For some reason, Priests get the short end of the lore stick with their Tier 9 sets named after less-than-stellar figures in Warcraft lore. Although Prophet Velen is the leader of the Draenei, one wonders why the Alliance set wasn't named after the High Priestess Tyrande (although she was arguably a darned good Hunter, too). He was retconned to be Kil'jaeden's former best friend, so he's an ancient creature, too, and definitely one of the game's foremost Priests. The Horde get... Zabra Hexx, a minor character in the Ashbringer comics and an action figure. Aside from having his name on a blue item, he isn't even in the game. Does this mean we'll get Draenei and Troll themed Priest sets? We'll see. The Priest Tier 9 set comes in light and dark flavors.
There are arguments for both sides in the Alliance Rogue set, as they get their set named after one of the most beloved scoundrels in the World of Warcraft: Edwin VanCleef. The one minor quibble? He's only a Level 20 elite, which makes a top-tier Level 80 set named after him something that's both an homage and an inside joke. Almost like an epic named after Hogger. Horde Rogues get their set named after Garona, one of Warcraft lore's most famous assassins who is currently a central character in the comics. She isn't in the game aside from a vision in Yogg-Saron's chamber, but her name has been in the game for a while, from a book in Dire Maul to a ring in Karazhan and most recently a leather helm in Ulduar. Check out VanCleef's Battlegear in the gallery.
The Horde get somewhat even for the Priest and Paladin sets here as the Alliance get their Shaman set named after Farseer Nobundo, the Alliance's first Shaman. In the game, this Broken is merely a non-elite Level 70 trainer. Alas, the Alliance have no other more notable Shamans worthy of a tier set. On the other hand, the Horde get their set named after Thrall, the Horde's mighty leader and the first Shaman of the new Horde. Thrall needs no further explanation, does he? He's likely to prefer the Elemental set, while Nobundo seems to fit the Restoration set. All the other Shamans wear Enhancement gear.
The Alliance oddly get their set named after Naxxramas' big baddie, Kel'thuzad. Strangely enough, Kel'thuzad was actually a Mage in life, belonging to the Council of Six with the likes of Kael'thas and Antonidas. Alex explains that Kel'thuzad eventually dabbled in the dark arts and became a Necromancer. Still not technically a Warlock, but that'll have to do for naming purposes. Horde Warlocks get a set named after Gul'dan, arguably the most powerful Warlock who ever lived. Players get a brush against the Destroyer of Dreams through a quest line in Shadowmoon Valley. He was a pretty scary orc, so having the Tier 9 Warlock set named after him seems only fitting.
Finally, we have Warriors. Alliance Warriors must be giddy at the prospect of getting armor even remotely similar to the new standard of Warcraft badassery, Varian Wrynn. Built up in the comics and in in-game cinematics to be -- in Chris Metzen's own words, "totally badass," Wrynn comes from the line of kings of Stormwind. This popular figure in WoW lore, just like Thrall, needs no further explanation. Then again, neither does the guy for whom the Horde Tier 9 set is named after: Thrall's best friend and adviser, Grom Hellscream. There's just so much badassery between these two Warrior sets -- DPS and tanking -- that it almost makes up for all the Titan's Grip nerfs. Alright, probably not, but you have to admit it's pretty cool. Check out the set bonuses on the compiled list here.
The new naming convention for Tier 9 is a wonderful homage to Warcraft lore that's a treat for lore nerds and something new players can pick up on. If the names are any indication, the appearance of the new Tier 9 faction-specific sets should be very exciting.
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!