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Team NoProsHere Conquest Meta Report #26

by NPH Pasca and WickedGood

The Hearthstone metagame is still extremely diverse two weeks after the Secret Passage nerf. All kinds of lineups are viable in open cups, from all aggro to all control. This report features the data from Masters Qualifiers Madrid #61 to #75.

Data summary from Off-Curve:

Offcurve has a new feature that allows to visualize card choices inside an archetype. The darkness of the bar represents the card’s popularity while its length represents the win rate. Here are some examples of remarks that can be made regarding some of the most popular decks in the meta. As always, the data set is all games played in Masters Qualifiers over the past weekend.

Exotic Mountseller builds have performed better than Kael’thas builds. Tech cards like Acidic Swamp Ooze and Living Dragonbreath are underperforming.
Pen Flinger is worth exploring. Kobold Stickifinger seems worth it in the right lineup. Some of the tempo cards that defined Demon Hunter in Ashes Of Outland are still being tried in the Soul version but they are not working.
To the surprise of no one, the Lorekeeper Polkelt build is stronger than the Hyena Alpha build. Do not cut Imprisoned Felmaw for Animal Companion.
The lists that borrow from Control or from Big Warrior have overperformed, and the ones that incorporate an Enrage package seem weaker.
The midrange build with Stealdancers had more success than the ones going all in on reach with Sinister Strike.

Tier List:

Click on the players names to get full lists and deck codes from Yaytears.

Meta Defining Lineups:
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Secret Rogue (reqvam)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage (CaveFish)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Aggro Rogue (nexok40 / k1ngkong)

Proven Lineups:
Soul Demon Hunter, Tempo Mage, Secret Rogue (nadavt)
Libram Paladin, Control Shaman, Control Warrior (prestx)
Control Priest, Control Shaman, Control Warrior (iscoman)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Bomb Warrior (Klender / DTCYZX / Maverick)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Secret Rogue (mlnhyuk / Cassio)
Face Hunter, Aggro Paladin, Aggro Rogue (에렛지디)
Soul Demon Hunter, Face Hunter, Tempo Mage (Soda)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Face Hunter (ScreaM)
Soul Demon Hunter, Malygos Druid, Aggro Rogue (SithX)
Guardian Druid, Aggro Rogue, Bomb Warrior (Magoho)

Pretty Good Lineups:
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Highlander Hunter (Dennis)
Soul Demon Hunter, Malygos Druid, Control Warrior (DDoANi)
Soul Demon Hunter, Tempo Mage, Bomb Warrior (Csabz)
Soul Demon Hunter, Malygos Druid, Enrage Warrior (GamerRvg)
Face Hunter, Galakrond Priest, Bomb Warrior (Uoden)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Control Warrior (Jimon)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Highlander Priest (HoudnsHoudn)
Face Hunter, Tempo Mage, Secret Rogue (Patsque / ARAI)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest (とりにく / 신명수)
Highlander Hunter, Turtle Mage, Control Priest (Anastacy)
Guardian Druid, Face Hunter, Control Priest (soleil)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Libram Paladin (MrPython / Ghotus)
Galakrond Priest, Control Shaman, Control Warrior (LaN)

Interesting Lineups:
Malygos Druid, Tempo Mage, Highlander Priest (ÁureoLotte)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Stealth Galakrond Rogue (DragonMan)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Hunter, Libram Paladin (DadCoach)
Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Secret Rogue (WildRoses)
Malygos Druid, Highlander Hunter, Control Warrior (VirtuozZ)
Turtle Mage, Highlander Priest, Highlander Warrior (N8BIZ)
Guardian Druid, Quest Warlock, Bomb Warrior (Kanapesh)

Follow Up On The Queuing Order Article

by MannySkull

Yesterday I wrote an article that intended to introduce concepts from game theory that are relevant to understand static games. I used these concepts to describe how to choose a deck (out of three) in the first round of a Bo5 setting. In my mind, the plan was to build up from the first queuing decision (which is the simplest one if you do not take into account future turns) and then build up to the Bo5 case, explaining how each additional layer was going to affect (or not) the decision that was optimal in isolation. That was the plan and, to be clear, I was going to execute the plan as I was writing the articles (that is, I had no idea what the end solution was going to be). That was the plan.
Then, several readers criticized the article. First, some complained that the article was not a comprehensive treatment. Well, sure. Second, some complained that it was so basic that it was useless to understand the entire Bo5. Well, to me it is always best to start simple and build up.
And a bunch of other criticisms, many of them valid and relevant and so others less so. However, there was one that called my attention: the claim that if your opponent is randomizing decks with equal probability (that is, using the random number generator from random.org) then that strategy cannot be exploited by you, the player. This was interesting because it does not happens in a static game where the mixing probabilities depend on the payoff values (matchup probabilities). It also meant two important things: (1) my idea of building up from Bo1 to Bo5 was flawed and was not going to lead anywhere; (2) conquest Bo5 (and Bo3) is a type of game in which the payoff matrix (matchup probabilities) affect your odds of winning but those odds are identical for any possible queuing order (again, when your opponent uses random.org). Finally, if that’s the case, then both players using random.org is an equilibrium of the game. So, last night I grabbed pen and paper and worked out the algebra for Bo3 and Bo5 and concluded that:

  1. I was wrong in the plan developed by the first article. Understanding the equilibrium when the problem is simply two players queuing a deck is irrelevant for understanding the Bo5 solution. To be clear, if you want to understand how to think about a 3×3 static game, see what a dominated strategy is, etc, the previous article is not wrong and you may find it useful: it simply does not serve the purpose I original intended for the article.
  2. In Bo3 and Bo5, if your opponent uses random.org (i.e., the opponent randomizes/mixes decks with equal probability), then the ex-ante odds of you winning the round are independent of the order in which you queue your deck so you cannot exploit your opponent’s behavior. It follows from here that if you also use random.org, we have an equilibrium where both players are happy.

If you want an answer to the question: “does the queuing order in Hearthstone matter?”, then that’s your answer and you do not need to keep reading this article. The answer is not original to me however, as a bunch of players commented that this was the case yesterday. However, when I asked ”where can I see the derivations?”, the answers I got were ”we know this”, ”somebody told me”, ”somebody run a simulation”, or a link to a Reddit post that tackled a different question. So, I decided to explain why random.org is an equilibrium in the best way I can in this article and so I hope you find it clear. The good news is that you do not need to know anything about game theory and that the manipulations are elementary (add, subtract, and multiply). However, parts of the algebra involved are not particularly insightful so what I will do is to focus on the Bo3 case and explain the thought process. If you understand the Bo3 case, then you should be able to do the annoying Bo5 case with some patience.

See all the formulas in the following PDF document:

Conclusion 1: We just showed that in Bo3 conquest when you face an opponent that uses random.org, the probability that you win the series does not depend on the order in which you queue your decks (from an ex-ante perspective of course). Player 1 is indifferent between queuing Deck 1 or Deck 2. The result does not depend on the values of the matchup probabilities (ω1, ω2, ω3, ω4). As promised, showing this required elementary manipulations.
Conclusion 2: Player 1 is indifferent between decks 1 and 2. However, we just learned that mixing with equal probabilities cannot be exploited, so Player 1 is better off following the same strategy and randomizing/mixing decks 1 and 2 with equal probability. We conclude that both players mixing decks with equal probability is an equilibrium of this game (as nobody has incentives to deviate from their strategies). Whether this is the unique equilibrium of this game or not is not something I looked into. But, in a way it is not that important because the one feature of this equilibrium is that it is easy to implement and does not require the player to do any calculations.
The case for Bo5 follows by the same argument except that: (1) there are many more cases to analyze in the 3-1 and 3-2 winning situations and (2) the final algebra to show that the expressions coincide are longer and required adding and subtracting multiple terms. But, conceptually, it is exactly the same and you will find that mixing with probability 1/3 makes your opponent indifferent in what deck to queue. You can believe my word, do the algebra yourself, or do it numerically with a computer as some people have already done.
For these manipulations to go through it is important that your opponent uses random.org in all stages. That is, take the case where you win the first game with Deck 1. Your opponent now knows that you will queue Deck 2. If you opponent abandons using random.org and decides to queue his most favorable deck against Deck 1 (because psychologically he/she wants to win now) or, alternatively, he/she decides to queue the unfavorable deck because he/she prefers to get a win with the bad deck first, then the situation and the derivations above change. I did not explore these cases in detail.
My job here is done. Pasca approached two days ago asking me to write something on how queuing decisions on conquest mattered or not. We started with the wrong plan, but thanks to the adamant twitter enthusiasts, we managed to provide an answer that I hope many will find useful and others will surely find obvious. In either case, I hope that at least you value the good intentions that players like Pasca are trying to bring to the Hearthstone community.

