vS Data Reaper Report #24 | Vicious Syndicate (vS)

vS Data Reaper Report #24

A weekly Hearthstone Meta Report based on data from over 52,000 games.


Data Reaper Report Logo

 Welcome to the 24th edition of the Data Reaper Report!

For your convenience, this report has been translated into the following language(s): português.

Attention: vS is looking for individuals who are interested in joining our team as translators of our Data Reaper Report. The languages that are popular among our readers: Japanese, Chinese, Russian, German, Spanish, Korean, and French. Please contact us if you are interested in helping more of your countrymen enjoy our weekly report.

Number of Games

Overall 52,000
Ranks Legend-10 38,000
Ranks 11-15 9,000

Class/Archetype Distribution

drr-24-class-frequencies-all-ranks

Class Frequency by Weeksdrr-24-class-freq-by-weeks

  1. Shaman continues to rise and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. It’s very close to breaking our Data Reaper record, achieved by the Warrior class, shortly before ONiK’s release. However, when the Warrior class was 26% of the Metagame, it comprised of 5 different archetypes that played very differently, with each of them boasting a significant presence and none of them had a particularly oppressive effect on the Meta. Shaman’s diversity is close to non-existent, with Midrange Shaman making up most of the numbers, and being very homogenous in its build. This makes ladder frustrating for many, as you’re often playing the same deck, over and over again. While TOB limitations at the moment prevent us from accurately observing the legend Meta, our estimates are that Midrange Shaman, a single archetype, makes up 30% of ladder opponents. That’s what happens when one of Shaman’s worst matchups… is the mirror matchup at 50% win rate.
  2. With most other classes declining in numbers, Hunter finds itself leading the first pack chasing Shaman from far, far away. The class has been in inner turmoil, and we say that in a good way. Face Hunter, which is the aggressive, all-in variant of the Secret Hunter archetype, has exploded around the time the World Championship decklists were published. This deck had individual ladder success before, but had a small presence that was difficult to properly assess and segregate from Secret Hunter in a way that was statistically viable. This is no longer the case.
  3. The rest of the Meta is pretty settled down. Druid is trending up, but not by much, some archetypes are continuing to decline as Shaman numbers increase further, but besides Shaman, there’s a clear separation between two groups of classes: One we feel would be fine if Shamans weren’t so oppressive, and another group of classes that clearly need help. Control Warlock archetypes need further support. Rogue is too one dimensional and easy to punish. Paladin has great archetype diversity but most of these archetypes are inherently weak. Priest is a bundle of sadness.

Matchup Win Rates Header

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Power Rankings Header

We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 24. The numbers we report are the expected win rates of each archetype based on their matchups against the field, factoring in the frequency of all potential opponents on ladder at different rank groups over the past week.

drr-24-vs-power-ranking

  1. Midrange Shaman has hardly moved an inch. It actually got slightly stronger this week. Its performance against the field has been very stable since the balance changes, but we’ve noticed that it slightly improved in some matchups over the past week, offseting the effect of the continuing increase in mirror matchups. If you take out these mirror matchups, its score is about 56.2%.
  2. We have a new Tier 1 deck, and this one could impact the Meta quite heavily. Face Hunter has been mostly under the radar on ladder. Its current incarnation is being a variant of Secret Hunter that relinquishes the mid and late game for more consistency in having an explosive opening from which the opponent will struggle to come back. When you evaluate its performance against the field compared to its slower but still very strong cousin, it doesn’t seem to be a stronger deck in a vacuum. It is much weaker against Warriors which is quite expected without having Hunter’s late game value cards; and it’s weaker against Druids and Tempo Mage. It does do better against decks like Freeze Mage and Miracle Rogue, but that’s not where most of the discrepancy comes from. It does far, far better against Midrange Shaman, boasting a slightly positive win rate against it compared to Secret Hunter, and when Shaman is a quarter of the Meta, that is a very big deal. Secret Hunter keeps hovering between 40%-45% in that matchup according to our metrics, while Face Hunter is currently boasting a 52% win rate. The second important factor is that Face Hunter beats Secret Hunter, due to its ability to win the lethal race in the mirror. This might lay the groundwork for Face Hunter to start taking over its class.
  3. Spell Druid continues to look relatively unimpressive on ladder. Why is it the case despite it being considered by many pros to be one of the two strongest archetypes in the game? In the tournament scene, Druid is extremely powerful because it has fantastic matchups across the field against many different decks. On ladder, its most frequent opponent is Midrange Shaman, one of its strongest counters. Ban Shaman in a tournament format, and Druid becomes very hard to target. Zoo Warlock, its biggest counter, is not very popular in tournaments due to its bad matchups against Warrior and Shaman. The only other deck that seems to be emerging to put further strain on Druids is Secret Hunter. The secret package of Cat Trick, Snipe and Freezing Trap is highly effective against the Druid game plan, and combined with the sticky high value mid-game Hunter possesses, it’s a recipe that seems to be putting Druids on the back foot. Thijs’ World Championship lineup is well thought out and is designed to try and do something many players have given up on: punish Druid in the conquest format.

