WoW.com: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?
Ahyep: My name is Ahyep, on the server Korgath. I currently play with Memento, a dwarf Discipline priest, in the 2v2 bracket at 2800. I bounce around in 3v3, playing with Sellena and Memento on a 2750 Ret/Rogue/Priest team. I also play with Slayerz and Nientonsoh on a Rogue/Lock/Druid at 2900.
Since 3v3 is a lot more interesting than 2v2 as far as strategies go, I'll tell you how we play RLD and PMR. At the highest levels of 3v3, you cannot really go into a match knowing exactly how it will play out. The best way to play is to communicate clearly with my other DPS (warlock or mage) to take advantage of the weakest player on the other team.
Often in the first 5 to 10 seconds, you can tell who the weakest player is just by how they move and react to our opener. Once we figure out who the weak link is, we do everything we can to make that player's life hell during the game.
That player is the one who is more likely to make a mistake when put under all of our pressure, whether it's CC or burst dps into him. PMR and RLD both revolve around taking advantage of mistakes made by the other team, forced or non-forced.
For example, we'll open hard onto one player with a Sap on the healer. Because we think the healer isn't that strong of a player, we'll throw a tiny CC at him after the sap and more than likely he'll trinket that CC and we'll reset or swap to him and kill him since him and his team can't peel us off without trinkets. You can't go into a high rated game following a script, you have to adapt to how the other team plays.
WoW.com: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?
Ahyep: When the gates open (or on Ring of Valor, the pillars rise), the first thing our team does is call out the specs of the other team.
This can be done by looking at buffs and gearing choices as well as mana pools or health pools. Once we know what comp and spec we are playing against, we then look for evidence of PVE gear, because it means less resilience than normal. Finally, after all this is figured out (takes 2 to 4 seconds to notice and call it all out), we'll call out the Sap and the open target.
Our team is really fluid with our openers with a lot of yelling back and forth between me, the rogue, and my 2nd dps whether it's the warlock or mage. I ask questions of my second dps like, "sapping priest, opening on hunter. can you help? can you help?"
Based on that answer, I either open on the target I called, or I swap and open on the target that he can hit. Being coordinated on openers is a huge factor at high level play. Our druid or priest knows that they are supposed to CC whatever me and the mage/warlock aren't calling out for our own CC.
WoW.com: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?
Ahyep: I use the arena addon Gladius. I customize my bars with Bartender4 and my unit frames with Pitbul. I use the cooldown timer "Doom's Cooldown Pulse" and the mod "Locknotes" which says important messages on my screen such as Cloak of Shadows, Bubbles and abilities like that.
WoW.com: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)
Ahyep: Our team is constantly talking about target choice and whether we can get to it or not. We constantly bounce questions and always make sure both dps can get one a target to dps before we swap.
If I'm on a hunter and my warlock is calling "Ret Ret Ret," he's not actually damaging the ret until I say, "ok ret ret ret" back to him. I normally make the calls in my 3v3 about possible targets since I'm the rogue and my position affects what I can hit or not, but my warlock and mage are very vocal and call targets out for me as well to see if I can get to them or not.
The biggest thing I've learned is that you need to play with your teammates and trust them with target calls. If my Mage/Warlock calls out a target, I need to do as much as I can to see if I can get to the target that they call because almost always it will be an amazing swap that they saw. Trust is a big factor with calling targets.
WoW.com: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?" Is this different now than in previous seasons?
Ahyep: At 2800+ 2v2 and 3000+ 3v3 MMR, it's almost impossible to play games unless other top 10 teams are queueing at the same time. The wait becomes up to 4-5 minutes for a 0 point win, which just isn't worth it. We all have each other's cell phones and are all on the computer or around one during the evenings.
If one of us knows that a top 10 team is queueing, we'll call or text message the other members of the team to see if we can get everyone on to do games. We've done this the same way all 4 seasons I've been near the top. Since we're pushing #1 in 3v3, it's been especially important to try and snipe teams that are good points and easy wins to try and hit 3k.
WoW.com: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?
Ahyep: I've never played at 1500 or 1600 this season, but there is a huge change in stratedgy and reaction time and team adaptation even between the 2600 teams and the 2800 teams.
Low rated teams seem to do a lot of tunnel vision, which is choosing a target and just trying to kill it all game. No swaps or switches, just hitting it until it dies while the other players on your team try to CC and kill it with you.
The higher in rating you go, the more swaps and switches to force trinkets you start to see. In our 3v3, we know instantly when we switch whether we will kill the target in the next 5 seconds or not, and if the answer is no, we start looking for targets to swap off of right away.
It's a game of opportunity costs. Sometimes we sit on a target if we know that it's locking him down, but at the same time, we're ccing his teammates to try and force trinkets/cooldowns so we can pull swaps to them later in games. Adaptation to other teams stratedgy is probably the biggest change between rating brackets.
WoW.com: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)
Ahyep: The only stratedgy that we employ is CC stuff and kill other stuff. The rest is on the fly. We're all good players who know how DR and CC works, and we just call it out on vent 5-10 seconds before hand so we don't overlap our CC. The only signals we use are when we call for swaps which we do every game.
Our vent has a lot of yelling back and forth about possible switches and CC opportunities as well as what the other team is doing and how we can counter it.
WoW.com: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?
Ahyep: Everything should be bound. Nothing should be clicked. Ever.
WoW.com: What are you trying to improve?
Ahyep: No one is perfect at positioning and spatial awareness, but that's probably the biggest thing anyone can work on. You have to know where everyone is on the map at all times so you can focus Kick or Blind or know if you can swap targets or not.
This is a constant struggle to get better and no one is ever perfect on it. Putting raid markers on teammates heads is a huge help though, and highly recommended.