PvP Like a Pro
Blizzard recently started a 3-part series article interviewing the WoW arena pros from Europe. The interview includes teams: ABC Live, Northern Gaming Blue, and Method.
Part 1 – Finding the Right Partners
Often one of the greatest challenges players face when trying to get started in Arena is finding the right partners. Alec from team ABC joined us and broke it down into these three major points.
The Basics – Know Your Class
The most important step is to look up a guide...for your class.
Finding the right partners starts with being a good partner for others. You need to be willing to take the time to become intimately familiar with the abilities of your class as well as with what other classes can do to counter you—this is first and foremost to success in Arena.
“In Legion, it’s quite simple. The most important step is to look up a guide to dealing damage or healing for your class.” Alec recommends using Icy Veins to find this information.
Keep It Simple – Start With 2v2
If you are in the right place, you’ll increase your rating as you both improve.
Once you are confident that you know your class sufficiently, you should start out practicing in the 2v2 bracket. Alec says that he often uses the LFG system to practice a new class as his team healer doesn’t like playing 2v2 with his alts. “There are so many friendly people in 2v2—and if you guys are doing well you can stick together in 3v3…. If you are in the right place, you’ll increase your rating as you both improve.”
2v2, especially when running a healer/DPS composition, can be a more manageable experience in Arena, since fewer players means less information to track. This is a far more ideal location to practice your gameplay, and find partners that you’d want to branch into 3v3 with.
Attitude Matters – The Right Mindset
The right mindset is a critical attribute to both you and the partners you find. “The right players don’t deflect and try not to blame, "says Alec, who has one of the longest-standing team rosters in professional Arena competition.
Never blame a loss on the ability of your partners.
Alec says that Cdew and his team Method: Reborn are a good example of having a positive team mindset. “His teams are very good since they look at what they can do better together rather than blaming each other… if you have partners that are willing to get better, and willing to practice with an analytical mindset you are more likely to succeed,” says Alec.
Having teammates who can be self-critical and have a positive mindset can be a key to enjoying the game, and improving together in a friendly environment. In the words of Alec “Never blame a loss on the ability of your partners.”
Alec himself, formerly known as Daisyduke, competed in his first event the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris—in 2008. He definitely knows his way around World of Warcraft Arenas and is often praised as the mastermind behind his team’s strategies. You can catch him and his team ABC live at gamescom on August 23–26 on our official Warcraft Twitch channel.
Stay tuned when tomorrow we'll be hearing from Fabss of team Method for part two, PvP Like a Pro: Team Composition.
Part 2 – Team Composition
It doesn’t take a BlizzCon champion to know that the strongest 3v3 Arena comps usually feature one Healer and two Damage Dealers. However, there’s more to the fight than your team’s lineup. Luckily, we’ve enlisted FabsS—the only three-time Arena World Champion—from team Method: Triforce to help you!
What to Look for When Building a Composition
If you find a new comp, and a new way of playing that comp, you cause people problems.
According to FabsS, when building a composition, the first thing to do is look at what the pros play and check the current meta. If you want to make a new team comp yourself, it's important to have a good knowledge of all these classes—to know their strengths and weaknesses. In FabsS' own words, “Making a new comp that no one plays is all about looking at what’s good in the meta right now and trying to find something that counters it.”
Once you’ve thought about which compositions are currently popular, you can start to use that knowledge to build your counter. For example, at the time of this interview, Holy Priests were strong in the meta. Their strengths include mana efficiency and healing AoE damage. They're weaker when it comes to single target healing, healing reduction effects (such as Mortal Strike), and crowd control. To counter them, FabsS and his team played Warrior, Death Knight, and Shaman and went on to win European Cup #4. FabsS sums it up by saying “If you find a new comp, and a new way of playing that comp, you cause people problems.” This is the essence of high level Arena—being ahead of the meta by countering the current top team comps or best represented classes.
Composition Strengths and Weaknesses
If I can shut you down and do more damage than you, I win.
The main defining factor in a matchup is your team’s ability to deal damage versus your ability to avoid it. Simply put, FabsS says, “If I can shut you down and do more damage than you, I win.” Take the example of a Frost Mage versus two melee classes: while the two melee classes might have a higher potential damage output, the Mage can use slows to keep the enemy at a distance, reducing damage taken and gaining the upper hand.
A few factors that you should consider when deciding whether you have the edge over another comp are damage uptime, interrupts, and crowd control.
Cooldowns and Win Conditions
Unlike previous expansions, FabsS feels cooldowns are less impactful in Arena matches in Legion. It's still important to make equal trades—such as a Death Knight using Anti-Magic Zone against a Frost Mage with Icy Veins—but overall, your ability to pressure a team and beat their win condition is more important.
