Team NoProsHere Conquest Meta Report #34

by NPH Pasca and WickedGood

After an off-season that felt like the longest ever, Hearthstone esports is finally back with a new series of Qualifiers, this time for Masters Tour One. As in the first of 2022.
Here’s our first look at the Fractured in Alterac Valley metagame, 18 official Conquest format tournaments in.

The tournament winners were extremely generous this week in sending detailed comments about their strategy. You will find insights from most of them below the tier list.

Data summary from Off-Curve:

Tier List:

Click on the players names to get full lists and deck codes from D0nkey. You will also see which class the player banned throuhout their run. The players named in bold are qualifier winners who generously sent comment about the strategy they used. Scroll past the tier list to read them.

Meta Defining Lineups:
Fel Demon Hunter, Aggro Druid, Thief Rogue (Lucasdmnasc / thechosenpie)
Mozaki Mage, Quest Shaman, Quest Hand Warlock (Maxxe)
Mozaki Mage, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (잔악무도유관우)

Proven Lineups:
Big Druid, Thief Rogue, Bolner Shaman (TheViper94)
Face Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Poison Rogue (Butterz)
Beast Duid, Libram Paladin, Thief Rogue (Trec)
Fel Demon Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Quest Hand Warlock (funashi)
Face Hunter, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (ЛКО)
Face Hunter, Libram Paladin, Thief Rogue (oon)

Pretty Good Lineups:
Fel Demon Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Quest Shaman (Këlthrag)
Fel Demon Hunter, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (Firenoodle / STRyKeR)
Thief Rogue, Quest Shaman, Quest Hand Warlock (LiciniaTart)
Beast Druid, Face Hunter, Thief Rogue (MrLuke98 / Vonny)
Face Hunter, Shadow Priest, Aggro Shaman (Mazzu)
Face Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Thief Rogue (Kazanova)
Big Druid, Handbuff Paladin, Poison Rogue (JPMixter)
Mozaki Mage, Thief Rogue, Quest Shaman (Cikos / 則龍之王)
Face Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Garrotte Rogue (vadim007)
Fel Demon Hunter, Thief Rogue, Bolner Shaman (이스티)

Interesting Lineups:
Quest Hunter, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (Lasagne)
Quest Rogue, Quest Shaman, Quest Hand Warlock (Ribby)
Aggro Duid, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (TullamoreDew)
Mozaki Mage, Garrotte Rogue, Burn Shaman (Jimon)
Aggro Druid, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (cecgHS)
Face Hunter, Thief Rogue, Bolner Shaman (plastiik)
Mozaki Mage, Poison Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (noise84mond)
Quest Druid, Mozaki Mage, Poison Rogue (아나티카)
Fel Demon Hunter, Libram Paladin, Thief Rogue (syoutotolo)
Face Hunter, Libram Paladin, Poison Rogue (sayakei)
Libram Paladin, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock (Maffiaman11)
Mozaki Mage, Libram Paladin, Poison Rogue (EzXarT)
Big Druid, Libram Paladin, Miracle Priest (CheeseHead)
Libram Paladin, Miracle Priest, Thief Rogue (snow)
Quest Priest, Quest Rogue, Quest Shaman (FinalS)
Quest Brute Demon Hunter, Quest Hunter, Burn Shaman (KarpetMan)
Fel Demon Hunter, Big Druid, Poison Rogue (Klei)
Control Priest, Bolner Shaman, Control Warrior (Zemax)
Face Hunter, Handbuff Paladin, Freeze Shaman (Sabertooth20)
Guardian Druid, Evolve Shaman, Quest Hand Warlock (Manolo20)
Token Demon Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Burn Shaman (Svitopova)

Comments from the winners:

Lucasdmnasc on Fel Demon Hunter, Aggro Druid, Thief Rogue:
“My strategy was to play decks to support the best deck in the game, Thief Rogue, so I could have good matchups vs all aggros, mainly Druid and Hunter! My bans were Thief Rogue and Fel DH. I used Aggro Druid instead of Beast Druid because it farms aggro and other Druids. Magtheridon in Fel DH feels really good vs Paladin.”

