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15 Minutes of Fame: Arena team Smites its way to the top

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – both the renowned and the relatively anonymous, the remarkable and the player-next-door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about at 15minutesoffame (at) wowinsider (dot) com.

Meet 5v5 Arena team M L H of
Argent Dawn, ranked 7th in the Ruin battlegroup when we spoke with them recently and holding strong this week at 12th with a team rating of 2340. M L H's claim to fame: they are currently the highest-ranked 5v5 team that includes a Smite Priest. The core of this chilled-but-skilled team is a Boomkin Druid, and their secret to their success is the savvy deployment of four healing-capable DPS classes. In this lengthy interview, 15 Minutes of Fame sat down with the whole team to get their insights on PvP, strategy, team composition and a brand new video of the team in action.

M L H of Argent Dawn, Ruin battlegroup
Ental, Elemental Shaman
Grackel, Disc/Holy Priest
Iashu, Holy Paladin
Vorgestellt, Frost Mage
Molimo, Balance Druid


15 Minutes of Fame: So your team name -- what's that about? What does it stand for?

Molimo: MLH = Moonkins Love Heroism. Because as it turns out, we do.
Vorgestellt: Moonkins Love Heroism is just kinda something that we created.
Molimo: Yeah, 'cuz Heroism + Moonkins = awesome damage burst.

How long has this team been together? What were your backgrounds before you came together as a team?
Vorgestellt: These people, for S3 (Season 3).
Molimo: This season, as a 5v5 team. Me, Shoe and Grackel were together since S1.
Molimo: Me and Grackel have been playing together like a year or two. We met Iashu just lately, and Ental is my guild leader for raids. And Vorg is some random scrub we picked up.
Vorgestellt: :-/
Iashu: Back in Season 1 is when we met up. :P
Ental: Personally, I've been mostly a PvEer, but they convinced me to do 5s with them. Finding good Elemental Shamans isn't easy apparently, even though I suck.

So in giving readers a fair picture of your backgrounds, would you say mostly PvE with some PvP, both, or ...?
Ental: Mostly PvE.
Grackel: PVP on Alliance, PVE on Horde, same server.
Iashu: Before BC, I almost never PvPed, but I've done a lot of PvP in BC, and raiding got boring.
Vorgestellt: Mostly nothing until end of Season 2. Then some PvP.
Molimo: I do it all -- whatever the whim of the week is. =)

So you guys are all established characters? Anyone a post-Burning Crusade player?
Grackel: My warrior is my most well known, Cotizi (the team's alternate member). I hit 70 on this guy in December.
Ental: Yeah, I made the jump to Shaman after BC came out. I used to play a Prot (Protection) Warrior.
Vorgestellt: Everyone played pre-BC, though.
Iashu: I've played this guy since day one.

So how did you arrive at this team comp (composition)? Just friends? ... Going for a specific mix? ...
Molimo: Me, Iashu and Grackel (starting on his Warrior) talked to a lot of other 5s teams. We settled on Elemental Shaman and Ice Mage, and after playing, we tried (the warrior's) Priest out to get him some points.
Iashu: As Shadow, first. :P
Molimo: We realized Shadow Priest was a good addition over a Warrior. Then we realized Shadow sucks, when all that happens is DoTs get dispelled, (opponents) go on him first, and splat. So we tried Smite Spec -- or "Offensive Discipline," as Grackel calls it -- and it works for us.
Grackel: I just tanked as Shadow; was always the first kill.
Iashu: Very useful, since I eat a lot of chain CC. =/
Grackel: Now I have more options.
Ental: Smite > Mortal Strike.
Molimo: Clearly.

"Smite > Mortal Strike" -- how so, Ental?
Ental: Well, when we have insane burst damage -- 100 to 0 in an instant -- we don't need a healing debuff.

