The Global Inn-vitational is a major multi-mode Hearthstone tournament that will take place in China this week and be streamed on Twitch and Youtube. For the Mercenaries portion of the event, the Americas region will be represented by Fr0zen and Lunaloveee, while Jia and Surrender will compete for Asia-Pacific. Europe’s delegation is made of Hunterace and Thijs. Valeera and Windfish are the Chinese players.
4 ban 1, BO5, Conquest
4 sets for each region (including mercs and equipments), There can’t be 4 or more same mercs between any two sets
Each merc can only appear in 3 or less sets, which means that all sets are not allowed to have the same merc
The compositions submitted seem to suggest each team is bringing a slice of their own regional metagame. There are some interesting choices and patterns that are worth a closer look.
Some quick stats:
Of the 56 available Mercenaries, 22 unique Mercenaries will see play at the Inn-vitational.
Of those 22, only Cairne and Diablo are played in every possible composition.
This means Cairne and Diablo together represent 25% of all Mercenaries brought to the Inn-vitational and will appear in a whopping 75% of compositions (before bans).
Samuro is the next most popular choice, representing 11% of all Mercenaries brought.
Casters are the most popular role, boasting 36% representation compared to Protectors (32%) and Fighters (31%).
7 of the 22 Mercenaries are only being brought in one composition by one region.
It is easy to understand why Cairne, Diablo and Samuro are so popular in this event. Cairne/Diablo is a meta warping force in ladder play, and the Inn-vitational appears to be no different. This duo requires players to have a response to the powerful Endurance Aura/Fire Stomp combo. However, a recent hotfix (rolled out Nov. 9th) changes the way Cairne’s Resurrection equipment works, causing him to lose his turn after coming back to life. This opens up interesting counterplay options that the regions will only have a few days to prepare for.
Samuro is one of the most flexible Mercenaries currently available, offering fast pressure on turn one or fantastic revenge kill potential from the bench. A great many leads (that is, the first 3 Mercenaries played in a match) include Samuro to threaten Casters immediately.
Other powerful duos like Varden/Jania, Vol’jin/Natalie and Malfurion/Bru’kan see modest representation across the four regions. From here, we start to see some deviations in strategies.
Americas has made the interesting choice to bring a Beasts composition (Rexxar/King Krush/King Mukla), but not use Cairne/Diablo on the bench. This puts their opponents in the awkward position of banning Beasts and having to face Cairne/Diablo in every matchup; OR risking their Casters against the most powerful anti-caster lead in the format.
Asia-Pacific is the only region to not bring a unique Mercenary, instead opting for tried and true compositions like Vol’jin/Natalie/Samuro and Jania/Varden/Tavish. They’ve also opted for Malfurion/Mukla/Anduin, a strategy that has seen rise on the NA and EU ladders very recently and focuses on ramping Anduin’s health out of reach quickly, while disrupting early pressure with Mukla.
To the NA and EU ladders, China boasts one of the spiciest compositions submitted. They’ve opted to ditch Diablo’s Black Soulstone equipment and the massive health boost it provides, in favor of Claws of Terror to boost his base attack to a whopping 17! This same composition also runs Baron Geddon, a squishy Caster with massive AOE potential that has not seen much PvP play since the first few days of Mercenaries launch.
Europe has certainly broken the mold compared to the other three regions. They are the only region to bring something besides the usual 2 Protector/2 Fighter/2 Caster lineup. Two of their four compositions use the standard 2/2/2, but they’re also bringing a 1/2/3 and a very interesting 1/1/4. Casters pack an extremely large punch but can be very vulnerable, especially in a meta where Cairne/Diablo rule.
Analysis aside, this is a very exciting event for the blossoming Mercenaries esports community. The Inn-vitational’s unique ruleset will encourage a different type of strategy and play pattern than most are used to. It promises to be a thrilling event as the top players from around the globe duke it out starting this Thursday.
Seoul Masters Qualifiers are over! Open cups will resume on Thursday, but they will be about Bucharest and they will be in the High Inquisitor Whitemane metagame. This report covers the Hearthstone tournaments in the specialist format in the past week.