thechosenpie on Fel Demon Hunter, Aggro Druid, Thief Rogue:
“Credit for the lineup goes to Sabertooth20 who pointed me in the direction of the lineup that won the first Masters Tour Qualifier this year. To the best of my knowledge, that lineup was brought by LucasDM, who collaborated with Pascoa to choose the lineup, and copied the archetypes from Vicious Syndicate, who I think owes it’s credit to ZachO.
I’d never touched modern day Fel Demon Hunter before that tournament, and had only jammed it a few times way back when it first came out half a year or however long ago it was (pandemic time is weird). I took a quick look at the decklist and realized that it had a few similarities in playstyle with back-in-the-day tempo rogue, but with healing and more severe forms of reach damage if the opponent had a board. The Druid deck looked strange at first, but it was a new meta and I took a chance on it. Thief Rogue I had been practicing for a while, and it had a great matchup spread.
I don’t want to get into too many specifics yet until I help out a few of my teammates and friends get the hang of it, but my ban strategy was a combination of being ahead of the curve in understanding the true nature of particular matchups and the threat of Thief Rogue making my opponent’s bans predictable. I mean, it’s Thief Rogue, most people are gonna ban that after that surprise Vicious Syndicate report.
That report surprised me, too.
Be good humans everyone. Be kind, do kind things.”

Maxxe on Mozaki Mage, Quest Shaman, Quest Hand Warlock:
“I suggest adding a Viper in Mage to beat Paladin even more.”

TheViper94 on Big Druid, Thief Rogue, Bolner Shaman:
“Basically my strategy revolved around playing those which I feel are the best decks for this meta. Druid is just unstoppable when you draw either Overgrowth or Guff. After ramping Druid takes advantage of cards like Moonlit Guidance, Ivus and Solar combos with Cenarion’s Ward and Resizing Pouch to stomp opponents into 0 life total. Shaman has game against all meta decks since it has both tools to gain huge amounts of armor, ways to keep freezing boards and stalling while drawing cards, hand disruption and a late game OTK that deals literally infinite damage. Rogue is…. just Rogue. Can’t argue with it being the best deck in the game right now. Has insane amount of early game tempo, huge amount of scam potential with random generation and plays the best card currently available in standard mode, Scabbs. The ban was pretty flexible, I would just ban the deck I didn’t wanna face each round. You should prioritize banning decks like Face Hunter, Libroom Paladin or Mozaki Mage. If opponent does’nt have either of those you just ban Rogue. I wanted to point out that even though Rogue is the strongest deck in the meta, both Druid and Shaman are among the best decks to tackle it if you know how to play those matchups and what are the power plays and key turns to disrupt the
Thief Rogue gameplan. Overall I was super happy with my lineup and would play the same decks if I had to compete next weekend in the Qualifiers. Hope you all have fun playing the game and best of luck for the Qualifiers!”

Trec on Beast Duid, Libram Paladin, Thief Rogue:
“This time I kinda followed the meta; there is a lot of good decks but I wanted the board centric and stable best decks.
First, the Rogue because it’s the best deck of the meta, you have to play it and ban it if you respect your opponent, the deck is not that easy to play, but if played well it’s stable, has good power spikes and bullshit abilities. I see some hybrid list popping but i’m not sure at this moment, maybe after they fix the Cleef bug abuse.
Druid was the second choice, the deck is being refined a lot these last days and this list was my take on this. A lot of board pressure and stupid turns with the Oracle of Elune.
Paladin Libram is still good and the Hero Cariel is amazing. You just have to be careful with the early game, maybe play more one drops; I really love the Squawker which is a good tempo card mid game and amazing late game to recast Libram of Hope. Smite is a must have to finish game, you can have a lot Libram of Wisdom or giga buff him with Cariel Hp.”

funashi on Fel Demon Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Quest Hand Warlock:
“I think the Thief Rogue is the strongest deck in the current metagame. However, it’s a very difficult deck, so I chose three decks that I could use and had high power.
Targets are Warlock, Thief Rogue, and Quest Shaman. Ban decks other than the target.
Aggro lineups are a tough matchup, but I think that Hunter opponents have a chance to win if they play well.”

