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Blood Sport: Season eight team compositions


Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women? Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all-things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in's arena column.

Listening Music: Deadmau5 with "Ghosts 'N Stuff." The Mau5 might be a WoW player himself, as evidenced by a somewhat recent facebook post (thanks for the tip, Karl)! Check him out on YouTube if you have the time. I actually had a recent in-game conversation about his brilliant techno electronica; his live stuff is second to none.

Last Week: Part VII of our Beginner's Guide to Arena. We talked about seeking out and holding onto arena partners. There's a lot involved in molding a successful arena team.

This Week: We'll be discussing season eight team compositions and what they might hold for future trends.

Krebosh over on ArenaJunkies has compiled some interesting data about the most successful teams in season eight thus far. I wouldn't normally post on something like this at the start of the season -- after all, we're only two weeks in. A lot of things can change, and any speculation as to trends appearing is purely that -- speculation.

However, this is the start of a unique season in our Wrath of the Lich King era. Our beloved resilience has been buffed to all-get-out. Season eight has been prophesied to produce a significant deviation in strategy and composition that we haven't seen in some time.

SK-100 most popular [3v3] setups

  • RLS: 9%
  • RMP: 9%
  • Pal/Sham/Hun: 8%
  • TSG: 5%
  • Sham/Lock/Dru: 5%
  • Pal/Hun/Dk: 5%
  • War/Pal/Dru: 4%
  • War/Pal/Pri: 4%
  • 5 Pala teams
  • 3 Warrior teams
  • 3 Shaman teams
  • 2 DK teams
  • 2 Hunter teams
  • 2 Rogue teams
  • 2 Druid team
  • 2 Warlock teams
  • 2 Priest teams
  • 1 Mage team
If you need help figuring out what those abbreviations stand for, please check out's glossary of arena terms.

Sidenote: Can the arena community please stop using PHD to refer to paladin-hunter-death knight? P = Priest, D = Druid. Priest-hunter-druid was a popular composition in season four. Using PHD can be very confusing, even though it's somewhat 'clever' (PhD, get it?). I recommend Pal/Hun(t)/Dk, or even something relatively insider like 2346 or TSG over PHD. Paladins could also use a unique single-letter abbreviation, but that's a different topic entirely. Okay, tangent over...

I have to say (and I'm sure there will be those who disagree with me), that's a very balanced list. There are eight "cookie-cutter" compositions represented with only ~5% popularity deviation. In seasons past, we've seen >5% popularity deviation from the #1 most popular/successful team composition to #2. Right now, we're seeing ~5% deviation from #1 to #8. That is very balanced.

Statistics have changed a bit since Krebosh posted his thread, but our deviation has actually gone from 9% (high) vs. 4% (low) to 8% (high) vs. 4% (low). There is only a 4% deviation now -- the top 3v3 comps are becoming even more balanced in terms of SK-100 representation.

Season eight success story: holy paladins.

Krebosh argues paladins are currently the most successful healers. Five out of the top eight team compositions utilize holy paladins (Pal/Sham/Hun, TSG, Pal/Hun/Dk, War/Pal/Dru, War/Pal/Pri). I can't say I have a lot of evidence to disagree with his assertion.

I personally predicted that holy paladins would be hurt most out of all healers by the resilience change. My reasoning was that if holy paladins are heads and tails the best healing class in a high-burst environment, they will be most hurt by a large buff to resilience. Exceptionally potent immune-type abilities such as Divine Shield, Hand of Protection and Aura Mastery give paladins a heavy advantage when each team has ample burst to insta-gib opponents.

On the other hand, druids (and to a lesser extent priests) thrive in a low-burst environment. I predicted (purely to friends in-game) the mana efficiency and momentum-shifting power of HoTs would see its limelight as it once did in season three and four.

Well, I was wrong.

Perhaps not about the way certain classes in arena function, but how effective the resilience change was going to be. I'll be honest here, when Bornakk announced resilience was slated to be doubled in effectiveness, I saw rainbows, a pot of gold, and Chewbacca riding a unicorn with a ribbon in his hair.

Well, it turns out, burst is still high. I'm sure all my in-game friends are going to mock me about how I was calling this resilience change the end-all be-all saviour of arena. While I predicted double healer teams to be doing exceptionally well in s8, I didn't expect to see rogue-mage-priest or rogue-warlock-shaman anywhere close to the top. Swing and a miss, C-money.

With some interesting changes, we still have a dichotomy of top 3v3 arena teams. You've got your haves and your have-nots. You've got your teams which have burst (one healer teams) and your teams which are trying to fight against it (e.g. double healer teams). We're not seeing teams that win primarily via draining mana or consistent pressure.

It looks like the entirety of WotLK arena will go down in history as a 26 mile burst-a-thon.


DSL (or LSD, lulz) is without a doubt the most surprising and interesting team on that list. I could easily be wrong here, but I believe the only time I've played a match against a team with that composition was in season four. The opposing team was restoration-enhancement-affliction. It didn't have a lot of synergy.

Mage-warlock-resto shaman has since taken it's place since the time of Krebosh's post, which is a much more commonly accepted setup. It will be interesting to see if more unique spell cleaves will be a top contender in 3v3 this season. I'm still waiting for shadowplay (affliction warlock, shadow priest, healer [usually resto shaman]) to begin dominating, shadow priests are perhaps the best they have ever been.

What about 5v5?

2346 (primarily hunter variant) is absolutely dominating. The high levels of burst damage combined with the best 5v5 healing combo and reliable Mortal Strike effect is just too much for almost anyone to handle right now.

The most interesting fact about 2346s this season is they seem to be very versatile when it comes to spec. Hunters seem to be switching between marksman and survival (MM is the norm) while warlocks also seem to be switching between destruction and affliction (destro is the norm). I really wish I could say more about 5v5, but that's about it.

Let me know your thoughts on season eight right now -- it's still early and anything could happen. Do you have any predictions about what comps might excel in 3v3 in the near future? Leave a comment below.

Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Check out's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.

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