We are several days into the Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers. Of the first 23 players to qualify, the decks to get them there have been 7 Midrange Hunters, 6 Deathrattle Hunters, 3 Cube Warlocks, 1 Big Spell Mage, 2 Control Priests, 2 Odd Paladins, and 1 Odd Warrior. As one could plainly see, that’s a lot of Hunter. Let’s take a closer look at the Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers Week 1 Meta.
Midrange and Cube Hunter
Hunter makes up 56 percent of the total qualifier winners to this point. It’s been a pretty even split between Midrange Hunter and Deathrattle Hunter. Midrange Hunter is a flat out good early game deck, while Deathrattle Hunter is better against Midrange’s weak match ups.
Midrange Hunter has the best first three turns in the game. They can go Dire Mole into Crackling Razormaw into Animal Companion. Aggressive decks that go second against this turn sequencing usually don’t stand a chance of winning. Only can Control decks that have been prepared to beat Midrange Hunter can handle them.
Bringing a Control deck suited to beat Midrange Hunter could be a very good counter strategy as Midrange Hunter makes up about 50 percent of top eight finishes. These decks consist of Big Spell Mage, Control Priest, and Odd Warrior.
Deathrattle Hunter picks up some of the slack against those same control decks. It sacrifices the early game in order to make very strong board states that are too difficult to clear through normal means. Warrior cannot do too much about Deathrattle Minions other than Ironbeak Owl tech, while Big Spell Mage sometimes simply doesn’t run Polymorph. However, Control Priest is a very tough match up for Deathrattle Hunter simply because Psychic Scream can clear up any board state cleanly.
Deathrattle Hunter can be teched to beat Midrange Hunter through Tar Creeper in the early game, Gluttonous Ooze for the potential Headhunter’s Hatchet, and making all of the Beasts off of Kathrena Winterwisp taunts.
The Control Decks
Besides Hunter, Cubelock, Big Spell Mage, Control Priest, and Odd Warrior have all been able to win qualifiers.
Cubelock is an interestingly strong deck overall, it is one of the most easily teched against decks. Any of the Oozes can deal with Skull of the Man’ari. Silence effects can deal with Voidlords and Carnivorous Cubes. However, once a Doomguard is Cubed, whether or not that Cube gets silenced doesn’t prevent the Doomguard from coming back off Bloodreaver Guldan. If multiple Doomguards come out at any stage of the game, that usually results in a win.
Big Spell Mage is a very strong Control deck. The deck has good board clears with Dragon’s Fury, Blizzard, and Flamestrike. They have decent single target removal with Voodoo Doll and Meteor. In the later stages of the game they have powerful value with healing from Frostlich Jaina. Its only weakness is getting through the first few turns.
Control Priest has good game against most decks. It can clear both Midrange Hunter and Deathrattle Hunter boards. It can also easily kill Warlocks since they must use life as a resource. The classes that most commonly put an end to a Priest run would be Warrior and Druid. However, the Priest can tech with Archbishop Benedictus and have much better odds than it has any business having.
Odd Warrior certainly grinds up Midrange Hunters. As long as they continue to make up 50 percent of the field, Odd Warrior will be a decent choice for qualifiers. The issue with Odd Warrior is it has a really difficult time getting past Deathrattle Hunters, Cubelocks, Clone Priest, and Big Spell Mage.
Odd Paladin and Hunter Prevalence
Lastly is the Odd Paladin archetype. This deck still sticks around because of its strength against Midrange Hunter. Midrange Hunter has to get some lucky draws in order to keep up with the boards of Odd Paladin. However, there are so many decks that aren’t Hunter that are good against Odd Paladin.
Control Priest, Warlocks, and Odd Warrior all have strong match ups against Odd Paladin. Should Odd Paladin encounter these decks, it will more than likely end in a defeat. Though for now, so much Hunter is seen in qualifiers that Odd Paladin will be a good deck for the foreseeable future.
The reason why Midrange Hunter specifically is played so much is because of its per Arcane Dust value. The deck only has one legendary and two epic cards, making it one of the cheapest meta decks. On top of that, its win rate is quite high.
Since these qualifiers are open tournaments, many players who aren’t typical competitive players have given them a try. These players tend not to have huge collections, so as such they go after the cheap decks. Midrange Hunter is the best deck for the value. It is also a fairly straight-forward deck to play. So long as new players continue to play, they will tend to lean on Midrange Hunter.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via their official website.