Welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between April 26th and May 3rd, 2020. As always, the Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
A new challenger has finally arrived to confront the supremacy of Illidan and Valeera.
Egg Warrior has finally caught on, rising to control nearly 7% of the format between Diamond and Legend. Joined by a host of variants on Enrage Warrior, Egg Warrior, which already commands over 13% of the Legend meta, is poised for dominance, leveraging exceptional matchups against Demon Hunter and just about everything else.
But Anduin isn’t one to miss out on a party. Galakrond Priest is far from an exceptional deck, but as a counter to Egg Warrior, it’s unparalleled. Galakrond Priest is Egg Warrior’s sole bad matchup, and with Garrosh on the rise, Priest has seen an explosion in popularity at higher ranks. As Resurrect Priest and Highlander Priest fall away, Galakrond Priest now accounts for nearly 8% of the format between Diamond and Legend.
Garrosh has forced Illidan out of Tier 1 at higher ranks, but Tempo Demon Hunter remains the focal point of the format. Illidan still commands an oppressive 30% of the upper meta. Now, he’s facing his first true challenge in the form of Egg Warrior.
Despite moderate declines in popularity, Highlander Hunter and Dragon Hunter have become two of the most potent strategies in the format, securing coveted spots in Tier 1 at Legend. Face Hunter lags behind, but remains an outstanding counter to Rogue and Mage.
Mage is a victim of Demon Hunter’s success. If not for a terrible matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, Highlander Mage would look well-positioned, with competitive matchups against Rogue and Warrior. At least Hunter’s recent growth has tapered off.
Druid is in decline. Big Druid has disappeared. Left directionless after the nerf to Kael’thas SunstriderBADCARDNAME, Spell Druid is hemorrhaging players.
Murloc Paladin is Uther’s only option. It’s a Tier 2 deck with some strong matchups (Priest, in particular), but we don’t think it’s suitable for play at higher ranks. Alongside getting destroyed by Tempo Demon Hunter, a pitiful matchup against Egg Warrior is reason enough to run for the hills.
Warlock has put its faith wholly on the shoulders of Imprisoned Scrap Imp. With Control Galakrond Warlock nearly absent from the meta, most players have transitioned to the Zoo plan, though the archetype’s high-roll strategy has met with only middling results.
Shaman is a bust.
Though the class’ playrate has only risen since the season reset, Demon Hunter is actually on the backfoot. For the second time since the launch of Ashes of Outland, Tempo Demon Hunter, the class’ strongest archetype, has fallen out of Tier 1 at higher ranks. In combination with two rounds of nerfs, which have slowed the deck considerably, Tempo DH now faces its strongest challenge yet in the form of Egg Warrior (and its Enrage-minded ilk), an archetype surging in popularity across the upper meta. As we’ve predicted for several weeks, Egg Warrior has finally broken through, and that’s a serious problem for Illidan.
But don’t let that cloud you to the unquestionable strength of Tempo Demon Hunter. Indeed, Tempo Demon Hunter is the most played archetype in the meta. At Legend, the deck commands over 22% of the format, but it’s even more popular at lower ranks. Tempo DH’s playrate peaks at over 36% at Diamond 1, more than double the popularity of the second best-represented archetype, Galakrond Secret Rogue. It remains astronomical, over 30%, between Diamond 2 and 3, before dropping gradually to 23.11% at Diamond 5.
Tempo Demon Hunter’s matchup spread remains unparalleled, but as we mentioned, things are changing at higher ranks. Egg Warrior is experiencing explosive growth, rising to become the third most popular archetype in the upper meta. Outside of Control Galakrond Warlock, a deck that has nearly disappeared, Egg Warrior stands as the only bad matchup for Tempo DH; over a sample of 6,700 games between Diamond and Legend, Garrosh has bested Illidan in over 58% of cases. The matchup is even more lopsided at Legend. Should Egg Warrior gain further in strength, trying times may be ahead for Demon Hunter.
In the wake of the nerf to Kael’thas SunstriderBADCARDNAME, OTK Demon Hunter has fallen out of the meta entirely. In retrospect, the Kael’thas nerf may have hit Demon Hunter the hardest, as it shut off major power plays when the Legendary was comboed with Altruis the Outcast and Kayn Sunfury. OTK Demon Hunter never recovered.
After a brief surge to 7% representation one month ago, OTK Demon Hunter’s playrate has dropped to 0.31% - barely worth a mention. Particularly feeble against Warrior, the archetype now struggles to make an impact in light of poor matchups against Priest, Galakrond Secret Rogue, Paladin, Mage and Hunter.
Times are tough for Malfurion. Big Druid (the worst ranked archetype in the game over the last three days) and Embiggen Druid have failed to make an impression. Quest Druid isn’t worth a mention on any of the Tier Lists we’ve consulted. And while Spell Druid is likely the class’ most powerful option at the moment, the archetype has fallen to the bottom of a crowded Tier 2, overmatched by the likes of Demon Hunter and Warrior.
