Hello and welcome to another edition of the Standard Meta Report, this time covering the week between November 10th and 17th, 2019. As always, the Report is based on an analysis of statistics from HSReplay, as well as personal game experience at high ranks.
It's Thrall’s world; we’re all just living in it. If anything, Shaman’s share of the meta has grown over the past week, reaching 31% of the upper meta and leaving no doubt that Evolve Shaman is the most powerful force in the format.
Thanks to a few choice techs, Tempo Rogue is improving against both Quest and Evolve Shaman, success most visible at Legend, where Valeera briefly overtook Evolve Shaman as the second best-represented deck in the format. Hunter is gaining steam near the rank five floor but faces stiff competition from Evolve Shaman at higher ranks.
Resurrect Priest is gaining steam at higher ranks, in large part thanks to an excellent matchup into Tempo Rogue and a competitive one against Evolve Shaman. Secret Highlander Paladin remains remarkably consistent, but players appear to be losing interest.
Despite showing signs of life last week, both Control Warrior and Holy Wrath Paladin have fallen back to Earth, dropping in popularity and winrate. Meanwhile, Warlock and Mage are the bottom of the barrel, with no hope for improvement until Descent of Dragons hits.
Quest Druid has staked out a vital place for itself as an exceptional counter to the newfound prominence of Tempo Rogue. Though recent numbers suggest that Quest Druid’s playrate is beginning to stabilize, the archetype remains a firm meta pillar, holding strong as the fourth most-popular deck in the game between five and Legend.
Quest Druid is most prominent at Legend, where it currently commands over 9.2% of the format, but across all ranks, most players are opting for an Infinite variant of the archetype. Between ranks five and one, as at Legend, the Infinite decklist, which uses Baleful Banker to repeatedly play Elise the Enlightened, has taken hold of the playerbase, becoming twice as popular as the standard Quest Druid list.
This turn of events is a shame; the Infinite variant of Quest Druid performs worse against Tempo Rogue, Quest Shaman and Evolve Shaman, the three most important matchups in the game (archetypes which, at Legend, account for nearly 45% of the format). Meanwhile, Infinite Quest Druid distinguishes itself in only one matchup: the mirror.
The upshot? Stick with the standard list; you’ll do fine. As a final note, Sathrovarr has seen considerable experimentation in Quest Druid but is likely unnecessary. This deck is greedy enough as it is; adding another 9 mana play (with or without Kun the Forgotten King) is probably overkill, to say nothing of Sathrovarr’s poor drawn winrate, the fourth-lowest in the deck (over a sample of 3,900 games between five and Legend).
After a brief dip in playrate last week, Secret Highlander Hunter is again gaining ground at lower ranks, rising in popularity to become the fifth best-represented deck at three and four. Even more pronounced gains can be seen at the rank five floor, where Hunter has leapt over Evolve Shaman to take the number three spot in popularity. The archetype’s outlook at higher ranks is less favorable; at Legend, Secret Highlander Hunter has fallen to a playrate of just 3.7%.
In another sense, Secret Highlander Hunter is both gaining ground and losing it. The matchup against Tempo Rogue has improved, reaching a (barely) positive winrate of 50.4% (over a sample of 3,700 games between five and Legend), but this success has been balanced out by the deck’s winrate into Shaman, which is on the decline. Last week, Secret Highlander Hunter won 49.9% of games against Evolve Shaman; this week, the winrate has dropped to 48.5%.
Is Quest Hunter the fabled Shaman-breaker for which we’ve long hoped? Yes and no. The archetype excels against Quest Shaman with a 63.7% winrate, but falls flat against Evolve Shaman. In a sample of 480 games between five and Legend, Quest Hunter loses to Evolve in nearly 53% of cases. Given the deck’s even worse matchups into Tempo Rogue and Quest Druid, Quest Hunter may not be an appropriate choice for laddering at the moment.
Highlander Mage is a resilient deck, but interest in the archetype is waning. Despite slight gains in the playrate of a Pyroblast-packing Big Spell variant, the popularity of Highlander Mage overall is tapering off, stabilizing at around 5% of the meta between ranks five and one. With the near-total disappearance of Flamewaker Cyclone Mage (which hit a new low this week at 0.54% representation between five and Legend), Jaina has become a rare sight on the ladder.
