This week, we interviewed a four-time rank one gladiator, Athlete of Mug'thol. The Merciless, Deadly, Furious, Relentless Gladiator talked to us about his very interesting and uncommon 3v3 composition of mage-warrior-holy paladin, as well as some basic arena advice for new PvPers.
WoW.com: You have four rank one titles! It's probably safe to say you know what it takes to be successful in arena. What's your advice to players who want to start playing arenas for the first time?
Athlete: My best advice would be to register an account on ArenaJunkies.com and read it often. There are many kinds of people on that website that would gladly go out of their way to help you out. They also have a really good recruitment tool to find teammates. Find some players that are on your skill level and build up a good friendship and some synergy with them. Make sure your setup can work and play often.
WoW.com: What do you think about warriors getting Disarmed while Bladestorming?
Athlete: I think it's a horrible change. It's only buffing the classes that already counter warriors such as shadow priests and rogues. I personally don't think the change will make it to live because it seems silly in that aspect. Both classes already have tools to negate Bladestorm's damage such as a shadow priests Dispersion, which they're kinda ass after using it and dead in the next one. Rogues can use Feint and Evasion to almost completely avoid a Bladestorm every time it's up so it doesn't make much sense to me why they're adding more ways to avoid it. Warriors are already pretty useless outside of Bladestorm because they're so easily trainable (training = everyone on the opposing DPS targeting them as a kill target) and locked down by stuns.
WoW.com: Why do you play holy paladin? What is it about the class's toolbox that appeals to you for competitive arena?
Athlete: I always envied holy paladins in vanilla WoW because I played a shaman. Their healing was always more potent and they had much better utility and mana conservation. That's why I rolled one in The Burning Crusade.
As far as the class's tools go, I've always been a big fan of using big cooldowns for big results. A good example would be in our 5v5 team in The Burning Crusade. We played 2345 (warrior, mage, elemental shaman, priest, paladin) which was heavily countered by euro comps (rogue, lock, mage, druid, priest) and we almost never had a window to do damage. Things like Blessing of Protection back then could give us a couple seconds of breathing room for our shaman to cast into a mage or druid to score a kill. In a normal game against a euro comp we'd have about a 3 second window to score a kill per game with Blessing of Protection before it got dispelled. Coordinating damage onto the other team's resto druid with this immunity in such a small window and scoring a kill was a very rewarding feeling for me. As for other spells in general, I enjoy having an extremely defensive play style, and playing so defensive to the point where my team doesn't have to.
WoW.com: It seems holy paladins are divided this season on what type of offset pieces to wear (between mp5, crit, and haste). Why did you decide to go with mp5?
Athlete: I prefer mp5 over crit because it's a consistent stat and you're always regenerating mana through out an entire match. Crit doesn't provide mana regen like this because it only works off of spell crits. When you aren't critting with a spell, that stat does nothing for you. I just prefer consistency over RNG. I haven't personally tried haste yet but I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it when the new random battleground system comes out in 3.3.3 and queues are quicker.
MP5 also provides mana return while cleansing while crit does absolutely nothing for you when you're cleansing. I spend most of my time using Cleanse so it just wouldn't be a smart idea stacking a stat that does very little for me. It's only nice for the Holy Shock crits for the instant flash of light to follow up, that's why I don't completely neglect it.
WoW.com: Why did you choose to play your 3v3 team makeup over other possible compositions?
Athlete: I have a lot of synergy with the warrior and mage that I play with because we've played together since season 2, at the time it was only to get the personal rating required to buy the new wrathful off set pieces. We did really well and just decided to stick with it for a little bit.
WoW.com: It's a really interesting comp, warrior-mage-paladin. What are your team's strengths and weaknesses?
Athlete: Strengths are definitely against any spell cleave variant (double spell DPS + healer) and double healer team. Seems nearly impossible to lose to these setups most of the time due to the way we play against them.
Weaknesses would be any double melee or double physical setup. Takes around 10 minutes to beat a mediocre team just because the class synergy between warrior and mage is so poor, and it's really hard to setup kills against extremely durable classes such as warriors, prot paladins and death knights. We have to get virtually every defensive cooldown out of our kill target and their healer before we can make our move, even then it's really hard to finish the target off.
WoW.com: What do you do against hunters who try to shut down your mage?
