Now that many of us are sufficiently obsessed with Battlegrounds, it’s time to take another look at the Standard meta. This time we’re covering the week between November 3rd and 10th, 2019. As always, the report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, along with personal game experience at high ranks.
Let’s say it’s been a trying week in Standard; we wouldn’t blame you for being disinterested in the format. Shaman remains overbearing and omnipresent, representing over 30% of the meta between ranks two and Legend, but Thrall’s continued ubiquity actually conceals a number of intriguing developments. In truth, the composition of the meta is changing dramatically.
For one thing, Tempo Rogue has returned in full force, overtaking Evolve Shaman as the second-most-popular deck in the game. In response to Valeera’s newfound ubiquity, Control Warrior is making a comeback, with particular growth at Legend over the past two weeks. We’ve seen modest increases in Aggro Combo Priest at higher ranks, but Resurrect Priest is experiencing even more robust growth as a counter to the plethora of board-based strategies.
Secret Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid continue to perform well and remain relatively popular. Hunter especially is on the rise between ranks five and one, but Quest Druid is among the classes most likely to benefit from Valeera’s return to prominence; Hidden Oasis is a hell of a card. However, no deck has seen more growth in recent days than Holy Wrath Paladin, one of Quest Shaman’s true counters.
Malfurion is in a good place this week, the beneficiary of rising popularity between ranks five and Legend. First and foremost, Tempo Rogue is an excellent matchup; over 5,200 games, Quest Druid wins out in nearly 65% of cases. Moreover, Secret Highlander Hunter remains commonplace at higher ranks, providing Malfurion with a solid foundation for sustained success. At the same time, the level of Aggro Combo Priest, a terrible matchup for the Druid, remains well-controlled through the prevalence of Hunter and Rogue.
That’s all good news. The shift from Quest Shaman to Evolve Shaman, on the other hand, is decidedly bad for Quest Druid. At Legend, Malfurion loses a positive matchup and gains a negative one; over a sample of 4,700 games, Quest Druid loses out to Evolve Shaman in 46.6% of cases. Even so, the meta, in general, has become more amenable to the archetype, especially when you consider the recent rise in Holy Wrath Paladin, an opponent Quest Druid has little trouble in dispatching.
Though Malygos Druid has experienced a robust increase in play between ranks five and one, the archetype is in steep decline at Legend. It’s not hard to see why; the deck gets creamed by Evolve Shaman, with a winrate of 39.6% over a sample of 5,100 games. Other recent developments, though, have had a salutary effect; like standard Quest Druid, Malygos is exceedingly strong against Tempo Rogue, the meta’s newest powerhouse. The recent rise of Control Warrior is also cause for optimism, but Evolve Shaman’s continued prominence is likely sufficient to depress Malygos Druid in both playrate and winrate.
As in weeks past, Secret Highlander Hunter is among the most powerful decks in the meta, maintaining a cushy spot in Tier 1 thanks to competitive (barely negative) matchups against Shaman and excellent winrates against just about everything else. As in the case of Evolve Shaman, against which Hunter maintains a winrate of 49.9%, the matchup against Tempo Rogue is slightly negative but extremely competitive; Rexxar often has the tools to control the board state in the early game, while locking down the late game with his power plays.
If anything, Secret Highlander Hunter’s matchup spread is improving, and it has everything to do with Uther. Rexxar will certainly find glee in the continued decline of Secret Highlander Paladin, a deck against which he fared very poorly. The rise of Holy Wrath Paladin is another good sign; Rexxar wins this matchup in around 57% of cases (over a sample of 1,200 games between five and Legend).
After a week of increased play, Quest Hunter has again receded from view, falling below 1% representation from five to Legend. This trend is perfectly understandable, and not only because Tempo Rogue, a poor matchup for Rexxar, has increased in recent days. Adding to Hunter’s woes, Quest Shaman, a good matchup for Quest Hunter, is losing ground to Evolve Shaman, a poor matchup, at higher ranks.
Mage is rapidly disappearing from the meta. That’s especially true at Legend, where, despite a slight bump in play over the past week, Highlander Mage has failed to bounce back after seeing a steep decline in representation immediately before Blizzcon.
With the recent popularity of Tempo Rogue, things only seem to be getting worse for Jaina; over a sample of 3,200 games, Highlander Mage loses to Valeera in 56% of cases. That’s a shame really, because the Big Spell variant of Highlander pioneered by J4ckie, which we featured the last report, is the only list in the meta beating both Evolve and Quest Shaman consistently. That’s not a ringing endorsement, though; unfortunately for Jaina, the Big Spell variant appears at first blush even worse than others against Tempo Rogue.