In an odd twist on the standard formula, the Big Spell variant of Highlander Mage has yet to take off at Legend; it’s more popular at lower ranks. But if you’re not playing Pyroblast in your list, it’s time to start. Compared to the standard Highlander list, the Big Spell variant has exceeded expectations in several key matchups, holding superior winrates against Tempo Rogue (49.3%), Evolve Shaman (52%) and Quest Shaman (52.6%). To a certain extent, the percentage points you gain against Shaman and Rogue are balanced by poorer performance against Quest Druid, but it still seems worth it.
Secret Highlander Paladin managed a slight rebound in playrate over the past week, rising to over 3% representation between ranks five and Legend. It’s a strong deck, but this is the wrong meta. Tempo Rogue, Evolve Shaman, Quest Shaman - the hits just keep on coming for Uther, who seems poised to lose against each of the format’s most popular decks. Even so, the archetype remains powerful against the bulk of the field (outside the odd Resurrect Priest matchup), a fact that lands Secret Highlander Paladin a place in the middle of Tier 2.
Uther just can’t catch a break. Holy Wrath Paladin exploded back onto the scene last week, but it seems to have been a passing trend. From a height of over 5% representation on November 7th, the archetype’s playrate between five and one has been cut by more than a third, and by more than half at Legend.
With the switch from Quest to Evolve Shaman, a reversion to the mean was perhaps unavoidable. Truly, Evolve Shaman is a pest, as is Tempo Rogue; no amount of success against Quest Shaman can change the fundamental fact that Holy Wrath Paladin performs poorly against the two most popular decks in the upper meta. At least Sathrovarr seems to have found a home; he slots into Holy Wrath Paladin seamlessly, and about one-half of the Holy Wrath playerbase has opted to include him in their lists.
Aggro Combo Priest remains a player in the upper meta, but the archetype’s popularity is on the wane again, especially at Legend. Last week, the deck commanded nearly 8% of the Legend meta, but now accounts for only 4%.
Turns out Tempo Rogue and Evolve Shaman are insurmountable obstacles for Anduin. Aggro Combo Priest has never been a world-beater near the rank five floor, but the deck’s share of the lower meta continues to fall. Valeera’s beaten the snot out of this deck over the past week, good for a 60% winrate against Aggro Combo Priest over a sample of 2,500 games between five and Legend.
It’s not all bad, though. Anduin has doubled-down on his gains on the control side of things; Resurrect Priest has undergone a second wave of expansion after a sluggish start, climbing to nearly 6% representation between ranks five and Legend. Nowhere has this growth been more apparent than at Legend, where Anduin now controls nearly 7% of the format.
Resurrect Priest is excellent against Tempo Rogue and Quest Druid, while remaining competitive against Evolve Shaman, making it an appropriate choice for control players in the upper meta.
After tapering off in popularity between Monday and Wednesday, Tempo Rogue has again enjoyed a sharp increase in play between ranks five and Legend over the past few days. Nowhere is this trend more apparent than at Legend, where the deck soared from a representation of 13% to one near 22% between Wednesday and Friday, briefly overtaking Evolve Shaman as the most-popular deck at Legend.
A similar trend can be observed between ranks five and one, with interest in Valeera’s archetype reasserting itself over the latter half of the week. In any event, Tempo Rogue is firmly ensconced as the second best-represented deck in the meta, though the archetype’s share of the format falls between four and five, where a wider diversity of decks can find purchase.
While Thrall has reasserted his dominance in recent days, Valeera is gaining on him, benefiting from a 1% increase in overall winrate against Evolve Shaman over last week’s mark. Much of this improvement can be attributed to a newer list teched specifically for the Evolve Shaman matchup, which features a one-of Fan of Knives, along with the Heistbaron Togwaggle package for which we advocated last week. So far, the list has performed admirably against Shaman (albeit over a small sample size), sporting a 55.8% winrate against Evolve Shaman over the course of 120 games (and a 61.5% winrate against Quest Shaman).
Despite the overbearing presence of Shaman, most Tempo Rogue players continue to use a list geared toward face damage, favoring Waggle Pick despite the anti-synergy with Questing Adventurer. Compared to our featured anti-Shaman build, the Waggle Pick list excels in the Quest Druid matchup, boasting a winrate more than 6% higher against Malfurion. Perhaps even more important, Waggle Pick has proved invaluable as a damage source in the Tempo Rogue mirror. As always, tech appropriately for the state of your local meta.
