Welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between May 3rd and May 10th, 2020. As always, the Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
Warrior is undergoing an interesting transition. As the traditional Egg Warrior wanes, players across the upper meta are shifting to a refined Enrage Warrior build featuring Grommash Hellscream, an apparent response to the rapid rise in Galakrond Priest.
And about that rise in Priest. Galakrond Priest is the fastest-growing archetype in the game, with particular gains concentrated at Diamond, where the deck’s playrate has nearly doubled over the past week. Priest remains the best counter to Egg Warrior, but we’re not sold on Anduin’s chances overall, especially given the recent shift to Enrage Warrior.
Demon Hunter is again the most popular class in the game. Tempo Demon Hunter’s matchup spread is truly outstanding. Outside of Warrior, there’s nothing that can reliably beat this deck, and recent changes in the composition of Warrior should have Illidan smiling.
Zoo has taken over Warlock, led by a Charge-centric build created by RobotWizard. Control Galakrond Warlock is a shell of its former self, but saw new life this week with a Lackey variant built by Grandmaster Boarcontrol.
If nothing else, Rogue is consistent. The second most popular archetype in the game, Galakrond Secret Rogue continues to enjoy success against Dragon Hunter, Galakrond Priest and Highlander Mage. The inclusion of Spymistress could improve things further.
Dragon Hunter has seen modest increases in popularity on the back of a strong matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, but Highlander Hunter remains the better archetype overall. Stellar against Rogue, Face Hunter benefits further from a new build featuring Imprisoned Felmaw, one which could rise to become a Demon Hunter counter.
The fifth most popular deck in the upper meta, Highlander Mage benefits from impressive results against Priest and Warrior, but historically struggles against Tempo Demon Hunter. Imprisoned Observer is well worth running.
Druid is boring. Neither Spell Druid nor Big Druid see much play. Shaman is a dud, though we’re impressed by the early results from a Spell Damage Shaman pioneered by rodlike. Paladin may be the worst of the worst, despite Murloc Pally’s best efforts.
Tempo Demon Hunter remains the most popular archetype in the game, but we’ve observed a modest decline in the deck’s playrate over the past few days, a trend especially prominent at lower ranks. The archetype’s playrate at the highest ranks is largely unchanged from last week; at Legend, Tempo DH comprises about 23% of the format.
Tempo DH continues to exhibit an outstanding matchup spread, including strong winrates against Mage, Priest and Rogue. As was true last week, Warrior is again the sole blemish on Illidan’s record, but our friend Illidan will be delighted by recent trends in Garrosh’s playrate.
As the playerbase transitions to Enrage Warrior, Egg Warrior, a terrible matchup for Demon Hunter, is on the wane. Where refined variants of Tempo Demon Hunter are concerned, Enrage Warrior (47.4% over 490 games at Legend) is a far better matchup than Egg Warrior (35.5% over 620 games at Legend). The transition in Warrior turns a terrible matchup into a competitive one. This is an extraordinary development for Demon Hunter, one worth an improvement in winrate over 10%. Illidan should be licking his chops. And considering the rapid growth in Galakrond Priest, another terrific matchup for Demon Hunter, things are only looking up.
Or not. As we’ll see, a new build of Face Hunter, one featuring Imprisoned Felmaw alongside the Stonetusk Boar package, is rising in popularity. From preliminary results, the list looks to be a potential counter to Demon Hunter. Whether Face Hunter can gain enough steam to challenge Demon Hunter is an open question, but Illidan shouldn’t sit on his laurels.
Druid is in a bad place.
Lackluster results against Tempo Demon Hunter and Egg Warrior have forced Spell Druid to the bottom of a crowded Tier 2. Spell Druid remains strong against Rogue and Hunter, but there’s not much else here to recommend play, especially when Galakrond Priest, another poor matchup (39.9% over 6,100 games at Legend) is gaining steam across all ranks. As it stands, the archetype can barely manage a winrate of 50% at higher ranks.
And things are about to get worse, as Garrosh transitions from Egg Warrior, an archetype against which Druid is at least competitive, to Enrage Warrior, a tougher matchup. With an increasingly unfavorable matchup spread, Spell Druid’s declining popularity is no surprise. The archetype has fallen under a representation of 2% at Legend. The situation isn’t much better for Malfurion at Diamond, where Spell Druid currently commands 2.26% of the format.
