vS Data Reaper Report #10
Welcome to the tenth edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) now has over 1,300 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
If you have not done so already, please sign up with your Track-O-Bot information here:
Over the past week, we’ve compiled 33,000 games. The week has seen a decline in games due to last week’s Hearthstone patch which made Track-o-Bot temporarily incompatible, but there is also the possibility that people are just playing less Hearthstone as well (Metagame fatigue? Pokemon Go?)
Because of Hearthstone’s patch 5.2, old versions of Track-O-Bot are no longer effective. By the end of the week, about 85% of users have updated their version of Track-O-Bot. If you are providing us with your game data, but have not yet updated Track-O-Bot, please be sure to do so. An update is available here.
Note that since the last update, rank recognition for games played in ranks 1-9 does not work properly. As a result, we cannot separate the data between ranks 1-5 and ranks 6-10, so they are reported together this week. In the Live Tracker, the separate data on ranks 1-9 is not reliable at this point. We are awaiting the resolution of this issue by Track-O-Bot developer and/or Blizzard.
Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons. If you’d like to help support our initiative to provide high-quality data-driven content to the community for free, you can join our team by supporting us on Patreon:
We begin with our deck frequency charts for games recorded between July 13 and July 19. The first chart shows all ranks, the second can be switched between different rank groups. We’ve recorded about 4k games at legend rank, 16k games at ranks 1-10, and 6.5k games at ranks 11-15.
Due to the evolving Metagame, we’ve made some updates in our deck definitions. First, we have OTK Warrior popping into the scene at lightning speed. We’ve also managed to split Mid-Range Hunter and Hybrid Hunter after observing that they’ve drifted apart far enough for us to comfortably evaluate them separately, the key difference being the lack of 5 drops in the Hybrid Hunter archetype that is evolving on our radar. Note that there are many builds out there being called Hybrid that still possess all of Mid-Range Hunter’s mid and late game, and our system still considers them to be Mid-Range (There is a special system we use that allows us to observe this. This system might be the subject of a future, separate article). Secret Paladin is also an archetype we’ve been following closely and it finally has established a strong enough presence on our radar to evaluate. Some archetypes are losing steam as well, most notably Ramp Druid and Patron Warrior, which are fringe decks at the moment and tough to evaluate statistically.
‘By Rank’ Games
Next is a graph displaying the popularity of classes during the last ten weeks: since the Data Reaper Project launched.
Class Frequency by Week
There is a lot to take in from the data and we can tell you that this is perhaps the most difficult week we’ve had in trying to analyze what’s been happening in the game. We’re also observing that the Metagame is in the midst of a big shift that is still in progress, which is surprising considering how long it’s been since the last expansion, but what we can take from these numbers is the following:
- *Warriorstone intensifies*. Just when you think the number of Warriors can’t get any higher, the situation escalates further. Of course, the class now has yet another viable archetype on ladder with the meteoric appearance of OTK Warrior. At higher ranks, the Meta is even more lopsided; with every 3rd opponent being a Warrior. In a game with 9 classes, that seems to be quite oppressive.
- Zoo is continuing to get beaten down by Fiery War Axe, causing a further decline in the archetype. Shaman slightly recovers and takes back the 2nd spot in class popularity.
- People are continuing to shy away from Hunter, which is an interesting phenomenon considering the massive amounts of Warriors on ladder, with many of them being slow paced. Is the class just too boring to play?
- Yogg Druid took another leap forward, and has now surpassed Zoo at legend ranks to become the 2nd most popular archetype. However, we’re observing that the deck may have finally reached its saturation point.
- Paladin is showing a sign of life, and it trades its spot with Priest as the Metagame bottom feeder. While Evangelion’s performance with N’Zoth Paladin at Dreamhack could be one catalyst, there could be more to it than meets the eye!
- Unicorn Priest has yet to make an appearance while Rogue and Mage seem to be slowly running out of ideas.
We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 10. 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.
This week has seen a massive shift in the vS power rankings of many archetypes. Part of it is due to the change in the Metagame, but we’re also observing changes in matchup win rates. Yogg Druid’s increase in popularity has correlated with a worse observed performance in several matchups, most notably Shaman. This has translated to a significant drop in its score. There are two explanations to this phenomenon: 1. More players who are not proficient with Yogg Druid are playing it 2. Opponents are slowly learning how to play against the deck. The right answer is probably a combination of both.
