Stepping into the Arena: Getting Gladiator, Attaining Heaven and The Road to 2400CR

Hey guys, Tiraffe here. I’m back with another PVP guide. Note that this will be more of a living document as we approach Shadowlands.

This time, I’m gonna talk about how to reach and keep the elusive goal of Gladiator in rated arenas.

First off, what is Gladiator and why do people want it?

Gladiator is the highest named ‘rank’ available to folks doing rated PVP in arenas, and there is also a counterpart available through rated battlegrounds as well, known as High Warlord/Grand Marshal.

To start, all three of these ranks require reaching a CR of 2400 in their respective brackets. Being at this bracket can provide 465 ilvl gear from end of match and 475 ilvl gear from the weekly chest. If you’ve read my other guides, *hint hint*, you’ll know that there are better sources of similar ilvl gear (M+ and Heroic Raiding). The main reason people go for Gladiator aside from the pvp gear is achievements, tmogs, Gladiator titles and Gladiator mounts. Mainly the mounts, as the titles are actually temporary for that season. The mounts are character specific for the characters that earn them, though. A list of all previous gladiator mounts can be found at: https://www.warcraftmounts.com/pvp.php#category_arena

Note: The Gladiator Mounts can only be earned through the rated 3v3 arena bracket. The mounts available through rated Battlegrounds are unlocked through sheer number of wins, but don’t require 2400 CR in order to get them.

Unfortunately, reaching 2400 CR in the 3v3 arena bracket by itself won’t grant the mount. Since BFA, 2400 CR actually grants the rank of Elite for the arena brackets. Once you hit 2400 in the 3v3 bracket, you need to win 50 games in that bracket while you have the rank of Elite. This means that if you fall below 2375 CR, you will lose the rank of Elite and you must climb back to 2400 CR (Elite Rank) before you can start gaining more progress towards Gladiator. Get the wins, stay above 2375 CR, and you’ll get your rewards. You can track your achievement progress by running the following script found on wowhead and entering the Achievement ID for the Gladiator achieve for that season.

For example, here is BFA season 4:
https://www.wowhead.com/achievement=13967/gladiator-battle-for-azeroth-season-4#comments

/run AddTrackedAchievement(AchievementID#)

 

Table of Contents

  1. It’s Gonna Take Time
  2. A Whole Lot of Precious Time
  3. It’s Gonna Take Some Patience and Time, um
  4. The Current State of PVP and Corruption (in 8.3)
  5. Cheese and Minmaxing
  6. Evergreen Classes
  7. How to Get Good, as the Kids Say
  8. Finding the Win Condition
  9. Timing and Pushing Rating
  10. Mind-Games and Reality
  11. Conclusion and Going Even Further Beyond

1. It’s Gonna Take Time

Getting to 2400 CR and further getting the Gladiator rewards takes a lot of time. If it’s your first time, you’re looking at doing it over the course of 3-4 months if you’re going at it semi-casually. Even for myself, I took roughly 5 months across an entire raid tier to do so. This is because you cannot be taken straight into higher difficulties or ratings and receive Gladiator or even Rival level rewards until your own personal rating has actually reached those levels. You will need to spend the time climbing the individual ranks to get up to 1400, then 1600, 1800, 2100, then 2400 and then finally another 50 wins while maintaining the Elite rank.

2. A Whole Lot of Precious Time

Unfortunately, your individual progress is also reliant on doing this as a team in 2’s or 3’s. As such, it’s best to have at least one other player that is also in the mindset of getting a high rating as having a consistent team will make it far easier to achieve 2400 CR. You’ll want to keep those goals in mind. Do what you can to maintain a stable schedule, stay hydrated and make sure to get plenty of sleep before going into PVP.

For those that are pugging, you may want to be aware of when it is time to find a new partner if necessary, lest your partner find someone or someones to replace yourself. Not everyone will have the ability to grow at the same rate, either based on their mmr or their ability to adapt to the meta of the day. The same goes for making sure to take breaks. While a large amount of games are required to reach high ratings, it is not a good idea to burn out by playing upwards to 15+ games in a single afternoon. You’re more likely to end on a losing streak when you get fatigued.