Most teams think ‘How do we win?’ But they don’t think about the other team and figure out what they'll be trying to do.
For this reason, FabsS highlights the importance of understanding your enemies' win conditions. It’s very easy to get caught up in your strategy and forget that your opponent has their own plan as well. As the former champion says, “The first thing that comes to mind when building a comp is understanding the win conditions of the enemy. Most teams think ‘how do we win?’ But they don’t think about the other team and figure out what they'll be trying to do.”
Following his victory at BlizzCon last year, Fabs tweeted an image of his team’s preparation for the Grand Finals match-up, showing that hard work really does pay off. He says team work is more important than ever in Legion, and it’s crucial to make sure you get along with your squad. You can catch him and his team Method: Triforce live at gamescom on August 23–26 on our official Warcraft Twitch channel.
Part 3 - Practicing Effectively
Minpojke of team Northern Gaming Blue has achieved rank one in Arena every season since 2011. His current squad has been playing together for more than two years, and came third in the Global Finals at BlizzCon 2016. With his help, we’ve built a five-step guide to help you practice like a pro!
Synergy - Align Your Team
It’s very important that everyone has the same goals and the same drive to do what it takes to win.
Before setting out on your quest to the top, make sure you’re “aligned as a team,” says Minpojke. Like in any group activity, “it’s very important that everyone has the same goals and the same drive to do what it takes to win.” Make sure your team shares similar ambitions, and is aligned on how much effort will be required to achieve them. And, of course, make sure you have similar gaming schedules so you can play and practice together!
Atmosphere - Stay Positive
It’s easy to win as a team—in the sense that it’s easy to be happy and celebrate—but if you’re capable of losing together, then you’ll be a great team.
It’s important to have a good atmosphere while playing. Minpojke says, “If you and your group get along and even become friends, you’ll like playing and actually learn more as well.” Be sure that the mood stays positive so that you can enjoy competing and improving together. It’s much easier to keep a team motivated if you’re all having fun—it’s a game after all!
Stated more simply, Minpojke says, “It’s easy to win as a team—in the sense that it’s easy to be happy and celebrate—but if you’re capable of losing together, then you’ll be a great team.”
Strategy - Know the Meta
When it comes to making practice effective, Minpojke feels it’s a priority to stay up to date with the current meta. He told us that the best way to do this is to follow tournaments, high-level Arena streams, and the PvP Leaderboards to see which classes are on top.
Ask what you want to achieve as a team; will you focus on a lot of CC or try to draw out the game longer?
“It’s quite easy to keep up with the meta. Watch streams to see what the pros are playing, and track the ladder to see which classes and compositions are at the top. And don’t forget to follow tournaments to see the best comps shine.” Once you’re confident in what you want to play, it’s time to queue up! As FabsS discussed in our previous interview, Minpojke says that it’s important to set your win condition before the gates open. “Ask what you want to achieve as a team; will you focus on a lot of CC or try to draw out the game longer?” Since you know what matchup you’ll be playing against, you can ask these questions and develop your strategy.
Analysis - Review Your Games
If your setup supports it, Minpojke recommends recording as many sessions as you can—they’re much more valuable then looking at a damage meter. The first objective is to see if you followed your game plan. Did you stick to it? Did it work? If the answer to either of these questions is no, you need to work on executing the plan better in the future—or possibly changing it up all together.
Always stay self-critical, and always look for ways to improve.
Watching your own recordings is also a chance to highlight individual mistakes. As Minpojke says, “Always stay self-critical, and always look for ways to improve—you’ll notice pretty quickly your most crucial and common mistakes.” While Minpojke emphasizes that “losing is arguably the best way of learning,” he also reminded us that “it’s very important to recognize when you do well.” Think positively here: no one can play the perfect game, but there are often good takeaways to improve future play.
Reviewing recordings of his gameplay is a regular part of Minpojke’s routine, as well as discussing previous matches with his team between games while queueing. You can learn from a win as well as a loss!
Execute - Implement Your Analysis
Practice it, and read it over and over until it sticks in your head
After watching the replays, it’s time to set your goals. Decide what you want to focus on, and “make plans before you queue for a session.” If there was a specific matchup you were struggling with, you can discuss plans for how you’ll react to it next time.
In some instances, it could be worth writing some notes, especially if you have many things to focus on versus many compositions. Minpojke equated it to studying for a test, “Practice it, and read it over and over until it sticks in your head.”
Minpojke attended his first BlizzCon with current teammate Zunniyaki in 2013, finishing in second place. Northern Gaming Blue are the defending European Champions. With nine BlizzCon appearances between their players, they’re one of the most experienced rosters in the field.