What Do Pros Play? – Pre-Blizzcon Edition
I’ve changed the name from “What Do Streamers Play” to “What Do Pros Play” – I feel like there are too many pro players that don’t stream and ignoring them would be a shame. I’ll still probably focus on the streamers – after all, then I can see the deck in action and judge whether it really works and the player didn’t just get on a lucky win streak.
If you aren’t familiar with the series anyway, it’s pretty simple – I post a few decks that pros/streamers have played in the recent days with a short description and my thoughts about it. Simple, right?
Blizzcon is drawing near and new expansion will soon be announced. I don’t think that we’ll have to wait too long for it being released, so this might be the last good opportunity before the huge theorycrafting and then (hopefully) the meta change from the new expansion. There are also only a few days left until the season ends, so if you haven’t achieved your rank goal yet, you can still try it with one of those decks.
Hamster’s Control Priest
I’ll start off with probably a biggest surprise on this list. First huge surprise was Hamster bringing this deck to Blizzcon. He’s the only player (out of 16) with Priest in his line-up. It’s tied with Paladin for the last spot – Rogue is second to last at 4 picks, so it tells you a lot about the status of the two last classes. No one really expected it, but he brought it. Then, about a week ago, Savjz played the same Priest on his stream. In high Legend. For 8 hours straight without even falling out of top 300 and peaking in top 25.
I mean, sure, it’s not a huge deal for a pro player. But considering that he was playing a Control Priest, I find this feat really impressive. It’s the most viable Control Priest list I’ve seen in awhile.
But what makes this list different than the others that didn’t succeed? It’s actually quite different than most of the Priest you can see on the ladder. As a Priest, it’s obviously strong in the Control matchups (outside of the few) – especially since it’s a list with 2x Museum Curator, 2x Thoughtsteal, 2x Shifting Shade, 2x Entomb and N’Zoth on top of that. It’s hard to outvalue it in the long run – besides some very specific cards like Lord Jaraxxus, it should win the value and fatigue war in the long run. Since it’s a N’Zoth version, it doesn’t even need Elise Starseeker. Once enemy drops his Monkey, you just play N’Zoth and it’s game over.
So yeah, it’s good in slower matchups. But what about more tempo oriented decks? What about Shaman? Yes, about that… First of all – 2x Doomsayer is amazing in those matchups. Those matchups are about not losing hard in the early/mid game – you should eventually win the late game with all the Deathrattles and N’Zoth. And what is a better way to not lose early game than Doomsayers? On top of that, it runs 2x Shadow Word: Pain as a way to not fall behind and deal with the early game threats like Totem Golem or Frothing Berserker. Then, another interesting thing is that it doesn’t run Auchenai Soulpriest or Circle of Healing for that matter. It might come off as something weird at first – after all, this combo was the backbone of Control Priest decks for a long time. But since you need two pieces to make it work, it’s very common to draw one, but not the other and have basically useless card in your hand, waiting for the second piece to make it work. While both Holy Nova and Excavated Evil are weaker, they’re more consistent (Holy Nova also combos really nicely with Pyromancer in the late game).
Other changes are lack of Flash Heals or Northshire Clerics. I haven’t seen a list like that in a long time. But hey – if it works, it works. It might be the best Control Priest list right now. And while hopefully Priest will get some love next expansion, if you like Priest, I think this is the deck you should try right now.
Fibonacci’s Kobold Control Warrior
Evolved Kobold seems like a sleeper card of the Whispers of the Old Gods. At the start, no one has played it, it was called useless and well, for a good reason. Playing a 4 mana 2/2 doesn’t seem so good – sure, it gives you 2 extra Spell Damage, but you can’t drop it on turn 4 and to combo it with some spells you need to get to the late game. But right now, Kobold sees play in a lot of decks and it even got into a Control Warrior list, as it seems.
What’s the point of playing this card in the Warrior deck? 4 damage Slam, 5 damage Bash. but most importantly – even more AoEs. It seems that in the current meta, as long as the Warrior clears the board, he can win in most of the matchups. For example, the most popular matchup, matchup against Shaman is all about clearing the board. And that’s where Kobold comes handy – on top of what you already had, you can boost your Whirlwind (which is played instead of Ravaging Ghoul) and Revenge even further. Yes, it kills your Kobold, but in the matchups where you need this kind of AoE clear, you don’t really care about that. It gives you a 3 damage AoE, something that Warrior was really, really lacking. Heck, if you get low enough (12 or below), that’s 5 damage AoE with Revenge – which is more than likely to clear the whole board.
Besides a Kobold, that’s a pretty standard Warrior list. And depending on the meta you face, Kobold might not even be the best card to play. But in case you play against a lot of flood decks, teching in a Kobold might have a very good result in the end.
