Listening Music: "70 million" by Hold Your Horses. The music isn't completely up my alley, but the video is incredible. Why didn't someone think of this before? Best idea for a music video ever. Absolutely brilliant. I could write an entire page describing the genius of this video, but that would be boring.
Last week, we talked about PvP secrets the top gladiators use to achieve the highest arena rankings. We're doing more of the same today, as I've judged by your comments that it was pretty interesting to you guys.
I talked about spying and sniping last week. I wasn't sure I would talk about queue dodging today, as it's a far more questionable practice. I decided to talk about it because many high-rated teams definitely queue dodge, and I think it's my responsibility to talk about everything high-rated players do, even if I personally don't participate in it.
Queue dodging is very similar to sniping. Instead of attempting to get an arena match against another team, queue dodgers attempt to avoid a team they consider to be difficult to defeat. Queue dodgers employ a spy who allows the queue-dodging team to see when the feared enemy team is in an arena.
Behind the scenes with queue dodging
When they see that their foes are in an arena, queue dodgers will quickly queue up for an arena, attempting to hit any team other than the one they are avoiding. When the enemy team leaves arena, they will quickly leave the arena queue, therefore dodging the possibility of being paired up against the superior enemies.
I've personally engaged in queue dodging a few times when I started playing competitively but decided it wasn't my cup of tea. I'm of the school of thought that fighting teams that are very challenging for your own will only make you better players. The enemy team has a weakness; you can find it and exploit it. By not playing certain opponents, you set yourself up for a loss of potential knowledge, which is far worse than the loss of team rating.
Queue dodging, as far as I know, is 100 percent legal. That being said, leaving the arena queue when another team queues up makes you a worse arena player overall, and I would not recommend it.
Use raid markings
Most high-rated teams already do this, but I find a lot of gladiator-level teams play without raid markings. There's absolutely no reason to play without raid markings. Raid markings allow you to recognize your teammates much more easily when they've line-of-sighted you behind pillars. They also provide you with far more positional awareness, which in turn allows you to predict what the enemy team is more likely to do.
When you start your arena team, immediately shift to a raid and give everyone raid markings that correspond to his class. Warlocks are purple diamonds, rogues are yellow stars, druids are orange circles, etc. Giving everyone a mark that corresponds to his class will help you to remember who is who instead of randomly assigning different marks every time you get together to play.
Because there are 10 classes but only eight raid markings, there will be some overlap between who gets which icon. We use the red X for warriors and death knights, the blue square for mages and shaman, the purple diamond for warlocks and paladins (whenever I play on my warlock or my paladin, I always get the purple diamond, because I love that icon), and the skull for the odd man out. That is, if we're playing with both a death knight and a warrior, we might give our death knight the red X while giving the warrior the skull.
Use Arenajunkies recruitment page
If you haven't been to ArenaJunkies.com yet, check it out. I find maybe 40 percent of teammates on my own server and perhaps the other 60 percent on the AJ recruitment page. Yes, it's really that awesome.
You can invite people to your server. Occasionally you'll find an all-star applicant who wants to come play with you. That's awesome. It's even more awesome if you're not bound to your server with your raiding guild or something like that.
Lots of possibilities open up when you put yourself out there. I've met so many fantastic people both in terms of PvP prowess and just overall friendliness through the AJ recruitment page. Occasionally, you'll meet the bad apple who is just looking for people to carry them; make sure you do your homework before transferring! (More on this in a future article.)
Transfer to a different battlegroup
Think of small battlegroups like AA schools and larger battlegroups like AAAAA schools. Larger battlegroups generally have stronger competition at the highest levels. The strongest teams from smaller battlegroups can still do very well on large battlegroups. In Season 6, a holyplay composition (restoration shaman, discipline priest, retribution paladin) achieved rank 1 on Emberstorm (the smallest U.S. battlegroup), transferred to Bloodlust (the largest U.S. battlegroup) and took rank 1 there as well.
Historically, it's been easier to achieve gladiator in smaller battlegroups. Emberstorm and Retaliation have poor reputations within the arena community because of their very small size. Some people have gone so far as to say that a duelist team on Bloodlust could achieve rank 1 on Emberstorm. I'm certainly not of that opinion, but I have found the smaller battlegroups to be far more relaxed than the larger ones -- and as that larger battlegroups are home to more self-inflated egos.
Some of my friends have transferred to different battlegroups to be more successful, and most of them have had much greater success on the new ones. I've only had one failure story in this regard, with a team moving from Kel'Thuzad to Blackrock looking to hit rank 1 in 5v5. They were very good players and almost accomplished it, but lots of factors pushed them out of contention. Oh well.
Everyone else has done very well by switching battlegroups, yet I think there's definitely something mysterious about it. Perhaps it's just the feeling of being the new guys on the block. It might be that you leave many of your friends behind and don't have many new ones when starting on a new server. Arena becomes the place where you can talk to your friends, so you naturally play more of it. You also have a bit of a shock factor for other teams native to the battlegroup -- you're expecting to face lots of new skilled teams, but they aren't.
Battlegroup latency issues
If you aren't on a battlegroup that is physically located close to you, you can reduce your latency by a ridiculously large amount simply by transferring servers. It's just a quick click to figure out what data centers are closest to your physical location.
There are data centers located in New York, Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles. I'm currently in central Pennsylvania, so I play on a New York battlegroup to reduce my latency. For the vast majority of my time in WoW, I actually played on a Los Angeles server, which made my latency less than ideal.
The switch reduced my latency by more than 200 ms; I doubt I'll be transferring back to an L.A. server any time soon.
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Read Blood Sport for pointers on arena play. Don't miss our interviews with successful arena PvPers, and see The Art of War(craft) for the inside line on battlegrounds and world PvP.