Data Reaper Report - Shaman

It’s impossible to ignore the dominance of Midrange Shaman throughout tournament and ladder play. Ever since the gift of Maelstrom Portal and Spirit Claws, Midrange Shaman has been a powerhouse within the class, overshadowing all other Shaman archetypes, especially with Aggro Shaman’s disappearance following the Rockbiter change.

For the World Championship group stage, all of the competitors have brought a version of Midrange Shaman. It is the only archetype in the tournament that has a 100% representation rate. Most builds are very similar to each other but there are some interesting tech choices with the interest of gaining small advantages that can make a difference in particular matchups.

HotMEWOTH brought a standard list with anti-weapon tech in Harrison Jones and all 4 copies of AOE spells (2xPortal, 2xStorm), which makes it a strong build in the mirror matchup and therefore pretty good for ladder play. Thijs included an Earth Shock in his build while omitting one Valiant (identical to Bbgungun’s). Virtus Pro teammates, Dr. Hippi and Naiman, included Defender of Argus.

Amnesiac brought his own take on the archetype, which he has refined over the past few weeks, emphasizing boosted spell damage, exploiting great synergies with other Shaman tools. His version includes two Kobold Geomancers as well as the standard Bloodmage Thalnos. DDaHyoNi brought a very greedy list that targets slower decks, including two copies of Flamewreathed Faceless as well as Nexus Champion Saraad. Saraad acts as a pseudo third Thunderbluff Valiant that snowballs value if left uncontested.

On ladder, Rosty has been maintaining a top 10 legend spot with a Flamewreathed Faceless build, teching in an Acidic Swamp Ooze instead of Harrison Jones, to have a more flexible anti-weapon tech that’s cheaper and can be dropped earlier in the game.

Data Reaper Report - Hunter

In past weeks, especially those right before the Call of the Wild change, there was a debate about whether midrange or secret variants of Hunter are better. After the change that weakened Hunter’s strongest late game tool, Hunters are forced to try harder for explosive openings to gain the advantage early. As such, the debate is no longer between Midrange and Secret Hunter, but rather between Face Secret Hunter and Midrange Secret Hunter. The debate is most evident in the World Championship Group Stage decks, where of the 12 Hunter decks submitted, six were Midrange Secret, five were Face Secret, and only one was a vanilla Midrange Hunter that utilizes Desert Camels.

Since the Americas Last Call Championship, Houndmaster has found its way into Midrange Secret Hunter lists, in order to allow Kindly Grandmother and Infested Wolf to have a stronger impact on the board. Houndmaster also serves to improve the mirror matchup, as in many cases your opponent would simply ignore your deathrattle minions and go face. A turn 4 Houndmaster play often puts you in a position to win the lethal race.

In terms of Face Secret Hunter developments, the seventh trap slot is currently up in the air. While Explosive Trap, Freezing Trap, and Cat Trick are all staples in the deck, there remains room for either one more secret or a more token heavy package. The traditional build, as employed by Breath, utilizes Snake Trap to give the deck slightly more staying power. HotMeowth took a tune from the midrange variants and included Snipe in his list to better stop his opponents from being able to come back to the board, while also keeping Animal Companion in the build. Virtus Pro’s list drops a Freezing Trap to include both. Finally, Amnesiac opted for a hybrid approach, including only the six core secrets and use the extra spot, as well as room from cutting Squires, to place in Knife Jugglers and Infested Wolves, giving the deck extra comeback mechanics in the mirror.