Big Druid still sucks. With a representation around 1% between Diamond and Legend, the archetype struggles against every top deck in the meta, except for Warrior. Big Druid excels against both Enrage Warrior and Egg Warrior, but falls flat in contests against Tempo Demon Hunter, Galakrond Secret Rogue, Galakrond Priest and Highlander Mage.
For the third week in a row, Hunter finds itself among the best classes in the format.
Statistically, Highlander Hunter remains the most powerful archetype at Diamond, edging out Enrage Warrior for the top spot in Tier 1. The deck’s aggregate winrate (55% over the past three days) is even better at Legend, but neither of these facts have been enough to recommend widespread play in the upper meta. Highlander Hunter’s popularity has stagnated at the highest ranks, stabilizing over the past 8 days at a playrate just under 3% at Legend.
Highlander Hunter’s matchup spread is truly enviable, but the archetype’s lone weakness (outside of aggressive board-based decks like Zoo Warlock and Murloc Paladin) is a biggie. Highlander continues to struggle against Tempo Demon Hunter, the most popular archetype in the upper meta; over a sample of 23,000 games at Legend, Rexxar has lost to Illidan in 58.4% of cases. That matchup alone has disincentivized widespread play at the highest ranks.
Yet Rexxar has much to look forward to in the coming weeks. For one thing, Galakrond Priest is experiencing rapid expansion at Diamond and Legend. This is a dominant matchup for Hunter, one Highlander wins in about 72% of cases (over a sample of 5,000 games at Legend). Equally favorable is the transition taking place in Warrior, as players shift from Egg Warrior to Enrage Warrior. Egg Warrior is already a strong matchup for refined builds of Highlander Hunter, but from preliminary results, Enrage Warrior looks to be even better.
Dragon Hunter has seen modest growth over the past week, rising to a playrate of 4% at Legend and 6.4% at Diamond. Most of this growth can be attributed to the continued rise in popularity of our featured build from last week, which incorporates the Scavenger’s IngenuityBADCARDNAME / Stonetusk Boar package.
The benefits of this list, including a massively-improved matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter (55.7% over 500 games at Legend) are obvious, and may in fact vault Dragon Hunter over Highlander Hunter in the minds of many players. Our featured build also improves the matchup against Zoo Warlock, while maintaining competitive results against Galakrond Secret Rogue.
Face Hunter is looking good. Surprisingly good. Like, really good. It’s still polarizing, with particular (and totally expected) weaknesses to healing classes like Priest and Warrior, but a new variant of the archetype has emerged as a viable counter to Tempo Demon Hunter. This week’s featured build performs excellently against both Demon Hunter and Galakrond Secret Rogue, the two most popular archetypes in the game.
With another week of data under our belts, we can say with confidence that, while flashy, the Deathrattle package headlined by Mok’nathal LionBADCARDNAME and Teron Gorefiend is not the optimal direction for Face Hunter. The Stonetusk Boar package is far better, even warranting Scrap Shot as a one-of inclusion. Scavenger’s IngenuityBADCARDNAME features the deck’s highest drawn winrate, but Imprisoned Felmaw, which has surprised all of us, isn’t far behind.
Commanding over 7.5% of the format, Highlander Mage is the fifth most popular archetype at Legend, thanks to strong matchups against a surging Galakrond Priest and Warrior, along with a competitive tilt against Galakrond Secret Rogue. Far less popular outside of Legend, Mage’s premier deck continues to struggle against Tempo Demon Hunter, though refined variants of the list have managed to make the matchup a positive over limited play samples.
Imprisoned Observer has not yet seen widespread play, but the card remains a key difference-maker in the matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter. With Observer included, Demon Hunter may well become a favorable matchup. And the card also seems to improve Mage’s pitiful Hunter matchups dramatically. Other benefits of our featured build include augmented winrates against Galakrond Secret Rogue, Egg Warrior and Enrage Warrior.
We’ve swapped out Blizzard, the archetype’s lowest-performing card by drawn winrate, for a copy of Overconfident Orc, which increases the deck’s options for proactive early game plays, a necessity in the matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter.
