by Alex “sodah” Ringe
There’s another big Warcraft tournament coming up this weekend – MLG Dallas, with an all-star, invite-only, list of teams. The stakes are less impressive than last year, with the Firebird PC’s being actually slower than the old Blackbird PC’s and the total prize money being lower than in the past. However, winning this tournament will give the victors some powerful bragging rights, considering that the best teams from every continent (including Button Bashers from Asia and x6tence from Europe) are meeting up to compete in the WoW corner of the MLG grand stage all the way over in Texas. Anyway, I’m going to give a team by team breakdown in which I’ll pick out some individual players and some of their unique quirks and give my predictions on who’s going to succeed in Dallas.
Roster: Reckful, Sodah, Venruki
The old crew from Shadowburn, Venruki and Sodah, Mage and Druid heroes, combine forces with Reckful, king of Shadowdance, lord of BG9. Reckful’s careful planning and clean play have assisted the team in practicing against all of the tournament comps we’ll all be seeing – RMP, RLS, and Paladin ultra-cleaves. Reckful’s eager attitude and focus on creating success out of the classic RMP line-up will surely help the team return to the spotlight as a top team. Expect to see great things from this revitalized line-up. I am purposely keeping our own specific strategy out of this prediction blog, and furthermore it is quite unnecessary to further tout our team as kick-ass awesome.
Roster: FalcoN, Siler, Souler
X6 is a classic Euro team, consistently placing top 3 and many many tournaments in the past two years. Falcon, Siler, and Souler have been playing Death Knight, Hunter, and Paladin respectively ever since the introduction of Wrath of the Lich King last November; however, they have many other classes in their repertoire – do not be surprised to see a double healer team emerge considering that MLG will be played on the 3.2 patch. Priest Druid Warrior, a classic composition employed last year by x6, can definitely make a comeback in Dallas. RMP and RLS will not have an easy time scoring a kill, and both teams simply cannot out-mana a setup like that, especially considering that the gear will be played in full Season 5 – resulting in much less overall damage, arguably benefiting a double healer. Despite some questions regarding these player’s skill in such a variety of classes, time and again they have proven that they are very solid players even when multi-classing. You cannot deny that despite Warrior stance clicking and “cheese” comps, these guys are still coming up with victories. I’m betting a top 4 finish from the Spaniards, whether it be from the use of counter-comping with double healer or squeezing out kills through good old cleave.
Roster: Celex, Toez, Kigz
Gravitas makes a return with a fresh new Priest and Rogue, once again running RMP. Celex is still working the tournaments, and managed to convince Toez and Evilthief (temporarily using Kigz for Dallas, more on that later) to join the roster. Toez is an old school priest, well known for his dominance of online ladders and propensity to find success with the flavor-of-the-month healer. His only previous tournament is ESL Philadelphia, where he pulled a 1st place with Realz on rogue and Scoti on mage. Toez is often touted as possibly the top Priest in the USA, but is hindered by his disinterest in tournaments and his inability to stick with a team. There is no doubt in my mind he is the best player on their roster, and the question is if its enough to get Gravitas to the top. Considering that Kigz, the Warlock-gone-Rogue, has no tournament experience or substantial success as a rogue, I don’t see Gravitas succeeding over any of the other RMPs in the tournament. Furthermore, this team is out of the “skirmish loop,” rarely if ever logging on the tournament realm to get some solid practice in against the best teams, instead preferring to top live ladders and strut their stuff.
Roster: Douja, Yog, Woundman
Yog. Woundman. Douja. All are legends in the WoW world, being one of the first teams to reach 3000 rating and impressing every pro team they fight. These guys are simply a step ahead of everyone else, with Woundman adapting his insane rushdown abilities into incredibly unique and successful cooldown usage. It is super difficult to deal with Woundman when he is shutting your Priest down and interrupting every little thing your poor little clothie can pump out. This is mainly because of his use of Glyph of Preparation (an old technique used by Koreans, but not Americans or Europeans) to reset kick cooldown, often getting double kicks or simply kicking again after the Priest fakes a cast. Once the Priest has used Penance to fake, Woundman simply preps, and the priest has nothing left in his arsenal but Flash Heal, which is instantly interrupted. Combine all of this with Yog’s insane quickfire fel-dom spell-locks (he often gets my cast before I even get a single tick) and you have the most formidable RLS in the world. Douja himself perhaps surmounts Kollektiv in terms of shocks and groundings, but does not have the tricky totem placement Kollektiv has become known for. Yog and his team have nothing else to conquer but this tournament, as they have proven themselves in every single other way possible. They have in their own right dominated RMP’s like SK-US and Complexity on the tournament realm, coming out with insane win percentages at times, although sometimes hitting losing streaks as the other team adapts. There is no question in my mind they are getting at the very least a top 3 finish.
