Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Over this past weekend, Sydney hosted the Asia Pacific Regional Finals of the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship. This battle was between eight teams: three from South Korea, three from Australia/New Zealand, and two from Taiwan. In the end, team Mad Dog from Australia/New Zealand were victorious. They will receive the lion’s share of the US$50, 000 prize pool and represent the region at Blizzard’s trademark annual Event, Blizz Con, later this year, where they will battle the regional champions for the chance to win the World Arena Championships. Arguably, Mad Dog were victorious due to their innovative arena strategy.

Gronks vs Mad Dog at the WoW APAC Arena Championship Grand Final

Arena games involve teams of three who battle in arenas for dominance.  Each team in the competition is comprised of four players, so they need to decide which players and which combination of game characters are best suited to each match.  Broadly speaking, there are two types of team combinations or compositions: offensive and defensive.  Offensive compositions rely on strong attack and an aggressive drive to overpower their opponents.  Defensive compositions aim to outlast the enemy until they either miscalculate or succumb to the effect or diminishing return or dampening. Diminishing return occurs when a player has used the same move or ability too many times in too short a time period. As such, this move becomes less and less effective each time it is used for the remainder of that period. Dampening is an inherent part of arena matches to ensure that matches remain short and dynamic. Dampening and in-game healing are inversely related and dampening increases with time. This means that if the dampening effect is at 5 per cent, then all healing spells will only operate at 95 per cent effectiveness. As time passes, dampening will increase while healing effectiveness decreases.

A round is won when any one player from either team dies. Arena quarterfinals and semi-finals are best of three rounds, while the grand finals are best of seven rounds. Mad Dog won their grand final game against fellow Australian/New Zealand team Gronks 4-2. Mad Dog’s in-game team for the grand final consisted of Oxygen playing as a Shaman, Fresh playing as a Retribution Paladin and Yoske playing as a Warrior with Featherfeet on the bench. This is an unconventional aggressive composition which has not been seen before in the North American or European Arena Regional Championships. The commentators noted that a Frost Mage would be ideal for countering this composition but unfortunately for Gronks, they did not have a Frost Mage on their team.

The final moments of round seven between Gronks and Mad Dog for the World of Warcraft APAC Regional Championships.

Gronks’ starting lineup consisted of Volchock, Nukks and Iro but after losing the first game, they switched to Volchok, Fitz and Nukks who played a Shaman, Druid and Demon Hunter respectively. Gronks won the next round with this combination but lost the following thus bringing the score to 3-1 in Mad Dog’s favour. Volchok, Fitz and Nukks changed their character lineup to Shaman, Shadow Priest and Rogue respectively and won another round but ultimately lost 4-2 to Mad Dog.

Mad Dog will head to Blizz Con in California on November 2-3 2018 to compete in the Arena World Championships. Blizz Con can either be attended in person or virtually as the event will be streamed. For more information, please visit the Blizzard Entertainment website.