Athlete: We turtle very hard. Our mage Lipstickx is one of the best, if not the best defensive playing mage I've ever played with or against. Strategies include me giving him Blessing of Freedom and him running around on his mount for a while while my warrior and I try to get cool downs on the other team 2v3ing. When he sees a good time to dismount and start doing damage or controlling he does it. We also use Hand of Protection offensively against most hunter teams so he has a small window to chain cast into a kill target without the risk of being killed in a couple of globals. There is also a lot of coordination between my mage and I with Freezing Traps, he's really good about blinking across the map to me and eating them when I call out that I'm scattered.
WoW.com: Interesting, so would you say that you actually play defensively to win a lot of games?
Athlete: Yeah. Defensive play is a really strong element to this setup. You can't rambo damage like you can with most other setups because of things like Frostbolt overwriting Hamstring and the Frostbolt being dispelled. Most of the time it's just our warrior doing damage and our mage controlling the other teams damage to keep our warrior playing offensive. Our mage contributes shatters for kills but doesn't do much damage other than that. Jeego does a lot of damage, it's really stupid when he's free to do whatever he wants.
WoW.com: This is the last season in the Wrath of the Lich King era -- what do you think of Blizzard's PVP balance in arena compared to The Burning Crusade?
Athlete: I'm pretty satisfied with the way WotLK has turned out. There's so many more class combos in the game now than before, and every class has more than one viable PvP spec which is awesome. I like seeing a lot of diversity in teams when I'm queuing up instead of knowing exactly what I'll be up against. My class was terrible in The Burning Crusade because of things like Holy Shock doing very little healing and being on a 15 second cooldown timer. Classes like druids and warlocks could infinitely shut me down and it was really frustrating to the point where I wouldn't want to play 3s anymore. So I definitely think that WotLK is better than TBC overall because of all the class diversity, and of course because my class is overpowered. The only thing The Burning Crusade had on WotLK was no Holy Shock bug!
WoW.com: What are you trying to improve with your personal playing style in arenas? What mistakes do you make?
Athlete: I really don't think there is much I can improve on besides dropping some add-ons. I've been hooked on xperl unit frames since The Burning Crusade, and I'm really uncomfortable when not using it. I plan on practicing a lot with players from other battlegroups for fun on the Blizzard Tournament Realm when it comes out without using any add-ons. Some times I do play overly defensive and don't like using my Divine Shield to keep dispels going out on my teammates. My mage Lipstickx complains about that one a lot actually. I feel too vulnerable when it's on cooldown.
WoW.com: What's helped you to be a better arena player?
Athlete: I think the fact that I've never played a flavor of the month setup in this expansion has contributed a lot towards that. I've always toughed it out with setups that aren't nearly as strong as what everyone else is running. I've never ran TSG (arms warrior, death knight, holy paladin), or beast cleave (beast mastery hunter, enhancement shaman, holy paladin), or PHDK (holy paladin, marks hunter, death knight). So I'm pretty used to being at a disadvantage and having to play smart all the time. ArenaJunkies.com has also been a big contribution to my arena knowledge so I thank the guys over there for that.
In season 5 my 2345 5v5 setup (disc priest, holy paladin, arms warrior, elemental shaman, mage) was at a severe disadvantage against the hordes of ret/hunter/dk/priest/hpaladin teams. We didn't have Replenishment while they always had two sources of it. We also played with Jeego who plays a warrior which was the worst class in the game at the time. He didn't like the play style of fury so he played arms, and arms was inferior to fury in most cases. Every game was extremely hectic but we managed to pull off a Deadly Gladiator title out of it. Jeego is the only Deadly Gladiator warrior in North America.
WoW.com: Thank you so much for the great interview, Athlete -- is there anything else you'd like to say?
Athlete: Yeah. BG6 (Vengeance) seems like it has good things going for us in the 5v5 bracket this season. If you have a very skilled team that is looking for competition in 5s I'd be glad to have anyone come over and play us and other teams that have recently transferred. My guild <WE ARE THE FIVE FX> has recently opened up to raiding and are looking for any strong PvE/PvP players. We have members from some top raiding guilds across a ton of different servers that play with us, and we house most of the gladiators and rank 1 gladiators on the server. If you're an excellent PvE player that is also very good in PvP or looking to improve in the PvP aspect of the game we'd love to have you. We're on Mug'thol US horde side. To anyone in general, every time you bug a paladin's Holy Shock, God kills a fat kid. Don't do it!
The Colosseum is WoW.com's interview series spotlighting strategies, compositions, and tactics from the Arena fighters who use them. For more PvP information, be sure to hit up Blood Sport and the Art of War(craft). If you'd like to be interviewed for The Colosseum, please feel free to contact us -- be sure to include your armory as a link!