Takeaways and tech decisions from HCT World Championship decks



▲ With all 16 competitors decklists' public, it's time to dissect the lineup.


In one week, 16 of the world’s best Hearthstone players from around the globe will be competing against one another in the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) 2019 World Championship. Taking place in Taipei, a $1 million prize pool is up for grabs, as well as the glory of the title itself.


On Wednesday, all 16 competitors' deck selections were made public. Each player got the opportunity to select four decks from four different classes. The full list of decks can be found here.


Below are a few takeaways from the pool of decks and cards that will be showcased next week.


Ladder does not reflect the tournament meta


For those of you who have been playing ladder since the Rise of Shadows expansion launched recently, you’re bound to have run into a few Druid players. According to Vicious Syndicate, a site that collects Hearthstone replay information, Token Druid is played approximately one out of every 10 games on ladder at the Legend ranking. HSReplay, another replay site, confirms that information as well.


Although one out of every 10 games may not seem popular, Token Druid is one of the top three most played decks on ladder behind Bomb Warrior and Tempo/Lackey Rogue, depending on which site you check. Not only is the deck played often but it performs well at Legend Rank, according to the data.


If you take a look at the HCT World Championship decklists, you will see that Druid is only represented by two individuals: Ike and SNJing. Both players are piloting different versions of the deck as well.


▲ According to Vicious Syndicate, Token Druid is featured in about one of every 10 games at Legend rank.


Another observation that differs from a typical ladder experience is the popularity of Warlock in this event. 11 of the 16 competitors brought a variation of Zoo Warlock. While Zoo Warlock has performed well —sitting at about 52% win rate, according to HSReplay— it isn’t a deck that is seen a ton on ladder. Both data sites have the deck having an appearance rate of around 4.7%.


While this varies based on the player, perhaps the competitors chose a deck style that, historically, does well at high-level play or will succeed against the decks they assume they will be playing against.


Either way, what we have been seeing on Hearthstone’s ladder does not necessarily always translate to the tournament meta.



Unique tech decisions


If every single player brought the same Rogue, Warrior or Hunter deck the competition would get old quick. When you fill a room with some of the brightest minds in the world of Hearthstone, their creative genius is bound to rub off on one another as they try to out-wit and out-play their way to victory. That mentality extends to the deck building process as well.


Of the six Shaman decks entered into the tournament, only Hunterace is running, not one, but two post-nerfed Giggling Inventors. Once ruled dead by the community when its’ mana cost was bumped up by two, Hunterace is out to prove that it still has its place in the meta.


Viper isn’t the only individual who is running Heistbaron Togwaggle to try and high-roll his way to victory if he cannot snowball the early to mid-game. What his variant does feature is two copies of WANTED! to not only provide removal but generate a Coin to use with his two Gadgetzan Auctioneers to cycle through his deck faster.


▲ Is WANTED! going to put Viper's Rogue deck over the top?


Not to be out-done, Languagehacker has opted to run one Betrayal in his Rogue deck to help keep the board clean when an opponent strings together large minions that would otherwise be too much to handle. If a Mage player thinks they can jam numerous Mountain Giants against a Rogue without being punished, think again.


Finally, there’s Roger. Not only is he the only player out of the 12 who brought a Hunter deck to run Mech Hunter but he is the sole Paladin deck user as well.


On both data sites, Mech Hunter is actually performing better with a higher win rate yet the vast majority of competitors felt more comfortable bringing the midrange variant. As far as his Paladin deck goes...it's wacky. Mech Paladin is performing quite well on ladder currently by utilizing a sticky core of creatures to whittle down the opponent as the game progresses. Roger's addition of Nozari and Da Undatakah is an even greedier approach to churn out more value over time, perhaps to combat late-game Warrior and Mage decks.


Perhaps he is on to something. Perhaps it will blow up in his face.


▲ Is Roger a mad genius or just mad?


When $1 million is on the line, sometimes thinking outside of the box is the way to go.


The HCT World Championship kicks off on Wednesday, April 24 with the Group Stage portion of the tournament. You can watch the broadcast on Hearthstone's official Twitch channel (twitch.tv/PlayHearthstone) starting at 7 p.m. PDT.


What do you think about the pro's deck selections? Let us know in the comments section below.


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