Midgame Moves: Adapt, Survive, and Thrive

July 12th by Samantha Cruse

Welcome to part four of Midgame Moves, where we talk to World of Warcraft esports pros about the metagame and strategy in the midgame of an Arena match. If you haven't already, catch up on parts one, two, and three.

As we learned in our Opening Moves series earlier this year, every team goes into a match with a game plan—calling out the primary target, how best to utilize a map’s real estate, choosing what comp to answer the enemy team's selection with, and so on.

But rarely does a match play out flawlessly in the first minute. From that moment forward, it is your team’s responsibility to read the enemy's moves as best they can and adapt accordingly.

Assessing the Damage (or Lack Thereof)

You can develop the best strategy in the world, but if it isn’t producing the desired results, it’s time to reassess. The Move member and lightning-quick Rogue player Jason “Pikaboo” Smith says, “[If] you try a few setups and nothing is really happening, you’re not forcing any defensive cooldowns or mounting any pressure, then you all [as a team] have to agree, ‘OK we have to do something else because there’s no way we’re gonna win like this.’”

“Most people have played so many games you kind of get a feel for, ‘It’s not that we aren’t doing as well as we could, but it’s not the best strategy we could be doing to win.”—Pikaboo

Second Nature

Like developing any skill, repetition and honing your reflexes opens up time to develop multiple answers to what on the surface might appear to be the same problem. “A lot of [skill] just comes from experience and knowledge of every class,” says Damon "Jahmilli" Bligh, a renowned Mage for Noble Esports. “Once you understand what each class, player, team, and comp want to do you’re able to adapt to it more efficiently.”

A match can play out wildly differently against the same comp from one encounter to the next. It’s important to identify early what the enemy team is doing and position yourselves to redirect their plans in a fashion that leaves you on top. Some teams rely heavily on securing a victory shortly after the match begins, while others intend to drag it out as long as possible until they can capitalize on heavy dampening in what essentially becomes a war of attrition. Your goal is to identify these setups, and react by surviving and disrupting that initial rush or by drawing out the enemy team long before dampening sets in and they can slowly rot you down.

Check back tomorrow for the final entry in our Midgame Moves series, when we’ll discuss how professional World of Warcraft Arena players attempt to recover from their mistakes.