If you’ve been reading the report for any length of time, you can probably guess how Flamewaker Cyclone Mage (elsewhere Tempo Mage) is doing. The deck is truly awful, with a winrate below 40% between five and Legend, and has been all but abandoned by the playerbase.
Secret Highlander Paladin remains one of the strongest decks around. A winrate near 53% is keeping Uther in the vicinity of Tier 1, but circumstances are conspiring against him.
While it’s true that Highlander has very few poor matchups, the bad ones also happen to be the most popular archetypes in the format right now. Uther loses on average to Tempo Rogue, Evolve Shaman and Quest Shaman, the meta’s three best-represented decks. In light of these desultory facts, we expect Secret Highlander Paladin to remain on a steady downward trajectory; the archetype has been losing players, slowly but surely, since the start of October.
Holy Wrath Paladin has exploded in popularity between ranks five and one. Over the past week, the deck’s representation has surged, rising from around 1% of the meta to over 5%. At Legend, where Holy Wrath Paladin currently accounts for nearly 8% of the format, the trend is even more pronounced.
No doubt, we have two developments to thank for this growth, only one of which is the continued prominence of Quest Shaman, a deck Holy Wrath beats in over 56% of cases. The other is the introduction of Sathrovarr, a new neutral Legendary minion released for Blizzcon. Sathrovarr is a dynamic new edition to the deck, providing players with three extra copies of Shirvallah, the Tiger. Whether Sathrovarr is a game-changer for Holy Wrath Paladin remains to be seen, but the card has certainly renewed interest in the archetype.
But outside of Quest Shaman, Holy Wrath Paladin remains ill-equipped to deal with the current state of the meta. Most control matchups are a breeze, but the archetype struggles against decks that apply consistent pressure, including Tempo Rogue and Quest Druid, as well as archetypes like Evolve Shaman, which can burst Uther down in six turns. At the moment, the format feels too aggressive for Holy Wrath to succeed, which perhaps accounts for the deck’s negative winrate between ranks five and Legend.
Once the terror of the ladder, Priest has become a balanced class once again, able to avail itself of powerful win conditions but far from overpowering. Aggro Combo Priest has yet to stage the major breakout many predicted with the rise of Quest Shaman; though interest in the archetype remains high (representing about 6% of the upper meta), Anduin’s strategy is held in check by a trio comprised of Secret Highlander Hunter, Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue.
If anything, we should expect the representation of Aggro Combo Priest to decline over the coming days; the composition of the meta has changed for the worse, in part because Quest Shaman, a good matchup for Anduin, is on the decline. More to the point, Tempo Rogue is a terrible matchup for Aggro Combo Priest; Anduin wins in only 39% of games. On the whole, the return of Control Warrior isn’t great, either, though this matchup improves with experienced play.
After weeks of falling representation, Resurrect Priest appears to be on the upswing of late, rising to over 5% of the meta between ranks five and Legend. Tempo Rogue is a strong matchup for this deck, and Evolve Shaman isn’t bad, either. What’s more, Quest Shaman, which gave Resurrect Priest fits, is dropping in popularity. Add in the renewed interest in Control Warrior and a strong matchup against Secret Highlander Hunter, and things look positively rosey for the archetype. The only blemish is the return of Holy Wrath Paladin, a deck to which Anduin loses in about 55% of cases (over a sample of 1,000 games). Thankfully, most players have dropped the Quest, a win-more card, if ever there was one.
Tempo Rogue has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the second most popular deck in the meta between ranks five and Legend. The archetype claims a spot in Tier 1 this week with a balanced spread against the field, including positive matchups against most board-based strategies, including Secret Highlander Hunter, Secret Highlander Paladin, Aggro Combo Priest, Quest Shaman and Murloc Shaman. The Evolve Shaman matchup is negative, but not abysmal; over 10,000 games between ranks five and Legend, Tempo Rogue loses in about 47% of cases.
Most players have opted for the Miracle-style list pioneered by J_Alexander, which features Questing Adventurer and two copies of Shadowstep; alongside Edwin VanCleef, Questing Adventurer is particularly hard for Shamans to deal with in the early game. With the continued popularity of the Burgle package, we’ve observed a decrease in the prevalence of one-time mainstays Hooked Scimitar and Lifedrinker, omissions that dramatically limit the archetype’s reach.
Waggle Pick remains very popular, but the anti-synergy with Questing cannot be ignored. We suggest leaning into the Quest Shaman matchup and doubling-down on Questing Adventurer with 0-cost cards from Heistbaron Togwaggle, a top-end play that argues for the inclusion of EVIL Cable Rat as well.
