vS Data Reaper Report #12
Welcome to the twelfth edition of the Data Reaper Report!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) now has over 1,600 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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We begin with our deck frequency charts. This week, to reflect the end of the season we split the database to two separate periods: one for games recorded between July 27 and July 31, and the other for games recorded on August 1st and August 2nd.
The first chart shows all ranks for the entire week, the second can be switched between different rank groups for the first five days of the week, and the third shows all ranks for the first two days of the month. For the entire week, we recorded about 10k games at legend rank, 20k games at ranks 1-10, and 12k games at ranks 11-15.
Overall Games – 7/27 – 8/2
‘By Rank’ Games – 7/27 – 7/31
Overall Games – 8/1 – 8/2
Next is a graph displaying the popularity of classes during the last twelve weeks, since the Data Reaper Project launched.
Class Frequency by Week
All indications point to a Metagame that has gone stale, where Warrior is the clear frontrunner. This isn’t surprising considering an adventure is just around the corner and many people chose safe ways to grind the final week of July. However, we’re very excited as statisticians to start tracking the Metagame with a steady influx of cards every week, which is something we will experience very soon for the first time since Data Reaper began.
Hunter has seen an increase in play, barely eclipsing Warlock to take the 3rd spot. At legend ranks though, it is still a class considered to be middle of the road in terms of power level.
Druid is the exact opposite of Hunter: quite underrated at lower levels of play, but a favorite at the legend ranks, where Token Druid is ubiquitous.
Rogue is continuing to recover somewhat from the consistent decline it has experienced since the release of Standard Format. Mage’s fall has also halted.
We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 12. 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.
The main difference from last week is that Token Druid returns to Tier 1 and the elite group has another new member. It happened. Secret Paladin jumps to Tier 1 at the overall power rankings, even though it barely scratches 1% of the Metagame. Its performance against the field is only getting better.
How is an archetype that is theoretically so good get played so little?
- It can take time for high profile competitive players to embrace an archetype, much longer than for a formula to calculate a number, because when the stakes are high, people generally minimize risks of the unfamiliar.
- While we do recognize that we have some effect on the Metagame, our effect is small in comparison to high profile streamers and high profile tournaments. Dragon Warrior only spiked in popularity when the Americas Championships’ decklists were published. Maybe in the future, as our profile continues to increase, this will change.
At legend ranks, we’re seeing a slightly more conservative group of archetypes that are widely considered to be the best decks in the current Metagame. Aggro Shaman jumps to the very top on the back of some improvement in its performance against the field, followed by C’Thun Warrior, Token Druid and Dragon Warrior. Hybrid Hunter has also eclipsed Mid-Range Hunter, and appears to fare better now at the highest level.
For Warrior, this Metagame is a paradise. With a host of viable tempo, combo, and control lists to choose from, each built on the rock solid backbone of its core class cards, Warriors have practically overtaken ladder. Many of Europe’s and America’s top 100 legends this season grinded Warrior in the last few days, with a variety of common and unique lists seeing success. Obviously, Dragon and C’Thun builds both performed very well, and Worgen OTK continues to have a significant presence too, but there were also some surprises.
Tvist brainstormed a perfect counter to the pocket Metagame on the European server. Ending with a #2 finish, Tvist boasted 67% winrate over 240 games with his own version of Patron Warrior. Other than Warrior archetypes utilizing Brawl as well as Reno Warlock, few decks right now run effective board clears. This might mean that Patron has an opportunity to shine.
Meanwhile, VLPS piloted a Control Warrior running Tinkmaster Overspark to a #5 finish on the Americas server. Tinkmaster plays an incredibly important role in shutting off Doomcaller by transforming C’Thun, a line of play that can swing a game which is normally heavily in C’Thun Warrior’s favor. It also serves as a game-winning tool in several other less common matchups, such as shutting down a concealed Gadgetzan Auctioneer against Miracle Rogue. While Tinkmaster is a little clunky in matchups against aggressive archetypes, Control Warrior’s dominant removal toolkit more than makes up for it, particularly in the case of VLPS’ extremely defensive build.
Aggro Shaman has had an incredible end of the season, with three different players piloting the archetype to finish #1 legend on the European, American and Chinese servers. It is likely the strongest archetype the class has ever seen, and one of the few that went through very early refinement after the release of the new Standard Format, remaining very stable since then.
The common list that most players have used with much success is Xixo’s variant, though some ladder grinders have begun making changes to the standard build, the most noticeable one is the inclusion of Lightning Storm. Lightning Storm makes a lot of sense in the current Metagame, considering the amount of Aggro decks on ladder; the card has the potential to blow out the opponent in these matches. It is also a nice tool that can buy you time and keep you alive long enough to finish off your opponent in other matchups too.
