Miami University’s Akron Invitational Tournament Recap

by Hickit, MoneyPockets and Griff

Background:

Hello, we are the Varsity Hearthstone team (Varsity team Red) at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Currently our Hearthstone team competes in the Tespa Open and Varsity tournament. Tespa is a tournament provider that works closely with Blizzard to provide quality tournaments and it’s an honor for our school to be allowed to compete. They offer open tournaments each semester where any college student and at least two other friends can join the tournament. Tespa also offers a Varsity Invitational Tournament where schools with developed esports programs can be invited to compete. 

Miami Varsity Hearthstone is a nationally ranked Hearthstone program with a nationally ranked Esports program behind us. At Miami we value game knowledge, meta knowledge, team work, and team skills very heavily. As a result of this we have been able to take fringe decks and interesting meta calls into many different tournaments and make them work well. We are here today to discuss our most recent line up that we took to the University of Akron’s Akron Invitational. 

How our team was formed:

Miami has had a hearthstone team since the release of the game in 2014 with new players joining each year. Last year, we created a mostly new team after many of the previous year’s players graduated. Our team consists of Josh “Hickit” Hill, Connor “MoneyPockets” Redwine, Griffin “Griff” Arnold. Our first semester competing was definitely rough as we only won two matches our entire season but after a short hiatus we came back the following semester and made playoffs in open and varsity. This school year we have been able to keep the same varsity team as well as add a whole new team of three more players. We are looking forward to more great competitions, especially shorter tournaments outside of Tespa. 

Akron Tournament:

The Akron Invitational tournament happened over the course of two days, October 10 – 11. The tournament invited the top 16 Collegiate Hearthstone teams in the Nation to face off against each other in a small double elimination bracket that fed into a larger, single elimination bracket. The tournament deck submission deadline took place directly after the nerfs to Guardian Animals and Turtle Mage. Due to the nerfs being right before the submission deadline, we reached out to Pasca to help with the meta read and confirm that our meta read was correct. 

Our Line up: Control Shaman, Control Warrior, Pure Paladin, Resurrect Priest

Our line-up was certainly the slowest line-up brought to the tournament. With the help of Pasca’s analysis of the nerfs, we decided that Demon Hunter would be the most popular bring. This proved to be true when only two other teams didn’t bring Demon Hunter. We designed our line-up to beat Demon Hunter along with other aggressive decks that were popular before the nerfs. We teched extra weapon removal in our control shaman and control warrior to further boost the win rate against DH with the side benefit of countering Bomb warrior, which is a deck we expected to see more of than we did. We turned many heads with our line up, got many compliments on the meta read, as well as one opposing team captain taking time to make a whole theory on how to beat our line up.

Priest: AAECAZ/HAgTTCtYK1pkDk5sDDckGgpQDmJsDmZsDoaEDr6UD0aUDmakDn6kD2awD8qwDk7oDlroDAA==
Shaman: AAECAaoIBO+wA4ixA+a3A5zOAw31BP4FsgaKB62RA4qUA8WZA5CnA5O5A+DMA+HMA6HRA67SAwA=
Paladin: AAECAb7jAwSbrgP8uAOEwQPD0QMN3AOcrgPKuAP9uAPquQPruQPsuQPKwQOezQO/0QPA0QPK0QPg0QMA
Warrior: AAECAaPLAw6QA4oHkAeGnQOhoQPcqQPerQPfrQO+uQPAuQP5wgOK0AOT0AOr1AMIS6IE1AT/B9mtA4ixA6S2A7i5AwA=


Breakdown each deck’s gameplans, techs, and important matchups:

Control Shaman: Our control shaman was certainly the star of our lineup this weekend. This deck is great into any aggro deck with Tidal Wave being an automatic win most of the time. The deck also sees great play against midrange decks with its ability to constantly heal and go into fatigue. The important cards in this list are: Tidal Wave, Witches Brew, and Torrent. Tidal Wave allows for massive healing as well as a clear when you need it, drawing this off of farsight into an aggro match is almost a free win all the time. Witches Brew is just an insane card in this control shaman allowing you to heal for 20 with 10 mana, also it has some interesting synergies with Diligent Notetaker and Fist of Ra-den. Torrent is a massive single target clear that is often reduced to one mana which guarantees a Reliquary of Souls off of Fist of Ra-den (due to the fact that there is currently only one one-mana legendary in standard). However, the most interesting tech in our deck was Wyrmrest Purifier, a card that sees rare play to almost guarantee wins against bomb warriors. In non-bomb warrior matches, this card also only hits our weapon removal so they can be removed if the deck we are facing does not run weapons. However, this tech choice actually ended up hindering our matchup against Control Warrior because we chose to cut Archivist Elysiana for it. We chose to go with Wyrmrest over Elysiana because we valued the consistency into the Demon Hunter and other aggro matchups more than the value we got from Elysiana in the control matchups. As our lineup’s sole purpose was to punish other teams for bringing aggro. 