Spell Druid’s popularity and winrate have declined precipitously in the wake of the Kael’thas SunstriderBADCARDNAME nerf. Despite a winning matchup against Galakrond Secret Rogue, the archetype has been overpowered by losing contests against the dominant Tempo Demon Hunter and a rapidly-rising Egg Warrior (Risky Skipper alone counters much of Spell Druid’s strategy). Too slow to combat the early pressure of Demon Hunter, and lacking the resilience to overcome Warrior’s board clears, Spell Druid seems to have fallen on the ash heap of history. Not even Tyrande’s love will be enough to brighten Malfurion’s spirits.
Since peaking at a Legend representation over 12% one month ago, Spell Druid has hemorrhaged players, declining to its current playrate of 2.37%. Things are only marginally better at lower ranks, where Spell Druid now commands 2.47% of the format at Diamond.
Rexxar is in a good spot. In fact, he’s in the best spot.
Highlander Hunter has emerged from the season reset as the highest-performing archetype at Legend. It lags behind only Egg Warrior at lower ranks. Now, maybe that’s just variance, since we’re only a few days into the new season, but we’d be willing to bet that Highlander Hunter is one of the best decks in the game right now.
On the other hand, things might be about to catch up to Rexxar. He’s not strong against Tempo Demon Hunter (41.7% over 100,000 games between Diamond and Legend), the most popular archetype at higher ranks. Nor does he excel against Egg Warrior (48.3% over 10,000 games between Diamond and Legend), which is experiencing explosive growth across the ladder.
The best thing he’s got going, in terms of meta-dominant decks, is Galakrond Secret Rogue, and that matchup is roughly even. So while Rexxar dominates almost everything else, he’s surprisingly weak to the three most popular archetypes on the ladder.
Benefiting from modest growth at Legend, Dragon Hunter shares the same weaknesses, only worse. Highlander Hunter is indeed the stronger deck, at least in the aggregate; it’s better against Tempo Demon Hunter and far better against Egg Warrior. Dragon Hunter looks even against Galakrond Secret Rogue, the second most popular archetype in the game, but still a bit worse than Highlander.
Our featured build, which runs the Stonetusk Boar package, has managed to shore up some of these weaknesses, albeit over a smaller sample size. In particular, the list has earned a striking winrate against Tempo Demon Hunter at Legend: 59% over 590 games.
Now we turn to the enigma that is Face Hunter. It’s not hard to see why Face Hunter is far more popular outside of Legend than in it: the archetype suffers from an unfavorable matchup spread. Though strong against Galakrond Secret Rogue, the archetype struggles in the race against Tempo Demon Hunter, while also featuring deplorable matchups against lesser meta players, including Priest and Paladin.
And things are only going to get worse. Armor gain is the bane of Rexxar’s existence, and as we’ve said many times, Egg Warrior is on the rise. This is a miserable matchup for Face Hunter; over a sample of 2,900 games at Legend, Rexxar has lost in almost 67%. Dragon Hunter and Highlander Hunter can both compete against Garrosh, but Face Hunter is hopeless. We suspect the fate of this archetype is largely dependent on Warrior’s growth. It might get rough.
We say it every week, but it bears repeating: Mage is pitiful against Tempo Demon Hunter. That fact is unlikely to change, whether or not you run Water Elemental in your Highlander list. Everything we say about Mage must be seen against this backdrop, because Tempo Demon Hunter currently controls over 30% of the upper meta. Illidan represents Jaina’s ceiling, and Deep Freeze, while powerful, is cold comfort (pun intended).
So it’s not much of a surprise, given Highlander Mage’s miserable matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, that the archetype currently sits at the bottom of a crowded Tier 2. Yet Jaina’s matchup spread is surprisingly positive. Indeed, she has four bad matchups, in total, and three of them come at the behest of Rexxar. Remove these contests from the picture, however, and Highlander Mage looks positively strong, with superlative results against Priest, Rogue and Warrior.
Hunter will always be a thorn in Mage’s side, but the field is changing. Last week, we noted a substantial rise in Rexxar’s ranks, a bad sign indeed for Highlander Mage. This week, Hunter’s playrate has fallen off a bit, though modest increases can still be observed in the popularity of Dragon Hunter. This is actually a marginal improvement for Mage; out of Hunter’s three most popular builds (Face, Dragon and Highlander), Dragon Hunter is the best matchup for Mage, by a long shot. It’s not outstanding, but it’s something.