ЛКО on Face Hunter, Thief Rogue, Quest Hand Warlock:
“My strategy for this MTQ was pretty straightforward – when in doubt go face.
On a serious note:
This is the first time I ever win a MTQ, and my choice of the lineup was based on the decks’ overall power. In my opinion, the very best decks right now are Thief Rogue and Quest Hand Warlock, and the 3rd deck is a matter of personal taste, as for mt case, I have Face Hunter, there are also viable variations featuring Mozaki Mage, but I chose to counter popular Handlock/Mozaki with Hunter. As for the bans, I mostly banned Rogues, but Fel DH and Bolner Shaman are way more unpleasant for this lineup to face due to their powerful removal kit combined with burst OTK potential, thus these decks have a higher ban priority. The most interesting tech card I used was showstopper in Warlock, which helps against Shaman’s and Mage’s freezes and Paladin’s buffs as well as Ivus, the forest lord (commonly utilized by Druid)”

oon on Face Hunter, Libram Paladin, Thief Rogue:
“I played decks that I was comfortable with playing, so I wasn’t looking to ban or target any specific deck. I think it’s pretty easy to know what deck to ban if you know what deck of yours is best for your opponent to ban, so I just banned accordingly. This last part might sound obvious but staying focused and optimistic in every single game in my opinion is the most important part of winning, so if I were to give advice to someone who’s trying to win a Qualifier I’d tell them to focus less on a lineup/ban strategy and focus more on staying focused throughout the tournament, and drink lots of water.”

Këlthrag on Fel Demon Hunter, Mozaki Mage, Quest Shaman:
“Going into the cups I expected a lot of Rogue and certain decks to counter the Rogue, like Fel DH, Quest Shaman and Handlock. I think you can’t counter just Rogue, so I went for a lineup that does fairly good against Rogue and counters Handlock really well. Most people think the Quest Shaman matchup against Handlock is quite bad, but I think it’s quite favourable. The lineup also does really well against decks like Libram Paladin and Quest Shaman. As for the Ban, it’s Mozaki #1, Weapon rogue #2 and aggro Druid/ Face Hunter #4, because if they have these kind of lineups you almost always expect them to ban the Fel DH. But the ban is flexible, as I think should be in open cups. It really depends on what you think your opponent is going to ban.
As for card choices, there are probably a few that stick out. 1 Felscream Blast is and the Chaos Leeches are in there for the rogue. Arcanist + Felscream is a clean way to deal with the panda. And the second reason for the Felscream blast is against Quest Shaman. The Quest Shaman is sometimes able to build a board with 15 or more health on just their taunts, especially when they run Bru’Kan. That way you can’t do the combo and be able to go face at the same time. With the Felscream you are able to go face as well. You also try to keep a discounted spell by either Skull or Felgorger because of this exact reason. The Sigil of Alacrity I put in instead of the coordinated strike I had before, just for consistency. This is the most flexible spot in the list. Viper is in the list for the reason I pointed out before and because you want this deck to have a good matchup against Paladin.
The Quest Shaman has Bru’Kan for the reason I pointed out before against Fel DH (getting taunts on board) and it’s fairly OK against Weapon rogue and other decks. I like the 2 diligent notetakers because you want to complete the quest as fast as possible. You might want to throw out the sleetbreaker instead of the winchill though, but 2 drops are great in Quest Shaman as well. And in the worse matchups you need the tempo from the Sleetbreaker.”

