My "Big Break"
If you're unfamiliar with the expression, a "big break" is an opportunity or job offer that leads to an individual first being noticed or established as an important member of whatever they're working towards.
In the early days of The Burning Crusade, being near the top of a PvP ladder was exceptionally prestigious. Very few teams had ratings above 2,000 -- and the ones that did were almost assured Gladiator on most battlegroups. Vanilla WoW didn't have a true PvP-skill ranking system. Arena was the new unexplored frontier which bred enormous amounts of competition, and enormous amounts of desirability and ego.
Before my big break happened, I tried to play with other high-rated PvPers...and they usually blew me off. Some played a few matches with me and really enjoyed it (we usually went near-undefeated), but they would always leave for bigger game whenever they got the offer.
My big break in arena was hitting rank 2 in 2v2 as warlock-priest (which was a fairly rare composition at the time). We weren't able to hit rank 1, as the top team at the time was very difficult for us to defeat (I think we were 3-13 in combined matches against them). Still, this gave me a foot in the door to show other PvPers that I was valuable and could hold my own in the blood sport.
Moral of the Story If you play long enough and really enjoy the game, you'll start seeing things come together. There will be a point that you will be noticed and valued where everything will start to change.
I saw perceptions of me change immediately when I hit rank 2
After word got around that I was a player worth attempting games with because I was skilled in 2v2, I got lots of offers for 3v3 and 5v5. I played a lot of games with people I previously thought very highly of. Their gameplay was very skilled compared to mine at the time, they had a ton more experience, and it seemed like amazing minor details were commonplace to them.
After studying the game and making vast improvements to my play, I had found that the student was now the teacher. They were asking me advice on how to play against certain team competitions. They were telling me to call targets. It was a completely new experience.
I was actually amazed to see that players who blew me off and ignored me for months were begging (some of them were literally begging) to play games with me again. At the time I was very happy to be desired, but looking back on it I was dealing with a good number of opportunist PvPers.
Moral of the Story After your big break, you might see lots of offers pouring in. Take a step back and realize what's going on and who you should associate with. Be careful not to exclude them because you've ascended past them, burning bridges is always a bad thing.
Know thy enemy, know thy self
I played a lot of games with a lot of different high-rated players and quickly realized that almost everyone had a different strategy or way of playing against certain teams -- except the high-level teams. All the high level teams knew what weaknesses and strengths were on the other side of the arena, and they all played the game the same way.
Cue dramatic music. Incoming plot twist and/or climax.
All the top teams used the exact same strategy. Every single high rated 3v3 and 5v5 was trying to use crowd control to land burst kill opportunities on the competition. Out of the top 20 teams, all 20 were using the exact same strategy (including us).
I began asking my teammates how we could be defeated. What would be the best way for other teams to best us in arena? We use the same strategy as everyone else -- if we figure out how to beat ourselves, we can easily beat others...
Moral of the Story Look out for what's going on around you. Get your teammates to help you think things through, and act on what you've discovered. Sometimes you'll flop on your face, but other times your risk will pay off tenfold.
Exceeding expectations, then failing them
A giant lightbulb went off in my head. What if I just build a team to stop crowd control burst?
It was nearing the end of the season (we had just gotten the two week announcement), and I decided to go for it. Even though I was sitting on a Gladiator 3v3 and 5v5, I knew I had a shot at rank 1.
I quickly assembled a 3v3 consisting of warlock-warlock-paladin. Sounds like a terrible team composition, right? Wrong. 18 out of the top 20 teams were using druids as healers, and at the time paladins countered druids hard. Judgement of Justice limited a druid's run speed to 100%, which actually made him slower than everyone running around at 108%. Moreover, having two Mana Drains on a team was a huge boon for The Burning Crusade arena, where high-rated matches would sometimes take several hours to complete.
It exceeded my wildest expectations. We went from a 0 win, 0 loss team to rank 1 within four days. We had close to 150 wins and a single digit loss number. Unfortunately, others had caught on to our plans and were enlisting the help of odd classes, forming countercomps to knock us out of the top spot. We started losing more frequently to countercomps, although we were still rank 1 by a good bit.
My 3v3 wanted to stop playing and sit on the rating. I was devastated. I knew we would be overtaken and wouldn't end up with a rank 1 title. Though I would spend a day or two trying to convince my teammates to continue playing, they refused out of fear of dropping the team below Gladiator. We ended up rank 10 with a sweet Gladiator title.
Moral of the Story Sometimes things work out way better than you expect. Listen to your teammates, but go for every opportunity you're presented. Be happy with your accomplishments when you get them, else you'll never find happiness in anything you do.
Listening Music One Love, by Bob Marley, sung by people around the world. The intro is long, but power through it. It's worth it.
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing
Donkey Kong? We'll steer you to victory with the best arena addons and let you in on some rank 1 gladiator PvP secrets. Be sure to check out our guide to PvP keybindings.