With Yogg Druid’s fall to Tier 2, Dragon Warrior remains the top Metagame deck, but now it has another rival chasing its tail. With the obscene amount of Warriors on ladder, and the slow decline of Zoo, Mid-Range Hunter has shot up in its power against the field. Despite its weaker matchups against aggressive decks, the Metagame has become so Warrior-dominant that it statistically overshadows these weaknesses.
For the same reason, cutting some of your mid-late game to opt for a faster variant of Hunter doesn’t seem to be the best idea in the current state of ladder, as the sacrifice in the Warrior matchups appears to be too great in comparison to the gain in win rates in other matchups. Interestingly, at legend ranks, Dragon Warrior falls off Tier 1 and the two decks at the top are Mid-Range Hunter, and C’Thun Warrior, the latter being the “anti-Warrior Warrior deck”, which makes it a very strong choice for ladder.
Other decks are also suffering. Aggro Shaman finally drops from Tier 1. Zoo continues its decline and is now in the incredible position of being nearly mediocre. Valeera appears to be in critical condition and has fallen into her death bed. The Rogue class has been showing little innovation recently, which usually translates into a decline in performances when other classes are rapidly evolving.
Let’s get to the biggest stories. OTK Warrior doesn’t appear to be extremely powerful at initial glance. However, this is a new archetype that has appeared very recently, so our data on it is still relatively small in comparison with other archetypes. It is also very difficult to play, so we do expect an improvement in its performance in the weeks ahead as players learn how to play it. In the right hands, it seems to be very strong, though there are signs that point towards some very strong counters to it which are available. We will continue to monitor the archetype’s performance very closely.
In the midst of this Metagame Armageddon, a mysterious challenger appears. Secret Paladin has finally reached a critical mass which allowed us to evaluate its performance with greater statistical confidence. The signs are pointing to a sleeper! The archetype appears to be performing well against Warriors, Shamans and Hunters, and its bad matchups are in decline. It also thrives even more at the legend ranks, nearly hitting Tier 1. Have we found another case of a powerful under-the-radar archetype waiting to be discovered by the masses? Time will tell.
The biggest innovation this past week is OTK Warrior. The deck has emerged seemingly out of nowhere and took the Metagame by storm. In the recent past we saw LOKshadow get to the high legend ranks with a free-to-play version of the deck, but the list wasn’t optimized or taken too seriously. After observing as well as playing this deck, we can tell you that it is no joke and will retain a place in the Metagame in the future. Neviilz was able to attain rank 1 legend EU on stream with this build while other streamers had success with it as well. At this point, the list seems optimal and we wouldn’t deviate much from it.
Our Warrior expert, RayC591, was able to hit rank 1 legend on the Americas server with Dragon Warrior. While the Meta is evolving rapidly, we do think the archetype is one of the strongest in the format. Dragon Warrior appears to be ahead of Tempo Warrior on ladder and it is the superior archetype to climb with right now.
C’Thun Warrior continues to do well both on ladder and in tournament play. Recently, Evangelion won Dreamhack Valencia utilizing it in his lineup. His build is standard and similar to all other lists we have seen in the past, but it gets the job done. We expect this archetype to remain strong in the foreseeable future.
Warlock’s major ladder trend this week is the decrease of Zoo and a slight increase of Renolock, as the flood of Warriors makes Zoo an increasingly unpleasant option even for diehard players. One option for those wishing to stick with Zoo is adding Acidic Swamp Ooze to their lists, which is what Crane did to take second place at Dreamhack. The card makes mirrors tougher but should help against Warrior and Shaman. Hoej’s N’Zoth Reno list, which Fr0zen piloted to a #1 Legend finish last season, remains a strong choice to combat all Warrior archetypes. Alternatively, a combo version of Renolock was used by Evangelion to win Dreamhack Valencia.
Another interesting trend from the tournament Metagame is the prevalence of no-Leeroy no-Doomguard lists. With Warrior bans, reach from hand becomes less important, and players can focus on winning the mirror and Shaman matchups with double Sea Giant. Weasal finished top 8 at Dreamhack with only one Argent Horserider, and Fr0zen won the ONOG #4 Feature tournament with no charge minions at all. This approach could be considered an alternative to Darkshadow’s build (featured last week) that Xixo used at Starladder, which is still seeing play but has not taken off in popularity.
