Dreamhack Austin 2017 Hearthstone Top 16 decks and analysis

The first major open Hearthstone Journey to Un’Goro tournament took place at Dreamhack Austin. With more than 200 players, including known pro players from around the world, competing over nine rounds of Swiss followed by top 16 playoffs, this tournament really put the meta to the test.

Obviously, as this tournament will be heavily analyzed, the meta in the following tournaments will probably look a lot different, but we nonetheless have a nice snapshot of things that work in a tournament environment right now.

Dreamhack published the decklists of the top 16 players – here they are, if you are looking for the lists themselves – so it is possible to get started with analysis straight away.

Class distribution in top 16

The clear top three classes brought by people who reached top 16 were Warrior – brought by everyone in the top 16 – Paladin (13), and Rogue (10). Druid was brought by eight players, with the occasional Priest, Mage, Shaman, and Hunter sprinkled in. No one brought Warlock.

Classes in top 16 from the most popular to the least popular:

  • Warrior: 16
  • Paladin: 13
  • Rogue: 10
  • Druid: 8
  • Priest: 5
  • Mage: 5
  • Shaman: 4
  • Hunter: 3
  • Warlock: Zero. Zippo. Nada. Zilch.

Archetype distribution by class

There was a delightful range of archetypes with most classes exhibiting two archetypes, and Paladin, Mage, and Shaman showing even more variety.

Warrior

  • 11 Taunt Warriors
  • 5 Pirate Warriors

Paladin

  • 6 Midrange Paladins
  • 3 N’Zoth Paladins
  • 3 Murloc Paladins
  • 1 Control Paladin

Rogue

  • 8 Quest Rogues
  • 2 Miracle Rogues

Druid

  • 6 Jade Druids
  • 2 Aggro Druids

Priest

  • 4 Dragon Priests
  • 1 Control Priest

Mage

  • 3 Burn Mages
  • 1 Freeze Mage
  • 1 Secret Mage

Shaman

  • 2 Jade Shamans
  • 1 Jade Elemental Shaman
  • 1 N’Zoth Elemental Control Shaman

Hunter

  • 3 Midrange Hunters

Popular tech choices: Silence and The Black Knight

Hungry Crab and Golakka Crawler have become some of the most prevalent tech cards on the ladder, and they made a few appearances at Dreamhack as well: Hungry Crab especially in Murloc Paladin, and Golakka Crawler as a tech card here and there and maybe more of a regular choice in Midrange Hunter.

However, a couple of other tech choices were more visible.

First, even though Silence effects have been made more expensive, Silence turned out to be a popular tech choice. For Priest, this meant Kabal Songstealer, whereas all other classes turned to Spellbreaker – there were even multiple Pirate Warriors running Spellbreaker to push through that Spikeridged Steed or one of the many taunts minions in Taunt Warrior.

Second, there were multiple decks running The Black Knight. Jade Druid, Jade Shaman, Burn Mage – many players did not enjoy taunts and chose to tech some taunt destruction into their decks.

The domination of Mage

The class that performed the best compared to the number of people who brought it was Mage. There were five Mages in top 16, and all of them made it to the top 8. Furthermore, three of them – all the Burn Mages – made it to the top four!

The relatively new discover-based Burn Mage has been doing great on the ladder and was identified as a rising star also in recent Vicious Syndicate Data Reaper reports. It now demonstrated its ability to dominate in a tournament as well – something that has now no doubt been noticed and will be taken into account in building new tournament lineups.

Innovation gets rewarded, or not

There were some refreshingly different decks in the top 16. However, when it came to pushing for those top four spots, more established decks were able to plow their way to victory.

One thing to note is that during the Swiss portion of the tournament, players had no knowledge of other players’ decks, but the decklists were made public for the top 16 playoffs. This reduced any surprise advantage from novel builds, so while they may have been influential in reaching top 16, their effectiveness declined there. On the other hand, with the tournament being in Last Hero Standing format, players did not have to win with all of their decks, so the off-meta choices might not have been needed that much in the end.