Mazzu on Face Hunter, Shadow Priest, Aggro Shaman:
“The method I have used to compose the alignment is very simple. It is about combining the 3 most aggressive decks, with damage mechanics from the hand. If I decide to make any card changes, I do it looking for a common factor of strengths and weaknesses with respect to the metagame. If my 3 decks share bad matchups, it’s easier and more beneficial to choose a ban. If my 3 decks share good matchups, I’m more likely to win focus series.
As for the execution, the plan is simple, reduce the total lives of the rival heroes to 0 as quickly as possible. There is no plan B. Many times we will run into lineups that carry a weak deck against Aggro and in those cases we will flow through the rounds. But we can also see anti-aggro lineups, with paladins or control decks. Those series can also be won, but it will take ingenuity and daring.”

JPMixter on Big Druid, Mozaki Mage, Poison Rogue:
“Well, the intention of the comp was to beat Mozaki mage, Questlock and Fel DH. Poison rogue and Ramp are already used to counter these aforementioned decks, but there would be a lack of a third deck to fit and so I thought about Buff pala (100% WR in the qualifier) ​​which was already in disuse and I had already made some goals and made some changes to improve it against the focused decks.
Regarding bans I always banned the most aggressive deck, as it is difficult to face these decks with Ramp and Poison. Despite the weakness against aggressive decks I faced them in most matches, I had to play the win outs and give all wins in unexpected situations.
GO CORINTHIANS!”

Ribby on Quest Rogue, Quest Shaman, Quest Hand Warlock:
“I built my lineup to target Paladin which is why I brought Quest Rogue over Thief Rogue. I felt like I didn’t need to run any tech cards like Viper for Paladin because all of my decks felt very favored vs Paladin. I went 12-0 vs Paladin so it payed off. I banned Mozaki Mage, Weapon Rogue, and Quest Warlock.”

Jimon on Mozaki Mage, Garrotte Rogue, Burn Shaman:
“I dont have any good comments to be honest but I can say Play a Better Deck.”

아나티카 on Quest Druid, Mozaki Mage, Poison Rogue:
“This lineup’s first target is Fel DH. This lineup devours Fel DH. And it works on Mage, Shaman, and Warlock (it works Mage>Shaman>Warlock) a little. I banned field-based decks and all Druids (All Druids are tier 1 ban target and the other field-based decks like Burgle Rogue, any Paladin, Hunter are tier 2 ban target) because Druid and Rogue are weak to them.
And I want to say Habugabu’s Quest Druid is one of the greatest art I’ve ever seen.”