Tictac finished rank #1 legend on EU with a build cutting Flame Juggler for Lightning Storm. Meanwhile, two Chinese players (夕尘残枫, 全民李) finished #1 legend on Americas and CN with a more dramatically different build, not only adding a Lightning Storm, but cutting Flamewreathed Faceless and Thing From Below entirely from the deck, adding Ancestral Knowledge and an Earth Shock. Interestingly, this happens a week after we published an article with statistical analysis regarding the power level of 4 mana 7/7, which you can read here.
Meanwhile, Mid-Range Shaman has not changed much recently, the only noticeable trend is that lists are becoming less aggressive, often cutting Doomhammer for Al’akir the Windlord as a finisher. Flexible cards which can be rotated in and out often are Flamewreathed Faceless, Harrison Jones, 2nd Thunder Bluff Valiant, Primal Fusion, Stormcrack/Lightning Bolt, Flame Juggler and Argent Horserider.
Hunter seems to be a class going stale with fewer innovations for competitive play. It is still a frequent and effective choice for players to climb the ladder, but at higher ranks (especially at legend), its numbers grow thin. Hunter’s weakness is its lack of early game tools following the loss of Webspinner and Mad Scientist. It often falls behind against fast paced decks that have a strong early game as well as a mid-game to follow up. Double Unleash the Hounds is a staple in almost every archetype now as a comeback tool against early aggression, and it also helps deal with the rising popularity of Token Druid.
On the last day of July, Jab stuck with Mid-Range Hunter to try for a top 100 finish. His build is mostly traditional, with the tech choices of Abusive Sergeant and Flame Jugglers to improve the early game against aggressive decks.
Amnesiac’s Hybrid Hunter seems to be the strongest build to bring to tournaments with the current fast paced tournament Metagame. Nicholena utilized a similar build to finish 1st place at the Defend the North open LAN, taking out 1 tracking for a 2nd bow. In the Chinese Gold Series, Silence was the only player who piloted Hunter to the top 8, with his Hybrid Hunter featuring a Stranglethorn Tiger.
Hunter does have a strong niche, which is targeting control decks, and adding N’Zoth to a Mid-Range Hunter build takes it to another level. Sempok recently refined a deck that seems to be able to beat any control deck out there. It is very greedy, even adding Sylvanas as a late game threat for further synergy with N’Zoth.
Warlocks finished the July season very respectably. Cydonia and Anthony both placed top 100 with charge-oriented lists, running Argent Horserider and Leeroy Jenkins. Meanwhile, C’Thun Renolock appears to be the control list of choice to combat all flavors of Warrior. Rage’s rank #1 legend from last week held top 10, and our very Warlock expert, Shoop, used it for the last stretch of a climb to top 50 legend, swapping out Brann for Demonwrath, to help with the Token Druid matchup.
Figuring out which flavor of Renolock is best in any given Metagame is a significant open problem. The main advantage of C’Thun is the strength of Twin Emperors, which can singlehandedly win games against mid-range decks and Worgen Warrior. However, C’Thun Renolock runs fewer threats than other variants, and can struggle to regain momentum after a board clear (especially if it whiffs on C’Thun activators). With the flexibility that the Reno shell offers, more experimentation could be valuable, and it wouldn’t be surprising if a much stronger build has yet to be discovered.
Druid continues to be one of the most dominant classes in the Metagame. This was apparent in the last days of the season, when many players in the top 100 legend ladder were playing various forms of Token Druid. Most of the Token Druid builds are based off a standard list with different techs and card choices. There are many different ways to build Token Druid, with flexible cards that can be switched in and out: Feral Rage, Mulch, Savage Roar, Mire Keeper, Yogg-Saron, Bloodmage Thalnos, Druid of the Claw, Ancient of War, and Cenarius.
Token Druid is extremely flexible and could be modified based on the opponents on ladder. One of the most successful variants of last season was Noblord’s Token Druid. Noblord finished rank #3 legend with his build, while other players also placed high with it (Ant top 25, Nostam top 100). The list features double Savage Roar, Druid of the Claw, and Wisps of the Old Gods which allows the deck to be more aggressive than other builds. Noblord and Nostam also suggest cutting the Yogg-Saron for Cenarius because this deck doesn’t rely as much on having a comeback mechanic, instead putting heavier focus on Token synergy.
Other Druid archetypes weren’t as successful in securing high finishes as Token Druid remains the strongest archetype of the class. This could change in the next expansion with Beast Druid garnering some early hype by various players due to Enchanted Raven.
