One of the most interesting tournaments going on this season in Hearthstone esports is MAX League of Nations, a series in which 72 of Europe’s best players, including several Grandmasters, represent their country in Last Hero Standing best-of-three format.
The matches will be streamed every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on MAX Team’s Twitch channel. The players are allowed to submit new decks each week.
This article features a breakdown of every archetype played in every lineup for the week, highlights of some of the most interesting ones, and the links to get deck codes for all of them.
As expected, Paladin and Mage are the most popular classes, followed by Rogue. The meta has been trending lately towards more agressive decks that can deal a lot of damage without necessarily using the board. As such, Rogue is shifting from Watch Posts to Weapons, and people have started using the Hunter class. Priest is also on the rise, with its powerful healing package that answers the burn decks.
This is the expected lineup, the one that dominated Masters Qualifiers and that everyone is prepared for. Given that League of Nations is Last Hero Standing (or KOTH as they say in France), the Croatians were not too afraid of being targeted and opted to simply bring the very best decks. D0nkey mentions the double Ice Barrier as being a tech choice “in case people brought aggro”.
Meati admits that not bringing Paladin was certainly a mistake “but we banned our opponent’s Paladin so we weren’t at a huge disadvantage… honestly Deck of Lunacy was the real star”. Control Priest is an interesting way to answer the aggressive strategies that try to counter Mage.
Control Warlock was a popular deck on ladder on the first day of the expansion, but it did not perform too well in open cups so far, so it’s interesting to see Team Germany bringing it to the tournament. According to Nightning, “I believe that Warlock is quite decent against the current Rogue list and also the Paladin matchup is winnable. There was also the possibilty of some Priest pick from our opponents so we would counter that with Warlock. Also going with Rogue, Paladin and Mage lineup is quite standard and expected. So Mage ban should be a no brainer but some people might come up with anti Rogue/Pala strategy so we would prevent this case with bringing Warlock.” The German Paladin list also reduces the Secret package (only one Sword of the Fallen) to make room for more value.
Hunter is an interesting choice from the Swiss players. TheRabbin explains that “we knew that there would be a holy-trinity of Rogue-Paladin-Mage with Paladin ban, so Hunter made sense in order to beat Mage and also has a decent shot against Rogue”.
After the first weekend of open cups in the Forged in the Barrens metagame, there is a clear frontrunner for top Conquest lineup in the format. Spell Mage, Secret Libram Paladin and Watch Post Rogue won 7 of the 24 tournaments. However, the trends are still taking shape, and decks like Token Druid, Aggro Shaman, Control Priest and Aggro Rogue are on the rise. All of these play very few minions, and towards Sunday, the deck that uses Mor’shan Watch Post looked like it was loosing some of its power.
This report is based on the data from Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers Orgrimmar 73 to 96.
The winner of Playoffs from each region are given a chance to compete in the 2021 World Championship. Season 1 champions retain their invites to the World Championship if they are not Relegated in Season 2. Relegated Champions have their invites passed down to the next eligible player, in their region, from Season 1.
This rule is obviously an answer to the akwardness of having a player relegated from Grandmasters immediately before competing in the World Championship. It also removes the impression that the winner of Season 1 has no incentives to perform in Season 2. The team probably thought that it would be a rare occurence when they first drafted the program. But it happened to Feno, and then to SilverName, and here we are with this rule.
Some Hearthstone pros have taken to Twitter to criticize the new rule. Former European Grandmaster and 2017 World Championship Competitor Orange criticized the rule’s fairness, saying “my personal take is that taking away someone’s achievement and passing it to the next one isn’t really ok.” He also worries about the extra stress placed upon season 1 champions, saying “I’d just imagine myself in the shoes as s1 champion I’d probably end up more anxious for s2 than happy about my win knowing how much is on the line.” This sentiment is echoed by Americas Grandmaster and 3-time World Championship competitor bloodyface, who argues that the new rule “Replaces apathy with stress and arbitrarily makes S2 worth way more” and that the lower number of matches per season this year increases variance, making it harder to keep a spot in the Grandmasters system.
Here’s why the new rule does more harm than good.
First, it was never true that Season 1 champions could snooze through Season 2 because they already got their invite to Worlds. That is because being relegated is already a much more severe punishment than missing out on Worlds. The GM league is such a hermetic system that relegation is basically the end of any pro career unless you are a top streamer. This issue is made so much worse by the fact that the points that regulate promotions are so skewed, so bad at rewarding the most consistent players, negatively affecting the prospect of making it back in Grandmasters. For that reason, the new rule accomplishes nothing towards motivating Season 2 performance.
A common symptom of flawed competitive formats is that they create situations where players are incentivized to throw matches. In this case, if the winner of Season 1 is struggling in Season 2, and the runner up of 1 is doing reasonably well in season 2, when the latter plays against other struggling Grandmasters, they will have no reason to try to win. This is not a hypothetic scenario. Under this rule, the situation will happen where casters have to explain that this player is better off losing to increase their chance of having an invitation to the World Championship passed down to them.