On the Queuing Order in Hearthstone Conquest

By MannySkull

Editor’s note: the author issued a follow up post that clarifies the conclusions. The concepts explained here are valid, but we suggest reading it before applying them to real game situations.

About the author: MannySkull is a casual Hearthstone player that has experience competing online (playoffs, open tourneys, and leagues like THL) and in LAN events (Dreamhacks). He has been a Legend player since 2016 but never the type of top 100 player. He has been fortunate enough to have several Pro Hearthstone friends (some currently Grandmasters (GMs), some formerly GMs, and some aspiring to be GMs) and had the opportunity to learn from them and also helped them with lineups, ban decisions, and queuing decisions. He is a full professor in Statistic and Economics at a top US university, has published articles in top journals, and teaches graduate level classes on these topics.   

Hearthstone players often criticize queuing decisions from competitive players in tournaments; most notably Grandmasters (GM) players. From arguing that there was a better queuing decision to claiming that queuing order does not matter in a conquest format, if you participate in discussion forums you will see it all. Motivated by these debates, my friend Pasca asked me to write an article explaining why queuing order in conquest matters and what are reasonable thought processes you can expect from rational players. These are two different questions, so I decided to start with a description on how players should think about queuing and will leave the “how it affects the odds of winning” for another article. If you are looking for a three line explanation in a TLDR, then stop here and go do something else.

I will illustrate the concepts using a win rate (payoff) matrix for a match (Bo5 setting) between two of my GM friends: Muzzy and Justsaiyan. Here we do not discuss bans so we assume each player starts with three decks in their lineup (after bans already happened) and have to decide what deck to queue first. The first important aspect to note is that we do not question the win rate probabilities (take them as given and assume these are the relevant win rates for the players to make their decision). The second aspect is that margins in Hearthstone (HS) are often small, so we assume that players care about small margins (that is, they would play a deck with a win rate of 51.2 over another one with a win rate of 50.8 without hesitating). The third aspect is that both of these players are smart, they know each other super well, so we will not consider situations in which one takes advantage of the other by being “smarter”. The final aspect is that in the subject of Game Theory there are multiple notions of solutions, optimal behavior, and equilibrium. Here I will use the most basic ones exclusively. 

The main concepts you should hopefully understand after reading this article are:

  1. Deciding what to queue requires the player to understand what a best response is, whether there is a pure equilibrium or not, and also make an assumption on the level of rationality of the opponent. 
  2. Understand that when there is an equilibrium, players cannot make profitable deviations (that is, they cannot be better off by playing off equilibrium).
  3.  Concepts like dominant and dominated strategies may simplify the analysis significantly in some cases. 
  4. Finally, in many cases the player will have no choice but to randomize the starting deck to avoid being predictable in repeated iterations of the game (like, for example, the GM circuit). 

Case 1: Dominant Strategy

Sometimes, although not often, players may have a dominant strategy. A strategy here is simply a deck to play, and dominant means that the player wants to play that deck regardless of what his opponent could potentially play. This makes the queuing quite simple, as illustrated in the following example (Muzzy is the row player and Saiyan is the column player. The probabilities are from the point of view of the row player (Muzzy)).

Best Responses: I highlighted in green Muzzy’s best responses to Saiyan’s deck. For example, if Saiyan plays Malygos Druid, Muzzy’s best response to that decision is to play Libram Paladin (60.2% win rate). I marked in purple bold Saiyan’s best responses to Muzzy’s deck. For example, if Muzzy plays Libram Paladin, his best response is to play Highlander priest (which is unfavored with a 47.2% win rate from Saiyan’s side but it does better than either Druid or Warrior).

Dominant Strategy: Libram paladin is the best response on Muzzy’s side for all the three decks that Saiyan can possibly play. This means that Muzzy is better off playing Paladin regardless of what Saiyan plays, and so Muzzy should queue paladin first. 

Equilibrium: Saiyan is smart and realizes that Muzzy will queue Paladin, so Saiyan rightfully decides to queue Priest (his best response to Paladin). But this does not affect muzzy’s choice: muzzy wants to queue Paladin when Saiyan queues Priest. This is a notation of “equilibrium”: when no player has incentives to deviate from their strategy if you give them the option to do so ex-post. The outcome of this game is that Muzzy queues Paladin and Saiyan queues Priest and no player can be better off deviating from this strategy.

Most often there are no dominant strategies and so the analysis becomes more intricate. However, before getting into more sophisticated analysis it is good practice to first check whether there are dominant strategies for one or both players. 

Case 2: Equilibrium in pure strategies    

Even when there are no dominant strategies there could be equilibria in pure strategies, as the following example illustrates. The table shows the win rates where I marked their best responses using the same coloring as before (highlighted green for Muzzy and bold purple for Saiyan).

Best Responses: Paladin is Muzzy’s best response to Druid and Mage is his best response to Warlock and Mage. Saiyan’s best response to Druid and Mage is Zoo Warlock, and his best response to Paladin is Mage. There are no dominant strategies in this situation. 

Equilibrium: We can see there is an equilibrium in pure strategies: Muzzy plays Mage and Saiyan plays Warlock. Even after each player finds out what the other one is queuing, they still want to stick with their choices as there are no profitable deviations. 

Thought Process: The fact that there is an equilibrium, does not mean that players will play it. However, it’s the only outcome where you can tell a story that is consistent with behavior of two players that are smart. Suppose Saiyan thinks “I’ll queue Mage!”. What does he need to think about Muzzy’s behavior to justify such a choice? Saiyan must be thinking that Muzzy will queue Paladin (Saiyan wants to be able to get that sweet 67.8% win rate). But then, what would Muzzy have to think to queue Paladin? Muzzy has to believe that Saiyan is queuing Druid. Why would Saiyan do that? Well, it turns out Saiyan never queues Druid first (this is called a dominated strategy). He is always better off queuing Zoo or Mage. This means Muzzy never plays Paladin first. Ok, What if Muzzy plays Druid? Well, Muzzy never queues Druid first because he is always better off playing some other deck (Druid is a dominated strategy on Muzzy’s side). Saiyan, understanding that Muzzy will figure out that his Druid is dominated, notices that Muzzy is always better off playing Mage and so Saiyan responds with Warlock. Muzzy, understanding this, realizes that his best response to Warlock is Mage. And we go back to (Mage, Warlock) as the outcome of this game.

Case 3: No equilibria in pure strategies

We get to the last case I want to illustrate (there are other situations that I will not cover here). In this case there are no equilibria in pure strategies (I will not talk about mixed strategies in this article). The table shows the win rates where I marked their best responses using the same coloring as before (highlighted green for Muzzy and bold purple for Saiyan).

Equilibrium: No equilibrium here. If Muzzy plays Demon Hunter, Saiyan wants to queue Rogue. If Saiyan queues Rogue, Muzzy wants to queue Warlock. If Muzzy queues Warlock, then Saiyan wants to queue Warrior, in which case Muzzy wants to queue Demon Hunter. 

