In case you haven’t heard, Blizzard is upping the stakes for viewers in this year’s Hearthstone World Championships. Each of us viewers has the opportunity to pick a champion, winning one Grand Tournament pack for each game our champion wins. Of course, before making my choice, the stat hound in me wanted to weigh my options, and the result is this full guide to the odds of BlizzCon 2016! Read on to learn the chances for each player to advance through the group stages and onto the ultimate prize: the title of “World Champion.”
The first step to finding the World Champion is to understand the tournament format. The World Championship is played in two stages. The first stage is a group stage with four double elimination brackets, with the top two players from each bracket advancing. The last stage is an 8-player single elimination bracket, the winner of which is crowned “World Champion.” For each round, the players are playing a Best-of-7 Conquest match with 1 ban. The groups have already been decided, and the decks have been locked in, giving us a wealth of information to use in our quest.
Dissecting a Match
Each match follows the standard Conquest format. Each player brings five decks, and can then ban one of their opponent’s decks. From there, a player must win with each of their remaining decks to advance. To simulate this, I made heavy use of the matchup statistics from the latest vS Data Reaper Report and a two-step ban phase where each player bans the best deck against their lineup after taking into account the deck they expect their opponent to ban. While we already know what the deck populations are going to be before bans, this gives us some insight on how the lineups will change after players have a chance to ban decks.
It should come as no surprise that Midrange Shaman is the most banned deck in the tournament, with Hunter coming up as a distant second. Interestingly, despite every player including it in their lineup, Druid receives almost no bans! Taking into account which decks are getting banned, we can now find the average win rate for each deck in the tournament.
Midrange Shaman, Hunter, Zoo, and Dragon Warrior end up with the highest win rates against the field. Still the decks are all fairly close, with the exception of Freeze Mage, which has an incredibly low win rate, despite being favored against the top deck of the tournament.
With the deck populations and matchups in hand, we can now simulate the player matchups. Rather than just using the raw deck win rates against the field, I pit the individual lineups against each other and found the odds for all possible outcomes. To include some of the human factor, I gave players a bonus based on their rating on GosuGamers. The below graph shows the average winrates for each player, if they played against every other player in the tournament as a round robin. This can be considered a measure of the player's overall strength.
As expected from a tournament of this caliber, all of the players are very even. ThijsNL looks to be the strongest competitor, but Che0nsu isn’t far behind. Judging just from these win rates, Groups A and B are neck and neck for the title “Group of Death.”
The first hurdle a player must overcome to win it all is to advance past the group stage. The World Championship group stage is a double elimination bracket where four players enter and two advance. These brackets have already been posted on Blizzcon’s Official Site. To find the odds for this bracket, I found the probability to win and lose for each matchup, ultimately finding the total probability across all possible tournament outcomes.
From here, I had to do a little guessing. We don’t know exactly what the final brackets are going to look like, which groups will meet which groups in the finals, and (most importantly) we don't know how much players will change their lineups for the final stage! But assuming that everything follows along as expected (and players stick with the decks that brought them success), we can still get a pretty good idea of how these last three rounds of the tournament are going to play out. Without further ado, here are the odds that each player will win the Hearthstone World Championships!
You’ll probably notice that there are two sets of data here. In red are the best estimates using the ratings from GosuGamers to account for skill. But considering that not all of the players have been tracked by GosuGamers long enough to get a reliable rating, I also included the odds based purely on lineups.
With everything included ThijsNL looks to be the clear winner at 9.95% chance of winning it all. While he didn’t bring the strongest lineup for this tournament (that honor goes to Che0nsu with his heavy midrange lineup), his superior playing skill is likely to bring him out on top. Still, expect a very close tournament!
The strongest decks in this tournament are, without a doubt, the midrange decks with strong curves like Shaman and Hunter. Curvestone is in full effect here, especially when you look at Che0nsu’s lineup of Malygos Druid, Midrange Secret Hunter, Midrange Shaman, Discardlock, and Dragon Warrior. The biggest mistake of the tournament will probably be Breath and his choice of Freeze Mage, leaving him with only a 3% chance of taking the title. In general, the more control oriented lineups don’t seem nearly as strong as the tempo oriented lineups coming into this tournament.
Of course, these are just my predictions, and there’s a lot of room for error here. The matchups are based on standard decklists, and so I can’t account for innovative game plans like DdaHyoni’s Nexus Champion Saraad Midrange Shaman. Also, its very possible that some of the more complicated decks will perform better in the hands of these pros than the vS Data Reaper Report would suggest (being drawn from the general playerbase). So, even if the stats say that your favorite player isn’t going to take home the prize, don’t lose hope!
Thank you to Garrett and the rest of the Angry Chicken Crew for asking me to write up this article for Amove.tv. It’s been a lot of fun running the numbers and writing up the results for all of you. So, until next time…JOB’S DONE!