Welcome to the 180th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||7,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||43,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||41,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||47,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
Demon Hunters are blowing up everywhere. A week ago, it seemed like Aggro DH was going to take a backseat to Soul DH due to its struggles in the direct matchup as well as its performance against Control Warrior, but this trend has been reversed. The hyper-aggressive archetype has doubled its numbers over the past week and is going through another refinement phase in which Skull of Gul’dan is reintroduced to the deck.
Aggro DH and Soul DH are now neck-and-neck in their play rates throughout ladder. Aggro DH has a small edge outside of legend, while Soul DH is more popular at top legend. Together, and alongside the declining OTK Lifesteal DH, the class’ numbers are rising every day, nearing 30% at top legend.
Warrior is no slouch either. While the class isn’t too popular outside of legend, Control Warrior might be the most dominant archetype at top legend, where it has doubled its numbers and eclipsed 15% of the field. Most Control Warrior builds run the ETC combo, some run C’Thun, and others even run the Silas/Ashtongue combo. Bomb Warrior is slightly visible, while other Warrior decks don’t see much play.
Rogue is seeing a slight downtick in play. Galakrond and Aggro Rogue are fading away, as players flock towards the class’ most promising archetype of Miracle Rogue. Miracle Rogue is still not very refined, though the solutions are obvious (to us), and the deck is slowly moving away from its early expansion iteration.
Shaman is rising in play, with players switching to the successful Evolve Shaman. The archetype is seeing a lot of experimentation, and we suspect that it’s far from figured out. Totem Shaman has seen a drastic decline, and it’s completely gone from top legend. Aggro Shaman maintains a small presence there.
Hunter is also rising in play, and has seen a dramatic internal shift following Highlander Hunter’s success in the current meta. Players are moving away from Face Hunter and towards Highlander Hunter at all levels of play. At top legend, where the meta is more advanced, the process is complete and there are almost no Face Hunters left.
Paladin has attracted more attention throughout ladder over the last week thanks to Pure Paladin’s good standing against the meta-defining duo of Soul Demon Hunter and Control Warrior. Libroom Paladin’s presence is still small in comparison.
Priest has slightly shrunk in its numbers throughout most of ladder, but interestingly grew at top legend, where Control and Highlander Priest exhibit similar play rates. The possible explanation for this is that Priest is a strong counter to Control Warrior, and with that deck’s increased presence at higher levels of play, players are attempting to target it.
A Warrior counter that seems to have fallen hard is Druid. Clown Druid drastically declined in play over the last week, and while Control Warrior and Soul Demon Hunter are good matchups for it, Aggro Demon Hunter certainly isn’t. It’s very likely that the rise of this brutal matchup, alongside others (Shaman), is scaring Malfurion away.
Players are coming to terms with the fact that Control Warlock is terrible, and the archetype is quickly declining in play throughout ladder. At top legend, it’s almost completely gone. The problem is that Zoo Warlock, which might have been the class’s most promising lead last week, is fading away too.
Mage sits at the very bottom of the meta. Without any notable success and three archetypes that range from pretty bad to really bad, the class is being abandoned at higher levels of play. Mage is strangely popular at Bronze through Gold, where Spell Mage is a casual’s favorite.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- Demon Hunter
- Soul Demon Hunter’s win rate has fallen and it’s no longer the best performing deck in the format at legend. You might attribute it to the meta targeting it, but it’s only half the story. As you can see throughout the table, there is a natural process of deflation in the win rates of decks, caused by the decline of bad decks such as Control Warlock. Soul Demon Hunter is holding up very well taking into consideration the massive spike in Control Warrior at top legend, for example. Unless the meta successfully drops it to the Tier 2 range of win rates, Soul DH will remain dominant. Its Meta Score suggests it is dominant.
