Blood Sport: Do and don't, pro-style

Amanda Dean
A. Dean|06.30.08

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Blood Sport: Do and don't, pro-style

PvP in its purest form is a beautiful thing. Amanda Dean, always obsessed with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat brings you news you can use in the Arena.

Hailing from Korea , Council of Mages was victorious in this year's World Wide Invitational 3v3 tournament. Second place went to Improved Clicks of Spain. The winners took home a check worth $36,000 for their victory and made an excellent showing throughout the tournament. Improved Clicks cashed in at $18,000, and third place finishers SK-US was awarded $9,000. The final standings for were:

1. Council of Mages
2. Improved Clicks
3. SK Gaming
4. Millenium Dream
5-6. Kill EA
5-6. Made in Taiwan
7-8. SK Gaming
7-8. Pandemic Blue
9-12. aAa nawaK
9-12. Elite
9-12. MoB Gaming
9-12. Pandemic Black
13-16. Sapped Cows cant say moo
13-16. Team EG
13-16. fnatic
13-16. Nihilum.Mousesports

The final match consisted of two best-of-five series. In order to be take first place Council of Mages, from the Upper Bracket needed to win one series while Improved Clicks, rising from the lower bracket was challenged with winning both. Improved Clicks took the first set 3-1, but was vanquished in the second series by an impressive 3-0 finish by Council of Mages.

Can you guess what composition Council of Mages was running? I don't think Rogue, Mage, Priest would be all that surprising. It is an amazing composition. Improved clicks ran Druid, Priest and Warrior combatants in the first game of the finals. They switched the Warrior out for Rogue in the remaining games. This two-healer team is also a very strong composition, but difficult to manage against a highly skilled RMP.

In the MLG PC Circuit's San Diego arena tournament we saw Frag Dominant defeat Nihilum in the final series. Frag Dominant ran a double melee team, consisting of Rogue, Warrior and Druid. Nihilum focused on draining mana with a Druid, Hunter and Priest team.

So what are we not seeing? Shamans come to mind first. Though Shamans are viable as a PvP class, their strength tends to come in larger groups. Enhancement Shamans can lay down the burst in frightening ways, and share the Windfury love with their fellow melee DPSers. A well geared resto Shaman has impressive survivability for an arena healer and Earth Shield is a fabulous buff.

Totems have greater effect when the number of party members increases, but just don't fit in well with the 3v3 setting. Shammies fall prey easily to crowd control. A good, swift Kick or a well-timed Pummel more or less locks them out of combat. Help for this class is on the way in both patch 2.4.3 and Wrath.

Warlocks are also conspicuously missing from the team rosters among the top pro teams. Soul Link and Siphon Life is a popular spec for Warlock in PvP. In the rock/paper/scissors world of WoW combat, Warlocks are crushed by too many other classes. This class is countered heavily by Druids' ability to remove curses. As a PvP class the Warlocks rely on DoTs and Fear abilities. As a resto Shaman I fear Warlocks (and their little dogs, too) more than any other class, but there are not so many Shammies, especially in 3v3. Resident Warlock columnist V'ming Chew said of 1v1 combat, "we eat Resto Druids for lunch. But it's a long lunch."

Last, but not least I cannot leave out the Paladin. This class is not particularly well represented in any of the arena brackets and is no where to be seen among the top arena combatants in this year's major tournaments. Like the Shaman, the Pally is capable of either a massive amount of burst damage or a well-armored healer, depending on spec. I can't think of any ability in the PvP game more impressive than the Pally bubble, except perhaps Cloak of Shadows. I don't have enough good things to say about Blessing of Freedom.

On the other hand, Pallies are not entirely versatile. It can be difficult to manage mana for a retribution Paladin, and they are limited to melee attacks. They can do some emergency back-up healing, but in most cases, ret healing is too weak to ward off a massive onslaught. Holy Pallies can also pump out a lot of damage in addition to heals, but once again the dearth of ranged attacking limits their utility. I do not deny that Pallies need some love.

None of these are bad classes, but they just haven't been shown to mix well with the popular team archetypes. I run into RMP teams consistently when playing 3v3 arenas. That squishy but stellar composition has relatively recently come into popularity on the live servers. I believe that once we see more ingenuity among the pros with these lesser played classes, we will see a resurgence of team new archetypes on the regular serversB.

Let's see what happens in Orlando. The MLG PC circuit will be back in action on July 13 and 14. And remember to look out for season 3 awards tomorrow.

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