vS Data Reaper Report #19
Welcome to the 19th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
We would first like to offer a warm congratulation to a member of our Data Reaper team, HotMEOWTH, on winning the HCT America’s Summer Championship. We’re very proud to have a team of experts that belongs to the very highest level of play. HotMEOWTH is a terrific player, a kind and humble person, and it’s been a joy to watch him grow as a competitor. We’re not surprised to see him win the tournament. Our data predicted it too!
Our Data Reaper Project, including the Data Reaper Live (Beta) has over 2,300 contributors. Without them, this project would not be possible, so we’d like to thank all of our contributors for their help.
More contributors mean more accurate win rate information. With the new adventure completely out, we need as many contributors as possible to quickly identify new archetypes, and better evaluate their power levels. If you have not done so already, please sign up with your Track-O-Bot information here:
Preparing our weekly article requires a significant amount of time and effort from many individuals. We would like to wholeheartedly thank our current Patreons, whose generous donations help us fund computing and server costs. 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 September 14 and September 20. The first chart shows all ranks, and the second can be switched between different ranks. For the entire week, we’ve compiled 52,000 games overall. We recorded about 3k games at legend ranks, 34k games at ranks 1-10, and 10k games at ranks 11-15.
A Note: Recently Track-O-Bot stopped identifying games at Legend rank. Currently, we are able to reasonably estimate the Legend meta for the remaining days in September. However, this will likely stop when the season resets. While we have made attempts to alert the developer, we are not sure when exactly he will be able to cater to this issue. As a result, we are seeking help from the community. Please let us know if you are interested in maintaining the open source code of Track-O-Bot. If you are, please PM us and we can try and devise a way to reintroduce to Track-O-Bot some lost functionalities.
‘By Rank’ Games
Next is a graph displaying the popularity of classes during the last 19 weeks, since the Data Reaper Project launched.
Class Frequency by Weeks
- Well, that escalated quickly. The Shaman class is taking over the game with a spike in its popularity that is showing no signs of stopping. At legend ranks, its numbers are mirroring the state of Warrior pre-Karazhan, and Mid-Range Shaman is extremely dominant. With no reliable counters around, it is simply out of control, and there’s certainly a need to account for this within the player base. Tuning decks against this archetype will be highly rewarding.
- Hunter has slightly risen in its popularity, with Secret Hunter being the root cause. At legend ranks, this archetype is also seeing more play compared to last week due to some recent innovations that have proven to be very fruitful. We’re monitoring Secret Hunter very closely, and there’s a good reason behind it.
- Within the Warrior class, there is an internal Meta shift. Dragon Warrior is declining, which correlates quite perfectly with our observation of its performance recently. Control Warrior is rising, on the back of being one of the best decks to queue into the Shaman class.
- With so much publicity due to some spectacular performances in the tournament scene, Druid is spiking in its popularity on ladder. Yogg Druid is particularly dominant at legend ranks, as its matchup with Shaman can be overcome, and it is an archetype with very few weaknesses otherwise.
- Warlock is falling. While traditionally Zoo Warlock has always been a counter to the Shaman class, this is no longer the case. This matchup has become increasingly difficult for the Warlock since Karazhan’s release, and with Control Warlocks archetypes being so difficult to navigate in the current Meta, things look quite grim for the class.
- While Rogue’s numbers on ladder are quite low, it is seeing an increase in play at the highest levels, due to some recent success and innovation in Miracle Rogue. Players are slowly dropping the “Thief” tools Rogue has received in Karazhan and focusing on combo-centric decks once again.
- Paladin seems to be in a pretty poor state. Dragon Paladin doesn’t appear to be breaking out, Control Paladin has almost disappeared, and Anyfin Paladin retains a niche role in countering some Meta decks. But hey, at least it’s not as bad as Priest!
- So Priest saw some spotlight at the tournament scene due to Dreamhack Bucharest’s 9 deck format. I guess if you force someone to play the class, they will, and they might win some games. On ladder though, people are staying away.
We now present the updated “vS Power Rankings” table for week # 19. 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.
