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The Colosseum: Rheek of Blackrock


The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, 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.

Blackrock is currently the most electronically famous server for arena PvP in the World of Warcraft. We were very excited to have the opportunity to interview one of <sup fresh our turn baby>'s own druids. Rheek of Blackrock was kind enough to discuss a myriad of arena related topics and personal history.

At the time of this interview, Rheek is on a very respectable 2357 rated 3v3, Team Fanatic. A somewhat unorthodox wizard cleave team, his 3v3 composition is a resto druid / frost mage / destruction warlock combination.

Take a look at what Rheek had to say after the break!
What have you accomplished thus far in season seven with your arena teams?

Rheek: I stopped at the end of season six and came back again much later in season seven; I missed about 2-3 months. I started arenas in season four and got gladiator every season since then, on another character though. On this druid, in S6, I was 2600 in 2v2 (a bracket I dislike), and 2558 in 3v3. In S7, I'm now at 2300 team rating, and playing at 2600 match making rating. Did any past experience help you?

Rheek: All my previous experiences help me. When I first started in S4, I used to only do 2v2. I must say that playing 3v3 and 5v5 helps for 2v2. You have more things to watch in 3s and 5s in my opinion. What arena teams are you on, and what compositions do you play?

Rheek: I kinda wanted to run shadowcleave (warlock/death knight/healer) or HWD (hunter/warrior/druid) but ended playing mage/warlock/druid. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your teams?

Rheek: Strengths: what I really like about this composition is our 3 crowd control spells (Cyclone, Polymorph, Fear) on different diminishing returns. When the mage and warlock can burst someone together, it puts so much pressure that the opposing team has to switch defensive. Let's not forget we have 2 counterspells (Counterspell, Spell Lock).

Weaknesses: Having no dispells other than Devour Magic from the lock's pet. Any good arena teams will put debuffs on the person they want to CC/lock down. We have to be very careful when our mage doesn't have his Ice Block available, as he can be globaled. Are there any teams that are difficult for you to beat?

Rheek: Yes, beast cleave (beast mastery hunter, enhancement shaman, holy paladin) is really hard for us. A mage without his Ice Block is so squishy against them. Are there any opposing teams you love to face?

Rheek: I like to face kind of everything other than beast cleave. When there's no defensive dispel (Cleanse, Dispel Magic, Devour Magic) on the other team, then it is just very funny since we have so much CC. Why do you like or dislike playing certain teams with your mage/warlock/druid comp?

Rheek: As we speak, I've only played like 50 games so I don't have that much experience with it. That said, other than beast cleave, there is no team I don't like to face. I really like to face TSG (warrior, death knight, holy paladin) and the main reason I like to play this comp is that we have 2 counterspells, and 3 crowd control spells on different diminishing returns. What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?

Rheek: I'm usually very offensive with my cyclones but in our composition, I usually let my lock and mage do the early CC. Landing an early CC on the opposing healer can be very fatal for them. Given the state of arena right now, how are this season's dynamics shaping up?

Rheek: I really like the resilience change they implemented in S7. The damage is still very high compared to BC, I feel that the 10-12.5% reduction on overall damage was needed. The direct buff to resilience brought affliction locks back just like the old days of The Burning Crusade. It made no sense that a death knight or retribution paladin could 100-0% someone without a Mortal Strike effect. How does season eight look compared to season seven?

Rheek: It shouldn't change that much. 3 things to watch, in my opinion.

  1. Deep Freeze dealing massive damage if a target is immune to stun. (Columnist's note: The Deep Freeze change will never do damage to players as they are not permanently immune to stuns. Not a big deal, it's something I've heard thrown around a lot and an easy mistake to make.)
  2. Destruction warlock nerfed via Conflagrate.
  3. The nerf to Gift of the Earthmother to druid's resto spec. Might be a buff but we will see. How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)

Rheek: Like I said in a previous question, I didn't play many games yet as MLD, but we all speak a lot on vent. Whatever class is caught in a bad situation, we usually say it on vent and make them pay. What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)

Rheek: Usually, if it happens that I need to drink and I don't have mana, I will make us radically change our strats for a certain amount of time. My partners have so many tools to help like Frost Nova, Death Coil, Fear, Polymorph. I usually try to drink when my mage has Ice Block available, since a mage without it requires me to always double check where he is on the map + his HP bar. What are your favorite targets to kill in 3v3?

