Hearthstone HCT Europe Summer Playoffs 2018 were played on 5th May and 6th May 2018 at various locations across Europe. 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, lineups, and ban strategies.
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 Europe region.
The tournament was broadcasted on Twitch:
The four players who earned their invites to the Summer Championship were A83650, Turna, Bunnyhoppor, and Viper!
The decklists are available on Google drive – https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12iTs6VcerSQrVFYI9W8KqLweYKJ-tf6m – as well as on numerous fan sites, such as HS Top Decks – http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/hct-europe-summer-playoffs-2018-all-deck-lists-results/
Archetype overview can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WfKRW0R6ZOeBEyYhFGwV2pYvgYDotgsbV9iBxBci814/edit?usp=sharing
Classes from the most popular to the least popular:
- Warlock: 69
- Druid: 57
- Priest: 46
- Paladin: 34
- Rogue: 30
- Mage: 26
- Warrior: 23
- Hunter: 6
- Shaman: 1
Warlock remains the most popular class in tournament play, but the next two spots were perhaps slightly surprising: Europeans really love their Druids and Priests, and those classes were now far more common than they were at HCT Taipei.
Paladin, Rogue, and Mage formed the middle class together with a sudden surge of Warriors. Hunter was a rare sight, and Shaman was, well, it was there, one player brought it as part of a control lineup.
Warlock was the most popular class and held spots #2 and #3 when it comes to individual archetypes: with 35 Cubelocks and 34 Control Warlocks, the battle for the top spot of the class continues, this time the pendulum swinging towards Control catching up to Cube. Warlock achieved a 50% win rate as a class and lineups featuring Cubelock achieved 52% match win rate whereas lineups featuring Control Warlock achieved 51%. Even the top-8 was an even split: 4 Cubelocks, 4 Control Warlocks. Neither archetype has been able to demonstrate their superiority over the other.
Druid came in second in popularity with five different archetypes present: 28 Spiteful Druids, 25 Taunt Druids, 2 Quest Malygos Druids, 1 Togwaggle Druid, and 1 Token Druid. With a 54% game win rate, Druid was the third-best class overall, and the best-performing of the popular classes. Lineups with Spiteful Druid or Taunt Druid in them achieved 51% match win rates, and top-8 lineups included four Taunt Druids and three Spiteful Druids. Token Druid did not get to shine, but Swidz piloted his Togwaggle Druid control lineup to a 5-2 record and Esteban and Warma took their Quest Druid lineups to 4-3 records each.
Priest was the third-most popular class and included the most popular individual archetype: Mind Blast Priest (42). Mind Blast Priest was part of five of the top-8 lineups, and players with the archetype in their lineups achieved a 52% match win rate overall. The remaining four Priest players brought Combo Priest, which had a bad time in this tournament. Priest as a class tied Warlock with a 50% game win rate.
Paladin came in fourth, led by 23 Even Paladins, 8 Murloc Paladins, and one hybrid Even Murloc Paladin. All of these were part of lineups that enjoyed great success, Murloc Paladin lineups achieving 56% match win rates (and Even Murloc Paladin 57%) while Even Paladin lineups clocked in a respectable 52%. Top-8 saw plenty of Paladins with four Even Paladins and one Murloc Paladin making the cut. Paladin as a class, however, was left with a 48% game win rate.
Rogue lineups had their ups and downs. The field consisted of 23 Quest Rogues, 4 Odd Rogues, and 3 Miracle Rogues, with the top-8 featuring two Quest Rogues and one Miracle Rogue. Lineup stats tell a slightly different story with Miracle Rogue lineups clocking in 62% match win rates and Odd Rogue lineups reaching 56% while Quest Rogue lineups were left behind at 48%. While Quest Rogue worked for some, it did not work at all for others. Rogue as a class reached a 49% game win rate.
Mage was split between two approaches: the aggressive Tempo Mage (19) and the slow and grindy Big Spell Mage (7). This time, aggression was the charm, with three Tempo Mages in the top-8 and Tempo Mage lineups in general reaching 55% match win rates compared to the 40% reached by Big Spell Mage lineups. As a class, Mage reached a 52% game win rate.