EzXarT on Mozaki Mage, Libram Paladin, Poison Rogue:
“Let me start a bit with what was my earlier approach. So, my strat for the early Qualifiers was Fel DH + Quest Shaman + Fatigue Warlock with 2x Vipers and the idea is to be good vs both Thief Rogue + Poison Rogue so I could ban other classes. However that didn’t worked out. Thief Rogue just scams too much and I realized that Poison Rogue can’t really be countered even with 2 Vipers. I thought that Poison Rogue would be strongest deck if people started to try and counter Thief Rogue since their lineup would be weak to Poison Rogue – Handlock, Quest Shaman, Fel DH. And then some are also playing Mozaki Mage. So the idea of Poison Rogue looked strong.
However, I didn’t really feel like playing Poison Rogue at all since I never really played it before and it doesn’t seem like something I enjoy playing. So I tested Jimon’s lineup for 1 qualifier but found that I am a bit rusty with Garrote Rogue and made a lot of a lot errors (especially vs aggro, where I didn’t hard mull for Cutlass and lost to 2x Trogg decks).
So going into my 5th qualifier, I was checking out on previous and ongoing qualifiers to scout some lists and saw digo (shoutouts to him!) playing in the finals with Poison Rogue + Libram Paladin + Handlock. I thought that it looked good and decided to finally play Poison Rogue, but I didn’t like the Handlock so I switched it to Mozaki Mage and changed my ban to be mainly Rogues. My bans turned out to be something like Poison Rogue > Face Hunter/Thief Rogue > probably Druids. Going into this qualifier, I hadn’t slept yet because I had to test and prepare decklists for MAX League of Nations 2 and just wanted to try and play Poison Rogue in a qualifier before I slept (really glad I stayed up and played! laughing )
For Paladin list, I looked at offcurve and the stats for Libram was around 48% vs Mozaki Mage, so I made sure that I put in Mutanus and 2 Troggs in my deck to make sure that I had more chances vs it. In my mind this would made the matchup easier for Paladin because now you have more outs to draw into besides just Cariel. I had to cut 2nd Broom to make space though, not sure if that is correct but couldn’t find other cuts.
For Mage, it’s just a pretty standard list – same list that Jimon won with. I saw some people running 2x Flurry instead of 1 Flurry 1 Hot Streak – this might be better if you expect to face more board based decks (mainly Handlock, Thief Rogue, Libram Paladin). If you are expecting to play vs Face Hunter, Hot Streak might be better for earlier Fire Sale scam potential. Flurry feels weak vs wide boards before turn 5.
For Poison Rogue, I just used digo’s list because I thought it looked perfect for what I want. I want Viper in my Rogue so that I have an out vs Libram Paladin if I needed to play that matchup (it would be a bit hard vs Cariel on curve otherwise). I do believe that Poison Rogue is really favored into Libram Paladin just because how the deck works. In my finals, I kept Scabbs on coin, had to yolo use 1st Cloak on 5 and topdecked my 2nd Cloak on 6. And it was pretty much over for my opponent. I also didn’t have Shank on 3 in this game, just to show how broken this deck is.
So that’s basically it about my lineup. I also want to mention that this is one of those days where everything just aligned for me, I drew the cards I needed in all the games and my opponent drew badly in my unfavorable matchups. I had to win Mozaki Mage vs Face Hunter and Quest Druid where I had a really good hand and they didn’t. I definitely got lucky but I still played to my outs to maximize it. YMMV.
Good luck to everyone trying to qualify!”

Preview and predictions for the biggest Hearthstone tournament of 2022

by NPH AgentPWE and NPH Pasca

The most anitcipated Hearthstone tournament of 2022 is MAX Team’s League of Nations 2: Global edition. 48 different countries are invited. 3 players were voted in to represent their nation among all volunteers from each country. This is as big as Hearthstone Global Games at its peak. Competition will start next week and most of it will be streamed by MAX Team in English and French. The competitors will fight for their share of the €1000 prize pool, but also for the honor of their flag.

At NPH, we are huge HS esports fans, and we have opinions. So here’s how we rank the 48 teams competing in MAX League of Nations:

Pasca’s tier list:

Tier S:

China: Leaoh, Syf, XiaoT

Tier 1:

Canada: CaelesLuna, Eddie, Lnguagehackr
Czech Republic: En1gma, Faeli, Jarla
France: AyRoK, Dreivo, xBlyzes
United States of America: Eggowaffle, Gamerrvg, McBanterFace
United Kingdom: DeadDraw, Jambre, PocketTrain
Japan: Jimon, Okasinnsuke, MegaGliscor
Spain: BruTo, Frenetic, L3bjorge
Argentina: Nalguidan, Rusinho, Tincho

Tier 2:

Ukraine: iNS4NE, Silvors, Zoltan
Germany: Burr0, ChaboDennis, Seiko
Sweden: Chewie, Orange, Sensei6
Brazil: Fled, NaySyl, Rase
India: Gcttirth, Mighty, Ronak
Portugal: DrBoom, Ferno4111, SuperFake
Croatia: D0nkey, Paljuha, Reqvam
Italy: Darkstrike, Gregoriusil, Leta
Taiwan: g9Malygos, Shaxy, Xillinhung
South Korea: Grr, Ostinato, Sinah
Thailand: Bankyugi, eCrazy, Phai
Singapore: Lambyseries, SGAhIce, Skye

Tier 3:

