Hearthstone Winter Championship has just finished. Between March 23 and March 26, we’ve seen 16 of the best players from across the globe battling for their share of $250,000 and 135 HCT points. Scoring high not only guaranteed a high cash prize, but also a nice head start into the rest of competitive year – each HCT point matters for players that want to participate in the Hearthstone World Championship (which will take place in January 2018).
However, since 4 days of non-stop action might be too much even for the hardcore fans, we’ve decided make a summary of the whole event. In this article you’ll find everything you wanted to know (and a lot of things you didn’t even know you wanted to know!) about players’ performance, ban stats, deck win rates etc.
- Day 1: (March 23) at 7:00 a.m. PDT – Groups A and B
- Day 2: (March 24) at 7:00 a.m. PDT – Groups C and D
- Day 3: (March 25) at 7:00 a.m. PDT – Group Decider Matches and Quarterfinals
- Day 4: (March 26) at 9:00 a.m. PDT – Semifinals and Finals
- Location: Nassau, Bahamas
- Prize Pool: $250,000 USD
- Format: Best of Seven Conquest
- Casters: Dan ‘Frodan’ Chou with Brian Kibler, Simon ‘Sottle’ Welch with Alexander ‘Raven’ Baguley, and TJ ‘Azumo’ Sanders with Nathan ‘ThatsAdmirable’ Zamora.
Where to Watch (VoDs)
- All VoDs can be found on the PlayHearthstone Twitch channel.
Region Win Rates
- #1 – Europe – 59.5% win rate (50-34)
- #2 – North America – 49.5% win rate (48-49)
- #3 – China – 44.9% win rate (31-38)
- #4 – Asia-Pacific – 44.6% win rate (33-41)
Best Player Performance
- #1 – ShtanUdachi – 69% win rate (20-9)
- #2 – LvGe – 58.8% win rate (10-7)
- #3 – Pavel – 55.6% win rate (10-8)
- #4 – Neirea – 55% win rate (11-9)
Worst Player Performance
- #1 – Yulsic – 20% win rate (2-8)
- #2 – OmegaZero – 27.3% win rate (3-8)
- #3 – b787 – 38.5% win rate (5-8)
- #4 – LovelyChook – 40.9% win rate (9-13)
Most games played: Fr0Zen – 37 games
Least games played: Yulsic – 10 games
Longest win streak: ShtanUdachi and Fr0zen – 8 games win streak
Lowest win rate player getting out of Group Stage: DocPwn – 47.1%
Highest win rate player not getting out of Group Stage: Pavel – 55.6%
Comeback – players who got out of the losers bracket: Fr0Zen, LovelyChook, DocPwn and SamuelTsao
- #1 – Pirate Warrior – 39 out of 54 (72.2%)
- #2 – Freeze Mage – 5 out of 54 (9.3%)
- #3 – Reno Mage – 3 out of 54 (5.6%)
- #4 – Dragon Priest – 2 out of 54 (3.7%)
- #5-9 – Control Warrior, Tempo Mage, Midrange Jade Shaman, Reno Warlock and Jade Druid – 1 out of 54 (1.9%)
Pirate Warrior’s ban rate was incredibly high in this tournament. It’s not surprising, since it’s the most dominant Aggro deck in the game right now and probably one of the strongest decks in general. Games against Pirate Warrior are often decided by the opening hands and most of the pros don’t want to take this kind of risk. Pirate Warrior would have an even higher ban rate if Fr0zen brought it – he played 6 series in the entire tournament, which are 6 more potential bans for Pirate Warrior, the ban rate would most likely exceed 80% in that case. Players who decided to not ban Warrior mostly brought a pretty strong counter, or a line-up that fights well against Aggro in general.
Freeze Mage being at #2 is most likely because Fr0Zen brought it instead of the Pirate Warrior. It was banned in 5 out of 6 series.
Rest of the bans are pretty insignificant. They were mostly target bans after comparing both line-ups – sometimes Pirate Warrior wasn’t the most threatening deck in the opponent’s line-up, thus something else was a better ban.
Funnily, the class that was brought most (by 15 out of 16 players) is also the least played class of the tournament (besides the two that weren’t present at all) because of all the bans.
