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UPDATED (5/9/2011): Phases Added

UPDATED: EU Blue post added.

It's that time of year again, time for the official WoW Arena tournament, called Arena Pass. I haven't seen a blue post or an official post about it yet, but here is the Arena Pass Registration page.

Below I have posted excerpts from the registration pages. For all the details check out the Blizzard's Arena Pass FAQ.

What is Arena Pass?

Official Blizzard Quote:

We invite the most dedicated and skilled Arena combatants around the world to enter the new World of Warcraft Arena Pass! Your glorious victories in the Arena Pass will not only grant renown and recognition for your prowess, but will also grant you a chance to earn exclusive rewards only available to Arena Pass participants. Within a structured format comprised of one online qualifier, players will battle on special Arena Pass realms purely dedicated to the competitive format of 3v3 Arena matches. The characters used in these realms are new level 85s that you create and customize, packed with PvP armor and weapons.

Arena Pass registration is open to any active World of Warcraft account upgraded through the World of Warcraft: Cataclsym expansion. Registration costs one payment of $20.00, which grants one eligible World of Warcraft account access to the Arena Pass realms for the duration of the eight-week service. Players will be able to create up to three new fully customizable level-85 characters on these realms and deck them out with a full set of epic gear. Then form your new 3v3 team and enter the Arenas, where a whole new level of competitive play awaits you. Good luck!


Official Blizzard Quote:

Players who participate in the service can earn both the exclusive Armored Murloc in-game pet, and the “Vanquisher” title on their live characters by meeting certain eligibility criteria. (Please see the FAQ for more details)

When Will Arena Pass Start?

Official Blizzard Quote:

We are looking at May of 2011 for the initial phase of the Arena Pass, but will have registration for the Arena Pass available beforehand.

Arena Format:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Participating players will gain access to our dedicated Arena Pass realms and be able to create up to three level-85 characters per registered account. This special realm will allow players to fully customize characters with some of the best items available in the game. We will continue to use the 3v3 Arena format for this years’ service. Please note that the standard 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 Arena season games will continue as normal on the live realms and will not be interrupted by this Arena Pass.

Structure and Timing:

Official Blizzard Quote:

The Arena Pass service will run for eight weeks. The first four weeks are designated for practice -- giving players a chance to meet, form teams, gain experience working together as a team, and to experiment with different lineups and strategies. During this time period, matches will not count, although your rating will change as normal. After the practice period, all team ratings reset to 0. During the next two weeks, there will be a -150 team rating penalty for any new player additions to your team. Player rosters will be locked down during the final two weeks of the Arena Pass, and no changes may be made to your team during that time. The rating and ranking system functions in the same way as it does on the live realms, including personal ratings

Registration Requirements:

Official Blizzard Quote:

To participate, you must:
  • Have an active subscription to World of Warcraft with an account in good standing, meaning the account is not flagged, suspended, or banned for violating any of the Terms of Service, EULA, or other rules of World of Warcraft.
  • Have a World of Warcraft account that has been upgraded to Cataclysm
  • Have a valid credit card to pay the per-competitor registration fee for the Arena Pass, which is €15/£12 in Europe; $20 in North America; and NT$450 in the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
  • Reside in a country or territory that allows participation (you will see the full list when registering).
  • Complete the required information on the registration page to register for the Arena Pass.
  • Meet all eligibility requirements listed in the Terms of Use. Players meeting these requirements will be allowed to participate in the Arena Pass and will have access to the dedicated Arena Pass realms in their region.

UPDATE: Phases and Dates:

Official Blizzard Quote:

The 2011 Arena Pass is split into several different phases. To help you gain a more detailed understanding of how this year’s Arena Pass will unfold, you can find an explanation of the different phases in this article. You can also find out which matches are counted towards receiving a pet or title!

Registration Phase
4 May – 21 June (9pm CEST)
During this period you can register for the European 2011 Arena Pass Service. Registration will be closed outside of these dates.

Practice Phase
11 May – 8 June
During this period you will be able to enjoy the Arena Pass Realm and practice your setup with your friends. Matches played during this phase will not count towards the pet and title prizes.

Ranked Ladder Phase 1
8 June– 22 June
All Arena Rating points will be set to zero when this phase begins. Ranked 3v3 matches played during this phase will count towards the pet and title prizes. If a player switches from one Arena Team to another, the Arena Team that the player joins will have their Arena Rating reduced by 150 points.