- Aggro Demon Hunter refuses to be a sidekick and has defied our expectations from last week that it would be restrained by the dominant duo of Soul DH and Control Warrior. The cause of this reversal is the development of a new Aggro DH build that is drastically stronger against its two bad matchups. This means that Control Warrior and Soul DH will remain viable Aggro DH counters, but their presence will not be enough to take control of the hyper-aggressive menace. Even at top legend, Aggro DH has kept hold of its Tier 1 status, and outside of that small pocket where the presence of its counters is extremely high, Aggro DH is destroying everything in its path. This deck’s final form (if it is even final) looks relentlessly insane.
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter is showing drastic improvements in its performance. This comes as a result of its internal refinement, the rise of Aggro DH, as well as a decline in Lifesteal DH’s own play rate, only leaving more successful pilots to run it. The problem is that even in these better conditions, its performance suggests a very fringe role in the meta. The ceiling just isn’t high enough.
- ETC Control Warrior is just so damn good, and it keeps getting better through refinement, becoming more efficient every day. It’s also a deck that’s exhibiting one of the highest skill ceilings in the format. Its performance peaks at top legend, where its build is more refined and the field is more favorable with the extremely high prevalence of Demon Hunter. Taking into consideration its scope for improvement, the sky’s the limit. Other Control Warrior builds are okay, but they’re just not as good as the ETC combo build.
- Bomb Warrior is also pretty good, and we strongly suggest that its fall in win rate wouldn’t be as noticeable if players ran Minefield in this deck. This archetype is powerful and would have been far more popular if ETC Control Warrior didn’t attract all the attention.
- Miracle Rogue is the most blatant Tier 1 deck that isn’t exhibiting a Tier 1 win rate. This week’s data has allowed us to reach a very confident assessment that Miracle Rogue would absolutely be sitting at Tier 1 with the very best decks if its players ran better builds. We have more details in the Rogue section, but the reason why its win rate is increasing ‘against the river current’ (global win rate deflation) is that Rogue players are slowly making better card choices. Want to make the better card choices quickly? Just netdeck us.
- We fear that Rogue may not be the diverse class it was during Scholomance Academy, with Aggro Rogue and Galakrond Rogue looking disappointing. Both of these archetypes could still improve through refinement, but Aggro Rogue isn’t really being worked on. Galakrond Rogue’s rise in win rate is a result of dropping C’Thun, but its post-C’Thun ceiling may still not be better than Tier 3.
- Evolve Shaman has suffered a brutal drop in its win rate. Part of the problem is that it cannot gain any edge against Soul DH and Control Warrior, but the bigger problem is the rise of Aggro DH, which obliterates it. Evolve Shaman will likely remain viable and competitive, but for it to catch up to the top meta decks, it needs to find a better build. We’ll try to get there over the next couple of weeks.
- Aggro DH’s rise isn’t good news for any Shaman archetype. Aggro Shaman gets destroyed even harder in this matchup. The good news is that the deck is making progress against Control Warrior (now looks to be a clear favorite) and might even be able to turn the Soul Demon Hunter matchup into a 50-50 affair. If that happens, Aggro Shaman should be able to live well enough in the current meta. Definitely, an underrated choice that might already be superior to Evolve Shaman at higher levels of play.
- Totem Shaman is crashing out of the meta. It was obviously going to happen based on its matchup spread and it’s only going to get worse.
- The best performing deck at legend is none other than Highlander Hunter! The archetype is able to thrive under the dominance of Soul DH and Control Warrior, while not displaying any huge weaknesses in its matchup spread. Highlander Hunter is just pretty good into everything while not being actively targeted since it isn’t wildly popular. We suspect that its win rate might further decline (as well as its matchup against Aggro DH, for example) since it doesn’t have much room to internally improve, but it should remain Tier 1 quite comfortably.
- Face Hunter isn’t bad, it’s just not Highlander Hunter. There’s really no reason to play Face over Highlander. When Demon Hunter and Warrior dictate the format, you can’t afford to lose so many percentages against them, and this is why Highlander Hunter is just superior.