Data Reaper Report - Warrior

Warrior remains one of the top classes both on ladder and in tournament play, displaying the versatility in archetypes that has come to be associated with the class. Control Warrior is significantly more popular than other archetypes, with Pirate, Dragon and C’Thun Warrior having largely similar usage rates. Even within the archetype, Control Warrior has a wide variety of builds, with some decks electing to use N’Zoth or Yogg-Saron as finishers while others stick to a more vanilla build. Twilight Summoner is the new innovation in N’Zoth Warrior as a less clunky alternative to Cairne Bloodhoof that still provides high value with N’Zoth, with several players achieving good results with various iterations of the deck.

13 out of 16 players are bringing Warrior to the World Championship group stage, with Control and C’Thun being most popular alongside a pair of Dragon Warriors, with Pirate Warrior conspicuous by its absence. The majority of Control Warriors are opting for Yogg-Saron as a finisher, being very similar to Rosty’s standard build, with only a single N’Zoth build and a pair of lists playing neither. With most players presumably planning to ban Shaman, several lists have opted to cut one Revenge in order to better target matchups like Druid and the mirror matchup. There is much less variety in C’Thun Warrior lists, with SilentStorm’s list from Americas Last Call setting the tone. Dragon Warrior is a deck that has been largely the same for a while, but Chinese player OmegaZero brings an interesting list playing Argent Commander and using a Deathwing as a finisher.

Despite its popularity it is clear that Warrior is not essential to a tournament lineup in the way Shaman or Druid are. The Americas Last Call was won by a Warrior-free lineup and Thijs, considered by many to be the favorite for Blizzcon, neglected to bring it as well. It will be interesting to see how the lineups of the three Warrior-free players fare.

Data Reaper Report - Druid

There hasn’t been new development in Druid this week, as most of the best Druid decklists have already been figured out. Druid remains one of the more popular classes at higher ranks but still come nowhere close to Shaman’s prominence on ladder. Most players would agree that Druid is one of the best classes in the game and probably the second best class in tournaments after Shaman, due to its incredible versatility and all around good matchups against the field.

The two most popular builds of Spell Druid are two different Malygos versions. Xixo’s Malygos Druid, which was featured last week, has been most players’ go-to choice. The deck is heavily teched against Midrange Shaman with the inclusion of Harrison Jones to deal with Spirit Claws and Baron Geddon to deal with totems. Feno’s Boomkin Druid, which had some cards modified by Sjow, is also another popular choice. The deck uses Jungle Moonkin in order to create powerful swipes, perfectly cleaning up a board of Thunderbluff Valiant + Totems. The deck also uses The Curator for more card draw and added consistency in drawing Malygos. With how common Shaman is on ladder, it would be foolish to not include cards whose main purpose is to improve the matchup.

The power of Druid is very apparent in the World Championship lineups released this week. All 16 players brought Druid, with most being the Malygos variants as well as a few Token variants. Most Malygos lists are very similar, with some differences being cards like Bloodmage Thalnos, Mulch, Moonglade Portal, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ancient of War, and Yogg-Saron.

Data Reaper Report - Mage

Mage continues to be an upper-mid tier class on ladder and in tournaments, with the Tempo archetype carrying the torch for the class. In the group stage of the World Championship, ten players brought Tempo Mage and one player brought Freeze Mage. There are currently 3 distinctive Tempo Mage approaches that share the same core cards, with most builds varying between them.

The first approach is the trending Burn Tempo Mage that includes Forgotten Torches with a slew of cycle minions (Loot Hoarder and/or Acolyte) to synergize with Barnes and dig deeper into burn potential. It is a very consistent build with fast cycling and powerful burst potential, with Bbgungun already having success with it at the America’s Last Call.

Tempo Mage specialist and streamer, ApxVoid, also had success with this aggressive burn variant of Tempo Mage, peaking at #6 legend recently. His Burn Tempo Mage build opts to be even more aggressive with the inclusion of Leeroy.

The second approach is the Minion Heavy Tempo Mage build, with which Pavel recently won the European’s Last Call. This deck relies more on curving out minions, such as Water Elemental and Faceless Summoner, and applying constant pressure through board presence. Although it might be less spell heavy, the strong presence of minions along with the Flamewaker/spell package almost guarantees optimal trades and powerful follow up turns.

