In Hearthstone, players don’t necessarily practice and prepare within their esports teams for tournaments. Teams are much looser organizationally than in team-based esports, so it generally requires a bit more work to figure out who is practicing with who.
Often players will gravitate towards the other top players from their country, and that’s certainly true with Germany. Raphael “BunnyHoppor” Peltzer, who won the HCT Summer Championship last night, practiced with a number of his fellow countryman—including fellow competitor Torbin “Viper” Wahl. The players ended up bringing an identical lineup, card for card, and piloted that lineup to the top four.
That means both players are going to the World Championships, a huge endorsement of the pair’s strategy. They clearly did something very right. So what were the decks they played, and how did they perform?
Big Spell Mage
For some analysts, Big Spell Mage was a controversial inclusion. It’s not considered a super strong deck, but it does have a super strong card—Frost Lich Jaina. if you can get that card off, it becomes very very hard to beat the deck. The combination of the 3/6 Water Elementals and the Lifesteal becomes an incredibly threatening board.
The deck does have removal options like Polymorph that help against strong decks like Taunt Druid. If you can Polymorph a Hadranox, it can’t come back from Witching Hour.
The deck’s winrate for the pair is somewhat skewed by Viper’s 0-3 loss to Wu “XiaoT” Juwei in the group stage. Viper ran the Control Mage into XiaoT’s decks three times in a row. Other than that it performed quite well. It was banned twice—once by fellow top four finisher David “killinallday” Acosta and then by Bunnyhoppor when he and Viper met in the semifinals.
Miracle Rogue is the great invincible cockroach of Hearthstone. No matter how many times Blizzard try to nerf it, no matter how many cards they target, players always find a way.
This new version relies on a couple of big power cards from recent expansions—Hench-Clan Thug and Fal’dorei Strider. Both help this version of Miracle Rogue deal damage and play the board, making it a bit more a tempo deck than you might expect. Of course with Fire Fly and cheap spells, it’s a deck made for Vilespine Slayer too.
This was the most banned deck in the lineup—it was taken out 60 percent of the time. When it did play it only lost once, with the German pair often leading off with it to get on to a winning start.
Just thinking about this deck might bring back horrible memories from the weekend. In the top eight Viper played out a Shudderwock mirror against Facundo “Nalguidan” Pruzzo that just about drove everyone watching, including the casters, insane.
Shudderwock Shaman is another all in deck. If you can get a strong Shudderwock off, preferably going infinite, the deck becomes generally unstoppable. If you don’t let them get there, you can kill them off before Shudderwock is a factor.
The deck went 6-4 over the weekend for Viper and Bunnyhoppor, with two of those losses in that Nalguidan game.
Even Warlock was the most popular deck among the tournament field, and Bunnyhoppor and Viper weren’t exactly trying to re-write the meta with this lineup.
This deck will give you nostalgia for the glory days of Handlock, mostly thanks to the Twilight Drakes, Mountain Giants, and Sunfury Protectors. Outside of Genn Greymane there’s nothing new in here, but that one mana Lifetap is just so powerful.
The deck was only banned once, and ended up as the most played deck for both player. It’s not a meta killer, it doesn’t dominate everything. But it can reliably get a win against most lineups, and that’s what makes it so popular in the current meta.
What didn’t they bring?
The most popular deck not in this lineup is Taunt Druid. Viper told Dot Esports before the tournament that they expected most lineups to target Even Warlock and Taunt Druid, so decided to eschew the latter. Instead, he thought their lineup included decks that were “just straight up better”.
Recruit Hunter also didn’t feature in their lineup, which it seems like might have been a good choice. Casters Simon “Sottle” Welch and Darroch Brown observed that some players may have brought the deck because it looked good on paper, but the play in practice was sub par—indicating they didn’t spend enough time preparing.