Hearthstone EU Spring Playoffs 2017 Top 8 decks, results, and analysis

Hearthstone Europe Spring Playoffs 2017 were played last weekend to determine Europe’s participants in the upcoming Spring Championships. The metagame is moving with every tournament, and that applied to this tournament as well.

In this post, I will take a look at the decks and results of the single-elimination playoffs stage (top 8), including class distribution, archetypes, archetype performance, and ban decisions.

Class distribution in top 8

The decks were published, and are available on multiple community deck sites. I enjoy the presentation here, so I’ll use that as a reference.

Classes in top 8 from the most popular to the least popular:

  • Paladin: 6
  • Druid: 6
  • Rogue: 5
  • Warrior: 5
  • Mage: 3
  • Shaman: 3
  • Priest: 2
  • Hunter: 2
  • Warlock: Zero. Zippo. Nada. Zilch.

This is the most balanced top 8 class distribution we’ve seen in Journey to Un’Goro meta. No class was brought by all players, and there is a nice distribution of classes all over. Except for Warlock. Warlock remains dead.

Archetype distribution by class and performance

The Archetypes have stabilized at a very nice spot where most classes have at least two viable archetypes.

Paladin surprised a little bit with several Control Paladin players reaching the top 8 after being overshadowed by Midrange Paladin for a while. Nonetheless, all three Paladin archetypes (Murloc, Midrange, Control) are well-known at this point.

Shaman is another interesting class in that it has still not stabilized. The search for the superior Shaman archetype continues. This time, Rdu brought a good candidate, as Aggro Shaman has been on the rise as of late and this was the deck’s big debut on tournament stage. I also really enjoyed StanCifka’s take on Jade Shaman, making the deck slightly more midrangey again, which is a direction I heartily agree with.

Priest is also interesting. This time, both top 8 Priest decks were of Silence Priest variety: no Dragon Priests, no Control Priests. I would not count those archetypes out just yet though, and Priest is another class where the best tournament decks are still being searched for.

Paladin

  • 3 Control Paladins (1-0, banned 1 time)
  • 2 Midrange Paladins (3-2)
  • 2 Murloc Paladins (3-1)

Druid

  • 3 Jade Druids (4-2)
  • 3 Aggro Druids (2-2, banned 3 times)

Rogue

  • 3 Quest Rogues (2-4, banned 2 times)
  • 2 Miracle Rogues (1-2)

Warrior

  • 3 Taunt Warriors (1-1, banned 3 times)
  • 2 Pirate Warrior (4-0)

Mage

  • 2 Discover Burn Mages (1-1, banned 1 time)
  • 1 Secret Mage (1-2, banned 2 times)

Shaman

  • 1 Control Shaman (0-1)
  • 1 Jade Shaman (0-0, banned 1 time)
  • 1 Aggro Shaman (1-2)

Priest

  • 2 Silence Priests (0-4)

Hunter

  • 2 Midrange Hunters (2-2, banned 1 time)

As for deck performance in this limited sample, Quest Rogue was again shown to be banned or targeted, resulting in a fairly poor performance for the archetype. Paladin decks continued to be consistently strong, as did the Druid deck: those are just two very solid classes right now. Pirate Warrior did extremely well.

Bans and win probabilities

I reviewed all the deck bans in the top 8 in comparison with Vicious Syndicate data. As always, it is worth noting that VS data is not all-encompassing, and that players had also made tech choices for their decks. Nonetheless, any deviations from expected winrates should have some rationale behind them, and VS data gives a good baseline for comparison.

Overall, of the 14 bans during playoffs, 9 were optimal according to VS data. Of the players who played more than one game, Hoej (3/3) and Rdu (2/2) made the optimal ban each time, whereas Kolento (0/3) never made the optimal ban, giving up 3.7% of win probability on average. There do not seem to be any tech cards that explain Kolento’s bans either.

While players may have a grasp of whether matchups are favored or unfavored, it is hard to say off-hand exactly how favored or unfavored they are, and this greatly affects banning decisions.

Small differences can even swing who is favored to win the match: had Casie banned Rdu’s Aggro Shaman instead of Aggro Druid, Casie would have been favored to win the match at 52% – while with the actual Aggro Druid ban it was Rdu who was favored at 52%. Unoptimal ban decisions seem to affect win rates by around 3%-4% – this would of course be higher if the players banned very good matchups, but the realized bans are often the second-best alternatives, not the worst ones.