The third problem is that it will sound really bad to always have the asterisk brought up when talking about Playoffs of Season 1. We will be designating a player as qualified for Worlds 2021 *unless something happens to them in Season 2. That phrase will be repeated over and over and when inevitably an invite is taken away, the fans will feel anger towards the rule instead of the normal deception with their idol’s performance. Fans want to live emotions based on the achievements and struggles of the competitors they look up to, not based on how unfair the system treats them.
There is still time to revert it.
The decision to change the rule regarding qualification for Hearthstone Worlds Championship must be reverted. The competitors themselves have expressed this opinion, but this time it is the fans saying it. From a viewer’s point of view, this change brings nothing good.
Welcome to the first iteration of “This Week in Competitive Hearthstone” for the week of 01.27.2021 – 02.04.2021! The goal of this article is to provide a recap of what’s going on in the competitive Hearthstone scene.
Did we miss your favorite competitive Hearthstone content? Have suggestions for improvement? (Of course you do, Hearthstone player). Join the NPH discord server and let us know what you’re thinking.
Interested in watching qualifier gameplay and learning from experienced players in the scene? We’ve compiled a list of players all around the world who stream their perspective while playing in qualifiers.
The goal of this section is to highlight a player, content creator, or overall great person who contributes to the competitive Hearthstone community. There is a very large backlog of people to highlight (and you are welcome to provide suggestions if you think I’ll miss your favorite person), but this week we’re discussing the one person that makes this entire report redundant.
NoProsHere’s very own Pasca is one of the most interconnected people in the competitive Hearthstone scene. Their Twitter feed reads like a more comprehensive version of this report and is a fantastic resource for people wanting to learn about competitive Hearthstone beyond Grandmasters and the World Championship. The Canadian’s resume includes writing the NPH Conquest Meta Report, captaining several teams playing in series organized by Team Hearth Legends, and hosting Hearthstone tournaments for many years.
Really, if you read through this report and found any sort of value in it, Pasca and the work they do is right up your alley.
The long off-season is finally over, and competitive Hearthstone players are back on the open cups circuit fighting over an invitation to Masters Tour Ironforge. This means that we have new data on the performance of all the deck archetypes, just un time for the new cards from Darkmoon Races. 30 Ironforge Qualifiers, Blizzards’s official entry level tournaments, happened this past weekend. This report analyses every single match that happened during those events. 22 of the 30 winners were generous enough to share some thoughts about their strategy with us. You will find their comments below.
Click on the players names to get full lists and deck codes from D0nkey. 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.
Rain on Ramp Paladin, Resurrect Priest, Bomb Warrior: “I chose the Priest and the Warrior because they performed well in the ladder, and the Paladin as the third strong deck. Ban Druids and Paladins.”
Bravo on Ramp Paladin, Resurrect Priest, Bomb Warrior: “My lineup does pretty well against Highlander Priest, Warrior and Whirlkick Rogue. And I mostly banned OTH DH and Token Druid. Most opponents banned Resurrect Priest so it was a free slot for ban.”
현명한라이언 on OTK Demon Hunter, Highlander Priest, Silas OTK Warrior: “I still have a lot to learn and lack of skills, so I will only comment on what is banned. There are two OTK decks in my lineup, so Priests using Mindrender Illucia should be banned. If the opposing lineup does not include a Priest, I banned based on HSReplay stats and my experience. I usually banned Token Druid or Zoo Warlock in the upper rounds.”
LooGiiQQ on OTK Demon Hunter, Highlander Priest, Silas OTK Warrior: “We prepared a lineup last Thursday with Sialed (who qualified on Friday) and Totosh (who got a top 8 on Sunday). We guessed that there would be a ton of aggro decks like Rogues, Token Druids and Tempo Warriors. So we decided to bring a Highlander Priest with good anti-aggro tech because it’s already strong enough vs control and OTK with Illucia. Sialed didn’t like it so he switched to Libram Paladin. We went with OTK DH because the deck is just too strong and destroys aggro (I had never played it before this weekend and I won 23 games in a row).We first tested Bomb Warrior, with the new 1 mana 1/3 that gives 4 armor, but finally Silas Control seemed stronger and more reliable. Armorsmith is still incredible vs aggro and enables good Battle Rages vs control. The priority ban is Priest. Against an all aggro lineup you ban Zoo because it can be problematic for the Priest and even for the DH. The decks we want to farm are Token Druid, Rogue and Warriors, and I think that we’re also good vs Paladin.”
qaz1291 on Token Druid, Stealth Rogue, Enrage Warrior: “The main way that I chose my lineup was through doing some meta analysis on the previous events and seeing a bunch of stuff like the OTK Demon Hunters and Secret/Whirlkick Rogues and realized that Stealth Rogue and Token Druid would do great to combat that 1 for aggro / evasiveness the other for aggro/ go wide ( against OTK DH I always started Rogue since it was the safer bet, but Druid only lost to OTK DH once and Rogue not at all). Then with the Warrior it was a bit of an after thought but I have played a lot of Enrage Warrior in the past and trusted it to get me through decks that were’nt super taunt heavy (it was obviously a good choice due to it taking 4 bans). Specifics wise I ran a Livewire Lance in my Warrior over Reapers Scythe to give me extra outs in weird situations and took out a Prep from my Rogue to add a Sap to help deal with people trying to buy time at low health with taunts. My main priority on bans was the OTK Armor Warrior, they have way too much board clear and armor gain for the Rogue and Druid, Then the next problem is Res Priest and that is one of the specific reasons for the Sap tech (since I can bounce the first taunt on like turn 5 then kill). I would ban it if the opponent didnt bring OTK Warrior but they were commonly brought together. Honestly the only other thing I have to say about this is I think a lot of what helped me through this was meta research, paying attention to my opponents lists, and trying my best to stay calm.”