Thought Process: Saiyan is smart and realizes that Muzzy is never queuing Paladin First (dominated strategy) and Muzzy is smart and realizes that Saiyan is never queuing Warlock first (dominated strategy). So, Muzzy must be playing Demon Hunter or Warlock and Saiyan must be playing Warrior or Rogue. At that point, the only rational choice for them is to randomize which deck they choose (not necessarily by flipping a coin, but I will not get into the right odds of randomization). You may think, “Well, muzzy’s Demon Hunter gives him better odds on average”. True, but if Muzzy plays his best average win rate deck and Saiyan anticipates that, then Saiyan would queue Rogue and get an edge. Same, you could say Saiyan has better average win rate queuing Rogue. But if Muzzy anticipates this, he would queue Warlock and get an edge. And again, although I am not formally considering the repeated aspect here, remember that these players know that they will play each other often and so they care about not being predictable. 

HS players when facing situations like this one talk about “mind games”. However, I do not think this is a good terminology because it implicitly assumes that players have different levels of rationality. Let’s call “level 0” the player that plays his highest average win rate without contemplating what the opponent could do. Let’s assume for a second that Saiyan is a level 0 player, so his queues Rogue. If Muzzy is also a level 0 player, he queues Demon Hunter. But, if Muzzy is a “level 1” player (a level 1 player is a player that knows his opponent is a level 0 player) Muzzy would queue Warlock. Sweet. But now, if Saiyan is a “level 2” player (a player that knows his opponent is a level 1 player) then he would queue Warrior to counter Muzzy’s Warlock. And you can keep going. So, taking advantage of your opponent because you think you are smarter than them, only works if you are effectively smarter than them or if you get lucky. Then, call it mind games. 

Remember that decisions taken under uncertainty should be judged with the information that the player had at the time of making the decision. Make sure you keep this in mind next time you want to criticize a queuing decision. 

What’s the optimal way to improve at Hearthstone?

by Den

About the author:
Den is a professional competitive player, coach, caster and content creator from France. Over the past five years, he has worked with Gamers Origin, Judge Hype, Gaming School, Crescent esports, and others. He currently represents Team beGenius. He went 5-4 in Masters Tour Arlington.

As part of my coaching duties, I’ve joined almost every French and English speaking group about Hearthstone on Facebook, which represents a pretty large community of casual players. Outside of deck discussion and legend posts, the thing I see the most is debate about the different methods that people can use to improve the game, with coaching, content consumption, among others being the most common.

That continuous debate was the inspiration for writing this article, where I’ll try to explain the different ways someone can learn the game and what are the benefits and downside of these different possibilities. 

As I have been a coach for 5 years and tried streaming and creating content on Youtube at various points during this time, my goal is in no way to try and convince you one thing is better than another. 

My goal is to explain and help everyone make his own decision on how they want to approach their progression in the game. At all times, your goals, time available and budget should be the main (if not only) criteria to make your decision on how to improve at Hearthstone. Most importantly, I believe mixing everything is the best way to approach things, and coaches and streamers will tell you to use the various websites available or to check other people’s content. 

This article will be divided into three different ways one can learn the different aspects of the game :

Unformal learning, talking with friends, jamming ladder a lot, using the different websites online, this is the way where the player has to go and find the information on its own, and has to understand it and make it their own. 

Streaming and Youtube is probably the most used way, or at least the most talked about. It has an entertaining thing to it, and it usually makes the learning process much more fun than collecting information alone. Also, videos are much more appreciated than written content nowadays and there is so much content created every day that one can spend all 24 hours of a day watching Hearthstone videos about anything in the game.

Coaching is probably the least used way, and because it is one that you have to pay for. Here, the idea is to get something tailored to the player’s needs. They will be able to pick a set time for the session, deck to be practiced, game mechanics to focus on, duration of the session, among other factors. it is a way to control many more elements of the learning process while having someone that is dedicated to you. 

Now that we know what we are talking about, let’s get started. 

Unformal learning

Learning through collecting information on your own is very rewarding when it works but can also be very tough and frustrating when it doesn’t. 

In today’s internet world, this method of learning is reasonable, and there are millions of tools that you can use to help yourself in your learning process. Analysis websites, podcasts, social media, community discords, with many more I’m not listing here. All these tools are making for an incredible source of information for players to dig in and create their understanding of the game. 

If you think about it, most of the players you are watching in big tournaments nowadays learned the game this way, because 5 or 6 years ago, that was about the only way to learn the game. 

The biggest benefit of learning on its own, at least when you are a newcomer to the game, is that you will develop your way of playing the game or a “style” that you will grow towards.  Since the information is not explained by someone, each person can have their conclusion towards it and use it to create their understanding of the game. 

This is a very important phase of the learning process to me, as, at some point, statistics and pure game knowledge usually take over if you want to be competitive, building your style can separate you from others when you will be in a very information dependant phase of your learning process. 

Even if coaching and content creators will help you get started much faster in the game and give you tools to be competitive in a matter of weeks. Being mentored or exposed to other accomplished people’s opinion so early in the learning phase usually lead to trying to copy the way the person is playing the game. 

The problem there is that card games are played with our mind, so it means that the new player would try to copy the way someone else thinks (already something extremely hard to do) without having neither the background nor the information about the game that person has. 

This situation usually leads to quick progress into very long stalling periods because the player didn’t get in the habit of developing their reactions to new situations and every time they take a step forward and has to collect new information, they have no idea what to do with it and get frustrated about the game or have to restart the process to the beginning. 

But the opposite is also very true and when done in the right way, learning on your own and developing your way of thinking can then lead to any other way of learning and making you much more effective as well. You will be able to compare your understanding of the game to the information and evaluation of the coach, the streamer, or people on social media and add their information to yours to get better at the game. 

When learning without an outside look, a lot of the time, we tend to let our rank dictate what we think of our performance. And being locked at a rank becomes the main source of frustration, because we do not advance towards our goal, but we also start questioning ourselves. 

Therefore, having the possibility to be able to gather and understand information from different sources while keeping our way of playing the game, we create a much better situation to never stale too much at a certain rank. As whenever we are blocked, we can go back to our unformal learning and collect information that will fit our situation and just add that to our already existing knowledge. 

In that way, unformal learning is the most important, and most effective when paired with other ways of learning and something every player should go through when starting the game, even for a small period. And even if it is frustrating to feel like we’re not progressing.

Content consumption

The reason why I separated unformal learning from content consumption is the human aspect. When you are collecting information on a website, studying stats, or checking the various decklists of a tournament to find ideas, there is nobody that tells you what they think about it. And it makes a huge difference to have someone’s opinion on the information or not. 

I’ll start with the two biggest benefits of content consumption. The first one is it makes learning more fun, more enjoyable than going through raw data alone. Even in school, most people would rather study with friends than alone, and having fun is still a key part of learning, especially when we’re not playing to be a pro-player. 

The second great thing about this is the fact that we feel we’re not alone, we have someone to join, a community to be part of and this is a very strong attachment to the game. How many people have stopped the game but kept on watching their favorite streamer and eventually launched the game again? 

Another very good thing about content is the fact that it became developed enough so you can choose who and what to watch, and make your list of people that you learn from for different reasons. This is a way for example to avoid one of the problems I listed in the previous section that is trying to think the same way as someone else. 

The content world of Hearthstone is a very good way to get attached to the game and to create a strong link to it, which is very important to be involved in our learning process. And there are so many talented creators nowadays that everyone can find one or several that will fit their liking. 

This way of learning also represents a way to get very fast into practical things, which is something that most people have an easier time with. Watching someone else play and talk about what is doing is usually much easier to relate to our own gaming experience than stats on a website or figuring out how does a deck that you only have the list could work. And most people usually need to play with that information in their mind to make the connexions, well, in content creation, the connexions are given to you by the streamer. 

Probably the best thing about content, and the reason why I push all my students to watch streams, youtube videos, or just browse social media reading opinions about the game, is the fact that it is constantly content being created. You can watch streams, videos, or read meta-analysis from pro-players 24/7 without ever getting to the end of it. 

Unformal learning and coaching will require a lot of brainpower to be effective. Whether it is going through raw data or spending time with a coach that will push you and make you invested in the thinking process. Well, the lighter tone of streaming and youtube videos and the fact that they are always available for you to use make that resource very valuable. Whether you are tired, don’t feel like playing, not in the mood for tryhard but still want to get exposed to the game and gather information, you can just turn on a stream and relax in front of it, and that will still get some results if done consistently. 