- Hoej’s N’Zoth Reno Warlock
- Evangelion’s Combo Reno Warlock
- Standard Leeroy Zoo Warlock
- Fr0zen’s Sea Giant Zoo Warlock
The winner of Dreamhack Valencia, Evangelion, included his own version of Mid-Range Shaman in his line-up. His build utilizes some cards that had lost popularity such as Master of Evolution and also tech cards such as Harrison Jones. There are plenty of one of’s in his list which can draw concern to the consistency of the deck. Nevertheless, Mid-Range Shaman was a decent pick for the tournament format (last hero standing) because the deck does not have many polarizing match-ups, and it fares better against Dragon Warrior than Aggro Shaman.
Not much has changed with Aggro Shaman, as Xixo’s list seems to be the most reliable and popular version amongst players to bring to tournament play and ladder grinding.
While it hasn’t been refined yet, one particular deck that has caught people’s interest is Dragon Shaman, recently built by VLPS. Many different dragon decks come up at times but never seem to stick around because generally, if you’re going to play a dragon deck, you usually stick with the most reliable take on the tribe, which is Dragon Warrior.
Last week, none of the top 16 players at Dreamhack Valencia included Hunter in their 4 deck/1 ban, Last Hero Standing line-up. It appears that the Hunter class is in decline in both ladder and tournament play. However, Hunter is still a very strong class choice for the current Metagame. It could be argued that Evangelion smartly took advantage of a pocket tournament Metagame lacking classes such as Hunter that can punish his full control line up. Mid-Range Hunter is weak against other top tier aggressive decks, but fares very well in a Control-heavy field.
NickChipper’s Hunter build has strong early game minions to fight for the board against aggressive decks while still possessing late game threats to push for lethal against any archetype. Thund3r peaked at rank #3 legend on the European server using NickChipper’s list, with one alteration, taking out Tundra Rhino for a Houndmaster to further improve the matchup against aggressive decks.
For a more traditional Mid-Range Hunter build, Kolento took the archetype to legend earlier last week with a solid build, which really shines in a slower Metagame.
Druid continues to be a class on the rise with various archetypes seeing success this week. The class even got buffed by the developers in the recent patch with the addition of some slick, yet blatantly overpowered new animations to cards like Innervate, Wild Growth, and Nourish.
This week, we continue to see the dominance of Yogg Druid which has become one of the most popular decks at higher levels of play. The archetype also saw a lot of success at DreamHack Valencia with 9 players in the top 16 including it in their lineup. Yogg Druid is particularly powerful in the Last Hero Standing format since it a great opening deck due its decent matchups against most of the field. Crane, who finished 2nd at DreamHack, brought his version of Yogg Druid which runs Sylvanas instead of Emperor. Some players on ladder have begun to experiment with a heavier build that cuts some spells: Feral Rage, one Raven Idol and one Nourish, in order to include all of the late game options: Emperor, Sylvanas, Onyxia, Cenarius and two Ancients of War.
C’Thun Druid is declining on ladder but it did see some success at DreamHack. StanCifka, who finished top 4, included an interesting version of C’Thun Druid in his line-up. One of the most surprising choices in his build is Mark of the Wild. The reasoning for it is that his list runs two copies of Beckoner of Evil to ensure that Klaxxi Amber-Weaver procs early in the game. This in turn allows Mark of the Wild to create an early 6/12 taunt which can shut down a lot of aggressive decks. The card also synergizes with most of the big minions you normally include in C’Thun Druid.
Ramp Druid also had a showing at Dreamhack by Rubo, another top 4 finisher. His build is extremely taunt heavy, countering aggressive decks, which made it a powerful tool in Last Hero Standing.
Mage is definitely a class in decline. The class’ questionable spot in the Metagame was confirmed with not a single player including it in their lineup at the top 8 of Dreamhack Valencia. The two players who did bring Freeze Mage, Erikbeck (Pyroblast) and Technogoose (No Pyroblast), lost in the round of 16.
Tempo Mage has some consistency issues which prevent it from being an optimal choice for tournaments or ladder. Freeze Mage was represented more at the event but it’s sometimes hard to get favorable matchups with it while Aggro Shaman and various Warrior archetypes remain very popular.
Mage is definitely a niche class where players who are particularly confident and comfortable in it, can find success. The Top 4 of the America’s ONOG Feature #4 did include three players using Freeze Mage in their line-up, and while it did its job in terms of strategy, one can say it wasn’t a pretty sight.
If more innovation happens in either archetype, there might be a swing back in their popularity, but it’s not looking good at this point in time. Mage is simply struggling to compete with the top tier classes/archetypes.