- Pure Paladin is definitely strong due to its good matchups against Soul DH and Control Warrior, though its matchup spread suggests it runs into issues when it is being outpaced by a faster and more flexible opponent. Its win rate and some of its matchups are worsening at higher levels of play, which isn’t too different from what we know of the deck from Scholomance Academy. We expect it to remain very strong throughout ladder, but perhaps eventually fall to Tier 2 at top legend.
- Libroom Paladin is improving, and we estimate that its ceiling could be higher than Pure Paladin’s. It’s all about dropping the Old Gods and going back to its SA build, which might be a hard sell for players looking for something new.
- The Other Classes
- The data gives us a sense of irrelevance when it comes to the final four classes. We struggle to see why you’d ever run Priest, Druid, Warlock or Mage in order to maximize your competitive ladder experience. All of these classes just seem very underpowered when compared to the titans we’ve previously discussed. Demon Hunter and Warrior dominate and dictate the format. Hunter, Rogue, Shaman and Paladin show success under the rules set by the first two. The rest are not really there, and here’s why:
- Control and Highlander Priest exhibit dramatic improvements in their win rates, which are born from refinement and a good Warrior matchup, but we can tell that their ceiling is limited. Highlander Priest has climbed as high as it possibly could under the current popularity of Warrior at top legend, while Control Priest could potentially be a little better than that without a fully functional Bloodweaver. That’s still far away from the very best decks.
- Clown Druid is so bad against so many decks that, even as a narrow counter deck, it’s not a particularly great choice. After we’ve seen Aggro DH spike in popularity, Clown Druid just seems extremely limited in its options and there are better ways to match up to Soul Demon Hunter and Control Warrior without giving up… everything else.
- Warlock ranges from terrible late-game strategies to a very mediocre aggressive strategy. Zoo Warlock is not displaying an improvement in results, which means there is no reason to play it over stronger aggressive decks such as… wait for it… Aggro Demon Hunter.
- Mage is completely gone.
- So, to conclude, it seems that the meta is being choked out by a couple of overloaded classes that only seem to get better (relatively) with time. We’re not seeing an effective response that can provide some breathing room for the ‘irrelevant’ classes to operate in. Four ‘dead’ classes is not a good look. There’s still time for new discoveries to emerge, but at its current trajectory and without new discoveries, this meta could display an alarming scarcity of options.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Demon Hunter is the strongest class in the game, and we don’t think it’s up for too much debate. While you could make an argument that a deck from a different class is stronger in some part of ladder, Demon Hunter is the only class that currently boasts two top-tier archetypes with dominant win rates and matchup spreads at all levels of play.
Soul Demon Hunter is starting to get targeted more aggressively by the meta, but it hasn’t fallen off of Tier 1 at any level of play, proving its resilience. We don’t think there is any need for adjustments in the featured build from last week. None of the cards that commonly see play and are excluded from the list (Pen Flinger, Spectral Sight, Wandmaker, Stiltstepper) look like clear upgrades.
Aggro Demon Hunter has gone through major developments this week that could solidify it as a top tier performer, even at higher levels of play where its difficult matchups, Soul Demon Hunter and Control Warrior, are extremely common.
The key to improving these matchups is to tweak the deck’s sustained pressure and boost its finishing potential. Players have been doing that by cutting Acrobatics, the weakest draw engine in the deck, for Skull of Gul’dan. What makes Skull a clear upgrade over Acrobatics are the additions of Lorekeeper Polkelt and Altruis the Outcast. The ability to discount Altruis (and Stiltstepper) with Skull quite consistently through Lorekeeper Polkelt is extremely powerful and turns Aggro DH into a much more intimidating opponent in the late game that can blow you up without having the board.
This off-board threat makes Aggro DH less one-dimensional and is worth investing into, even though these expensive cards don’t have good direct synergy with Stiltstepper and Voracious Reader.