Roster: Enforcer, Pookz, Realz
The dominating RMP, Pookz, Realz and Sekko are kings of rushdown. They know how and when to score a kill, and will do so with excellent coordination. On the other hand, there are some weaknesses I’ve been seeing in this team lately. In my experience of fighting both Woundman and Sekko, Sekko simply cannot outmatch Woundman’s kicks and well timed cold bloods. Although I expect to “get dropped at MLG” for this, I believe Sekko still has much to learn in making unique decisions. Yet in his defense, it is so much easier to play with a Warlock than a Mage – as a Rogue playing with a Mage, you absolutely must utilize your cooldowns and abilities to assist your Mage in damage. It is so easy for Rogues like Nick and Woundman (both play Warlock setups) to simply play as they wish, swapping and stunning as a one-man team. Even more foreboding for SK-US, if there were to be a tournament that would be their down fall, this would be the one. Patch 3.2 has ushered in a slower game pace, especially in terms of RMP mirrors. Can the same cooldown spamming decisions be utilized now that your target has a higher chance of survival? If not, is this the reason we didn’t see Pookz taking the lead in tournaments back in Burning Crusade? I believe this may be the case, but Team SK still wouldn’t care. MLG is small peas compared to the Blizzcon tournament, which was played with patch 3.1, a true SK-US playground. Anyway, with still some time left before the tournament, Realz will be attempting to evaluate new strategies for dealing with double healers, outlast cleaves, and RMP fights. It will be up to his powers of strategy for this team to maintain title of champion and defend their honor as masters of RMP.
Roster: Hannival, Numberone, Orangemarmalade
Ever since the ESL World Finals in Germany, I have had great respect for Dker, Numberone and Orangemarmalade. They pulled out strategies no one else was trying, and since then they have become standard. Ultra defensive use of Cloak of Shadows, blinds into hunters, out mana-ing Druid Mage Rogue teams (!), super aggressive Priests, etc. Who knows what they will come out with now, 6 months later. For one, their Rogue Dker has been replaced with Hannival, who is supposedly a much better player and is HoN’s actual non-ringer rogue. And I don’t even have to mention Orangemarmalade’s 2v1, the most amazing thing seen at any WoW tournament. I will favor these guys to be top 3 as well, as their dedication (I’ve heard crazy stories that these guys play hundreds of games a day) and skill is top level. If I had to make a prediction for what their playstyle will be like at Dallas, I’m going to say its going to be a classic Korean mage-gibbing and/or out manaing strategy. Only time will tell.
Roster: Thorkin, Pheonix, Hiss
To the extent of my knowledge, this will be triple A’s second American based tournament. They are the fifth and final RMP I will be discussing, but are not the least formidable by any means. To get a good gauge of this team’s skill, they split games almost perfectly against the old Gravitas Gaming at ESL Montreal but in the end took third behind SK-EU and Gravitas. Indeed, in Pookz’ words, they do not use class colored nameplates or really perform anything uniquely. Beyond this, they have actually done quite well for themselves, being a top Euro PMR and qualifying quite easily for the Blizzard regionals. At the ESL Finals in Hannover, they were the team that took HoN down to the lower bracket, beating them 3-2. At the time however their priest was Anelit, not their current Priest of Thorkin – who is in the Euro scene considered a better player. Unfortunately this is one of the few teams I haven’t watched behind their back at a tournament, so I can’t give any interesting insights into their play. I don’t really see a 1st place from these guys, expecting them to be beaten out by cleaves and at least a few of the other RMPs.
Roster: Twixz, Niero, Flexxorz, Kintt
Another new roster, eMazing Gaming has replaced Payce with Kintt, a more experienced and versatile Paladin/Priest/Druid. This is the second of two teams who have the cojones to potentially bring in multiple comps. We have Twixz playing only Hunter, Niero playing only DK, Kintt playing any healer he pleases, and Flexxorz playing Death Knight, Resto Shaman, Enhance shaman. Word on the street says these guys are going to pull a fast one, whipping out Priest – Hunter – Enhance Shaman for a very unique cleave. If so, they haven’t managed to practice against any of the teams attending, so at the moment it’s just speculation. Their other classic composition is Paladin/Hunter/Death Knight, a successful cleave also utilized by x6tence. Twixz in my opinion is a great hunter, and really the only successful one in the US. These guys are pulling the cleaving weight, the true American heroes of stupid burst. If I want to ever see a cleave win, it’s EMG’s lineup. I have no doubts that each player is at the top or nearly at the top of each one’s respective class, so their success depends really on if their composition works against RMP. If it does, they are in excellent shape for a very good showing in Dallas. However, I personally do not believe that they will be toppling RMP so thus I do not place them in the top 4.
Well, that’s it, my thoughts and insights into all of the players going into this tournament. I hope you enjoyed hearing about who’s who and what you’ll get to see while you’re watching the MLG stream. Tune in Friday night and wish us luck!