N’Zoth Rogue continues to fall in popularity between five and Legend. A novelty at Legend, the archetype remains a fringe player at rank five, compromising about 3% of the rank floor meta.
No surprises here: Shaman remains at the top of the meta, but we’ve seen a solidification of the trends observed last week - Evolve Shaman reigns supreme at higher ranks, while Quest Shaman picks up the slack closer to the rank five floor.
Shaman’s distribution at Legend, where Quest Shaman comprises about 9.5% of the format, is essentially unchanged from last week. Evolve continues to account for 22% of the meta, dominating any matchup outside increasingly-rare control decks.
The archetype’s popularity falls significantly further down the ladder; at the rank five floor, Evolve Shaman comprises only 5.9% of the format, before rising to 8% at rank four. Even so, the deck’s matchup spread is unmatched in the current meta, with positive winrates against mainstays of the format, including Quest Shaman, Quest Druid and Tempo Rogue. Evolve Shaman has no equal; this deck is criminally-underplayed near the rank five floor.
Quest Shaman dominates at lower ranks, accounting for about 14% of the lower meta. Unlike Evolve Shaman, Quest Shaman suffers from multiple negative matchups, falling short against Quest Druid, Tempo Rogue and Aggro Combo Priest. In light of these facts, Evolve Shaman is the superior choice for consistent laddering; the deck is broken, plain and simple.
No deck has yet risen to challenge Shaman. In a move that could have proved disastrous for both Evolve and Quest variants, Control Warrior showed signs of life last week, rising in popularity between ranks five and Legend. Fortunately for Thrall, Garrosh failed this week to double-down on his recent gains; Control Warrior has seen modest growth, but nothing like the explosion that would be necessary to challenge Shaman in any meaningful way.
Also in recession is Holy Wrath Paladin, an archetype that saw remarkable expansion in our last Meta Report. Holy Wrath Paladin gives Quest Shaman fits, but the deck is again in decline, falling from a peak above 5% representation to 3.5% between five and Legend.
Highlander Mage has also been floated as a potential Shaman challenger, given the archetype’s positive winrates against both Quest and Evolve, but the playerbase doesn’t seem particularly interested. Despite a slight rise in popularity over the past week, Highlander Mage remains a relative novelty on the ladder.
Gul’dan is looking forward to Descent of Dragons. Saviors of Uldum offers no hope.
With a larger sample size, we can say definitively that Highkeeper Ra Warlock is a meme; the deck’s dragging across the bottom with a 40% winrate over 1,598 games between five and Legend. Not that it matters much. The playerbase has already abandoned the archetype for greener pastures, hospitable climes not to be found in the Warlock class.
Zoo is barely limping along, dealt a triple death-blow by the trio of terrors in Quest Shaman, Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue. To add insult to injury, Resurrect Priest is becoming more of a threat at higher ranks, where Zoo was already struggling.
Aggro Warrior is performing well, good enough for a spot at the top of Tier 2. Strong winrates into Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, along with competitive (though negative) matchups against Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue, are keeping Garrosh afloat. Plus, there’re signs that players have noticed. Over the past week, Aggro Warrior’s share of the meta has grown, rising to 2.3% representation between ranks five and Legend and continuing a sustained period of expansion that began at the beginning of the month.
A week ago, it seemed possible that Control Warrior could rise to meet the twin threats of Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue head-on, but interest in the archetype seems tepid at best. Today, Control Warrior commands only 2% of the format between ranks five and Legend. Quest Druid remains a significant barrier to entry, but at higher ranks, the spectre of Resurrect Priest has again raised its ugly head; over a sample of 510 games, Control Warrior loses out to Anduin in more 52% of cases. That’s not overwhelming by any stretch, but paired with a similar loss record against Quest Shaman, CW is a far less attractive choice for laddering.
And that’s the week that was. Shaman is unshakeable, but Valeera’s stealing some of Thrall’s thunder. Resurrect Priest is resurgent, but Control Warrior has fallen flat.
What do you think of the format these days? Desperately waiting for Descent of Dragons? Let us know in the comments!