Altenberg brings us an in-depth breakdown of the lineup choices and bans from around the league. Don't submit your classes until you've read this weeks Lineup Trends!
*Editor's note: This article is from last week and because of transitions in editors didn't go up until today. Starting this week, articles will be posted on their usual times. We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience.* -Blog Editor Andyrogers
Ragnaros Season 9 – Week 1 Lineup Trends
Hi there, Altenberg of Team Next Level here. I’m super excited to be writing a weekly article for THL, but before we get to that, let me briefly introduce myself and what this articles series will be about. I started playing Hearthstone in December of 2014 as a dirty, casual, free-to-play type of guy. In February of 2017, I decided to get serious about the game and learn how to be more competitive. After dusting my wild collection, listening to some podcasts, and reading lots about the game, I started climbing the standard ladder on my quest for “Legend”. After participating in some listener-league tournaments and joining THL in Sylvanas Season 4 last Fall (SHL then), I’ve hit legend multiple times. While I’m not a pro player by any means, I’ve been rocking the 4 seed on Team Next Level and enjoying my time here in THL as a relative newcomer. This weekly Lineup Trends article will look at the most popular 4-class lineups, as well as how effective (or not) those lineups were each week. I’ll also consider how bans impacted a line-up’s win rate and offer some conclusions about the weekly meta.
So, this week’s edition of Lineup Trends will dissect week 1 of the new Ragnaros Season 9. We enter week 1 with a brand-new tournament meta, fresh on the heels of the new Witchwood expansion last month. There are some familiar deck archetypes floating around (Cubelock, Quest Rogue, Big Spell Mage, Tempo Mage, Spiteful Druid and Spiteful Priest) as well as a few newer archetypes (Even Paladin, Odd Rogue, Mind Blast Priest and Taunt Druid). With 9 classes, there are always 126 different 4-class combinations possible. This week we had 98 lineup submissions with 26 unique lineups. The four most popular classes used in lineups were Warlock, Druid, Paladin and Rogue (respectively). Not only were those the four most popular classes used in all lineups, they also represented the single most popular 4-class lineup, submitted by 17 different people. The 2nd most popular lineup was a two-way tie between Druid-Mage-Rogue-Warlock and Druid-Paladin-Priest-Warlock being brought 12 times each. Mage-Paladin-Priest Warlock was brought 10 times, and finally Druid-Mage-Paladin-Warlock was brought 8 times. These five lineups comprised almost 60% of lineups in the Week 1 Ragnaros League meta.
But just how effective were these Top 5 class combinations and how did the bans affect their win-loss records? Of the five most popular class combinations, the most popular, Druid-Paladin-Rogue-Warlock, was far from being the best. It was tied for 3rd best win-rate of the group of five with a 42-27 overall game record (53% win rate). The best performing lineup was Druid-Mage-Rogue-Warlock which came in with a whopping 34-15 record (69% win rate). The worst win rate of these top 5 lineups was Druid-Mage-Paladin-Warlock, which had an overall losing record at 15-20 (43%). The other two lineups, Mage-Paladin-Rogue-Warlock and Druid-Paladin-Priest-Warlock, had the 2nd best and tied for 3rd best win rates. If we look a little closer at bans we can see some other strategies that seemed to help or hurt these five most popular lineups.
Lineup #1 – Druid, Paladin, Rogue, Warlock, 53% win rate
Brought 17 times, Added 3 points per team, on average
Again, this was the most popular lineup, brought 17 out of a possible 98 lineups. While it had a positive overall record of 42-37 (53% win rate), it was not the top performing lineup this week. The most popular way to attack this lineup was to ban Paladin, which was also one of the most effective ban strategies. Paladin was banned 8 times, and when Paladin was banned, this lineup went 18-20 dropping the overall win rate from 53% down to 44%. The next most popular ban was also the least effective. Four people tried banning Rogue, and that resulted in a massive 12-4 record for this lineup increasing the win rate to 75%. Banning Warlock proved to be an effective strategy for three people as well, with the lineup only going 7-8 (47% win rate). Two folks even tried banning Druid and they collectively limited this lineup to an even 5-5 record. So if you bring this lineup in week 2, you better hope your opponent bans Rogue, because that particular choice is propping up the overall win rate of this lineup by a significant margin. If it weren’t for those 4 Rogue bans, this lineup would have had an overall losing record.
