Season 2 of the Hearthstone Grandmasters has now wrapped up its third week of heated competition between the best players in the world.
The new Conquest format seems to be making for far more diverse matches and strategizing, at least in terms of deck selection and targeting. As some have predicted since the recent nerfs to Mage and Warrior, the Priest class has become powerful, and is the most often protected deck from a ban. For the unfamiliar, Combo Priests focus on drawing a few key pieces from their deck to make a single, massive minion that can often deal enough damage to bring an opponent to zero health from full in a single attack.
Following the conclusion of the third week of matches, Facundo "Nalguidan" Pruzzo leads Division A, followed by Eddie "Eddie" Lui, and James "Firebat" Kostesich in third place. In Division B, David "Justsaiyan" Shan leads, followed in second place by Jerome "Monsanto" Faucher, and Brian "bloodyface" Eason in third. As expected, Priests dominated when not banned among a player’s decks.
Justsaiyan elected to keep his Priest deck safe, having his Shaman deck banned against Fr0zen instead. As expected, the Priest deck performed well, closing out the game on turn 6 with a 23/23 creature. Combo Priest has always been an archetype that could float in and out of the game based on the type of meta existing at any given time and is one of the first types of decks that new players often gravitate towards when learning to play Hearthstone.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on one’s opinion of this deck, the archetype of Combo Priest may now be the most popular and powerful we have ever seen it, which has some players speculating if we are going to be seeing one of the key cards rotated out into the Hall of Fame, be it Inner Fire or Divine Spirit. Considering that Blizzard has been pushing hard for each class to have a certain identity infused into its main cards, and that Priest has mostly received cards relating to the resurrection mechanic, the rotation of these cards may not be as far fetched as some think.
Bunnyhoppor also chose to protect his Priest deck and has Warrior banned instead. Against Pavel "Pavel" Beltukov, Bunnyhopper was able to win 2-1 using his Combo Priest and Quest Shaman. An obvious benefit to the fall of Warrior and Mage from their overpowered spots are that other decks are now finally having a time to shine, as seen with Quest Shaman and the value associated with completing the quest. It provides double Battlecry effects once activated, making for some excellent Barista Lychen plays, and if one is daring enough to keep the coin, some of the most devastating Shudderwock activations.
The final matchup we highlight today was between Kim "Surrender" Jung-soo and Wu "BloodTrail" Zong-Chang. In this case, Surrender had this Priest deck banned, and we were able to see some expert navigating of his Quest Druid and Highlander Hunter decks instead. Quest Druid was a deck that players were protecting previously with greater frequency, but less so now. Still, it is clearly a powerful deck that can gain incredible value from completing its Quest, which makes all “Choose One” cards combine both effects.
While the meta seems to be heavily favoring Combo Priest right now, the overall mood still feels far better than it did during the reign of Warrior and Mage decks. Hopefully, the balance team at Blizzard are not too heavy-handed with the Priest class, as we still have what appears to be a healthy diversity of decks among the world’s best competitors.