Reliquary on Libram Paladin, Control Priest, Silas OTK Warrior: “I actually copied the lineup from Vrestrita since I know he is a good player and he did a second place with it. The lineup objective was to target Combo Demon Hunter while having good chances against aggressive strategies. Some players had a similar lineup but with Combo Demon Hunter, but replacing the Demon Hunter for the Paladin actually give us a good edge and the removes the Demon hunter mirrors, they are pretty volatile and we don’t want those. If I had to qualify again I would probably change the warrior list a bit for the mirror, with an howl or zephyr to deal with the Rattlegore. The Priest can also be changed, I saw some people doing well with highlander too.”
Theseus on Libram Paladin, Control Priest, Silas OTK Warrior: “After seeing that Vrestrita got Top 8 twice and my teammate Reliquary won a qualifier with this 90 cards I decided to play it as well, it got good results in my firsts attempts and eventually I qualified as well. This line up intends to ban Priest or Paladin, while putting in a bad spot Demon Hunter and Warrior. To everyone that’s still trying to qualify my advice is don’t play tired, playing a lot of qualifiers not gonna make you qualify faster.”
Sialed on OTK Demon Hunter, Libram Paladin, Silas OTK Warrior: “Aggro/Weapon Rogue and Tempo Warrior have good win rates and are inexpensive, so I expected to see a lot of them on day one. This lineup is desinged to farm them. Oozes everywhere to destroy the game plan of Weapon Rogue and to slow down Tempo Warrior.Pyromancer in Paladin to be even more favored against Stealth Rogue. Zephrys is in the Warrior instead of an anti-aggro tech. Aggro lineups ban Warrior anyway, so we go for one more option against greedier decks. No Corsair Cache, Bulwark or Libram of Judgement because I expected to also face many Oozes. Rogue is the major target, that’s the reason for running Paladin instead of Priest. Priest is also a lot weaker than Silas Warrior or OTK DH against face decks. Priest would have made sense if the number one target had been Warrior. I chose to bet on Rogue being popular. Priest is the priority ban, then it’s Token Druid. Luckily there were not too many OTK DH. I worked on the lineup with LooGiiQQ and Totosh, thanks to them. Quite happy that QQ took his cup too.”
foghi8 on Soul Demon Hunter, Token Druid, Stealth Rogue: “Since I didn’t have many cards on the Asia server I had to just come up with a cheap strategy that I thought would work so i just went with the classic ban Enrage/Control Warrior strat with 3 aggressive decks which were in this case Stealth Rogue and Token Druid which I thougth were S tier decks and then a budget Soul DH which surprinsgly had the best win rate and went like 7-1 or something. I ended up having to run 1 Lunar Eclipse and 1 Guess the Weight as replacements for Rising Winds in the Druid since I didnt have Galakrond’s Awakening set, and then I took the Stealth Rogue from moso I believe or whichever the most played Stealth version and the Soul DH was just the most budget possible wihtout Kayn or Il’gynoth.”
Staz on Soul Demon Hunter, Secret Rogue, Enrage Warrior: “Basically the goal of the lineup is to target popular decks like Token Druid, OTK DH, Whirlkick Rogue, Mozaki Mage and Zoo. Priority ban is Ramp Paladin due to huge high roll potential then next are either Priest or Warrior (depending on the list but most likely Priest if they have some anti-weapon tech). There are some lineups that bring both Ramp Paladin and Res Priest and usually have Bomb Warrior as their 3rd deck. You can target the Bomb Warrior and ban whichever you find the most annoying. My Rogue is a bit greedy compared to the usual list to improve the matchup against Warrior and Priest just in case I can’t ban both. I am not 100% sure about the matchups though. I just came up on some of it with small sample size and a little bit of instinct.”
Athanas on Token Druid, Secret Rogue, EnrageWarrior: “Seriously mate my strategy was before you lose, win, this way you won’t lose“
levik on Aggro Demon Hunter, Token Druid, Stealth Rogue: “I expected to face a lot of Ramp Paladins and slow Token Druids so tried to soft target these decks. Thats why I’ve added double Mana Burn to my Demon Hunter and chose Aggro Rogue with double 1-4 Murloc. Main ban was Warrior (except Bomb Warrior), the second ban was Zoolock as it’s quite bad MU for DH and Druid.”