Week Eight was a story of meta consolidation and fewer risks taken as we entered the final week of Seoul qualifiers. More so than any week prior, we saw extreme consolidation into a handful of decks, with fewer outliers surprising us with breakout performances. This might be a sign of the meta finally being solved, or that risk tolerance decreases as fewer opportunities to qualify remain, or both.
Cyclone Mage was the big winner this week, as more players turned to it as the natural counter to the glut of Bomb Warriors we saw last week. Representation went from 10.6% in week 7 to 13.6% in week 8, and while the same percentage of Cyclone Mage players progressed to Top 8 as last week, those players were more rewarded for their choice of deck this week, with a 62% win rate in Top 8. This is no surprise given how many Bomb Warriors also progressed to Top 8, but that goes to show that Cyclone Mage is performing in its role as the Warrior killer.
Shark Rogue continued to perform, and was even in popularity with Bomb Warrior this week. Its matchups against non-Warrior classes actually improved (Bomb Hunter and Holy Wrath Paladin, two of its only even matchups, moved to favorable), so if Warrior sees a decline based on its poor performance, Shark Rogue could be poised to take over as the top deck. Players looking to bring Cyclone Mage based on this week’s results could do so at their own peril, because Shark Rogue is one of the only decks favored against Cyclone Mage.
Midrange Hunter also rose to the top of the list based on its good matchup against Warrior. In past weeks, we’ve described this deck as being a poor choice, since does effectively the same thing as Cyclone Mage but not as well. However, if we do see a rise in Cyclone Mages, it could see some success given that it can effectively counter both that deck and Bomb Warrior. That said, Midrange Hunter’s win rate against Shark Rogue is a miserable 28%, so this will continue to be a risky pick as long as Shark Rogue is relevant.
We’ve talked around Bomb Warrior but not about it thus far, and that’s because it actually falls out of the level of meta defining decks given its performance this week. While still the most popular deck and boasting a very good 53% win rate in Swiss, in Top 8 that win rate cratered to 39%. Not to belabor the point, but the entire meta is gunning for Bomb Warrior, and it’s unlikely to see a favorable matchup in Top 8. Of 134 decks that actually played in Top 8 (excluding players who qualified by reaching Top 8 for the 6th time), nearly half were either Cyclone Mage, Midrange Hunter or the mirror, which makes for an extremely hostile environment for a Bomb Warrior to try to string together two consecutive wins, and as a result, few were successful.
Bomb Hunter continues to be an enigma, hanging around but never quite able to maintain consistent performances. The deck had below 50% win rates both in Swiss and Top 8 but still managed to win 3 qualifiers, which says it more than likely beats itself more than is countered.
The low sample size qualifier winners this week are Token Druid, Zoo Warlock, and Midrange Token Shaman. These decks have been discussed in this space before, and really should only be considered by players who are exceedingly comfortable with them. That said, Zoo seems worth calling out due to its favorable matchup against Shark Rogue (though with a very small sample size). If Shark Rogue takes off, Zoo might emerge as a reasonable meta choice.
As for decks that reached Top 8 but did not win a qualifier, we saw an uptick in Control Warriors this week, but that deck still seems to be an inferior pick in Specialist compared to the bomb variety, with only a 44% win rate in Swiss and no wins in Top 8. Freeze Mage fared slightly better at 49% in Swiss, but given Cyclone Mage’s success, there really doesn’t seem to be any argument for bringing Freeze Mage unless one wants to both play mage and counter Cyclone Mage.
We continue to monitor rogues without Spirit of the Shark, and saw both Sharkless Tempo Rogue and a Raiding Party variety reach top 8 this week, but neither variant topped 51%, while Shark Rogue finished with a 53% win rate despite a high number of mirrors. At least in specialist, it’s still Shark Week somewhere.
Mech Paladin reached Top 8 twice, but given its only favorable matchup is against Bomb Warrior, there are more well rounded ways to counter that deck. Murloc Shaman is to Cyclone Mage as Mech Paladin is to Bomb Warrior, and while it’s harder to counter Cyclone Mage, you can do it without giving up nearly every other prevalent matchup like Murloc Shaman does. Aggro (Overload) Shaman, however, may be worth considering, given it had even or favored matchups against all of the prevalent decks this week (though with only 30 players bringing the deck, this is based on an extremely small sample size). Finally, Deathrattle Hunter and Nomi Priest were brought in single digit quantities and successful in even fewer.
