Hearthstone HCT Americas Summer Playoffs 2018 were played on 12th May and 13th May 2018 at various locations across Americas. 73 players had collected enough HCT points to qualify for the event, where they played for more HCT points, money, and four coveted spots to the HCT Summer Championship.
In this post, I take a look at the decks and results of the tournament, including class distribution, archetypes, and lineups.
The event started with a seven-round Swiss bracket into a top-8 cut. The top-8 players then played in two GSL-style double-elimination groups to determine the top four players who would get a spot at the global Summer Championship as representatives of the Americas region.
The tournament was broadcasted on Twitch:
- Day 1 (Swiss rounds 1-5): https://www.twitch.tv/videos/260558017
- Day 2 (Swiss rounds 6-7, top-8): https://www.twitch.tv/videos/260950196
The four players who earned their invites to the Summer Championship were Rase, Nalguidan, Killinallday, and Dog!
The decklists are available on numerous fan sites, such as HS Top Decks – http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/hct-americas-summer-playoffs-2018-all-deck-lists-results/
Archetype overview can be found here – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fIbFv4_PTcj4wVKhMRuP_KXNKgnp793acpbvS0-CvK8/edit?usp=sharing – and visualizations of deck lists are available here – http://www.multiball.net/hct-decklists/
Classes from the most popular to the least popular:
- Warlock: 66
- Druid: 60
- Paladin: 54
- Rogue: 37
- Mage: 31
- Priest: 27
- Warrior: 8
- Hunter: 6
- Shaman: 3
Priest and Warrior representation crashed from HCT Europe to HCT Americas – from 46 to 27 for Priest and from 23 to 8 for Warrior. All these new spots were mostly picked up by Paladin (from 34 to 54), Rogue (from 30 to 37), and Mage (from 26 to 31), but the overall order of classes stayed the same between the two tournaments with the sole exception of Priest coming down multiple ranks.
Warlock and Druid carried on strong at the top.
HCT Americas saw four new archetypes compared to HCT Europe: Even Shaman, Zoolock, Recruit Warrior, and Spiteful Priest entered the fray, looking to surprise some people. To an extent, they succeeded: lineups with Recruit Warrior, Even Shaman, or Zoolock won more matches than they lost with Fibonacci taking his lineup with a Recruit Warrior to 7-0 in Swiss and SwaggyG’s lineup with both Zoolock and Even Shaman reaching 5-2 in Swiss, but missing out on top-8 on tiebreakers.
On the flip side, 11 archetypes vanished between the tournaments, mostly niche variants of Warrior and Druid, but also Combo Priest was simply gone come HCT Americas.
The eternal struggle between Cubelock and Control Warlock continued with Cube getting the upper hand again. 43 players brought Cubelock, an increase of 8 from HCT Europe, whereas 21 players brought Control Warlock, a decrease of 13 from HCT Europe. Two Zoolocks were newcomers to the struggle.
As a class, Warlock won 161 of its 332 games against non-Warlock decks for a win rate of 48%. The match win rates of Zoolock lineups reached 54%, Control Warlocks 53%, and Cubelocks 50%. Everyone in the top-8 brought Warlock: 5 Cubelocks and 3 Control Warlocks.
Druid retained its popularity, but it underwent a major change in its archetypes: 48 players brought Spiteful Druid – 20 more than at HCT Europe! Meanwhile, only 10 players brought Taunt Druid, 15 fewer than at HCT Europe. Two Token Druids filled up the Druid representation.
As a class, Druid won 185 of its 366 games against non-Druid decks for a win rate of 51%. The match win rates of Token Druid lineups reached 71% (Muzzy 6-1, yoitsflo 4-3), Spiteful Druid lineups 47%, and Taunt Druid lineups 45%. Five Spiteful Druids, one Token Druid, and one Taunt Druid made it to the top-8.
Paladin saw its popularity skyrocket, mostly on the back of modern Even Paladin builds. 45 players brought Even Paladin, an increase of 22 from HCT Europe, and 32 of these Even Paladin lists were running Val’anyr while only 16 included Lightfused Stegodon – the numbers at HCT Europe were 6 Val’anyrs and 20 Lightfused Stegodons. Nine players brought Murloc Paladin, but it was clearly overshadowed by its Even brother for the first time in competitive play.
