I used to read a rogue blog called World of Ming, where a rogue named Ming would explore our class' capabilities in the world of high-end PvP. My favorite posts were his deep-dives into dueling. Ming had the belief that the rogue class should be able to defeat any other class in a series of duels. If you wanted to fight Ming, you just needed to log onto the PTR servers to find him dueling outside of a major city.
Blizzard has often claimed that WoW simply isn't balanced around 1v1 combat. In fact, even the 2v2 Arenas are considered to be a lower tier of competition -- complete with lower compensation. The 3v3 and 5v5 Arenas are heralded as the truly balanced PvP platforms. In spite of Blizzard's disclaimer, the fact is that many people consider duels to be the ultimate form of PvP. The rogue-vs.-rogue duel has long been held as the truest test of skill between two brothers of the shadows. If you ever plan to engage in a rogue duel, you need to know about the sacred code of dueling conduct that every rogue should follow.
Verbally confirm Preparation's legality
Depending on the rogue you're facing, Preparation may or may not be allowed in a duel. While it sounds silly to me, there are a lot of rogues out there that feel that Preparation shouldn't be used in duels. Part of the problem is that using Prep in a duel forces both rogues to wait for several minutes before they can duel at full strength again. Nobody wants to idle around for five minutes waiting for Prep to come up again.
I've also heard rogues argue that Preparation simply gives bad rogues more leeway if they make a mistake with Vanish, rather than forcing them to carefully scrutinize their CD usage.
If you have any plans to face a rogue in a duel, make sure both of you agree beforehand on whether or not to use Prep. If the decision is to ban it, you should both use Prep before the duel starts, which will put the obvious Prep spell affect above both of your heads.
The art of openers
There are two ways to handle openers in duels, random and traded. In a typical duel, both rogues will enter Stealth, and they'll sneak around mashing Sap. The truth is that much of the Stealth dance comes down to luck, as one rogue is certain to walk in front of the other eventually. In addition, a random opener strategy also promotes cheating via items like the Catseye Ultra Goggles. Random openers give a huge advantage to the rogue with the most luck, which isn't exactly fun.
Traded openers are much more elegant. Rather than wasting time in Stealth, one rogue gets to open on the other for free, and then they trade positions for a second duel. Both rogues get the opportunity to showcase their abilities, and the roles are clearly defined from the start of the duel. It's the classy way to handle the situation. There are too many rogues who rely on openers to win, and the only fair solution is to take turns opening to give both sides their due. Also, if a rogue refuses the second duel after you give up the first opener, the rogue code dictates that you win by default.
Don't blame cooldowns
You should never blame another rogue for using their cooldowns to win. We're a cooldown-based class, and that means that every single cooldown (outside of Prep) is fair game. Dismantle, Evasion, Blind, Sprint, Vanish, and Combat Readiness are just a few of the legal abilities that rogues have at their disposal. The beauty and skill of rogue dueling comes from the proper and timely use of these cooldowns. Using Sprint to wait out Dismantle is a clever move, while using Vanish to dodge a Blind is a feat to behold.
Similarly, don't blame your own cooldowns. You don't get to say "If I had used Vanish, I would've had you" without sounding like a jerk. Expect for your opponent to show no restraint, and then return the favor.
There's already a dueling system for rogues that doesn't involve any cooldowns, and it's called raiding. If your keybinds can't keep up with the fast-paced cooldown usage of a rogue duel, that's your own deficiency.
Wait three minutes
If a rogue has just dueled someone, wait three minutes before you ask him to duel again. Asking a rogue to duel without cooldowns is rude. The class is designed around the use of certain core abilities, and you're asking for that rogue to ignore those core abilities in a test of skill. I've even seen rogues conserve their cooldowns in the first duel and then immediately request a second duel, hoping to overwhelm their opponent in the second match with their reserved CDs.
A rogue duel is meant to give both rogues the opportunity to show off their ability and to test their skill. If you respect yourself and your opponent, you should realize that a duel with complete cooldowns is the only way to have a truly balanced match. Cooldowns are a part of the rogue identity, and downplaying their importance is futile.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Molten Front ganking guide, a deep-dive into the world of playing a subtlety rogue -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to the latest rogue gear.