Meta Defining Decks
Top 8 Capable
Party Tempo Rogue
Sharkless Tempo Rogue
As always, we thank the players who generously share their pro tips. You can click on their name under the quote to find them on Twitter, most of them stream or create other awesome content. Clicking on the deck name will bring you to Yaytears for deck codes.
Secondary vs Hunter/Rogue and tertiary vs Warrior. I think Galaxy is good enough to run in all lists for the high roll potential. Scavengers help a lot vs aggro and found it helps more than Rabble Bouncer. Wanted to try out Alex again vs Warrior. Also I tried playing a lot more for tempo against aggro (Sorcerers Apprentice/Cyclone hands for example) and it helps immensely.
This was my first attempt with Mage. The deck’s power level is unmatched in my eyes. The only additions I made were Cairne Bloodhoof into the Warrior list over Astromancer. I think 1 6 drop is always a good thing to have plus Cairne specifically calls out Garrosh which I love. I think Cairne is stickier vs brawl and I think Astromancer plats directly into Supercollider. As far as strategy a few tricks I learned were that sometimes picking any secret off Magic Trick can be good just to make your opponent test for different possibilities. Also vs Mech Hunter or any Token deck trading into say a Replicating menace to fill their board with minions and then nova after stops them from being able to magnetize anything and keeps your threats safe from Missile Launcher poison combos. Also Doomsayer I think is the best response to Faerie Dragon which sometimes gets in for 9 or 12 damage vs Mage. The 1 Polymorph is Mech Hunter/big Edwins but I think maybe a 2nd half time scavenger would be better. Last thing I think is worth noting is playing your sorcerer’s apprentice on 2 is often the best play. Feels weird to not save it for combos but every time I wasn’t greedy with cards it seemed to pay off. Mage just has more resources than most classes (maybe not Rogue). Again this was my first attempt with Mage so I’m literally noprohere but I think the fact that it was my first attempt speaks to the power level of this deck and if anyone is on the fence about trying Mage I would do it asap 😀 Don’t be like me and try and play Egg Paladin for 238 cups! Just get in with Mage! 😛
I’ve tried some different versions of this deck, with Foxes and Vendetta or just Tempo/Lackey based, but this seems to be the best Rogue you can ever play and Rogue is the best class you can ever choose, especially when there are so many Hunters outside. The first list can basically win vs everyone, and I kept using it especially vs Hunters and other Rogues. For the second list, which you play vs Warrior, I’ve tried some greedy versions but if you go full greedy with Schemes and other stuff like that they can just SMOrc and win so this one with drakes seems to be the best one to keep pressuring them. The third list is vs Mages, and I’m pretty sure Faerie Dragons are better than going full removals with like second Betrayal for example, because you play for tempo and pressure, and Faerie Dragon is not a dead card in those spots. With this being said, SN1P-SN4P is the NUTS in every match-up and I will keep playing it until I can. Special mention to Edwin, who is still here with us yayyy and carried vs Warriors.
Credit where credit is due: the lineup isn’t mine, I copied the list that I liked the most from yaytears’ site (I don’t know the original author of the lineup but this is where I copied it from: link). As for the different decklists: The first one is the decklist you use against most decks. This includes Midrange/Bomb Hunter, the mirror, Aggro Shaman etc. The flex spot for the list is Eviscerate or 1 Cable Rat for sn1p-sn4p. It’s the least reactive of the three, so often you go pretty aggressive against the midrange decks and keep board control against the aggro decks. Lackeys help enormously in both aspects, so good usage of them is mandatory. The second is the anti-mage list. Betrayal and Walk the Plank help dealing with the giants, Faerie Dragon helps pushing some early damage and is hard for Mage to deal with. Both the first list and the second list are close to optimal. The third list is the one you mainly use versus Warrior (and in some cases versus Control Shaman). I chose this list over the one that runs Mechs because most Warrior specialist decks still have an anti-Mech build. With this one you can put an immense pressure if you manage to shuffle Togwaggle and you do get more sustainability/midgame power. It’s the one I’m least sure about (Warrior remains a tough matchup even with this build), but it worked good enough for me. I changed Cairne into Jepetto, but looking back at it, I should’ve left the Cairne in the deck and replace one Scheme instead.
