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Blood Sport: Improve your play


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 WoW.com's arena column.

Listening music: Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek. Imogen Heap is quickly making a name for herself as one of the most profoundly talented artists today. I've been surprised how often I've heard her music recently, as I had always presumed she would remain as an unrealized genius; an underground phenomenon. Her independent work is both euphoric and mentally stimulating. I am elated she has gained some notoriety, even if only within the past few years. Hide and Seek is one of those rare, almost one-of-a-kind tracks that has an incredibly strong gravity in its simplicity. The power of the minimalistic approach creates a forceful (but delicate) melody. Although I love some remixes (Tiesto's is particularly intelligent, as the paradox of stripping away the essence of the song by adding unnecessary elements isn't present, unlike in oh so many other remixes), the original is something akin to a Greek sculpture -- beautiful in the nude.

Last Week: We discussed our hatred for Scrubby McDouche. Even if you've never stepped foot into an arena, you've probably played with someone who has the god complex thing going on. He always has an excuse for his shortcomings. He is never to blame for the raid wipe, game loss, or his sub-optimal play in any aspect whatsoever.

This week, we're going to be examining the opposite kind of arena combatant. Playing with this individual is not just a good experience -- it's the reason many of us continue to play MMOs. She does everything in-game well, and has fun doing it. She is probably the best player you know, and certainly the most enjoyable to arena, raid, and level with. Today we're going to discuss how to own it up in arena, both theoretically and realistically.

Check out what makes a good arena player tick after the break.

Humility is overpowered

The absolute most important characteristic in a successful arena player is humility. Humble players realize they make mistakes every game, and acknowledge their mistakes. We all make mistakes, after all, so why try to hide them?

In order to improve your game, you need to correct your mistakes. In order to correct your mistakes, you need to be aware of your mistakes. In order to be aware of your mistakes, you need to understand that you can (and do) make mistakes. In order to understand that you make mistakes, you need to be humble. The first step to improve your game is to be humble.

Staying humble is also the most challenging and difficult thing for successful arena players to do. Once you get a few gladiator (or rank #1 gladiator) titles under your belt, you'll start thinking you're pretty hot stuff. Resist that temptation, keep humble, and you'll be able to fix your mistakes infinitely quicker than you would have otherwise.

Realize skill wins every arena game -- not luck

Yes, I said it. Every single game. You might say to me, "I died because six abilities on the opposing team crit in a row, that is definitely luck." Sure, it might be lucky that your opponents crit six abilities in a row, but luck did not cause your opponents to win that game. Are you going to tell me that your team played absolutely perfectly throughout the entire course of the game from start to finish?

Did your team have a Pain Suppression available?
What about a Hand of Protection?
Why didn't you Demonic Teleport?

Let's say every cooldown you had was down (unavailable). Why did your team have to burn every cooldown prior to that point? Could your team have positioned itself better? Could you have done anything differently that might have positively affected the outcome of the match? Why didn't you anticipate them critting six times in a row? Why were you not forcing the opposing team to play defensively so they wouldn't have the luxury of throwing six abilities at you back-to-back? Sure, hindsight is 20-20, but if there is something that you could have done to prevent that loss, that isn't luck deciding a game.

Random number generator does not cause wins or losses, although it can certainly contribute to them. If you believe that you have lost games purely due to random number generation, than you are essentially saying that you played 100% perfectly in that game, and you're probably not being humble. Scrubby McDouche loves this lie. He loves it so much, he would marry it.

"Well what about a disconnect or really bad lag? Surely that's luck. You can't help lag or disconnects."

Why did you get monster lag? Why did you disconnect? Is it because your internet provider goes down as often as Haris Pilton? Is it because your confused little brother decided to download Twilight? In those instances, you can probably help disconnects. It's also worth mentioning that you always disconnect for a reason. "Random," or "unlucky" disconnects do not exist. Even if you don't know why you disconnected, there is a reason, and there's probably something you can do to prevent it from happening as much as it currently does.

But let's say, just to play devil's advocate with myself, that there is a random disconnect that you can't do anything about whatsoever. Have you ever performed or witnessed a 1v2, 2v3, or 4v5? Orangemarmalade's amazing 1v2 comeback is perhaps the most well-known display of near-perfect or perfect play in competitive arena history. Because of his skill, his team walked away with a win and some cash to boot.