Murloc Paladin is an inconsistent choice at higher ranks; it’s terrible against Warrior, a class now enjoying widespread popularity, and very bad against Tempo Demon Hunter, the most dominant archetype in the meta. Limited strengths against Hunter and Galakrond Priest have not been sufficient to buoy the archetype’s winrate at Legend, which remains negative.
Murloc Paladin is strong against the meta’s weaker decks (Shaman, Druid, other Paladins), but these scarce matchups aren’t enough to promote a winning record. Rogue, Demon Hunter and Warrior possess far stronger tempo tools, ensuring Uther has trouble sticking a board. Priest is the single bright spot in Murloc Paladin’s spread, but the matchup is competitive at best, roughly even. These are not the bones on which a meta breaker is built.
Libram Paladin still looks unplayable.
Galakrond Priest continues to enjoy explosive growth at lower ranks; the archetype’s playrate now exceeds 9% at Diamond, nearly double the representation we observed last week. No doubt Anduin has benefited from the recent rise in Warrior, against which he excels, but we can’t help but feel that Galakrond Priest is something of a fraud.
Beyond the outstanding matchup against Egg Warrior (and, to a lesser extent, Enrage Warrior), Priest has few positive matchups that are prominent in the meta. Anduin is weak to Tempo Demon Hunter and terrible against Hunter, pitiful against Galakrond Secret Rogue and poor against Highlander Mage. Tempo Demon Hunter and Galakrond Secret Rogue alone command over 43% of the meta between Diamond 1 and 2 (and 36% at Legend). In comparison, the 12% to 13% controlled by Warrior looks measly. Yet this is the only matchup on which Anduin can truly rely, which begs the question: is Galakrond Priest really the right deck for your climb?
Add to these considerations yet another complication. Warrior is changing, especially at lower ranks. The traditional Egg Warrior build is falling away in favor of a streamlined Enrage Warrior featuring the burst of Grommash Hellscream. While Priest is favored against both archetypes, the Enrage Warrior matchup has proved far more difficult - good for a 5% to 10% decrease in winrate. As Enrage Warrior continues to gain ground, Priest’s best matchup is getting worse.
Doubt already seems to be setting in at Legend, where Galakrond Priest’s ascent has begun to taper off. In the face of continued pressure from Demon Hunter and Rogue, the archetype’s playrate has stabilized around a mark of 8.8% at Legend. We suspect the deck’s popularity has reached its peak at the highest levels.
On a side note, we’re monitoring the performance of an alternative Galakrond Priest build that makes use of Wild Pyromancer (brutal with Apotheosis) and Sethekk Veilweaver. Over a small sample, this variant appears to be correlated with improvements in the winrate against Tempo Demon Hunter, Galakrond Secret Rogue, Dragon Hunter and Highlander Mage, but we’ll reserve final judgment on the list, which seems far from refinement, for now.
Resurrect Priest and Galakrond Priest have all but disappeared from the meta.
Despite a modest decline in popularity at Legend, Rogue hasn’t really budged over the past week. Vying for a place at the top of Tier 2, Galakrond Secret Rogue is still the second most popular archetype at higher ranks, boasting a Legend playrate of 12% at last count. It’s even more popular at Diamond, where the continued growth of Galakrond Priest recommends play.
Yet doubts about Rogue’s power level are spreading. Lackluster results in tournament play are concerning, but we remain convinced that Galakrond Secret Rogue is one of the strongest decks in the meta. We’re intrigued by the inclusion of Spymistress in some builds, as the card can dramatically improve the matchup against Tempo Demon Hunter, where early game tempo plays are a must. To make room, we’ve removed one Faceless Corruptor and one Bamboozle.
With poor results against Tempo Demon Hunter, Galakrond Secret Rogue, Egg Warrior and Enrage Warrior, Highlander Galakrond Secret Rogue is strictly inferior to Galakrond Secret Rogue. The archetype accounts for a little over 1% of the Legend meta, slightly more at Diamond.
With the spectacular implosion of Totem Shaman behind us, Shaman is something of a non-entity in today’s meta. None of the class’ primary archetypes, all equally unappetizing in our current format, see significant play. Galakrond Evolve Shaman is the most popular, but its playrate remains under 1% between Diamond and Legend.
With that being said, we continue to benefit from exciting experimentation within the class. This week saw the introduction of Reddit user rodlike’s innovative take on a Spell Shaman, which we’ve chosen to call Spell Damage Shaman.