LeandroLeal on OTK Demon Hunter, Control Priest, Enrage Warrior: “Tech cards: Ooze in DH and Illucia, Moarg, Pyro and Ooze in Priest. I got the Priest and the Warrior from NayaraSylvestre, and the DH from Pascoa. I banned Priest and other decks that have board control and can out value my decks. I was targetting aggro decks specially Weapon Rogue and Token Druid. I would like to make a special thanks to Andafern who helped me prepare for the qualifiers!”
Paljuha on OTK Demon Hunter, Secret Rogue, Enrage Warrior: “I picked Warrior and Demon Hunter because those are the decks I am most comfortable and have most games with. I needed to find a 3rd deck and I went with Secret Rogue because it performs well against almost everything I faced. It’s not doing that well against Enrage or Control Warrior but my plan was to ban them. If my opponent didn’t have Warrior (8/10 games they had Warrior) then Priest is a good ban, also Broom Paladin is a good choice to ban as well. This lineup soft targets Aggro Rogues, also I farmed Treant and Token Druids on the tournament. Nothing special with the card choices, I took Rogue list from Athanas, he won Americas Qualifier, Warrior list is standard although I removed Reapers Scythe from the list after this tournament because i feel like there is too much weapons and for Demon Hunter I adjusted this list a little from standard one because I like to have Zephyrs as an extra finisher or an extra board clear and extra silence was very helpful.”
Alpis on Highlander Priest, Secret Rogue, Enrage Warrior: “I created this lineup to mainly target otk demon hunter. Initially, I had a combo rogue, but it didn’t do well against other decks, so I switched to a secret rogue. I always banned warrior because it’s by far the strongest class and if you have a rogue in your lineup I think warrior is a must to ban. And for card choices in a priest, I play Harrison over Stickyfinger because Stickyfinger is only good against bomb warriors and Harrison lets you cycle cards which for me is more valuable than one durability weapon or low-value weapons like libram of justice or sphere. In secret rogue, Flik was mainly used for token druids and moargs. Everything else is pretty much standard.”
Tincho on Highlander Druid, Ramp Paladin, Highlander Priest: “For the lineup I was looking something that beats Warrior in general and control, and also something that’s good enough to beat aggro as well. I thought about Pally and HL Priest, and then I remembered that Blastoise made really well with HL Druid, which is also really good similar decks as HL Priest. And my main ban is always Token Druid.”
Chewie on OTK Demon Hunter, Galakrond Warlock, Control Warrior: “I noticed from the first tournament that there were a LOT of aggro lineups, so I wanted to bring a full control lineup to put them in place, and I felt that OTK DH is very strong and consistent. I chose Tikatus to have a better shot against slower decks and it was a comfort pick, whilst the Warrior was a deck that i changed a lot of cards in to fit better for my playstyle. I liked this OTK version more than the more draw one because this one has a bit more room to angle your playstyle than the one with Double Jumps and stuff. Ooze/Stickyfinger was really important to have in all decks, really liked it. For bans it was mostly Enrage Warriors/OTK DHs/Libroom Paladins, depending on the other decks but that was the prio order most of the time, always leave Cheese Paladin up since all the decks has a lot of removal and outlast options and I always left up the aggro decks since I felt very safe against all of those except Weapon Rogue. I was the only winner so far with Galalock, which honestly felt like my strongest deck in the meta right now, where it only lost one game where all the invokes/win cards were in the bottom against a control, but other than that a really comfortable deck to run.”
Faeli on OTK Demon Hunter, Libram Paladin, Highlander Warrior: “I played aggro lineups the first day and fell short. Day 2 I switched to control with a Priest ban. Highlander Warrior and Libram Paladin are my comfort decks and i felt like OTK DH is a deck people often ban or misplay against and also fits the lineup. I played the whole qualifier on my (cz) stream, so you can check exactly how it went.”
UnholyMurloc on Libram Paladin, Highlander Priest, Control Warrior: “In my opinion the meta was all fuzzy still, and I was trying to grind the top32 and started to notice the classic Enrage Warrior (without ETC) getting very popular again so I decided to try a antiwarrior lineup, choosing Highlander Priest, Control Warrior (in my opinion the best way to counter any Warrior deck – specially enrages since I run brutes) and Jarla’s Broom Paladin list (-1 Kobold +1 Hammer of the Naaru). Nothing fency, just 3 solid decks that also performs well in many matchups. I was surprised because I didn’t practice Priest at all and I did well against some Combo Rogues as well.”
Melon on Token Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior: “Credits to Tredsred for this lineup.”
funashi on OTK Demon Hunter, Control Priest, Silas OTK Warrior: “The target is Aggro (Stealth) Rogue. Most of the time the ban is Priest, but if there’s a Bomb Warrior that’s the priority ban. Because I wanted to ban Priest, I chose to play Control Priest which is better against aggro, whereas Highlander Priest wins the mirror. I took the Demon Hunter list from Paljuha in #16, the Priest from Reliquary in the #15, and the Warrior from iNS4NE in the Battleriff Invitational 3.”