Rheek: I would say we don't have any favorite targets but usually, in a lot of different comps, killing a dps while CS'ing or landing a CC on healer without his trinket is very good. Being on a dps and putting good pressure can make them play defensive -- meaning they are not really preparing a kill, or that they can't prepare a kill for the next couples seconds. What are you trying to improve?

Rheek: Hehe, that's the kind of question I like. It may sound simple but I think it's not. 1st of all, I'm from a RTS (Real Time Strategy). I used to play Starcraft for 8 years at top level(top 100 worldwide). Starcraft requires so much more keyboard speed than WoW. That said, I know my speed on keyboard is very high and more than enough for this game. For those of you who might know, I used to be 400-500apm in Starcraft.

Anyway to answer your question, I think that you need to play a lot to have very high experience. You need to lose a lot to learn a lot. But the most important thing, in my opinion, is that you need to have a huge situational awareness and good chemistry with your teammates. I'm kind of obsessed by position on the map. After every time I lose or even when I win, I think about the last game and if I could have been somewhere else that would have been better for us/me. How do you feel the pet resilience and Will of the Forsaken changes will impact arena play in season eight?

Rheek: In my opinion, they are two huge incoming changes. I think now, killing or ignoring a pet is going to be a choice. At this moment, a warrior can just 2 or 3 shot a pet, just by walking next to him. Very good news for pet users. And for WotF, I think this was very needed. That ability is the most game breaking ability/racial of all time. I think lots of undead RMPs (rogue-mage-priest) will drop in rating. Do you feel arena is balanced right now, or are certain strategies, classes, or compositions too dominant?

Rheek: I don't think arena is balanced at all. Some classes or compositions are easier than others. That said, with the crazy increased damage of WotLK vs TBC, nothing is really hard. Or should I say, TBC was harder in my opinion, because with less damage if you're a melee class with not many CC's or a class with CC's like mage or warlock, you had to think outside the box and make a kill happen by OOMing (out-of-mana) the other healer, or creating a huge CC chain.

Lots of people say WOTLK is better, but I really don't think so. There's something I like about WotLK -- some classes can now enter arenas like paladins, and lots of specs are now viable. I don't say it's good for the game balance, that, lots of specs can enter the arenas, but for the people that played for example: enhancement shaman, they can now have fun and play the spec they love. What advice would you give to players new to arena?

Rheek: First of all, try farming the set and the offset that you can buy without any arena points. From there, try keybinding your abilities as much as you can. I'm not a big fan of addons but Gladius is just golden, it lets you know stuff like your opponent's trinket cooldown. When you play, always question yourself. "Why are you hitting that guy?" Ask yourself if it's possible for you to do the same thing in a better position for your teammates. After each loss, don't nerd rage since it affects your judgment.

Speak with your teammates about what you guys could have done better. Could you improve your team position and etc (even after a win, it doesn't mean you played perfectly). As soon as you don't click any spells or unit frames anymore, arena is a lot about situational awareness. Don't forget it's teamwork, you will need your teammates. It doesn't matter if you are very good alone. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

Rheek: Yes. First of all, I'm from Quebec and my English isn't mastered yet. I would like to send a big shoutout to my 3 in real life friends: Catalist, Petruce, Lamoutchi. Another big shoutout to my online friends: Aliyaah, Jgcube, Shanan, Devincy, and the battlemaster Darkstalion. Big hello to everyone I played with in PvE in my old French guild on Zul'jin (La Renaissance) and let's not forget Yonys, Weedritus and Angelweed too from Winterhoof. Thanks for this interview, it was my pleasure.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

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