What's your standard modus operandi, Grackel?
Grackel: For me, I do a lot of dispelling defensively and offensively and do burst damage on switches. I also heal if I have to, with a healing weapon and offhand and such. I just Smite, Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death. My job changes a lot (depending) on what we fight.

So what's the easiest comp for you to face?
Molimo: Melee burn.: Enhancement Shaman, Rogue, Warrior, Holy Pally, Discipline Priest.

What makes that a gimme?
Grackel: No real CC (crowd control) on us.
Iashu: All melee.
Vorgestellt: They have to come close to us to kill us.
Iashu: They have to sit in the open.
Ental: Yeah, we seem to chew through melee pretty fast. They can't abuse CC or LoS (line of sight) as easily.
Vorgestellt: And then we just blow someone up.
Iashu: And can't run (out of) LOS.
Molimo: Well, the only way they have a chance is to run around on pillars -- and when three melee run away and you sit in the middle, nothing happens to us. The second someone screws up, they die on their side.
Vorgestellt: And it's not just like we always kill the Warrior first. We kill whatever is open.

What about the hardest comp?
Ental: Euro.
Vorgestellt: Mage, Hunter, Restoration Druid, Discipline Priest, Rogue.
Molimo: Euro Hunter variant.

What's tough about that one?
Ental
: Lots of CC and lockdowns.
Molimo: They have so much CC, it's insane.
Iashu: And lots of damage, due to the Hunter.
Ental: Being an all-caster group, it hurts.
Molimo: We are built for getting three to four of us free for three seconds. If we can't, it's hard.
Vorgestellt: And hard targets to kill quickly.

How long do your matches usually last?
Molimo: Twenty seconds to 10 minutes.
Vorgestellt: Generally around one minute or so after engaging.
Ental: Melee burns usually end with heroism up. :P

Do you think they're remarkably longer or shorter than they used to be when your rank was lower?
Vorgestellt: About the same, or longer; generally longer, though.
Molimo: It depends on a lot of things. If its our first time fighting them, normally every first match is one minute long. The surprise factor is huge.
Vorgestellt: They are better at kiting and LoSing.
Grackel: The higher they are rated, the longer it takes us. They are better adapting to our strategy.
Ental: Yeah, and we tend the fight the same teams over and over, so we get to know teams and they get to know us. It makes it longer and such.

A lot of players out there wonder how on earth to break in to Arena PvP, so we get a lot of questions about starting gear. You've been together as a team just this season -- did you all start out with a base of PvP gear?
Molimo: We all had full S2, really.
Iashu: I started this season with three-piece season 3 and the rest S2 gear.
Molimo: But our gear is now a mix of PvP to PvE gear, depending on what we've got and what we need to use.
Vorgestellt: More like Molimo's gear is a mix.
Grackel: Mine too, a little.
Iashu: I have a few raid pieces.
Molimo: Week 2, me and Grackel got weapons; week 4, we all got shoulders, I think it was.

Let's talk about your individual roles on the team. What do you consider to be your main roles and objective on the team?
Iashu: Heal, heal, heal, stun on burst ... and sometimes Holy Shock/Judge Righteousness on switches. And complain about being CCed.
Ental: Typically, I'm the "tank." I eat a lot of damage and try to stay alive while doing some offensive dispelling and tossing out the Elemental Shaman macro of doom.
Molimo: My role: Chain damage into someone, counteract healing by doing so much raw damage ... Clutch Cyclones ... But to be honest, I lead the team and make the calls -- and making the calls and watching everything is a much harder job.
Grackel: My main role is damage, utility, healing, in that order.
Vorgestellt: Crowd control, Counterspell on switches or to prevent someone from taking damage, and a lot of burst. I don't do that much constant damage. And I have been tanking more and more often. QQ.

So Molimo's calling the shots?
Molimo: We all put in advice.
Vorgestellt: But his voice is the law in the Arena. :D
Molimo: I make the calls. I talk a lot, so I'm the natural leader.