Greece: Athanas, RST, SomiTequila
Denmark: Furyhunter, Hygs, Ziptopz
Australia: ColdSnapSp, CoolKid2001, WetGoose
Belgium: Aikoio, BabyBear, Floki
Russia: Levik, Noflame, y0ungchrisT
Finland: Detto, Habugabu, Lasagne
Mexico: Ekrow, Empanizado, IrvinG
Turkey: Hypnos, Rocco, Whiterun
Philippines: IAmTheTable, TheBigMac, WaningMoon
Slovakia: HilmJoZo, JEJBenko, Rjù
Norway: Elefanti, Gjrstad, Vannsprutarn

Tier 4:

Malaysia: Auria, EzXarT, SithX
Poland: Dawido, Mikolop, Myzrael
Israel: CrazyMage, Falular, IdanProk
Luxembourg: Alexisdiesel, Thedemon, wiRer
Lithuania: Benetoo, gr0nas, S8ris
Netherlands: CptnKitty, Këlthrag, Maxvdp
Uruguay: Donat, Loreance, Zorb
Austria: DrGyros, Khamûl, ThisIsChris
Bulgaria: Jengo, Felzak, Krisofive
Chile: DarkClaw, Blowns, MokraniChile
New Zealand: Ace103, LordZeolite, Jakattack
Romania: FinalS, Serj, Sharpy
Peru: InfErnO, Kaloz, UchihaSaske
Switzerland: GAP1698, RockyN1, TheRabbin
Hungary: CheeseHead, Hulkenstein, Wuncler
Serbia: Blankieh, Brazuka, Sumskiduh

We believe that the divisions are very well balanced. Most of them include two teams from tier 1-2 and two from tier 3-4 in our rankings.
Group D is the most competitive which is unfortunate for the USA, who will have to face Portugal, India and Russia in the first three weeks. The Russians are likely to end last despite being an average team. At the other end of the spectrum, Group J seems like the weakest. In our opinion, Korea will easily defeat Turkey, Hungary and Lithuania.

AgentPWE’s tier list:

Tier S:

Canada: CaelesLuna, Eddie, Lnguagehackr
China: Leaoh, Syf, XiaoT

Tier 1:

Argentina: Nalguidan, Rusinho, Tincho
Brazil: Fled, NaySyl, Rase
Czech Republic: En1gma, Faeli, Jarla
France: AyRoK, Dreivo, xBlyzes
Germany: Burr0, ChaboDennis, Seiko
Italy: Darkstrike, Gregoriusil, Leta
Japan: Jimon, Okasinnsuke, MegaGliscor
Spain: BruTo, Frenetic, L3bjorge
United Kingdom: DeadDraw, Jambre, PocketTrain
United States of America: Eggowaffle, Gamerrvg, McBanterFace

Tier 2:

Belgium: Aikoio, BabyBear, Floki
Croatia: D0nkey, Paljuha, Reqvam
Denmark: Furyhunter, Hygs, Ziptopz
Finland: Detto, Habugabu, Lasagne
India: Gcttirth, Mighty, Ronak
Israel: CrazyMage, Falular, IdanProk
Mexico: Ekrow, Empanizado, IrvinG
Portugal: DrBoom, Ferno4111, SuperFake
Russia: Levik, Noflame, y0ungchrisT
Singapore: Lambyseries, SGAhIce, Skye
South Korea: Grr, Ostinato, Sinah
Ukraine: iNS4NE, Silvors, Zoltan

Tier 3:

Australia: ColdSnapSp, CoolKid2001, WetGoose
Chile: DarkClaw, Blowns, MokraniChile
Greece: Athanas, RST, SomiTequila
Luxembourg: Alexisdiesel, Thedemon, wiRer
Malaysia: Auria, EzXarT, SithX
Netherlands: CptnKitty, Këlthrag, Maxvdp
New Zealand: Ace103, LordZeolite, Jakattack
Norway: Elefanti, Gjrstad, Vannsprutarn
Peru: InfErnO, Kaloz, UchihaSaske
Poland: Dawido, Mikolop, Myzrael
Sweden: Chewie, Orange, Sensei6
Thailand: Bankyugi, eCrazy, Phai
Turkey: Hypnos, Rocco, Whiterun

