Hello, everyone! My handle is Shoop; I’m a North American professional Hearthstone player. Over the past few months, I’ve racked up three top 100 Legend finishes on NA, as well as tournament wins including first place in the MOAR Invitational Qualifier and fourth place in Week 4 of ESL’s Challenger Tournaments (Season 1). I play for team Vicious Syndicate; you may recognize my teammates Demigod and wwlos from the ESL season 2 LAN finals. I recently won the first ONOG Summer Circuit EU Qualifier, and today I’d like to discuss how I built my lineup for that event.
When choosing my qualifier lineup, I had to plan around two main types of matches. First, I had to account for the pro tournament metagame – patron warrior has been everywhere lately, and handlock has come back in force to counter it. My decks needed to be favored in one or both of those matchups. Second, I had to worry about the one guy who brings face hunter/zoo/tempo mage to every open event. There’s no point bringing a highly finessed control lineup to a qualifier if you get SMOrc’d down in round three.
My first two deck choices were clear from ladder experience: druid and handlock. For druid, I had been using Reynad’s druid list from ESL week 4 on ladder, and I love the hybrid ramp/combo concept; double Ancient of War dodges Big Game Hunter against control and makes it far easier to stabilize against aggro. Ancient of War also works well against patron decks that frequently use their Executes early on Ancients of Lore or Druids of the Claw, and swapping out the second Force of Nature for Harrison Jones made the patron matchup highly favored.
For handlock, I brought a tweaked heal-heavy list I’d been using. I’ve been playing handlock since I first hit Legend and trusted that I could outplay my opponents in long control matches, so I wanted to focus on holding my own against aggro. 2x Healbot, 1x Farseer, Jaraxxus, and Siphon Soul helped make sure that so long as I had board control, I could dodge losing to topdecked Fireballs or Kill Commands.
My third deck choice was Xzirez’s midrange paladin list. It took me a while to decide on paladin as a third class, but in testing, it complemented the rest of my lineup quite well. It’s also favored against handlock and several control decks including warrior, but it’s much better against aggro than the rest of my lineup, which boosts my winrate against triple-aggro opponents (druid can usually get lucky and steal one game with Innervate shenanigans). In addition, teching in Harrison Jones and mulliganing for Equality and the Muster+Quartermaster combo bumps the patron matchup to nearly 50-50.
My lineup’s versatility paid off handsomely through the eight rounds of the ONOG EU qualifier. I managed a high winrate in the early rounds despite hitting some traditionally unfavorable matchups: my druid and handlock each won two games off hybrid and face hunters, and my paladin beat a patron warrior in round 2. The finals match, by contrast, highlighted my efforts to counter handlock and patron. My handlock and druid each won me a game against my opponent’s patron, and though my paladin lost to patron, it quickly overwhelmed my opponent’s handlock, netting me a clean 3-1 victory.
In closing, I’d like to give shout outs to my team, Vicious Syndicate; my good friend and practice partner Stargazer, who helped me edit this piece; and of course, to ONOG, Geico, and Liquid for giving me the chance to play in this tournament series. I’ll be playing in the first ONOG Feature Tournament on June 19-21; I hope you all can come watch me there!
You can also view this article over at liquidhearth.