The third approach is the value centric Tempo Mage build, with which players such as Asmodai and Rooftrellen have had success with on ladder in previous months. The deck includes Emperor Thaurissan, Archmage Antonidas and Cabalist’s Tome, which allows it to outvalue your opponent in the late game. DDaHyoNi is the only who brought this version of Tempo Mage, as his lineup is more focused on targeting control decks.

In Freeze Mage news, Laughing’s Torch list with Evolved Kobold is considered to be the current standard. Breath took a similar variant of Laughing’s list, opting to cut Evolved Kobold for Polymorph, with the main goal being the removal of Ragnaros, which is extremely common in the current Meta, and is a constant bane to Freeze Mage.

Data Reaper Report - Warlock

Warlock’s popularity as a class is still modest moving into the end of October. Zoo Warlock is evolving to become a decent ladder choice due to its good matchup against Druid. With the popular Xixo Malygos Druid list tailoring its card choice to handle the Meta-infested Shaman matchup, Zoo Warlock has solidified its place as a good counter with its fast drops and sticky boards. As long as Druid doesn’t open with an incredibly fast ramp, Zoo’s early board control pressures Druid so that it is unable to capitalize on its late game power turns. Zoo also shows decent win rates over Tempo Mage and the various Hunter archetypes. The archetype’s biggest weakness is its struggles with the Meta breaking Midrange Shaman, which has virtually controlled all of ladder play in recent weeks. Zoo also performs poorly against another ladder staple in Control Warrior.

Renolock has not gained any traction, with its presence being largely overshadowed by Zoo. The advantages of playing a Control Warlock deck is aiming to counter other control heavy decks. However, other than Control and C’Thun Warrior, there aren’t many of those on ladder. Reno Warlock gets demolished by Druid and Mage and struggles against Hunter and Rogue as well, which makes laddering with the deck quite challenging.

In the competitive scene, the Discard Zoo Warlock build seems to be the only competitive archetype in tournament play. This is representative of the Warlock deck choices at the World Championship, seeing that of the 6 players that brought Warlock, all are running a variant of Zoo with their own respected tech choices, built around Bbgungun’s and Sjow’s previous Zoo iterations.

Data Reaper Report - Rogue

With only 4 out of 16 players bringing Rogue to the World Championship, it’s obvious that the class has seen better days. With its inherent lack of healing and board clears, Miracle Rogue remains a very risky deck to play on ladder. The rise of aggressive Secret Hunters, Pirate Warriors and the amount of weapon removal present in the Meta make things harder as well.

After Chessdude managed to get rank 1 on the AM ladder last week, a lot of players are cutting a Sap for a second Shadowstrike in Malygos Miracle Rogue. The idea behind this change is improving several matchups (including Midrange Shaman), as Shadowstrike is very efficient at dealing with midrange minions like Azure Drake and Thing from Below. Other cards we have seen experimented with: Evolved Kobold provides an alternative way to finish the game with burst damage, as well as enabling a potent board clear with Fan of Knives. Undercity Huckster is a more resilient alternative to Swashburglar. Dark Iron Skulker is a strong tech against Shaman and Zoo. Harrison Jones is a tech option against other weapon classes. However, we would recommend sticking with the ShtanUdachi/Chessdude build as it’s the most efficient and refined version of the deck for now, with the flex choice being whether to play the 2nd Sap or the 2nd Shadowstrike.

The Questing Miracle Rogue is also mostly refined, but has seen some development. Thijs swapped out Leeroy Jenkins for Southsea Deckhand in his Blizzcon Rogue deck. This change is aimed at faster matchups, as Deckhand is perfect for activating Hunter secrets, activating combo and sometimes just being a body to drop on turn 1 or use as a two damage removal.

Finally, if you want to try something different, Firebat has played around with a C’Thun Miracle Rogue deck that tries to abuse the synergy between Brann Bronzebeard, Blade of C’Thun and Shadowstep. While this iteration of Rogue is mostly unexplored and its viability is still questionable, it’s a fun and unique build with lots of potential for crazy C’Thun combos!

 

Data Reaper Report - Priest

It’s looking up, Anduin! Not only is Priest (barely) no longer the least played class (Sorry, Paladin fans), there were multiple players to pilot the class to top 100 legend this week! These accomplishments, on top of the fact that the class is actually seen at the World Championship, are quite a sight for sore eyes in the Priest fandom community.

