Group Stage Recap – World Championship 2016

Photo Source: Blizzard
Image Source: Blizzard

Group Stage Recap

The first stage of BlizzCon is over and needless to say, there were more than a few surprises. There were excellent plays, a couple of surprise techs that worked out, and a lot of crazy RNG (#PraiseYogg). Here’s a quick rundown of what you might have missed.

Decklists (thanks to /u/kapkong for the well-organized post)

Group A


Match 1 – Handsomeguy vs. Cydonia

Both players banned Shaman, coming in with similar deck lineup ideas. Cydonia had Handsomeguy’s number throughout the entire match with some sick draws and Handsomeguy never really got his footing in the series. This match was a quick blowout.

Result: Cydonia defeats Handsomeguy 4-0.

Match 2 – JasonZhou vs. ThijsNL

Both players banned Shaman, but critically, this left JasonZhou with a Control Warrior list vs. a Warrior-less lineup from ThijsNL. The Tinkmaster Overspark tech for JasonZhou wound up being very impactful. One of the most interesting turns in the series was a turn where Thijs’ 13/4 stealthed Tomb Pillager won a 33% brawl, only to fall to a 50% Tinkmaster Overspark followup (Pillager was facing a Baine Bloodhoof on the board). Tinkmaster Overspark also won an important 50/50 (rolling the 1/1 squirrel) on a Stranglethorn Tiger in Game 3. This earned just enough time for JasonZhou to buy enough tempo to remove all of Thijs’ threats before lethal could be found. In Game 7, there was a critical choice that Thijs made where he played a Freezing Trap behind a Snipe and a Cat Trick for free on t2 w/Coin on Huntress against a Swashburglar, which essentially invalidated the Snipe and allowed JasonZhou to get extra tempo and value out of Swashburglar that he probably shouldn’t have gotten. This error led to JasonZhou’s victory in the series.

Result: JasonZhou defeats ThijsNL 4-3.

Match 3 – Cydonia vs. JasonZhou

JasonZhou banned Shaman, but Cydonia banned Warlock and left JasonZhou with both Shaman and Control Warrior. The match kicked off with a Warrior mirror, and JasonZhou’s Tinkmaster tech once again came through huge as he was able to transform Cydonia’s C’Thun, which was essentially the end of the game. JasonZhou then was able to find a 2nd straight win with his Shaman against Cydonia’s Tempo Mage, going up 2-0 on the back of his two power class lists that both escaped the ban phase. In the critical Game 7, Cydonia’s C’Thun Warrior again came up short, this time to JasonZhou’s Spell Druid. Cydonia took an aggressive line of play through the midgame but was eventually foiled by JasonZhou getting the draws he needed to stabilize while answering Cydonia’s threats, as well as getting to play 2 Yoggs to close out the game.

Result: JasonZhou defeats Cydonia 4-3. JasonZhou advances.

Match 4 – Handsomeguy vs. ThijsNL

Both players banned Shaman. However, both players brought Rogue, leaving us with 3 mirrors with the exception of Handsomeguy’s Control Warrior vs. ThijsNL’s Zoo Warlock. The match started off with a Hunter mirror, which ThijsNL won. Interestingly enough, both players took turns beating each other’s’ Rogue decks with their Druid decks. The match came down to Game 7 where ThijsNL’s Zoo had to go against Handsomeguy’s Control Warrior (as mentioned previously, the only deviation in the two players’ lineups), in which the favored Control Warrior took the game and the match.

Result: Handsomeguy defeats ThijsNL 4-3. ThijsNL eliminated.

Match 5 – Handsomeguy vs. Cydonia

This wound up being our only rematch of the Group Stage across all groups. Both players banned Shaman again, with the only difference in lineup being Handsomeguy’s Rogue vs. Cydonia’s Mage lists. The match started off with players trading wins with Hunter against Druid respectively (notably this marked Handsomeguy’s first victory against Cydonia in the Group Stage). The match wouldn’t stay very close after that as Cydonia took 3 straight decisive games and eliminated Handsomeguy.