Rogue has been suffering with the continuing rise of aggressive decks on ladder. With no natural healing mechanic and the loss of Blade Flurry, Rogue has no way to recover from fast paced aggression and cannot easily stabilize against aggressive Mid-Range decks such as Dragon Warrior and Mid-Range Shaman either.
The best way to beat aggressive decks is to be faster than them. At Dreamhack Valencia, Fenomeno finished top 8 with the Questing Adventurer variant of Miracle Rogue. Utilizing Questing Adventurer can give you fast starts that can force aggressive decks to play from behind as early as turn 2 or 3. The idea is to drop Questing Adventurer and conceal it as early as possible, and then spend the following turn using removal spells to clear your opponent’s board while building it up. This line of play can put your opponent on a two-turn clock very early in the game, and many aggressive decks lack the tools necessary to deal with such a threat.
While Paladin hasn’t been found in the tournament limelight for some time, Evangelion was victorious at Dreamhack Valencia with N’Zoth Paladin included in his lineup. The deck performed exceptionally well with a 10-1 record through the top 16. With strong matchups against several Warrior archetypes, the deck seems fitting in a last-hero-standing format to counter the Warriors that were present in nearly every other top 16 player’s lineup.
So does Control Paladin’s recent tournament success signify the start of redemption on ladder? Probably not. Control Paladin tends to suffer from similar issues to Control Priest where too many of your cards are reactive. Though it should perform well against the barrage of Dragon Warriors on ladder, the sudden popularity of OTK Warrior likely won’t bode well for Control Paladin’s slow/grindy playstyle, since OTK warrior can deal well over 30 damage in one turn. Paladin has also remained largely unpopular on ladder due to its poor matchups against many other popular decks, namely Mid-Range Hunter, Yogg Druid, Miracle Rogue and Mid-Range Shaman.
One other Paladin deck appeared in the top 16 of Dreamhack this week: Silas’s Secret Paladin. Silas’s version of the deck takes a more aggressive approach to Secret Paladin, replacing the traditional midrange Secret Paladin core with more early drops and Dragon Egg for early board control. Another EU player, Jambre, has used a list with a similar concept with great success on ladder, which was featured in previous reports. Look out for this deck to potentially break out, perhaps as a result of recent discoveries in this report more than anything else!
Poor Ben Brode. As a Priest Ambassador to the community, Wwlos hereby sincerely apologizes for poking fun and twisting the words of one of his tweets! No more witch-hunting of our lovely game designers, though this was all in good fun.
WAIT ONE SECOND THOUGH…
Game developer Iksar recently stated on the 100th episode of the legend of the Innkeeper podcast that, “…there are really strong priest decks out there, and because I know they exist, and because I know they are not being played by a lot of players that kinda tells me that it’s like eventually people will get there. That the mass of people will always figure it out…”
That is right people; the search for the Unicorn Priest is on!
In tournament Priest news, there is no news. The top 16 players at Dreamhack Valencia brought a total of 0 Priest deck. Meanwhile, N’Zoth Paladin goes 10-1 in Last Hero Standing, while Anduin cheers from home. This is the darkest of timelines.
At this point, using the best cards that Priest has at its disposal is the only viable option. This is why we do see an N’Zoth, C’Thun, and Dragon variants. Cards such as Shifting Shade, Twilight Darkmender, and Twilight Whelp are very powerful and fuel their respective archetypes. With such strong core cards, there might just be a Unicorn Priest out there, but the most likely fix for Priest is just another expansion.
The name of the game is beating Warriors. We’re at a statistical point where simply countering the Warrior class might make decks that were previously unplayable on ladder, viable. This is particularly true for high levels of play, where the number of Warriors is oppressive. We encourage the community to experiment because there are certainly possibilities out there. Since the launch of the Data Reaper Report, low-curved Aggro decks such as Zoo and Aggro Shaman have never been as statistically weak as they are right now.
As the month is drawing closer to its end, even more players tend to run back to the Warrior class. We predict that the players who will find the right Warrior counter will benefit greatly, similarly to how fr0zen abused the pocket Warrior Metagame at the end of last month to clinch the #1 legend spot with a deck that could be considered mediocre against the rest of the field (Renolock).
The most interesting development this week is the possibility of Secret Paladin being a strong deck in this Metagame. We’ll be cautious here; the numbers we’re working with are still relatively small and we’re not sure how the Metagame will continue to shift, but the deck has potential and is worth exploring. Metabreaker might be too strong a word, but it seems more real than a unicorn.
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: