WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?
Abusive: I run with a Retribution Paladin. Our plan is to be aggressive once the fight is under way and control the fight as much as possible with CC chains. Most of the problems we've encountered on our push for Gladiator have been the OPness of ShadowFrost Death Knights. One well timed strangulate and stun chain, timed with a ghoul explosion, is enough to burst me through 60-70% of my life. This is especially true if I can't get a freedom or dispel.
Warlock teams are also a problem as it's usually a very long match where one of us gets caught in a fearlock. If we can't get the pets out of the way early, eventually we're both low, have Unstable Affliction on us, and my Paladin can't spam Cleanse.
WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?
Abusive: Against any non Hunter/Warlock team, we try to engage as soon as possible and get a purge spam going. We then set up our CC chains early to get the other team to blow as many defensive cooldowns as early as possible. This lets us set up our burst and go for a kill.
When we run into the other comps we get defensive and let them come to us. We go for pet kills. Most of our kills come through our chains.
WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?
Abusive: I use a pretty standard pvp UI. Bartender, Totem Timers, Shaman Friend, Gladius, and Xperl
WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)
Abusive: We know who to attack at this point and who to CC. The only thing that gets called out is when my ret pally switches targets and he needs help with focus shocks outside of our CC chains.
WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?" Is this different now than in previous seasons?
Abusive: We try to play around 3-5 Eastern time usually. and then whenever raid time ends we play.
WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?
Abusive: Well, earlier in the season, I ran with a rogue up to 2100 and played completely differently than I do now. I was alot less offensive and had to try alot harder to kite because of a Rogue's inability to peel. That's compared to a pallies Hand of Freedom and Blessing of Protection.
Also, I was pretty inexperienced in 2s as I have never done it seriously before this season. My pally Kvok has been an awesome partner and helped me take my game to the next level.
WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)
Abusive: My pally is really good at recognizing this and does a great job of switching targets at good times. He is quick to realize when something isn't working. When something does need to change, usually involving a switch to a healer, I try to kite towards the healer and help out by throwing shocks to interrupt the heals and getting Earthbinds down. I make sure my pally can keep the pressure on and if it's a Holy paladin hopefully force a freedom.
WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?
Abusive: Most of our strats are pretty cut and dry. Kill pets, CC healers, burst down the DPS during chains. The key to it all is quick communication and good peeling. It's hard to get Hexes off when I am being focused so getting space via Hand of Freedom or Hammer of Justice makes or breaks matches.
WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?
Abusive: Well, as I said earlier, I haven't done 2s seriously so my kiting isn't too great. I am also trying to get better at getting Hexes off when a peel isn't possible.
Other than that it's just a matter of executing and not getting so 'emo' at all the frustrating aspects of Arena.
WoW Insider: A lot has been made of healers not having a strong role in Season 5. What do you think about that commentary?
Abusive: At the start of the season, I'd say it's true. But, now, with Resilience and gear being pretty much equal at higher ratings, Healers definitely have a more important role.
Being able to keep up with the nasty damage of some of the classes equally makes healers very important.
WoW Insider: What are you hoping to see improved in 3.1? We've seen some changes, obviously, but there's more to come.
Abusive: Well, I'm really looking forward to the Stoneclaw changes with the Glyph. I'm also looking forward to the Enhancement changes. I really don't like being a healer. Hoping to see some Enhancement Shamans in the higher rated brackets next season.