Lifesteal Demon Hunter has drastically improved its win rate, with players learning how to play the deck and its build becoming more refined. However, this improvement still may not be enough to elevate it from a fringe position in the meta. The key to success with this deck is to max out the redundancy of your win condition.
Last week, we said that this deck wants to run Felosophy since it would play three copies of Mo’arg Artificer if it could. This week, we can say it would run four copies of Mo’arg Artificer if it could, so we recommend running two copies of Felosophy on top of two Ethereal Augmerchants. Artificer is not only critical for your final combo, but it’s a huge survivability piece that you often have to use earlier in the game, and increasing its redundancy allows you to utilize it with greater freedom and flexibility.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Soul Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
- Lifesteal Demon Hunter
Warrior looks very powerful with Control Warrior proving to be an exceptionally strong deck at higher levels of play. DeadDraw has finished #1 legend on two servers with the ETC combo build, which is continuing to develop in its refinement.
The additional data from this week has allowed us to take some drastic measures in order to elevate the deck to a new and even more degenerate level! We can confirm that Galakrond is bait and doesn’t belong in the deck. But, the most striking conclusion we’ve gathered is that ETC Control Warrior benefits massively from increasing its card draw even at the cost of cutting some of its removal.
Last week, we hesitated on cutting one copy of Brawl, and now we’re suggesting cutting both copies on top of cutting Bladestorms! The five additional slots go into card draw and finishing potential. Corsair Cache tutors Ancharrr/Bulwark. Stage Dive tutors a Broomstick. The 2nd Cutting Class is added. The 2nd Pen Flinger provides combo redundancy. Zephrys is a questionable choice in iterations that don’t max card draw, but in this build, it could very well make sense. We’ve seen some players swap Zephrys for Silas, for the sole intention of winning the mirror at the narrow top legend meta (to steal the opponent’s Rattlegore).
The thinking behind this build, which already looks very promising, is that we don’t need a lot of removal if we draw our deck extremely quickly. Drawing Barov/Broomstick, Skipper/Armorsmith and activating Zephrys faster means our dependence on Brawl/Bladestorm to survive is lessened, while our performance in slower matchups clearly improves.
Bomb Warrior seems to be taking a backseat to Control Warrior, but don’t be fooled. It’s a very powerful deck that isn’t utilized to its full potential. Based on the data we’ve collected from last week, Minefield is a gargantuan card in the archetype (one of the very best cards in the deck). Nobody runs Minefield in this deck other than the players who netdeck these reports, so Bomb Warrior is a stronger deck than it’s currently showing, thanks to this addition.
- Warrior Class Radar
- Control Warrior
- Bomb Warrior
- Enrage Warrior
The analysis we’ve done on Rogue this week has mostly reinforced our findings from last week. Miracle Rogue is potentially a top tier deck that’s being held back by poor card choices that weigh down its performance at all levels of play. Once players heavily transition into refined iterations of the deck, it should enjoy a significant increase in its win rate.
The build we’ve settled on last week looks spectacular. Pharaoh Cat is still a cornerstone card for the archetype, and the penalty for cutting it is massive. It should absolutely be a 2-of inclusion and there’s no real debate about it. Increasing the secret package to 4 improves the performance of Hanar and Blackjack Stunner. Zephrys is a massive liability. Ambush is the best secret available to Rogue in the current meta, by far, and running Plagiarize over it also incurs a win rate penalty. Questing Adventurer is stronger as a single copy. The reason is that it competes for resources with its 2nd copy as well as Edwin. Unless the meta demands us to play Questing Adventurer on turn 3-4 (translation: a Druid meta), there is no need for more than 1. Miracle Rogue currently looks to play QA or Edwin on turns 5-6, which means QA’s ‘dead window’ is longer.
Aggro Rogue isn’t showing good results, and we suspect that the archetype will continue to decline in play. Galakrond Rogue is improving thanks to players dropping C’Thun from its build as well as its good matchup against Warrior, but it’s unlikely to become a genuinely strong deck in the current meta.