The downsides of this now are double, the first one is the one I talked about in the unformal learning part, being exposed too early or too often to the same person can lead to copying the way that person approaches the game. But the second part is usually what I’m most careful about and that’s the situation the streamer is in. 

First, a streamer or a Youtuber does not have to teach people as a primary goal, even educational streamers (while they do a very good job and several of them inspire me daily) still have one goal above them all if content creation is their job: views. It is very important for the viewer that is trying to learn from them that the person you are watching is trying to grow an audience, build a community and that, even though you will learn a lot while watching them, your learning is not his priority. A streamer has to entertain, control, and offer their creation to a wide variety of people at the same time. And because of that, it’s almost impossible to find a stream that will fill all your learning needs (which is easily compensated by the number of streamers out there, the reason that can also help in absorbing the way someone’s think bias). 

Second, most successful streamers are top legend players, and while this is a guarantee that they are good players and that what they say is valuable information, not even 1% of their audience plays at that level. The metagame, the way people approach the game, the general logic and thinking processes are different from what these top players are showing on stream.

There are times where being exposed to the highest level of play while not having sound fundamentals can lead to misconception or trying to copy high legend thing at a lower rank. And just like some decks are only performing at the legend ranks, some game concepts are only relevant if the player mastered the basics first. 

The fun and deep connexions that the content creation learning can create makes it probably the best way to learn overall. But it does require some experience and being able to stand back on what we can take from what the entertainer is offering. I feel that average to very good players can use content creation to a great extends as they already developed their opinion, but newcomers or people struggling with basic cardgame concepts can be misleading and would need a more tailored experience. 

Coaching

The main thing about coaching is that it is a resource that you have to pay for with money and time, while the two other methods are only time-consuming. The thing for coaching to be worth the money you’re putting into it, it’s that it has to make you much better in much less time than the two other methods. Otherwise, you’re just paying for nothing since you could invest time in another way to learn the game. 

On paper, coaching solves all the problems from the two other ways of learning the game, except taking the thought process of someone, but a good coach should be aware of that bias and help you overcome it. 

A coach should be able to direct and help you through the different resources available in unformal coaching, as they know which information is important for you to take the next step, and also how to use it in your approach of the game. Compared to a streamer, a coach should taylor the sessions to your needs and should put you in situations that were created for you to get better at. 

So, in theory, a coach should be a mix of unformal learning and content creation that are specifically designed to your needs. And that leads to you ending a session with more information and more targeted practice, you should also get leads to work on your own and a better idea of how to use the other resources available to better your thinking process. 

In this definition, coaching is basically what is called a “pay to accelerate”, which means pay to achieve your goal faster (If any coach ever tells you that they are pay to win, ask them if you can get refunded if you loose with their advice, they should change their mind fairly quickly). 

Now two big problems come with coaching and make people doubting the interest of getting a coach understandable. 

First, a lot of coaches out there are closer to very good players sharing their information against money than building a real learning process for their student. And that leads to sessions where they are not trying to understand the person thought process but more pushing everything they know about the game, leaving the student with the task of picking up as much as possible. The student then has the feeling that they’re getting what they want during the session, as they’re climbing much faster than usual, but once the coach is gone, there isn’t much left, and the rank goes back to what it was before. This can give a fairly bad opinion of coaching, and rightfully so as this makes coaching fall exactly in the category of not gaining much time compared to the money invested, making it a bad investment.

The same criticism can be made for impatient students that ask for coaching because they are stalling in the game, and they do not come to us to get better, but just expect to go up in rank and only judge the session based on the climb, not on the information they got from it. Most of the time, this comes from the frustration of not getting better while using content and informal learning. So what they need would be some guidance as to how to use these resources, but the frustration grew so much that the focus has totally changed when they get to coaching. This usually leads to a biased opinion about coaching and can lead to reading stuff like “I paid XX to only climb 2 ranks, this sucks”. I’m sorry, paying with the sole goal of climbing ranks is called boosting, not coaching. 

The second problem, and the one that usually refrains people from trying paid coaching, is the fact that it’s pretty hard to know what you’re getting into. 90% of people asking for coaching are not involved in the competitive communities, they don’t follow social media and such. So when they look at a platform and see the list of coaches, they usually just take the cheapest or the one with the most hours. 

Most of the time, the way to get to know someone is to check their work, but in the case of a coach, that means getting in a session and maybe paying to see what they’re worth. And it’s normal for someone to get attracted by a content creator who puts everything they have in his content, so you can have an honest opinion about the person’s work for free and pretty fast. The best and most reliable way, in my opinion, is to reach out and talk with the coach or check their social media or interviews to see if you can connect with the way they talk or their opinions. 

To conclude this part, I’ll finish with what is the most important trait of a good coach, and probably what will make your money worth investing in that learning way: psychology. 

Since the coach is working with you during the session, they should pick up on things that are not directly Hearthstone related. For example, trust issues, panic attacks when the ropes burn, the speed at which you collect information during a turn, how much information you can store before you can’t remember everything… 

There are tons of skills that make you a better player and that a website or a content creator will ever have the chance to see, and therefore, never have the chance to help you work on. And these things are what makes investing in coaching worth your money as getting better on those traits will make you progress much faster. 

So to conclude this article, I don’t think there is a particular better way to learn the game, all three ways are valid, and mixing them is probably the best way to become complete players eventually. 

Everyone has different needs and will react differently to what they get from each way. To me, Hearthstone is an information-based game where we make choices based on the information we have. And all the three ways I talked about in this article will lead to you gathering said information. 

The main criteria to judge how you want to learn should be your goals, the time you want to invest in those, and your budget. Someone with not much time but money to invest in the game should direct himself to coach as it will net them the better results. Someone with tons of time but a limited budget should watch a lot of content and read metagame snapshots as much as possible. And there is an endless amount of combinations in between these two possibilities where a coach can help you get more out of you reads and streams, while a streamer might be entertaining you enough so that you enjoy learning with them much more than with a coach. 

So if I would have one advice as to how to choose your learning methods, do it the same way you would play Hearthstone: gather information, make a choice, and reevaluate the possibilities and find what fits you. 

Edited by NPH SnakeFawdz

Team NoProsHere Conquest Meta Report #25

by NPH Pasca, and WickedGood

The Schlomance Academy metagame is one of the most diverse that Hearthstone has ever had. Not a single combination of 3 archetypes was dominant enough to win 2 of the 15 open cups this past weekend (Masters Qualifiers Madrid #31-45), and there are still off-meta decks spiking to the top of the win rate chart.

Data summary from Off-Curve:

Off-curve.com/masterstour now has a new feature that lets you compare card choices, see popularity trends for any given tech choice, and much more. It is too rich and interactive to summarize here and everyone should go check it out.

Tier List:

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.