Hamster’s Priest list, many say, will likely make or break his chance at the World Championship. A standard enough N’Zoth variant, we see the return of Cabal Shadow Priest and Darkshire Alchemist to combat the Shaman population. A tried and true variant since standard format launched, while uninspired, it’s quite the bold move on Hamster’s part.

One of the more creative decks we have seen in some time, the Rage Purify (just one copy, but for the memes) Priest build took Eloise high up the ladder the past week. Decks like these lose their muster after they’ve lost their surprise factor, so play it while it’s hot.

We also have some success stories with Dragon Priest this week as JAB and Gaara both have had some nice runs with their particular builds. JAB piloted his variation, featuring the extremely underrated Netherspite Historian, to top 100 Legend as well.

 

Data Reaper Report - Paladin

No particular change for Paladin this week as its ladder presence remains small due to the continued popularity of its poor matchups: Shaman, Hunter, and Druid. The high burst potential of these classes and lack of solid early game answers from the Paladin side make it extremely difficult for the class to find footing on ladder. Paladin suffers even more as the popularity of weapon removal, likely triggered by the influx of Shaman and Warrior, increases on ladder. Despite its low numbers overall, top players have still been able to hit high ranks with Anyfin and Aggro variants in the past few weeks, the biggest feat being ShtanUdachi’s #1 legend peak with his Curator Anyfin Paladin.

Similarly in the tournament scene, Paladin struggles in the Conquest format due to the same problems it faces on ladder in that its worst matchups are amongst the most popular tournament picks. Hamster from China is the only player bringing Paladin to the World Championship this week. He takes an interesting take on the deck that had previously been explored by players on ladder but never really gained traction: a hybrid between N’Zoth and Anyfin Paladin. The N’Zoth package provides value on top of the burst damage the deck possesses, making it fare even better against Control Warrior, which is the deck Hamster is heavily targeting in his line up.

Data Reaper Report - Meta Breaker

Aggressive Hunters are decks that, over the history of the game, have gathered much hatred from the community due to their lack of interactivity and frustrating gameplay. Blizzard has continuously nerfed its tools since the game’s inception, with Abusive Sergeant being the last casualty. Yet, Face Hunter always finds a way to come back. Abusing the massive tempo gain that can be achieved from Cloaked Huntress openings, Face Hunters look to capitalize on the secret package in order to heavily pressure the opponent’s life total from the get go, relinquishing any late game tools.

This is one of the only decks in the game that is currently boasting a positive win rate against Midrange Shaman, as the Shaman’s lack of healing makes it possible for Face Hunter to deal just enough damage in the matchup before Shaman is able to stabilize and take over the board. With Midrange Shaman’s utter dominance of the board and incredible tempo gaining tools, it seems like the only strategy that can consistently beat it involves ignoring or stalling the board and burning face. What works for Freeze Mage seems to be working for Face Hunter, and unlike the former, Face Hunter doesn’t crumble against nearly everything else out there.

In Hearthstone, you either die a villain, or survive enough nerfs to see yourself become the hero.

Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,700 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.

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Contributors

Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report:

wwloschandydemigodcheesee-hunterHC015hotmeowth-mage justinatlaw-warlock pdeegz-warrior russkipapa-rogueTzachiFenomlookitzjoeEndofDaysNaramoSentenzaliimujx-content-creator pizzahsryzingxfire

7 Comments on vS Data Reaper Report #24

  1. Last week you made a mention about how it was suspected to be less Hearthstone players overall; since more were plain leaving and the ones staying simply didn’t play as much. Has that reverted? Is it becoming more noticeable?

  2. I´ve been looking your live report and seems that Ramp Druid could be a good choice for ranking up, but there is none information of the deck. Could HC015 send some kind of list to help me out play one of my favorite decks out there? I´ve been trying some sorte of Nzoth list with less sucess.

  3. I don’t think split arch-type enough difference between Secret Hunter and Face Hunter. Originally Secret Hunter is generally crazy aggressive. List should combine it.

  4. Blizzard really needs to come up with more nerfs or release a new expansion. Shamans are getting out of hand and, to be honest, the game stopped being fun after facing the same overpowered shaman deck over and over.

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