This version and its sides was largely inspired by Bunnyhoppor, and was built by my teammate Dreivo who played this deck a lot. I just tried his list after other Midrange Hunter versions, and liked it the most in the current Qualifiers meta. You have all the tools in it to control the game if your opponent is aggro, or to be aggro when your opponent is passive. In a lot of matchups you want to play aggressively so that your opponent is busy dealing with your threats and you can reach your Zul’Jin to finish the game. If your hand is not aggressive then it’s very likely that you have the tools in hand to deal with your opponent’s aggression, so you can achieve the same objective. I don’t feel like I need the Hatchet too much, It feels pretty awkward versus Rogue and Warrior, which I face more than Hunters or Token Druids against whom it is pretty useful. I like two Deadly Shot, which often deals with an Elekk on T3, a Shark or an early Van Cleef. Marked shot is very strong as well, giving you good options very often. You want to play the Secondary version against Warrior and Holy Wrath Paladin, the Savannahs help you fight for the board against the first and have some minions stick after a boardclear against the second. I didn’t feel the need to add a Rhino to this side yet, but that’s something I’m still considering. The Tertiary deck is meant to face Rogues. Rat trap on turn 2 is strong most of the time and will force your opponent into sub-optimal plays. However I’m still not sure about this anti-Rogue side since my Main performed equally if not better against Rogue the last two weeks. I might replace it by an anti-mech side, inspired by the one used by Maricochet and FlècheNoire to win the Qualifiers 167 and 137M.
I didnt make the lineup – I think it was Magoho. In regards to strategy, I think you often should see Warrior as a tempo deck. Don’t trade too much – getting face damage is really important especially vs Rogue, since they get so much value late game after sideboard. Also the mirror really rarely goes to fatigue so don’t be scared to draw cards and try to out tempo the other Warrior. Most Warrior lists also only play 1 Brawl, so they will run out of removal at some point.
I don’t want to put Elysiana on the primary deck that I use three times for Rogue and Hunter. Secondary deck is for mirror match. This match after game 1 will be very aggressive. I think Wargear is better than Gromash on early game. Tertiary deck can compete with both Mage and Mech Hunter. Against Mage, it is difficult to remove all card after game 1. So I need to beat face while removing enemy minions. Faerie Dragon is the best card for this plan. Spellbreaker is good to silence Twilight Drake or my frozen minion. Supercollider is the only card that can remove double Giants and essential card. so I put it in primary and add for tertiary. Against Mech Hunter, they always play Mechanical Whelp and Nine Lives. Supercollider and Big Game Hunter is good to remove 7/7. 2-drop is also good for Mech Hunter to trade Ursatron.
After many open cups grinding, I sat through the statistics that the good people at offcurve.com provided to find out how the field looked like. For quite a few weeks, the top 4 consisted of Bomb Warrior, Shark Rogue, Midrange Hunter and Cyclone Mage (in no particular order). So I sat down and went through all possible decks of my stats and the stats of offcurve.com to find a deck that has a good winrate against them and came down to Bomb Hunter. But instead of going with a lot of Bombs, I start my primary list with the Nine Lives, Necromechanics and Mechanical Whelps in the list. This will give me quite an edge against Warriors, Shark Rogues (due to Spider Bomb) and Midrange Hunters due to the sheer amount of value. Mages were the problem and it’s a 50-50 winrate against them. Cyclone Mages can get some good cards from Mana Cyclone or some bad ones. It also depends on whether they put in a lot of Freezes, which is detremental to you, or if they go with silences/mind control techs. Highlighted card choices: Necromechanic is a 4 mana 3/6. Do not fear to play it as a tempo card to get on board, but know the matchup. If you can combo it with Nine Lives into a Mechanical Whelp, it spawns 2x 7/7s for the cost of 7 mana. And that they are Mechs will help magnetize them. Know the matchup when you can use it as a tempo card. Sn1p-Sn4p: Already a broken OP card, but it’s even better in a Mech deck. Bomb Toss: One Bomb toss is in there. It is for early removal like Scavenging Hyena, push for an extra ounce of lethal or use it to remove Zilliax. Don’t use Bomb Toss to get the token out, use it for removal. The primary deck is for everything. It is an all-rounder and can go either quite aggressive or midrangey. The secondary deck is for your worst nightmare; Token Druid. While the deck will help pull off a win potentially, it is a hard matchup you are unfavoured for. The tertiary deck is meant to play against more aggressive Mech Hunters or Shamans. However, I only got to use it once and it didn’t really work as expected. The tertiary deck definitely can be tinkered upon. Don’t fear the anti-mech packages, but play around it. Spread your mechs, plan around their removal and MCTs. The three times opponents brought an anti-mech package, I won against all of them by playing differently and taking value trades and making sticky deathrattles. The anti-mech package is not as unfortunate for you as it may seem.