Ranked Ladder Phase 2
22 June – 4 July (9pm CEST)
Ranked 3v3 matches played during this phase will count towards the pet and title prizes. During the Ranked Ladder Phase 2 of the Arena Pass Service, players cannot switch Arena Teams.

Prize Eligibility
Ranked 3v3 matches that count toward the pet and title prizes will start on 8 June 2011, (once the weekly maintenance has ended) and end 4 July 2011, at 9pm CEST.

Please note that phases begin once weekly maintenance has finished on the dates specified, and end at the beginning of maintenance on the dates specified (unless stated otherwise).

UPDATE: EU Blue Post:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Gather your teammates and prepare yourselves for one of the biggest online Arena events World of Warcraft has to offer; registration for the 2011 World of Warcraft Arena Pass is now open!

This premium service allows players to create up to three ready-made level 85 characters of any regular class and race combination, deck them out in some of the best gear in WoW, and then fight for glory, honor, a special title and even an in-game pet!

Top notch armor, weapons, accessories, enchants, gems, gold, glyphs, training, pets—they’ll all be freely available when you enter the Arena Pass realm so you can fully customise your characters as you see fit. Once you’re ready, all that’s left to do for you and your team is to go head-to-head with others in the Arena, focusing purely on skill and strategy, in a 3v3 format.

Besides the rush of competing with and against players dripping in full epics, there are a couple of other exclusive benefits to registering and taking part in this awesome Arena-focused service. All participants have the chance to earn themselves a special in-game pet. Play at least 50 matches with the same character and team during the last four weeks of the Arena Pass, and finish the event with this team, and you will take away a unique armoured murloc non-combat pet to accompany your adventurers on live realms. Play at least 100 matches with the same character and team during the last four weeks of the Arena Pass, and finish with this team in the top 1,000, and you will also earn the highly enviable ‘Vanquisher’ title for your eligible live realm characters!

If you have any questions or would like more details, please read the FAQ and be sure to come back to the site for more upcoming Arena Pass news and information.

Don’t miss out on the chance to prove yourself by fighting for glory in this epic Arena-focused premium service. Commit yourself to the mighty cause and register now to take part in the 2011 World of Warcraft Arena Pass!

Thanks guys, let us know who's signing up. Once it starts we'll get the tournament forums rolling for you guys as well. Good luck!

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UPDATE 3 (5/7/2011) - Getting reports that people can add characters at this time. Please try adding your character now.

UPDATE 2: Clearly something isn't working for most folks - we're checking it out. Thanks for bearing with us.

UPDATE: I'm told the character claim system is up and running, please try to add your character now. If you continue to have trouble, please send me a screenshot of the claims screen as well as a link to your bnet and we'll try to work through it. Thanks.

I've been getting a lot of PMs and requests in Site Feedback about adding characters, so I figured I would address it here rather than trying to respond individually - <strong class='bbc'>currently the system is down</strong>! Unfortunately, our developers have been without power for the last few days because of the storms and tornadoes in the south east.

Hopefully they will get power restored and be back online soon! I'll keep this thread updated with any new information. Thanks for your patience with this issue. We'll have it back up as soon as we can!

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Recently, we got a chance to chat with Azael about his gaming career and life. We've gotten a lot of requests for an interview with him and I think you'll enjoy getting to know him a little better.

Remember to follow ArenaJunkies on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates. Have a great Friday everyone!

General Information
In-game Nickname and Alts:
Azael but my Warlock is named Azaelz.  My only alt is my Holy Paladin Bregor.

Any interesting background to the name Azael?
Honestly I'm really indecisive with choosing names or figuring out what I want my character to look like so after sitting at the character creation screen for an hour or two trying to think of a name I started just spamming Random Name Generator.  It eventually came up with Azazael which I thought sounded pretty good so I went with that, and later on when I transferred off of that server Azazael was taken on my new server so I just ended up shortening the name to Azael.

Real Life Name: Isaac Cummings-Bentley.

Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Age: 22

Player Introduction
How did you get into gaming?
I used to play games very casually when I was young on Consoles and whatnot like N64 Goldeneye and Mario Kart etc, and eventually started playing PC games.  Once I stopped playing competitive sports after High School I think I got a lot more seriously into gaming as it was a good competitive outlet.

Favorite game of all time?
I think I might have to say Mario Kart just because I have so many good memories playing that game with friends, but WoW is definitely right up there too since I've gotten a lot out of the game and it's honestly the only PC game that I've really played for very long without quitting.