Two weeks ago, N’Zoth Rogue had carved out an unlikely spot for itself at lower ranks, at one point becoming the second best-represented deck at rank five. It was strange because the deck is bad, but now players seem to be catching on. Today, N’Zoth Rogue is once again curiosity on the ladder, representing only 2% of the format between ranks five and Legend.
Within the Shaman class, we’ve observed a dramatic shift at higher ranks, where players appear to be abandoning Quest Shaman in droves for the full-on Evolve list. At Legend, Quest Shaman and Evolve Shaman have now flipped places, with Evolve representing over 22% of the meta and Quest accounting for 10%. This trend can be observed through ranks one and two as well before Quest Shaman again takes the top spot in rank three. Even at lower ranks, however, Quest Shaman is in decline, likely due to the increase in Tempo Rogue, along with the poor matchup into a surging Evolve Shaman.
It now appears uncontroversial that Evolve Shaman benefits from a higher power level than Quest Shaman, at least for the current state of the meta. We made these points last week, but they bear repeating. Evolve Shaman is positive against Quest Druid, while Quest is negative. While Quest takes the edge against Secret Highlander Hunter, that archetype seems to be losing steam; Quest Druid, on the other hand, is holding strong as the fourth most-popular deck in the upper meta. Likewise, Evolve has an advantage against Aggro Combo Priest, whereas Quest Shaman flounders.
However, what is most important today is how each deck fares against Tempo Rogue, the second best-represented deck in the format. Again, Evolve Shaman takes the cake, winning out against Valeera in nearly 53% of games (over a sample of 9,700 games between five and Legend). This is, in fact, a losing matchup for Quest Shaman. At this point, it could easily be argued that Evolve Shaman is the most powerful deck in the meta, bar none.
Murloc Shaman saw a rise in popularity over the past week, but this trend is already showing signs of reversion. The archetype continues to perform well in key matchups, notably against Quest Druid and Aggro Combo Priest, but the meta is turning against it. Both Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue are terrible matchups for Murloc Shaman. Valeera's removal options, in particular, are a serious problem.
In the last meta report, we shared with you the wonders of Highkeeper Ra Warlock, Gul’dan’s great hope in Saviors of Uldum. At the time, we weren’t sure what to make of this new archetype. Was it a meme or the real thing? We’re still not sure really; only 2,582 games have been logged in HSReplay with the deck between five and Legend. Most of those games have been losses, with particularly pitiful winrates against Tempo Rogue and Secret Highlander Hunter. On the brighter side, it’s not terrible into Shaman, but these numbers are so small (46.4% winrate in 220 games against Evolve Shaman) that Highkeeper Ra’s success may have more to do with surprise than inherent power. We’re not giving up on the idea yet, but we’re not optimistic.
Zoo is doing really poorly, and its popularity has bottomed out at below 1% of the format between ranks five and Legend. Playing against Tempo Rogue sucks; Valeera wins the matchup in more than 62% of games. Shaman is just as bad, and it’s poised to get even worse with the increase in Evolve Shaman at higher ranks. At least Quest Shaman wasn’t so embarrassing. Nor are we looking forward to the renewed interest in Control Warrior. All in all, things aren’t looking good.
Plot Twist Warlock is still a joke, only good for 14 games at Legend over the past week.
Control Warrior is enjoying a modest bump in play on the back of Tempo Rogue’s recent popularity. Garrosh also benefits this week from the shift in Shaman; compare CW’s 47% winrate against Quest Shaman to the 67% winrate it maintained against Evolve Shaman over a sample of 1,300 games between five and Legend. Of course, there are still plenty of decks to keep Control Warrior in check, most notably Secret Highlander Hunter and Quest Druid. The rise in Holy Wrath Paladin is another trend that should temper Garrosh’s expectations.
N’Zoth Warrior continues to see play at Legend. While the deck has significantly faded at lower ranks, representing less than 2% of the meta between ranks two and five, players at Legend are far more optimistic about the archetype’s chances. Standard Control Warrior remains the optimal choice, though N’Zoth has proven resilient against Evolve Shaman.
Aggro Warrior has also seen a bump in popularity over the past week, but we suspect players have already missed the boat. The Quest Shaman matchup, a positive for Garrosh, is waning, replaced by the poor matchup of Evolve Shaman. Tempo Rogue and Control Warrior, both difficult contests for Aggro Warrior, are also on the rise. The best weeks to play Aggro Warrior are likely already behind us.
So that's the week that was. The long-awaited shift to Evolve Shaman has finally taken place, but Tempo Rogue is fast on Thrall's heels. What did you think of the Standard meta this week? Let us know in the comments!