As a class, Paladin won 117 of its 208 games against non-Paladin decks for an incredible 56% win rate. What’s even more impressive, Paladin maintained an over 50% win rate against all classes except Warrior and Shaman. The match win rates of Even Paladin lineups reached 59% while Murloc Paladins went down to 33%. Five Even Paladins reached the top-8.
The fate of Murloc Paladin is puzzling. It was brought by several big names, such as Amnesiac, Docpwn, and DrJikininki, but there was only one player who managed to pilot a Murloc Paladin lineup to an above-50% win rate – Hades (Satancurseyo before the Blizzard-mandated name change) piloted it to a 4-3 record. Murloc Paladin was often paired with Tempo Mage, which also performed poorly, but it was also combined with other decks with no more success. Hades brought Control Warlock – Spiteful Druid – Murloc Paladin – Odd Rogue, the same lineup as Amnesiac, who went 1-4. It is possible that Even Paladin builds have managed to evolve to a level where Murlocs are no longer a competitive option.
Quest Rogue (20) and Miracle Rogue (2) maintained their position, while Odd Rogue exploded from 4 at HCT Europe to 15 at HCT Americas. The performance indicators, however, went the other way: Quest Rogue managed to rise up from mediocrity to success, while Odd Rogue came down from being great to being just decent.
As a class, Rogue won 101 of its 219 games against non-Rogue decks for a 46% win rate – preying on Warlocks and Druids and losing to most of the rest. Quest Rogue lineups reached a 57% match win rate, while Odd Rogue lineups hit 53%, and Miracle Rogue lineups were left with 22%. Four Quest Rogues and one Odd Rogue reached the top-8.
Mage was the biggest disappointment at HCT Americas. 29 players brought Tempo Mage, an increase of 10 from HCT Europe, while only two players put their faith in Big Spell Mage, a decrease of five from HCT Europe.
As a class, Mage won 97 of its 213 games against non-Mage decks for a 46% win rate, the lowest in the tournament. Tempo Mage lineups reached a 35% match win rate, and Big Spell Mage lineups did even worse at 33%. Not a single Mage reached the top-8!
What happened? At HCT Europe, Mage was beating Warrior, Rogue, and Warlock while going even with most of the rest, except for its poor matchup against Paladin. At HCT Americas, Mage was still beating Rogue, and it also did well against Priest, but it started to lose to Warlock and Druid while also continuing to lose to Paladin. The increase in Paladin and Spiteful Druid was bad for Mage, but the real surprise factor was Warlock.
Mage should be good against Warlock, and it was at HCT Europe, but it could not get the wins at HCT Americas against the class that it faced the most and was brought in to defeat. There were more Cubelocks now, but Cubelock should still be a decent matchup for Tempo Mage. Cubelock lists at HCT Americas were more pure than at HCT Europe: not that many Rins, just Mountain Giants and Prince Taldarams, so perhaps that is part of the explanation.
The decrease in Mind Blast Priests was a surprise to me. The class did fine at HCT Europe, but still it saw the largest single drop, from 42 Mind Blast Priests to only 26. Deathsie was the only player to bring some other Priest with his Spiteful Priest.
As a class, Priest won 80 of its 164 games against non-Priest decks for a 49% win rate. Mind Blast Priest lineups reached 45% match win rates while Spiteful Priest was left at 20%. That’s not too impressive, but two Mind Blast Priests managed to reach the top-8 anyway.
Things should have looked good for Priest coming into the tournament, but it had lost its edge against the two classes it was great against at HCT Europe: Paladin and Warlock. The shift from Control Warlock to Cubelock was punishing for Priest, which is very good against the slower archetype, but can lose to Cubelock at any time, the matchup is roughly even. Even worse was the dominant performance of the new Even Paladin builds – from a Priest-dominated matchup into an even matchup. With two of its great matchups reduced to even matchups, Priest struggled, but still delivered decent results overall.
Warrior saw many of its HCT Europe variants left by the wayside. No one brought the Warrior Quest anymore. Six players brought Baku Control Warrior and two players brought Recruit Warrior.
