Sottle's Weekly Meta Analysis - Week of 15/02/2015 - 22/02/2015

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Sottle's Weekly Meta Analysis - Week of 15/02/2015 - 22/02/2015


Hello again friends! Welcome back to a weekly article where I discuss what's hot, what's not and how you should be building decks to fight back against the meta.


Common Decks & Cards


This week the meta has been a period of heavy fluctuation, with multiple dramatic shifts. On top of this, small fluctuations of the most dominant deck occured on an almost daily basis, causing ripple effects throughout the rest of the ladder. Although all these shifts can be hard to quantify, the meta went through 3 basic stages this week.


Firstly, in the early part of the week, the meta was still in a similar form to the latter part of last week. Many people were holding high rank legend spots with Priest, with the war for #1 on EU being fought exclusively between Priest players. This led to an increase in Oil Rogue players, since Oil Rogue preys on Priest very well. Also, since the specific Priest build that was popular was very strong against Warrior, Warrior was being kept out of the meta, which is a great thing for Oil Rogue since Warrior is one of the their worst matchups. 


Then, very quickly after this, the rebirth of Midrange Hunter occured. Midrange Hunter was a deck that had struggled to recover from the Undertaker nerf, since without the early game scaling power, they often found themselves without a platform to build on. However, early this week, a new Midrange list built by a player by the name of SenX came into popularity. SenX himself held Rank 1 Legend with the deck, and Trump climbed to Rank 3 Legend on stream to his usual audience of 20,000+ people. Due to this, the deck exploded in popularity, and as many as 6 or 7 of the top 10 Legend players on EU were playing the deck. This, as is the case with many Hunter decks, quickly filtered down through the ladder and was by far the most common deck on ladder for 2 or 3 days.


Then, just as quickly as SenX Hunter appeared, it all but vanished. It's hard to put a finger on why this happened, as SenX's stats reported favourable winrates against many of the proposed counters that appeared, such as Oil Rogue and Control Warrior. But seemingly, the deck lost its potency at high rank, and most Hunters quickly fell back into playing the Face Hunter archetype. As it stands in the later part of the week, the meta is in a very healthy balanced position, which is perhaps to be expected after a period of such turbulence. My experience with playing Ladder in Legend Rank EU on the 22nd showed a healthy mix of Druids, Warriors, Hunters, Paladins, Mages and Priests.

Mech Mage is still as popular as ever, and is still probably the most common deck on ladder at low and mid ranks. This is mainly due to its low cost, relative ease of play, and ability to steamroll any matchup with the right draw. If you are trying to climb from a point below Rank 5, Mech Mage is still certainly a huge consideration for your deck building strategy.


In terms of tech cards, Kezan Mystic has finally started to find a foothold in the meta. Promised by Blizzard as the neutral answer to Secrets in the GvG expansion, Kezan Mystic was overlooked for quite a long period. However, due to the resurgence of Hunter, combined with the ever presence of Mage, Kezan Mystic has started to find use both as a tech card in a Control deck, and as an inclusion in Aggro decks to help swing Aggro mirrors in their favour. Stealing a Mirror Entity with Kezan Mystic for example, is a huge swing in momentum and is one of the few ways to deny the massive tempo swing that Mech Mage can usually get off a Mad Scientist.


Class Power Rankings


1. Hunter





Although it feels strange for me to put Hunter at #1, since it is not exactly dominating the meta currently, no deck really is, and something has to hold the #1 spot. With Hunter being the only class that has two extremely strong archetypes functioning well for it currently, it seems the natural choice to hold the spot by default. Midrange Hunter is back with a bang this week and posted incredible results in the early part of the week. While Face Hunter has made a comeback spurred on by the success of a couple of high profile players in recent tournaments. With this in mind, stacking healing in your deck in the form of Antique Healbot is a solid plan currently, as is teching in a Kezan Mystic to deal with their ever present secrets.