What about post-mortems? Do you analyze a lot afterwards?
Iashu: We review matches and find out things we do wrong and how to fix them from everyone's point of view after matches.

You analyze things on Ventrilo, on your forums ...?
Molimo: Vent. If we ever lose, we sit there for two to three minutes talking about it. For example, we lost to a team a few days ago. I sat there for three minutes watching their healing/damage done and realized their druid did all of the healing -- so we shanked him next match, and it was one-minute match.

Ok, lots of readers want to hear it straight from a successful team: can keyboard turners survive in Arena?
Vorgestellt: NO.
Ental: No, LOL.
Iashu: NO.
Molimo: No, LOL.
Grackel: Wuts a keyboard turn?

What about add-ons?
Vorgestellt: I use Afflicted, which announces important cooldowns such as Divine Shield and Pain Suppression, and then tracks the duration.
Iashu: I have most everything bound to hotkeys, except for a few abilities -- mainly Seals/Judgement, bubble and my trinket.
Ental: Just Proximo, really, and Mik's Scrolling Battle Text.

Another reader request: Top advice for up-and-coming members of your own class.
Iashu: It's really hard. As a healing Paladin, it's extremely comp-dependent on your role. I would say, as a Paladin, try to save cooldowns as much as possible and use them only when needed.
Molimo: Best tip for my class: you will suck unless you build the team around being a Moonkin. It's just how the game is.
Ental: For Elemental Shamans, be prepared to be disappointed. You have to tank a lot and don't get many chances to do things -- but when you do, it is oh-so-sweet how much damage you do.
Vorgestellt: Mages are more of a CC class, and burst, rather than just chain-chug Frostbolts.
Grackel: My tip: don't get forced into a specific spec. I'm doing something unique, and your only options as a spec aren't just healing and shadow.

Is there a typical game plan when facing a new team?
Molimo: We have start-friendly targets.
Ental: .. and by "friendly," he means "easy to kill." :P
Vorgestellt: Drag someone into the middle, to switch to.
Molimo: Shamans/hunters/mages.
Iashu: We choose our "friendly targets" and see how they react to it.
Molimo: Easy to stay on and burst.
Iashu: If they run right away, we change.
Iashu: We populate Proximo and look at specs and decide from that.
Molimo: We run in, see the combo, all shout out different names of the combo 'cuz we don't really know what it is until we all add it up. Then I call like "Shaman to Warrior."
Iashu: We look at buffs/mana pool to tell specs.
Vorgestellt: Because you can't tell on Proximo.
Iashu: Like an Enhancement Shaman will only have 7000 mana or so.
Vorgestellt: Anymore, generally less, but yah.
Iashu: Whereas an Ele/Resto will have 10k or so.
Molimo: Or if you see Earth Shield, means Resto Shaman.

Who thinks they're tough but they're really not?
Vorgestellt: Enhancement Shamans.
Molimo: Tough as in, they think they are hard to kill, (but) then we own them? 90% of all warriors fit that.

Now, what about the teams you're up against? At this point, you're playing a lot of the same people over and over, right?
Iashu: Yes.
Molimo: Depends what night we play.

Do you try to "surprise" teams by moving around schedules?
Iashu: We play the same schedule every week, pretty much.
Ental: Yeah, we have a set schedule pretty much since work/school interferes a lot.

How many games do you aim for?
Molimo: We were at 7th like week 5 in the season, realized everyone wasn't pushing, and now we are back.
Iashu: Whatever we feel is right. =/ Hard to say.
Molimo: Whenever we feel like stopping.

What about win trading? Has that affected your team?
Molimo: We get free points when we fight the teams that win trade.
Vorgestellt: Hasn't really affected us yet.
Molimo: Yeah. Most of the teams up top earned it.
Vorgestellt: Non-issue for me.
Molimo: It doesn't really exist anymore above 2k.
Vorgestellt: If they want to cheat to be the top in a video game ... they can go for it. :-/
Molimo: We just know that we play to win, not play to cheat.