Did you have a character you like to play as in mario kart?
I usually would pick Toad since the smaller guys were a bit faster and easier to handle even though they could get knocked around by the bigger ones I just found it more fun.

Tell us about your personal gaming rig. Type of mouse, keyboard, and headset?  
Right now I'm using an MSi GT660 gaming laptop courtesy of my sponsors, and I'm using all Steelseries peripherals - 7G keyboard, Xai mouse, and Siberia v2 headset.  

What do you do in your spare time, besides playing WoW?
I spend my spare time reading, working out, spending time with friends and more recently getting back into some pickup sports once again, I have also been playing some SC2 lately.

What sports are you getting into pickup games of?
Well when I was younger I played pretty much every sport Basketball, Rugby, Football, Soccer, Volleyball etc etc, but Basketball was definitely what I enjoyed the most and played the most.  Lately though some of my friends have been organizing a lot of pickup Soccer games so that's what I've been doing but I never played Soccer seriously so I'm pretty bad but it's a lot of fun and I'm getting better.

When did you start playing WoW?
I started playing WoW shortly after the game came out but I maybe only played 20-30 minutes a day if I even played every day for quite a long time.

Since you bought playtime up, mind sharing whow much you play daily now?
It varies so wildly that I couldn't really say how much I play with any accuracy on a day to day basis.  I basically only login for arena, so for example for a week or so we played every day for probably anywhere between 2 and 6 hours.  Then things got busy and with the new patch coming out we figured there was no rush to play since we could never get queues on our mains and were having some issues playing other characters so we didn't play any for like 2 weeks.  Then this week with the patch coming out we played a bunch, probably like 6 hours of arena yesterday all told and 3 or 4 on Tuesday for me.

Mind sharing your /played?
My played is closing in on 200 days on the Warlock I've had since release basically, but a massive amount of that would be idle. Like they say, WoW is a chat room with better graphics!

What classes do you play in WoW? Which are you competent with on a competitive level?
Well the only characters which are mine at 85 are Paladin / Warlock, but I have played Warrior since 70 and I've been rank 1 a few times on it so I'd like to think I could play Warrior at a competitive level if given a bit of time to brush up on it.  I don't think I'd ever play Paladin in a tournament unless there was some setup that it was extremely advantageous to have a Ret Paladin or something in since Tenderloin will basically always play the healer.

Current PvP Spec?
I'm playing Affliction and I've been respeccing a few times each week pretty much just trying out different things and trying to figure out what will be the ideal spec for next patch.  I think my favourite spec at the moment is the one shown here http://us.battle.net...lent/secondary.

Any changes for 4.1?
I'll still be playing Affliction, the only thing I'll really be changing around is getting Dark Arts instead of Demonic Embrace for the extra Felhunter damage.

Horde For Life?
I honestly don't care if I'm playing Horde or Alliance.  I went to Tich Alliance at the end of Season 8 to play with friends and everyone pretty much ended up going there and I was happy as that, but due to horrible connection issues I've been having on BG9 we transferred and eventually ended up as Horde just because Tenderloin thinks it looks more cool and there's a lot of people on Illidan Horde.

What is your most important gaming accomplishment to date?
I'd definitely say winning the last IEM Global Championship was my most important.

That makes me realize, I watch the tournaments from my computer, but you actually get to travel. What's the coolest place you've gotten to travel so far?
As far as the places that I've actually been at for tournaments Cologne, Germany was really nice and 2good took some of us out bar hopping and whatnot and it was a pretty fun scene.  I've been able to use tournaments as kind of a starting point for traveling quite a bit though which has let me travel all around Europe in Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy etc so I'd have to say Amsterdam was pretty awesome, and Nice in France was also a really really great place so probably down to those two for my favorite. Traveling has definitely been my favourite part about it all since it has allowed me to go a lot of places and make a bit of money doing it that I otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to see.

Why are you a hardcore arena player and not a hardcore raider?
As I think most people will say in these interviews they were a hardcore raider at one point, and I did enjoy it but honestly for me I enjoy competing against other players more and I always found it frustrating to be held back by the weaker players in a big raid.  The biggest issue for me with raiding though is being stuck on a schedule as I always have hated planning my week around raiding so I haven't really done it in years.

What goals do you have for your gaming career?  
The only thing left I'd like to accomplish is to get to Blizzcon since I haven't played there before.  I've qualified for the Regional Tournaments three times and was one game away from knocking out TSG and going to Blizzcon before getting gibbed and losing that series which was funny because they ended up winning it all that year.  Sadly last year I was traveling for basically the entire tournament realm so we weren't able to qualify which just makes me more determined to do it this year.

