HCT Americas Summer Playoff Analysis

The HCT Americas Summer Playoffs ended this past weekend, packed full of exciting games and new names making the top eight. Today I’ll take a look at the lineup of all 70 players in the tournament.

The deck distribution by popularity:

  1. Jade Druid - 69

  2. Kazakus Priest - 58

  3. Murloc Paladin - 34

  4. Pirate Warrior - 28

  5. Handlock - 18

  6. Evolve Shaman - 17

  7. Exodia Mage - 12

  8. Quest Warrior - 8

  9. Quest Rogue - 6

  10. Freeze Mage, Big Priest - 5

  11. Midrange Hunter - 4

  12. Control Paladin / Silence Priest / N’Zoth Warrior - 3

  13. Secret Mage - 2

  14. Quest Druid / Burn Mage / Midrange Jade Shaman / Control Warlock / Fatigue Warrior - 1

Which gives us the following class distribution:

  1. Druid - 70

  2. Priest - 66

  3. Warrior - 40

  4. Paladin - 37

  5. Mage - 20

  6. Warlock - 19

  7. Shaman - 18

  8. Rogue - 6

  9. Hunter - 4

Analysis

I want to take a look at three lineups that were brought to the tournament. First, I want to highlight the “standard” lineup, composed of the four most popular decks: Jade Druid, Murloc Paladin, Aggro Pirate Warrior, and Kazakus Priest. This lineup was used by Amnesiac, a player known widely for his skill and multiple consistent tops within the scene. His lineup can be found here.

Amnesiac’s lineup included a large number of different techs. His Paladin deck included one Stormwatcher in order for him to have the Windfury buff on his Corpsetakers. This is similar to what Brian Kibler, a renown Magic: The Gathering player that is now deeply involved competitive Hearthstone, has recently done but utilizing a Grook-Fu Master instead.

Amnesiac also decided to remove the double Equality and Primordial Drake. In place of the Drake, Amnesiac added a Cobalt Scalebane for his Curator to draw him a Dragon in the Curator package. The main form of removal in this deck was purely minion based, utilizing Sunkeeper Tarim for most of his AOE clears and buffs, like Blessing of Kings; and Bonemare, for his single target removal. The last thing that stood out about this Murloc Paladin deck was using only one copy of Spikeridged Steed. Due to its high power and defensive utility, Spikeridged is generally a card utilized heavily against both aggro and control decks in order to trade well and maintain a healthy life total. This deck was clearly meant to snowball his early lead in order to pressure his opponent with very large buffed murlocs.

For Amnesiac’s Jade Druid, he went along with Zalae’s opinion and brought along two Mark of the Lotus’ to buff his board and his Spreading Plague boards. He also brought along two Spellbreakers and a Bonemare, to help deal with midrange threats. Otherwise, his Pirate Warrior and Kazakus Priest decklists are both pretty standard.

 

The next two lineups I wanted to address were the top two players: Nalguidan and Purple.

Nalguidan brought one of four Hunter decks to the tournament, which included two copies of Hungry Crab for the Murloc Paladin matchup, two Golakka Crawlers for the Pirate Warrior matchup, and a single copy of Stitched Tracker to fish for the Bittertide Hydra and Savannah Highmane. This allows the deck to play its major threats early while being able to stabilize against control decks later on in the game with Deathstalker Rexxar.

His Jade Druid was definitely teched against aggro more, including two copies of Doomsayer and a Primordial Drake. He also added a single Eater of Secrets in order to deal with one of the harder matchups for the deck: Exodia Mage. This allowed this Druid, if unbanned, to win out against the faster decks that it is unfavored against, like Aggro Pirate Warrior.

His other two decks, Pirate Warrior and Kazakus Priest, were both pretty standard, outside of the Mind Blast addition in Kazakus Priest. This addition seemed like a great tech choice for additional synergy with Lyra, the Sunshard and extra reach to end the game.
 

The winner of the HCT Americas Summer Playoffs was Purple. Purple teched his entire lineup heavily against aggro, utilizing Golakka Crawlers and Gluttonous Ooze in three out of his four decks. This was mostly due to the fact that Pirate Warrior was his main weakness against his lineup. Since most players banned Druid in the best-of-five matchups, he was comfortable either losing one game to Pirate Warrior in order for him to not have to play against it while also being moderately favored due to his tech choices.

His Murloc Paladin list was also very similar to Amnesiac’s but the main difference was the lack of Corpsetaker and it’s supporting minions. Instead, he opted to bring two Cobalt Scalebane and two Spikeridged Steed, to further help the Curator draws and to help improve matchups against non-midrange decks. He also re-included Hydrologist to have access to additional resources in Paladin secrets. Lastly, he decided against the necessity of Finja and opted for a more controlling version where he added an additional weapon in Truesilver Champion.

He also decided to ditch Pirate Warrior for Handlock for a more control oriented lineup that isn’t as highly dependant on his draws. This overall shows that Purple was prepared to play against aggressive decks like Pirate Warrior and also play very stable decks that did not rely on having early game cards like Fiery War Axe in his opening hand. I personally love the addition of Handlock in his lineup for this reason. Defile is a great card to deal with early aggression and along with two Doomsayers and two Golakka Crawlers, the deck is well equipped to deal with early pressure and respond well.

Overall these lineups were all very balanced, minus the addition of Hunter which is a detriment to Nalguidan’s win rate according to most pros even though he was able to do well with his heavily teched Hunter deck. With this last HCT Championship tournament, we look forward to Blizzcon for the Hearthstone World Championship.

Stray Thoughts

I was honestly surprised to see only one Fatigue Warrior deck, with many players like Dog and Trump touting the deck to be one of the best. Nalguidan was able to bring one of the four Hunter decks that were played in the tournament and made it into the top two , which is an impressive feat, due to its difficult time dealing with non-Druid decks like Murloc Paladin and Kazakus Priest. Monsanto, the only play to not bring Jade Druid, decided to bring Quest Druid instead with no Tortollan Foragers in his deck to tackle the early game, he quickly lost in the play-in rounds receiving one win and two losses due to his inability to deal with other decks. Quest Rogue finally returns after it’s heavy nerf to five minions played with the same name instead of four, a change that was made almost three months ago. Lastly, I think it’s always fun to see more gimmicky decks, like Silence Priest, make it into competitive play.