Hearthstone World Championship 2022 is played this weekend. There are Youtube drops available, and you are not too late to get them from the final day of gameplay that will feature the top 8 players. While there is still some Hearthstone left to be played, we have already learned a lot from the tournament.
In this article, I take a look at the tournament meta and lineups, as well as any interesting decks that could have ladder uses as well.
Hearthstone World Championship 2022 Deck Lineups
The major talking point before the tournament was Blizzard’s new marketing-focused rule that any Death Knight decks cannot be banned even though the tournament is played in a best-of-five Conquest format with a ban. Alas, Death Knight has not turned out to be all that great performance-wise, so none of the 16 players brought the class anyway. That competitive issue solved itself, at least this time.
Death Knight is not the only class that was ignored. Far from it. There are no Warriors, no Warlocks, no Shaman, and no Hunters either! Only six of the eleven classes have been brought to the tournament! Compare this to last year, when Worlds only had eight players, and those eight players brought nine of the ten classes between them. Priest was the only class that was brought by nobody last year. However, the meta is always changing, and the class on the bottom changes on regular basis. It is the fact that so many classes were left outside that is concerning.
This time, every single player brought both Priest and Rogue. 13 also brought Demon Hunter and 10 brought Druid. That does not leave a lot of spots for other classes. The remaining slots were filled by 5 Mages and 4 Paladins. Archetype-wise, things are a bit more varied as every class apart from Demon Hunter and Mage are represented by multiple archetypes.
Here is the full archetype spread (and results after group stage matches):
- 13 Quest Demon Hunters (17-15)
- 9 Bless Priests (5-6)
- 8 Ramp Druids (10-10)
- 7 Miracle Rogues (11-8)
- 4 Control Priests (2-2)
- 5 Thief Rogues (10-12)
- 5 Ping Mages (8-3)
- 4 Deathrattle Rogues (3-6)
- 3 Quest Priest (2-4)
- 2 Pure Paladins (2-1)
- 2 Aggro Druids (4-3)
- 1 Control Paladin (1-3)
- 1 Dragon Paladin (1-1)
The archetypes in the top 8 are:
- 7 Quest Demon Hunters
- 4 Bless Priests
- 4 Control Priests
- 4 Ramp Druids
- 3 Miracle Rogues
- 3 Ping Mages
- 3 Thief Rogues
- 2 Deathrattle Rogues
- 1 Aggro Druid
- 1 Pure Paladin
By and large, the archetype spread corresponds to the overall bring rates. As a curiosity, all Control Priest lineups made it through, even though Control Priest itself was often banned and did not see many games.
How Good Is Quest Demon Hunter?
Quest Demon Hunter is the new darling of high-Legend players. It is flashy, it draws through the deck at a rapid pace, it has a big combo that can kill Renathal decks from full, and it can execute its combo in multiple creative ways before completing the Questline thanks to the discounts you get on the way.
Quest Demon Hunter is currently the most-played deck in top-1000 Legend, and it is the most popular deck brought to the tournament. However, if we count full stats from the first three groups, the deck is sitting at an exact 50% winrate (12-12) without including the mirror matches. Watching the games, I could have sworn it was doing better. It felt like it just kept popping off and killing people. This is an easy mental error to make, as many of those wins are memorable and many of the losses are games where the deck just whimpers into nothingness.
Quest Demon Hunter is not a bad deck by any means! But neither is it a panacea. It is a reasonably good deck with a playstyle preferred by many pro players. Nothing more, nothing less.
DeadDraw had a lot of success with his deck, going 3-0 with Quest Demon Hunter in the group stage:
It is not a particularly special build, and others also brought the exact same list. But it is a no-nonsense, proven way to build the deck.
Discounts from the Questline, Relic of Dimensions, and Sigil of Alacrity will eventually provide you with access to a combo turn with the Spell Damage minions Silvermoon Arcanist and Guild Trader. Then, Unleash Fel and Fel Barrage can get you past the post. Other variations of the combo include replaying the damage spells with a discounted Jace Darkweaver while also playing Spell Damage minions on the board. After Quest completion, Guild Trader can be repeatedly traded to reliably discount it to zero, as long as you have at least one card in the deck to trade with.
As you can see, there are many ways the deck can win. Combo pieces can be used for survival, as some of them can be replayed from Jace anyway. Sometimes you just get early discounts and have lethal without ever completing the Questline. Sometimes, the Questline serves as the final guarantee to get the discounts you need.
And well, sometimes you just do not have enough removal on hand and you die.
Miracles Still Happen
While the most popular Rogue deck on the ladder is Deathrattle Rogue, the most popular Rogue deck in the tournament is Miracle Rogue. Miracle Rogue has also been the best-performing deck in the tournament, going 10-5 in the first three groups. The most dominant performance of any deck brought to Worlds!
- 0Shadow of Demise1
- 1Blackwater Cutlass2
- 1Door of Shadows1
- 1Ghostly Strike2
- 1Gone Fishin’2
- 2Ghoulish Alchemist2
- 2Potion Belt2
- 2Potionmaster Putricide1
- 2Serrated Bone Spike2
- 2Wicked Stab (Rank 1)2
- 3Shroud of Concealment2
- 3Sinstone Graveyard2
- 4Edwin, Defias Kingpin1
- 5Necrolord Draka1
Xmg cruised through groups and his Miracle Rogue went 2-0. It is a Miracle Rogue like many others, but with the additional twist of Astalor Bloodsworn in the mix. Does Astalor fit into Miracle Rogue? It has been played in the archetype on ladder as well, and the results are kind of mediocre. It is not awful though, and there is a decent chance that it actually is among the top-30 cards for the archetype. More uses for our new meta tyrant! Sire who? It’s Astaloring time!
