Welcome to the 9th edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time we're covering the week between October 14th and 20th, 2019. As always, the Meta Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
It's an aggressive meta out there, folks, and we hope you're enjoying yourselves. Alongside the wholesale resurgence of Rogue, the playerbase seems finally convinced of Secret Highlander Paladin's strength, making Uther's singleton list a common sight on the ladder.
Resurrect Priest has emerged as the control strategy of choice, as Control Warrior falls further and further out of favor. Elsewhere, Warlock's control experiments have failed to gain a foothold, while Zoo is finding it impossible to keep up with the format's other aggressive options.
But of course, we're burying the lead here. Shamanstone is in full effect. Quest Shaman and Evolve Shaman are the two most popular decks in the game between ranks four and Legend, together representing nearly 30% of the upper meta. Evolve is broken beyond redemption, overpowering decks both fast and slow. I hope you like getting high-rolled!
After a steep decline in popularity two weeks ago, Quest Druid's playrate has stabilized at a new plateau, comprising about 5% of the meta between ranks five and Legend. While the deck remains a solid Tier 2 choice, the continued rise of Evolve Shaman at higher ranks is a bad sign for Malfurion; over a sample of 69,854 games, Quest Druid loses out to Thrall's token strategy in around 56% of cases. The matchup against Quest Shaman is better, but renewed interest in Aggro Combo Priest, along with the loss of the favorable Control Warrior matchup, is sure to dampen Malfurion's spirits.
As predicted last week, the influx of control through the reintroduction of N'Zoth, the Corrupter has created a fertile hunting ground for Malygos Druid. While far from the most popular deck in the game, we've observed an increase in Malygos Druid's representation, which is most prominent at lower ranks, between five and three, where Resurrect Priest is most prominent. The deck's matchup spread is as one would expect: deplorable against aggro (except Tempo Rogue) and favorable against any deck that hopes to reach the late-game.
Hunter is a remarkably diverse class at this stage, featuring at least five viable archetypes, both Highlander and not. The Highlander variant featuring a robust Secret package remains most popular, representing almost 41% of the Hunter decks on ladder. It's not hard to see why; Secret Highlander Hunter is a solid pick at the top of Tier 1, exploiting favorable-to-dominant matchups against almost all of the meta's most-played decks, including Aggro Combo Priest, Quest Druid and Tempo Rogue.
The recent additions of Call to the Wild and Ragnaros the Firelord are indeed nutty, providing Secret Highlander Hunter a top-end worthy of contesting any late-game strategy. Of course, no deck is without its weaknesses; Secret Highlander Hunter falls in the face of Secret Highlander Paladin and Resurrect Priest, but neither matchup is so prevalent as to threaten Rexxar's global winrate. As far as Thrall is concerned, Hunter is doing just fine, with positive winrates against both Evolve Shaman and Quest Shaman. For now, Rexxar seems positioned for long-term success.
The Mech variant of Highlander Hunter continues to see play but performs strictly worse than the traditional Secret version. Interest in Mech Hunter continues to fall, a trend no doubt compounded by the deck's poor matchups against Evolve Shaman and Quest Shaman, both of which have become oppressive on the ladder. Midrange Hunter remains a loser, sporting a winrate around 46% over limited play between ranks five and Legend. By and large, Quest Hunter is an unpopular and underperforming deck. While it's got considerable game against Thrall, it loses to just about everything else. Thanks to poor matchups against Shaman and Druid, Secret Hunter is probably a no-go right now, but things could change if Aggro Combo Priest continues to rise in popularity.
Where Mage is concerned, rank 5 is a strange island. Despite the deck's high skill cap, Flamewaker Cyclone Mage has exploded in popularity at rank 5; Jaina's combo strategy currently represents nearly 7% of the meta at rank 5, the third-most-popular deck. Elsewhere, the deck's poor preliminary performance has made it a fringe pick for ladder play. For all intents and purposes, Flamewaker Cyclone Mage is a novel idea without teeth, losing out to almost every meta deck in the game.
Highlander Mage is another story. While the deck's popularity hasn't grown much in the past week, its performance is climbing. In part due to a favorable matchup into Evolve Shaman, Highlander now finds itself a solid contender in Tier 3. The additions of N'Zoth the Corrupter and Sylvanas Windrunner appear to be improvements, providing Jaina a win condition sufficient to contend with the likes of Quest Druid and other powerful late-game strategies.
The inexorable ascent of Secret Highlander Paladin continues! From fringe Trump meme to a true contender, Secret Highlander Paladin has taken a firm spot in Tier 1, with the most popular list flaunting a winrate above 57% over 32,000 games between ranks five and Legend. This deck is for real. Though its performance takes a significant hit when you reach Legend, Secret Highlander Paladin is rocking what may well be the most-balanced matchup spread in the game, with positive looks against Quest Druid, Aggro Combo Priest and all flavors of Hunter. The matchups against Evolve Shaman and Quest Shaman are negative, but competitive, marking Secret Highlander Paladin as a strong choice for the climb from rank five.
Holy Wrath Paladin continues to see fringe play at higher ranks. Slowly, Quest Paladin is falling out of the meta; no one is playing it anymore at Legend. Murloc Paladin is declining in play, too, but that's no surprise; the matchup against Evolve Shaman is terrible, and the contest against Quest Shaman isn't much better.