- Mid-Range Shaman remains on top, and we’re observing that its performance against the field is only getting better. Players are simply struggling to counter the archetype. Aggro Shaman is seeing a slight decline in its performance, but it’s still one of the best decks in the game. While many players claim that Druid is the best class on the back of tournament performances, Shaman remains statistically more efficient on ladder, with players appearing to hit #1 legend with it every other day.
- Mid-Range Hunter maintains a strong score, but Secret Hunter is the archetype that we currently find more intriguing. Its performance has spiked over the past week, and it’s on pace to become a Tier 1 deck very soon. Internally, our card usage radar map shows that this spike in performance can be traced to VLPS’ Secret Hunter build. Considering that Secret Hunter is an archetype that is still being refined, and its level of build variance is relatively high, this Power Ranking score is an indication of great potential.
- Control Warrior is getting stronger, while Dragon Warrior is getting weaker. Dragon Warrior’s fall is caused by a significant change in its matchup against Mid-Range Shamans that has begun with Karazhan’s release. Not only is it no longer a reliable counter to the archetype, it is shifting towards being unfavored. Control Warrior is an archetype that is continuing the process of being perfected, and its performance against the field is getting better every week.
- The story of the Dragon Warrior is true for Zoo Warlock as well. The historical counter to Shamans has become completely countered by Shamans. Zoo’s legend ranks score shows the dramatic decline in the archetype’s power and why players are moving away from it. It’s at one of its lowest points in the history of the game.
From ladder to tournaments, Shaman is dominating the scene, with both Mid-Range and Aggro Shaman having a significant presence. At the Americas Summer Championships, all eight players brought the class: five Aggro, two Mid-Range and one Concede. The Aggro Shaman lists were all nearly the same, with some tech cards such as Maelstrom Portal and Lightning Storm being the only slight difference.
The America’s Summer Champion, HotMEOWTH, used the same build with which he qualified for the event and reached top 10 legend last month. Pascoa used a similar list to Xixo’s Karazhan version that has more of a Mid-Range approach, utilizing Spirit Claws and Azure Drakes while still having burst potential. Tarei brought a Mid-Range Shaman list with Flamewreathed Faceless, Al’Akir and the entire spell power/Claws package. Rooftrellen stuck with his guns and brought Concede Shaman which managed to help him get to the semi-finals only to be knocked out by Tarei.
In other events, Loyan, a respected Mid-Range Shaman player for a very long time (long before it was mainstream) qualified for Starladder and managed to go 16-3 with his list, which is a fairly standard example of the archetype’s current state. Harrison and Stormcrack are tech choices that can be replaced by the second copies of Spirit Claws and Azure Drake.
On ladder, Ant has been consistently maintaining rank 1 legend with an old school Aggro Shaman build that cuts AOE, Tuskarr Totemic and Thing From Below for Ancestral Knowledge, Lava Shock and a couple of early game minions. This makes the deck stronger against some of its control counters at the highest levels, such as Control Warrior, and accounts for the decreasing numbers of tokens in the current Meta.
- HotMewoth’s Standard Aggro Shaman
- Ant’s Old School Aggro Shaman
- Xixo’s Spirit Claws Aggro Shaman
- Tarei’ Faceless Mid-Range Shaman
- Loyan’s Mid-Range Shaman
- Rooftrellen’s Concede (Control) Shaman
Hunter is in a decent spot in the Meta right now. While it’s not considered the best class, it is still a strong class that can beat or go toe-to-toe with any deck in the game. Its main weakness is the matchup with Zoo and the Shaman class, which is keeping it under control.
Last week in the America’s Summer Championship, HotMEOWTH (the writer of this section) included in his line-up a Hunter deck similar to Fr0zen’s Mid-Range build to win the tournament. Fr0zen’s Hunter deck seems to be the best list to bring to tournaments overall, since the deck has enough early game to deal with aggression, while still retaining the heavy mid-late game threats to beat control decks such as Freeze Mage, Anyfin Paladin and Control Warrior. The one change from Fr0zen’s list is cutting one copy of Unleash the Hounds for a second Argent Horserider in order to keep up with the build’s more aggressive approach, and reduce the amount of situational cards in the deck. This was based on the prediction that decks such as Zoo were on the decline, and many Druids were cutting the token package from their builds.