Meta Defining Lineups:
Soul Demon Hunter, Highlander Priest, Bomb Warrior (Tara)
Soul Demon Hunter, Tempo Mage, Bomb Warrior (Decky)
Guardian Druid, Aggro Rogue, Bomb Warrior (Silvors)

Proven Lineups:
Tempo Mage, Stealth Rogue, Zoo Warlock (Kalàxz)
Galakrond Priest, Aggro Rogue, Enrage Warrior (VoidStacker)
Soul Demon Hunter, Stealth Rogue, Enrage Warrior (와와)
Soul Demon Hunter, Secret Rogue, Bomb Warrior (Beister)
Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Secret Rogue (SCACC)
Soul Demon Hunter, Aggro Rogue, Enrage Warrior (iNS4NE)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Secret Rogue (ChaboDennis)
Soul Demon Hunter, Stealth Rogue, Bomb Warrior (Vilorck)
Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Enrage Warrior (TheBonk)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Priest, Bomb Warrior (Thekhan)

Pretty Good Lineups:
Soul Demon Hunter, Quest Priest, Bomb Warrior (Rainy)
Pure Paladin, Galakrond Priest, Big Warrior (Zilgadis)
Soul Demon Hunter, Tempo Mage, Aggro Rogue (CageTheBadge / Juggler)
Soul Demon Hunter, Pure Paladin, Bomb Warrior (supersam710)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Priest, Secret Rogue (FanBoy)
Guardian Druid, Stealth Rogue, Enrage Warrior (Fosskoush)
Soul Demon Hunter, Quest Turtle Mage, Bomb Warrior (あれっくす)
Soul Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Aggro Rogue (trauma)
Aggro Rogue, Zoo Warlock, Bomb Warrior (Raziel / Matangala)
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior (Sebi)
Guardian Druid, Face Hunter, Aggro Rogue (Tuliowz)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Face Hunter, Aggro Rogue (에렛지디)

Interesting Lineups:
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Secret Rogue (Anita)
Aggro Rogue, Galakrond Warlock, Bomb Warrior (Jcee)
Highlander Hunter, Pure Paladin, Secret Galakrond Rogue (Trishula)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Highlander Hunter, Stealth Rogue (HiggsBoson)
Tempo Mage, Aggro Rogue, Galakrond Warrior (とりにく)
Highlander Priest, Secret Rogue, Enrage Warrior (Zuhex)
Pure Paladin, Secret Rogue, Enrage Warrior (Garchomp)
Guardian Druid, Quest Turtle Mage, Zoo Warlock (Montu)
Guardian Druid, Quest Turtle Mage, Aggro Rogue (Dabs)

Comments from the winners:

Decky on Soul Demon Hunter, Tempo Mage, Bomb Warrior:
“I usually banned Warriors. But I think this lineup can beat every deck in this meta. My target was aggro decks like Aggro Rogue. Thanks to 현명한현민이 for making this great lineup.”

Kalàxz on Tempo Mage, Stealth Rogue, Zoo Warlock:
“I just picked 3 tier 1 decks (other 2 remaining being Warrior and Druid), banned the most annoying of these for my lineup (obv. Warrior with Skipper package), built the best versions of Mage and Zoo and took what I think was the best Rogue at that time (still unsure about which Rogue is the best, there are so many), and rolled on people with bad lineups, most of them including Priest, which is gonna fall off a lot I think unless someone refines the class with a decently suited version against lineups like mine. Expecting a lot more Warrior/Soul DH/Druid to come to play, and hopefully we get to see Guardian Animals being nerfed (it’s easy, remove rush, hello?), along with Warrior taking a slight nerf, and I honestly think we’d be close to one of the best metagames ever, with 8-9 (even 10?) classes having a shot at competitive play, which would be quite unseen.”

VoidStacker on Galakrond Priest, Aggro Rogue, Enrage Warrior:
“They line up was very tempo oriented , Enraged Warrior , super aggro Stealth Rogue and Dragon Galakrond Priest. The main target was to trap Pain Zoo as a free win because all three line up decks have very favourable match up for it. Also I wanted to make sure an aggro deck to trapped in general and have a decent Priest beatdown in case I could not auto ban it. I didn’t ban Bomb Warrior at all. Primary bans were Libram Paladin , Priest or Soul Fragemnt DH control. the choices in the line were. for warrior 2x Ooze and 2x Tolvir to make sure i will beat down early on Bomb Warrior and counter their Bombs , for Rogue Akama came as a good grind tool , other than that it was the MVP of the tournament Self Sharpening Sword single carried vs Warriors and all cheaps aggro spell and minions made the faster Rogue of all lists in the tournament. Lastly but not least dragon priest was as a ban bait. Also more proactive list and tempo with so many minions, Cleric plus Raise Dead was MVP engine drawing all my spells and outvalue even bad match ups like Bomb Warrior
that was the full mind set. Druid was my actual auto ban because this line up really struggles vs cheated mana highroll!”

와와 on Soul Demon Hunter, Stealth Rogue, Enrage Warrior:
“When I watched GM matches or played ranked matches, I saw a lot of aggro type decks trying to win class like Priest or Druid. So I made a lineup for catching aggro decks. My lineup was Control DH, Enrage Warrior, Aggro Rogue and I usually banned Warrior. Personally, I think with Tempo Mage is better lineup than with Rogue as an anti-aggro lineup. However, I wasn’t confident in the Mage deck, so I chose an rogue archetype that is advantageous in mirror match.”

Beister on Soul Demon Hunter, Secret Rogue, Bomb Warrior:
“I noticed that Rogue was the most played class in the qualifier #32. That’s why I played Soul Demon Hunter and Bomb Warrior. As 3rd class I selected Secret Rogue because it’s slightly favored against Wapon Rogue and meanwhile it improves the Lineup against Priest. I teched 1 Ooze and 1 Immolation Aura into Soul Demon Hunter against the Rogue and Aggro matchups. I used Bomb Warrior with the Risky Skipper package against the Aggro matchups. Standard ban was Bomb Warrior. If you have any questions regarding the lineup feel free to contact me on Twitter.”

FanBoy on Guardian Druid, Highlander Priest, Secret Rogue:
“Targeting lineups in the current meta is tough. The diversity right now leads to a lot of different decks being brought. I think when you are going into a qualifier you should be thinking much less about how your decks do against particular lineups and much more on the raw power level of your decks. This way of thinking also lends itself to playing decks with non-linear playstyles which is why I prefer Secret Rogue over Weapon Rogue and Highlander Priest over normal Galakrond Priest.”

Team NoProsHere Conquest Meta Report #24

by BasedincNPH Pasca, and WickedGood

Hearththstone Masters Qualifiers Madrid week 2 (16-30)

After one full week in the Academy, some Heroes have started to clearly lead the class. But there is a lot of room at the top. Every Class made multiple top 8 appearances this weekend and only Paladin, Shaman and Warlock failed to cross the finish line and take a win. One of those is quite surprising, but we’ll address that later. One significant shift took place in our top 3 classes and the top tier line-up.

Druid remains the top deck with a little over half the players bringing Guardian Druid. Priest takes second place with all flavors of Galakrond Priest taking in about half of the line-ups. Paladin has dropped significantly as other lists have become refined and Paladin has stayed the same. Uther is no longer the meta-breaker he was last week and is too linear and targetable to hang out in the top 3. Paladin still has powerful on curve plays and is one of the premier midrange strategies which keeps it at a healthy population in tier 3. Warrior has returned to its rightful place atop the meta. Recent developments in the Bomb Warrior build have significantly improved its match ups across the board making it one of the highest win-rate decks in Qualifiers! Enrage and Big Warriors still make appearances in some line-ups but are likely tier 3 decks according to winrate.

Rogue stands atop the large tier 2 of classes with roughly a third of players bringing one of the many flavors of Rogue. The aggressive Stealth builds make up the largest portion of players but the Miracle-style Secret Rogue that only 7.3% of players brought was the best performing Rogue. And with an ever lower number of players (3%) bringing it, Galakrond Secret Rogue performed very well this weekend likely coming in to punish some of the greedier strategies like Priest. Demon Hunter was brought by a little less than a fourth of the players and was primarily Tempo strategies which performed very middling. However, Soul Shard Demon Hunters performed much better than their tempo counterparts suggesting there may be a shift coming next week in that direction. Mages round out these next three classes with 11.2% of players bringing Tempo lists and 8.0% bringing Highlander lists. Neither of them performed particularly spectacular with Tempo Mage hauling in just above a 50% win-rate on the weekend and Highlander Mage showing signs of being a tier 3 deck despite its solid match-ups against Priest.

As mentioned earlier, Paladin has dropped significantly and found itself declining in usage all weekend. Its win-rates don’t inspire too much confidence either. It is just not a tournament deck. Warlock is one of the most interesting classes this weekend. It was split primarily between Zoo (8.1%) and Galakrond (7.8%) and was one of 3 classes to not win a qualifier. However, Zoo was the best performing deck of the entire weekend! It’s decent match-up against Druid and strong match-up against Priest make it an excellent choice in a ban Warrior strategy, but we’ll see if it can handle its own success once it is a more expected deck. Galakrond Warlock also had a decent showing with an above 50% win-rate for the weekend. Don’t expect Warlock to be the 8th most popular class next weekend. Hunter was the 9th most popular class with most builds split between Face Hunter and Highlander Hunter. The win-rates of the two decks were both quite unimpressive, but Face Hunter took down 2 Qualifiers while Highlander Hunter took 1! Certainly finding success in aggressive line-ups anyways! Shaman’s population continued to shrink from last week. Control Shaman made a couple top 8s but the class does not look exciting in the current landscape.