- Rogue Class Radar
- Miracle Rogue
- Aggro Rogue
- Galakrond Rogue
Shaman’s power has dropped this week, as both Illidan and Garrosh have made it clear to Thrall that he’s not part of the cool kids’ club. However, Shaman could still come back to challenge the elite with some refinements.
Evolve Shaman is at a crossroads, where two deckbuilding philosophies compete to produce the best build. Since we see a promising path for either one, we’ll feature both and explain the reasoning for their specific card choices.
First, let’s go over the common findings that affect the entire archetype. Instructor Fireheart has grown stronger this week as a result of Warrior’s rise, so she should be included. Bogstrok Clacker is looking fairly strong as a single copy since it provides some redundancy for Boggspine Knuckles. Revolve is growing increasingly weaker as its applications outside of the Desert Hare combo are not relevant enough. Far Sight was initially included as a result of the deck’s lack of card draw, but that looks to be a trap.
Where the two approaches differ are on Derailed Coaster. Last week’s iteration included Stormstrike and Serpentshrine Portal to alleviate Evolve Shaman’s weakness of having no way to directly interact with the opponent’s early game minions. However, the product of lower minion density is a weaker Derailed Coaster.
The first build keeps the spells, cuts Derailed Coaster for the more stable and consistent Faceless Corruptor, and adds Tour Guide as a strong enabler for Corruptor on-curve (when played on turn 4), as well as a decent Evolve target.
The second build completely builds around Derailed Coaster, maximizing minion density, and increasing its payoffs. We cut every spell in the deck and only add Mutate since it has a strong combo with Coaster (and has other strong tempo applications in the build). We add Cable Rat and Novice Engineer as early game drops that maintain our hand size. We run Sea Giant as another Coaster payoff alongside Mogu Fleshshaper. Faceless Corruptor is kept in this build because of our lackey generation.
Since both of these builds are novel, we’ll look into their performance next week and see where the archetype is headed.
Aggro Shaman remains an extremely underrated deck that should see more play. Its matchup against Control Warrior is very strong, while its matchup against Soul Demon Hunter is estimated to be 50-50 when built well. This means that Aggro Shaman lines up well against the two most influential decks in the format.
The key to improve Doomhammer Aggro Shaman’s performance is cutting Voracious Reader. We’ve found that Diligent Notetaker is a notable upgrade. There might be other ways to improve this deck, but not enough players are working to refine it. Nevertheless, the featured build is quite strong.
Totem Shaman has predictably collapsed in its win rate, and we think it’s quite likely that it will disappear. It’s already completely gone at higher levels of play.
- Shaman Class Radar
- Evolve Shaman
- Totem Shaman
- Aggro Shaman
Hunter is quietly dominating the format. While all the attention is on trying to counter the popular Demon Hunter and Warrior classes, Highlander Hunter is enjoying the absence of hostility and exhibiting the highest win rate at legend.
There’s not much room to improve last week’s build, but we did find a promising development, which is the addition of Trampling Rhino. It’s a strong Scavenger’s Ingenuity target that boosts Hunter’s finishing potential in the late game. It’s also defensively useful on-curve. We ended up cutting Eaglehorn Bow for Rhino, which may seem puzzling at first, but Bow is underwhelming in most matchups, especially against faster decks. Even against Warrior, it’s just okay. If the meta was significantly slower, we’d consider cutting Unleash the Hounds, but we feel like this card is going to grow in importance as Aggro Demon Hunter is blowing up. We would also consider running Explosive Trap over Pressure Plate for the same reason.
Face Hunter is okay, but is so clearly inferior to Highlander Hunter due to its worse matchups against the meta-defining Demon Hunter and Warrior. We can’t find a good reason to play it over the highlander deck, which is why it’s disappeared from top legend.
Deathrattle Hunter isn’t okay.
- Hunter Class Radar
- Highlander Hunter
- Face Hunter
- Deathrattle Hunter
Paladin is in a pretty good position in the meta.