Tarei also brought a Mid-Range Hunter build to the HCT AM Summer Championship finals. His version was more tuned against Yogg Druid and Dragon Warrior that were popular in the tournament. His list consists of some interesting choices: Cloaked Huntress and two Freezing Traps can create tempo swings against Mid-Range decks that don’t flood the board with small minions. Tarei’s build also has the traditional Juggler/Unleash combo to deal with Zoo and Token druid. The most interesting and unorthodox choice in his build is Princess Huhuran; many Hunter builds lack a powerful 5-drop, which makes the card a good choice to fill the curve. While the Princess seems to be a win more card, it can be extremely impactful against control decks, acting almost like a third Savannah Highmane.
On ladder, there have been quite a few Secret Hunter innovations that may have increased the archetype’s popularity and viability. NickChipper recently built an interesting Yogg-Saron, spell-heavy Mid-Range Hunter list with doomsayers, and took it to top 100 EU. His list runs a lot of removal spells that can deal with early aggression and mid-game pressure, and may do well against the swarm of Shamans on ladder (Yogg is one of the best cards in the game against Mid-Range Shaman). VLPS also has an interesting approach on building Secret Hunter. His list is a slower mid-range build that features The Curator and Azure Drakes. The slew of secrets and Cloaked Huntress can create large tempo swings against other mid-range decks, and the drawing power provides it with incredible late game longevity.
- Fr0zen’s Mid-Range Hunter
- Tarei’s Mid-Range Hunter
- NickChipper’s Yogg Secret Hunter
- VLPS’s Curator Secret Hunter
Warrior has slightly declined in popularity over the last week as players are discovering the strength of Malygos Druid, taking the third spot behind Druid and Shaman at legend ranks. Although a couple of pros are still tinkering with N’Zoth variants, it seems like Cipher’s Control Warrior has come out on top as the strongest and most consistent build. Data Reaper’s own HotMEOWTH took a slightly modified variant of Cipher’s list to win the Americas Summer Championships. Crediting Rosty with the change, HotMeowth’s build cuts a Blood to Ichor for a single Doomsayer, which can efficiently clean up early boards.
Meanwhile, some Combo Warrior players have shifted from the Worgen OTK to a more value oriented combo deck. Rage’s Blood Warrior runs the same Wild Pyromancer and Commanding Shout shell as previous Worgen decks, but has several win conditions. With Elise, Arcane Giants, Grim Patron, and the notorious Yogg-Saron, Rage’s build can shift its game plan drastically depending on the opponent’s deck. The addition of Armorsmiths also gives the deck a favored matchup versus Freeze Mage, which is usually an impossible matchup for Worgen-based combo decks.
This has been another great week for Druid, both on ladder and in tournaments. Yogg Druid remains one of the most popular decks at the legend ranks and a common choice for tournaments, being a favorite amongst many top level players. It feels like whenever you see a Druid now, they steamroll through early ramp with Wild Growth and Innervate or end up stealing a win with a miracle Yogg from the jaws of defeat.
The tournament scene this week has shown the power of Miracle Malygos Druid. At Dreamhack Bucharest and the Americas Summer Championships, the list performed extremely well. One of the standout performances at the Dreamhack was Hoej piloting Malygos Druid. He managed to stay undefeated for most of the Last Hero Standing format tournament with the deck and sweep most of his series. In the Americas Summer Championships, both finalists, HotMEOWTH and Tarei, brought Xixo’s Miracle Malygos list and HotMEOWTH, winner of the tournament, didn’t lose a single game with the deck. This variant is extremely powerful and many players argue it is the best deck in the game in the right hands.