Lineup #2 – Druid, Mage, Rogue, Warlock – 69% win rate
Brought 12 times, Added 3.7 points per team, on average
While this lineup was only the 2nd most popular lineup, it was hands down the most effective. It’s very similar to lineup #1, but swapping out Paladin for Mage. With an overall record of 34-15 it dominated the competition with a 69% overall win rate. The most popular ban of this lineup was Warlock, banned in 6 out of 12 possible matches, and it was only mildly effective. This lineup still went 16-9 when Warlock was banned, winning 69% of it’s games. Rogue was banned 3 times, resulting in no change to the overall win rate, while the two folks who banned Druid must have regretted it as the lineup went 6-1. One person banned Paladin…and well, I just don’t have much to say but, C’mon Man! There isn’t even a Paladin in the lineup (Itachi…I’m looking at you…). Nobody tried banning Mage, but perhaps that might be worth considering, because none of the other bans seemed to make a dent in the overall win rate of this lineup. Mage occupies the same spot in the lineup as Paladin above, and the Paladin ban above seemed to be an effective way to counter Lineup #1, so perhaps it could work here as well.
Lineup #3 – Druid, Paladin, Priest, Warlock – 53% win rate
Brought 12 times, Added 2.8 points per team, on average
This lineup was equally as popular as lineup #2 above, also being brought 12 times, but it wasn’t quite as effective. It was also similar to lineup #1, but swapped out Rogue for Priest which didn’t have much of an impact on the overall win rate. This lineup went 28-25 overall, winning 53% of its games. The most popular ban strategy against this lineup was to ban Warlock, which happened in 6 matches. It didn’t impact the overall win rate that much, and if anything it might have helped a little bit as it finished 14-12 when Warlock was banned (54%). Four people banned Paladin, and when that happened the lineup went to an even 9-9 record. Two folks tried a Druid ban and, in that case, the deck went 5-4, giving it a 55% win rate. This win rate doesn’t seem to be artificially propped up by Rogue bans like lineup #1, however, the way the wins and losses were distributed caused this lineup to be the 2nd least effective in the amount of points it added to a team, so I’m a little cautious in thinking this lineup has the potential to dominate the meta. That said, I’m not sure the ban strategies really helped opponents much, so perhaps a Priest ban could help limit what small success this lineup had going forward? We don’t know, because no one banned Priest.
Lineup #4 – Mage, Paladin, Rogue, Warlock – 60% win rate
Brought 10 times, Added 3.1 points per team, on average
This lineup was brought 10 times and was the 2nd most effective lineup of the week, going 24-16 overall with a 60% win rate. Of the five most popular lineups this week, it was the only one to not bring Druid, making it one of the most unique among the group. Warlock was the most popular ban by far, getting banned 6 times, but that seemed to be what this lineup wanted, as the Warlock ban resulted in a 15-6 overall record (71% win rate!). Rogue was banned 3 times, and proved to be a much more effective ban strategy limiting the lineup to a 6-8 record (43% win rate). Mage was banned only once and it won the series 3-2. No one banned Paladin, so that could be a viable ban strategy that no one tried. Even so, there could also be something to this “No Druid” strategy.
Lineup #5 – Druid, Mage, Paladin, Warlock – 43% win rate
Brought 8 times, Added 2.3 points per team, on average
This lineup was brought 8 times this week and was by far the least effective. It was very similar to lineup #2, the best lineup in Week 1, but it swapped out Rogue for Paladin. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to work out well as the lineup went 15-20 overall with a 43% win rate. Opponents exhibited a wide variety in ban strategies with mixed results, so it’s possible that this lineup could be even worse with more consistent ban strategies. Paladin was the most popular ban, and also the most effective. It was banned three times and the lineup went 5-8 with a 38% win rate. Mage and Warlock were banned twice each and the lineup did much better in those scenarios going 5-4 and 5-5 respectively. One person tried banning Druid, and the lineup couldn’t muster even a single win. This lineup seems like it takes the worst all of combinations above into account.
Warlock continues to dominate the tournament meta on the strength of the Cubelock archetype. It is certainly the meta as 87 out of 98 lineups included the class. Lineups tended to either ban Warlock and deal with the rest, or simply try to target Warlock. Lineup #2 and #4 both hold a lot of promise in this meta and there didn’t seem to be an effective ban strategy to counter either one in Week 1. Next week we’ll revisit these “Top 5” lineups and see if any new ones crop up. Below are the other lineups that were brought by at least two or more people that weren’t included above. There could be a few “diamonds in the rough” down there. Until next week, “good luck, and have fun.”
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