Two down, two to go – the HCT Fall playoffs have seen their fair share of excitement and controversy so far, and its latest edition in the Americas should be just as interesting as the previous ones. The field is stacked with well-known names and challengers itching for revenge: they will be battling it out all across the continents in the shadow of the unkillable Quest Rogue and the newly resurgent Token Druid archetype…
Ebb and flow
Despite its good reception on the higher levels of the playerbase, one of the main criticisms of The Boomsday Project set was the lack of brand new archetypes introduced to the metagame. This is certainly a part of why the usual suspects are dominating the deck lineups: the successful strategies at the Europe and APAC playoffs have inspired almost half the field to build Token Druid, one of the many options available for what is perhaps the most versatile class currently in the game. The Token archetype is perhaps the best-suited to combat the entire field ranging from hyper-aggressive to ultra-slow decks, and its recent success is likely behind the overwhelming presence of Even Warlock. Defile is a heck of a card against a board of tokens and early 8/8 minions can help you steal a game or two against any opposition.
Of course, the real story of the Fall playoffs in the deck department is the cockroach-like, seemingly unkillable Quest Rogue. While the surface-level analysis indicates that the deck simply survived two nerfs and the rotation of a few bouncers and still rose back to the top, the added tools of Vicious Scalehide (healing), Sonya Shadowdancer (consistency) and Zola the Gorgon (consistency + a way to go infinite). It remains as polarizing a presence as it ever was, and it plays a massive part in the players’ lineup-building decisions: if you go for a pure anti-aggro plan, this deck will massacre you. If Quest Rogue is your permaban, disgusting opponents like Deathrattle Hunter and Togwaggle Druid still slip through. Perhaps you want to go full face instead to punish players with The Caverns Below? Say hello to the people with Taunt Druid, Odd Warrior and the occasional Control Priest! It’s a sad reality of such a wide Swiss system, but many players’ HCT Americas Fall Playoffs run will greatly depend on whether they queue into a counter-lineup early on.
Interesting edge cases include HockeyBoyz3’s quadruple Mecha’thun idea: the card is perhaps the ultimate anti-control solution and the specific builds he’s gone with – featuring Druid (a Malygos shell), Warrior, Warlock and Priest – give him a tolerable chance against faster opponents as well. Speaking of which, Warrior extraordinaire Fibonacci has also opted for a Mecha’thun version of the class, though his build is decidedly a lot less wacky, forgoing a Ticking Abomination and Hemet for Dr. Boom and Militia Commander for better chance to fight on the board.
Burbank’s fallen are back: only one of the four winners of the region’s Summer playoffs made it to the World Championship and the other three have made it back, itching for more, opting for very similar strategies. Rase, dog and Nalguidan are all present for duty, the Brazilian bringing a heavy anti-control lineup after unfortunately ending up on the wrong side of the bracket in the Summer finals. Crowd favorite dog has gone for a similar idea but elected to bring Even Warlock instead of the Brazilian’s Cubelock: his lineup choice turned out to be very prescient the last time around so it will be interesting to see how he performs this time around in the HCT Americas Fall Playoffs, especially considering how Nalguidan has also chosen the same four archetypes as
You can’t have a writeup like this without mentioning Muzzy. The record-breaking Brazilian has amassed an obscene amount of points in this season, topping the charts in the region with 85 – exactly the same as hunterace’s haul in Europe, the Norwegian phenomenon whose Tour Stop exploits and incredible consistency have deservedly brought a lot of plaudits his way. He is on the other end of the spectrum with four aggressive decks – Odd Paladin, Token Druid, Odd Rogue and Secret Hunter – to his name. The tournament will also mark Firebat’s return to the fold: the 2014 champion has famously proclaimed after a year of casting that he would be back at next year’s HCT finals, failing to make a mark the following seasons before once again turning his attention towards streaming. True to form, he has opted for a similarly aggressive lineup: he can’t be considered a favorite anymore but the chaos of the Swiss system can make anything possible.
In terms of recent form, you can’t look past justsaiyan’s hot streak. The Tempo/Storm stalwart made it to the semi-finals at Seoul and Italy before taking it all down at Montreal. He is one of the few players who decided to bring Zoo as their Warlock deck, rounding out an aggressive lineup with the usual suspects of Secret Hunter, Odd Rogue and Token Druid.