Pascoa on OTK Demon Hunter, Token Druid, Bomb Warrior: “Honestly, I’ve seen through offcurve that OTK DH and Enrage Warrior were popular decks (as well as some aggro lineups), so I wanted to play things that beat it – but i didn’t have HL Priest on Asia. I was super confident with my gameplay on OTK DH and Druid, so I’ve decided to bring both even though they don’t sinergize well together. Bomb was great at forcing bans from the more greedy lineups, so I’ve brought Barricade to help against Bomb’s weakness (aggro). Druid I’ve brought a couple Wild Growths to help curve and try to ramp into Glowfly Soul to beat Enrage more consistently (since my ban was flex, although I’ve decided to often ban it), and the DH has the Acrobatics (which are just better than double jumps) and Twin Slice + Blade Dance (which are mandatory if I wanted to play vs Enrage Warrior) Honestly, I didn’t thought the lineup was great at first, but seen it in action, it’s super flex and can work against many different things, it’s never super good or super bad against anything so you have a fair shot against anything if you play well. If I had to change anything, id probably make the Bomb even better against aggro though.”
Here are a few names (and links!) of content creators that you may want to discover if you have interest for HS open cups. It’s not exhaustive by any means, but if you stream your own qualifier runs, come tell us in Discord so we can add your name!
On December 19th and 20th, eight Hearthstone organizations came together to put on an event to celebrate and highlight the amateur Hearthstone community. Each organization chose two champions to represent them in both constructed and Battlegrounds. This article is a breakdown on the meta at the constructed tournament, looking at lineups, classes, and card choices that each player brought.
In the spirit of this event, we’ve brought together a group of players and analysts from these organizations to provide insight into the meta and the lineups brought. Here is the list of people who helped create this report:
Julian La Bruna (TDF)
Their social media information can be found at the end of the article – make sure to go check them out.
Lineups and Class Analysis
The meta seems to be revolving around Evolve Shaman, with all but one player bringing the deck and receiving half of the bans. The low winrate is due to players targeting the deck with their lineups, since non-target lineups would ban the deck instead. The spot Shaman finds itself in is a bit of an odd one. It’s a top dog that’s performed amazingly on ladder, and especially in tournament setting, but since it sits at the top, it’s common to see decks and techs that all target it. In a vacuum this would most likely sit as the best deck in the game, but with double Stickyfinger finding itself common in most decks going forward, especially given evolutions after the tournament. Be mindful if you plan to bring it, as a lot of people are aiming for it’s head.
Rogue and Warrior, while not to the same level as Evolve Shaman, have a solid foothold in the meta as well. Rogue had slightly more diversity in their archetypes, but the majority of players brought Secret Rogue. While Whirlkick Rogue has been highly touted as the next big thing, players were not as confident bringing it so soon after nerfs, with only Eggowaffle bringing the deck in their lineup. Either Rogue should be in the running for any lineup looking for a lineup that wants to bring good decks, as either archetype is able to execute their miracle-style gameplans very well, and Edwin finds his way to steal a game or two along the way.
Warrior has a lot of options right now, and all of them have value. Bomb Warrior was silently good before the nerfs, and it still seems good now. ETC Warrior remains a valid option, as well as Enrage Warrior with a Grommash finisher. RonMexico brought a fatigue-like Control Warrior, but it doesn’t seem much better than the other options.
Paladin and Demon Hunter seem to be the two popular options for a fourth deck in this meta. Paladin remains a very strong pick in the conquest format, with most players opting to bring the Libroom archetype over the newly improved Pure Paladin. Likewise, Demon Hunter seems to still be viable despite the nerfs, with both Soul Demon Hunter and Il’gynoth Demon Hunter having niches in certain gameplans. Something we saw from RonMexico was the power of Il’gynoth Demon Hunter when it has a good player using it to the best of its power. However, while it is exceptionally good in the hands of an exceptional pilot, vice versa is true. The deck’s difficulty to play could hide it from the spotlight. Only time will tell to see if the class can remain on the radar.
Speaking of the radar, there were a couple of less-popular decks brought to the tournament. Control Priest, Cyclone Mage, and Zoo Warlock failed to make a splash, and might need some help before they can match the other classes. Somehow, Face Hunter did make a splash in the lineup of the 1st place player, SnakeFawdz. Despite the nerf to Voracious Reader, the deck still seems to have a niche that can be used in Conquest lineups.
Malfurion was probably on vacation that weekend. Let’s hope they show up before the new expansion and set rotation.
Between the seven players who brought Evolve Shaman, all of them brought the minion-heavy Coaster version. SnakeFawdz and RonMexico both brought Revolve, while other players focused on cards like Parachute Brigand, Bogstrok Clacker, and Faceless Corruptor. GarkGus also chose to have only one copy of Lightning Bloom, while all their competitors brought two copies of the card. Instructor Fireheart appears to be a staple in the deck now, with all seven players bringing the card to the tournament.
Eggowaffle, the only player to bring Whirlkick Rogue and no Evolve Shaman, also brought the only Libroom Paladin with a dragon package of Redscale Dragontamer and Amber Watcher. All the other players chose to stick to the more common packages for Libroom Paladin. SnakeFawdz included a Kobold Stickyfinger (as a tech for the Evolve Shaman matchup) and an Avenging Wrath, which helped them win a game against RonMexico. GarkGus, Cookiemonst, and linthesis all brought Silas Darkmoon, but only Cookiemonst and Eggowaffle brought High Abbess Alura. The majority of the deck seems to be locked into place now – the remaining task is to find the most optimal cards for the remainder of the deck.