The popularity of Warrior was a surprise to me. All 23 Warriors played some control variant: Baku Control (10), Taunt (5), Fatigue (4), Baku Taunt (3), or Control (1). Alas, the class did not deliver. Only one reached the top-8 (Twink with Baku Control Warrior) and none of the archetypes reached over 50% match win rates. With a 39% game win rate, Warrior was the worst-performing class in the tournament.
Want to guess what was the best-performing class in the tournament? Yes, that would be Hunter with its 56% game win rate. Four Spell Hunters and two Baku Face Hunters challenged the paradigm, but none of them made it to the top-8 and the lineups with Hunter in them had disappointing results overall despite Hunter decks being able to take some games. ShtanUdachi made it the furthest with Hunter with his 5-2 record, missing out on top-8 on tiebreakers.
Oh yeah, there was also one Shaman in the tournament. Raena brought Shudderwock Shaman as part of his control lineup and ended up with a 3-4 record in matches with the Shaman deck going 6-5.
All archetypes by class:
- 35 Cubelocks
- 34 Control Warlocks
- 23 Quest Rogues
- 4 Odd Rogues
- 3 Miracle Rogues
- 23 Even Paladins
- 8 Murloc Paladins
- 1 Even Murloc Paladin
- 1 Control Paladin
- 1 Odd Paladin
- 28 Spiteful Druids
- 25 Taunt Druids
- 2 Quest Malygos Druids
- 1 Togwaggle Druid
- 1 Token Druid
- 19 Tempo Mages
- 7 Big Spell Mages
- 42 Mind Blast Priests
- 4 Combo Priest
- 4 Spell Hunters
- 2 Baku Face Hunters
- 10 Baku Control Warriors
- 5 Taunt Warriors
- 4 Fatigue Warriors
- 3 Baku Taunt Warrior
- 1 Control Warrior
- 1 Shudderwock Shaman
Looking at the lineups brought to the tournament, there were several approaches: bringing decks of a specific style, targeting a specific type of deck, or just bringing a bunch of good, well-rounded decks.
Here are the most popular lineups, ones brought by three players or more, and how they performed in the Swiss:
|Deck 1||Deck 2||Deck 3||Deck 4||Count||Wins||Losses||Win percentage|
|Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Even Paladin||Spiteful Druid||3||15||6||71%|
|Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Baku Control Warrior||Taunt Druid||3||15||6||71%|
|Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Even Paladin||Taunt Druid||4||16||9||64%|
|Cubelock||Mind Blast Priest||Murloc Paladin||Spiteful Druid||4||15||12||56%|
|Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Quest Rogue||Spiteful Druid||5||18||16||53%|
|Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Quest Rogue||Spiteful Druid||3||11||10||52%|
|Cubelock||Mind Blast Priest||Quest Rogue||Taunt Druid||4||12||15||44%|
|Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Even Paladin||Spiteful Druid||3||7||12||37%|
|Control Warlock||Combo Priest||Quest Rogue||Taunt Druid||3||3||12||20%|
In the archetype categorization sheet, I have also attempted to categorize entire lineups, and the overall picture looks like this:
|Lineup type||Wins||Losses||Count||Win percentage|
Only four players chose to go down the Aggro path, but their average success was the best. Alas, none of them made it to the top-8. Bringing some of the most powerful decks overall was a strong strategy as well, as can be seen from the top-8 lineups:
|Player||Deck 1||Deck 2||Deck 3||Deck 4||Lineup type|
|A83650||Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Murloc Paladin||Spiteful Druid||Best Decks|
|Bunnyhoppor||Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Even Paladin||Spiteful Druid||Best Decks|
|Faeli||Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Even Paladin||Taunt Druid||Good Decks|
|Fenomeno||Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Even Paladin||Spiteful Druid||Best Decks|
|Riku97||Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Quest Rogue||Taunt Druid||Anti-Control|
|Turna||Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Even Paladin||Quest Rogue||Good Decks|
|Twink||Control Warlock||Mind Blast Priest||Baku Control Warrior||Taunt Druid||Anti-Aggro|
|Viper||Cubelock||Mind Blast Priest||Miracle Rogue||Taunt Druid||Anti-Control|
Three of the players in the top-8 – A83650, Bunnyhoppor, and Fenomeno – brought what I consider to be the Best Decks approach: just grab some of the very best decks, even if they do not target anything in particular. Control Warlock, Cubelock, Mind Blast Priest, Tempo Mage, Murloc Paladin, Even Paladin, and Spiteful Druid form the pool from which this strategy draws its strength.
