We have now seen just over two weeks of competitive Hearthstone play in the Specialist format. There has been a slight shift in the Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers Week 2 Meta. Whether players like it or not, Hunter continues to increase in popularity.
Pirate Rogue, sometimes called Myra-cle Rogue, saw some decent success in week one, but wasn’t a very popular choice. Players saw how good it was against Hunter, and a lot more people picked up the deck. This led to more Rogues winning their way to Las Vegas.
The increase in Rogue saw Priest suffer. Priests, especially the most popular Control Priest, have a hard time handling the Rogue minions and direct damage. They have basically no way to answer all of the four attack minions. They also have a hard time dealing with the weapons. Priests could run an Ooze, but the Rogue carries two weapons, Captain Greenskin, and two Deadly Poisons. They could throw up a taunt, but it could easily get Sapped or Vilespine Slayer’d.
A large part of Rogue’s success against Hunter is that Hunters lack taunts, board clears, and healing. Without these tools it is a very uphill battle against the Rogue.
The match up against Midrange Hunter usually results in a race for each side to kill the opponent. The Hunters have now also started including Golakka Crawler in their alternate decks as a beast that instantly removes the Pirate minions of Rogue.
There are even more Midrange Hunters as time goes on in the Masters Qualifiers. The deck has proven it is the strongest, and every deck that isn’t Midrange Hunter has to tech against the match up. Because of this, even Midrange Hunter’s bad matchups aren’t so bad in the Specialist format.
With the uptick in Rogue decks, Hunter can tech for the matchup at no expense to their win rate. Golakka Crawler deals with the pesky Dread Corsairs and Captain Greenskin while developing board at the same time. This often leaves the Rogue with few outs, hoping a buffed up Shadowblade can carry them to lethal damage.
Even with Control decks being a bad matchup for the aggressive Midrange Hunter, Dire Frenzy and Deathstalker Rexxar can just win those games anyway. Against Odd Warrior, curving into Rexxar on turn six, putting Dire Frenzy on a high value beast, and drawing it out with Master’s Call can destroy the Warrior.
A lot of the deck’s success rides on the back of high tempo early game plays into high value mid game plays. Deathstalker Rexxar also easily makes up for most of the weaknesses of the deck. When lacking AOE removal, running out of cards, or needing a minion to completely turn the game around, Rexxar provides any one of these tools. The meta has been figured out for a while, and Midrange Hunter will rule competitive until the Standard rotation hits.
Odd Paladin was hanging around in week one because of it’s success against Hunters. Now it is even more popular because of its success against the rising Pirate Rogue.
The short of the story in the match up between Rogue and Paladin, is that the Rogue lacks any AOE removal. Odd Paladin creates wide boards, the Rogue can’t deal with them, and the Paladin wins the game. Even if the Rogue converts to a game plan of sending all of their damage face, the Paladin can create a bunch of annoying, small taunts that thwart that attempt.
The same problem is seen by Hunters as well. The deck lacks AOE removal, and can easily be overwhelmed by the Hunter. However, if the Hunter finds both of their Unleash the Hounds, and their Deathstalker Rexxar, the Hunter can easily win the matchup. Odd Paladin runs out of steam quite quickly, and if their board is continuously cleared, they have no way of dealing damage.
Odd Paladin is easily defeated by Priests and Warlocks, but less of those exist within the meta. Warlocks aren’t prevalent because they face the same dilemma as Priests when it comes to Rogue. Hellfires don’t do four damage, and their Taunt minions are simply Sapped away.
There exists a huge disparity between Hunter and everything else. It can get quite boring seeing who can high roll who harder in the Midrange Hunter mirror. However, this will continue to occur for the next month or so until the new set.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and Battlefy.