Card choices in Secret Rogue were surprisingly similar, with only a couple of differences between the players in secret choice and payoff cards. GarkGus and Cookiemonst both brought a second copy of Questing Adventurer, likely to help against Evolve Shaman. A second copy of Ambush and a single copy of Plagarize were the two choices that players had in terms of secrets. GarkGus and linthesis both chose to bring Eviscerates, and Cookiemonst decided to bring the new Legendary, Tenwu of the Red Smoke. The majority of the deck has been locked in for a while now, with Edwin still leading the charge of ending games on turns 2 and 3.
Our recommended lineups are, unsurprisingly, the first place and second place lineups. However, there are very good reasons why these lineups did well.
GarkGus’ lineup was a lineup of best decks. Evolve Shaman, Secret Rogue, Bomb Warrior, and Libroom Paladin are all strong decks in the current meta. Smart card choices like Parachute Brigand and Silas Darkmoon help tailor the deck to a variety of situations. This is definitely a good lineup to take if you’re looking to have a strong lineup with few weaknesses.
If, on the other hand, you want to target decks or shock your enemy, SnakeFawdz’s lineup is the way to go. Evolve Shaman, Libroom Paladin, Enrage Warrior, and Face Hunter all do well into Evolve Shaman with the right build, and SnakeFawdz’s lineup has just that. A focus on beating down the Shaman player while covering for potential surprises is how this lineup helped SnakeFawdz win first place.
On December 19th and 20th, eight prestigious independent organizations are teaming up to bring to you a first-of-its-kind Hearthstone tournament! Champions from Aspirant, House Rivalries, Liga Ace, NoProsHere, Online Sports Championships, Team Hearth Legends, Tierras De Fuego and Swagoi Gaming will represent their respective communities. On Saturday the 19th, Standard Champions will play Conquest best of 5 in a single elimination bracket. On Sunday the 20th, Battlegrounds Champions will play 3 consecutive BG lobbies. You can follow all the action on Twitch as each organization broadcasts the point of view of their Champion. There will also be centralized casting for the event, hosted by TDF in Spanish and by THL in English. Follow these eight organizations on Twitch to make sure you don’t miss any of the action, and come root for your favorite Champion!
With the lack of Masters Tour Qualifiers at this time of the year, there is not a lot of data available to document the Conquest metagame early after the release of the Madness at the Darkmoon Faire expansion. There are still a number of third party Hearthstone tournaments going on, and we chose four of them as a sample.
The OHHC Championship Series was a sponsored event where the best teams from South Korea were invited. The final week of THL Pro Series season 4 opposed 10 players currently at very high Legend ranks, and concluded a season in which 12 organizations played round robin. OSC Playoffs had some of the best players from South East Asia and Central America playing in a best-of-three format. Finally, the Tespa playoffs is where the top collegiate esports teams from North America got to shine.
Breakdown by class
The majority of the top archetypes from last expansion are still strong, though some new decks are making waves. Shaman has climbed to a position of significance, and Warlock is trying to do the same. Regardless of the class or archetype, everyone received new toys to play with.
Demon Hunter remains at the top of the meta for the third expansion in a row, with the Soul Demon Hunter package leading the way. Aggro Demon Hunter, with Acrobatics as a new draw engine, saw play but only minimally. OTK Demon Hunter seems to be a fad, and not a very good one at that. Someone out there (specifically ちぇえん) is trying to prove that Expendable Performers is a card to be scared of. They’ve proven themselves by getting second place in the OSC playoffs, but none of us are convinced.
Warrior is in a bit of an interesting spot. The ETC combo has become popular, and we see a split between the traditional Bomb Warrior and the new ETC Warrior. Enrage and traditional Control lists still come up with some representation, along with Darkmoon’s new Menagerie Warrior. Like Token Demon Hunter, the performance of Menagerie Warrior is moreso due to its low sample size with skillful pilots, and less related to the deck’s overall power level.
Shaman is back, and it’s all because of Cagematch Custodian. Evolve Shaman, utilizing Custodian, Boggspine Knuckles, and a lot of Evolve Shaman classics, outshines almost every other Shaman archetype by a large margin and is the deck to expect if you’re seeing a Shaman. Be warned that, despite the success of the deck, it can prove to be quite reliant on highrolls. To the frustration of our data collector, Custodian has enabled around 7 other archetypes of Shaman to see play in tournaments. It’s a brave new world for Shamans – and it’s not a bad idea to consider adding one to a lineup.
Rogue didn’t gain any new archetypes, instead bolstering its previously established archetypes to great success. New cards like Foxy Fraud can fit into almost any deck, almost always acting as a 0 mana 3/2. Secret Rogue remains the frontrunner of the class, while aggressive variants, relying on either weapon or stealth synergy, and Galakrond lists still popping up now and again.