If you’re wondering why there is no Hunter or Paladin anywhere in this section, that’s because those classes weren’t brought by a single person.
Total games played: 162
Most Played Classes
- #1 – Rogue – 64 out of 324 (19.8%) decks played in total.
- #2 – Priest – 62 out of 324 (19.1%) decks played in total.
- #3 – Mage – 55 out of 324 (17%) decks played in total.
Least played class: Warrior – 13 out of 324 (4%) decks played in total.
Classes Sorted By Win Rate
- #1 – Shaman – 57.8% (26-19)
- #2 – Warlock – 54.7% (29-24)
- #3 – Rogue – 54.7% (35-29)
- #4 – Druid – 50% (16-16)
- #5 – Warrior – 46.2% (6-7)
- #6 – Mage – 45.5% (25-30)
- #7 – Priest – 40.3% (25-37)
The win rate for top class isn’t surprising at all – even after the recent nerf patch, Shaman is still a very powerful class. While it’s not completely dominating, in the hands of an experienced player it can win nearly every matchup. What’s much more surprising is Priest’s performance. Dragon Priest was one of the most common decks of the tournament, yet it had one of the worst performances. Sure, the Reno Priest going 0-3 lowers the win rate a bit, but even if you don’t count that, it’s still 42.4% for Dragon Priest. Dragon Priest is undoubtedly one of the best ladder decks, but maybe its tournament power is a little overestimated? Or maybe people just brought the right decks to counter it? One thing is certain – the Champion didn’t have Dragon Priest in his line-up and it worked really well for him.
Warrior is only at 46%, but that’s not really a good representation of the real power of Pirate Warrior. The class was banned most of the time. Those who didn’t ban it were well prepared for it. It means that Pirate Warrior faced pretty much only line-ups that were optimized to fight against it. The small sample size also doesn’t help – only 13 games with Pirate Warrior weren’t enough to show the full potential.
Most Popular Decks
- #1 – Pirate Warrior – Brought by 14 out of 16 players (87.5%)
- #2 – Reno Warlock – Brought by 12 out of 16 players (75%)
- #3-4 – Dragon Priest and Miracle Rogue – Brought by 10 out of 16 players (62.5%)
Most Unique/Unexpected Decks
I don’t know whether I should call b787 brave or foolish for bringing this deck, but I’m definitely sure about one thing: with 10 Reno Warlocks, 10 Dragon Priests, 9 Midrange Jade Shamans, 5 Jade Druids and 5 Reno Mages in the tournament, Control Warrior would have a really hard time.. well, possibly, but we’ll never know. The truth is that the Control Warrior deck wasn’t even played a single time – it was banned one time and b787 lost the second series before he even got a chance to play it. Judging by b787’s line-up, he seemed to expect much more Aggro decks and it turned out that Aggro wasn’t too popular this time around (besides Pirate Warrior which was usually banned). Or maybe he thought that Freeze Mage would be much more popular? Either way, I’m a bit sad that we didn’t see even a single Control Warrior game. It was a tournament staple not that long ago and now it’s nowhere to be seen.
When I was talking about the anti-Aggro line-up, this is another point on the list. The only Reno Priest of the tournament was brought by the same player who picked Control Warrior as one of his decks. Let’s be fair, Reno Priest is not a very strong meta deck. One of the biggest upsides is that you can actually tech in enough Aggro tools to counter the fast decks pretty consistently. And that’s how this deck was made. It’s a Dragon Reno Priest, but not the one you’d normally see on the ladder. It runs multiple cards that are either uncommon or not seen in Priest at all nowadays: Flash Heal, Embrace the Shadow/Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing combo, Shadow Word: Horror or Darkshire Alchemist just to name a few. The deck looks very anti-Aggro, but the problem is that without Aggro present, such a build is pretty weak in slower matchups. We did see some Reno Priest games – 3 to be precise. But with the 0-3 score, I can say that the Reno Priest wasn’t the best choice this time around.