3. It’s Gonna Take Some Patience and Time, um

To do it right, you’ll want to want to maintain a 51% winrate or higher. If you’re at your appropriate mmr, you’ll gain about 10-15 CR per win and lose about 7-9 CR per loss. This will increase or decrease depending on whether or not your’re on a win streak or a losing streak. Assuming that you’re starting at 1400 CR, where the CR per win drops drastically compared to 0-1250 CR, it should take on average 8 to 20 games to move up 100 CR. This means that getting up to 2400 should take about 80 to 200 games if you can keep up with the increasing difficulty and various team compositions. The mmr system is sort of rigged though, since it will try to eventually have you at a 50% winrate. It’s important to accept that and move on.

Regardless of how long it takes the player to reach 2400, it’s another 50 games on top of that at a minimum. Find a good pace to move at and try to find when you’ll get fatigued so you can take a break. The only way to get that rating up and get the 50 wins is to, well, win. Don’t expect it to be instant.

4. The Current State of PVP and Corruption (in 8.3)


Note: The clips in the first video take place around February/March. The second one has clips from then to May 26th. As should be apparent from watching both videos, stacking corruptions, even nerfed ones are a viable strategy. Something else not previously mentioned is that the Writhing Segment of Drest’agath, Remote Guidance Device (Motorcycle), Forbidden Obsidian Claw and Corrupted Gladiator’s Spite are popular pvp trinkets in 8.3.

As seen in the above videos, rated PVP is wack in 8.3, mostly because of corruption. As it stands, having good corruption effects helps a ton for landing kills, forcing defensives and being a nuisance. For more general info on what corruptions to shoot for once you have them and how to maximize the amount of corrupted gear that will forever sit in your bags, feel free to take a look at my general guide for corruption guide or take a look at your class guide on Wowhead: https://www.ministryofdefense.net/stepping-into-the-arena-corruption-in-pvp/

With a corruption vendor now available, things are probably going to get out of hand if you aren’t able to keep up with your opponent’s corruption resist. Make sure you keep gathering Echoes of Ny’alotha so that when the corruption you need is available, you can buy every corruption you need for the the next couple months. In addition, it is absolutely vital to stay as up-to-date on your cloak’s corruption resistance as possible.

Given this, there are a couple schools of thought into what corruptions to stack together, now that folks have had the rank 15 cloak for some time and upwards of 77 corruption resist. While the various procs (Twisted Appendage, Infinite Stars, etc.) are the most visible, there are a few general strats right now that are available or enhanced because of corruption.

First and foremost, stacking versatility corruptions is a surefire to both protect yourself and deal some damage. Other secondary stats are also boosted by similar strats, but versatility will usually give you the most bang for your buck since it’ll be far more consistent regardless of your other secondary stats, since you’ll get the full benefit of versatility even while CC’d.

Secondly, just running a bunch of different corruption procs will help ensure that your opponents will have to provide multiple reactions to counter it.

  1. Infinite Stars can force a dispel
  2. Twisted Appendage can force a target switch
  3. TD can forces a an opponent to move (Still don’t run it though unless you’re a tank, won’t be reliable damage against range.)
  4. Echoing Void gives purge protection
  5. Gushing Wounds is still a bleed, despite the impending nerf

Even the stat procs, if on different stats, will provide a more consistent increase in dps/hps. Even with the nerfs to proc rates for the direct damage corruptions, if multiple players on your team run multiple procs, then there is a higher chance to throw the enemy healer and their team off balance, instead of relying solely on one single beefed up proc. Be sure to check any pvp class guides for more direction on what your class/spec wants in pvp.

Finally, literally just stack all of one corruption type to go all in. As seen in the videos, it’s not exactly the most reliable tactic if it’s a proc, but stacking the same corruption can turn the game into a coinflip if combo’d withCC.

5. Cheese and Minmaxing

Now on to the actual meat of gameplay barriers to getting Gladiator.

First is the concept of Cheese. Cheese in competitive scenarios is often an off-the-wall or unfamiliar strat that mainly looks to catch the opponent off-guard and force an easy or early win. Cheese stats are also strats deemed ‘unfair’ by the recipients of said Cheese strat because they’re considered low-skill, lame, no effort or purely try-hard, regardless if they lost to it or not. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them, as the concept of honor does not matter if your rating is on the line. If you have a strat that is consistent AND works, by all means, use it until it stops working. And then refine it, change it when the situation calls for it and adapt. The aforementioned corruption strats are an example of said Cheese, and should be used and exploited because your opponents in rated PVP will be doing the same.