The meta is still far from settled and the mismatches between the top represented and top win-rates suggest we’ll see another shift next weekend as people try to capitalize on the unexpected and powerful strategies still emerging in Scholomance Academy.

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.

Tier List:

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.

Meta Defining Lineups:
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Bomb Warrior (Zeeland / MegaGliscor / Elefanti)

Proven Lineups:
Tempo Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Enrage Warrior (Matteo / Itzvan)
Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Bomb Warrior (山下智久)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Face Hunter, Stealth Rogue (Butterz)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Hunter, Secret Galakrond Rogue (TheTeacher/Reliquary)

Pretty Good Lineups:
Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Secret Galakrond Rogue (INER)
Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior (あなる王子)
Guardian Druid, Highlander Priest, Bomb Warrior (NORE)
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Aggro Rogue (Siroco)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Stealth Rogue, Zoo Warlock (min / PDA)
Tempo Mage, Highlander Priest, Bomb Warrior (LLIoKoJIaD / 애대박)
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior (Quebek / etovityusha / DenBut)
Face Hunter, Tempo Mage, Stealth Rogue (Dyer)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Spell Druid, Highlander Rogue (현명한약강)

Interesting Lineups:
Galakrond Priest, Control Shaman, Control Warrior (LaN)
Highlander Hunter, Highlander Priest, Bomb Warrior (Kinertiyu / 하스스톤의망령)
Libram Paladin, Highlander Priest, Big Warrior (Dragonmaster)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Secret Rogue, Zoo Warlock (Felzak)
Control Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Bomb Warrior (哈利)
Guardian Druid, Quest Turtle Mage, Bomb Warrior (magicgeek)
Spell Mage, Highlander Priest, Galakrond Warlock (Soulmaker)
Token Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior (VoidStacker)
Malygos Druid, Other Mage, Zoo Warlock (Dabs)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Turtle Mage (Debs)
Stealth Rogue, Zoo Warlock, Enrage Warrior (Yachster)
Face Hunter, Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest (ZheDude)
Libram Paladin, Galakrond Priest, Secret Rogue (gle)
Tempo Demon Hunter, Galakrond Priest, Secret Galakrond Rogue (noblord)
Control Demon Hunter, Dragon Spell Druid, Aggro Rogue (哈利)

Comments from the winners:

MegaGliscor on Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Bomb Warrior:
“Priest and Druid are so powerful, even they can win against unfavorable decks. Third hero, Warrior can fight against Priest or Druid. Ban hero is Priest or Warrior, which is better depends on other heroes. If an opponent’s Priest adopts Ooze or Stickyfinger, please ban Priest.
Priest: I took Galakrond Priest, not Highlander for consistency.
Druid: I piled up 2 Wild Growth and 2 Survival of the Fittest for mirror.
Warrior: I used Skipper and Armorsmith package for aggro decks. Weapon buff cards are for mirror.”

Elefanti on Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Bomb Warrior:
“This lineup wasn’t really build to counter anything but rather just pick some of the best/strongest classes/decks in the meta right now. All my games and bans can be seen here, but I tried to ban Warrior most of the time as I feelt that deck performed really well againt both Druid and Priest, and I didn’t really wanna try to play in the mirror. If my opponent didn’t have a Warrior in the lineup I tried to ban classes like buff/aggro Paladin or other aggro deck like aggro Rogue. The list I used are just list thats been performing great over ladder and other people. I would’t change the Druid list, but if you run into a lot of Oozes you can change Zephrys for 1 Hoard Pillager to play around Ooze more. Some people like Zyrios play 1 Shield of Galakrond instead of Murozond but I like the value Murozond gives in some matchups and unless you get another Invoke card you won’t get max Galarkond with the 3 Galakrond cards if you play Shield so I decided to cut it.”

Matteo on Tempo Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Enrage Warrior:
“I went with a target aggro strategy because I didn’t have dust for Priest and Bomb Warrior on Asia. In the end, I was happy to not have Priest in my lineup because a lot of people tried to target it, and vs the target Priest decks, my lineup performed really well. Standard ban was Priest.”

Itzvan on Tempo Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Enrage Warrior:
“I was mainly focused on banning the Priest since my 3 decks loose to it. These decks are easy to create since most cards are free or inexpensive and are the only decks that I can afford on the Asian server. In the case of the Druid, I have Animated Broomstick to use with any of the Beasts, which I found very favorable, mainly against aggros. In the case of the Demon Hunter choose not to run the Skulls since 90% of the deck are low cost cards and for the Rogue it is enough with the Voracius Readers against the Druid choose to carry double Mana Burn and double Cult Neophyte. I hope this lineup helps you qualify or at least reach the top 8.”

山下智久 on Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Bomb Warrior:
“My ban strategy is to ban Priest in priority, then Warrior. Priest opponents are not easy for my Warrior and my Mage, and Bomb Warrior is a very hard matchup for my Mage. I chose Spell Mage, Bomb Warrior and Galakrond Priest, no Druid because I thought that many people would try to go anti Druid. I think that my lineup is good against Druid but also against aggro, for example Zoo Warlock or Aggro DH. If my opponent has an all aggro lineup I ban Shaman, then Rogue (for example against Rogue-Hunter-DH I ban Rogue).”

Butterz on Tempo Demon Hunter, Face Hunter, Stealth Rogue:
“Ban Warrior, target Druid lineup. You’re also happy to play against Priest and Secret Rogue. 2x Cult in DH is really good against Druids and Tempo Mage, you still play Bonechewer and Augmerchant package because that’s one of the ways you beat Priest, 2 Marrow Slicers is also good burst damage over 2 turns and allows you to Glaivebound on curve more consistently and Voracious Reader is a 1/3 most of the time so I cut it. I got the Stealth Rogue list from Glory’s Grandmaster lineup and Face Hunter is from @Maur1HS on Twitter and I didn’t have Dragonbane in the Face Hunter list because I didn’t have enough dust on EU lol.”

TheTeacher and Reliquary on Guardian Druid, Highlander Hunter, Secret Galakrond Rogue:
“Let’s start from the begining, this line up actually started because I had no cards to play the ‘better’ line ups on the American server so I asked Reliquary for help to do a decent line up with the decks I had at the moment. Since I had Highlander Hunter he suggested a play against Priest line up, I also had Druid, which doesn’t counter Priest but it’s a very strong deck so we decided that had to be in the line up.
So we were missing one deck, there was some banter on Twitter about Galakrond Rogue vs Priest so we decided to do some testing and Galakrond Rogue was beating Priest pretty easly, I had Galakrond Rogue on NA so this choice closes the line up. In the first cups only I played the line up and did pretty ok, so I decided to also play the same line up on the European server, where I actually won, naturally Reliquary decided to play the line up on Sunday because it looked pretty good after all, we were on vacation and playing at the hotel, so he didn’t play the European cup so we could enjoy some vacation time, but he never thought that he would win the American cup. So for the strategy we thought about playing mostly against Priest since it is very popular at the moment, we also had some other decks that were pretty good to play against like Paladin, our mainly problem was line ups targeting Druid, because of that we decided to play the 5 beasts version with double Thresher since most of them play board based decks. The ban strategy was actually not very staight forward, but at first our ban was always Bomb Warrior. When the enemy line up didn’t have Bomb Warrior we needed to see which was our worst deck (most times Druid or Hunter, Rogue was actually insane all the series), so after checking that we banned to protect our weaker deck, for exemple if the opponent is targeting Druid we let up the two decks that give our Druid more chances of winning, even if it means some worse match ups for our other deck. So we ended up banning a lot of Face decks since it punishes our Hunter and Druid a lot, I think that is all about this line up me and Reliquary created. Shoutout to Pinche, because we had the idea of targeting Priest because he did well with this strategy the week before.”

