Welcome to the sixth edition of the Standard Meta Report, our weekly look at the ladder from ranks five to Legend. Today, we'll be covering the week from September 16 to September 23, 2019. As ever, the report features analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks. Enjoy!
Much as it did last week, the game at higher ranks belongs to Aggro Combo Priest. Highlander Hunter is nipping at Anduin's heels, tied with an underperforming Quest Druid for the position of the third most-popular deck between ranks five and Legend. Quest Shaman remains the list to beat at lower ranks, but only due to its overwhelming prevalence in the meta; in terms of winrate, the deck isn't pulling its weight.
With Control Warrior, the format's only popular control archetype, entering the second week of decline, the meta has opened up for a wealth of aggressive strategies. Over the past week, we've seen flashes of brilliance from Highlander Paladin, renewed interest in Quest Rogue and continued success for Murloc Shaman. These are competitive options vying for spots in Tier 2, but none have what it takes to topple the established meta pillars, none except, perhaps, for Aggro Warrior, which is riding an explosive wave of growth that should continue into the coming weeks.
Quest Druid's winrate is now negative at Legend, fulfilling a trend of decreased performance we observed last week. The matchup against Aggro Combo Priest is hopeless and becomes particularly pronounced at the highest levels of play. Thankfully, strong results against Quest Shaman and Control Warrior are enough to maintain Quest Druid's relevance in the meta, but there are far stronger choices for the climb.
Malygos Quest Druid has seen a slight uptick in play, thanks in part to increased visibility from Grandmasters, but the deck remains ill-positioned for the ladder meta. If you want to play Quest Druid, the standard list is better.
Highlander Hunter remains a pillar of the meta, ranking inconsistently as the fourth most popular deck from ranks 3 to Legend. If anything, the deck's performance has improved slightly over the past week; Highlander Hunter now sits at the center of Tier 1 between five and Legend, with a winrate nearing 54%. As always, Highlander's matchup spread is well-suited against the field, with dominant matchups against Aggro Combo Priest and Control Warrior and positive results against Quest Shaman. The deck is particularly good for breaking through to Legend from rank one, where Aggro Combo Priest now accounts for a punishing 17% of the meta.
As we've mentioned in previous reports, the standard Secret Hunter list remains a strong choice for the climb, with positive matchups against Aggro Combo Priest (60.1% winrate over 18,000 games between five and Legend), Quest Shaman, Control Warrior and Highlander Hunter. Impressive results against Holy Wrath Paladin, the sixth most popular deck at Legend, make Secret Hunter a fair pick at the game's highest ranks, too.
Despite an impressive showing two weeks ago, Quest Hunter failed to make improvements this week; the deck's winrate is barely positive between five and Legend over a sample of 108,000 games. Not that it's much of a surprise, given the deck's deplorable matchup against Aggro Combo Priest. As we mentioned last week, Quest Hunter faces an unrelenting field of opponents, with negative matchups against Highlander Hunter, Quest Druid and Control Warrior, some of the most popular decks in the game.
Not much has changed for Mage over the past week. Highlander Mage remains the class' best-represented build, but no one's really playing it. As was the case last week, there's still hope for this archetype, which features a balanced matchup spread against the field, half-bad and half-good. Highlander Mage continues to perform well against Quest Druid, Quest Shaman and Control Warrior but loses out to Highlander Hunter and Aggro Combo Priest. Given the prevalence of Quest Shaman at lower ranks, we believe Highlander Mage is likely underplayed on the climb from five, but it's equally likely that the player base's taste for the deck has died entirely. Without significant experimentation, there's little hope that Mage will break into the meta again until the next expansion.
Highlander Paladin has seen consistent increases in play at higher ranks, along with a rise in performance between ranks five and one. The matchup spread isn't outstanding, but it's enough for the deck to remain on the fringes of competition. Highlander Paladin holds strong winrates against Quest Druid and Highlander Hunter while maintaining competitive (though negative) matchups against Control and Aggro Warriors. These are key opponents on the climb to Legend, but the archetype's prospects for growth are constrained fundamentally by the two most popular decks in the game: Aggro Combo Priest and Quest Shaman. Highlander Paladin loses to both on a consistent basis. Without a sufficient response, the deck will never make good on its potential.
Thanks to increasing visibility on the Grandmasters circuit, Holy Wrath Paladin's popularity at Legend continues to climb. It's now the sixth best-represented deck at the game's highest ranks, despite poor matchups against all five of the meta's most popular decks. Between ranks five and one, Holy Wrath remains a blip on the radar.