Paladin is in a similar position as Rogue – new cards benefit the existing strategies, but no new strategies were brought. Some of the new Paladin cards brought by the new expansion have an obvious fit into the existing Pure Paladin archetype, but people are struggling to innovate Libroom to much success. Pure Paladin swaps places with Libroom Paladin from last expansion, but don’t count out Libroom just yet. Refinement for both archetypes should help push both decks further into the meta.
Hunter has an interesting evolution from the last expansion. Face Hunter (and its variants) have almost entirely disappeared in favor of it’s cooler older brother, Highlander Hunter. It’s a pretty consistent core that doesn’t change much between the lists. The most common secret package is now Snake Trap, Open The Cages, Freezing Trap, and Pack Tactics. We often see all four of these in Highlander, with Freezing often cut in Face Hunter. In the OHHC tournament, we saw a few players experiment with Quest Highlander which was interesting, though no one in the west has seemed to adopt it yet, and we’re unsure of how good it is. It definitely has potential, though.
Warlocks either go big with Tickatus or go aggressive with Scrap Imp and/or Free Admission. Tickatus warlock struggles to survive in the fast meta that has come from the first week of the Faire, while Zoo has recently been picking up steam. If we begin to see more warriors and priests represented in these tournaments, Tickatus Warlock may become a safe bring. At this time, Zoo Warlock is likely the better deck for any conquest lineup.
This year, it seems Druid gets a brand new deck each expansion that is reliant on Overgrowth on 4 and doing powerful things soon after. It still works, as Clown Druid was brought by several players this week. It wasn’t a top performer, but it wasn’t a terrible bring either. Some players also dabbled with Malygos Druid, but we don’t expect to see this trend catch on.
Despite getting some new toys, most players steered clear of Mage and Priest. Priest is split between the old Control and Highlander Priest plan and the new and improved Resurrect Priest. None of those decks stood out. Mage is centralized around Cyclone Mage, which did decently. Other archetypes like Secret Mage and Highlander Mage are suboptimal in their current states.
OHHC Championship Series
THL Pro Series Finals
OSC American Playoffs
If you plan to play Conquest Hearthstone in the coming days, we recommend bringing Evolve Shaman and Soul Demon Hunter, along with Secret Rogue and a Warrior deck that includes Risky Skipper. Team HypeHorizen won the THL championship, MegaGilscor won the OSC tournament, and Knox College Prairie Fire made it through Tespa playoffs with perfect examples of this. These 4 decks have the best comeback tools that are needed to thrive in such an aggressive metagame. Regardless, the tournament meta still has a lot of room to grow and shift, and there are a lot of places for players to get edges in their lineups.
The best Hearthstone players from around the world are busy this week preparing for Masters Tour Online : Madrid. After this tournament, the top three prize money earners from each region will be promoted to the Grandmasters league. Needless to say that the stakes are high and that everyone is working full time to discover what the best Conquest lineup will be after the nerfs to Evocation and Solarian Prime.
I have reached out to five of the top competitive players who will not be attending MT Madrid. Faeli, Impact, Tredsred, MaeveDonovan and Pavelingbook share with us the decks 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 will be Best of five Conquest, so the players have to bring four decks, ban one of their opponent’s decks, and win one game with all three of their decks that didn’t get banned.
Faeli has had success in all sorts of tournaments year after year. In 2017 he played at WCA in China. In 2018 he played in the European championship after getting top 2 twice and top 4 twice at Tour Stops. He was in the top 8 of the Wild International Finals and in the top 2 of Twitch Rivals Arena. He is the Czech national champion for 2019. In 2020 he played over 100 Masters Qualifiers and his average win rate is the 11th best on the circuit. His record was 8-4 in MT Las Vegas and 6-3 in MT Arlington.
NPH: What are your predictions about the Bo5 meta? Which decks do you think will be popular? Faeli: I still think that Bomb Warrior and Soul DH are very good, so most people still bring or target these.
NPH: Why do you think that this lineup is good? What is your ban strategy? Are there card choices that you think are particularly impactful? Faeli: I would expect about 70% of opponents to have at least one of DH/Warrior which I can punish. Primary ban is Priest, secondary is Mage. About the card choices – I am very confident about my Warrior list and my Priest list. Paladin as it is should be ok (Bloodsail Corsair is to be often used on turn 1) and Druid is not really refined and I would need to work on it more.
NPH: What advice would you give to a less experienced player who will be playing their first major tournament? Faeli: Try to find a practice group, play at least 2 comfort decks, have a good sleep schedule.
NPH: Who are you rooting for? Faeli: My Entropiq teammates Jobsad and En1gma. Also anyone else from CZE, mainly Jarla.
With $12,350 in Masters Tour earnings in 2020 (the biggest total among Americas non-GM), Impact is very likely to be a Grandmaster in 2021. His resume also include top 2 at HCT Oakland, top 4 at HCT Montreal and top 4 at HCT Los Angeles.
NPH: What are your predictions about the Bo5 meta? Which decks do you think will be popular? Impact: Soul Demon Hunter and Priest will be must brings. Can assume there will be a handful of Rogue, Paladin, Bomb and Enrage Warrior alongside people taking a risk with nerfed Mage.