Control Warrior: We thought our control Warrior was going to be the most consistent deck in our line up, but it proved to be the least played deck in the line-up due to it being banned three out of the four rounds. Variations of other Control Warrior decks with more Rattlegore copying ability, two Battle Rages and Zephrys, and other high value techs made the deck much worse into the mirror and other control matchups. It is a fairly standard list whose sole job was to beat aggro matches and we had to pretty much take a loss against any other Control Warrior and Control Priest. We found that it was important to draw as much as possible in order to make sure that the deck does not run out of gas, and that we might have been running one too many weapon techs. Draw all the removal that you can and be ready to go to value town. Never tempo Elysiana

Pure Paladin: We chose Pure Paladin as a deck that is known to beat DH and is pretty consistent against the rest of the field. We specifically chose Pure Paladin over Broom Paladin because Pure Paladin won more against Demon Hunter more often than Broom Paladin. We anticipated this deck to be banned much of the time, Control Warrior ended up being the most common ban, so we played it a lot more than we expected. We played a pretty standard Paladin list because there aren’t many possible tech cards in Paladin. Overall, it performed very well into one of our line-up’s worst matchups, Control Priest which ended up winning us two of our matches. This did and continues to feel like one of the more risky brings, it does poorly into some common matchups and feels pretty bad when you don’t draw a few specific cards. This list and the Resurrect Priest both become weaker into DH if the opponent is running multiple copies of Consume Magic. We usually found that opponents only run one at most.

Resurrect Priest: Going into the tournament, we expected Resurrect Priest to perform the worst out of the four decks we brought. We thought this deck was going to be the reason we would get 0-2’ed because of how linear it was and how easy it is to play around it most of the time. However, it ended up performing very well against the control decks people brought and against the Aggro decks that we were targeting. Cards like Psyche Split can be used in a multitude of ways. For example, we won a game against Control Warrior because we copied their Rattlegore with double Psyche Split and Grave Runes. Overall, it beat expectations and was a key component to our line-up. This list is pretty standard as well, there is not much room for techs. Decks such as Bomb Warrior have a hard time hitting us in the face, and need to rely on the bombs to kill us, but if we draw any fewer than six bombs in one turn, we just end up healing back to full by the end of the turn and drawing the game out to fatigue.

Analysis:

Going into the Tournament, we expected much more aggressive line-ups from our opponents than we saw. We were saved by the fact that almost everyone brought DH like we expected. We were surprised by the popularity of Control Warrior but it ended up performing very well for other teams because of its strength against DH and Rogue.

We ended up performing pretty well, making it to day two and placing 5th. The competition was highly skilled and we look forward to playing many of these teams in future competitions. Congratulations to Rochester Institute of Technology for winning the Zips Invitational.

 There are a few things that we are considering as we move forwards with this line up. We would like to look at the Quest Druid deck as it is able to beat Demon Hunter very consistently, and has better match ups into priests. In future tournaments we may switch to more value oriented variations of our control decks. Running two copies of Bloodsworn Mercenary in our warrior for more value was something we considered when looking back. We also may tech in an Elysiana in our Shaman so we are favored against Control Warrior with our Control Shaman. We may find a more consistent replacement for our Pure Paladin, it seemed like that was one of the decks we were not quite happy with. It gets the job done, but is not quite unfair enough when playing into DH and Bomb Warrior.We want every matchup to be completely in our favor, and pure paladin didn’t fit that role as well as we would’ve liked.

We have a few recommendations for people wanting to try out this line up:

Recommendations: Know your match win condition. In matches you may notice that you need to queue in a specific order or queue into a specific match up in order to win the match. Most matchups it is always a safe strategy to queue up into whatever has the better win rate against Demon Hunter. Sometimes in a matchup you may need to take a game off of Priest (or any other class you consistently have trouble beating with the control decks) in order to win. These games need a bit of mind gaming and really asking yourself what you think the opponent is going to queue up. For these reasons you have to know the win rates and game plan for each list depending on certain techs. This may be great in a three deck conquest. While it may be harder to predict what the meta will be like in larger three deck conquest tournaments like the masters tour qualifiers, being able to cut a deck from the four deck line up greatly increases its strength. 

Conclusions:

Hickit: Control Shaman is absolutely insane and is a Tier 1 tournament deck, this line up builds around Shaman supporting what it is good at. “We didn’t choose this line up to win games, we chose it to win matches” 

MoneyPockets: Knowing your opponent is very important with this lineup. In a world where control lists are running rampant, most of these lists run out of value faster than some of the choices out there. These decks were chosen with the knowledge that we’d be able to beat DH and Bomb warrior if they were both brought. These lists could go for more late game value if the correct cards are placed on the top-end.

Griff: Prepping the correct line up is just as important as how you play. We spent many hours tuning and teaching these decks for this tournament. Our real strength as a team at Miami is our ability to plan ahead for our opponent’s line-ups and present solid line-ups. While we are good players, preparation is what sets us apart from our competition.

Big thanks to Pasca and NoProsHere for allowing us to do this breakdown. We really appreciate the opportunity and we hope that someone finds it helpful. We look forward to competing again and hopefully seeing more Control Shaman in the tournament meta.

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