Midgame Moves: For Light’s Sake, Stay Alive

July 10th by Samantha Cruse

This article is part two of our Midgame Moves series, where we talk to World of Warcraft esports pros about the metagame and strategy of the midgame of an Arena match. Read part one here.

The top priority of any healer in World of Warcraft Arena is to keep their team alive—but what do you do if they’re locked down by crowd control spells for the better part of a minute?

“When your healer is CC-ed for a long time—say, against a rogue comp—the goal is to avoid the rogue at all costs, unless I have an available stun or can paralyze them,” says Method Orange’s Ryan “Trill” Costello, one of the best Windwalker Monks in the world. “I’m not thinking about what my next offensive move is at that point, [because] if I don’t survive, there is no offense.”

If you are able to survive, that’s a perfect time to regroup and evaluate if an immediate counterattack is possible.

Obstructing (Hammer of) Justice

Each Arena map holds varying degrees of obstructions—usually pillars or platforms—that play into both teams’ offensive and defensive strategies.

A melee comp such as Windwalker/Death Knight or Windwalker/Demon Hunter must maintain some semblance of safety by trying to play around these obstructions, only venturing into the open to draw out the enemy team, and hopefully bait them into overextending. The best scenario would also draw out the enemy healer, such as a Holy Paladin, who may try to disrupt the setup by using Hammer of Justice to help his or her teammate get away.

Tackling Diminishing Returns

Each application of certain spells and abilities of the same school, such as Roots or Silences, become less effective if used repeatedly against the same target within 18 seconds. Eventually, the target will become immune to that school for a period of time. Whether you’re trying to set up or break an incoming chain of crowd control, it’s important to know how long those spells are anticipated to last, prior to any outgoing dispels or trinket usage.

Add-ons, downloadable modifications used in-game to enhance UI or gameplay experience, are inadmissible in LAN settings such as the Arena World Championship Summer Finals in Katowice, Poland, or the upcoming Arena World Championship at BlizzCon in November. During online tournaments, however, players can use whatever they desire. While these tools can provide vital information about your team and enemies, such as timers on diminishing returns or talents the enemy team took, it can become a damaging crutch once you make it to the big stage.

Being low on health doesn’t necessarily spell doom for any one player. Sometimes it may be part of a specific strategy, like when a Restoration Shaman takes the talent Bottomless Depths, which triggers Resurgence when a healed target is below 60% health. In turn, the shaman will regain some of their mana each time their friendly target receives a critical heal.

While playing it safe can keep everyone alive, it’s important not to forget the clock is running. As soon as an Arena match heads into dampening, the priority shifts to overpowering the enemy team, rather than out-surviving them.

Check back tomorrow for part three of Midgame Moves, when we focus on time management over the course of a match.