Result: Cydonia defeats Handsomeguy 4-1. Cydonia advances. Handsomeguy eliminated.

Group A Summary:

This group was very Rogue heavy, with some players forgoing Warrior, Mage, or Hunter lists. Another interesting quirk of this group was that all 3 Hunter lists were Midrange Secret variants, with some players teching for the Face Hunter matchup that never came. Wrapping up the group stage, ThijsNL, one of the favorites in the community to take the entire event seemed to underperform. Whether this was a poor read on the Meta, an unfortunate group makeup, or some questionable play; ultimately, he was eliminated in two 7-game series. The other major punctuation mark in the group was the two series stomps of Cydonia over Handsomeguy. Was this Handsomeguy and ThijsNL underperforming, or rather, JasonZhou and Cydonia excelling on this stage? Hard to tell, probably a little bit of both.

Group B


Match 1 – Bbgungun vs. Naiman

Bbgungun banned Shaman, unsurprisingly, having built his list towards being better equipped to deal with Control Warrior. Naiman banned Druid, and left Bbgungun’s Shaman list up, since his decks were teched against Shaman. Both players played a very conservative series and Game 7 was ultimately decided by Naiman missing a crucial topdeck for the win in a classic Face Hunter vs. Zoo matchup.

Result: Bbgungun defeats Naiman 4-3.

Match 2 – che0nsu vs. Hamster

Che0nsu banned Shaman and targetted Control Warrior, whereas Hamster banned Hunter and left up both Shaman and Dragon Warrior for che0nsu. It should be noted that Hamster brought a very control heavy lineup (being the only player to bring Priest as well as Paladin) and teched his decks heavily to beat control. Game 1 was a long affair that ultimately went to fatigue in Hamster’s Control Warrior’s favor. Hamster found wins with his Warrior and Druid decklists, but was unable to convert a win with his greedy Paladin and Priest lists against che0nsu’s aggressive lineup the rest of the way.

Result: che0nsu defeats Hamster 4-2.

Match 3 – Bbgungun vs. che0nsu

Che0nsu raced out to a 3-0 start and although Bbgungun was able to claw back 2 games, this series wasn’t very close. The punctuation of the whole series was game 5 where Che0nsu played probably the most hilarious Yoggs of the tournament on back-to-back turns to straight up lose the game for him.

Result: Che0nsu defeats Bbgungun 4-2. che0nsu advances.

Match 4 – Naiman vs. Hamster

Naiman banned Warrior, and Hamster banned Hunter, leaving both Shaman and Warrior up. Hamster’s ban, once again, made sense due to his very unique lineup where he indexed heavily on beating control decks. Interestingly, in the previous match, Hamster saved his Priest and Paladin lists for last, which wound up costing him in unfavorable matchups. In this series he started off with those decks in order, which led to him getting two pretty one-sided wins against Naiman’s Tempo Mage. This read set him up for tremendous success in this series. Naiman won the Shaman mirror, but then lost a THIRD time with his Tempo Mage list- this time to Druid. Ultimately, Naiman would then lose Game 7 to Shaman with his Tempo Mage, having granted all 4 of Hamster’s victories to his one Tempo Mage build.

Result: Hamster defeats Naiman 4-3. Naiman eliminated.

Match 5 – Bbgungun vs. Hamster

Hamster banned Hunter (per usual), although his opponent had a pretty aggressive lineup with no Control Warrior for him to target; Bbgungun banned Shaman, leaving Hamster with his incredibly control heavy lineup intact. Hamster switched back to his strategy from the first match and did not start with his Priest/Paladin lists. He picked up a win on his Druid vs. Zoo in an unfavored matchup, which meant that although he was ahead, he was now pigeonholed into 3 straight control games. Bbgungun would then proceed to play Druid 3 straight games and lose to each of Hamster’s heavy control decks.