It may yet be too early to say that Resurrect Priest is hot, but Anduin's N'Zoth-based strategy has emerged fully as the format's premier control option. Anduin has the tools to outlast Aggro Combo Priest and Secret Highlander Paladin, along with the staying power to choke out Quest Druid and Secret Highlander Hunter. The Shaman matchup is split; Resurrect Priest performs poorly against Quest but tends to beat Evolve. Given the aggressive strategies now rampant at lower ranks, it's little surprise that Resurrect Priest has taken hold, becoming the second-most-popular deck at rank five, and the third-most-popular at four, a natural foil to the tempo free-for-all.
Aggro Combo Priest has returned after a brief lull to the highest ranks of play, ranging from the fifth to third-most-popular deck between ranks two and Legend. There's no doubt this remains one of the most powerful decks in the format, capable of blistering starts that overwhelm Quest Shaman and Quest Druid. Evolve Shaman is a tougher matchup, but one that improves through superior play at Legend. We expect this deck to make a comeback over the next few weeks.
After a fallow week away from the sunshine, we've observed renewed interest in Rogue across all ranks. At Legend, Tempo Rogue is now the third-most-popular deck, representing nearly 7% of the Legend meta. Warrior's fall from grace has indeed benefited Valeera, who also profits from a competitive (read: slightly positive) matchup against Quest Shaman. Tempo Rogue's early-game removal tools are second-to-none, allowing Valeera to hold her own against the format's tempo strategies. Despite negative matchups against Secret Highlander Paladin and Evolve Shaman, few of these contests truly feel like a lost cause.
While most players continue to run the standard Tempo Rogue list, which emphasizes face damage through Deadly Poison, Hooked Scimitar and Captain Greenskin, a slower build featuring the Burgle package, Shadowstep and Questing Adventurer is increasing in popularity. This list saw a lot of play in Bucharest over the weekend and shows substantial promise in a sample of 13,000 games between five and Legend. The deck appears geared for the Legend field, with excellent matchups against Evolve Shaman, Quest Shaman and Aggro Combo Priest.
Tempo Rogue's popularity falls dramatically outside of Legend, but Valeera remains a key player down the ladder, thanks to a surge of interest in N'Zoth Rogue at lower ranks. At rank 5, N'Zoth Rogue is the fifth best-represented deck in the meta, comprising around 5% of the format, a trend no doubt driven by J_Alexander's success with the list. The refinement process continues apace, with new additions in the form of Doomsayer, Mind Control Tech and a fleshed-out Lackey package topped by Heistbaron Togwaggle for extra draw. These changes appear to have shored up the Shaman matchup substantially; over a sample of 9,900 games, J_Alexander's latest N'Zoth Rogue build matches up favorably against both Evolve Shaman and Murloc Shaman, bringing the deck a positive overall winrate between five and Legend.
It's no surprise, but Shaman has been the undisputed winner of Doom in the Tomb. Not only is Shaman the most popular class in the game, but it's also the most powerful, leveraging boards of measly tokens into hefty mid-range minions on a regular basis. Other decks can't keep up.
Evolve is insane, a meta-breaker of the highest order, one fueling Evolve Shaman to the heights of Tier 1. Quest Shaman remains more popular, but there's little doubt that, given the state of the meta, Evolve Shaman is the stronger list. Evolve Shaman excels against Aggro Combo Priest, while Quest Shaman falls flat. Evolve Shaman beats out Quest Druid, while Quest Shaman continues to struggle. Both decks are strong against Highlander Hunter, but Evolve Shaman is stronger. Even more important, Evolve Shaman takes the matchup against Quest Shaman, albeit by the slightest of margins. At this point, there's no better way to take advantage of the meta's most-broken card than with its namesake deck. Quest Shaman is still very good, but it's the inferior choice between the two.
Don't forget about Murloc Shaman. This deck is still bananas against the field, with the only major negative matchups being Secret Highlander Paladin and Secret Highlander Hunter. It's seeing an uptick in playrate accordingly, a trend buoyed by the continued decline in Control Warrior across all ranks.
Warlock: the forgotten class. We feel bad for Gul'dan, really, but the meta's turned against him. Zoo isn't profiting from the surge in Shaman; both Evolve and Quest variants are bad matchups, ones that become particularly poor at Legend. The return of Imp Gang Boss isn't enough to raise Warlock's spirits.
N'Zoth Warlock has entered the dumpster, joining Quest Warlock in the depths of Tier 4. These decks literally lose to everything.
How far the old gods have fallen. Control Warrior is now a losing deck between ranks five and Legend; it's getting dumpstered by Quest Druid, Secret Highlander Hunter and Secret Highlander Paladin, and losing out in a competitive matchup against Quest Shaman. Interest in the archetype has reached a new low, and the return of N'Zoth, the Corrupter isn't much help. Today, Control Warrior represents only about 1% of the upper meta, with a negative winrate to match. Things improve ever so slightly at Legend, however; Garrosh is profiting from an outstanding matchup against Evolve Shaman.
Aggro Warrior is still a Tier 2 deck, with positive matchups against Quest Druid, Aggro Combo Priest and Quest Shaman, but it's not particularly interesting anymore. The playrate has stagnated for about two weeks, a trend sure to continue with the surge of interest in Evolve Shaman, which is a poor matchup for Garrosh's tempo strategies. Highlander Warrior isn't much of an improvement, featuring even worse matchups against Shaman.
So that's the week that was. Shaman is everywhere. Sick of being high-rolled into oblivion? Can't get enough of high-rolling your opponents? Let us know in the comments!