Hail, future underwater dwellers. The upcoming expansion has been announced, the pre-order patch has made its presence known, and the reveal season is in full swing. All that and more seem to have diverted a good chunk of attention from the ongoing struggle at Masters Tour Two - Ruins of Alterac. Even for avid Hearthstone esports enthusiasts among us, it's become rather difficult to navigate all these notable events while hoping for a more detailed coverage of a large tournament set to kick off right afterwards. That 22.6 patch delay has made for some truly unfortunate timings.
But here we are with a closer look at the competitive field of various lineups and decks, for this second entry of 2022. All players are currently trying their hardest to accumulate enough wins towards qualifying for the upcoming Masters Summer Championship, which could then also become their ticket to the World Championship. Out of the three Masters Tours that matter for this, one is already behind us.
You won't find any result spoilers here, if you enjoy following the competition at your own pace. There are so many factors influencing the outcome of any Hearthstone game that one person could very well have a score of 4-1 while another sits at 1-4, even though their lineups might be the exact same. That rumored player skill (or luck) matters too! It's all about the current metagame: same old Kazakusan rule and archetype polarization, or perhaps somebody has managed to figure out something new to break the mold?
Hundreds of players, hundreds of decklists once more. A lot of expected similarities, also some particular differences. The usual disclaimers apply: Conquest tournament decks - while often overlapping with their ladder counterparts - can contain 'odd' tech cards, attempt to target a certain strategy (be it anti-aggro vs trying to punish combo decks), or be prepared with banning their one weak matchup in mind. But they still tend to provide us with a good deal of information as to where the current Standard meta finds itself at, and in which direction everything might be heading.
Among the Ruins
Oh, the irony. Will any Hearthstone tournament in history ever manage to live up to its unfortunate name more than this one? Hopefully not. We couldn't have known it then, but the newest patch arriving on Thursday, March 17 rather than (as was originally planned) on Tuesday, March 15 would kick off a small series of unfortunate events which negatively reflected on this current Masters Tour.
It was already a risky move with less than 24 hours separating the two events, on top of various timezone differences and time savings rules to consider (this particular tournament is pretty decent for players across Americas and Europe, but APAC region had to brace for long nights/mornings). And then one of the worst scenarios became a reality as reports of significant mobile issues started pouring in.
Who would play in a major tournament on a mobile device rather than on a desktop and deny themselves potential access to a deck tracker, you might ask. Well, apparently a lot of serious players (this was even more common back in the day when all large events were live LAN parties, with deck trackers not allowed at all). And a couple of them have apparently missed out on this entire Masters Tour as a result, which in turn prompted Hearthstone Esports representatives to look for a possible solution and compensation:
There are players who were not able to attend MT because there was no iOS update. Where has gone all the time and passion they spent on MT? I'm very sad.
Incidentally, @HSesports is doing a very good job this year and I appreciate that. But this incident is very unfortunate.
It is a very unfortunate situation. The players unable to compete due to the mobile delay are in contact with the Admins on securing invites to an upcoming Masters Tour.
The few that were unable to compete due to the iOS delay (was actually only 1 or 2 players thankfully) will receive an invite to an upcoming MT. It could be Masters Tour Sunken City or one later in the year to be determined between them and the Admins.
That sounds considerably fair, as somebody might be able to qualify to another MT through normal means, but then not manage to repeat this feat later on. It's only unfortunate if either of these players might've just lost their chance for the Summer Champs due to being unable to compete here at Ruins of Alterac.
The mobile patch problems also lead to another issue we've already covered - the subsequent ban on the newest Legendary Blademaster Okani just for this Masters Tour. Which did put some of the competitors through an emotional rollercoaster. Whether that's better or worse for the quality of tournament play is debatable, depending on whom you might ask, but it definitely indicated a less interesting spectacle from a viewer's standpoint. No high level mind games adding to that extra tension, alas.
Wasn’t an easy decision but we felt it was the most fair all things considered.
On top of all that, if we don't count that one small patch adjusting SI:7 Smuggler and Kazakusan (ever so slightly), there haven't been any noteworthy balance changes in the month that passed between this Masters Tour and the previous one. Since we currently find ourselves at the very end of the Standard Year of the Gryphon, there's some arguably stale pieces scattered among these Alterac Ruins.
Decklists and Lineups
And so the tournament meta was always bound to be fairly similar to what we had already observed during the first Masters Tour - Onyxia's Lair (to the extent such as the previous winner apparently bringing 3 decks which are the exact same as before; seemingly even down to individual card choices), or most of what we've been encountering on Standard ladder for the past month. Any surprises would be far and few between. The field is also not nearly as diverse as during the initial state following the release of the most recent Mini-Set. In fact, various matchups have only become more polarized since.