Two of the players brought what I’ve termed Good Decks. Still not a clear targeting lineup, but there are three great decks in the lineup complemented with one less universal choice: Taunt Druid for Faeli and Quest Rogue for Turna.
Two players, Riku97 and Viper, reached top-8 with an Anti-Control lineup. This strategy is characterized by the presence of both an anti-control Rogue deck (Miracle or Quest) and Taunt Druid.
Finally, Twink reached top-8 with an Anti-Aggro lineup that included both Baku Control Warrior and Taunt Druid.
In this tournament, lineups that had a clear focus could not fully compete with jack-of-all-trades lineups that consisted of some of the best overall decks. Viper made it through with an anti-control lineup, but all other top-4 lineups were less targeted and more about general performance.
Taking a look within the decks themselves, there were some differences that can potentially affect performance. This data is more anecdotal than conclusive, but I found it interesting to highlight some of the more common tech choices.
Quest Rogue decks, for example, were roughly divided along the line of Fire Fly or Wax Elemental. 17 players included Fire Fly in their lists, whereas 7 players went with Wax Elemental (one of the players brought both). Match win rates prove inconclusive with pure Fire Fly lineups going 48-54 and pure Wax Elemental lineups going 21-19, but one of each reaching the top-8.
Cubelocks are another interesting archetype. 20 of the 35 Cubelock players included Rin, the First Disciple into their decks. Of the four Cubelocks in the top-8, Viper was the only one who had Rin in the deck. In match win rates, lineups with Rinned Cubelock in them went 62-66, whereas lineups with pure Cubelock went 56-44. This does not yet show whether Rin was a deciding factor in the results. Another potential explanation is that Rinned Cubelocks targeted control decks, whereas pure Cubelocks followed the best decks strategy, and the overall strength of the lineups was the deciding factor.
There is also some room to adjust Mind Blast Priest. 9 players chose to include Mind Control, and their match win-loss record ended up at 29-30. 33 players ventured to the field without the comfort of Mind Control, reaching 113-102 match win rates. Of the five players in top-8 with Mind Blast Priest, one had Mind Control in his list whereas four did not.
It has been a while since I’ve reviewed ban strategies. In this tournament, however, there was an interesting moment in Thijs vs Hypno mirror lineup match, where Thijs chose to ban Hypno’s Quest Rogue and Hypno went with a Tempo Mage ban instead. The casters wondered why Hypno chose to ban like that, but a simple ban analysis based on deck statistics shows how Hypno’s ban was on point, whereas Thijs’s ban was not.
Here is a table that examines the issue:
|Decks||Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Quest Rogue||Spiteful Druid|
This table shows a situation where both players bring Cubelock, Tempo Mage, Quest Rogue, and Spiteful Druid – the archetypes Hypno and Thijs brought. Each cell shows the predicted win rate of the entire match from the perspective of the player whose decks are in the column based on the combination of bans the two end up with.
For example, by banning Tempo Mage, the player ensures that he can never be unfavored: every cell in the Tempo Mage column is 50% or higher. If he were to ban Quest Rogue instead, he’d never be favored: every cell in the Quest Rogue column is 50% or below.
The ban combination of Tempo Mage and Quest Rogue gives the player who bans Tempo Mage a 54% chance to win the entire match – despite both players bringing the exact same lineups!
Here is another example, Faeli vs Turna in the top-8:
|Decks||Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Even Paladin||Quest Rogue|
|Mind Blast Priest||41%||39%||40%||48%|
The expected ban combination is for Faeli to ban Quest Rogue and Turna to ban Mind Blast Priest, giving Turna 52% to win the match. This ban combination is a Nash equilibrium: neither player can improve their odds of winning by changing their ban, given that the opponent’s ban remains the same. This is also what happened, both player read the situation optimally!
