As the January Hearthstone rankings were finalized last night, the competition was intense as always. But a number of top players have taken to Twitter to highlight just how much Shaman is being played at the highest level of ladder play in the game.
The final hours of a month are crucial for any player with an ambition to compete in the Hearthstone Championship Tour. For 2017, fewer points are on offer from open cups, so ladder is even more important.
During the final hours of January, the last month where it was possible to get points for the Winter season, the Shaman got too much for some players—including 2016 World Championship semifinalist William “Amnesiac” Barton.
The “Young Savage’s” outburst might be extreme, but it’s easy to see why he’s so frustrated. Veteran streamer Jeffrey “Trump” Shih tweeted his statistics from the final day of climbing, recording that a staggering 70 percent of his games were against Shaman.
His experience was echoed by other players, including Thijs Molendijk, Cong “StrifeCro” Shu, and Paul “Zalae” Nemeth. Zalae shared his statistics, which showed nearly 43 percent of games were against Shaman.
Shaman’s popularity on ladder is a known and acknowledged problem in the current meta. Even Blizzard has spoken out on the subject, with game designer Max McCall saying that Blizzard stats show that around 25 percent of all ladder games feature Shaman.
According to Vicious Syndicate DataReaper report, around 21 percent of games feature Shaman at all ranks, increasing to 27 percent between ranks one to five and 24 percent at legend. Tempo Storm’s meta snapshot has had Shaman at the top for the past 13 weeks, and four out of the nine weeks before that.
But when ladder position is most crucial, even those players who are trying to play other decks most of the time are feeling they have no choice but to play Shaman. That leads to the incredibly polarized statistics we see from Trump and Zalae. When even one of the most successful ladder players ever, Sebastian “Xixo” Bentert, sees the meta as pointless, you know there are serious problems.
Blizzard says it is watching closely and are prepared to make changes—but it will likely wait until closer to the new expansion and standard rotation to do so. So for the immediate future, it’s Patches’ world and we are just living in it.