INER on Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Secret Galakrond Rogue:
“I didn’t have Druid and Bomb Warrior on NA so i took the decks I have and I like to play with banned Druid and struggled with Bomb Warrior but dodged them a bit. No certain strategy just improvisation.”

あなる王子 on Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior:
“I thought there would be more tempo decks. I chose decks that could beat them. The ban is Druid. I thought I was weak against the Druids. But I looked at the GM and Priest might be more of a threat.”

Siroco on Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Aggro Rogue:
Here’s the VOD of my tournament. Priority ban is Warrior, then Priest. Target is Druid. I played those 3 decks because they’re the only ones I have.”

Meet The New Grandmasters, Part Two: TIZS

by NPH Pasca

This series of interviews by Team NoProsHere vows to help fans discover the new Hearthstone Grandmasters promoted for the season of August 2020.

Ching-Li “TIZS” Li is a 27 years old player from Taiwan who earned his ticket to Asia-Pacific Grandmasters by finishing in the top 8 of Masters Tour Arlington, 6-3 in Los Angeles and 6-3 in Jönköping.

Twitter

NPH: Congratulations on making it into the Grandmasters program! How does it feel?
TIZS: It feels excellent. All the hard work is worthy.

NPH: When did you start playing Hearthstone? Where does your game name come from?
TIZS: I started playing Hearthstone from beta. My game name is similar to numbers 7, 12, and 5, which are numbers of stroke to write my Chinese name.

NPH: Were you competitive from the beginning?
TIZS: It is easy for me to get high legend from the beginning. However, I decided to start participating in tournaments two year ago.

NPH: How would you describe your style as a player? What are your favorite types of decks? What can viewers expect from you in Grandmasters?
TIZS: I like all types of decks except aggro. However, I would bring aggro to Grandmasters if it is needed. So, the viewer can see all kinds of strong lineups from me in Grandmasters.

NPH: How do you prepare for the upcoming season? Who do you practice with?
TIZS: I prepare with tom60229 and GivePLZ.

NPH: What is the competitive scene like in your region or country? Are there a lot of tournaments? Is the community very engaged?
TIZS: There aren’t many tournaments. Most players don’t have teams.

NPH: What advice would you give to players who are just starting to be competitive in Hearthstone?
TIZS: If you play well, never give up.

NPH: Good luck with the season! Are you anxious?
TIZS: I am so anxious. I will try my best to overcome the anxiety and have good performance.

Lineups analysis: Grandmasters 2020 Season 2 Week 1

by Basedinc

Hearthstone Grandmasters is back! With just over a week since the launch of Scholomance Academy, the meta is still a shifting puzzle. These are the players most likely to solve that puzzle and there are some clear directions that the pros have found. I created a Google Sheet with some brief information about their line ups as well as links to each players’ line up. You can access that here to see all the decks and swiss performance!
This article discusses the Grandmasters’ deck choices, the bans, and the differences between the 3 regions.

The Global Meta

GlobalBroughtAverage
Demon Hunter41.33
Druid4414.67
Hunter31.00
Mage3612.00
Paladin72.33
Priest4214.00
Rogue206.67
Shaman00.00
Warlock72.33
Warrior299.67

Druid and Priest were almost unanimously agreed on as must brings (EU agreed on Mage where all 16 players brought the same archetype!). Mage, Warrior and Rogue followed up as the next tier of popularity and likely these choices is where each player’s line up direction was truly decided. Finally Paladin, Warlock, Demon Hunter and Hunter were added to line ups for very specific strategies (or possibly quiet meta breakers?). Shaman sees another week without play. Quest Flinger Shaman is unfortunately not pinging pens this week.

There were some notable differences between the regions this weekend and some interesting meta reads even in this completely unsolved meta, but before we talk about those. We have to understand some of the line up building choices that led these players to their 4 decks.

The Ban Meta

GlobalPrimary BanAverage
Demon Hunter00.00
Druid62.00
Hunter00.00
Mage00.00
Paladin00.00
Priest227.33
Rogue10.33
Shaman00.00
Warlock00.00
Warrior196.33

These numbers are incredibly rough. You cannot accurately distill ban strategies to a single class. There were many line-ups that banned quite flexibly and were able to better take into account both their opponent’s techs/likely ban to make a better choice in particular match-ups or may have had to leave up a dangerous deck in an attempt to get a deck targeted by their opponent its best chance at a win. Many identical line-ups (in terms of archetypes) made different ban choices overall as well. This could be a result of tech choices or just pilot preference.

There were two primary strategies. Ban Priest or ban Warrior. A handful of players banned Druid and NoHandsGamer appeared to ban Rogue as his highest priority. Ban Priest appeared to be the default position. Players found success with every strategy.

Priest is quite powerful and with nearly everyone bringing Priest it is also a consideration to plan on limiting your Priest mirrors to help maintain your focus as they become very grindy attempting to play optimally. This isn’t ladder where it is a race to concede the Priest mirror. These line-ups tended to bring Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Galakrond or Highlander Priest and Bomb Warrior. Interestingly, two line-ups bringing Control Demon Hunter chose to ban Priest over Bomb Warrior and had success doing so!

With banning Warrior appearing to be the secondary strategy, there is often a bit more variance in the line-ups taking the secondary ban approach. Banning Warrior allowed players to bring more aggressive board based strategies to better pressure Druids. This opened up players to bring Aggressive Demon Hunters, Malygos Druid, Hunters, Rogues and Warlocks.

Most of the players I identified as banning Druid commonly had a flexible ban strategy and often had unique decks such as Tortollan Mage and Enrage Warrior (yes Enrage/Egg Warrior are now considered unique to lineups, welcome to Scholomance). These “ban Druid” line-ups were likely built with flexibility in mind and found themselves hitting the highest base power level deck in Druid. The other two strategies often found themselves banning Druid as a second priority to give a bit more credence to this theory.

Ban priorities are chosen during line-up building and both are selected based on meta reads. So what did this lead to in the different regions?

Europe

EUBroughtGlobal Avg. Diff.Prim BansGlobal Avg. Diff.
Demon Hunter1-0.33Demon Hunter00.00
Druid150.33Druid31.00
Hunter0-1.00Hunter00.00
Mage164.00Mage00.00
Paladin0-2.33Paladin00.00
Priest13-1.00Priest7-0.33
Rogue4-2.67Rogue0-0.33
Shaman00.00Shaman00.00
Warlock30.67Warlock00.00
Warrior122.33Warrior6-0.33

Europe, the land of Mage and Warrior. I mentioned earlier that Europe is the only region that all 16 players brought the same class and the same archetype for that class! Everyone agreed that Tempo Mage was necessary. Europe also had the most Warriors and was about average on banning Warrior. They showed respect for Garrosh by Rogue’s lowest numbers. All of the players also decided Paladin and Hunter were not good enough in Conquest making them the region with the least class diversity. They’d really established what the top meta was and stuck with it.

Asia Pacific

APACBroughtGlobal Avg. Diff.Prim BansGlobal Avg. Diff.
Demon Hunter31.67Demon Hunter00.00
Druid150.33Druid0-2.00
Hunter21.00Hunter00.00
Mage9-3.00Mage00.00
Paladin41.67Paladin00.00
Priest151.00Priest7-0.33
Rogue70.33Rogue0-0.33
Shaman00.00Shaman00.00
Warlock2-0.33Warlock00.00
Warrior7-2.67Warrior92.67

APAC had the largest variety in classes at the cost of its Mage and Warrior population. The lower Warrior population was likely predicted at the higher brings of Demon Hunter and Rogue and a higher number of players banning Warrior (lucky for them). Control Demon Hunter was brought by only 3 players this weekend all in APAC and they took the top 2 placements after Swiss. Control Demon Hunter performs nicely against everything not in the big 3 (Druid, Priest and especially Warrior) and likely enjoyed this diverse meta and low Warrior population.