Result: Hamster defeats Bbgungun 4-0. Hamster advances. Bbgungun eliminated.

Group B Summary:

Bbgungun and Naiman both played a very conservative Group Stage, only pulling the trigger on plays like Yolo Yoggs to have it backfire. Che0nsu was the most consistent player in the group and came out with the number 1 seed accordingly. Hamster wound up being rewarded for bringing a very control-heavy lineup and for varying his strategy from series to series, making him very hard read for his opponents.

Group Cgc

Match 1 – DrHippi vs. Breath

Both players banned Warrior and targeted Shaman in their lineups. Game 3 featured what was probably the grossest Shaman opening of the Group Stage, as Breath got double t1 Tunnel Trogg into t2 Totem Golem which DrHippi’s Spell Druid was not able to stabilize against and was forced to concede on turn 5. The match would come down to a Face Hunter mirror which DrHippi would eventually overcome.

Result: DrHippi defeats Breath 4-3.

Match 2 – Amnesiasc vs. Yulsic

Yulsic banned Shaman and Amnesiasc left Yulsic’s Shaman up and banned Mage, believing that he had teched enough to the Shaman matchup that he could afford to not ban it. An interesting matchup occurred in the Hunter mirror, where Yulsic’s Desert Camel list actually found gas against Amnesiasc as his opponent had drawn one Secretkeeper and he pulled Amnesiasc’s second while having an Eaglehorn Bow on the field to clean it up. Even with the good opening, Amnesiasc was in control for the majority of the game and found enough damage to end it. This match ended on a Druid Mirror in which Amnesiasc was able to develop a quick board that Yulsic could not reply to before he got run over.

Result: Amnesiasc defeats Yulsic 4-2.

Match 3 – DrHippi vs. Amnesiasc

Both players planned to ban Warrior and tech for Shaman. Game 1 was one of the more interesting matches we’ve seen the whole tournament, as 2 aggressive decks (Tempo Mage vs. Face Secret Hunter) came to a complete standstill for several turns as both players had inevitability and forced bad interactions on  the other player (Snake+Explosive trap with Stealthed Cat in a Hat vs. 2 growing Mana Wyrms and Mirror Image). Eventually the game ended as DiHippi’s Face Hunter stopped drawing threats once Amnesiasc was able to stabilize, and he was punished for overextending, resulting in a quick end. Overall, this was an impressive series from Amnesiasc, with some cerebral play and great techs as a result of a good read on the Meta.

Result: Amnesiasc defeats DrHippi 4-1. Amnesiasc advances.

Match 4 – Breath vs. Yulsic

Breath banned Hunter, leaving Yulsic his Shaman list, believing that he could take Shaman with his lineup; whereas Yulsic banned Shaman and left Breath his Control Warrior list. Breath won the Druid mirror, but critically lost to Shaman with his Freeze Mage list: a favored matchup for the Freeze Mage. He picked up wins back-to-back with favored matchups of his Freeze Mage and Control Warrior into Yulsic’s Zoo Warlock, sending us to yet another Game 7 El Classico Face Hunter vs. Zoo matchup which once again went in the favor of the Zoo deck.

Result: Yulsic defeats Breath 4-3. Breath eliminated.

Match 5 – DrHippi vs. Yulsic

DrHippi banned Druid, interestingly, and left up Shaman which he had teched for. Yulsic banned Shaman, leaving Control Warrior. The match started off with the players trading wins with their Tempo Mage decks against each other’s Hunter lists, respectively. DrHippi was then able to take the Face Hunter vs. Shaman matchup and then get a win with his Druid against Yulsic’s Midrange Camel Hunter deck to go up 3-1, leaving him with just his Control Warrior list. Yulsic picked up an easy with his heavily favored Camel Hunter deck, but then faced two poor matchups. He played a spirited game, but ultimately came up short with his Zoo deck.

Result: DrHippi defeats Yulsic 4-2. DrHippi advances. Yulsic eliminated.