Sidenote: Obviously, not every strat will be available purely because of gear or team composition. Theorycrafting is nice, but make do with what you have available first.

Second is the concept of Minmaxing. Minmaxing is a playstyle present in a multitude of games that focuses on sacrificing less useful abilities and stats in order to beef up stats or grant ability combos that scale faster and harder than they’d normally be able to. In rated PVP, this is mostly a matter of making sure you have the right stats for what you want to do. With corruptions, you can turn this up to 11, provided that your corruption does not go above 39. So if  your gear needs a tune-up, take some time and farm some more gear. It’ll be better in the long run than trying to run with a random grab-bag of gear. Same goes for essences, traits, expansion feature, etc. As mentioned previously in my other guides, Crit damage is reduced in PVP, Versatility is the go-to stat in PVP, and healers should try to have some modicum of haste without making their spells inefficient in terms of mana cost.

These two concepts form fundamental stepping stones when it comes to reaching higher levels of play. Most players at higher levels will be far better geared, and at times, will only be behind in terms of their actual rating due to fighting other similarly geared players. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to be, say, Mythic geared, but it certainly helps to reduce how much of an impact Cheese strats, among other strats, have when they pop up.

Now granted, the concept of Minmaxing mainly applies to your stat distribution in WoW and other games, which is true. But, it’s also important to practice your rotation to get it to the point of muscle memory. As soon as you hit your CC on your kill target and pop your damage cooldown, you should be able to execute your rotation from muscle memory to maximize your damage output to secure a kill or force a defensive, while still being able to throw out an interrupt when needed. You should never go in without a plan though. If your comp requires coordinated crowd control such as RMP, RPS or Jungle, you’ll want practice with your arena partner to determine exactly how much damage you both can do within that CC window. Same with making sure to avoid breaking enemies out of crowd control if you can help it. You’ll want every advantage you can get in rated PVP, short of actually cheating. Cheating bad.

 

 

6. Evergreen Classes

So with all of this talk of optimization and strategy, you might be wondering: “Should I switch to a stronger class to make it easier to get 2400 CR/Gladiator?”

Disclaimer: You don’t exactly need to play the ‘best’ comp, but you should at least aim for something that will work against your opponents.

The answer to that is “yes, if you feel it’s necessary”. Something I’ve mentioned in my other guides is that you should always try to play what you’re most comfortable on so that you can focus on what’s going on around you. Granted, if your class or spec is bottom of the barrel for whatever patch you’re doing it, you should probably think about switching to a stronger spec or class if playing at a higher level or even the highest level is something you care about. With that in mind, Healers and DPS would probably be safe by picking any of the following specs in 8.3 if they’re only worried about PVP. You need to make sure that regardless of what class you’ve picked, you need to be both comfortable on it and able to perform on it for whatever content you’re doing. If getting Gladiator is your goal, you’ll need to play at an above average level at the very least. Think of getting multiple purple parses in heroic/mythic raid or consistently timing keys (+13 or higher) for a PVE version. Understand how your rotation works and if it needs to changed up for PVP. That sort of thing.

DPS(melee):

WW Monk
Unholy DK
Assassination Rogue
Havoc DH
Arms Warrior

DPS(ranged):
Fire Mage
Destro Lock

Healers:
Holy Paladin
Resto Druid
MW Monk

If you want something for every aspect of the game, just cross-reference between how specs are performing for both m+ and raid. Picking something that can be used for pvp and m+/raid will make it far easier to get high ilvl gear as well.

The goal here is that if you plan on switching to a class that has historically been strong in at least 3’s, you might as well pick something that’s also viable for 2 or more high-level team comps.
More info on what team comps are can be fount at the following links, I feel the Icyveins one is a bit more thorough as to why certain compositions will succeed on average more than others:
https://www.wowhead.com/popular-compositions-for-wow-3v3-arena
https://www.icy-veins.com/wow/pvp-arena-tier-list

Sidenote for Shadowlands: Obviously a new expansion with new features is going to shake things up. So stay in the loop for how certain classes are changed and possible combos, but don’t follow the meta too religiously if you want to avoid burning time trying to change classes every two weeks. Just pick something up, master it and commit to it unless you’ve got time to burn elsewhere. Shadowlands is still in the early stages of alpha at the time of writing, so these lists may change once it drops. To add on to this, keep Torghast in mind in addition to pvp/m+/raid.