Quest Paladin's still a consistent loser. The renewed dominance of Aggro Combo Priest has proved fatal to the archetype, to say nothing of Quest Shaman's continued popularity. We expect this deck to fall out of the meta entirely over the coming weeks. Losing out to interest in the format's other aggressive options, Murloc Paladin's popularity continues to fall, despite a slight increase in winrate between ranks five and Legend. The deck remains formidable but is likely to be overshadowed by the continued rise of Aggro Warrior, a deck to which it loses nearly 54% of the time.
Aggro Combo Priest's performance has slipped a bit over the past week, but it remains the dominant force around which the meta turns, representing 75% of all Priest decks between five and Legend. The most popular deck at Legend and rank one, Aggro Combo Priest maintains healthy winrates against both Quest Shaman and Quest Druid but is held in check by Highlander Hunter, Control Warrior and the growing force in Aggro Warrior.
Quest Resurrect Priest has seen a slight increase in play, but the deck's winrate remains negative. Priest's slower builds continue to struggle against the format's aggressive strategies, but one bright spot may come in the form of Aggro Warrior, which has seen a marked increase in play over the last week. With a surfeit of sticky Taunts, Quest Resurrect Priest has the staying power to freeze Aggro Warrior out of the game.
Last week, Tempo Rogue was hanging out near the bottom of Tier 2, profiting from favorable matchups against Aggro Combo Priest and Quest Shaman, but losing out to Quest Druid and all flavors of Warrior. Not much has changed in the intervening week. The decline in Control Warrior, which would seem to have promised a jump in Valeera's success rate, has been balanced out by an increase in the popularity of Aggro Warrior, another terrible matchup for Tempo Rogue. And while the deck continues to display a positive winrate against the format's two most popular lists, neither matchup is outstanding. It's enough for Tempo Rogue to remain competitive, but the deck's popularity is falling thanks to increased competition from other aggressive options.
Driven by J_Alexander's recent success with his own list, Quest Rogue saw a surprise bump in popularity over the past week. There's certainly space for optimization here, as the transition from Togwaggle's Scheme to Lab Recruiter has shown, though a surfeit of unoptimized lists on the ladder makes it hard to estimate the deck's true power level. Once J_Alexander's refinements filter through the meta, we believe Quest Rogue could become competitive for a spot in Tier 3 - not a world-beater, but not terrible.
Like Rogue, nothing much has changed for Shaman this week. Quest Shaman is still wildly popular, comprising around 16.5% of the meta between five and one, but underperforms against the field. Outside of Legend, the deck's global winrate is negative, which is anything but unexpected when you account for poor-to-very-poor matchups against Quest Druid and Aggro Combo Priest. At Legend, Quest Shaman performs better, but not by much, staking out a place at the low-end of Tier 2.
When it comes to climbing, Murloc Shaman is the truth and the way, especially now that more players are incorporating the Mogu Fleshshaper / Mutate package, which is unbelievably strong in any tempo matchup. Murloc Shaman currently accounts for around 3.5% of the meta between ranks five and one, where it's pulling a winrate north of 52% and handing it to Aggro Combo Priest. As one would expect, the deck's popularity drops at Legend, but it's still performing admirably at the highest ranks, waging a convincing battle against Highlander Hunter and Aggro Warrior for a place at the top of Tier 2.
Zoo's still here, the original cockroach of Hearthstone, scraping against the boundaries of relevance with a 51% winrate between ranks five and Legend over close to 400,000 games. Zoo has ample options to control the board during the early game, which is important in a meta defined and dominated by Aggro Combo Priest. Competitive matchups against Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid keep Zoo afloat, even when it's not the center of attention.
As was true last week, Plot Twist Warlock is the bottom of the bottom, with no increase in either popularity or winrate.
Despite positive preliminary results and an impressive matchup spread against the field, it's all but certain that Highlander Warrior will be overshadowed by its more-consistent cousin, Aggro Warrior. Not that Garrosh is complaining; Aggro Warrior is poised to dominate the meta over the coming weeks, with exceptional matchups against the most-prominent meta pillars, including Aggro Combo Priest, Quest Shaman, Quest Druid and Highlander Hunter. Outside of exotic Priest builds, the deck's only reliable counter is Control Warrior, a deck in decline. Not since the days of Pirate Warrior have things looked so rosy for one of Garrosh's aggressive strategies.
Since the stealth Discover nerf, Control Warrior has taken a significant hit in both winrate and playrate, a fact that should hearten the format's aggressive and tempo options going forward. Needless to say, there's no chance of Control Warrior falling out of the meta entirely; with a winrate above 52% between five and Legend (over nearly 900,000 games), the deck continues to offer players a reliable option for the climb. In line with its still-formidable power level, Control Warrior is currently the fifth best-represented deck in the game between five and Legend.
So there you have it, another week spent cowering in the shadow of Aggro Combo Priest. How're you getting along in the face of our aggro overlords? Are we hoping for a viable control option to come together? Ready for another week of board control, board control, board control? Let us know in the comments!