JAB’s Dragon Priest
Well, second Priest on this list. One might think that the class is good or something… But no, there are just a few bright spots and few semi-viable lists. This seems like one of them. Overall, the deck seems to be slightly stronger than the Control Priest variant – at least that’s what I’ve seen judging by the stats and my own experience. I think that it’s because of the Shaman matchup – while still not great, it’s better than it is with the Control Priest. Same goes for another popular ladder list – Malygos Druid. It’s a terrible matchup for the Control Priest, because Druid has enough time to ramp up, cycle through most of the deck and then combo Priest down. But with Dragon Priest, it’s a way harder job for the Druid – after all, Dragon Priest can put some serious pressure with the right curve.
Overall, compared to the Control Priest, a Dragon variant is a more Midrange deck. It’s proactive and more aggressive. This is a pretty standard Dragon Priest list, the only curious thing is 1 copy of each Circle of Healing and Auchenai Soulpriest. Dragon Priest usually drop this combo, because it hurts their board as much as it hurts the opponent’s. But one copy of each might be okay. After all, in Dragon Priest, Circle of Healing might be way more useful. Since the deck is often ahead on the board, healing 2-3 minions up to full for 0 mana is a great tempo move. It can also draw some cards with Northshire Cleric. And Auchenai by itself is also not that bad – 3/5 for 4 that gives you a better Hero Power – since this deck is more aggressive, a 2 damage “ping” can help with pushing for the lethal, doing better trades or just putting pressure on the opponent.
JAB hit top 100 Legend with this list. Yes, he most likely had to be lucky in order to achieve that and he’s a great player on top of that, but that’s another example that you CAN play Priest on the ladder successfully. It’s definitely hard, but doable.
Savjz’s Reno N’Zoth Mage
After the quite recent nerfs, different versions of the Reno Mage have been popping out. From my experience, Control Mage (so most likely Reno Mage, because you don’t see a lot of non-highlander Control Mages recently) has been more popular than Freeze mage for a while. This one in particular was created by Savjz. And I have to say that I’m a fan of this deck, or rather Reno Mage in general.
Let’s be honest – I love Reno decks. They have an unique feel, they are really challenging when it comes to the deck building (it’s hard to pick 30 perfect cards) and they usually have quite a lot of decision making involved. And this one is no different – Reno Control Mage is a very fun deck to play, but it’s pretty hard to play.
How does this deck fare against the current meta, though? First and foremost – Shaman matchup is okay. It’s not good, this deck is still not a favorite, but if you read my last article, you would see that maybe 2 or 3 decks in total are really solid against Midrange Shaman. Control Warrior matchup is excellent – it’s really hard for a Warrior to win this, as it mixes the mid game pressure with the late game value. Malygos Druid is also, from my experience, a surprisingly okay matchup – the N’Zoth version is much better against Druid than the non-N’Zoth one. The reason is that if Mage can curve out really well, Druid has hard time setting up a combo. And Druid has pretty much no way to handle the board flood from N’Zoth, so as long as Mage puts enough pressure and goes for a long game, Druid has hard time. Sadly, Arcane Giants are the Mage’s biggest enemies, as they give Druid enough tempo to catch up in the late game and they’re really hard to remove with almost no hard removal (single Polymorph has to be kept against Malygos, sadly). But hey, it still could be worse.
The deck’s biggest enemy, however, seems to be Hunter. Against Aggro version, it’s pretty simple. You most likely can’t win the game without drawing Reno Jackson, but with Reno, the matchup is almost an auto-win. However, the slower version (Midrange/Secret Hunter) is much more tricky. Even drawing Reno doesn’t guarantee a win there. Hunter is pumping a threat after a threat, and this deck is not that heavy on removal, so at one point Hunter will outtempo you so heavily that even Reno won’t save you when Hunter has like 10+ damage on the board anyway.
But hey, the deck is pretty solid right now. If we assume that Tier 1 is a Midrange Shaman Tier (because it probably is right now), then Reno Mage is somewhere in low Tier 2 or high Tier 3, which makes it a fine deck to ladder with. If you like to play long, grindy games and you won’t break your keyboard when you don’t draw your Reno 5 times in a row in the matchups in which you really need it.
That’s all folks. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this short compilation. It’s not perfect, because I didn’t have enough time to do my research. This slot was meant to go for writing about my Heroic Tavern Brawl run, but it seems like it won’t be out before Blizzcon (according to Ben Brode himself).
But hey, I hope that I at least gave you some fun deck ideas and things you can play before you start thinking about the new expansion (which I really can’t wait for!)
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. If you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!