Hearthstone Asia-Pacific Spring Playoffs 2017 Top 8 decks, results, and analysis

Hearthstone Asia-Pacific (APAC) Spring Playoffs 2017 were played this weekend to determine the final four participants for the upcoming Spring Championships.

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 decklists have been published on community deck sites, such as here.

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

  • Paladin: 7
  • Warrior: 6
  • Mage: 6
  • Shaman: 5
  • Druid: 4
  • Rogue: 3
  • Hunter: 1
  • Priest: None.
  • Warlock: Zero. Zippo. Nada. Zilch.

Warlock remains dead as expected, and this time also no Priests made it to the top 8.

Warriors and Paladins remain immensely popular. Mage and Shaman have gained popularity, whereas Druid has lost some ground. This time, one Hunter made it to the top 8, and it was Priest who was absent.

Archetype distribution by class and performance

There were some definite surprises in the archetypes in the top 8: No Control Paladins or Quest Rogues made it! There were some of both in the spots immediately outside the top 8, but it was still a little surprising.

The metagame of the APAC Spring Playoffs was very aggressive at the top: Murloc Paladin as the most popular Paladin archetype, Pirate Warrior as the most popular Warrior archetype, and Aggro Druid as the most popular Druid archetype. Each of the three had gained a lot of ground over the slower archetypes of their respective classes.

Discover Mage enjoyed a bit of resurgence, similar to what has been seen on the ladder lately with Mage having a wider spread of archetypes again after the Secret Mage rush ended. Secret Mage did not exactly go anywhere, but it is now just one of the three Mage archetypes. Freeze Mage has enjoyed a bit of a comeback with all the board-centric token decks around, and one Freeze Mage found its way to the top 8 of this tournament and performed well there.

The strong performance of Shaman has not gone unnoticed with Evolve Shaman leading the way and Jade Shaman finding representation here as well.

Finally, there’s Kranich. Running both Secret Hunter and Jade Elemental Shaman, both highly off-meta choices, Kranich made it to the top 8 to mix it up a little.

Paladin

  • 5 Murloc Paladins (3-4, banned 2 times)
  • 2 Midrange Paladins (1-1)

Warrior

  • 4 Pirate Warriors (2-0, banned 5 times)
  • 2 Taunt Warriors (banned 4 times)

Druid

  • 3 Aggro Druids (2-6)
  • 1 Jade Druids (1-0)

Mage

  • 3 Discover Mages (2-3, banned 1 time))
  • 2 Secret Mage (2-2)
  • 1 Freeze Mage (3-1)

Rogue

  • 3 Miracle Rogue (3-4)

Shaman

  • 3 Evolve Shamans (3-2, banned 1 time)
  • 1 Jade Elemental Shaman (1-1)
  • 1 Jade Shaman (1-1)

Hunter

  • 1 Secret Hunter (1-0, banned 1 time)

Unsurprisingly, with such an aggressive overall meta, Taunt Warrior was banned in every match in top 8 where the archetype was present, so it was not seen in action at all.

Decks by player

Hone:

  • Jade Shaman
  • Discover Mage
  • Taunt Warrior
  • Midrange Murloc Paladin

Mage:

  • Evolve Shaman
  • Miracle Rogue
  • Freeze Mage
  • Taunt Warrior

Tredsred:

  • Secret Mage
  • Murloc Paladin
  • Evolve Shaman
  • Pirate Warrior (with two copies of Bittertide Hydra)

GundamFlame

  • Murloc Paladin
  • Pirate Warrior
  • Aggro Druid
  • Secret Mage

Virtual

  • Midrange Murloc Paladin
  • Miracle Rogue
  • Discover Mage
  • Jade Druid

CitizenNappa

  • Discover Mage
  • Pirate Warrior (Fire Fly and Grimy Gadgeteer)
  • Miracle Rogue
  • Murloc Paladin

Matuko:

  • Aggro Druid
  • Murloc Paladin
  • Evolve Shaman
  • Pirate Warrior

Kranich:

  • Aggro Druid (with two copies of Shellshifter)
  • Secret Hunter
  • Murloc Paladin
  • Jade Elemental Shaman (with two copies of Bloodlust and two copies of Hammer of Twilight)

Bans and queueing

I reviewed all the deck bans in the top 8 in comparison with Vicious Syndicate data from Data Reaper Report #50. 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.

In this tournament, there was the further complication of Kranich’s off-meta lineup: there is just not that much data on those decks, so win rates are more unreliable.

Overall, of the 14 bans during playoffs, 10 were optimal according to VS data. It was interesting to observe how well Mage’s one-two punch of Freeze Mage and Taunt Warrior worked: Taunt Warrior ate all the bans, leaving Freeze Mage free to roam. Data suggested that Freeze Mage was the more dangerous of the two, but players consistently banned Taunt Warrior instead. The ban strategies for individual matches are discussed in detail in the appendix.