Big Pings with Mage
There are a couple of different takes of Ping Mage brought to the tournament. So far, the bigger one seems more convincing to me. I mean, if you have an opportunity to include Rune of the Archmage into your deck, why would you not do it?
- 0Flurry (Rank 1)2
- 1Shivering Sorceress2
- 2Amplified Snowflurry2
- 2Solid Alibi2
- 3Arcane Intellect2
- 3Frostweave Dungeoneer2
- 3Nightcloak Sanctum2
- 4Cold Case2
- 4Commander Sivara1
- 4Deepwater Evoker2
- 4Reckless Apprentice2
- 4Varden Dawngrasp1
- 6Grey Sage Parrot2
- 7Magister Dawngrasp1
- 7Mass Polymorph2
- 8Mordresh Fire Eye1
- 9Rune of the Archmage2
This exact list is currently the best-performing Mage deck on the ladder. Fine, it still has a very low sample size, so I really don’t know if it is the best thing since sliced bread or not. It features near-infinite freezes and a double Mass Polymorph tech to ensure that those pesky Rogue ghosts and Invincibles will never get to touch your face.
It also packs some punch with the good old Ping Mage cards Wildfire, Magister Dawngrasp, and Mordresh Fire Eye. You can also Brann Bronzebeard some Reckless Apprentices to make the most out of your Hero Power.
Overall, a truly painful experience for a board-based deck to face.
I Just Want to Be Pure
Xmg was extremely convincing in the group stage. Not only with his Miracle Rogue, but also with his Pure Paladin, another deck with a 2-0 record:
- 1Knight of Anointment2
- 1Righteous Protector2
- 1Sanguine Soldier2
- 1Sinful Sous Chef2
- 2Battle Vicar2
- 2Blood Matriarch Liadrin1
- 2Order in the Court2
- 2Seafloor Savior2
- 3Alliance Bannerman2
- 3Seal of Blood2
- 3Stonehearth Vindicator2
- 4Buffet Biggun2
- 4Cariel Roame1
- 4Invigorating Sermon2
- 6Blood Crusader1
- 7The Countess1
Pure Paladin eventually discovered its aggressive side. The star of the deck is Stonehearth Vindicator that either draws a sweet buff or Order in the Court. If your hand is good enough when you get the Order, you can just immediately play it to draw your Lightrays, The Countess, and finally Blood Crusader, which will give you a big swing turn. Opponents will struggle to answer that turn when it comes after an already aggressive opener.
Pure Paladin has been one of the rising stars on the ladder, and this is a proven ladder deck.
The Budget Deck Pro Players Would Play, If Pro Players Should Play Budget Decks and Would Play Budget Decks
This time, there is one full-budget deck that made it into Worlds! Aggro Druid is strong enough to compete with the best, and this is the best-performing Aggro Druid deck from the tournament, once again courtesy of Xmg:
This list is a tiny bit different than the common ladder lists. There is no functional difference, all these cards are used in various ladder lists as well, but this specific combination is unique and not found on HSReplay. Typically, you expect a Clawfury Adept in combination with Lingering Zombie, but Xmg has instead chosen to go with Beaming Sidekick that often is cut to make room for the zombie. I am uncertain whether this is an improvement, as the persistent nature of the zombie synergizes well with the adept.
Either way, the deck is extremely affordable, as it includes no Epic or Legendary cards, and it can pressure the current combo-style decks incredibly well. Fun fact, the archetype was unplayable on day one of the expansion, as Blood Death Knight is a devastating foe to face with this, but there are no Blood Death Knights in the tournament. Their numbers have been trending down on the ladder as well, especially on higher ranks, but if you are still facing many Blood Death Knights, you may have to skip this deck.
What Does Worlds Mean for Ladder?
Obviously, tournament meta and ladder meta are not the same. That said, they are connected. Players don’t just invent completely new decks for Worlds. The resources needed to test them to make sure they are actually improvements over well-established lists would be enormous and time is limited. Players do add tech cards to ladder archetypes and choose archetypes that they believe will do well in a more limited field. So, while tournaments and the ladder are not the same, they do mirror each other in many ways.
There are some balance concerns regarding the game at the moment. Only six of the eleven classes were brought to Worlds, a record low. Death Knight and Warrior have no known viable ladder decks. Beast Hunter, Evolve Shaman, Pure Paladin, and Imp Warlock are the only viable ladder decks of their classes in Legend. Three of them were not chosen by any players, and those three are posting below 50% win rates in top-1000 Legend.
It is hard to balance 11 classes, and Worlds has not been a great showcase for variety in the game. Furthermore, the holiday season is just about to begin. Will Blizzard be able to scramble the promised balance patch to next week, or will it arrive in January? After the example set by this tournament, I hope they will find the time to complete the patch before the holidays.
I reach legend with quest DH yesterday, it’s a pretty good deck, if you esclude the absurde armor gain of druid, you can kill anyone from 40 even without quest completion or with your jace trasformed/stealed (you don’t laugh so much priest xD).
Thanks for the analysis Old G! Always good to read you. Hope for some balance changes next week, there’s almost no variety on ladder even worst, I only see DR Rogues and Quest DH from D4 to D1.