Welcome, one and all of THL, to a very special piece of analysis, marking another successful Championship come to an end. Following on from the week of action between underdog story Team Xnergy and potent newcomers the Spicey Boys, BlueSpartan1437 watched every moment of every game, breaking each match down from a statistical standpoint, with stats courtesy of Vicious Syndicate and HSReplay. So, without further ado, read on my brethren, for some wonderfully in-depth analysis of a fantastic week of Hearthstone.
Match 1 Analysis: Ridiculous (Spicey Boys) vs. Crovan (Team Xnergy
Tuesday night was the first match of the Season 8 Ragnaros League Finals, and a battle between the 3 seeds. For the Spicey Boys we had Ridiculous (5-0); while playing in just less than half his team's matches, Ridiculous had turned in dominant performances. For team Xnergy we had Crovan (7-4). As we might expect from a team in the finals, Crovan also had a very successful season.
Although many of the potential matchups were close to 50/50, this match would clearly come down to whether Crovan could get a win with his Hunter or Ridiculous could get a win with his Mage. In Conquest format, to win the match a player must secure wins with each of their 3 unbanned decks; this requirement leads to a practice known as targeting, when a player tries to make it difficult for one of their opponent's specific decks to win. Overall, Crovan had an approximate 17% chance to sweep Ridiculous’ Mage, as we can see from the ‘Lockout Chance’ column. Ridiculous had around a 16% chance to sweep Crovan’s Hunter (perhaps higher due to tech choices, as Secret Hunter is particularly vulnerable to tech inclusions). Seeing the numbers, we can see that even though Ridiculous’ Mage and Crovan’s Hunter had uphill climbs, it was still quite possible to get a win across 3 tries.
Bans were optimal; Ridiculous needed to ban Warlock to protect his Big Spell Mage. (If he had brought Secret Mage, that would have changed things.) Meanwhile, Crovan’s lineup was ill suited to deal with Paladin, although his ban was not as critical since his decks were primarily targeting Mage.
Game 1: Crovan’s Spiteful Druid (W) vs. Ridiculous’ Spiteful Priest (L)
Game 2: Crovan’s Secret Hunter (L) vs. Ridiculous’ Control Warlock (W)
Game 3: Crovan’s Spiteful Priest (W) vs. Ridiculous’ Big Spell Mage (L)
Game 4: Crovan’s Secret Hunter (W) vs. Ridiculous’ Big Spell Mage (L)
Both players made reasonable decisions about what deck to open with. It was interesting that Crovan did not open with his strongest deck (Priest), but one nearly as strong that was favored vs. his opponent's strongest. Crovan’s Druid included elementals, providing extra burst with the inclusion of Blazecaller. Generally this deck is favored vs. Spiteful Priest, due to the Druid's ramping of Mana Crystals allowing them to play big cards sooner, and superior card draw via Ultimate Infestation. It paid off, leading to an opening win. However, I do disagree with Crovan’s choice to queue Hunter (his weakest deck) in game 2 instead of Priest. His Hunter never seemed to have a chance against the Warlock after a series of unfortunate discards, both from his own Tracking and Ridiculous’ double Gnomeferatu. Soon Crovan’s Kathrena was out of Recruits, and the series was quickly tied 1 game apiece. For game 3, Ridiculous decided to follow up with his weakest deck, forsaking the possibility that he might have gained some momentum by winning the Priest mirror match (or better yet might have queued into the Hunter for a highly favored match). The Mage deck just seemed outclassed in both remaining games, despite playing Frost Lich Jaina in both games. Spiteful Priest just had too many big threats, culminating in a 12/12 Deathwing that was never removed from play. Then, in game 4, Crovan’s Hunter’s big minions provided consistent pressure which allowed a surprisingly patient King Krush to hit a newly minted Frost Lich Jaina for exact lethal to finish off the match.
In the end, Crovan’s anti-Mage lineup prevailed, providing two decisive wins to complete the match. From a PR perspective this may have been an upset, but in this case the matchup chart seemed to dictate the outcome.
Match 2 Analysis: IronFIRE (Spicey Boys) vs. JRJuggernaut (Team Xnergy)
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