I also checked how common it was for players to queue the same deck when losing even when they had the chance to switch decks. There were 16 occasions where a player could switch decks after losing a game, and 11 times they did. We are very close to random queueing here, so players did not give their opponent an advantage by being predictable in their queueing decisions.

Deck spotlights

After the dry spell of Americas Playoffs, Asia-Pacific top 8 delivered on unusual decks again, although it did so just barely, and mostly on the back of Kranich.

Most of the decks were meta decks with maybe one tech choice. Pirate Warriors were running the occasional Spellbreaker, Fire Fly, Grimy Gadgeteer, or Bittertide Hydra – not exactly staples, but nothing unheard of either.

In (other than Freeze) Mage decks, Pyros had gained significant popularity and was more likely to be included than omitted.

A couple of less common decks saved me from having to feature these small differences more prominently, and this time, the less common decks were pretty good ones. Enjoy these!

Mage’s Freeze Mage

Mage mentioned Laughing, who finished rank #1 Legend with Freeze Mage on the NA server in May, as his inspiration to bring Freeze Mage to the tournament. He had also anticipated the high number of Mages present, and included one tech card into the deck: Eater of Secrets. It is a card that can help immensely especially against Discover Mage, as that is a matchup with plenty of time available. Mage himself held the opinion that it is game-changing against Secret Mage as well.

Deck code: AAECAf0EBsUE7QXsB7gIvwiIrwIMigHAAbsCyQOrBMsE7QSWBfsM17YCwcECmMQCAA==

Kranich’s Secret Hunter

Kranich brought an aggressive Hunter build to the tournament. Topping out at Leeroy Jenkins, this deck does not go for any nice plays with Tundra Rhino or seek ultimate value from Savannah Highmane: it’s kill or be killed.

Yet, the deck has some defensive capabilities against aggressive decks in the form of Explosive Trap as well as a comeback mechanism through Unleash the Hounds and Knife Juggler combo.

Deck code: AAECAR8GxwOvBMkEgAexCOTCAgyoArUD6weXCNsJ/gz4sQK5tALEtALquwLrwgKOwwIA

Kranich’s Jade Elemental Shaman

Kranich brought a very interesting build to the tournament. There are very limited Elemental synergies in the deck: Kalimos is the only card that requires Elemental activation, whereas the other Elemental cards are simply strong cards: Fire Fly for early board presence and tokens, Tar Creeper for defense, and Fire Elemental as a generally powerful card with a damage battlecry.

There are two copies of Bloodlust in the deck, and Fire Fly, Primalfin Totem and a Pirate package to build a board presence to take advantage of that Bloodlust. The deck includes two copies of Southsea Deckhand in its Pirate package, so at six mana it is possible to get up to two charge minions on the board (Deckhand + Patches) in addition to Bloodlust for some nice surprise lethals.

There are also two copies of Hammer of Twilight for even more minion generation as well as to ensure activation of Southsea Deckhand’s Charge ability.

Overall, an interesting deck that plays like a hybrid between Token Shaman and Elemental Shaman – capable of more aggression than just about any other Elemental Shaman build while being more defensive than your regular Token Shaman build. Kranich himself described his lineup as anti-aggro aggro decks – being aggressive while able to defend against other aggro decks.

Deck code: AAECAaoIBOUHkbwClL0C88ICDb0BgQTUBfAHkwn7qgL+qgKgtgKHvALRvAKRwQLrwgLKwwIA

Appendix: HCT Asia-Pacific Spring Playoffs Top 8 Matches

Raw data on matches, lineups, and bans.

Quarter-final 1: Tredsred vs GundamFlame

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Murloc Paladin Pirate Warrior Aggro Druid Secret Mage
Secret Mage 0.43 0.45 0.53 0.5
Murloc Paladin 0.5 0.44 0.41 0.57
Evolve Shaman 0.55 0.6 0.54 0.55
Pirate Warrior 0.56 0.5 0.42 0.55

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Murloc Paladin Pirate Warrior Aggro Druid Secret Mage
Secret Mage 52% 54% 57% 50%
Murloc Paladin 53% 53% 53% 51%
Evolve Shaman 48% 50% 50% 45%
Pirate Warrior 52% 52% 51% 48%

 

Expected bans: Tredsred was expected to ban Pirate Warrior or Aggro Druid and GundamFlame was expected to ban Evolve Shaman.

GundamFlame has a clear dominant strategy: ban Evolve Shaman. It is his best choice regardless of what Tredsred does. Tredsred is then expected to respond with an optimal choice given that choice, so either Pirate Warrior or Aggro Druid.

Actual bans: Tredsred banned Pirate Warrior and GundamFlame banned Evolve Shaman.

Expected winner: It’s even at 50/50!

Secret Mage wins against Aggro Druid.

