The last Master Tour of the year is starting this Friday, October 7th, and it is set to play a significant role in shaping the metagame until the next balance patch.
Beast Hunter has dominated and evolved to include new cards while Mage has made a significant comeback due to its ability to counter that force. Add Ramp Druid still figuring out its best list and Bless Priest's uncertain place as it should be good to bring but exists with a huge target on its back.
All those intricacies are leading to a wide variation of line-ups going into the tournament.
In this piece, I'd like to highlight some of those different line-ups as a way to help you get a better experience when watching the tournament this weekend. This way, you will be able to know what went through the mind of the players featured on stream.
So what is the Rock—Paper—Scissors to expect for the last Masters Tour of the year? Let's take a tour of the expected line-ups.
Rock: Going after Priest and Hunter
Bless Priest and Beast Hunter are the decks currently at the top of the standings for most people, leading to the community searching for ways to counter those expected decks.
At first, Spooky Mage's comeback seemed to indicate that Hunter would be the target most players would go after. Alongside Bless Priest, Mage represented a strong compliment for a Beast Hunter target shell.
While the fourth deck is still up in the air for now, and will probably be based on player's comfort. According to stats, Imp Warlock gets the nod, but I can't say there is a clear-cut dominant deck in that spot, and Warlock forces to ban Bless Priest as well.
The other strategy that seems to make sense as well would be to try to beat Bless Priest, the other dominant deck at the highest level. Up until this point, it was incredibly hard to find 4 decks that were unarguably advantaged against it. Spooky Mage seemed decent, Shaman pretty good (and could even run only 30 cards to find Primordial Wave more reliably), and other Priest archetypes largely ahead.
Yet, a recent development in Beast Hunter has led the community to think the deck could have a good shot at balancing the match-up. The secret ingredient is Imported Tarantula, a card that allows to trade Bless Priest's huge units thanks to its deathrattle. Alongside Devouring Swarm, we can trigger it on turn 5 in order to answer Anduin's feared combo turn.
As a result, through changing the Priest archetype for Thief Priest (or running Focused Will to edge the mirror), adapting Hunter's build, and picking Control Shaman as the fourth deck, one could change the target from Hunter to Priest.
Paper: Looking to punish Mage, the expected third deck
As you could see in the first part of the article, Mage is apparently the logical third deck to go with if you believe you will have to go against Hunter and Priest a lot this weekend.
But considering it is part of the two basic line-ups, players could probably look to target Mage instead of going after the better decks in terms of power level.
While bringing Hunter or Priest could be a debate in this strategy, the two decks need a bit of adjustment to go against Spooky Mage reliably. Although players could make the argument their average power is high enough to still bring both decks. Ramp Druid and Imp Curse Warlock are looking to be Mage's best counters so far and should cement the Spooky Mage target line-up.
The next best picks seem to be Demon Hunter (Relic or Fel). Control Shaman, or Quest Priest, who all look to be even or slightly ahead in the Mage match-up.
Scissors: Ramp Druid is still a liability
Always a popular deck, and the best counter to Spooky Mage currently, Ramp Druid is another deck players could expect to see a lot and abuse as well.
The risk with this strategy is that decks that are good against Druid tend to do quite badly against Mage, which we already established as another expected popular deck.
Beast Hunter and Bless Priest, already great decks to beat up Druid, should highlight this lineup. Aggro Druid seems to be the logical third deck, the deck routinely destroying Ramp Druid upon meeting it on the ladder. The fourth deck depends a lot on how hard we believe in the Ramp Druid target.
To go all in that direction, Aggro Demon Hunter seems to be the best pick. Yet, there are other decks like Curse Imp Warlock that could provide an overall better match-up table, although the deck loses a bit of percentage points against Druid specifically.
Closing Words :
The goal of these line-ups is to show the various directions players might take entering the Masters Tour this weekend.
Obviously, comfort. personal takes, and specific match-ups could impact the decks I highlighted. Hybrid line-ups are always a consideration, mixing several concepts and looking to edge mirror matches. So see those as an illustration of a concept rather than a hard 120 cards suggestion.
Of course, I also expect the usual super creative players to surprise us and find a different way of trying to get an edge over the competition.
Overall, for a mini-set that was labeled as unimpactful, the little changes that it brought are starting to create a domino effect and making the tournament metagame very interesting: a perfect scenario for the last Masters Tour of the year.
Good Game Everyone!
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