Listening Music: The Legend of Zelda, via symphony. You're welcome!
Occasionally, I'll meet a rank-1-quality opponent who is playing with people far below his or her level. Sometimes people are just naturally amazing at WoW. I'm not one of them. I have to use trial and error a lot before I pick something up. Oh well, at least I'm honest about it, right? I've battled opponents in the 1,900 bracket who are 2,700+ rated players; if only they would shed their partners and pick up a few gladiator buddies!
There are three primary reasons for people playing with teammates who are far below their level of PvP prowess: gear, friends and realms.
I raided with a hunter who was one of the best players I have had ever had the pleasure of downing dragons with. He was just incredible. He solo-kited all the Gluth-25 zombies in level 70 gear and blues. Maybe that's not a big deal now, maybe it is; I'm not sure. It was a giant deal when none of us had done it before, and he did it perfectly the very first time we attempted Gluth. With no help. We didn't even put a healer on him. He could do anything you asked him to and he blew you away every time. Just an absolutely unbelievable player.
I wanted him to PvP with me (obviously), so I started recruiting him hard. He had absolutely no PvP gear. When we entered an arena, we'd enter at a moderately high MMR (because of the other two people he was playing with), and he would just get trained hard and die. Now, we eventually won maybe 50 percent of our games total, but he grew bored with it and decided to not PvP anymore.
He didn't want to invest the time in obtaining a full set of PvP gear by doing BGs and many games of arena each week. He wasn't used to being the weakest link ever. He would constantly tell us that he was sorry for the game loss. His attitude was fantastic; we would just tell him, "Dude, it's fine, don't worry about it. It's your gear; it's not you." In arena, even the very best players will occasionally lose a game based on a misplay, but he didn't even do that.
The fact that we won 50 percent of our games at a high level with a hunter wearing 0 resilience is a testament to his skill. We did everything we could to get him involved in the PvP scene, but he just wanted to log on and slay dragons -- doing arena at a high level just wasn't very fun for him. He still enters the arena occasionally by helping out guildies with their 10 games a week. Meh, I guess we have to be cool with that.
Sometimes a player will have a full set of PvP gear but still be on a semi-low-rated team. I played a holy paladin opponent who knew my every move. Every time I went to move toward him to crowd control him, he would move at the exact same time behind a pillar. He was psychic at reading opponents.
However, Professor X did arena with two teammates who were not even remotely at his level. They were chilling out at a respectable 2,000 rating, but this paladin was definitely a 2,900+ player. My team had trouble making life bars go down, simply because the paladin was amazing. They would pop their immunity cooldowns at the wrong times constantly, but he would somehow dodge crowd control and get heals in when we thought there was no possible way.
So, obviously, I tried to recruit him too (noticing a theme yet?). He explained to me that while he enjoyed PvP very much, he wasn't willing to leave his friends. He knew them in real life and wasn't going to join a rank 1 team, even if it meant he didn't have a shot at gladiator.
Side note: I respect this guy very much; I just hope his friends respect him as much as I do. I actually left the realm all my real-life friends were on to get my first rank 1 title. I don't regret it at all because I got to play an aspect of the game that I enjoy most at a very high level. Would I have enjoyed spending more time with my real-life friends? Sure, I definitely would have. But I also acknowledge that I would have never achieved rank 1 on that realm. I wouldn't have this awesome job at WoW Insider.
Friends can hold you back. Sure, they might not be holding you back from rank 1 or a future possible source of employment, but you should try to keep your options open for teammates. You don't have to transfer to another realm to find gladiator-level teammates.
You can play with the best people on your realm or convince others to transfer over to yours. And that brings us to our next point ...
There are fantastic PvPers on very low-pop realms that don't have large PvP scenes. It's hard to find other good PvPers on this type of realm, so sometimes it seems finding partners is hopeless. Sometimes, these players get stuck in a cycle of trying to find teammates, doing semi-well but not where they'd like to be, repeat, then just quitting arena. It's sad. I mourn for you, extremely low-pop PvP guy. Disclaimer: Some low-pop PvP realms have a myriad of high-rated PvPers on them, but they are statistically very rare.
Sometimes, people just don't want to transfer to another realm because they're happy with an aspect of their realm. I've found the two big factors (beyond ones we've mentioned) to be raiding guilds and economy. You might laugh at the second one, but I've encountered a few individuals who didn't want to transfer to our realm because there was too much competition on the auction house for their professions. One of them was a gold-capped 214,000aire. The other wasn't gold-capped but was getting there. Both of them said certain professions on our server were too unprofitable for them to transfer over. Sadface.
Raiding guilds are a far more common reason people stick on a realm they would otherwise leave. If you want them to transfer over to your realm, you can try to direct them to the raiding guilds your server has, especially if they're well known outside your realm. We even went through the trouble of creating a guild application for one of our potential recruits. His application got accepted, so he agreed to come over. Maybe it was immoral that we worked as a team to give him all the best possible answers (especially as we knew the guild leader and recruiting strategy of that guild). Because we were exceedingly crafty, we got an awesome arena partner ... Bwahahaha. I wish we had the technology to insert an evil cackle when you read that last sentence.
If your appetite has been whet, tune in next week when we'll discuss recruiting (or being recruited) for arena.
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.