7. How to Get Good, as the Kids Say

So throughout this as well as in previous guides, there have been two things that I’ve been alluding to.

The first is that there is a lot of set-up required to do well in rated PVP, especially in higher ratings. You need to be comfortable on your class and know your rotation well enough that you can properly react to what’s going on in a match or even predict it. It’s just like driving a car, eventually you can just keep coming up with car analogies without thinking about it. Your character should be sufficiently geared, with as much of whatever expansion progression system advanced as much as possible (Concordance unlocked in Legion with good relics, Rank 15 cloak in BFA with good traits, appropriate essences and various corruptions, etc.) and whatever stats your spec needs.

In addition, you need to know when to switch to the right talents and what win condition you need for certain match-ups. All this requires a lot of practice, experience, and time setting up a knowledge base. It’s something that can be built up in a week to a month at best, depending on the player and how new they are to PVP in general. But eventually, you’ll get to the point where you know your opponents moves before they do it. The above is pretty much all of the prep work needed to succeed at an individual level, as you’ll want to have the best combo of your character and your gear.

Ex. If a mage approaches and is going for Greater Pyroblast/Polymorph and you’re near a pillar, they’re probably ready to blink during their cast in order to follow you. So don’t just go LoS behind the pillar, keep going to cancel the cast instead of stopping short. Make them use both blinks or waste valuable time that puts them in a bad position.

Getting Gladiator is still a team effort however. The second part here is that you’ll want to go for a competitive team composition and understand it, regardless of what spec you’re currently playing. You’ll need to not only understand what cooldowns your team has available, but also how to coordinate with your team for damage and CC. You’ll want to play with folks that you have good natural synergy with. If you’re pugging, try to add people you enjoyed playing with and bug them later for more arenas.

A list of the baseline available utility can be found at: https://questionablyepic.com/mythic-plus/

8. Finding the Win Condition

Finally, you’ll need to know how to go for the win condition, in order to attain heaven. Once you have a base understanding of what your team needs to do and what your class’ role is in that team, the best thing you can do is ask what you should be doing in specific scenarios AND if it fits your own play-style. For example, what should I do against a double caster comp at 2.1k rating in an open map like Tol’viron Arena, when my own team has a Ret Pally and Shadow Priest. (Fewer interrupts, with it being very hard for the Ret to get in range and stay in range).

Here, we can see the Shadow Priest’s PoV. A couple things happen here that allow the team with far lower damage to end up winning. First, the MW is geared enough to heal through a Fire Mage and a Destro Lock. Both dps know when they need to run behind a pillar to avoid the Lock’s Dark Soul: Misery and are switching to targets that are first in range and are secondly missing HoTs from the Resto Druid. All three players calmly make frequent call-outs in the same language in order to communicate, and have definitely played with each other previously. The Shadow Priest is usually near a pillar ready to grip the Ret back to safety. The Shadow Priest also makes constant use of Mind Control to constantly trip up the enemy dps and even casts Greater Fade preemptively in order to dodge a stun from the Resto Druid (Watch the Druid at the 1:45 mark, Druids need to be in stealth to cast their Rake, which is a 4 second stun). The Ret/Shadow team is eventually able to play defensively enough that they catch the Resto Druid by a pillar in full cc chain to get the kill.

This can be summed up as: LoS/CC enemy damage cooldowns, use your own damage cooldowns against a realistically reachable target, know what cooldowns are available for either team. Hold out for higher dampening if necessary and have crowd control ready at a moment’s notice, especially if you can spam it (Mind Control). Position in a good spot, move as necessary and don’t try to Rake stun the enemy team in dampening as a Resto Druid if your PVP trinket isn’t available.

Think back to the video. The double caster team certainly had higher damage as seen on the scoreboard, but their damage cooldowns or ‘goes’, would always get stopped by well-timed positioning or crowd control from the Ret/Shadow team. As a result, most of their ‘goes’ were stuffed, with a few close calls for the Ret/Shadow team. Had the double caster team coordinated their crowd control better, they probably would have gotten a clean shot to kill off one of the Ret/Shadow team earlier into the match. Granted, the Ret/Shadow team already has a lot of offhealing, and a MW makes it much harder to plan around trying to catch the Ret/Shadow without any defensives available.