There were also other Malygos Druid builds that had success this week. MrYagut took his Token Malygos Druid build to top 10 legend this week. Interestingly enough, the list only features one Violet Teacher and instead uses a copy of Moonglade Portal. This allows to deck to still take early wins through Violet Teacher, Innervate and Power of the Wild turns, but provides a healing option to help stabilize due to not running Feral Rage.
Other archetypes of Druid also saw some life this week. Muzzy took his Beast Druid build to rank 5 legend on AM. The deck can surprise players on ladder due to most players expecting Yogg Druid, which causes them to mulligan away their early removal.
One of the more interesting decks this week was Dog’s Dragon Druid which he took to top 10 legend. Like most Druid decks, it aims to ramp early into its bigger threats while controlling the board. A lot of the late game potential of this deck is unlocked by Brann Bronzebeard and Netherspire Historian to discover the late game dragons.
Druid is currently one of the best classes to ladder, but is less seen at the lower ranks. We highly recommend learning the class, not only because it is so strong, but it is also extremely fun to play.
- Xixo’s Miracle Malygos Druid
- Yagut’s Token Malygos Druid
- Orange’s AoW Malygos Druid
- Muzzy’s Beast Druid
- Dog’s Dragon Druid
In the Americas Summer Championships, Mage was the fourth most prevalent class, appearing in six out of the eight lineups, although neither of the finalists utilized it. There was an even split of Tempo Mage and Freeze Mage at the tournament, with three apiece. Mage appears to have taken on the role of a mid-tier deck, residing alongside Hunter and Warlock as classes which are powerful, but not perceived quite as strong as the big three of Warrior, Shaman, and Druid.
With the rise of Mid-Range Shaman as the most prevalent Shaman archetype, alongside a significant decrease in Aggro Shamans, Freeze Mage might become more powerful, as it is much better situated to deal with the slower, board-centric variant of Shaman that usually doesn’t wield Doomhammer. However, one obstacle for Freeze Mage is the rise of Control Warrior in response to the Shamans, which is an almost impossible match up. While Freeze Mage can succeed in tournaments due to the possibility of a ban, it is a deck that struggles to find its place on ladder with so many polarizing matchups.
The most popular Tempo Mage builds continue to be value centric; Rooftrellen kicked it up one notch further at the Americas Championships by including a Polymorph in his build. Polymorph provides Tempo Mage with a much more efficient way to clear Malygos Druid’s big threats, allowing the Tempo Mage to save the burn for face rather than board control. On the opposite end of the Tempo Mage aggression spectrum, Omegazero managed to qualify for Blizzcon in the Chinese Autumn Championship with a much more aggressive, burn heavy build, with the curve topping at 5 mana except for Yogg.
On ladder, Ginge managed to hit top 10 legend this week with another variant of the faster Burn Tempo Mage build, quite similar to Chakki’s version with Fireland’s Portal, but features Babbling Book instead of Acolyte of Pain to further increase its early game consistency. This build is likely one of the better answers to the Shaman swarm on ladder.
- Rooftrellen’s Value Tempo Mage
- Omegazero’s Burn Tempo Mage
- Ginge’s Burn Tempo Mage
- Standard Freeze Mage
- Gallon’s Reno Mage
Despite the power increase from Malchezaar’s Imp, Zoo seems to have settled into being a worse version of Shaman. It’s still a comfort pick for non-Legend players, but at Legend it’s even rarer than Rogue. Both finalists of the Americas Summer Championship, Tarei and HotMEOWTH included the archetype in their line up (With Tarei bringing a pre-Karazhan token variant, and HotMEOWTH bringing Muzzy’s Demonfire variant), but that may speak more to the deck’s ability to round out a five-deck aggressive lineup and less to its absolute power level.
Meanwhile, Reno Warlock is becoming more of a rare occurrence, while Dragon Warlock has established a small presence over the last week. Reno Warlock is an archetype heavily unfavored in a field of Druids, Shamans and Hunters which punish its inconsistencies. Malygos Druids dropping the Token package may have also made the matchup worse for Renolock, as tokens were somewhat susceptible to Renolock’s strong AOE. The newer versions of Malygos Druid can spend their early turns drawing instead of building boards, and Reno can’t apply enough pressure to stop the Druid from assembling 20+ damage from hand, making Reno Jackson nearly useless.
