Best of Three: ETS Season 3 – Week 6: Sandstorm Titan > Feln Stranger, confirmed.

So, a short history lesson: for awhile, Feln Stranger had won more tournaments than Sandstorm Titan, mostly on the back of pre-nerf Champion of Cunning and pre-nerf Witching Hour and pre-nerf Scouting Party. People used to bring this up as evidence of Feln Stranger being stronger than the oft-discussed Sandstorm Titan.

While it was obviously a joke, it was also a comment on how Combrei has historically had poor tournament showings. However, with this event, Sandstorm Titan’s # of wins surpasses Feln Stranger, with help from pingonme’s Dark Combrei (or Shadow Combrei, as he named it).

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

31 out of 58 (53%) decks included Time, 25 (43%) included Fire. About half of those decks were Fire “splashes”, for things like Ruin, Torch, Quarry, and not decks that were primarily in fire – Ruin was on a lot of people’s minds this week! Decks bringing Xenan Obelisk were on the rise, but Armory ghosted this event. Last week, 11 people brought Traditional Armory and 3 brought Icaria Blue, compared to 3 and 2, respectively, this week. Our participants certainly noticed the heavy share of Time decks last week.

Those people seem to have jumped ship to Rogue decks – which were almost 40% of the field this week. This is a high, even among ETS events. Only 4 decks were brought by more than 2 people!

Winrates:

Unfortunately, I cannot use Challonge’s API to gather winrate statistics at the moment. I will fill this in as soon as I can, however!

Top 8:

1st: pingonme (Dark Combrei)
2nd: Tobboo (Stonescar Burn)
3rd: HiThar (Big Combrei)
     Paradox (Stonescar Burn)
5th: Akoboss (Elysian Midrange)
     Juaspas (Xenan Control)
     Peaceful (Elysian Midrange)
     rewind (Felnscar Midrange)

Burn’s Success and the Evolution of Metas

Once again, Stonescar still makes its way into the top 8. Two players brought Stonescar Burn to the event, both of them made it to Top 8. Burn Queen also saw some representation, but it didn’t fair as well. To little surprise, no one has yet to bring Jito Queen – though, I wouldn’t be surprised if low to the ground Jito-less go-wide decks appeared next weekend, as they’ve been seen a bit of a resurgence on ladder.

Stonescar Burn, on its way to the top 8, went 4-0 against Elysian Midrange and went 2-1 against Combrei and Combrei variants – the one loss was to pingonme.  In general, these decks were pushed out by the rise of Stonescar Burn in early Open Beta, and these red-hot runs through the Swiss show why.

As Pojo has briefly discussed in a past article, the meta of a format tends to be cyclical / self-correcting. Of course, this assumes perfectly rational actors – eg, in our case, every player bringing the deck they believe has the best chance to win the event and is accurate at guessing the meta.  An increase in slow, durdley decks that are teched to go over the top of their midrange and control brethren means that aggro/burn decks that attack them are poised to do better. Despite the nerfs to Stonescar and the slight nerf to Rakano, if decks aren’t dedicating cards in their 90 to beat aggro/burn, then those decks can still make strong tournament runs.

Dark Combrei’s Evolution

Back in Ye Olde Days of Closed Beta when fixing was a bit stronger and the meta was a hair slower than it is now, Dark Combrei was a niche archetype that saw a bit of play on ladder. It was primarily for Azindel’s Gift, Dark Return, and sometimes removal. The logic for Dark Return was simple – What’s better than 4 Titans? 8 Titans! Or the option to have 8 Titans or 8 Mystic Ascendants, etc. However, Steward of the Past was less commonly played back then. Once Steward started being in a large share of the meta, Dark Return’s stock fell, and the deck stopped being popular as the meta was less conducive for it.

pingonme, however, has a different take on Combrei splash Shadow – 4x Sabotage and 4x Subvert in his main deck. He also 2x Dark Return and an Azindel’s Gift in his sideboard, but no removal. I find the complete lack of Annihilates a bit curious, as this is a very target-rich meta for Annihilate, but pingonme likely prioritized shoring up his other match-ups.

The hand disruption in pingonme’s Dark Combrei attacks the meta in an interesting way – both Sabotage and Subvert do well against Burn decks that are glutted on 5-drops and that want to play out their power to fuel a huge Facebl Flameblast. The tells that a Burn player has a Flameblast or have a lot of expensive cards are usually obvious, so the usual drawback of Sabotage and Subvert  – correct timing – is greatly reduced. Sabotage and Subvert also do well in the Control / Big Midrange mirror. Even Big Combrei has more Sabotage targets than usual, as it’s starting to run more Stand Together and Xenan Obelisk.

Conclusion

Next weekend is the final Weekly of the season and our Last Chance Qualifier! It’s a bit scary to be going into events that can make or break qualification for the Season 3 Invitational, which also leads in into the Midseason Major before the meta has calmed down. I hope to see some interesting decks!

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