Which other wow player(s) inspire you/do you respect?  
I think that a ton of players / comps come and go so the ones that inspire me and who I respect the most are those who have consistently been competitive over the years with a variety of setups and players.  Two people that really come to mind are Sodah and Venruki who have been playing at the highest levels since the first MLG and they're also two players who're very positive which I like as many people can be very negative at times (myself included).

Who's the better warlock,  you or Charlie Sheen?
Haha Charlie Sheen makes about a million times as much money as I do so I think he has it hands down.

Team and E-Sport Perspective
What's the most critical aspect to any team's success?
The ability to talk about losses and be critical of each others play without offending or getting someone mad.  If you can't discuss what each other did wrong and what happened in a game then you won't be able to change it.

So, lots (if not all) of the people we have interviewed so far have said something about communication for the most critical aspect to a team's success. So, to flip the question a little bit, do you think communication breakdowns is the number one reason for teams failing? Or would that be practice or skill?
I mean it's obviously a combination of all of the above as well as some other things.  I think that the biggest reason for a lot of teams failing is the way they look at the game since when I hear a lot of people talking about losing to a certain team or setup or whatever they look at the matchup in a very specific way and eliminate a lot of possibilities for beating them before they even try them.  A lot of the time those strategies they're eliminating are the ones that my team is using or other teams are using to win the matchup that they're struggling with.  For example since Warrior / Hunter / Healer setups are extremely popular I get a ton of questions on how to beat that and most people preface their questions by saying well you can't turtle cause you can't win the Mana game so what should you kill? But the thing is you basically have to play ultra defensive and if you make swaps and only get out into the open when you have one of the DPS CCed you can win on mana and create opportunities to win the game that way.

People just need to be more open to trying different strategies and try to filter what is important and what isn't because when I play with a lot of people or just listen to some videos they're emphasizing communicating so much that they basically just end up spewing bullshit which isn't really helpful to anyone.  Communication is very important but what you communicate is even more important, people don't need to know every little thing that you're doing because it just makes it harder to hear the actual important things going on.

Current ideal team composition?  
Even though it's probably not the #1 comp at the moment RLS forever and always.

You've been with EG for a long time now. What does the future hold for you guys?
I'm quite close with the people and sponsors at EG, so I think that I am really able to go and do whatever I want in gaming knowing they'll be supporting me which is a great feeling.  EG is without a doubt the best sponsor around and they're supporting us strongly and giving us salary even this year when WoW hasn't been active tournament wise.  They offered to support me for SC2 if I was interested but honestly I can't see myself putting in the time to become a top player.  I really do hope that I can stay active in e-sports in one way or another over the years though be it commentating, playing or more of the administration side.

What does the future hold for you in tournament play?  
I think that as long as I'm having fun playing the game and there are tournaments to play I'll continue attending them, but as it really seems to be slowing down I think a lot of players are reflecting on if it's worth the time investment to stay at the top level when there aren't many events.

What are your thoughts on the future of arena as an e-sport?  
I have always felt and still do that WoW could be great as an e-sport as it really has so much untapped potential.  It always had amazing viewer numbers and a ton of fans simply because of the massive player base, but most of it was an untapped market as events were often hard to find information about and poorly promoted.  Even people I know who wanted to watch me at events would have trouble finding out where / how / when to watch the events which is quite disappointing.  If they were able to even put links / announcements about tournaments ingame as you logged in think how many viewers they could get just from people interested in checking it out casually.  WoW has always been plagued by some imbalance but the best players find ways to overcome it and stay competitive whether they're running the best setup or not, and even SC2 the premiere game at the moment also has a massive amount of imbalance so I think WoW still could've been much more successful.

How does a player know when they might be ready to try and go pro?
I think that it can be hard to know simply because most people have a much higher opinion of themselves than others have of them, so I think a good way to tell is when you're getting recognition from other top players.  I'd also say a good indicator is if you're able to consistently take games off of other pro teams with a non-fotm setup.