As always, WickedGood did an invaluable work by translating all lineups and decklists into very comprehensible graphs, allowing us to draw some conclusions at a glance:
- Ramp Druid and Kazakusan make for the most popular pairing, no surprises there. But it's not quite 100% Druid.
- Pro players love their Quest Fel Demon Hunter almost just as much (some of those lists contain Kazakusan as well).
- Still a healthy Priest representation, while Paladin being reasonably liked is not a common sight in these tournaments.
- Face Hunter not being the most popular archetype within the class, we might not've seen anything like it since the Highlander decks.
- Burn Shaman's popularity has shrinked considerably, almost by half. Control Warrior and Rogue decks remain fairly visible.
- Mozaki Mage and Owlock were found hovering towards the bottom half.
The number of distinct options is notably lower than it was just a while ago, and some of these (Mozaki Mage or Weapon Rogue) usually garner more favor mainly during tournaments. We're only going to mention the most popular and known decklists in passing, instead closely highlighting a handful of less obvious picks from their daring pilots. If you haven't played much Hearthstone lately, certain developments could come as a small surprise. Otherwise, maybe your new favorite deck for the very end of this Standard rotation might be just hiding somewhere in there.
Final Showdown is ubiquitous once again. More often than not it's the same 30 cards for the Fel archetype. Some players just add Kazakusan to this list. But there are a few believers when it comes to the sheer power of Irebound Brute or even the very old school Il'gynoth combos. One last farewell before the rotation?
Did you miss Deathrattle DH or Watch Posts? It's... certainly something.
Ramping into Kazakusan & friends (or for a few players, the Old Gods) or relying on Beasts, we have seen them all by now. Only minor variance across decklists.
If you haven't been keeping up with recent developments:
Last but not least, you probably wouldn't expect to actually see Lady Prestor brought to the tournament:
Our good ol' Imprisoned Felmaw has returned to a handful of Face Hunter lineups. When your opponents barely play any cheap small minions... But it can become even more spicy:
Questline Hunter is far more popular nowadays, and there are quite a few ways to approach deckbuilding in this case:
Libram and Buff Paladin? It's really just the same old, same old when you take a closer look at most established decklists:
Unless you are Ike. Then there's always something special to be found:
To get the two most known and expected takes out of the way:
And that's just the beginning. When it comes to this class, the creativity juices have only kept flowing:
Some good old Control with Kazakusan at the top? The inventive duo is here to deliver:
Unironically, one of the Masters Tour greats has decided it's time to raise a Boar army:
Weapon Rogue, a.k.a. "nothing new". As a peculiar tournament deck, we always get to see some of them:
But it's Questline Rogue with more representation this time, and there are two main variants that we know, less and more stealthy respectively:
Burn Shaman decklists are usually almost the exact same, save for a card or two.
Reasonable representation, but also just the two very familiar takes we tend to see around.
Put your faith in Kazakusan, or Captain Galvangar combo. Doesn't seem like there is anything else to be uncovered here. Okay, perhaps the more regular inclusions of Athletic Studies for the Dragon build and Mr. Smite as another charging backup for the Faceless Manipulator + To the Front! might warrant showcasing these particular examples:
Mage & Warlock
The final two classes are also arguably the two most stale archetypes. Since The Demon Seed is no longer a common sight and poor Wildfire Mage never quite seems powerful enough for a big tournament, it's just down to Mozaki, Master Duelist and Humongous Owl.
Resources & Tournament
It's not all obvious and it's not all boring, for what it's worth. This is also a pretty good summary of almost all the decks we should be expecting to face on ladder in these final weeks of Year of the Gryphon, before the grand Standard rotation takes place. Still the end of March and the beginning of April to go, so it's best to be familiar with these options if you intend to climb ranks in the near future.
Ladder rankings for this month still allow players to qualify for the third Masters Tour of the year, which means nobody is going to take it easy even if the metagame might feel more than a little stale.
As always, the following options contain even more relevant data:
- Battlefy brackets, that's the official tournament platform everyone uses to check in for their matches (clicking on any name will take you to their lineups and show current/past games).
- d0nkey.top, for most convenient listings (you can view any player's score and lineup, with deck codes attached).
- Off Curve & WickedGood for all your informative spreadsheets and data points.
Honestly, the best thing to come out of Masters Tour Ruins of Alterac might be the brand new 'metagame' when it comes to striking pro player poses. If you've ever watched any Hearthstone esports, you are undoubtedly all too familiar with the "cross your arms and try to look serious" stance. But there is a new dawn on the horizon, with pet companions apparently no longer just limited to appearing only as in-game Hero skins. In fact, we might as well undoubtedly crown the next indisputable winner in this category.
Have you been following this Masters Tour among all the big news and card reveals? Any other interesting decks that might've caught your eye, or it's all looking too familiar? Did we miss anything spicy from your favorite player? Any insights are welcome!