Hey! I’m rekenner, the newly hired stats guy / assistant Tournament Organizer / aReNGee’s gopher. A couple days ago, we ran the inaugural Eye of Winter Classic and I’m here to give an overview of the tournament and discuss some interesting highlights and statistics!
A grand total of 51 players competed in this Double Elimination event, making it the largest event run by RNG Eternal! Despite some early hiccups the event ran fairly smoothly and had many exciting matches along the way – if you missed it, a playlist of streamed matches can be found on YouTube, and the bracket and deck lists are also archived.
First, a note that winrate statistics for a Double Elimination tournament are somewhat skewed compared to a Swiss tournament, as they provide much smaller sample sizes and a single strong performer on a deck can make a deck look stronger than it may be. We will discuss some examples of that later.
The Top 8
1st: Smoonay (Xenan Killers)
2nd: Jellomoose (Rakano Plate)
3rd: HiThar (Combrei Aggro)
4th: ValorJ (Elysian Shimmerpack)
5th: Impalsi (Shimmering Combrei)
5th: Ilyak (ShimmerWump)
7th: GoblinQueen (Combrei Aggro)
7th: Keystone (Shimmering Combrei)
Lists for all the Top 8 decks can be found on Eternaldecks.
The first thing to notice is that “Shimmerpack”, if you clump all the archetypes together, is half the top 8 – but all 3 of the primary variants had representation, giving us 6 different decks in the top 8. A rather healthy diversity of success.
The second thing that jumps out to me is that only two players entered Combrei Aggro into the tournament and both took a top 8 spot! After a top 2 finish in the Dec. 17th ETS, this under-representation surprised me – its relatively small ladder share compared to Rakano might be the cause here. It is a much more expensive deck to make, so many players might not have as much experience with the deck.
Deck and Archetype breakdown
A disclaimer for the above: These categorizations are subjective – I include Shimmerpack variants as Midrange and the Kalis decks as Midrange. Further, I included Stonescar Burn as Aggro instead of breaking them out into their own category, but this is partially because only 2 Stonescar Burn decks even entered!
Clearly this tournament was dominated by midrange, and its winrate mostly backs that up! However, strong performances from a few aggro players show that solid play (and the right meta call) can achieve great results. Unfortunately, it does seem like Control deck performance has been a bit lacking, although Sir Rhino was tied up by being a caster.
And as the tournament was dominated by Midrange, it was dominated by Shimmerpack, though Rakano was also very highly represented. Of course, many people decided to bring interesting brews, but sadly none of them made deep runs in the tournament.
Shimmering Combrei: 6
Elysian Shimmerpack: 3
Shimmering Combrei: 57.14%
Elysian Shimmerpack: 62.5%
If you go entirely by numbers, it seems like Elysian Shimmerpack is the clear winner, but these are the winrates I might be the most skeptical of. A pocket of 4 strong Shimmer variant players – Ilyak1988, Dark Lord Finkel, Thundershot899, and Valorj – ended up seeded in such a way as to cause them to face each other in very early rounds and for two of them to be knocked out by Losers Bracket round 3.
The stated goal behind the Justice inclusion in Shimmering Combrei is to shore up the weak matchups and win the mirror by having the superior board stalls, though as shown in the first streamed series, the lack of Crystallize can sometimes lead to Elysian variants stealing wins. However, an interesting inclusion of False Prince by Valorj in his Elysian Shimmerpack deck – an inclusion that the split power base of being in 3 factions makes all but impossible – seems to have paid off for him, taking him to a top 4 finish. In the Shimmer mirror, there are almost no spells for the opposition to use to take advantage of False Prince’s downside and False Prince can put on immense pressure that cannot be chump blocked.
The “bad guy” of the tournament, if you listen to Twitch chat opinion, and the specter of ladder was the second most represented deck of the tournament. While Jellomoose did take second while piloting a Rakano Plate deck, it underperformed overall.
There were two primary Rakano variants in this tournament: Righteous Rakano and Rakano Plate, distinguished by the maindecking of Righteous Fury and Inspire in the former and a generally higher amount of Deepforged Plate and the inclusion of Silverwing Familiar in the latter. Rakano Plate saw a 66% winrate, Righteous Rakano saw a 33% winrate, and combined they actually saw an exactly even 50% winrate. However, if you subtract Jellomoose’s 7-2 second place run, the winrate drops to 41%.
The most notable thing about Jellomoose’s list is that he was the only player running 4 Deepforged Plates in his main list. To quote Jellomoose, “honestly I got a lot of wins out of ‘well I have like a 9/9 plate, lets hope it sticks…'” Of course, Deepforged Plate seems to be the panacea for Rakano’s woes in this tournament’s meta. Vs Shimmerpack, it can bring a permafrosted unit “back from the dead”, it cannot be chumpblocked, and it provides a wall to protect against the crackback. Vs Rakano, well, the slightly larger Rakano deck wins, and it’s hard to go over the top of a unit with Plate without your own Plate.
We did, however, see a lot of attachment hate – over 90% of decks had dedicated attachment hate in main or sideboard, with a handful of decks mainboarding Furnace Mage. Some decks even included multiple forms of attachment hate, with shedd’s Felnscar deck having all of Ruin, Sabotage, and Furnace Mage. While hate cards like this are very well suited to sideboard inclusion, it seems like the vast majority of our entrants agreed – attachments must die. In the games that Jellomoose did falter in, his plates falling pray to the various hate cards was a large component.
Our (mostly) Attachmentless Winner, Xenan Killers
While it may be a stretch to attribute the winrate of Xenan Killers completely to that it mostly blanks the cardslots dedicated to attachment removal, it certainly played a role in Smoonay’s perfect 7-0 run through the tournament. Of course, the list does run Beastcaller’s Amulet, but this card generally gets all of its value the turn it gets played and it has the highest impact in turns when both players are regularly tapping out, making it a hard target for attachment removal to hit.
If you value Overwhelm for your attackers to not be chumpblocked, big units to get in the way of Rakano, and a proactive gameplan, Xenan Killers is the deck to look to. But is it the deck or the pilot?
Xenan Killers had a 11-6 overall tournament record, at a 64% winrate, but if you remove Smoonay’s run, it drops to a rather sad 40%. However, this is likely an artifact of the small sample size of this tournament. Following Xenan Killers in tomorrow’s Weekly ETS event may reveal more about this deck’s actual tournament strength.
Our Winrate Winner, Combrei Aggro
Finally, the deck that saw a top 3 finish by HiThar and a top 8 finish by GoblinQueen as its only results, tops the winrate chart, sporting an 8-4 record for a 66% winrate. Again, this is likely a small sample size artifact, but if we see this deck being well represented in tomorrow’s event, we may be able to draw some more interesting conclusions.
I’m very happy to see how diverse this tournament’s meta was. For all the complaints about Shimmerpack, it didn’t achieve a top 3 finish, and has yet to achieve a top 2 in any ETS event so far this season. It might require some specific attack vectors to successfully bring it down, but it certainly has weaknesses. Further, it seems Rakano may be fairly reliant on the exact right mix of cards to proactively beat its opponent’s face in, though Righteous Rakano’s fall may be a bit of a fluke, as Unearthly took home a win in the December 10th event with a very similar list to the one he brought to the EoWC. Finally, Xenan Killers and Combrei Aggro might be the deck to attack our new Shimmer overlords.
We’ll find out tomorrow and on the road to the second ETS Invitational, coming up at the end of next month!