NPH: Why do you think that this lineup is good? What is your ban strategy? Are there card choices that you think are particularly impactful? Impact: These decks are 4 decks with all around solid matchups and are comfort picks for me personally. They are powerful enough to beat most random things that I’m likely to face and let me ban Bomb Warrior or have an open ban if they don’t have it. It’s also a lineup that’s not likely to get hard targeted which would give you a better chance into a wide field.
NPH: What advice would you give to a less experienced player who will be playing their first major tournament? Impact: Be confident in your ability. If you managed to qualify it likely isn’t a fluke so just play your best game and don’t be nervous if you end up playing against a pro player.
NPH: Who are you rooting for? Impact: Chemagician, he’s the best Mexican player.
Tredsred is a mainstay of the high legend APAC ladder. He is respected in the Japanese community for his deckbuilding skills. He got the second place of the APAC Spring Championship in 2017 and he went 9-3 in MT Las Vegas.
NPH: What are your predictions about the Bo5 meta? Which decks do you think will be popular? Tredsred: Current meta is well-balanced, so I think all heroes exist. I think the most popular hero is Demon Hunter.
NPH: Why do you think that this lineup is good? What is your ban strategy? Are there card choices that you think are particularly impactful? Tredsred: I think Demon Hunter and Bomb Warrior will be popular, so I will target these decks. If your opponent doesn’t have these decks, my lineup still have win potential. Control Warrior can’t win against Priest, so ban Priest. If your opponent doesn’t have Priest, ban Mage.
NPH: What advice would you give to a less experienced player who will be playing their first major tournament? Tredsred: Adjusting your sleep schedule is the most important thing.
MaeveDonovan went 5-4 in MT Arlington. She won the recent Italian national RedBull tournament.
NPH: What are your predictions about the Bo5 meta? Which decks do you think will be popular? MaeveDonovan: Tempo mage is absolutely the best deck, so I think everyone will play it. Other than that, warrior is a solid choice, enrage or bomb, and it will be together with mage the most played class.
NPH: Why do you think that this lineup is good? What is your ban strategy? Are there card choices that you think are particularly impactful? MaeveDonovan: I have started putting a Tempo Mage and Warrior because as I said they are the best classes at the moment. Then I had to choose what to ban: Mage or Warrior; I think banning Warrior is always a good one. After choosing the ban, the other two decks were between Druid, Rogue, Demon Hunter and Priest. I really don’t like playing Priest, so I thought it would be good to bring a Demon Hunter and a Rogue (they fit good with ban) so I could ban my opponent’s Warrior and play vs almost every other deck. Druid would have been a good deck too, but I felt like it didn’t fit perfectly with other decks.
NPH: What advice would you give to a less experienced player who will be playing their first major tournament? MaeveDonovan: Just have fun with this tournament, it’s a big achievement to partecipate to MTs, so don’t feel pressure and have fun with the experience!
NPH: Who are you rooting for? MaeveDonovan: I’m rooting for my Italian mates, we are going very well and we are so cool!
Pavelingbook is in the top 5 of prize money earners for Americas non-Grandmasters going into MT Madrid, which means that he would be in the race for a promotion if he was attending. He went 7-2 in MT Arlington and 6-3 in MT APAC-online.
NPH: What are your predictions about the Bo5 meta? Which decks do you think will be popular? Pavelingbook: With the nerf to Mage, there should be a noticeable shift in the meta for this MT compared to what you may currently find on ladder. Archetypes that may rise in popularity include priest and paladin, as both these decks are relatively weak against mage. However, Soul DH will likely remain among the most popular brings, followed by Rogue and Warrior as these are the strongest overall decks in my opinion.
NPH: Why do you think that this lineup is good? What is your ban strategy? Are there card choices that you think are particularly impactful? Pavelingbook: I think this lineup is good because there is a lot of flexibility in the pick and ban phase where the player can gain slight advantages. None of the decks are very targetable so a you should have a chance in every series. The primary ban for the lineup is Paladin, as both DH and Warrior struggle to get through their taunts and heals. Otherwise, the ban will come down to what I feel is the weakest deck in the series, and banning its worst matchup. In terms of card choices, most of the lists are pretty standard with the exception of Frozen Shadoweaver in DH, which is quite useful in the mirror.
NPH: What advice would you give to a less experienced player who will be playing their first major tournament? Pavelingbook: My biggest piece of advice for less experienced players is to bring the decks that you are most comfortable playing. You would be surprised how many percentage points you can gain from knowing the ins-and-outs of a deck rather than just the general playstyle. For example, in my last MT, I was one of only 3 players to bring Galakrond Warlock as according to HSReplay most of its matchups were about 45% against the field. However, since I had played the deck so much and knew how to gain the slightest edge in a variety of matchups, I was able to perform well with it anyways. If you trust in yourself and trust in your preparation, anything can happen.
NPH: Who are you rooting for? Pavelingbook: I am rooting for an Americas player to finally take down a 2020 MT and momentarily break EU’s dominance. On the other hand I am also rooting for Orange to make a deep run as he is one of my favorite streamers to watch, has performed very well in this meta, and is due for a strong MT performance.