What about the higher requirements for gear coming up? Any thoughts on that?

Iashu: Love it. Makes it a challenge to get the gear.
Grackel: I love the new stuff.
Molimo: We are ecstatic, because scrubs wont have the gear we earned. (There's) more separation between PvE and PvP.
Vorgestellt: I think it is an awesome idea. No more "lose 10 games a week and get free epics"!
Ental: I like it. Puts more of a check in for skill, in my opinion.
Grackel: Everyone calls Arena gear "welfare epics."
Iashu: So people can't just walk up and get free tier 6+ quality gear for losing.
Grackel: Now, we can show ourselves off from others more.

You don't think taking way longer to earn Arena gear is its own difference?
Molimo: It doesn't take that much longer.
Vorgestellt: Yah it does ...
Grackel: I can see how someone with a struggling arena team wouldn't like the new system.
Vorgestellt: With the time commitment, they will still be able to get S3, which isn't bad and a large upgrade from greens.
Ental: If you dedicate yourself to finding a great team makeup and are skilled, though, you can still gear up in full s4 faster then you can gear up in, say, full Sunwell gear, in my opinion.

What do you think is the force behind your team's particular success?
Molimo: Amazing teamwork and good skill. We have everything you'd bring to a raid. We all know our jobs, and we all do it right. Vorg knows he doesn't spam Frostbolt. He knows he sheeps a lot. When I call a switch, we all switch and burn someone.
Iashu: Lots of defensive dispelers.
Vorgestellt: We all like each other a lot too; we all get along really well.
Iashu: Four healers.
Molimo: Raid buffs, four potential healers, decurses, depoisons, dispels.
Vorgestellt: Four potential healers. No one is off doing their own thing.
Molimo: When Iashu calls "counterspelled," we all try to make sure someone picks up healing.

Do you each do things differently than you did at the beginning of the system? How have things changed?
Molimo: We adapt a lot more. I didn't heal much before, and I heal more.
Grackel: We know when to use cooldowns. We instinctively know a lot of stuff now that we used to have to call out.
Vorgestellt: We switch to try and blow someone up a lot more, too.
Molimo: Ental knows when to use totems. We know to bring people into the open. We know not to trinket nothing.<cough>
Ental: I wasn't hardcore into Arenas before. Playing with these guys made me up my skill a lot more.

How much time are you putting in each week? What does it take to get that kind of a feel for things?
Vorgestellt: Three to four hours? Sometimes more.
Molimo: Yeah, we all raid or do work, etc.. We don't play 24/7 in Arenas.
Ental: We all do stuff together outside of Arenas, as well.
Vorgestellt: Or school and sports ...
Iashu: Or seeing Ironman. :P

If you weren't doing Arenas, what type of play would you enjoy otherwise?
Iashu: Rated BGs and world PvP objectives, like killing a racial leader.
Molimo: Rated BGs, or at least BG queues where you can fight premades or at least queue as a premade, period.

Ever do stuff like Nagrand?
Molimo: We own Nagrand.
Grackel: We always queue from Nagrand. We kill anything that's red.
Vorgestellt: Me and Iashu had a nice 2v10 Halaa last week. :D
Iashu: *grin*

Ok, free for all time -- what's on your minds about PvP?
Molimo: I want rated BGs, and I want warlocks to be nerfed.
Grackel: I only enjoy the game these days because of Arenas mostly.
Molimo: Yeah. Same.
Vorgestellt: Same here. Battlegrounds are now more of a grind rather than entertainment, except for when we go in and screw around.
Molimo: It's a lot more fun to blow someone up instantly then to drain them out.

Be sure to click the streaming video screenshot near the top of this interview for footage of M L H in action.

Filed under: Druid, Arena, Interviews, Features, PvP, Shaman, Priest, Paladin, Mage, 15 Minutes of Fame

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