Altenberg gives you his Lineup Trends data for Week 5 of Legacy, Hero, and Pro Series.
It is highly unusual to have two rounds of card changes within the first 5 weeks of our THL season, but here we are. We had a round of card nerfs right before week 2, and then we had a round of card buffs right before week 5 (and of course a week extension after some people left the THL organization). It has made the regular appearance of Lineup Trends a challenge and made regular data collecting very difficult. In any case, Lineup Trends is back, and barring anymore unexpected card changes, we should be able to keep rolling from week to week until we reach the end of the regular season for each series.
I know that the topic has been discussed ad nauseum on the official THL discord, and if you want to skip this long paragraph, feel free to scroll on by! But I wanted to address the THL social and competitive environment. What follows is my own opinion and since I’m not on the THL Board and don’t speak for THL in any official capacity, what follows is simply my own opinion. Firstly, I’m very sad to see so many of my Hearthstone friends leave THL. I’m sorry that they were hurt and had a bad experience, and I hope that maybe someday they’ll reconsider. But there is a reason that we have seen many people leave the organization over consecutive seasons, and I think by-and-large, those players felt the environment is too hostile, toxic and unhealthy, and they have been right, to a certain degree. I have seen some pretty awful things posted in the THL discord social channels over the years to the point where I don’t even really follow it anymore. But I have decided to stay in THL, because I believe there is so much potential for it to be a great place to make friends, get better at hearthstone and compete. THL gives me a reason to stay engaged with the game and scratch the competitive itch. Rather than dismiss THL as toxic and storm off in a fit of rage, I would rather stay and work to make it better. With that idea in mind, I think the organization needs to very clearly state what kind of behavior should be allowed and encouraged in THL (which includes behavior on the website, twitter, email communication and discord channels). And clear consequences beyond “case-by-case basis” or “at the THL board’s discretion” need to be articulated. When players don’t have a clear idea of what is expected of them when they interact with other players in THL, and don’t have a clear idea of the punishments for when they don’t meet those expectations, then you are asking for continued behavior and disciplinary problems. I think in the case of the past few episodes over the past few seasons, we had cases where players had different expectations about what kind of behavior is allowed in THL. Some view THL as an adult-oriented rec league for R-rated content and player-to-player interactions. Therefore, we have had occasional explicit language and alcohol consumption on our content streams and rampant trash-talking and explicit language in the THL discord that in rare cases lead to harassment. On the other hand, some view it as a legitimate semi-pro league that is striving to build itself towards a professional organization that is family friendly and follows Blizzard’s code of conduct guidelines as if this were the Vegas Masters Tournament. Those two ideas for what THL can be are incompatible and can’t co-exist, and it’s the THL Board’s responsibility to decide what this organization is and what kind of culture and environment we’re going to foster. Once that’s decided, it needs to be clearly stated on the website, twitter and discord what we’re all about. If we’re going to be just a rec-league with adult language and trash-talking that could continue to lead to harassment, then that needs to be made clear so that if people don’t want that, they won’t join THL in the first place. I don’t really want that, and I hope THL grows up and moves away from the “rec league” that it is now. I will do everything I can as a player and content producer to encourage the players in THL and the THL board to make this a more professional organization that is positive, welcoming, and family-friendly. And I would encourage anyone reading this to do the same.
Week 5 of Legacy saw an increase in lineup diversity with 36 unique lineups brought out of a possible 100. That said, only one lineup distinguished itself above the pack, brought by 10 different people. No other lineup was brought by more than 7 people and most were brought by only 1 or 2. Hunter was the most popular class, brought by almost everyone and stood in a Tier all by itself. Shaman, Druid, and Warrior were the next most popular classes, and then there was a log-jam of everything else expect Priest. Below are the most popular classes in Legacy from Week 5:
Most Popular Lineup – Druid, Hunter, Shaman, Warrior
Week 5 Stats
Matches: 5-5 (50%)
Games: 21-23 (48%)
This lineup was just a mediocre option last week going 5-5 in matches and having an overall losing record in games. Pilots of this lineup had a wide variety of ban strategy, which makes me wonder if pilot error contributed to the somewhat low win-rate. On the flip-side, opponents of this lineup favored a Warrior ban, but it is in that exact scenario where the lineup performed the best. This makes me think that a new meta with card buffs caused pilots and opponents of this lineup to use sub-optimal strategy on both sides. We’ll have to see how this lineup does going forward.