Malygos Druid was incredibly popular after Karazhan, but it disappeared with the latest expansion. The problem is that the deck, while amazing against some slower matchups, just doesn’t work that well against Aggro. That’s the reason why it’s not popular on the ladder. But in tournaments… Well, you can hope that opponents won’t bring too much Aggro and you always have one ban. For a deck that was brought by a single player, Malygos Druid was played A LOT – we’ve seen 10 games with the deck in total, which is actually pretty awesome considering that majority of this tournament meta was pretty boring.
Most of the players decided to bring Jade Druid instead, because it does a similar job, but Jade seems to be a little bit stronger overall. However, when it comes to stats, Fr0zen scored 5-5 with the deck, which lines up exactly with the Jade Druid’s performance (also 50% win rate in total), so I can’t say that it was a bad choice.
Archetypes Sorted By Win Rate
(at least 5 games sample size required)
- #1 – Midrange Jade Shaman – 58.1% (18-13)
- #2 – Aggro Shaman – 57.1% (8-6)
- #3 – Miracle Rogue – 55.1% (27-22)
- #4 – Reno Warlock – 54.7% (29-24)
- #5 – Water Rogue – 53.3% (8-7)
- #6-8 – Jade Druid, Malygos Druid, Freeze Mage – 50% (11-11, 5-5, 10-10)
- #9 – Pirate Warrior – 46.2% (6-7)
- #10 – Dragon Priest – 42.4% (25-34)
- #11 – Reno Mage – 40.6% (13-19)
Shaman was dominating this tournament. Well, I’m not sure if you can call ~58% win rate “dominating”, but it was definitely the best performing class. I’ve already talked about Priest’s poor performance, but I want to say a few words about another surprise – Reno Mage. Well, maybe surprise is too much, the deck’s performance wasn’t a big surprise at all. Reno Mage mostly preys on Aggro, which wasn’t common in this tournament. The RenoLock matchup is also good, but only so slightly (RenoLock has lots of ways to win it). At the same time, the deck struggles against Midrange decks like Jade Druid, Dragon Priest and – to some extent – Midrange Jade Shaman, which were all pretty popular. In hindsight, people shouldn’t really bring Reno Mage, or maybe they should bring lists that are more optimized to fight against the Midrange. The only successful Reno Mage list is the one that ShtanUdachi brought, which is by the way really interesting. It looks a bit more like Freeze Mage than the Reno Mage you see every day – it has more cycle (Novice Engineer, Loot Hoarder) and more burn (Ice Lance, Pyroblast) and Alexstrasza. It’s optimized to fight against Midrange in a more Freeze Mage kind of way – by stalling the game long enough, playing Alexstrasza and burning the opponent down. Which worked really well for Shtan.
Most Consistent* Decks:
- SamuelTsao’s Midrange Jade Shaman – 4-0
- Neirea’s Miracle Rogue – 3-0
- Pavel’s Dragon Priest – 3-0
- LvGe’s Reno Warlock – 3-0
- SamuelTsao’s Water Rogue – 5-1
- Pavel’s Reno Warlock – 3-1
- Neirea’s Jade Druid – 3-1
- Tarei’s Reno Warlock – 3-1
- XHope’s Freeze Mage – 3-1
- ShtanUdachi’s Reno Mage – 5-2
- ShtanUdachi’s Aggro Shaman – 5-2
- ShtanUdachi’s Reno Warlock – 5-2
*At least 70% win rate with 3+ games sample size.
Least Consistent* Decks:
- DrJikininki’s Reno Warlock – 0-3
- b787’s Reno Priest – 0-3
- Pavel’s Reno Mage – 1-5
- Yulsic’s Water Rogue – 1-4
- Neirea’s Reno Warlock – 2-5
- DrJikininki’s Dragon Priest – 2-5
*30% or less win rate with 3+ games sample size.
That’s all folks. That was a long weekend, I’ve tried to watch most of the Winter Championship but honestly I ended up watching only about half of it live. While I love competitive HS, this tournament wasn’t incredibly exciting because of a pretty stale meta. I still enjoyed it, I really like HCT for the professional production and great caster pairings, but the matches themselves could be better.
I’ve uploaded my Excel spreadsheet here, so feel free to check it out. If you’d like to see some other stats, let me know so I can add them or track them next time around. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment. And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!