Tier 4:

Austria: DrGyros, Khamûl, ThisIsChris
Bulgaria: Jengo, Felzak, Krisofive
Hungary: CheeseHead, Hulkenstein, Wuncler
Lithuania: Benetoo, gr0nas, S8ris
Philippines: IAmTheTable, TheBigMac, WaningMoon
Romania: FinalS, Serj, Sharpy
Serbia: Blankieh, Brazuka, Sumskiduh
Slovakia: HilmJoZo, JEJBenko, Rjù
Switzerland: GAP1698, RockyN1, TheRabbin
Taiwan: g9Malygos, Shaxy, Xillinhung
Uruguay: Donat, Loreance, Zorb

It’s hard to compare teams that feature one prodigious player alongside two unknowns against one that has three good players. For example, Denmark is weighted down heavily in my ranking by the fact that I know next to nothing about Hygs and Ziptopz, but on a scale of individual players, I would place Furyhunter at the very top with XiaoT. Norway is the opposite, none of their players are Grandmasters, but they all have a lot of experience in Masters Qualifiers.
In my opinion, China is heads and shoulders above the competition. Even Canada is not comparable. Combined, their players are 188W-113L in Masters Tour.

NPH Pasca

When ranking these teams I made sure I placed them atleast tier 3 if they had a respectable player that I recognized. Tier 4 teams mostly consist of those whose names I don’t recognize/lack the competitive achievement to make tier 3. Most tier 4 teams are mystery teams, and their true rankings could be 3, 2 or even 1.

NPH AgentPWE

MAX Team will stream 4 “confrontations” each week so make sure to follow them on Twitch. A confrontation consists of three best-of-three matches between a player and their counterpart on the opposing team. Players of the same country are not required to have the same lineup and each of them plays their own matches, but they are allowed to be in a voice conversation with their teammates, so the serious ones will be copiloting. Look forward to some exciting content!

Analyzing the Mercenaries lists of the Global Inn-vitational event

by Tangster

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.

Rules:

  • 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.

Deck Lists

Data provided by ZelKnow and leaf

Analysis

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.

Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #15

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

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.

Data summary from Offcurve:

Tier list discussion:

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
Cyclone Mage
Shark Rogue
Midrange Hunter

Qualifier Winners
Bomb Warrior
Bomb Hunter
Token Druid
Zoo Warlock
Token Shaman

Top 8 Capable
Control Warrior
Aggro Shaman
Freeze Mage
Mech Paladin
Party Tempo Rogue
Sharkless Tempo Rogue
Deathrattle Hunter
Nomi Priest

Featured decklists:

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.

Languagehackr’s Cyclone Mage

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.

languagehacker

TheLastChamp’s Cyclone Mage

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! 😛

thelastchamp

MaeveDonovan’s Shark Rogue

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.

maevedonovan

Sjoesie’s Shark Rogue

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.

sjoesie

Lestos’s Midrange Hunter

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.

lestos

Hoej’s Bomb Warrior

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.

hoej

Nagon’s Bomb Warrior

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.

nagon

Disq’s Bomb Hunter

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.

disq

KNMDehua’s Zoo Warlock

The secondary is designed to counter Warrior, with Mech minions that can’t be hit by Dynomatic. The tertiary has more reach, to win the race vs Hunter.

knmdehua

五香肉丁’s Token Shaman

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.

五香肉丁

Hatul’s Token Druid

Myr’s Aggro Shaman

Plko’s Freeze Mage

Dono’s Control Warrior

미르기르기’s Deathrattrle Hunter

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.

미르기르기

WaningMoon’s Mech Paladin

BabyBear’s Murloc Shaman

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.

babybear

Cydonia’s Murloc Shaman

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.

cydonia

Matsuri’s Chef Nomi Priest

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.

matsuri

KNMKarsa’s Raiding Party Rogue

D3oxy’s Tempo Rogue