To give yet another example, here is A83650 vs Bunnyhoppor:
|Decks||Cubelock||Tempo Mage||Even Paladin||Spiteful Druid|
|Mind Blast Priest||57%||53%||53%||51%|
This situation is less clear-cut. If A83650 bans Cubelock, Bunnyhoppor bans Murloc Paladin. However, if Bunnyhoppor bans Murloc Paladin, A83650 would rather ban Spiteful Druid instead. But if A83650 bans Spiteful Druid, Bunnyhoppor would rather ban Mind Blast Priest, making A83650 want to move back to Cubelock.
In this case, there are no pure strategy Nash equilibriums, but there is a mixed strategy Nash equilibrium: Bunnyhoppor will ban either Murloc Paladin or Mind Blast Priest with more weight on Murloc Paladin, and A83650 will ban either Cubelock or Spiteful Druid with more weight on Cubelock.
The actual bans were Cubelock and Murloc Paladin, the most favorable of the four alternatives for Bunnyhoppor, but there was no pure strategy way to completely avoid that outcome.
Here are some of the most interesting decks from the top-performing players.
A83650’s Murloc Paladin
If you go for the best decks approach, why not bring the best decks? You may remember this build from Switch’s HCT Taipei winning lineup. You may recognize this build from ladder. Yes, it is literally the most popular Murloc Paladin list in the world, and now it adds a Summer Championship qualification to its impressive resume.
Deck code: AAECAZ8FBsUD8gWvB7nBAoPHAtHhAgzbA6cFpwixCLPBAp3CArHCArjHAuPLAvjSAtblAt6CAwA=
A83650’s Control Warlock
A83650’s take on Control Warlock introduces a card much more familiar from Even Handlock – if anything about Even Handlock is familiar overall – Shroom Brewer. This four-mana 4/4 that heals for four has often flown under the radar, but now it is in the limelight as a mid-size body that can help the Warlock heal up a little bit more.
I’m still waiting for someone to put a Ratcatcher in the deck to counter Skulking Geist, but with the current Geist play rates that might not happen.
Deck code: AAECAf0GCKIC2wbECNPFApfTAtjnArfxApz4AguKAbYHm8IC58sC8tAC+NACiNIC2OUC/OUC6uYC6OcCAA==
Viper’s Miracle Rogue
Compared to the most popular Miracle Rogue lists seen on ladder, Viper’s take includes two copies of Blink Fox for some nasty surprises from the opponent’s class. The deck was part of an anti-control lineup, so it only had one SI:7 Agent to make room for the foxes, as SI:7 is not quite as influential against control as it is against aggro.
Deck code: AAECAaIHBrIC7QKvBN0IgcIC68ICDLQBjALNA70EmwWIB6QHhgnc0QLb4wKm7wLH+AIA
Viper’s Mind Blast Priest
Yes, that’s an Archbishop Benedictus. I did not expect this card to see competitive play, but Europe Summer Playoffs offered not just one, but two major Archbishop Benedictus surprises. First, it was included in the Mind Blast Priest decks of multiple players. Second, one of those players actually made it to the Summer Championship!
The purpose of the card is to target control decks and provide the Priest with some more ammunition while keeping fatigue away. Not a great card in an aggressive meta, but if it’s control you’re looking to beat, the good old Archbishop just might have something to offer.
Deck code: AAECAa0GBpACxQSQB9YKic0CkNMCDKEE5QT2B40I8gz7DNHBAsnHAujQAsvmAvzqAr3zAgA=
Turna’s Tempo Mage
Turna’s take on Tempo Mage does not worry too much about aggro either. The build includes two copies of Amani Berserker and two copies of Lifedrinker – no Mirror Image to defend here. It’s aggressive and it wants to kill you.
Deck code: AAECAf0EAr8IotMCDnG7ApUDqwS0BOYElgXsBZYGwcECmMQCj9MC++wC7/ECAA==
Bunnyhoppor’s Even Paladin
Two copies of Amani Berserker? Check. Two copies of Acidic Swamp Ooze? Check. Two copies of Spellbreaker? Check. Two copies of Avenging Wrath? Check.
Bunnyhoppor’s Even Paladin matches the current perception of the archetype but it also includes a couple of cards that do not see as much play on ladder: The Glass Knight and Dinosize.
Deck code: AAECAZ8FBqrBArnBAsLOArfnAs30Auv3Agz7AdwD8gX0BZYGzwaKB68HsQiWCdnHAvjSAgA=
Bunnyhoppor’s Spiteful Druid
There are a couple of fine touches that I really like in Bunnyhoppoer’s Spiteful Druid.