And things are about to get a little better: refined variants of Highlander Mage seem to have a slight edge over Egg Warrior. Over a sample of 7,800 games at Legend, our featured build has come out on the winning side in 57%. With Garrosh at the helm of the meta’s third most popular archetype, Jaina may have some feasting yet to do. So if you can stomach repeated losses to Demon Hunter, and manage to dodge regular Hunters, Mage is a pretty good choice for your climb. Of course, that doesn’t sound very appetizing to us, but it’s true all the same: Mage is strong against everything else.
Paladin is in a pretty bad spot, but of course, you already knew that. With refinement come to a grinding halt, Libram Paladin, whether Pure or not, is a joke. No one’s playing the deck, and it’s fallen out of the Tier Lists entirely. That leaves Murloc Paladin as Uther’s only hope.
So how is Murloc Pally doing? Not well. Look, it might be a killer at lower ranks, but Murloc Paladin is a pretty poor choice for the upper meta. In the aggregate, Murloc Paladin looks to be a mid-Tier 2 archetype between Diamond and Legend: not bad, not good. No doubt it’s being buoyed by a competitive (though negative) matchup against Galakrond Secret Rogue, the second most popular archetype in the format. And positive winrates against Hunter and Priest are a plus, but when you delve into the deck’s matchup spread, things only look worse.
It’s an old story, but we’ll tell it again: Illidan is holding Uther back. Murloc Paladin is terrible against Tempo Demon Hunter, the most dominant force in the meta; over a sample of 9,800 games at Legend, Murloc Paladin has lost to Demon Hunter in 64.3% of cases. It’s also pretty bad against Highlander Mage, the fifth most popular archetype at higher ranks, but what really tips the scales (haha) are the archetype’s meager returns against Warrior.
Egg Warrior absolutely destroys Murloc Paladin; when Garrosh and Uther meet, Warrior comes away with the win in 72.4% of games (over a sample of 1,400 games at Legend). That’s truly pitiful, but far from unexpected; of course Risky Skipper demolishes this deck. Today, Egg Warrior is already over 8% of the meta; after a few weeks of experimentation, the archetype is catching on. That’s really bad news for Uther.
Long live Galakrond.
With the fall of Control Galakrond Warlock, Galakrond Priest has emerged as the meta’s premier control strategy, rising to a playrate above 5% between Diamond and Legend. Commanding nearly 8.5% of the Legend meta, the archetype now controls over 41% of Priest’s playrate, as both Resurrect and Highlander builds are on the decline.
Yet Galakrond Priest stands on shaky ground; aside from a deplorable matchup against Galakrond Secret Rogue (36.6% over 18,000 games at Legend), the archetype seems unable to stem the tide of damage from Tempo Demon Hunter, now matter how many copies of Holy Nova you discover off Renew. Illidan tends to dominate Anduin; over a sample of 38,000 games at Legend, Priest has lost in 44.6%. It’s usually not a good sign when the meta’s foremost control archetype can’t silence its premier aggro strategy.
So we’re still not sure about this archetype, but there may yet be hope. Galakrond Priest has one strong matchup that jumps off the charts: Egg Warrior, a deck rapidly rising in playrate across the upper meta. This matchup is a cinch in favor of Priest; Anduin takes over 65% of his games against Garrosh. Egg Warrior now accounts for 8% of the upper meta, but we expect its playrate to jump higher in the coming weeks. That’s the best sign in weeks for Priest.
Highlander Priest’s representation has fallen considerably. Since last week, when the archetype controlled upwards of 3% of the meta between Diamond and Legend, Highlander’s share of the format has fallen to a mere 1%. Resurrect Priest has seen a similar drop in play.
Not much can be said about Rogue that hasn’t already been said, but we’ll try.
Galakrond Secret Rogue, the second most popular archetype in the format, remains extremely powerful, straddling the line between Tiers 1 and 2 between Diamond and Legend. The archetype continues to gain ground at lower ranks, rising to a playrate of 14.2% between Diamond 4 and 1. It now commands over 12% of the field at Legend.
In the aggregate, Galakrond Secret Rogue is weak to Tempo Demon Hunter, but refined lists have managed to flip the matchup into a positive; our featured build has a 53.6% winrate against Illidan over a sample of 4,700 games at Legend. The Egg Warrior matchup seems to be competitive from preliminary results, neither favored nor unfavored. We’re still waiting for more data on refined variants of Enrage Warrior, but the contest, unfortunately, seems to be a losing one. Galakrond Priest, rapidly rising in playrate across all ranks, is a pushover; over a sample of 18,000 games at Legend, Valeera has managed to best Anduin in 63.3% of cases.
So Galakrond Secret Rogue seems well-positioned to take advantage of developing meta trends. As Egg Warrior rises, so too does Galakrond Priest, the only true counter to Garrosh’s aggression. Valeera has the strength to challenge both archetypes.
