Dreamhack Summer 2016: Innovation Gets Rewarded
Dreamhack Summer Hearthstone Grand Prix 2016, a major 200-player open Swiss format Hearthstone LAN tournament was played on 18-20 June 2016 in Jönköping, Sweden. It featured a truly stacked list of participants with many top pro players taking part. Thus, it also provided a unique glimpse into the tournament meta, this time in a best-of-five Last Hero Standing with ban format, and what we can see from there looks good for Hearthstone.
Results and Decks
If you did not follow the event, it has been covered in many places already. Here are links to key resources:
- Decklists (not officially published, but multiple unofficial sources are available)
Overall, the tournament meta followed the current ladder meta quite closely. Vicious Syndicate publishes information on the meta based on Track-O-Bot data that they gather from a large number of volunteers, and the meta report right before the tournament indicated that Warrior, Shaman, Warlock, and Hunter were the most played classes on the ladder.
While we do not have full class stats available, the overall feeling both of myself and several other players I spoke to was indeed that you would meet those four classes most of the time, usually in the form of Tempo Warrior, Aggro Shaman, Zoolock, and Midrange Hunter.
What we do have are the statistics from top 16, and the class distribution there was the following:
- Shaman: 15
- Warrior: 14
- Warlock: 14
- Hunter: 9
- Druid: 5
- Rogue: 4
- Mage: 2
- Priest: 1
- Paladin: 0
The tournament standard four-class lineup of Warrior, Shaman, Warlock, and Hunter was brought by six of the players in the top 16, with the other ten substituting at least one class with something else. This shows that the most common lineup definitely had a chance to go for top spots, but also that the majority of top 16 brought at least something special to the table as well.
Deck Archetype Performance
Unfortunately, two of the round-of-16 games were not streamed, but for all the games that were streamed I compiled win rates per deck archetype to dig a little deeper into what made for a successful lineup in the tournament. The win-loss records of the various decks in the top 16, excluding mirror matches:
- Token Druid: 3-1
- Tempo Mage: 5-2
- Zoolock: 9-4
- Miracle Rogue: 8-4
- N’Zoth Renolock: 2-1
- Aggro Shaman 12-8
- C’Thun Druid: 3-3
- Tempo Warrior: 2-5
- Midrange Hunter: 1-9
- C’Thun Priest: 0-1
- Dragonlock: 0-1
- Dragon Warrior: 0-1
- N’Zoth Miracle Rogue: 0-1
- C’Thun Warrior: 0-2
- Pirate Warrior: 0-2
While the sample sizes are quite low, there are several tentative conclusions that can be drawn from these figures.
Rogue remains a good tournament deck. People who specialize in playing Rogue can be expected to reap rewards when playing in tournaments. Rogue has been part of many title-winning lineups, and it continued to perform solidly in Standard format at Dreamhack.
Warlock is a strong class overall. While most people brought Zoo, Renolock was also able to perform well. Zoo just seems a little stronger than Renolock right now but they are both very capable decks.
Aggro Shaman is increasingly taking space from Midrange Shaman and remains solid. We are seeing the same phenomenon on the ladder as well. Shaman decks are getting faster, including taking various hybrid approaches with Thing from Below and Tuskarr Totemic, but converging closer to the Aggro archetype.
Hunter and Warrior were the big losers in this tournament. Midrange Hunter’s 10% win rate in the top 16 is abysmal. Tempo Warrior does not have that much to brag about either, but at least it won some games unlike the other varieties of Warrior. There were essentially no control decks for Hunter and Warrior to prey on, just relentless, fast aggro-midrange pressure.
Mage and Druid redeemed themselves. Token Druid and Tempo Mage topped the win-loss charts in top 16, and while C’Thun Druid went 3-3, that is still miles ahead of all types of Warriors and Hunters. Of course, Mage and Druid were niche choices in the tournament, so as it can be expected that these results affect the meta of future tournaments, things are going to be changing again.
The Meta is Alive!
Here are three successful counter-meta decklists from Dreamhack.
RDU’s Tempo Mage
I guess it is not possible to discuss the Dreamhack Summer 2016 Hearthstone Grand Prix without mentioning RDU’s Tempo Mage. He felt it was his strongest asset coming to the tournament, and it certainly delivered, winning him five games in the playoffs.
The most original tech choice in the deck is the inclusion of two copies of Flamestrike to provide it with strong area-of-effect damage against Shaman and Zoo. The final minion in the list is Yogg-Saron, who can win games on his own – or at the very least be used as a reasonably reliable means of drawing cards and clearing the board.
Fr0zen’s Token Druid
This version of Druid, brought by Fr0zen, ended up performing better in the playoffs than its C’Thun-worshipping counterpart, going 3-1 in top 16 and 9-4 overall.
The deck has token generation and buffs, it has Fandral Staghelm, it has Cenarius, and it finishes off with Yogg-Saron again. What’s there not to like?
Ersee’s Secret Paladin
While Ersee, the runner-up of Dreamhack Winter 2015, did not make top 16 this time he finished the Swiss rounds with a respectable 6-3 result, mostly on the back of his Secret Paladin deck that featured a solid 11-3 record. The deck was teched from Jambre’s original list, of which you can read more about on Reddit.
Featuring only three secrets to minimize the number of bad draws, the deck is able to combine early aggression – especially abusing Dragon Egg token generation with Divine Shields from Steward of Darkshire – with strong turn four plays, incredible turn six with the Mysterious Challenger, and the power trio of Leeroy Jenkins, Ragnaros the Firelord, and Tirion Fordring.
Two months into the Standard format and Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, it is safe to say that the game has not been figured out. While there is a clearly a prevalent meta of four popular classes - Warrior, Shaman, Warlock, and Hunter - both on the ladder and in tournaments, this does not mean that you need to bring those four classes to succeed. Indeed, looking at the results of Hunter and Warrior, bringing them to Dreamhack was more of a liability than a strength.
Innovation does not always pay off, but at least in the current state of the Hearthstone metagame, there is still plenty of room to choose to be different, and succeed by doing so.
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