That said, here are the three most off-meta decks from top 16:

Danke’s Midrange Token Paladin:

Who needs Murlocs, when you have Silverhand Recruits. Lightfused Stegodon, Stand Against Darkness, Knife Juggler, and Steward of Darkshire bring the pain and there is still enough room for some board clears with Wild Pyromancer + Equality. (Note: The published decklist was missing the final card, which I have assumed to be Tirion)

Catdestroyer’s Secret Mage:

Secret Mage is sometimes considered an undiscovered gem. It can be good, but can it be better than Burn Mage? Time will tell, but the devastation Burn Mage brought to its opponents in Austin is hard to beat.

Languagehacker’s N’Zoth Elemental Control Shaman:

Want to mix and match deathrattles and elementals? So do I, but I could not quite figure out how to make it work. Languagehacker managed to bring this mixed bag of goods all the way to top 16.

Deck archetypes by player and most interesting tech choices

Here are the deck archetypes each player brought alongside some of the main tech choices in the decks.

Dog

  • Jade Druid
  • Taunt Warrior
  • Dragon Priest
  • Control Paladin

Alan

  • Miracle Rogue
  • Taunt Warrior
  • Jade Druid (with The Black Knight)
  • N’Zoth Paladin

Justsayian

  • Freeze Mage
  • Taunt Warrior
  • Quest Rogue
  • Jade Druid

TerrenceM

  • Jade Elemental Shaman (with Elise the Trailblazer and Hallazeal the Ascended)
  • Pirate Warrior (with Spellbreaker)
  • Murloc Paladin
  • Quest Rogue

Astrogation

  • Taunt Warrior
  • N’Zoth Paladin
  • Jade Druid (with Yogg-Saron)
  • Jade Shaman (with The Black Knight)

MrLEGO

  • Taunt Warrior
  • Jade Druid (with Spellbreaker)
  • Midrange Hunter (with Leeroy Jenkins)
  • Midrange Paladin (with Spellbreaker)

Ryder

  • Quest Rogue
  • Taunt Warrior
  • Control Priest (with Mind Control)
  • Midrange Paladin (with Deathwing)

Reynad

  • Quest Rogue
  • Taunt Warrior
  • Burn Mage (with The Black Knight)
  • Jade Druid

Shoop

  • Burn Mage
  • Taunt Warrior
  • N’Zoth Paladin
  • Quest Rogue

Languagehacker

  • Quest Rogue
  • Taunt Warrior
  • N’Zoth Elemental Control Shaman
  • Dragon Priest

Eloise

  • Taunt Warrior
  • Quest Rogue
  • Midrange Paladin (with Spellbreaker and Deathwing)
  • Jade Shaman

Trump

  • Taunt Warrior
  • Midrange Hunter
  • Burn Mage
  • Midrange Paladin

Catdestroyer

  • Secret Mage
  • Miracle Rogue (with Eater of Secrets)
  • Midrange Paladin
  • Pirate Warrior

Chakki

  • Aggro Druid
  • Murloc Paladin (with Steward of Darkshire and Bilefin Tidehunter)
  • Dragon Priest (with Kabal Songstealer)
  • Pirate Warrior (with Spellbreaker)

Danke

  • Midrange Hunter (with Stampede and Leeroy Jenkins)
  • Quest Rogue
  • Pirate Warrior
  • Midrange Paladin (with Lightfused Stegodon, Stand Against Darkness, Steward of Darkshire, and Lost in the Jungle)

Amnesiac

  • Murloc Paladin (with Steward of Darkshire)
  • Pirate Warrior (with Spellbreaker)
  • Dragon Priest (with Kabal Songstealer)
  • Aggro Druid

Conclusions

The first major tournament in Journey to Un’Goro showed a meta that is slowly stabilizing, but new things can still come up. The most off-meta decks seen in the top 16 did not advance far there, but the new discover-based version of Burn Mage did extremely well, and it has not been around for long yet. Likewise, Paladin did not rise up immediately upon the expansion’s release, but it was now one of the most dominant classes.

While we now have a much better grasp of the tournament meta, there is still a lot left to explore in Un’Goro crater!

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