Warrior was the most successful class at HCT Americas: it won 27 of its 38 games against non-Warrior decks for an incredible 71% win rate. Fibonacci changing the statistics single-handedly? Not quite, as his Warrior ate a bunch of bans (3). Warrior just had a really good time overall. There were three Warriors in the top-8: two Baku Control Warriors and one Recruit Warrior.
How did Warrior go from the worst class at HCT Europe to the best class at HCT Americas? First of all, Warrior itself changed. Only the best-performing Warrior archetype, Baku Control Warrior, remained from HCT Europe, all the “bad” archetypes were left home. Second, it’s a small sample size. Warrior overperformed all of its long-term statistics at the tournament. Even though the Warrior lists that were used were better than at Europe, such dominance is an outlier.
Six players believed in Hunter: four Spell Hunters and two Baku Face Hunters. This was an interesting split: Face Hunters were crushed while Spell Hunters did really well.
As a class, Hunter won 26 of its 55 games against non-Hunter decks for a 47% win rate. It is difficult to draw conclusions from Hunter as a class though: Spell Hunter lineups reached a 67% match win rate while Face Hunters were stuck with 30%. Two Spell Hunters out of four reached the top-8. That archetype certainly seemed to deliver.
One of the most interesting meta reads for HCT Americas was Even Shaman. Guiyze, SwaggyG, and TerrenceM brought the archetype, and while none of them reached the top-8, their Shaman decks won 16 of their 25 games for a 64% win rate, dominating Paladins with 6 wins in 7 games.
The main observation from HCT Americas was that Even Paladin has continued to evolve and the meta has not found a way to counter it yet. The old counters no longer work, and only the niche choices of Warrior and Shaman found success against Paladin. Can they develop into reliable enough counters? And if they can, how will that shift the meta in turn?
Performance of lineups that included a specific archetype (excluding byes and mirrors):
Archetypes compared to archetypes at HCT Europe Summer Playoffs:
All archetypes by class:
- 43 Cubelocks
- 21 Control Warlocks
- 2 Zoolocks
- 20 Quest Rogues
- 15 Odd Rogues
- 2 Miracle Rogues
- 45 Even Paladins
- 9 Murloc Paladins
- 48 Spiteful Druids
- 10 Taunt Druids
- 2 Token Druids
- 29 Tempo Mages
- 2 Big Spell Mages
- 26 Mind Blast Priests
- 1 Spiteful Priest
- 4 Spell Hunters
- 2 Baku Face Hunters
- 6 Baku Control Warriors
- 2 Recruit Warriors
- 3 Even Shamans
The lineups that reached the top-8 were:
|Dog||Control Warlock||Spiteful Druid||Baku Control Warrior||Mind Blast Priest|
|Fibonacci||Control Warlock||Spell Hunter||Recruit Warrior||Mind Blast Priest|
|Killinallday||Cubelock||Spiteful Druid||Even Paladin||Quest Rogue|
|Muzzy||Cubelock||Token Druid||Even Paladin||Odd Rogue|
|Nalguidan||Cubelock||Spiteful Druid||Even Paladin||Quest Rogue|
|PNC||Cubelock||Spiteful Druid||Even Paladin||Quest Rogue|
|Rase||Cubelock||Spiteful Druid||Even Paladin||Quest Rogue|
|TheJordude||Control Warlock||Taunt Druid||Baku Control Warrior||Spell Hunter|
Performance of all lineups at the tournament:
What is stunning is the performance of Cubelock – Spiteful Druid – Even Paladin – Quest Rogue. Three of the six in the top-8! 32-10 win-loss record overall in Swiss. That is incredible.
Here are some of the most interesting decks from the top-performing players.
Fibonacci’s Recruit Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior chose his own path yet again, bringing a Warrior archetype that saw no play at HCT Europe. It breezed through Swiss with a 4-1 record (3 bans), and looked promising in the first round of top-8 – until it lost three games in the final series for a 2-4 record in top-8 and 6-5 record overall. Hearthstone gives, Hearthstone takes away.
Recruit Warrior can play the usual control game, it has the removal for that, but it can also swing the game around with Gather Your Party or Woecleaver and be the Warrior deck that hits you.