And while no one would doubt Highlander Galakrond Secret Rogue's power level, losing matchups against Galakrond Secret Rogue, Highlander Mage, Egg Warrior, and, of course, Tempo Demon Hunter have strongly disincentivized play at higher ranks. The archetype's playrate is waning fast.
Last week, it became increasingly clear that Shaman as a class has very little going on. This week, it’s crystal.
Contending for a spot in the middle of Tier 3, Galakrond Evolve Shaman may be (at least statistically) the best archetype Thrall’s got, but that’s not saying much. It’s pitiful against Tempo Demon Hunter, Highlander Hunter, Highlander Mage, Galakrond Priest and Galakrond Secret Rogue, all the most popular archetypes in the format. We could go on about its competitive matchup against Egg Warrior, but why bother? The deck’s bad, plain and simple.
Totem Shaman is a total bust. Sure, it’s pretty good against slower fare like Highlander Mage and Galakrond Priest, but in a meta dominated by the nimble tempo tools of Demon Hunter and Rogue, the deck’s toast, and it’s got no chance against Egg Warrior, either. After falling to the bottom spot in Tier 4, it’s dropped out of the Tier List entirely. We warned you.
Highlighted by Swidz’s sweep of Hunterace, Zoo Warlock performed very well at Grandmasters two weeks ago, but of course, that’s a forum in which you can ban Demon Hunter. Zoo’s chances on the ladder, where Illidan reigns supreme, aren’t quite as good.
Tempo Demon Hunter, the meta’s most popular archetype, is a big problem for Zoo; over a sample of 93,000 games between Diamond and Legend, Gul’dan has lost almost 57% to Illidan. Another problem, quickly rising in popularity, is Egg Warrior, against which Zoo tends to lose. These are indeed negatives, but they shouldn’t overshadow the positive, including an excellent against Galakrond Secret Rogue, the second best-represented deck in the format. Thanks to Hand of Gul’danBADCARDNAME, Zoo has gas in the tank now beyond Life Tap, and the plucky swarm approach has proven strong against Galakrond Priest and Highlander Hunter.
All of which is to say that Zoo benefits from an even matchup spread; where one poor matchup appears, so too does a positive one. Gul’dan’s weak to Highlander Mage, but strong against Dragon Hunter. Zoo dominates Druid, but falls flat to Warrior. It’s a give and take, a game of reciprocity that places Zoo firmly in the middle of the format, neither up nor down, which is fitting for a deck that should be placed somewhere near the bottom of Tier 2. It’s also fitting that, after a burst of interest, we’ve seen Zoo’s share of the meta taper off since the season reset.
Yet the experimentation continues. Over the past few days, we’ve seen a flurry interest around a new variant of Zoo, which combines the buffing power of Imprisoned Scrap Imp with Neutral Charge minions like Bluegill Warrior and Wolfrider. We don’t yet have statistics on the build, but anecdotal evidence suggests a sufficiently high power level, at least when the stars align (which they do quite frequently if you hard mulligan for Scrap Imp).
Control Galakrond Warlock has all but disappeared from the meta. The archetype’s representation has fallen below 2% between Diamond and Legend.
Garrosh must be smiling.
After weeks of experimentation, the archetype that began as Nohandsgamer’s Egg Warrior has risen to become the best deck in the game. Egg Warrior now occupies the top spot in Tier 1 at Legend, and it seems to be the perfect choice for the climb.
Already, the archetype commands over 13% of the Legend meta, leveraging an exceptional matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, along with strong winrates against Galakrond Secret Rogue, Highlander Mage, Dragon Hunter and Highlander Hunter.
Egg Warrior’s power level exhibits remarkable consistency; the deck’s winrate has remained over 58% for the past two weeks, even as the archetype’s share of the Legend meta has increased by over 1500%. Thanks to its prowess against Demon Hunter, which currently controls over 30% of the upper meta, there is no better-positioned archetype in the meta.
At the moment, Egg Warrior has only one weakness: Priest. Galakrond Priest, in particular, is a terrible matchup for Warrior; over a sample of 8,700 games at Legend, Anduin has bested Garrosh in 65% of cases. This would be a minor blemish on Egg Warrior’s record if not for the fact that Galakrond Priest is one of the fastest growing archetypes on the ladder. In the coming weeks, Anduin may prove a significant challenge to Egg Warrior’s dominance.
For now, however, Egg Warrior stands alone as the most powerful archetype in the meta. Well, not totally alone. Experimentation, as it does, continues, and we’ve seen a proliferation of variants on Enrage Warrior in the past week. Most of these lists jettison the Serpent Egg package, but they look every bit as powerful as the original Egg Warrior. Our featured build, for example, shares Egg Warrior’s strengths against Tempo Demon Hunter and Galakrond Secret Rogue, while substantially improving the Galakrond Priest matchup.
So how is your climb shaping up? What have you chosen to conquer the ranks? Let us know in the comments!