Hoej had an extremely strong lineup against the players he faced. He was heavily favored in all of his matches at 63% over FibEli3, 67% over Neirea, and a whopping 70% over Kolento. However, had the hypothetical Aggro vs Aggro showdown versus Rdu taken place, Rdu would have been favored at 55%. It is a small miracle this did not happen, as Rdu was favored against Kolento in their semi-final game at 67% to win that match.

Deck spotlights

At this point of the meta, there are lots of decks around that players can fill in their sleep. Actually, it is remarkable how many such decks there are, the diversity of the metagame is quite remarkable.

However, I want to spotlight a couple of decks that had something different in them.

Hoej’s Secret Mage

Secret Mage has become a regular sight on the ladder, and it already saw some play in Europe versus China Championships, mostly in very control-heavy forms. Hoej brought a more tempo-oriented build to the Spring Playoffs, with Archmage Antonidas being the only heavy value card in the deck – and the deck had some nice support for the good old Archmage in the form of Mirror Image and Mana Bind.

StanCifka’s Jade Shaman

I have disliked the extremely control-heavy Jade Shaman builds for a long time. It has been so often that I have seen the Shaman get stuck with tons of area-of-effect spells in hand. StanCifka’s Jade Shaman build is a touch more midrangey with no Lightning Storms and no Jade Chieftains, but still running two copies of Spirit Echo and two copies of Stonehill Defender for some remarkable value plays.

Rdu’s Aggro Shaman

Aggro Shaman, Token Shaman, has seen a rapid rise on the ladder as of late. Rdu submitted this list before it was cool, and, to be specific, this exact list is still not the prevalent type. Most of these decks revolve around Evolve, but Rdu took a much more direct aggro approach with Hammers of Twilight and the Water package.

FibEli3’s Aggro Druid

FibEli3’s Aggro Druid list does not bring anything completely new to the table, but it is a nice specimen of the archetype, combining Genzo, Vicious Fledglings, Bittertide Hydras, and Living Manas (reminiscent of lists played by Phonetap and Janos, among others). I just enjoy how streamlined this list is.

Appendix: HCT Europe Spring Playoffs top 8 Matches

Raw data on matches, lineups, and bans.

Quarter-final 1: FibEli3 vs Hoej

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Pirate Warrior Murloc Paladin Secret Mage Aggro Druid
Aggro Druid 0.6 0.59 0.48 0.5
Midrange Murloc Paladin 0.41 0.38 0.58 0.38
Midrange Hunter 0.49 0.52 0.47 0.52
Quest Rogue 0.31 0.42 0.33 0.31

 

Expected bans: Hoej was expected to ban Aggro Druid and FibEli3 was expected to ban Aggro Druid.

Actual bans: Hoej banned Aggro Druid and FibEli3 banned Aggro Druid.

Expected winner: Hoej at 63% probability.

Midrange Hunter loses to Murloc Paladin.

Midrange Hunter loses to Pirate Warrior.

Midrange Hunter wins against Secret Mage.

Midrange Murloc Paladin wins against Secret Mage.

Quest Rogue loses to Secret Mage.

FibEli3 2 – Hoej 3.

Quarter-final 2: Neirea vs Iner

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Silence Priest Control Paladin Miracle Rogue Burn Discover Mage
Burn Discover Mage 0.51 0.54 0.6 0.5
Jade Druid 0.3 0.53 0.43 0.62
Taunt Warrior 0.46 0.5 0.46 0.41
Quest Rogue 0.52 0.62 0.58 0.48

 

Expected bans: Neirea was expected to ban Silence Priest and Iner was expected to ban Quest Rogue.

Actual bans: Neirea banned Burn Discover Mage and Iner banned Quest Rogue.

Expected winner: Iner at 54%. If Neirea had banned Silence Priest, Neirea would have been favored to win at 51%.

Burn Discover Mage wins against Silence Priest.

Taunt Warrior wins against Silence Priest.

Jade Druid loses to Miracle Rogue.

Jade Druid wins against Silence Priest.

Neirea 3 – Iner 1.