Mage is still struggling to find its place in the current Metagame. Freeze Mage is non-existent on ladder while there are still a few Tempo Mage’s about. The last month for HCT points just concluded and the home stretch towards Blizzcon is here. Hopefully, Mage gets some interesting new cards to play with during the upcoming adventure, as the class is going stale and needs to be splashed with some new innovation. While the Asian region has been a major player in current Tempo Mage builds, it’s looking doubtful that much else can be effectively done with the class.
Mage is still a niche pick for tournaments but the “top tier” archetypes are objectively better picks for the current Metagame. Playing Freeze Mage just feels bad when the matchups are so polarized, and there are merely a few highly favored matchups. Tempo Mage is in a weird spot where it needs a quick early game as well as gas in the mid-game to compete. It’s looking unlikely that Freeze Mage will be reasonably represented at the upcoming Summer Preliminaries.
With July being the last ranked season of play to collect HCT points, most players opted for choices on the last day that were not so innovative or risky, such as Aggro Shaman, Warrior in all of its variants and Token druid.
None of these decks were good enough for Hotform. Instead the 2015 World Championship runner-up put his faith in Valeera and Yogg-Saron for a new Miracle Rogue variant! Looking at his list, the first thing that may catch you as a surprise is the number of minions in the deck. Including Journey Below, there are 16 minions in this build. More minions provide you with a denser amount of threats as opposed to typical Leeroy versions. This helps in grindy match-ups with Warrior and Druid, and reduces the likelihood of getting Justicar’d out of the game by Control Warriors.
More minions can also help against some of the more aggressive decks, in particular the inclusion of a second Violet Teacher. Violet Teacher generates free tokens that can trade into small minions, and can also be difficult to remove for slower decks.
For people that have been interested in playing Rogue and have felt pushed out by the Metagame, this is a fair deck to play on ladder. Try to avoid it if you are running into a lot of face Aggro decks, particularly Shaman, which is the biggest bane of Miracle Rogue. If you find yourself playing against a lot of Druids though, this a great deck to play.
Not much has changed for Paladin this week, as it continues to remain one of the two least popular ladder classes along with Priest. Though Control Paladin has a decent matchup against Warrior, and tends to be favored against the reigning top deck, Dragon Warrior, it continues to struggle against many of the other popular archetypes in the current Metagame, particularly Token Druid. Strength in ladder is often determined by how many polarizing matchups does an archetype have, which makes Control Paladin a difficult deck to successfully climb with, even though it can definitely find its place in tournaments, where bans are possible.
After some research, it appears that no one used Priest for the July end of season ladder run. On July 29th, Zetalot took one of his Resurrect variants to around 110 on the EU server. To our knowledge, this is the biggest Priest accomplishment in some time. As of this moment, Blizzard still hasn’t shown off any of the new Priest cards. Wwlos is a broken man.
The good news is, they have to release something for Priest! The bad news is that if it isn’t good, the Priest class is doomed to suffer for months to come. Pessimism is somewhat rampant, but we should have faith in our Blizzard designers, if only for the reason that pessimism and negativity doesn’t do anyone any good.
Wwlos does have a special request though. Since he thinks that he may have started the ‘Unicorn Priest’ meme, he’d love to see a printed Priest card with a unicorn on it, to claim it as his own. We all would. Blizzard pls.
There’s a popular opinion amongst many that Warrior is an overpowered class and needs to be toned down. We don’t believe Warrior is overpowered, but it is best equipped to deal with the current Metagame which is largely defined by what is arguably the true tyrant that starts the food chain: Aggro Shaman.
A lot has been said about Aggro Shaman counters, but we’re not seeing them in our metrics, and a lot of them appear to be perception based. Aggro Shaman looks ‘miserable’ when it loses to these perceived counters, but that doesn’t mean much when it happens only 50% of the time. For example, even though it is widely believed to be unfavored against Zoo, the matchup has always been close according to our metrics (and we’ve got some tournament results that back this up as well). With some recent adjustments in the archetype (Lightning Storm), this matchup is only improving further at higher levels of play. The same could be said for defensive Warriors, which are able to trade wins with the archetype (better than most decks), but never truly dominate Aggro Shaman. The only true, common counter on ladder appears to be Dragon Warrior, as it possesses the tools necessary to consistently deal with the highly oppressive early game of Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem and Tuskarr Totemic. Recent results show that Aggro Shaman does not rely on Flamewreathed Faceless to be this powerful too, which fits our recent analysis about the card. Overall, it’s just never a bad choice with the Metagame being the way it is, and we finally concede the feature spot to it.
Just don’t actually play it, okay?
Here are all the people that participated in bringing you this edition of the vS Data Reaper Report: