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Blood Sport: Iron sharpens iron, part 4


Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? C. Christian Moore, multiple rank 1 Gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in Blood Sport.

Check out part one, part two, and part three of this series on allowing others to shape your arena gameplay. This has been one of our longer series here at Blood Sport, but that shouldn't really come as a surprise to my regular readers -- I love telling stories.

This week, we'll be covering a hodgepodge of different player types I've encountered throughout my time in arena. It's amazing to me the diversity of players who at look to high-level arena for both a challenge and entertainment. I'll try to stay away from teammates that I've already talked about. All names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the not-so-innocent).

Dave, my mentor

Like anyone else who has goals and aspirations, when I started thinking about playing arena at a high level, I looked up to others for motivation and a goal.

In the early seasons of The Burning Crusade, warlock-druid was perhaps the most powerful 2v2 team composition, one I wanted to become skilled at. Two of the most skilled players on our server were very high ranked on the battlegroup in 2v2 and happened to be playing the aforementioned team composition of warlock-druid.

Dave was regarded as one of the best players in the world, and his druid was a relative unknown but quickly making waves as being exceptionally skilled at offensive Cyclones and pillar humping. I don't recall quite what I said to pique his interest in teaching me how to play the comp, but he was exceptionally helpful at teaching me how to power out ridiculous amounts of damage, even when playing defensively. I remember a few very important words: "If you don't throw any punches, you can't score any points."

He taught me a very important concept of arena -- being on the offensive is almost always the correct course of action. Damage is often more important than crowd control, as damage is what actually kills opponents. When we played a few games in 3v3 together, he would put out twice as much damage as I would, even though my gear was only slightly worse. I was Fear-happy, while he spammed DoTs. Unsurprisingly, his strategy tended to win us many more games than mine.

Bill, positionally aware druid and Dave's arena partner

Even though they had a top 10-ranked 2v2, that same warlock-druid pair allowed me to get games in with them on another team. I wasn't quite sure why they were investing time and effort in improving my arena prowess, although it became clear to me at a later time (point selling).

I was paired with the druid who taught me about reading opponents positionally. I'll admit, I was a chaser. If a druid ran around a pillar, I would try to follow him instead of just throwing DoTs up on his teammate and spamming Drain Mana whenever the druid decided to poke his head out.

Bill taught me that while being offensive is the best way to win an arena match, there are usually multiple ways to be offensive. There is usually a correct position to take in any given scenario, although scenarios change very often.

I remember his telling me to run into the center and just stay there until he told me to move. I didn't understand why I was doing this or why I was moving to where he would tell me until we played well over 50 games together. I finally realized he was keeping me between the enemy teammates, giving me access to DoT up both players while allowing me to crowd control and mana drain the enemy healer. I'm not the quickest learner.

Frank, my apprentice

Let's shift gears from the beginning of my arena days to somewhere in the middle. I had a few rank 1 titles by this point and was growing somewhat bored of the game (I won't lie, I thought I had accomplished everything there was worth doing). I was starting to fade out of the game when an arena teammate of mine introduced me to a guy he thought was pretty good and was very pleasant to play games with.

To my surprise, he was exceedingly fun to play games with. Not only did he make clever puns and arena an enjoyable experience, but he was very open to constructive criticism and had a knack for not repeating the same mistake too many times before self-correcting it. He played the same class as I did, and I was happy to have fun by talking game theory and strategy with someone who appeared to be excited by the game and interested in competition.

I took Frank under my wing and started getting him involved with other high-rated PVPers. Our classes didn't stack (we couldn't play as teammates and expect to do very well), so I decided I would give him a ton of name-drops as a potential replacement when teams asked me to join them (I already had a steady 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5). He quickly became our server's #2 warlock behind me and was growing frustrated with always having to take second place on our battlegroup in terms of team talent.

He told me he was transferring off the battlegroup to play on a top 10-ranked team that had offered him a position. I supported his decision and knew that he would easily be in the running for the rank 1 title -- I just didn't expect him to achieve it as quickly as he did! He quickly assembled a team that easily dispatched the competition and hit rank 1 in all three brackets in less than two weeks. Quite a feat for someone who was considered second best!

Honestly, he was just as good as me, if not better, at the time of his departure; I just happened to have more titles associated with my name, and most arena players value past experience higher than present talent.

Listening Music 7/4 Shoreline by Broken Social Scene

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.

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