As one of the best warlocks in the business, what 3 pro-tips would you give a Warlock that's new to arena?  
  • Positioning is the most important part of arena, make sure you're always forcing people to use a gap closer (Intercept, Shadowstep, Skull Bash etc ) to swap to you before you demon portal to kite them much more easily.
  • I think that people need to really think about when they're using Fear more simply because I get a lot of messages about people asking me why I don't spam fear more in my video, and you really just have to realize that there should always be a reason to use it.  If you just Fear for the sake of using the ability then the person may be on DR for when you really need it to peel, or when you really need to interrupt a cast or free yourself up to get casts off without having to fake against Melee.  Just make sure there's you're not wasting your DRs and focus more on keeping damage up if the time isn't right to use it.  
  • I think that a lot of people aren't very good at faking interrupts, and one of the biggest issues I see is that they're locking themselves out simply by wasting so much time doing it or not doing it at the right times.  You need to make sure you're always faking with an instant meaning start your cast then cancel it by using Corruption, Agony, a curse etc so that you're not wasting the global.  Also don't get too caught up in faking, because although avoiding interrupts is very good if a top level player notices you will only cast when interrupts are down they'll simply stop using them.

Would you be willing to share a couple macros with us that you use the most?  
I use pretty standard stuff, a ton of focus macros (CoEX, Fear, Coil, Weakness, Tongues, Spell Lock etc), and targeting macros such as /target arena 123 and /focus arena 123, the only one I have which people might not would be - #showtooltip Fel Flame
/cast [target=mouseover,harm] Fel Flame; Fel Flame.  It basically just casts Fel Flame on my target if I don't have a mouse over target, and casts it on my mouse over target if I do.  I also use the same macro for Banish and some other stuff and find it quite nice.

Neither actually, I use QWE and have everything else bound to abilities since I have like 100 binds I have to use pretty much everything on the keyboard haha! I use as far over as Shift-M on the keyboard, and I have a huge amount of ctrl and alt modifiers as well of course, then a lot of stuff on my mouse as well bound with modifiers.

So, it can be really hard getting used to new keybinds - what advantage do you think having such extensive keybinds gives you in arena?
It just allows me to do basically whatever I want to do in arena quickly and easily instead of having to fumble around trying to click stuff.  I see a ton ton ton of people who target by clicking on Gladius or Arena Frames and honestly I think it's not very good as it's simply a lot slower and you could be using your mouse for other things that you can't do without it like mouseover attacks and whatnot.

For example if I'm trying to watch Hex while killing a Mage against a Shaman / Mage team then I can simply scroll on my Mouse wheel to focus the Shaman then Shift Scroll to target the Mage, and then if the Shaman drops Mana Tide or Spirit Link totem etc I can use my mouse to mouseover pet attack or Fel Flame or I could mouse over Banish the Water Elemental etc all at the same time without having to be clicking anything, it just makes it a lot easier and makes your gameplay more smooth.

I just figure if there's something you don't have to use your mouse for then why would you do it when you can accomplish the same thing in a faster / easier way and still have your mouse free for things that you can't otherwise do.

General Wrap-up Questions
What do you enjoy MOST about WoW?  
Playing arena with friends.

What are your thoughts on World of Warcraft Arena and where it is going?  
I honestly like how Blizzard is making changes so much more often lately and I feel like it's balancing out a lot more and a lot faster than it was in the past which is very nice.  I also do like this pace much more than WotLK simply because instant kills are less common at least for Warlocks so I think that in general WoW Arena is headed in the right direction.

If you could change one thing about World of Warcraft Arena, what would it be?  
I think that I'd make it so that you could only run setups with one Healer, one Caster DPS class, and one Physical DPS class simply because the vast majority of the obnoxious cheesy setups would be eliminated with that change.  No more Melee Cleavers, no more Wizard Cleave, no more double Healer teams etc.  I think it'd be a really really nice change.

Are you happy with the state of warlocks currently? If you were in charge, what changes would you make to the class?  
I've had the ability to give some feedback on the class which is nice, and honestly I think that with the upcoming patch Warlocks will be in a pretty nice spot.  I do enjoy Warlocks now, but it can be very frustrating playing against some setups simply because you're not able to put out enough damage (at least as RLS) to even more peoples HP while their healer strafes back and forth dispelling and using instants and basically never having to cast.  I don't like the feeling that I could play a healer against myself and live with minimal to no effort when I'm trying my hardest to create pressure on a Warlock.

What song are you listening to right now?
I'm sort of a music addict so I'm listening to music 24/7 but as I type this I'm listening to Santito vs Black Crown - Back it up (Club Mix).

Big thanks to Team EG and all our sponsors - Intel, Steelseries, Kingston HyperX, Thermaltake, Bigfoot Networks etc, and also to my teammates Chuck and Emerson.

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