Pirate Warrior wins against Murloc Paladin.

Murloc Paladin wins against Aggro Druid.

Tredsred 3 – GundamFlame 0.

 

Quarter-final 2: Kranich vs hone

Kranich’s lineup is an interesting one. With such off-meta choices, there is no fully reliable data on winrates.

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Jade Shaman Discover Mage Taunt Warrior Midrange Murloc Paladin
Aggro Druid 0.42 0.5 0.31 0.61
Secret Hunter 0.44 0.51 0.46 0.53
Murloc Paladin 0.44 0.6 0.56 0.61
Jade Elemental Shaman 0.5 0.4 0.42 0.45

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Jade Shaman Discover Mage Taunt Warrior Midrange Murloc Paladin
Aggro Druid 50% 48% 49% 46%
Secret Hunter 49% 47% 51% 42%
Murloc Paladin 44% 43% 47% 39%
Jade Elemental Shaman 54% 49% 54% 44%

 

Expected bans: Kranich was expected to ban Taunt Warrior and hone was expected to ban Murloc Paladin.

Actual bans: Kranich banned Taunt Warrior and hone banned Murloc Paladin.

Expected winner: hone at 53%.

Secret Hunter wins against Discover Mage.

Jade Elemental Shaman wins against Jade Shaman.

Aggro Druid loses to Discover Mage.

Aggro Druid loses to Jade Shaman.

Aggro Druid wins against Midrange Murloc Paladin.

Kranich 3 – hone 2.

Quarter-final 3: CitizenNappa vs Virtual

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Midrange Murloc Paladin Miracle Rogue Discover Mage Jade Druid
Discover Mage 0.48 0.59 0.5 0.37
Pirate Warrior 0.61 0.61 0.55 0.5
Miracle Rogue 0.5 0.5 0.41 0.58
Murloc Paladin 0.61 0.48 0.6 0.66

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Midrange Murloc Paladin Miracle Rogue Discover Mage Jade Druid
Discover Mage 58% 60% 61% 57%
Pirate Warrior 54% 53% 55% 53%
Miracle Rogue 57% 57% 58% 61%
Murloc Paladin 52% 50% 55% 55%

 

Expected bans: CitizenNappa was expected to ban Discover Mage and Virtual was expected to ban Murloc Paladin or Pirate Warrior.

The only scenario where Discover Mage is not the optimal ban for CitizenNappa is if Virtual bans Miracle Rogue. However, banning Miracle Rogue is never optimal for him, not even when CitizenNappa bans Discover Mage. Therefore, CitizenNappa will always ban Discover Mage, and Virtual will then answer that ban with the optimal choice he can make, in this case a tie between Pirate Warrior and Murloc Paladin.

Actual bans: CitizenNappa banned Discover Mage and Virtual banned Murloc Paladin.

Expected winner: CitizenNappa at 55%.

Pirate Warrior wins against Miracle Rogue.

Miracle Rogue wins against Miracle Rogue.

Discover Mage loses to Jade Druid.

Discover Mage loses to Midrange Murloc Paladin.

Discover Mage wins against Miracle Rogue.

CitizenNappa 3 – Virtual 2.

Quarter-final 4: Mage vs matuko

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Aggro Druid Murloc Paladin Evolve Shaman Pirate Warrior
Evolve Shaman 0.54 0.55 0.5 0.6
Miracle Rogue 0.48 0.52 0.44 0.39
Freeze Mage 0.65 0.46 0.67 0.48
Taunt Warrior 0.69 0.44 0.57 0.52

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Aggro Druid Murloc Paladin Evolve Shaman Pirate Warrior
Evolve Shaman 50% 57% 54% 59%
Miracle Rogue 56% 65% 60% 63%
Freeze Mage 50% 54% 55% 55%
Taunt Warrior 52% 54% 53% 56%

 

Expected bans: Mage was expected to ban Pirate Warrior and matuko was expected to ban Freeze Mage.

The only scenario where banning Pirate Warrior is not optimal for Mage is if matuko bans Miracle Rogue. However, banning Miracle Rogue is never optimal for matuko, so Mage will always ban Pirate Warrior. Then, matuko will answer with an optimal ban of his own, which is Freeze Mage.

Actual bans: Mage banned Pirate Warrior and matuko banned Taunt Warrior.

Expected winner: Mage at 56%. Matuko could have banned Freeze Mage to reduce that percentage to 55%.

Freeze Mage loses to Murloc Paladin.

Freeze Mage wins against Evolve Shaman.

Miracle Rogue wins against Aggro Druid.

Evolve Shaman wins against Aggro Druid

Mage 3 – matuko 1.