Week 5 of Hero Series had an explosion of diversity. We saw 36 unique lineups out of a possible 80. While one lineup was popular, having been brought by 11 people, no other lineup was brought by more than five, with most being brought by only one or two people. This made trying to identify any trends extremely difficult. That said, Hunter and Warrior were the two most popular classes by a wide margin. Shaman, Mage and Druid made up a kind of “Tier 2” of popularity with Paladin, Rogue and Warlock close behind. Priest was only used in 3 lineups, a near complete abandoning of the class. Here is a list of the most popular classes from Week 5:
Most Popular Lineup – Druid, Hunter, Shaman, Warrior
Week 5 Stats
Matches: 3-8 (27%)
Games: 21-30 (41%)
This lineup was not only the most popular in Legacy Series above, but also here in Hero Series. While it was merely a 50% lineup in the Conquest format, it did much worse in the LHS format. Pilots of this lineup tried to ban Warrior, and that’s understandable with Druid and Shaman in the lineup, but that 0-5 mark in that scenario is really concerning. Meanwhile, opponents of this lineup wanted to ban Druid or Warrior, and surprisingly that is when the lineup picked up the most wins. With only 11 matches, this is also a small sample size for sure, but the lineup simply did not perform very well. It’s difficult to determine why this lineup did so badly, but my guess is that players were over-valuing the early days decks and the meta-game shifted away from classes like Druid and/or Shaman. In any case, I will be very curious to see where the meta ends up after Week 6 and if this lineup can rebound in the LHS format.
Last week in Pro Series was kind of rough as a couple of teams had members competing in Vegas and took No-Contest decisions in their matches. That’s what happens when you’ve got a Series dedicated to Pro players! But interestingly, the THL Pro Series meta last week seemed to mimic the ladder meta more closely than it did the Masters Tournament meta in Vegas. Vegas Masters Tour was dominated by Warrior, Mage and Rogue, while THL last week was dominated by Hunter, Paladin and Shaman….huh? Bring on the mechs indeed. What follows is a discussion of the three most popular classes and decks from Pro Series.
Hunter was brought by 10 folks last week, or 20% of players. Hunter went collectively 4-4 in matches and 10-12 in games (2 of players that brought Hunter had no-contest rulings). Six of the ten Hunters were Mech Hunters while the remaining four were Mid-range with a Zuljin finish. Mech Hunter out-performed Midrange last week going 3-2 in matches and 8-6 in games, while Midrange Hunter went 1-2 in matches and 2-5 in games. Interestingly, Mech Hunter (whose best match up is probably Mage or Bomb Warrior) did not face a single Mage and matched up against only one Warrior (and it got swept). So, while Hunter was popular last week, likely as a Mage/Warrior counter, it kind of whiffed in that role.
Paladin was brought by 8 folks last week, or 16% of players. Paladin went a collective 3-4 in matches and 8-10 in games (1 of the matches was a no contest). Five players brought Mech Paladin, while three players brought Holy Wrath Paladin. Neither deck was all that successful with Mech Paladin going 2-2 in matches and 5-6 in games while Holy Wrath Paladin went 1-2 in matches and 3-4 in games. Mech Paladin is a great choice against Warrior and Rogue, but it went 1-1 in those scenarios. Holy Wrath Paladin doesn’t have a great match up spread, but it is effective against Rogue and Warlock. Unfortunately, it lost it’s one Warlock match up leading to a decidedly disappointing showing for the class.
Shaman was brought by 5 people, or 10% of players. Shaman disappointed last week going 2-3 in matches and 5-6 in games overall. There was quite a lot of diversity in the various shaman decks. There was one Murloc Shaman, two Control Shamans and two Aggro-Overload Shamans. The Control and Aggro-Overload decks both split their matches and games while the Murloc Shaman lost it’s one match 1-2. The sample sizes here are so small it’s barely worth breaking it down. While Aggro Overload Shaman has an uneven match up spread, its best match up is probably Mage or Warlock. It split both of those games. Control Shaman has an even worse match up spread, but consistently beats Warlock. It split matches against a pair of Paladins. Murloc Shaman put up a good fight against Midrange Hunter but ultimately fell in a slightly unfavored match up. Shaman might have its uses in spots, but overall it seems pretty risky in the Specialist format and only 5% of players brought it to the recent Master’s Tour in Vegas (none of them were “Grand Masters”). No Shamans made Top 8, although one Murloc Shaman pilot made top 21 with a 9-3 record. So, take that information and do what you want with it. Although, maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better after losing to Itachi’s Shaman last week.
I found it almost shocking to have the THL Pro Series meta be so completely different than the Vegas Masters Tour meta. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m increasingly convinced that the single-deck Specialist Format is not a good fit for our once-a-week THL format due the highly volatile and swingy nature of single match win percentages. If you pick the wrong deck and land in an unfavored position, it makes it very difficult to win, even with tech cards. Unlike the Masters Cups where you play in a swiss format and have several games played against different opponents over a short period of time to even out the matchup spreads, here in THL you just get one shot in a quick best-of-three each week. And while it is also technically a swiss format, the long time-frame means that the meta in Week 1 is completely different than the meta in Week 6, making the whole point of the swiss format evening out match up spreads completely irrelevant. So, if you choose the wrong deck in a given week, then you’re almost guaranteed to lose. So much of the games are decided by simply choosing the right deck against your opponent without the option to counter-queue or plan out any targeting or ban strategies like in the Conquest and LHS formats. Our Pro Series does offer players excellent practice against strong opponents, but IMO it doesn’t do a very good job replicating the Specialist Format as it’s intended to be used in Blizzard Masters Cups and Tournaments.
Until next week, good luck and have fun.
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