Hearthstone Grandmasters is back! With just over a week since the launch of Scholomance Academy, the meta is still a shifting puzzle. These are the players most likely to solve that puzzle and there are some clear directions that the pros have found. I created a Google Sheet with some brief information about their line ups as well as links to each players’ line up. You can access that here to see all the decks and swiss performance!
This article discusses the Grandmasters’ deck choices, the bans, and the differences between the 3 regions.
The Global Meta
Druid and Priest were almost unanimously agreed on as must brings (EU agreed on Mage where all 16 players brought the same archetype!). Mage, Warrior and Rogue followed up as the next tier of popularity and likely these choices is where each player’s line up direction was truly decided. Finally Paladin, Warlock, Demon Hunter and Hunter were added to line ups for very specific strategies (or possibly quiet meta breakers?). Shaman sees another week without play. Quest Flinger Shaman is unfortunately not pinging pens this week.
There were some notable differences between the regions this weekend and some interesting meta reads even in this completely unsolved meta, but before we talk about those. We have to understand some of the line up building choices that led these players to their 4 decks.
The Ban Meta
These numbers are incredibly rough. You cannot accurately distill ban strategies to a single class. There were many line-ups that banned quite flexibly and were able to better take into account both their opponent’s techs/likely ban to make a better choice in particular match-ups or may have had to leave up a dangerous deck in an attempt to get a deck targeted by their opponent its best chance at a win. Many identical line-ups (in terms of archetypes) made different ban choices overall as well. This could be a result of tech choices or just pilot preference.
There were two primary strategies. Ban Priest or ban Warrior. A handful of players banned Druid and NoHandsGamer appeared to ban Rogue as his highest priority. Ban Priest appeared to be the default position. Players found success with every strategy.
Priest is quite powerful and with nearly everyone bringing Priest it is also a consideration to plan on limiting your Priest mirrors to help maintain your focus as they become very grindy attempting to play optimally. This isn’t ladder where it is a race to concede the Priest mirror. These line-ups tended to bring Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Galakrond or Highlander Priest and Bomb Warrior. Interestingly, two line-ups bringing Control Demon Hunter chose to ban Priest over Bomb Warrior and had success doing so!
With banning Warrior appearing to be the secondary strategy, there is often a bit more variance in the line-ups taking the secondary ban approach. Banning Warrior allowed players to bring more aggressive board based strategies to better pressure Druids. This opened up players to bring Aggressive Demon Hunters, Malygos Druid, Hunters, Rogues and Warlocks.
Most of the players I identified as banning Druid commonly had a flexible ban strategy and often had unique decks such as Tortollan Mage and Enrage Warrior (yes Enrage/Egg Warrior are now considered unique to lineups, welcome to Scholomance). These “ban Druid” line-ups were likely built with flexibility in mind and found themselves hitting the highest base power level deck in Druid. The other two strategies often found themselves banning Druid as a second priority to give a bit more credence to this theory.
Ban priorities are chosen during line-up building and both are selected based on meta reads. So what did this lead to in the different regions?
|EU||Brought||Global Avg. Diff.||Prim Bans||Global Avg. Diff.|
|Demon Hunter||1||-0.33||Demon Hunter||0||0.00|
Europe, the land of Mage and Warrior. I mentioned earlier that Europe is the only region that all 16 players brought the same class and the same archetype for that class! Everyone agreed that Tempo Mage was necessary. Europe also had the most Warriors and was about average on banning Warrior. They showed respect for Garrosh by Rogue’s lowest numbers. All of the players also decided Paladin and Hunter were not good enough in Conquest making them the region with the least class diversity. They’d really established what the top meta was and stuck with it.
|APAC||Brought||Global Avg. Diff.||Prim Bans||Global Avg. Diff.|
|Demon Hunter||3||1.67||Demon Hunter||0||0.00|
APAC had the largest variety in classes at the cost of its Mage and Warrior population. The lower Warrior population was likely predicted at the higher brings of Demon Hunter and Rogue and a higher number of players banning Warrior (lucky for them). Control Demon Hunter was brought by only 3 players this weekend all in APAC and they took the top 2 placements after Swiss. Control Demon Hunter performs nicely against everything not in the big 3 (Druid, Priest and especially Warrior) and likely enjoyed this diverse meta and low Warrior population.
|AM||Brought||Global Avg. Diff.||Prim Bans||Global Avg. Diff.|
|Demon Hunter||0||-1.33||Demon Hunter||0||0.00|
The Americas’ unique stamp on the format lies in its high Rogue population and some unique deck and line-up brings beneath the surface. Eddie and killinallday brought an identical 120 cards after prepping together including the highly controversial Tortollan Mage. Briarthorn and NoHandsGamer brought the two most unique line-ups of the weekend. The rest of Americas’ numbers suggest it was fairly in line with the global trends, but they didn’t pay the same respect to Warrior as the other regions with a much lower focus on banning the Warrior and a lot more flexible bans.
The Meta Revisited
The meta was highly varied this week. The primary 4 decks were certainly found in Guardian Druid, Tempo Mage, Galakrond Priest and Bomb Warrior, but this wasn’t the only successful line-up from the weekend. Players were able to find success with nearly every class with the exceptions of Hunter and Shaman. The next meta will begin to revolve around these top 4 decks and these players may seek the weak link of them and target them.
Next week is Last Hero Standing where ban strategies can be used to open up and prevent sweeps and sometimes decks can be brought and hard teched for very specific match-ups. Expect a lot more creativity and variety out of players.