Group C Summary:

Amnesiasc played two very impressive series that honestly weren’t very close. His read on the Meta, tech choices, tactical in-game choices, and overall strategy may have been the best of the entire Group Stage. Breath’s Freeze Mage wound up not paying off for him as he lost with it when he most needed it and consequently went down in two 7-game series, while Yulsic’s Camel Midrange Hunter and lack of Warrior in his lineup probably were his undoing. DrHippi played a consistent game with a solid strategy and that got him the 2nd seed.

Group D


Match 1 – OmegaZero vs. DDaHyoNi

OmegaZero banned Shaman and focused on Control Warrior, whereas DDaHyoNi banned Warlock and left OmegaZero both his Warrior and Shaman decks (albeit OmegaZero’s Shaman was the only list that was the heavy totem variant, and his Warrior deck was the only Dragon – so he probably underestimated the power of OmegaZero’s decklists). The major reason why this series did not look very close was that of the 3 Yogg’s played during the series, all went decidedly in OmegaZero’s favor, and effectively won him 2 games that otherwise may have gone the other way.

Result: OmegaZero defeats DDaHyoNi 4-1.

Match 2 – HotMEOWTH vs. Pavel

Both players banned Druid, leaving each other both Shaman and Control Warrior. Both players’ lineups were almost identical with the exception being the Face Hunter for HotMEOWTH and the Malygos Rogue for Pavel. HotMEOWTH won a Tempo Mage mirror, a C’Thun Warrior mirror, a Face Hunter vs. Shaman matchup and took down Pavel’s C’Thun Warrior with his Shaman deck – only dropping one game that he was unfavored to win (Malygos Rogue into his C’Thun Warrior).

Result: HotMEOWTH defeats Pavel 4-1.

Match 3 – OmegaZero vs. HotMEOWTH

Some very clever plays were made in this series. Another series punctuated by games in which 2 aggro decks are stalled on board by the presence of a known explosive trap; and, much like the game in the previous series where it happened (Amnesiasc vs. DrHippi), the longer the game went on, it appeared to not favor the Hunter, as the opponent had time to just wait and find answers. HotMEOWTH lost 2 games with his Face Secret Hunter until he finally got the matchup he’d been fishing for in Game 7 (Shaman) and blew out OmegaZero.

Result: HotMEOWTH defeats OmegaZero 4-3. HotMEOWTH advances.

Match 4 – DDaHyoNi vs. Pavel

This time DDaHyoNi banned Shaman and left only Control Warrior for his opponent, whereas Pavel was the one banning Hunter and leaving both Shaman and Control Warrior for DDaHyoNi. Pavel’s Dark Arakkoa tech choice was able to steal a game against Shaman for his Druid. DDaHyoNi never got his feet under him and had a few topdecks and RNG effects not go his way, but overall Pavel dominated this series.

Result: Pavel defeats DDaHyoNi 4-0. DDaHyoNi eliminated.

Match 5 – OmegaZero vs. Pavel

Both players banned Shaman and left up Warrior, though critically, OmegaZero’s Warrior list is a Dragon deck. The other difference in lineups was OmegaZero’s Zoo Warlock vs. Pavel’s Malygos Rogue. OmegaZero got off to a 3-0 lead by running all of his aggressive decks out against Pavel and was left with just needing one win out of 4 games with his Token Druid deck. In a theme keeping with the general outcomes of the group stage, the Druid deck underperformed and Pavel indeed went on to pull off the 4 game reverse sweep.

Result: Pavel defeats OmegaZero 4-3. Pavel advances. OmegaZero eliminated.

Group D Summary:

DDaHyoNi won 1 game out of 8 – this was a very rough event for him. OmegaZero was probably was a little too tech happy and off Meta with some of his choices (Dragon Warrior instead of Control, Shaman Totem Variant, Token Druid instead of Malygos). It looked like it might have paid off for him, but his Druid collapsed against the strong, consistent play of Pavel, who ultimately took the 2nd seed. HotMEOWTH came into the event with possibly the strongest read on the Meta of any player, and performed very well, coming under fire mostly against OmegaZero’s unique deck lineup.