Quarter-final 3: Rdu vs Casie

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Control Shaman Miracle Rogue Control Paladin Jade Druid
Midrange Hunter 0.4 0.48 0.39 0.54
Token Shaman 0.53 0.59 0.47 0.5
Pirate Warrior 0.42 0.6 0.42 0.51
Aggro Druid 0.34 0.52 0.37 0.54

 

Expected bans: Rdu was expected to ban Control Paladin and Casie was expected to ban Token Shaman.

Actual bans: Rdu banned Control Paladin and Casie banned Aggro Druid.

Expected winner: Rdu at 52%. If Casie had banned Token Shaman, Casie would have been favored to win at 52%.

Token Shaman wins against Control Shaman.

Pirate Warrior wins against Miracle Rogue.

Midrange Hunter wins against Miracle Rogue.

Rdu 3 – Casie 0.

Quarter-final 4: StanCifka vs Kolento

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Jade Druid Midrange Murloc Paladin Taunt Warrior Quest Rogue
Taunt Warrior 0.29 0.31 0.5 0.38
Jade Shaman 0.4 0.5 0.47 0.27
Silence Priest 0.7 0.38 0.54 0.48
Control Paladin 0.47 0.42 0.5 0.38

 

Expected bans: StanCifka was expected to ban Quest Rogue and Kolento was expected to ban Silence Priest.

Actual bans: StanCifka banned Quest Rogue and Kolento banned Jade Shaman.

Expected winner: Kolento at 59%. If Kolento had banned Silence Priest, he would have been even more favored at 63%.

Taunt Warrior loses to Jade Druid.

Taunt Warrior loses to Taunt Warrior.

Control Paladin wins against Midrange Murloc Paladin.

Silence Priest loses to Midrange Murloc Paladin.

StanCifka 1 – Kolento 3.

Semi-final 1: Hoej vs Neirea

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Burn Discover Mage Jade Druid Taunt Warrior Quest Rogue
Pirate Warrior 0.55 0.51 0.48 0.69
Murloc Paladin 0.59 0.63 0.54 0.58
Secret Mage 0.56 0.6 0.54 0.67
Aggro Druid 0.51 0.54 0.32 0.69

 

Expected bans: Hoej was expected to ban Taunt Warrior and Neirea was expected to ban Secret Mage.

Actual bans: Hoej banned Taunt Warrior and Neirea banned Secret Mage.

Expected winner: Hoej at 67%.

Murloc Paladin loses to Jade Druid.

Pirate Warrior wins against Quest Rogue.

Murloc Paladin wins against Quest Rogue

Aggro Druid loses to Quest Rogue.

Aggro Druid wins against Discover Burn Mage.

Hoej 3 – Neirea 2.

 

Semi-final 2: Rdu vs Kolento

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Jade Druid Midrange Murloc Paladin Taunt Warrior Quest Rogue
Midrange Hunter 0.54 0.52 0.46 0.62
Token Shaman 0.5 0.57 0.38 0.57
Pirate Warrior 0.51 0.59 0.48 0.69
Aggro Druid 0.54 0.62 0.32 0.69

 

Expected bans: Rdu was expected to ban Taunt Warrior and Kolento was expected to ban Aggro Druid.

Actual bans: Rdu banned Taunt Warrior and Kolento banned Midrange Hunter.

Expected winner: Rdu at 67%. If Kolento had banned Aggro Druid, Rdu would still have been favored at 63%.

Token Shaman loses to Jade Druid.

Aggro Druid loses to Midrange Murloc Paladin.

Token Shaman loses to Quest Rogue.

Rdu 0 – Kolento 3.

The Grand Final: Hoej vs Kolento

Lineups and expected win rates based on Vicious Syndicate’s data:

Jade Druid Midrange Murloc Paladin Taunt Warrior Quest Rogue
Pirate Warrior 0.51 0.59 0.48 0.69
Murloc Paladin 0.63 0.62 0.54 0.58
Secret Mage 0.6 0.42 0.54 0.67
Aggro Druid 0.54 0.62 0.32 0.69

 

Expected bans: Hoej was expected to ban Taunt Warrior and Kolento was expected to ban Aggro Druid.

Actual bans: Hoej banned Taunt Warrior and Kolento banned Secret Mage.

Expected winner:  Hoej at 70%. If Kolento had banned Aggro Druid, Hoej would still have been favored at 67%.

Pirate Warrior wins against Midrange Murloc Paladin.

Murloc Paladin wins against Quest Rogue.

Aggro Druid wins against Jade Druid.

Hoej 3 – Kolento 0.

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