23.8%), Tempo Demon Hunter (20%) and Galakrond Priest (18.9%). Druid continued its upward trend and rightfully so as only 2 line ups that qualified excluded the king. Pure Paladin took it’s right place as the number 3 deck with another large jump in population (don’t worry the math will make sense later). Its powerful snowballing capability was recognized and rewarded. Throughout the weekend, players moved away from running Consecration and Libram of Justice to buffs in those slots in Blessing of Kings/Authority to just run away with games. Enrage Warrior continued its downward trend dropping nearly 25% from the first set of qualifiers where it won all 3! You can thank the 2 & 3 most popular decks for the downward spiral of our fallen king. Tempo Demon Hunter stabilized around 20% with solid match-ups against the top 3 despite still going through refinement and will likely rise if the meta continues along this path. Finally, our second most popular class. Priest appears to have fallen in this set but that’s because the 6th most popular deck is Highlander Priest (17.7%) which effectively split Priest’s population (36.6% between the two) in half when in reality the decks operate the same. However, Highlander proved to have a higher power ceiling and was the most powerful deck of the entire weekend! Long live Priest.
About archetype classification
For the purpose of the statistics featured in this report, all decks played in Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers are sorted through an algorithm that acts like a list of yes/no questions with outputs along the way. There is no machine learning, those criteria have to be manually updated every time the meta changes. As a general example, the first step is to label “Highlander” the decks without duplicates and “Quest” the ones with a Quest. Then comes a list of key cards (Malygos, Galakrond, etc.) that are curated to provide the best characterization, and reviewed as often as possible. Any list that goes through the whole process without finding its name falls into “Other [Class]”.
Sometimes, one player has success with a very unique deck, and we choose not to change the algorithm unless more players start playing it. It is the case this week with Trec’s Soul Fragment Demon Hunter, which our system labels as the Tempo version even though it’s not exactly the list you probably think of when you read Tempo Demon Hunter. If it becomes a part of the meta we will add an output for it, but not if it’s unique to one deckbuilder. Sorry, Trec.
One more thing to note is that when lists are unrefined and in flux they can be harder to split. Right now, a lot of different builds of Guardian Druid are being played. We looked for ways to separate them, for example between builds that run Kael’Thas and Survival of the Fittest and ones that have an Exotic Mountseller package, but there are still a lot of lists with both, and all the card options seem to be considered independently. We will continue to monitor this and split them if actual different archetypes emerge. In comparison, our classification of Rogue is much more refined, with Galakrond Rogues separated based on the presence of the Stealth package, Secret package, or none. When reading the data, please keep that in mind if you want to compare the popularity of archetypes from different classes.
Data summary from Off-Curve:
We recommend going to off-curve for even more detailed data, statistics about bans specific to each lineup, and an interactive dashboard where you can click on what’s most interesting to you and dive into the numbers down to every single Hearthstone game played this weekend in open cups.
Click on the players names to get full lists and deck codes from Yaytears. The names in bold are qualifier winners who were generous enough to write comments about the strategy behind their lineup. Scroll past the tier list to read them.
Pretty Good Lineups:
Token Druid, Face Hunter, Tempo Mage (molino)
Guardian Druid, Stealth Galakrond Rogue, Enrage Warrior (Nova)
Spell Druid, Secret Galakrond Rogue, Enrage Warrior (Alza)
Pure Paladin, Highlander Priest, Big Warrior (BruTo)
Guardian Druid, Libram Paladin, Aggro Rogue (MrMartial)
Spell Druid, Aggro Rogue, Enrage Warrior (RaFaEl)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Hunter, Pure Paladin (PapaJason)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Hunter, Stealth Galakrond Rogue (Pinche)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Aggro Rogue (DDoANi / Shelu)
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Warlock, Enrage Warrior (Vybon / Mysterious)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Cube Priest (DDoBaGi)
Highlander Hunter, Highlander Priest, Stealth Rogue (Kalàxz)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Stealth Galakrond Rogue, Quest Warlock (BatidoDeOreo)
Stealth Galakrond Rogue, Quest Warlock, Big Warrior (Fryze)
Guardian Druid, Other Mage, Highlander Shaman (Shadowe12)
Spell Druid, Pure Paladin, Quest Warlock (pianokiller)
Guardian Druid, Stealth Rogue, Control Warrior (Findan)
Pure Paladin, Control Priest, Big Warrior (goodwill)
Tempo Mage, Galakrond Rogue, Enrage Warrior (kagome)
Token Druid, Galakrond Priest, Stealth Rogue (GogmagSC2)
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Warlock, Bomb Warrior (Pierrot)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Highlander Rogue (Noflame)
Highlander Mage, Highlander Priest, Highlander Rogue (Capuch1no)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Spell Druid, Highlander Rogue (Lokyin)
Control Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Pure Paladin (HMHRyan)
Guardian Druid, Cube Priest, Galakrond Warrior (taroimo)
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Warlock, Galakrond Warrior (Kuonet)
Highlander Hunter, Highlander Mage, Highlander Priest (Amlaith)
Guardian Druid, Stealth Galakrond Rogue, Bomb Warrior (Sergiy)
Guardian Druid, Zoo Warlock, Big Warrior (Gromthinker)
Guardian Druid, Libram Paladin, Enrage Warrior (Diyoukh)
Guardian Druid, Control Shaman, Quest Warlock (ТихийШторм)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Galakrond Warlock (ShadySlayer)
Guardian Druid, Pure Paladin, Quest Warlock (pianokiller)
Galakrond Priest, Quest Warlock, Enrage Warrior (N8BIZ)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Murloc Paladin, Aggro Shaman (KNMDehua)
Comments from the winners:
Pilou on Ramp Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior:
“Well as it was the first qualifier in the new expansion I focused on bringing good decks with small changes . I expected mostly 2 aggro with Druid, or 1 aggro deck like DH plus Egg Warrior and Druid. I knew Egg Warrior and Galakrond Dragon Priest were good against this expected field so I put Beast Druid as a third deck because the deck was just so strong 6 hours into the expansion I felt like most people would not be able to counter it. I also chose to always ban Druid because of its power level. Most people didn’t ban my Druid thinking they coule beat it with aggro and chose to ban my Warrior. At the end Druid finished 8-0, priest 7-3 and warrior 3-0.”