Overall Thoughts:

Every player brought Shaman, and almost every player teched against or outright banned Shaman (to varying degrees of success/power). The Shaman decks that did get through to play actually performed somewhat poorly at a 46% winrate – however this is to be expected as the only players who would allow Shaman through are those who built their lineups specifically to beat Shaman. That being said, Midrange Shaman was still performing well enough and it comes as no surprise to see it included in every player’s lineup in the Top 8.

Every player brought Druid, and it has not been performing up to expectations so far, at least not in a manner that would warrant its ubiquity. The deck has a lot of tricks and answers, which gives it a reasonable chance of winning a lot of matchups, but overall its winrate at this tournament has been pretty low for such a popular choice. Similar to Shaman, Malygos Druid is showing an identical 46% winrate, the difference being that the sample size is literally double that of Shaman at 48 games played, and it wasn’t targeted anywhere near as heavily as Shaman was. If you add in the 3 Token Druids (33% winrate over 12 games), the winrate for the class as a whole drops to 43%. Ouch.

Warrior was performing as it usually does, with almost every player who brought it bringing a control variant. All Control variants (Standard, C’Thun, Yogg, etc) performed at a 53% winrate over 32 games – proving to be quite strong overall. It should be noted that the C’Thun variants were outperforming the others, operating at 60% win rate over 15 games. Dragon Warrior only saw 6 games total across 2 players’ lineups, but it did win almost every game it was played in, winning 5 of those 6 games. The trouble with bringing Dragon Warrior seems to be giving up the threat of Control Warrior in order to add another aggressive list to your lineup – a calculated risk, for sure.

Hunter was in ¾ of the players’ lineups and was almost exclusively secret-based, with players split between midrange and face variants. Midrange Secret Hunter, when evaluated alone, seemed to perform exceedingly well, pulling out a 67% winrate over 15 games, whereas the Face Hunter variant had a pretty dismal 39% winrate over 18 games. This could be because Face Hunter was brought specifically by some players to go after Shaman, but fell to other decks along the way.

Mage was also brought by most players. To begin with, we only had one Freeze Mage, and it only played 3 games, winning 2. However, critically, it lost in Breath’s elimination match in the matchup that it was supposed to win – Shaman. Let’s focus on the 10 Tempo Mage decks we saw. Tempo Mage overall was one of the strongest archetypes at the tournament with a (relatively) large sample size of 34 games and sporting a healthy 53% winrate. Based on the performance of Tempo Mage in the Group Stage, we expected to see a lot of it in the Top 8.

Warlock was all of the Zoo kind, and across its 20 games, it had a 45% winrate, but critically, in two different Game 7’s, the deck won a classic Face Hunter matchup to send its pilot onward. Whether the players who brought Warlock were pleased with their results, or got the matchups they were looking for when crafting the decks, remains unclear, but in general, Zoo was not the strongest deck we saw in Groups.

Rogue was interesting this tournament for sure. Only 4 players brought the class, and almost everyone had a different idea of what the best archetype was, but across the 3 variants we saw (Malygos, Questing, Classic Miracle) there were only 13 total games played – and this was largely because the deck just won. All in all, when put together, Rogue had a 61.5% winrate which makes it the highest winrate class at the tournament. The deck is pretty finicky and takes some finesse, which may help explain why only a quarter of the players decided to bring it, but it certainly overperformed for those players.

The only Priest and Paladin decklists we saw were brought by one player, Hamster, who was dedicated to smashing control decks, specifically Control Warrior. Between the two decks, he had a 50% winrate, but with such a small sample size and such a dedicated strategy it is quite difficult to ascertain the general health or soundness of these classes in the field.

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1 Comment

  1. great article for blizzcon.

    but you shouldn’t include all the blizzcon decks in data reaper report. since they are not ideal for ladder. or at least suggest some ladder decks aswell.

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