If you're still not convinced on the disconnect issue, that's fine. I'll compromise with you and say some disconnects are based on luck. However, every other loss (which has got to be at least 95%) is skill-based.

Practice

No one picked up the game and within an hour was instantly good enough to earn gladiator. No, not even a nine year old ret pally. Think of when you first started playing. You didn't know tons of things. It took you a while to get where you're at right now -- likewise, achieving anything in arena takes patience and effort.

I find it unbelievable how many people think they can become an arena god just by running an "overpowered team composition." If I had a fresh green Lincoln (that's a five dollar bill reference) every time someone told me that they would be 2600 in a few days only because they formed a team with an overpowered composition, I would probably be a hundredaire. No, a multi-hundredaire. Multiple hundreds. Cash money. C-money.

Get-rich quick schemes don't work in real life. Most people have figured out infomercial products and programs aren't going to make them filthy rich beyond their wildest dreams overnight. Get-rich quick schemes in arena don't work either. "Let's play beast cleave, it doesn't matter if we've only played fifty games of arena combined, we'll get on the front page of the armory this week!" Sorry to crush your dreams Mr. Hopeful, but it's not gonna happen without some hard work and smart investing (both of which takes time).

Practice makes perfect in virtually every human activity. WoW PvP is no different. If you want people on the opposing team to fear you, then you need to play often. Play until you know your team vs. every matchup out there. Play until you know exactly what every opposing team is going to do vs. yours.

Then, play until you know exactly what opponents are going to do vs. your team, before they know. Trust me, the first time you audibly predict something like "they're going to attack our warlock, then strangulate our shaman and switch to me," you'll feel better than Miss Cleo's magic eight ball.

Team Hop

This point is seemingly contradictory to the immediately preceding point. It's not. Both are two different skill sets. Think of them as two sides to the same coin. A gold coin. With a pimped out George Washington on it, sporting a leopard skin jacket, top hat, and diamond studded cane.

If I was a betting man, I would wager that this part of the article is going to be controversial. Call me a complete jerk, a tool, an ignorant bastard, or whatever awesome combination of four letter words you can think of. My feelings will not be hurt. You can also feel free to disregard this advice (and any other point that I make) if you vehemently disagree. I will always allow for the possibility that I am dead wrong on an issue. This is not an exception.

Ok, here we go:

If you want to understand how your class in arena works, you need to play different compositions that involve your class, including unpopular ones. Every single class has at least three viable compositions in 3v3 and 5v5 that can get you onto the front page of your battlegroup (yes, even your class). There are also tons of comps out there that haven't been "discovered" yet because players tend to gravitate towards cookie-cutter compositions that have worked well for other teams in the past.

You will need to occasionally leave your friends to experiment with new compositions and find out what works for you. Yes, I am advocating that in order to get better at arena, you will need to play with people other than your current friends. Unless your friends have like five or six different classes at max level and want to PvP with you on them.

In order to mature, you need to spread your wings and fly. A player's insistence to always play with friends in arena might be the very thing holding him back from having a lot more fun than he ever thought possible.

It sucks, I know. Nearly all of my close WoW friends are DPS. Although I've made a few healers into gladiators, I enjoy DPS far more in PvP. Luckily, 3v3 and 5v5 is accommodating with multiple DPS classes on the same team. Friends and I can frequently get together and run a serious or non-competitive composition.

If you have the opportunity to do well with people other than your current friends, take it. You might make new friends and gain a lot of experience in the process.

Have Fun

Short point because it's obvious. If you enjoy doing something, you're going to want to continue doing it. Try to enjoy arena, even though you're trying to win. The only thing that can make you upset is yourself. Think of losses as opportunities to learn, not setbacks for a specific goal.

Feel free to leave comments below telling me what you think. What helped in the article today? Do you want to play arena more often now? Should I have covered anything else? I'd like to hear from you. Until next time, make me proud and keep destroying fools with your aura of win and your hand of ownage.

P.S. Sorry for the joke, nine year old ret paladins.



Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, PvP, Features, Guides, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Battlegrounds, Arena

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