Win on Ramp Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior:
“First of all it was pretty early to build decent lineup so i looked at qualifier #1 to see what is the meta right now then I saw Pilou’s lineup who won first. It was perfect for day 1 because a lot of people were trying to bring aggro decks and Egg Warrior (since Egg Warrior was dominating the previous meta). So basically this lineup is targeting aggro decks and Egg Warrior, strategy is to ban Druid because you can’t keep up with its broken Kael’Thas turns. I changed only 1 card in Warrior, cut Cache and added Cruel Taskmaster, i think Cache is not that strong after nerf and you need more enrage activators in Warrior right now. I would like to say that this lineup won’t be good next week because people adjusted their lineups to counter this one pretty fast, right now there are much less Warriors and aggro and this lineup is pretty bad vs Libram Paladin (best deck in tournament meta right now in my opinion).”
Trec on Soul Fragment Demon Hunter, Ramp Druid, Enrage Warrior:
“My first and obvious choice for the cups was Warrior ; it’s still the best deck of the metagame. You can take the same as the previous meta with 2 new legendaries that are amazing (Lord Barov and Doctor Krastinov). Depending of the match up you can play the deck as a control, aggro or combo deck. Keep in mind that you can OTK with the Coin (Grommash ; 2 Inner Rage ; Mercenary and a Weapon equipped). The New Shield of Honor can help Kor’kron’s big damages ; This is better than Rampage but I’m not sure if we can’t just run both. I’m not a big fan of the Egg version, i prefer have Upgrade, the card is cheap and give a lot of damages and value, i usually run 2 but i put a second Armorsmith to answer the aggressivity of a new meta.
Druid is Highroll land but you must have it to force opponent’s ban. I hesitated a lot between ban Druid or Warrior but I thought that Warrior was way harder to play so I banned Druid when I saw a good list of it. For the list i took Pilou’s one, he won the first cup with it ; the list seemed OK so I changed nothing but it needs to be refined (2 Overflow is core and still not sure if Mountseller version is better or not).
I wanted a Control deck for the last slot and tried Priest and Demon Hunter. Priest seemed not flexible enough for me so i took my homemade DH Control (Yes you control by hitting your opponent’s face ; let’s say it’s a Life Control). It has the same ideas and match up of the DH control of the previous meta but way faster, you have Heals and board control (Mystic a.k.a the new Duskbreaker is op) so aggressive decks are easy and you have a lot of Face Damage without board to kill slow decks. The new mechanic of Soul Fragment is really cool but you don’t have a lot of cards to generate them and you use / draw a big part of them so I didn’t put Malicia.
This extension is really interesting, I’m happy to qualify quickly so i can now test a lot of decks.”
molino on Token Druid, Face Hunter, Tempo Mage:
“I came up with the idea 7 minutes before the tournament so my lists are not refined, especially Hunter and Mage. My strategy was to target Paladin and soft-target Druid (you can’t really hard-target Druid). I played Frost Nova and Conjurer’s Calling because they were better vs those two. Token Druid (aka Kuriboh Druid) is close to what I think is optimal for the archetype, spells are way better than 1 drops. Also people not playing Consecration in Paladin helped me a lot. The Hunter had Hyenas because I copied Maur1 but I’m playing Sidequests and Demon Companion now on ladder. The Secret package is just the nuts in the meta, vs Paladin, Druid and Priest.”
BruTo on Pure Paladin, Highlander Priest, Control Warrior:
“My idea was to target Druid because it was the most popular deck. According to stats, Highlander Priest and Libram Paladin were favoured against it and people were winning qualifiers with them so I just took those 2 decks. For the last slot I decided to play a Big Warrior that I made with some techs against Druid (Ramming Speed for their Guardian Animals) and because I found it to be a strong deck overall. I banned Paladin or Priest because my lineup is favoured against Druid and Egg Warrior.”
MrMartial on Ramp Druid, Libram Paladin, Aggro Rogue:
“I picked which I considered the strongest decks, and always banned Druid since it can get out of control. I considered Paladin my weakest deck but somehow people still banned it. The most broken cards are found in Druid and Rogue, Lightning Bloom and Secret Passage, which where a huge help in winning, those cards cheated me some wins. In my opinion I won mostly because the lineups of my opponents were not complete.”