With the recent nerfs to some of the strongest heroes in Artifact, pros predicted that a change of color power would ensue. They were right. Control is the new name of the game, and George “Hyped” Maganzini is once again its champion.
The Team Liquid player took its second tournament in a row over the weekend, winning SeatStory Cup X. He used a mono blue control deck to beat Mark “Petrify” Fittipaldi’s black/red midrange deck 3-2, ushering the new “best deck in the meta”.
Hyped’s first tourney win at WePlay came on the back of the UG Selemene’s Storm deck. With the patch hitting Drow Ranger hard, however, many feared the deck wouldn’t pull off its combos consistently. But the blue color was left untouched, and Hyped went for it fully.
The deck is what you’d expect from a mono blue list. There’s every AoE removal imaginable: from the cheap At Any Cost to the ultimate Annihilation. The deck runs no minions, but uses Kanna and Dimensional Portal to put pressure on lanes and chip down tower life. Once the tower is low enough, in comes Bolt of Damocles. Once one tower is destroyed, the deck takes its chip damage and second Bolt to another lane, clearing all in its path.
Make no mistake: the deck, while powerful, is skill-intensive to play. Besides Kanna, blue heroes are notoriously squishy. Even in the days of a nerfed Axe, Zeus, Ogre Magi and Skywrath Mage are easy to kill targets. This is why the majority of the items in this deck are defensive. Blink Daggers help you maneuver and dodge bad lanes, and Stonehall Cloaks provide continuous regeneration. You won’t be able to sit in a lane and nonchalantly farm it with nothing to contest you. This deck requires you to move a lot and make adjustments every single turn.
There are a couple of drawbacks to this mono blue control. First, nearly half of its spells cost 6 and more. With no mulligan in the game, you can run into terrible opening hands and struggle to survive the early turns. Second, while the deck performs great against aggro, it will struggle to clear aggressive midrange decks. This is why Petrify’s BR Midrange gave Hyped so much trouble in the grand finals.
Nevertheless, if you’re control-inclined, Hyped’s list is by far the best on the market. There won’t be any major balance changes until at least after the holidays, so that’s your time to grind away those levels.