2. Rogue





Rogue retains a high ranking this week, but has notably fallen off from last weeks dominance. The quickening of the meta has led to less time for Rogues to set up their gameplan, and the resurgence of Warrior has presented one of Rogue's most difficult matchups back into the format. Because of this, Rogues are stuck in a difficult position where they have to choose between more early game options and including cards like Sabotage in their deck to provide more answers to Control decks like Warrior. Despite this, Oil Rogue is an extremely powerful deck, and like most of the high ranked classes, is capable of beating anything on a good draw.



3. Warrior




As tends to be the case as seasons draw to a close, Warrior is gaining traction. The long term stability of Warrior Control is not to be overlooked, and it always finds a way back into the meta at least once a season. Warrior is still preying on the Rogue matchup, although Rogues have found some answers to the matchup in the form of Sabotage and Edwin VanCleef, and they have relatively stable matchups against the rest of the field. Only Fast Druid, as always, remains the natural predator of Warriors.



4. Druid




Druid retains a high ranking this week, with Fast Druid being the main deck that is carrying the weight. Hard Ramp Druid has all but disappeared from the meta, since it usually gives other decks too much time to set up their gameplan, and is weak against the Tempo focused decks that are currently very common. To fill some of the hole left by Ramp Druid, some Fast Druid players are incorporating Ramp cards like Sludge Belcher, Zombie Chow, and Mind Control Tech into their decks to create a more Hybrid style of Druid. Druid is also one of the most common decks in which to see the Kezan Mystic tech choice, since Hunter and Mech Mage are typically two of their worst matchups.



= 5. Mage




Mage takes its biggest hit this week since the advent of Goblins vs. Gnomes. With the meta finally prepared to tech cards like Kezan Mystic into their decks to counter Mech Mage, the popular Aggro deck is finally starting to lose a little traction. Meanwhile, Freeze Mage is currently all but unplayable on ladder due to the frequency of Druids, Warriors, and the aforementioned Kezan Mystic.


= 5. Priest




Priest, after a brief flirtation with the top spots in the early part of the week, still maintains a respectable ranking. Current Priest builds are built well to deal with Control matchups through additional tools such as Thoughtsteal and Sneed's Old Shredder, while cards like Holy Fire provide stability against Aggro decks. Priest with a good draw remains one of the best classes in the game at shutting down the early aggression of classes like Mage and Hunter. Despite this, the high amount of Druids and Rogues on the ladder is enough to keep Priest from being a top contender, since the constant Tempo and string of Midrange minions is usually too much for Priest to contend with.



7. Paladin





Paladin continues to suffer this week, with the Midrange form of the deck all but forced out of the meta by Oil Rogue. Paladin players have begun to experiment with extremely grindy Paladin decks that load up on huge amounts of healing through double Lay on Hands, Antique Healbot and Guardian of Kings. While these decks are very strong at outlasting Face Aggro and Burst decks, they still rely on very specific draws to be able to contest Midrange Tempo decks that can maintain an aggressive board presence to outpace the healing.


8. Warlock




Warlock claws its way off the bottom this week, mainly due to the Demonlock decks starting to become more refined, and more capable of competing with what the meta has to offer. With that said, the deck is currently having more of an impact in the tournament format than on the ladder meta. The two classic styles of Warlock, Zoo and Handlock, are still currently underperforming due to the same reasons as last week. Zoo simply lacking power since the nerf of Undertaker, and Handlock being ill suited due to all the burst damage and Big Game Hunter in the format. 


9. Shaman





Shaman falls into the bottom spot this week. With Mech Shaman seemingly not having the staying power that some expected it to, Shaman is without a viable deck for high ranked play currently. Standard Midrange or Control Shaman lists are just not proactive enough, or not stable enough to deal with the highly honed Tempo decks that are being thrown at them. The lack of pro-activity in Shaman, means that decks like Rogue and Druid have all the time in the world to systematically pick them apart. Shaman does offer a few nice benefits, such as the strength of Midrange Shaman against Warrior, or Mech Shaman against Druid, but for the most part, their job is done better by other classes.

For example decklists and guides on all of the referenced decks in this week's meta report, please check out our Hearthstone strategy section.

Thanks for reading and see you next week.

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