- HotMEOWTH’s (Muzzy) Zoo Warlock
- Tarei’s Token Zoo Warlock
- Thijs’ Malygos Warlock
- Eversiction’s Reno Warlock
- Dog’s Dragon Reno Warlock
Miracle Rogue has seen an increase in popularity this week, with many players innovating new builds that have seen ladder success. With more players abandoning the Peddler builds the class has experimented with post-Karazhan, Rogue is returning to its old combo-centric nature to win more Hearthstone games.
ShtanUdachi hit top 2 legend on EU with an updated version of Malygos Rogue, while SilverName took the same list to hit #1. A notable inclusion in the build is Swashburglar, which is becoming more popular and offers Rogue a turn 1 play, a cheap combo-enabler and extra value later in the game. The advantage of Swashburglar over Huckster is that it fits the Rogue curve better. Rogue can afford to dagger up on turn 2, but usually do nothing on turn 1 otherwise. Swashburglar’s effect is also immediate, which can be meaningful later in the game.
Questing Adventurer Miracle Rogue is also re-emerging. Its biggest advantage over Leeroy builds is that it is more effective at racing aggressive decks that usually lack efficient ways to deal with a snowballing Adventurer. This week we’re featuring three takes on this variant.
Casie hit top 20 legend with a fairly standard and solid build, Firebat saw success cutting an Auctioneer and an SI agent for more removal tools (the original list created by Amnesiac has no Auctioneers and two Deckhands), while Chessdude climbed to top 10 legend with the most innovative and unconventional list that also features Arcane Giants. With no Azure Drakes or SI Agents, this build is entirely focused on cheap cycling and combo power turns with one of its win conditions and Conceal. Approach with caution!
- ShtanUdachi/SilveName’s Malygos Rogue
- Casie’s Questing Rogue
- Firebat/Amnesiac’s Questing Rogue
- Chessdude’s Questing/Giants Rogue
Anyfin Paladin remains the most popular Paladin archetype on ladder this week, followed by Dragon Paladin and Control Paladin. Paladin numbers remain fairly low on ladder, likely due to its struggles against both Shamans and (especially) Hunters. Anyfin is best equipped to deal with Shamans, which is one of the reasons why it maintains a relatively stronger ladder presence. Tech-ing in Acidic Swamp Ooze is advisable if you’re struggling with this matchup. Two players opted to bring Paladin to the Americas Championship this week with Monsanto bringing Neville’s Anyfin list and Rooftrellen finishing top 4 with his own version of N’Zoth Paladin featuring Eadric the Pure.
- Neville’s Anyfin Paladin
- Rooftrellen’s N’Zoth Paladin
- Hotform’s Dragon Paladin
- Jambre’s Secret Paladin
Back to actual Priest discussion this week! Dreamhack Bucharest was one of the best things that could happen for Anduin (outside of Tyrande entering the fold to take some of the heat off poor Mr. Wrynn) as a nine deck format was in place. While the decklists for the tournament haven’t been released at the time of this writing, next week a full analysis of those lists should create some strong discussion. Stanicifka’s performance with the class was interesting in particular.
This week, Purple declared to have found the Unicorn with a unique double Mind Control variant! This is a very old school, all-in control build we haven’t seen in quite some time. It will absolutely annihilate most control matchups, but will still flounder in a lot of the other matchups you will face in the current Meta. If you would like to enter a time machine and play like it’s 2014, this is definitely the deck for you! It’s a lot of fun.
Chinese player Ham-Shirou secured a ticket to Blizzcon last week partly in due to an N’Zoth Control variant he was showcasing. We haven’t really seen much of this variant of Control Priest in the last few months. After Dreamhack Austin, N’Zoth Priest was anointed one of the breakout decks of the WotOG Meta before falling flat in the weeks to follow. It will be interesting to see whether this updated variant will have any impact in the competitive scene. Dedicated Priest Masochist, Zetalot, has also been toying with an N’Zoth Priest build that even features Harald Volazj. Turns out that killing your Corrupted Healbot with an Auchenai on board can be quite fun.