Arcane Watcher finally comes into its own in this archetype built around amplifying Shaman’s substantial burst tools (Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst, Serpentshrine Portal). Even Rustsworn Initiate makes an appearance. The deck feels surprisingly strong; Watcher pushes early damage as Lightning Storm and Lightning Breath control the board, setting up easy burst lethals with the help of Vashj Prime.
Despite picking up some steam with on-stream play by Grandmaster Firebat and Nohandsgamer, Spell Damage Shaman doesn’t yet register in HSReplay’s database. Hopefully next week, we’ll have some solid statistics on the archetype.
Zoo is looking stronger and stronger everyday. With another week of data behind us, the Charge variant of the archetype is clearly outpacing the traditional, greedier build, which featured EVIL Genius, Serpent Egg and Zephrys the Great.
Introduced last week by RobotWizard, Charge Zoo doubles down on the power of Imprisoned Scrap Imp, leveraging the card’s handbuffs to empower a formidable burst strategy correlated with improved results against both Rogue and Demon Hunter.
Led by the Charge variant, Zoo has seen modest growth at Legend, but continues to stagnate at lower ranks. Poor matchups against Warrior and Mage are surely to blame.
Control Galakrond Warlock has seen sporadic tournament play, but has yet to make a triumphant return to the ladder. At Legend, the archetype’s playrate hovers around 1% on the back of inconsistent results against Tempo Demon Hunter, Hunter and Highlander Mage. Slightly more popular at Diamond, the archetype is certainly struggling, but we’ve been impressed by recent experiments from Grandmaster Boarcontrol with a Lackey package.
Over a limited sample size, Lackey Galakrond Warlock appears strong against Tempo Demon Hunter, Galakrond Priest and Galakrond Secret Rogue. Weaknesses include Face Hunter and Highlander Mage, but these are shared among all variants of Galakrond Warlock. The initial positive results against Demon Hunter are a particular improvement for a class that has struggled to overcome the earth-shattering impact of the nerf to Sacrificial Pact.
Warrior is in transition, as players shift from the relatively-established Egg Warrior archetype to the refined Enrage Warrior we featured last week. While Egg Warrior, at least for now, remains more numerous at Legend, Enrage Warrior has already surpassed it in popularity at lower ranks (Diamond 5 to 1). Today, Enrage Warrior accounts for 7% of the Legend meta. Egg Warrior is closer to 8%, but has seen declining play at Diamond, where the archetype now commands only 2.73% of the format.
We believe at least two factors are at work in promoting this trend. Without Serpent Egg and Teron Gorefiend, Enrage Warrior features a far simpler game plan. Egg Warrior’s relatively-high skill ceiling has always been an impediment at lower ranks; Enrage Warrior feels closer to a standard tempo deck. But also at play is the skyrocketing popularity of Galakrond Priest, a deck against which Warrior customarily struggles. While both Egg Warrior and Enrage Warrior are weak to Priest, Enrage Warrior is far better in the matchup, in large part due to the increased burst potential represented by Grommash Hellscream.
As would be suggested by their identical cores, Egg Warrior and Enrage Warrior share a similar matchup spread. Both are excellent against the omnipresent Tempo Demon Hunter, but weak to Highlander Mage. Enrage Warrior, however, appears to be superior in two critical contests, with an improved winrate against both Galakrond Secret Rogue and the aforementioned Galakrond Priest. The Priest matchup, in particular, advocates for play at lower ranks, where Anduin’s recent growth has been most pronounced.
Yet Egg Warrior retains certain benefits. For one thing, Egg Warrior is superior in the matchup against Enrage Warrior. And though both archetypes are strong against Tempo Demon Hunter, Egg Warrior maintains a modest edge in the matchup.
In the end, the choice is fairly simple. If you’re seeing lots of Priest and Rogue, Enrage Warrior is the better bet. If you’re queuing into Demon Hunter, Egg Warrior is a stronger choice. It should be noted, however, that Enrage Warrior appears at this moment to be the more well-rounded archetype, earning a higher aggregate winrate than Egg Warrior.
And there you have it. Tempo Demon Hunter remains atop the meta, but Enrage Warrior is rising as a viable counter. Rogue and Hunter enjoy enviable matchup spreads, as Galakrond Priest gains steam at lower ranks. What are you playing now? How's your climb? Let us know in the comments!