Semi-final 1: CitizenNappa vs Tredsred

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Secret Mage Murloc Paladin Evolve Shaman Pirate Warrior
Discover Mage 0.43 0.4 0.53 0.45
Pirate Warrior 0.55 0.56 0.4 0.5
Miracle Rogue 0.44 0.52 0.44 0.39
Murloc Paladin 0.57 0.5 0.45 0.44

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Secret Mage Murloc Paladin Evolve Shaman Pirate Warrior
Discover Mage 44% 44% 49% 49%
Pirate Warrior 42% 42% 42% 45%
Miracle Rogue 44% 46% 47% 48%
Murloc Paladin 44% 42% 44% 45%

 

Expected bans: CitizenNappa was expected to ban Pirate Warrior and Tredsred was expected to ban Pirate Warrior.

Both players have a dominant strategy to ban Pirate Warrior: it is their best ban regardless of what the other player does.

Actual bans: CitizenNappa banned Pirate Warrior and Tredsred banned Pirate Warrior.

Expected winner: Tredsred at 55%.

Murloc Paladin loses to Secret Mage.

Murloc Paladin wins against Murloc Paladin.

Miracle Rogue loses to Murloc Paladin.

Miracle Rogue loses to Evolve Shaman.

CitizenNappa 1 – Tredsred 3.

Semi-final 2: Kranich vs Mage

Kranich’s lineup is an interesting one. With such off-meta choices, there is no fully reliable data on winrates.

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Evolve Shaman Miracle Rogue Freeze Mage Taunt Warrior
Aggro Druid 0.46 0.52 0.35 0.31
Secret Hunter 0.41 0.46 0.53 0.46
Murloc Paladin 0.45 0.48 0.54 0.56
Jade Elemental Shaman 0.63 0.56 0.33 0.42

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Evolve Shaman Miracle Rogue Freeze Mage Taunt Warrior
Aggro Druid 46% 46% 48% 48%
Secret Hunter 41% 40% 48% 47%
Murloc Paladin 39% 38% 44% 45%
Jade Elemental Shaman 43% 40% 42% 44%

 

Expected bans: Kranich was expected to ban Taunt Warrior and Mage was expected to ban Jade Elemental Shaman.

All the bans related to Kranich’s lineup are difficult to evaluate. What is clear is that Kranich has built the lineup so that Taunt Warrior is his primary ban choice. The shaky figures I have for the matchups all support that ban, and that is what Kranich is going for every time. But what about his opponent? What is the right ban? I have enough faith in the figures that I believe Jade Elemental Shaman was the ban here: if anything, I think the figures may underestimate the strength of Kranich’s list, and if already these figures recommend it, it seems like the way to go.

Actual bans: Kranich banned Taunt Warrior and Mage banned Secret Hunter.

Expected winner: Mage at 53%.

Murloc Paladin loses to Miracle Rogue.

Aggro Druid wins against Evolve Shaman.

Jade Elemental Shaman loses to Freeze Mage.

Murloc Paladin loses to Evolve Shaman.

Kranich 1 – Mage 3.

The Grand Final: Mage vs Tredsred

Expected win rates for each matchup:

Secret Mage Murloc Paladin Evolve Shaman Pirate Warrior
Evolve Shaman 0.55 0.55 0.5 0.6
Miracle Rogue 0.44 0.52 0.44 0.39
Freeze Mage 0.38 0.46 0.67 0.48
Taunt Warrior 0.46 0.44 0.57 0.52

 

Match win rates with each ban combination:

Secret Mage Murloc Paladin Evolve Shaman Pirate Warrior
Evolve Shaman 50% 47% 42% 48%
Miracle Rogue 56% 55% 48% 52%
Freeze Mage 50% 49% 49% 49%
Taunt Warrior 52% 48% 47% 50%

 

Expected bans: Mage was expected to ban Secret Mage and Tredsred was expected to ban Freeze Mage.

Secret Mage is the best ban for Mage in every case. Therefore, Tredsred will respond with his optimal ban, which is Freeze Mage.

However, Mage had the Eater of Secrets tech in his Freeze Mage, and he professed quite a bit of confidence in it. Can a single card turn a heavily unfavorable matchup into a favorable matchup? Let’s say it can. In that case, Tredsred has even more of an incentive to ban Freeze Mage, so the same equilibrium of Secret Mage / Freeze Mage remains.

However, should Tredsred ban Taunt Warrior, Mage would be better off banning Pirate Warrior instead if Eater of Secrets alone flips the Secret Mage matchup.

Actual bans: Mage banned Pirate Warrior and Tredsred banned Taunt Warrior.

Expected winner: It’s even at 50/50 – unless you consider Freeze Mage with Eater of Secrets favored over Secret Mage, in which case Mage is favored (for example, at 54% if Freeze Mage is favored at 60% over Secret Mage).

Freeze Mage wins against Secret Mage.

Evolve Shaman wins against Evolve Shaman.

Miracle Rogue wins against Secret Mage.

Mage 3 – Tredsred 0.

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