This Shaman deck is made for beating those common deck in masters qualifiers: like Warrior, Mage & Rogue. The strategy is simple, play most Battlecry cards I can, and get the value from Shudderwock. Also a lot of people don’t know how to play around this deck, if they don’t clear my board, I can use the legendary spells to get many huge minions, or just use the Bloodlust to kill them. My primary deck counters the Warrior decks, deplete Warrior removal cards and use the Bloodlust kill them at last. Card choices: Barista Lynchen, get more value from the small Battlecry minions, sometimes I can get back my Shudderwock, create more value. Jepetto Joybuzz, draw two minions and made them become 1 mana, it’s so good when you draw the Shudderwock or Barista Lynchen. Storm Chaser, draw Bloodlust or legendary spells. My secondary deck is play around the Rogue and aggro decks, this matchup is so important in the early game, I usually keep the weapon and the lowcost spells, to get the board before Rogue plays Spirit of the Sark. Card choices: Mossy Horror, kill spirit of the shark and those small minions. Rabble Bouncer & Sea Giant, punish opponent playing too many minions. My tertiary deck counters mage, I removed all those high mana cards, and added the Murloc, because the best way play against Mage is become the aggro, kill them before mage play the Giant. Card choices: Underbelly Angler, if Mage can’t kill it, I can get many Murlocs, become the Murloc Shaman. Murloc Tastyfin, get two murlocs from my deck. Big Game Hunter, kill the Giant. Mossy Horror, clear mirror & Khadgar combo.
Primary deck is the standard form. 2nd deck is anti-Warrior deck. I use Savana Highmane and Dire Frenzy and Zul’jin in order to maximize the deck value. 3rd deck is anti-Rogue. I use Rat Trap to contain Rogue’s card play and Multi-Shot to clear Rogue’s field. But I think removing two Acidic Swamp Ooze is my mistake. So if you want to use this deck in a Masters Qualifier, remove one Sunfury Protector and one Wing Blast instead of Acidic Swamp Ooze.
This Shaman list is very versatile with many options and different game plans. There is Thunderhead with overload cards to clear the board vs aggro decks, Former Champ with Mutate to create a strong board and the Shudderwock, Mojomaster, Swampqueen Hagatha package for a late game plan. The primary list is overall fine, the secondary list is played against Mage because Zentimo with Hex or just Big Game Hunter can deal easily with big minions. The tertiary list is for token decks.
Murloc Shaman is the best deck in the game if you want to destroy Mage (they can only win if they get coin and nut draw every game), and have game against Warrior, Rogue and Hunter but it is bad against other aggro decks like Zoo or Aggro Shaman. There are many ways to build it but I like having a ton of Murlocs for consistency and starting with greedy list since the upside against Warrior is way bigger than the downside against other classes.
This Nomi Priest is Purple’s deck. It is not much different from ordinary Nomi Priest, but I felt that the number of Warriors decreased and the number of Rogues and Hunters increased, so there was less hard match-up. Find a winning line in Elysiana against Bomb Warriors. The timing to put out Elysiana is when the Bomb is buried with Nomi and Seance closed. The other is when the other party deals with Nomi without using Brawl. The secondary deck is looking at the Mage, the tertiary deck is looking at the Rogue. However, there is a better construction, as neither of them has been considered deeply.