Best of Three: ETS Season 3 – Week 5: “What Nerfs?” or “A Time to Shine”?

Hey! My column finally has a name, Best of Three. I hate naming things (I’m awful at it), but aReNGee felt like it should finally be announced, so it needed a name. I’m happy with it.

This was the first ETS of patch 1.18! Did the nerfs matter? Is the meta changed? Well, my awful pun in the title refers to Time being in the majority of the Top 8 decks (75%). Further, about 50% of the field had Time in their decks.

We also saw the perennials,  Stonescar Midrange and Rakano Plate, in the finals. However, Aggro and Burn representation was down over the whole of the event.

A playlist of the VoDs from the event can be found on our YouTube channel.

As always, the bracket and decklists for all events from Season 3 can be found on our tournament results page.

Meta Breakdown


Stonescar: 63%

Breaking the Stonescar variants out seems a bit silly – with the exception of Midrange, it was decks brought by a single player. Stonescar’s winrate without shedd is 56%.

I’ll also elide the Rakano Plate stats – two players brought it, only Unearthly won with it. He went 7-2 over the event.

Elysian Midrange : 56%

Shimmer: 55%

  • Shimmering Combrei: 60%
  • Shimmerpack: 50%
  • ShimmerWump: 40%

ShimmerWump was only brought by a single player.

Control: 46%

  • Combrano: 81%
  • Icaria Blue: 43%
  • Big Combrei: 40%
  • Traditional Armory: 40%
  • Feln Control: 40%

None of these lists were brought by only a single player. However, Combrano is entirely Toth201 and Redworld, both of whom were in the 5-0 bracket in Swiss, thus played each other, and both made Top 4 afterwards.

Top 8:

1st: Unearthly (Rakano Plate)
2nd: shedd (Stonescar Midrange)
3rd: Redworld (Fiery Combrei)
     Toth201 (Icaria Gold)
5th: Angrychicken (Big Combrei)
     CATalyst (Elysian Midrange)
     Grumpyolman (Elysian Midrange)
     LoveUP (Shimmering Combrei)

There a few notable things here:

Rakano and Stonescar’s success

The first is that, yep, Rakano Plate won and Stonescar Midrange took second. There’s nothing new under the sun. Except… well, they were piloted by Unearthly and shedd, respectively. Unearthly has a well-earned reputation for being Mr. Rakano: He took his Weekly event win in Seasons 1 and 2 with Rakano, he reinvented Rakano after the Open Beta patch nerf, and he took it to Top 8 in the Season 2 Invitational. He knows the deck inside and out, has made  brilliant changes to the list to respond to changes in the meta, and has played the deck well over 2000 times. And while shedd doesn’t have quite the dedication to Stonescar as Unearthly does to Rakano, he has rightfully earned a reputation for being a master of fire and shadow. While he sometimes splashes Primal to make Felnscar or Justice for FJS midrange, he’s shown a mastery of all the Stonescar variants.

Both players said that the nerfs did not affect their decks significantly – shedd’s list from last week was one of the least affected Stonescar lists, and his list this week is only a slight tweak from that list. Unearthly did have to modify his powerbase compared to last week, increasing the # of Fire sigils and decreasing the # of Diplomatic Seals. He did say it affected his ability to cast Drake in two games, however, it did not lose him either game. Unearthly also said the change to Crownwatch Ronin (… Oni Paladin?) was not significant to the outcome of any of his matches, even if it did cause him to have to change some lines of play.

The lesson here might be that, if the meta has been shaken up, bringing a comfort list that you know exactly how to tech to the meta might be better than finding a new way to attack the meta that you aren’t as familiar with.

Time decks

The second notable thing is how many Time decks were in the top 8. 75% of the Top 8 field had Time as one of their factions, spread out over 4 different types. Over the Top 16 decks: Sandstorm Titan was the most brought unit, and in respect to the slower, big-unit heavy meta, Vanquish was the most brought card. The only card that wasn’t in Time or Justice in the top 10 most brought cards was Torch, partially helped by Redworld and Toth splashing Fire in their Combrei decks. Card representation stats thanks to Eternalnexus.

The very high representation of Time was almost certainly a response to Armory being the new “specter of the meta”. Big-butt Time units can be hard for Armory’s Relic Weapons to deal with without multiple Artisan effects or Rise to the Challenge, Shimmer variants going wide also gives them fits without multiple Harsh Rules in hand.

Talking with Toth, he said that the major advantage to the Fire inclusion into Big Combrei give it the advantage in the Big Combrei “mirror. It also has a good matchup vs Armory like Big Combrei.

Repeat players

Every player in the Top 4 was a competitor in the Season 2 Invitational and all of them but Redworld were competitors in the Season 1 Invitational – Redworld began playing during Season 2. All 4 have either earned a guaranteed invite to the Season 3 Invitational with their performance this week or have basically locked themselves as a points qualifier. This was a stacked Top 8, and if you showed me this bracket without context, I wouldn’t surprised to be told this was the finals of an Invitational.

Unearthly, shedd, and Toth are also part of the same practice and deckbuilding group. Poor Redworld, left out in the cold, but still fighting on!

I’d like to give a shout-out to Angrychicken – he brought home half the wins that Big Combrei earned in this week’s event. In the event last week, he took Top 4 – and this is his second event! Very impressive performance for just two showings.

Conclusions and Other Comments:

Orange is the new Black … Except Time is more gold and Shadow is more purple. But you get what I mean. The meta is greatly shaken up! Except that I do think the field slightly over-corrected for the Stonescar nerfs, in terms of it being underrepresented.

I’d like to give one final shout-out to SirRhino, for bringing the single most Armory hating list idea I’ve ever seen – four of both Dawnwalkers and Sabotages in the main deck, along with 8 4-drops that Armory is hard-pressed to deal with. Ouch. Speaking of SirRhino, though… If Feln made it into Top 8, it would have swept the field, if it could have avoided Rakano… Hm…

I can’t wait to see how the rest of the metagame shakes out.

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