Relatively few WoW players will ever experience the alignment of timing and luck required to nab a win at the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza. Contestants vie for only three prize-winning places that award a handful of coveted items including unique fishing trinkets and baubles and an experience-boosting account-bound ring. The weekly tournament tests anglers' efficiency and resolve with a race to the turn-in in neutral Booty Bay. Particularly on a PvP realm, a win can be less about catching 40 Speckled Tastyfish than surviving the combat on the way to turn them in.
So it was a great surprise to everyone involved when early this summer, Nirad of The Underbog (US-PvP) snagged not only first place in the tourney but also second place and then third as well -- all in a single day. "The contest wasn't a ghost town event," Nirad says. "I was killed once and had to avoid seven or eight Horde. I fished around Yojamba Isle and Grom' gol Base Camp, as well as inland. I set my hearthstone to the inn and teleported in all three times. I stealthed to hand in the quests all three times, as there were 5 or 6 horde immediately around the NPC you hand in the quests to. Later I heard that a number of Horde were also at the entrance to the tunnel heading into the city to keep people from running in."
Main character Nirad, draenei beast mastery hunter
Guild The Craftsmens Guild
Realm The Underbog (US-PvP)
WoW Insider: Congratulations on your most unexpected achievement! Has winning the tournament been a long-time project for you?
Nirad: I started trying to win the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza about seven years ago.
You're an experienced angler who's even won the Stranglethorn tourney before, isn't that right?
[On] May 16, 2010, after fishing every Sunday for a little over a year, I won the contest and chose the Arcanite Fishing Pole. Then about a year ago, I won the Hook of the Master Angler.
So what attracted you to try your hand at the tourney this time around?
When the Dread Pirate Ring was introduced in that fishing contest in Dalaran, I kept trying to win it, but it just seemed like a big boondoggle. I was never able to win it, and then I had heard that they pooled the two contests rewards together and that I now had at least a chance at winning it.
Without a doubt, an awesome prize. What got you started in the fishing contests to begin with? Are you a fan of WoW fishing, an achievement collector, a fan of world PvP ...?
I like WoW fishing and am a bit of an achievement collector. In this case, though, I was after the awards. I wanted the Boots of the Bay and the Dread Pirate Ring. I figured at best I would get one, if I was very, very lucky.
So the day of your triple sweep, how many people would you estimate were making the attempt to win the tourney?
I would guess by the number of people that I saw that around 100 people were in the area fishing or just killing others.
Let's talk about your tactics and planning.
I brought a few Elixirs of Water Walking, an Invisibility Potion, and my Arcanite Fishing Pole. I didn't plan on using the water walking elixirs unless absolutely necessary because I found that the Horde characters, even low-level ones, like to attack just to break the effect and dump me in the water. Sort of like the dunking booth at the fair.
Where did you choose to cast off?
I fished around Yojamba Isle down to Zuuldaia Ruins along the Savage Coast, particularly on the islands just off of Zuuldaia. Resurecting at Bal'lal Ruins makes for a quick run back to my fishing spot. I say "run," but I actually flew back, as attempting it after level 60 makes resurrecting much faster.
I also fished from Mitjah Ruins in the south through Lake Nazferiti to a little past Nesingwary's Expedition, because I have found that many old fishers don't know you can now fish the inland rivers so the number of people on it is a bit lower.
What was your strategy for getting back to town and turning in the quest?
I set the Salty Sailor as my hearthstone home. The invisibility potion was for after I hearthed back to the Salty Sailor tavern. I took it and snuck past the Horde surrounding Riggle Bassbait for the first place win. For the second and third place wins that same day, I used Camouflage and successfully snuck in again.
But you didn't make it through the day unscathed.
I was killed just off of Zuuldaia by a Horde death knight. I didn't even try to fight because I was hit so hard initially I wasn't going to win, and knowing I wasn't going to win, I just wanted to get back to fishing as soon as possible. Fighting would just prolong it.
Why do you suppose nobody else made it through into second or third place?
After I was done fishing, I found out that a bunch of Horde were outside of town killing people as they tried to run through the tunnel and a bunch of Horde around Riggle Bassbait killing people as they tried to hand in the fish. I think so many Horde were killing other people that only a few of them were fishing ... if any.
What do you think was different about this particular day that made you so exceptionally successful?
I was really lucky that the holes I was fishing were very well stocked.
So let's reel in from fishing. What else do you enjoy away from WoW?
I am a special education teacher, and I like to work with severely autistic students with behavioral issues, although I have had two strokes recently and lost a little vision, so now I work with students that are higher functioning and with less behavioral issues. I miss the students I used to work with, but I just don't have that level of energy anymore.
When I'm not playing WoW, I am working around the house and yard or mowing the neighborhood. I like to mow the sides of the road in my immediate neighborhood ... it's relaxing. But most of my time is spent with my wife and son. My son and I play WoW together; my wife, however, has no interest in it.
And back to fishing - do you think you'll be fishing in any Azerothian tournaments any time soon?
Probably not, unless they add in a new prize. From here on out, it's all downhill. I mean, where do you go after winning first, second, and third place in one day?
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.