- Zetalot’s Resurrect Control Priest
- VLPS’s Dragon Priest
- Purple’s “Unicorn” Priest
- Ham-Shirou’s N’Zoth Control Priest
- Zetalot’s N’Zoth Control Priest
We’ve noticed that many in the community are upset with the dominance of Mid-Range Shamans and are struggling to find good counters for it, which is why we’ve decided to make a special edition of this section focused on countering Mid-Range Shaman. While the archetype appears to be very dominant, it’s important to note that the way Mid-Range Shaman wins is quite different from other oppressive archetypes of the past. It certainly has strong tempo tools and with the right draw, can steamroll opponents. But unlike its Aggro counterpart, it’s heavily reliant on establishing board control and leveraging that board control to win the game. Mid-Range Shaman is an interactive deck that wins “fairly”, and gives the opponent time to react, which is why not all hope is lost when trying to find answers for it. We believe some archetypes definitely have potential to respond well to its rise, and new archetypes may also form to counter it.
Let’s begin to purge Shamans from ladder.
Control Warrior has established itself as one of the better decks to play against the Shaman class. Its plethora of removals and life gain allow it to outlast Shaman’s domination of the board and empty its resources. Greedier Mid-Range Shaman lists might present a bigger challenge to Control Warrior, as the matchup is all about the Shaman trying to force out removals from the Warrior with the fewest resources possible, in order to establish an unanswered Thunder Bluff Valiant on the board to snowball the game. We believe Cipher’s Yogg Control Warrior is the best version when trying to counter Mid-Range Shamans, as the N’Zoth lists are more susceptible to Hex, and Yogg is a fantastic card against the archetype, providing the Warrior with another way to reset the board state in addition to Brawl.
While Druid might be slightly disadvantaged against the Shaman class, this inherent disadvantage can be overcome with good matchup proficiency and a strong build. The Token package is quite weak to the Shaman’s plethora of AOE spells, so there’s a strong case to drop it altogether. The Miracle/Malygos version that Xixo popularized might be best equipped to deal with Mid-Range Shaman, as the extra cycling power increases the odds of Druid having enough resources to deal with the Shaman’s board, while also reaching its own win condition faster. Arcane Giants force out a Hex in the worst case scenario, and create massive tempo swings if the Shaman doesn’t have an answer to them. While Malygos can be used as a finishing blow to the Shaman, don’t hesitate to use it as a removal tool to establish board dominance with Roots/Moonfire, especially if Hex was already baited out and you have a delicious swipe in your hand.
While Tempo Mage and Mid-Range Shaman is close to being an even matchup, the right tech and good decision making can give Tempo Mage the edge while also improving its matchup against Aggro Shaman. The key is having less of a clunky late game and opting to run a faster, burn-centric build of the archetype. Ginge’s list is a great example of such a build that can contest Shaman’s early game while still possessing enough late game tools to finish off slower decks. Cabalist’s Tome is usually an awful card against Shamans, and value centric late game cards such as Antonidas/Emperor/Medivh underperform as well. Fireland’s Portal is a very strong card in the matchup as it can remove any of the Shaman’s mid to late game minions while developing the board at the same time. Forgotten Torch is also a meaningful removal tool in the early game that provides Tempo Mage with reach later on, as Mid-Range Shamans don’t run any form of healing.
While Freeze Mage typically struggles against Doomhammer wielding Aggro Shamans, it feasts upon the board-centric Mid-Range archetype that deals most of its damage through minions. Constant board freezes and the Mid-Range Shaman having no form of healing makes it very prone to Freeze Mage. The problem with Freeze Mage is the other decks in the Meta. It struggles against nearly everything else out there, but the amount of Mid-Range Shamans on ladder might be so high that it could still be somewhat of a viable option for the very best Freeze Mage players. Don’t hold your breath though if another Shaman counter, Control Warrior, continues to rise.
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