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The Colosseum: Retrospective, Summer 2009


The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, Furious, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Frostwyrms. We're especially focused on the people who play these games, to further shed light on the world of the PvP player.

We're now officially under way in Season 7. And since this is only the first week of that season, it's a little tough to know who's going to end up on top. The subtle push-and-tug back and forth of so-called Cleave teams versus the traditional Rogue-Mage-Priest will probably be the most interesting battle in the 3v3 bracket, while it's simply far, far too early to tell who's going to dominate the 2v2 Arena.

It being this early in, I wanted to take some time to take a look at the past few months of Arena interviews. We've been pretty fortunate to get a good variety of folks to talk to us, and it's always good to take some time to reflect on lessons of the past. This is how we learn, after all. Or, at least, until we can all download infallible knowledge directly to our brain.

Anyway, let's take a look back and who we talked to this summer.

Ickmon from Executus was a highly ranked Priest, who warmed my heart in a very particular way. The reason Ickmon plays a priest is simply because that was the first character he got to level 60. That's a very subtle reason in today's Arena, where it's accepted to re-roll to the most popular flavor of the month. While Priests are performing adequately in the current season, certainly it would have been advantageous during the Epoch of Holy Paladins to reroll. The fact that Ickmon stuck with his character means I give him kudos for every success his team has received.

Ickmon is especially interested in 5v5. Blizzard announced that 2v2 would be deprecated in future seasons, so that teams in those brackets would no longer be able to purchase shoulders or weapons using their 2v2 rating. Teams like Ickmon's hoped that this would create an influx into the 5v5 Arena. Unfortunately, it seems like most of the focus has instead shifted to 3v3.

Comotu of Executus, by comparison, came to his Paladin a little later in his playing life. He started in Azeroth as a Gnome Warrior. Frustrated over the years by what he felt was the Warriors' inadequacies, he rerolled a Paladin. According to Comotu, playing a Paladin "was like a Warrior on steroids (since I was never starved for rage)." Now, granted, Comotu's original Paladin was created by his father, but a class switch is a reroll is a class switch.

Beffyjunk the Boomkin was an interview that many of us had been desperately seeking. One of the rare, successful Balance Druids in the upper rank of Arena, Beffyjunk's insight was valuable to new, growing Arena Druids. Beffyjunk stressed the need for communication and innovation in the Arena. However, Beffyjunk also got laughs around Azeroth when he said (without much sense of irony), that "a simple piece of hardware such as a 15 button programmable mouse that glows in the dark is a great tool to have at your disposal."

Get it? It's a "simple" fifteen button mouse? At any rate, this was one of the first ringing endorsements for the SteelSeeries WoW Mouse that we've had here from actual players, so it's good to see das ubermaus treating some people right. I guess you can't go wrong with glow-in-the-dark equipment, anyway.

The real moral-of-the-story from Beffyjunk, though, was that persistence pays off. Beffyjunk felt that he really had to forge his own path in the Arena. He had to tirelessly work to find Arena partners who wouldn't mind that he didn't go Resto, and he had to create his own style of play. He had to constantly design new macros and tactics to make use of a Boomkin's toolbox, and then he had to execute that toolbox perfectly in order to succeed. It's a great moral for any less-than-ideal spec, and goes a long way toward supporting the idea that if you work hard enough, and with enough skill, unique setups can pay-off in the Arena.

Dynlor and Domustie are the two members of a Druid/Paladin/Rogue team. One of the uncommon high rated teams that use both a Paladin and a Druid in 3v3 without a Death Knight or Warrior, the secret to their success was one of outstanding longevity. Dynlor was a Protection-specced Paladin whose role was applying damage and pressure. Dynlor considered their team to be a "reactive comp," which meant applying a Protection Paladin's AE damage in such a way that they eventually chewed up the enemy's cooldowns. It was certainly an interesting, technical team, and one I hoped to see counter some of RMP's dominance.

For better or for worse, Season 6 just didn't seem as contentious or outlandish as previous seasons. While 3v3 was controlled by RMP and Cleave teams, that's not exactly news. The absolute dominance of Death Knights and Holy Paladins has been broken, and now we all forward to succeed.

Good hunting in Season 7.

The Colosseum is's interview series spotlighting strategies, compositions, and tactics from the Arena fighters who use them. For more PvP information, be sure to hit up Blood Sport and the Art of War(craft).

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