First, the list runs only one Mind Control Tech. Mind Control Tech is mostly good against Paladin and Druid, and I’ve often wondered if it is worth including in Spiteful Druid – and I’ve sometimes cut it altogether when playing on ladder. For an open deck list tournament, including one is a good move, as it forces the opponent to play around it, but also reduces your commitment to the card.
Second, the list runs Druid of the Claw over Leeroy Jenkins. Leeroy is a powerful finisher, but it is often an awkward card for Spiteful Druid that wants to play for tempo and not hold on to cards for a long period of time. Druid of the Claw provides a Charge minion, but also a lot more flexibility to use it for other purposes than a finisher.
Deck code: AAECAZICCLQF3gXKwwLKywLCzgKZ0wKc4gLQ5wIL8gWXwQKfwgLrwgKbywKHzgKR0ALR4QL55gLX6wKL7gIA
Twink’s Baku Control Warrior
The lone Warrior in top-8, Twink brought a Baku Control Warrior to the tournament. There were several different types of Warriors, with or without Baku and with or without the Quest, and this one falls to the pure Baku Control side of things – no Quests needed.
I like the double Direhorn Hatchlings, Azalina Soulthief, and double Fiery War Axe – choices not included in all variants.
Deck code: AAECAQcK0AKTBPwE3gWQB/kM08UCmu4Cze8CnvgCCkuiApEDogT/B5vCAqLHAsrnArrsAp3wAgA=
ElMachico’s Odd Rogue
Aggro lineups had good average results, but the final peak was left missing. ElMachico got closest with a 5-2 record, missing out on top-8 on tiebreakers.
His take on Odd Rogue comes with double Silence and double Vicious Fledgling, really intent to push through those defenses and press the issue.
I particularly enjoy the Blink Foxes in this build, as they give Odd Rogue some surprises without sacrificing too much tempo.
Deck code: AAECAaIHBMgDrwTKwwKe+AINjAKiAssD1AX1Bd0IgcICn8IC68IC0eECi+UCpu8Cx/gCAA==
ShtanUdachi’s Spell Hunter
ShtanUdachi brought Hunter further than anyone else at the tournament, going 5-2 and missing out on top-8 on tiebreakers. His archetype of choice was Spell Hunter, which can still pressure opponents even without the Barnes + Y’Shaarj combo that it became known for before those cards rotated out of Standard.
Deck code: AAECAR8GhwTtBobDAunSAobTAtzuAgyNAagCtQPJBJcI2wn+DN3SAt/SAuPSAuHjAurjAgA=
Swidz’s Togwaggle Druid
When someone – in this case Swidz – brings Togwaggle Druid to a tournament and proceeds to go 5-2 with his lineup, only missing out on top-8 on tiebreakers, it has just got to be featured.
Togwaggle Druid is a fatigue deck. At its purest, you draw your own deck, Naturalize something on the board to fill the opponent’s hand, and play King Togwaggle to switch decks – giving your opponent nothing and getting their remaining deck while burning the ransom card from them so that they cannot switch the decks back.
Deck code: AAECAZICBPkMws4CmdMC/esCDUBf6QG0BcQG5AjKwwLJxwKgzQKU0gKY0gKe0gKE5gIA
Raena’s Shudderwock Shaman
I must admit that I am not a fan of Shudderwock Shaman. The OTK combo prevents me from playing my favorite grinder decks if the deck is popular. However, when there is exactly one person who brings Shaman to the tournament, and actually wins some games with it – the deck had a 6-5 record – that earns a feature.
The OTK combo revolves around Saronite Chain Gang (makes copies of Shudderwock), Lifedrinker (deals damage to the opponent), and Grumble, Worldshaker (return copied Shudderwocks to your hand).
Raena’s build does not include Murmuring Elemental, which guarantees a Shudderwock back to hand even if Grumble’s Battlecry is the first to trigger, but that has apparently not stopped him at all.
Deck code: AAECAaoICIoB9QTTxQKr5wLD6gKn7gLv8QLv9wILlQH/BfYH+wzHwQKbywL70wLz5wLf6QL28AKB9gIA