Americas

AMBroughtGlobal Avg. Diff.Prim BansGlobal Avg. Diff.
Demon Hunter0-1.33Demon Hunter00.00
Druid14-0.67Druid31.00
Hunter10.00Hunter00.00
Mage11-1.00Mage00.00
Paladin30.67Paladin00.00
Priest140.00Priest80.67
Rogue92.33Rogue10.67
Shaman00.00Shaman00.00
Warlock2-0.33Warlock00.00
Warrior100.33Warrior4-2.33

The Americas’ unique stamp on the format lies in its high Rogue population and some unique deck and line-up brings beneath the surface. Eddie and killinallday brought an identical 120 cards after prepping together including the highly controversial Tortollan Mage. Briarthorn and NoHandsGamer brought the two most unique line-ups of the weekend. The rest of Americas’ numbers suggest it was fairly in line with the global trends, but they didn’t pay the same respect to Warrior as the other regions with a much lower focus on banning the Warrior and a lot more flexible bans.

The Meta Revisited

The meta was highly varied this week. The primary 4 decks were certainly found in Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest and Bomb Warrior, but this wasn’t the only successful line-up from the weekend. Players were able to find success with nearly every class with the exceptions of Hunter and Shaman. The next meta will begin to revolve around these top 4 decks and these players may seek the weak link of them and target them.

Next week is Last Hero Standing where ban strategies can be used to open up and prevent sweeps and sometimes decks can be brought and hard teched for very specific match-ups. Expect a lot more creativity and variety out of players.

Team NoProsHere Conquest Meta Report #23

by Basedinc, NPH Pasca, NPH SnakeFawdz and WickedGood

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.

Over the course of the weekend, Enrage Warrior declined in popularity and was replaced by Pure Paladin.

Tier List:

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.

Meta Defining Lineups:
Guardian Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior (Pilou / Win / Paradox / BlizzconJan)
Guardian Druid, Pure Paladin, Highlander Priest (Hawkeye / Alkaiser / GrJim / TechnoGoose)

Proven Lineups:
Soul Fragment Demon Hunter, Guardian Druid, Enrage Warrior (Trec)
Guardian Druid, Pure Paladin, Galakrond Priest (Kinertiyu)
Guardian Druid, Zoo Warlock, Enrage Warrior (myao)

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)

Interesting Lineups:
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).”

Paradox on Pilou’s Ramp Druid, Galakrond Priest, Enrage Warrior:
Paradox wrote down his thoughts in this document. He also documents the open cups metagame in this spreadsheet.

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.”

Meet The New Grandmasters, Part One: AyRoK

by NPH Pasca

This series of interviews by Team NoProsHere vows to help fans discover the new Hearthstone Grandmasters promoted for the season of August 2020.

Romaric “AyRoK” Dubois is a 19 years old player from Lyon, France who earned his ticket to Europe Grandmasters by finishing second in Masters Tour Arlington. He will make his debut this coming weekend.

TwitterTwitch

NPH: Congratulations on making it into the Grandmasters program! How does it feel?
AyRoK: It feels really good! That wasn’t easy to be here but damn what a cool thing! I wasn’t expected to qualify to Grandmasters and get there so early. So I’m just happy right now and really excited to play in the league.

NPH: When did you start playing Hearthstone? What games were you playing before? Where does your game name come from?
AyRoK: I started playing video games like a lot of young teenagers with game console (from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft), and then mobile games with Supercell. Games like Clash of Clans or Clash Royal (where I started playing tournaments), and I finally discovered Hearthstone in 2016. It was unique and it mixed everything I liked. I watched a lot of streams, tournaments, and really liked the game. When I began Hearthstone tournaments, I wanted to change my game name (that was something like Dark numbers) to be more professional. AyRoK is a mix between different elements linked to me but it doesn’t mean anything. And it sounds good (I think)!

NPH: Were you competitive from the beginning? How hard did you grind the ladder? What are some amateur tournaments, circuits or teams you played in?
AyRoK: In 2017 I took part in my first offline event in France after trying some online qualifiers, and then in 2019 my first international tournament with Master’s Tour Las Vegas. I’m a young player without a lot of experience. Before Vegas, I participated in the Blizzard circuit only with Challenger Finals in 2018. I didn’t play a lot in ladder, I don’t like it so never tried to push a high rank at the end of the month. The new format for 2019 with qualifiers was the start of my involvement in the international scene with offline events.

NPH: A lot of people know you for your performance in Arlington, what are some other breakthrough events you performed well at? What is your favorite moment from the stream of a competitive event?
AyRoK: I got some good results in French tournaments, but compared to Arlington this is nothing. I’m very anxious when I play high stakes matches, it cost me some games in tournaments in the past (missing last matches for a good result) but with my good run in Arlington, it’s like breaking the curse, and gave me more confidence.
My favorite moment was the semi final against Felkeine at Arlington. I played a Box on 5 and the game was crazy, we just looked each other and laughed even if it was a high stakes match. And game 5 vs Totosh in quarter final was really close, going to fatigue after a long match…

NPH: How would you describe your style as a player? What are your favorite types of decks? What can viewers expect from you in Grandmasters?
AyRoK: I’m an aggro / midrange player, but when I’m going to participate in a tournament, I play tier 1 decks most of the time and try to be better than other players. But I have some practice partners who have crazy ideas maybe I will pick some of them to surprise other players.

NPH: What is your occupation outside of Hearthstone? Do you have projects that you put on hold to focus on your gaming career? How many hours per week do you play the game?
AyRoK: With GrandMasters I decided to take a break from my studies (in Economy) and try to do my best in the league. I’m 19 years old, I have time to try to live my dream and if it doesn’t work go back to studying. I don’t know how much time I play every day but to prepare GM, it’s like 12 to 15 hours a day, just sleep, eat and play. When I don’t have tournaments it’s more like 3 to 6 hours a day.

NPH: How do you prepare for the upcoming season? Who do you practice with?
AyRoK: Playing a lot to test a lot of decks first in ladder to learn the basics and after in custom games with practice partners to train some match ups, mulligans… I practice with other very good French players, like Warma, Totosh, Guntofire, Trec, Gaby59.
I don’t play with all of the French GM because we are going to play each other every week. It’s an issue if you train with the half of the field!

NPH: What is it like to play for Glory4Builds? What kind of support do they provide to you?
AyRoK: They’re doing everything they can to help me to focus on the game, my streams, and myself. There is a lot of staff in the team for every request I can have. With the virus I didn’t travel in offline events but even if it was online events they are very helpful in my daily work.

NPH: What is the competitive scene like in your region or country? Are there a lot of tournaments? Is the community very engaged?
AyRoK: The French scene is insane. I don’t know if any other country (except China maybe) have this kind of online and offline tournaments. There are a lot of organizers and a big WebTV with Solary who made a good work to unifying all French players and be an ambassador of competitive Hearthstone in our country.

NPH: On top of playing competitively, do you also create content? What kind? How much time do you spend on that?
AyRoK: I started Streaming on Twitch since last month (AyRoK_HS). I try to stream everyday but with Grandmasters it will be more like 3-4 streams per week I think. I need to find a balance between competition and streaming. But I love streaming and want to develop the channel (and I have some cool emotes). And like many other players I share all my news on Twitter like tournaments results, streams, decklists….

NPH: What advice would you give to players who are just starting to be competitive in Hearthstone?
AyRoK: You need to play a lot but with a healthy lifestyle (sleep well for example) to not be disturbed when you’re thinking about the game and be focussed. When I started competitions I watched a lot of streams, tournaments and tried to do same plays as top players. You will gain experience faster. Try to make your plays before and learn all of the thinking process. Last thing, you have a lot of tools to help you on the game like HSReplay, Yaytears, or some Twitter accounts like Pasca, Ahirun with a lot of decklists, stats…

NPH: Good luck with the season! Are you anxious ?
AyRoK: I’m excited but nervous at the same time. High stakes on the line, top players, an insane challenge for me as an outsider. I will do my best to keep my spot first and then maybe qualify for Worlds, the ultimate dream for me as a kid.