Deck code: AAECAQcK0gKyCKIJhs0Cjs4Cws4Cn9MCyucC/ecC6uoCCkuiBJEG/we5wwLMzQL2zwLx0wLq5wKb8wIA
Dog’s Baku Control Warrior
If there is such a thing as a standard archetype for such a niche class as Warrior, Dog bringing Baku Control Warrior fits the bill. Several people have piloted the archetype to Legend, and Furyhunter even piloted it to #1 Legend. Dog’s list is one card different from Furyhunter’s: he has replaced Mind Control Tech with Azalina Soulthief, which can be crucial in beating Rin, the First Disciple.
Deck code: AAECAQcM0AKTBKoGkAf5DNHDAtPFAqLHAs/HApruAs3vAp74AglLogKiBPwE/webwgLK5wK67AKd8AIA
TheJordude’s Spell Hunter
Spell Hunter lost a lot of power when Barnes and Y’Shaarj rotated out of Standard format, but the archetype has found ways to survive, finally making use of the spell-only synergy cards Rhok’delar and To My Side!
Various builds are fairly similar. TheJordude’s successful choice featured a five Secret package: two Explosive Traps, two Wandering Monsters, and one Freezing Trap. The sixth Secret had made room for a Grievous Bite for a bit more power against Paladin. It is the same build ShtanUdachi brought to HCT Europe, but Spell Hunter still remains a sleeper choice.
Deck code: AAECAR8GhwTtBobDAunSAobTAtzuAgyNAagCtQPJBJcI2wn+DN3SAt/SAuPSAuHjAurjAgA=
Someone forgot to tell SwaggyG that you are supposed to play Cubes now. He still piloted his lineup with this Zoolock in it to a 5-2 record, only missing out the top-8 on tiebreakers.
Small minions, lots of ways to buff things, Despicable Dreadlords to make Paladins suffer, Deathspeakers for value trades. What’s there not to like?
Deck code: AAECAf0GAsrLApziAg4w9wT7Bc4HwgiXwQLrwgLKwwKaywKbywL3zQKVzgLy0ALR4QIA
SwaggyG’s Even Shaman
Even Paladin is dominant. The remnants of the resistance are failing. There is only one hope – fight even with even! Even Shaman is one of the best decks you can bring against Paladin. As a downside, it’s pretty bad against Warlock and Priest, but when it hits the right meta, it can do wonders.
Even Shaman grabs a hold of the board and never lets go. If it is thrown out, it stays out, but as long as it can fight for it, it can bring home the wins.
Deck code: AAECAaoIBCDCzgKn7gLN9AIN0wGZAvsF/gXAB9kH8AeRwQKbywKW6AL27AKU7wKw8AIA
I’m sure you all know what a Cubelock looks like by now. Nonetheless, I wanted to feature Rase’s take on Cubelock as an example of what HCT Americas Cubelocks typically looked like: no Rin, the First Disciple, but a lot of offensive power instead – Prince Taldaram, Spiritsinger Umbra, two Faceless Manipulators, two Mountain Giants – it’s Cubelock as it’s meant to be played as a lean, mean killing machine, not a wannabe control deck.
Deck code: AAECAf0GCPIFigfJwgKX0wKd4gLq5gLb6QKc+AILkwT3BLYH4QfnywLy0AL40AKI0gKL4QL85QLo5wIA
Muzzy’s Token Druid
Token Druid has not really taken off in The Witchwood, but it can be powerful, as Muzzy has shown during the past weeks on ladder. He also brought the archetype to the Playoffs and continued to do well.
Filling a board with minions and casting Soul of the Forest on them is game-winning against many decks: the opponent cannot remove the board and Savage Roar and Branching Paths are always nearby, ready to turn a boardful of tokens into a lethal threat.
Deck code: AAECAZICApTSApnTAg5AX/0C5gXEBuQIoM0Ch84CmNICntIC29MChOYC+eYC1+8CAA==
Killinallday’s Even Paladin
Finally, the one deck to rule them all. There are many slightly different takes on Even Paladin, but many of the current builds share some key features: Val’anyr, Saronite Chain Gang, Argent Commander, and Avenging Wrath – cards that can push the damage and never let the opponent catch their breath.
Deck code: AAECAZ8FBNkHucECt+kCzfQCDfsBmQLcA/IF9AWWBs8GigevB7EIlgmbywL40gIA