The first of six Masters Tour for this year, Ironforge, is taking place over this entire weekend. While we won't know which lineups might prove superior until the very end, there has been a lot of data on the 120 Ironforge Qualifiers that preceded the event and allowed many people to become a part of it. In some ways, it tells the story of the entire Darkmoon Races meta. If you don't follow the competitive scene closely but like to be in the know, or simply could use some fresh inspiration for your weekend ladder climbing, let's take a look back:
The Way It Goes
For those of you familiar with Battlefy as a tournament platform (and not just for Hearthstone or other card games), the structure won't be of much surprise. To anyone else, it might look a little strange. For Masters Tour Qualifiers you would bring 3 decks and be able to ban 1 from your opponent's lineup. So if you felt weak against Warriors, hated Priest, or were afraid of Rogue, at least one of those could be avoided every single time. If you expected to face a lot of weapons, Acidic Swamp Ooze would be your best friend. Being able to see which 30 cards players put in their deck helps to inform what you could try to play around, and how to mulligan. There is some strategy (and also a lot of guessing as to what other people might do) to the whole Conquest format.
With Standard ladder, your experiences might vary depending on your rank. For example one of the non-Legend favorites, Pure Paladin, usually gets no love from Masters Tour competitors (but people do appreciate their Pen Flinger and Animated Broomstick instead). And Hunters might as well not have existed. But the higher you climb, the more similarities can be found. After each week we could notice some direct overlaps. Succesful tournament decks often invade ladder in force (as we are likely to see once this weekend concludes), and vice versa when something makes waves at top Legend. It's not always the best idea to copy everything as you go, but it's a useful baseline to test what works and what doesn't in your pocket meta.
There are good people out there who collect all sorts of competitive tournament data and share it with the public, and if you ever wish to follow along and keep up to date, you can find all that info on:
- Twitter such as that of NPH Pasca and Round1Boy, or Masters Tour Meta Reports from Paradox
- Off Curve website, showcasing winners, top 8, bans and everything else across neat tables
- D0nkey's site, where most other links might take you to anyway for one-click deck codes
It's a true wealth of options, already filtered through the lens of people who tend to take this whole thing very seriously.
So what was hot for that past month under the sign of Ironforge? The answers might surprise you.
Poor Shaman and Hunter (Source).
People sure loved their Warriors and Priests. If we delve deeper into specific archetypes, you could see it wasn't just one dominant choice in each scenario.
For Priests, we got both Highlander and Res Priest (I know) making quite an impact and winning their fair share:
If you haven't heard yet, Ogremancer is MVP. It can annoy Rogues greatly. Some people also cut out Wave of Apathy and Cabal Acolyte.
It's just evil incarnate if you enjoy mental anguish.
For Warriors, Enrage and Silas OTK were so very common:
If you like your armor so much.
Especially if you want to hunt some Rogues.
Now with Demon Hunter, there was a chosen one. And it helped win 39 qualifiers! Madness.
It can be tricky to pilot and you cannot ban Mindrender Illucia on ladder, but it does have its fans. In some decks like Aggro Rogue you don't even need to always kill when you can outheal their total damage potential.
Rogues were mostly about this combo stuff, the terror of ladder that hits your face for a ton didn't take many trophies:
And Paladins were, as mentioned, just sweeping and BM'ing:
Outliers And The Rest
Three other classes had decent representation, although as you can see from the graph it took a while for Mage to catch up. And it did so mainly with this:
Druids mostly gibbered along:
And Warlocks were somewhat consistent in doing their Zoo thing:
The surprises? The Stealth/Aggro Rogue variant not doing too well, despite many considering it overpowered. A few people actually managed to make Soul Demon Hunter work, despite all the earlier nerfs. Guardian Animals Druid saw a bit of resurgence towards the end. And of course, Bomb Warriors sneaked in here and there, Wrenchcalibur being what it is.
But the best news came for all the Zephrys the Great fans out there. There were Highlander decks other than Priest taking it all the way, if not many. Especially Mage and Druid (somehow) managed to make it work, and a few individuals went far with the entire Highlander lineup. We won't be seeing any of that soon, so enjoy them while they last:
We will check back after Masters Tour Ironforge has concluded (in 3 days time), and see how similar or different the most impactful lineups and decks were compared to everything shown above. Personally, I wouldn't find it too surprising to see mainly repeats and slight variations, as we haven't had any other changes since the nerf of High Abbess Alura. And not many brand new discoveries either. But perhaps somebody will manage to "break" the meta.
How about yourselves, have you ever tried your luck with these qualifiers? Any of the showcased decks bringing you great fortune on ladder? Do you expect the MT matches to be the same old, or perhaps offer us something fresh to look at?