The Hearthstone World Championships represent the most lethal and efficient decks the game has to offer. The players competing have studied the Rise of Shadows meta as much as possible in Preparation (pun unavoidable) for this tournament and class distribution statistics tell a clear story of consensus: Rogue, Warrior and Warlock decks are king.
Rogue - 15 decks (94%)
Warrior - 13 decks (81%)
Warlock - 11 decks (69%)
Hunter - 8 decks (50%)
Mage - 7 decks (48%)
Shaman - 6 decks (38%)
Druid - 2 decks (13%)
Paladin - 1 deck (6%)
Priest - 1 decks (6%)
So viewers will watch more Rogue, Warrior and Warlock matchups than any other class and certain cards in those decks define their lethality. Here are our picks for the most impactful cards that will almost assuredly be involved in the most game-winning (or losing) moments of the tournament.
Waggle PickFeat. Raiding Party and Captain Greenskin
Waggle Pick is part of a long history of Hearthstone weapons that prove incredibly powerful thanks to their ability to deal tons of damage efficiently. Its Deathrattle ability is already incredibly powerful when paired with other Rogue cards, creating burst damage scenarios that, without a doubt, define the entire meta.
You may not actually see many Waggle Picks during the World Championships on account of Rogue being banned so often but, when players do play with this card, the game state revolves around it.
Dr. Boom, Mad GeniusThe value generating champ.
With the majority of Hero Cards rotating out of the Standard format, Dr. Boom, Mad Genius remains as simply one of the most powerful class cards in the game. This card gives Warriors a huge edge in the late game and allows the class to permanently stabilize against the aggressive decks in the format.
Dr. Boom, Mad Genius is a World Championship heavy hitter and players must always be aware of this card when facing against Warrior.
ZilliaxBecause it is in practically every deck.
Zilliax is just an incredible card that neatly fits into almost every deck. The unique combination of keywords on this card makes it a draw players are always happy to see, as it helps decks stabilize when they are behind and cement their lead when they are ahead.
The instant Lifesteal capabilities alongside Magnetic is also a big factor in surviving otherwise lethal situations. Zilliax will be doing a lot of rushing into enemy minions during the World Championships, so expect to see in practically every match.
BrawlWin Brawls, Win the tournament
What else left is there to say about Brawl? Warrior's most iconic class card is, yet again, one of the most important cards competitive players must consider when playing with (and against) a Warrior deck.
The RNG factor of Hearthstone is in full display whenever someone plays a game-deciding Brawl. And, yet, the ability to mitigate potential unlucky outcomes by throwing friendly minions into the Brawl beforehand is one of the most skill-testing elements piloting a Warrior deck. More than one game of the World Championships will likely be decided by clutch Brawl at the best (or worst) time possible.
Grim RallyZoo will never die
Turns out destroying your own minion isn't that big of a drawback when the minions in your deck are expendable, cheap, or in some cases, designed to die thanks to a powerful Deathrattle. When Zoo deck starts the game with an explosive board state, it's almost always thanks to a key Grim Rally that buffs a horde of small minions into more threatening ones.
Warlock decks that have drawn Grim Rally and those that haven't feel pretty different in terms of power level. When Warlock is on stage and the match ends quickly, chances are Grim Rally is the culprit.
Conjurer's CallingHonorable Mention
Mage decks aren't as popular in the World Championships this year, but Conjurer's Calling is powerful enough to warrant seven of them built around its effect. The RNG aspect of this card compels its inclusion of luck-based highlight reels, but that also means smartly playing around different Conjurer's Calling outcomes becomes a unique way for professionals to edge out a percentage or so.
What mana cost as the highest likely hood for Taunt minions? What mana cost has the highest chance of creating minions with charge? These type of scenarios are of serious consideration when playing with Conjurer's Calling and the World Championship will include many plays around these decisions.
Spell Hunter was, at one point, a joke of a deck archetype that few players ever took seriously. Nowadays, Hunter spells are among the classes most powerful cards and Zul'Jin is a powerful incentive to play them.
At 10 mana, Zul'Jin's power level lies entirely in its Battle Cry ability. It is the ultimate Hail Mary that allows Hunter decks who may have run out of steam one last play to win the game or at least bring things back to parity. Will the World Championship be decided by the ghost of Yogg-Sarron returning to ruin esports? No, Zul'jin is a bit more controlled than that, but the chance of game-winning Zul'jin's is still likely whenever Hunter takes the stage.
Check out sights from the World Championships here and stay tuned for more Hearthstone content from our team covering the event in Taiwan!
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.