Pure Paladin enjoys a good standing against both Soul Demon Hunter and Control Warrior. It struggles against Rogue and Shaman, and has a limited skill ceiling, so we expect its win rate to drop further at higher levels of play, but it should remain strong. Nothing about its build should change.
Libroom Paladin is slowly recovering in its win rate as it is slowly abandoning Old Gods. We see quite a bit of potential in this archetype to possibly overtake Pure Paladin at higher levels of play, much like it did during Scholomance Academy. However, it might never become very popular since it’s an old deck that has added no new cards to its best build.
Priest is showing improvements in its performance, but they’re not quite enough to lift it anywhere close to the dominant classes of the format.
We see a world in which a Highlander Priest can constantly run into Warriors at top legend and do quite well, but the deck is horrid against a diverse meta. Control Priest is gaining some ground as another deck that does well against Warrior, but faces a similar problem of doing poorly against a wide field. It’s still waiting for that Nazmani Bloodweaver bug fix in order to make a significant comeback. Resurrect Priest is only getting worse as the days go by: it’s done.
- Priest Class Radar
- Control Priest
- Highlander Priest
- Resurrect Priest
What we’ve said last week still applies to Clown Druid. Outside of fringe top legend use to counter Control Warrior and Soul Demon Hunter, the deck loses to pretty much everything else. Its position in the meta has even gotten worse this week as a result of Aggro Demon Hunter’s spike in play. Things are not going to get better if that deck continues to thrive.
Some players are running Clown Druid builds with Guardian Animals in order to perform better in faster matchups, but then find out that they can no longer reliably beat Soul Demon Hunter. There doesn’t seem to be a magical solution to drag Druid out of its current position.
Warlock is in big trouble. Control Warlock remains atrocious and has no hope of looking competitive as long as Demon Hunter dominates the format. Galakrond Warlock is not much better. Any deck that targets the opponent’s life total will find these Warlock strategies to be quite easy to beat.
Zoo Warlock is the only deck within the class that looks remotely competitive. We’ve updated the featured build to perform better in slower matchups, with Revenant Rascal and Wicked Whispers. However, we’re not convinced that the best Zoo Warlock build is good enough to compete with the monstrous power level that is observed in other classes. Zoo gets completely destroyed by Demon Hunter. It ain’t pretty.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Control Warlock
- Galakrond Warlock
- Zoo Warlock
In a meta that possesses too many classes that feel irrelevant, Mage tops the list as the most irrelevant. This dumpster fire just doesn’t possess a single redeeming factor. Despite the addition of Deck of Lunacy, which is an exceptionally strong card, both Cyclone Mage and Spell Mage sit deep in the meme tier.
Secret Mage is the only Mage deck that doesn’t display a disastrous win rate (yet), thanks to its decent Control Warrior matchup. The problem is that it loses to almost every other top meta deck, which leads to a decline in its win rate that makes it very unlikely that it will find a way to seriously compete. It’s already been completely written off at higher levels of play, and we can’t say that there’s a reason to disagree.
- Mage Class Radar
- Cyclone Mage
- Secret Mage
- Spell Mage
Discussion of balance changes will likely pick up over the next week as it’s becoming clearer that Control Warrior and Soul Demon Hunter severely limit the success of other strategies.
We’re here to tell you that nerfing these decks is essentially impossible without nerfing Aggro Demon Hunter too. This deck was on the verge of being stopped by the meta defining duo last week, only to laugh it off and declare it wasn’t even in its final form.
Its new form is outright terrifying, with the same relentless aggression, coupled with a late-game finisher that can prove to be back-breaking in many matchups.
Nothing can really stop this deck other than Soul DH and Control Warrior, but even their edge over this menace should somewhat shrink once this build fully takes over.
This means that Aggro DH is going nowhere and Team 5’s next balance decisions should be very difficult. There are multiple layers of busted things, and removing one layer may only expose the next one for vengeance.
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