It’s been half a year since we completed our coverage of 2022’s Blood Bowl Tournament meta, and we now have a whole new raft of data to pore over and analyse how the world of competitive Blood Bowl in 2023 has changed.
As always, we are indebted to the work of Mike Davies who has gathered and presented much of the NAF’s data for easy consumption. These articles would not be possible without him.
Before we begin I am once again excited to report that number of games and tournaments is again soaring. A number of teams in this data cut have already played almost as many games as the entirety of last year. So with 646 tournaments and over 20,000 games to examine, let’s dive in!
Nottingham, we have a problem. Underworld stand some way clear here as the best performing team in the game. Last year it seemed they were being reined in, but so far this year they are our clear number one. With no particular game changes influencing the UW, this seems likely to be a reflection of competitive players gravitating toward them, as we shall see in the popularity data later. Matchup data shows that UW have only one racial matchup that is not in their favour: Dwarves, at a 49.4% win rate. The fact that this is probably the “best worst” matchup in the game tells us all we need to know.
Our second and third places have been taken by two familiar Tier 1 powerhouses of yesteryear. Dark Elves and Wood Elves appear to have got their groove back, with very strong c.55% win rates.
Dark Elves have strong matchups across the board, with only Dwarves (by far their worst), Norse, and Underworld below 50%. Wood Elves meanwhile have some very polarised matchups, including negative win rates against the likes of Imperial Nobility (?!) and Chaos Chosen (?!?!), but monstrously high win rates against stunties and some of our other top contenders (62% vs Amazons, and 69% vs Lizards). This all suggests that Woodies are not quite the competitive force that pure win rate data suggests, but they certainly need to be respected as a meta presence.
Speaking of Amazons, we said we’d keep a close eye on them after their wholesale roster changes last year, and this data seems to show they are in excellent health. Their matchups have certainly changed, with this set showing they actually have a previously unthinkable positive win rate versus Dwarves.
For the most part this list does show a very healthy spread of win rates, but our outliers are more extreme than last year. Goblin win rates have gone off a cliff, while the abysmal state of Chaos Chosen will be creating some thunderous rage in the warp.
Orcs continue at the top by a clear margin. Beneath them we have a precipitous rise from two teams who were some way off last time. Skaven and Dark Elves have surged in popularity through this edition, coming from mid-table to the upper tiers, and now among the most popular in the game.
Undead, Lizardmen, Dwarves, and Necro hold on to their places, while the big fallers among the top ranks have been Humans. Pushing their way back in are the aforementioned Underworld Denizens.
At the bottom of the table, not too much change. High Elves’ and Ogres’ brief flirts with middling popularity appear over, while Wood Elves might be heading back towards higher levels of play.
Cementing the Win Rate data, Underworld are our mid-season champs, pulling in a bucket of silverware and finding the top spots despite having far less representation than those below. Close behind are the teams occupying the same spots last year: popularity champs the Orcs, and Lizardmen. Dark Elves continue their strong showing, and based on the data from July I’ve seen, might actually have the most titles at time of publication.
The big fallers are Dwarves, with last year’s top dogs some way short of the pace they set last year. We’ll talk more about them in a little while. High Elves, reflecting their significant decline in popularity, have also seen a big drop-off.
As always, the top teams here massively dominate the silverware, with around a third of tourneys being won by the top four teams, and about half of all placings being taken by the top 6-7. The good news is even at the half-way stage, every team has taken home a couple of tournament wins, so hope springs eternal for coaches of even the hardest to pilot races.
Observations and Analysis
The BB community love to hate them, but what our data shows very clearly is that Dwarves continue to act as a check on a number of other teams in the meta. They have positive win rates against the top three win rate teams, which no other team is even close to.
Dwarves themselves currently suffer from one of the worst matchups in the game among top teams. For a long time Dwarves’ issues against Lizardmen were considered one of their main weaknesses as a tournament team, but with the change in the meta, it is now their 34.6% win rate against Tomb Kings that is really hurting them. They also have a very bad matchup with Necromantic at 38.1%, which is arguably worse given their popularity.
Khorne are an interesting team who I thought had very strong tournament potential on release. Their numbers show that they certainly aren’t being auto-piloted to wins, but they do have strong tournament title and runner-up numbers, and they are also one of the more popular teams (I suspect many Chaos Chosen players have jumped ship here).
Our data shows that Khorne have very strong numbers against some of the other bashers in the meta, with 54+% win rates against Chaos Dwarves, Dwarves, and Norse, and a favoured matchup with Orcs. Sadly where they fall flat is against agility, with dismal sub-45% win rates against all the Elf teams, including 37.8% vs Wood Elves.
You didn’t think I was going to make it through a whole meta analysis article without talking about Stars did you? The elephant in the room has been a little smaller this year, with most tourneys positioning themselves somewhere between outright bans and asking players to pay a heavy tax in skills or build costs. This has unquestionably put a lid on the worst excesses of starbowl, and there has been a clear decline in the meta presence of some races who were leaning into star-based builds. Stunties remain the main culprits, mainly as they tend to be happily able to pay a skill tax, but as we can see from the win rates, no one is intruding upon the higher tiers. Snotlings, who are so cheap that they practically beg for Star assistance, have the highest win rate and tournament-winning success of all the stunty sides, and are probably the only team who are getting consistency out of this approach.
GW haven’t updated the Tiering in their FAQ since the early days of Second Season, when they very clearly responded to some stats that emerged from tournament play to swap a few teams around. But as we can see from this pic, whilst Tiers mostly remain a good measure of Tournament performance (and accepting that GW’s definition of Tier is not synonymous with that) there are a few teams that seem to be crying for help from both Tournament Organisers and the Powers That Be.
Two of the teams on this list that are performance outliers, Tomb Kings and Vampires, still reside in Teams of Legend status, and who knows what fate awaits them when GW eventually take a look. Nurgle, Black Orcs, and Chaos Chosen meanwhile, might need to be re-examined by TO’s to compete in this meta.
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