Part of the issue also lies with what CC the double caster comp had available. Almost all of their CC either breaks on damage or lasts for a considerably short time, such that you can only get 1, maybe 2 casts out during that time. Their only ‘long’ stun would have come from Resto Druid if they were running Mighty Bash(5s), or when the Druid could get into stealth to land a Rake(4s) which is risky considering that the Ret/Shadow has much better CC to keep the enemy from running away. Depending on how well the Ret/Shadow team positions themselves, the double caster team would also have to overextend massively for any go or CC. This is ultimately what dooms the double caster team, as going in for a Rake leaves the Druid vulnerable of a long CC chain that ends with the Druid dying.

There probably won’t be a video for every type of example, but instead of thinking “There was nothing I could do there”, think “What could I have done to prevent getting into a bad position in the first place”. In the event of there truly being a bad time, with no chance of surviving, refer to the previous steps about prepping and practicing your character or take a break to try to brainstorm a different strategy against that comp. It might just be a bad match-up or an underestimation of the enemy teams’ damage.

9. Timing and Pushing Rating

Now, it’s important to keep in mind when you should try to push for high rating, especially if it’s your first time. As mentioned previously, you’ll want to have all of the gear and expansion features your class wants during whichever patch you chose to do so. Second, longer patches, such as the last patch of an expansion, are particularly good since they allow for more room for error and more time to grind any gear.

You’ll essentially want to avoid trying to heavily push rating above 1600 CR as soon as a patch starts, as you can very quickly run into multiple higher level teams that are obviously still building up their own CR. Might be good practice, but in my own experience, it’s often very one-sided and it’s not worth losing if the difficulty is too great when both teams are at the same rating. If you dm me the song I’m referencing in the table of contents for this guide on discord along with your character name, I’ll mail you one gold in-game if you’re correct. Let other teams that do want to climb that quickly take the hit, so that your own climb may be easier.

Sidenote: Many high-level players usually end up playing alts through the ladder again if pvp is their primary focus in WoW. These same players are also the ones that are likely to end up competing in the Arena World Championship and other arena tournaments. This means that if you’re looking for a hard push, timing around the same time these top players are competing will heavily reduce your chances of running into them.

Likewise, try to avoid waiting until the last minute to go for 2400 CR/Gladiator, especially if the character is an alt. You’ll want time to spare in case you’ll want to go even further beyond or if the available catch-up mechanics for the expansion features take a while to grind through (Biggest example is getting rank 15 cloak just to begin the catch-up mechanic, which then involves both a full clear of a Horrific Vision AND getting at least a normal N’zoth kill each week after you get rank 15 and not before.) Ergo, the middle of the patch is usually the best time, since that will also give time to have a more fleshed out character for the current patch, even better if you’re able to get into both high mythic+ and heroic/mythic raiding.

10. Mind-Games and Reality

Now one last thing to cover. If you’re reading this guide, chances are that you’re either curious as to what it takes, you believe that you’ve got a shot or you want some extra advice as you make your way up the ladder. If you’re not familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect, then take a moment and look it up; it’ll help with digesting the concept here. The point being, it’s important to ground your reality and how you interact with your teammates. Even getting above 2.1k CR is difficult and time consuming if you haven’t done it before, so don’t downplay your efforts, but don’t exaggerate them either. It’s important to be honest with yourself. The path to getting Gladiator won’t be instant and if you aren’t already playing at a high level, getting to Glad will test your mettle.

For those pugging: people, real human beings, are going judge, and they’re going to judge a lot. There’s going to be a lot of emotion and a lot of stress. Most will probably be okay with a loss once every few games, chalk it up to luck or lag, match-up or meta. But fail to meet whatever invisible expectations they have, and they might go off on you, justified or not. Sometimes it’ll be genuine criticisms and actual advice and the pug group will keep going. Other times it’ll be backhanded remarks. Do what you can to steel yourself and analyze their comments, there’s usually a kernel of truth in there can be useful. However, if all you’re getting out of the group are insults, then you don’t need to bother sticking around. Find another partner and keep moving on. You’ll want someone of a similar skill level that you can grow with, that isn’t a constant distraction that makes it harder to focus.

The fact of the matter is, no matter who you team up with, you’ll also want to focus on your own self-improvement since you’re the main constant between each and every game. Pure confidence is one thing, but it’s better to be confident that you can be better, instead of reasoning yourself as the best. Make yourself better, instead of making excuses when things go poorly. Time is better spent that way. If you feel your partner is falling behind as well, do try to offer advice, but only after making sure that they actually want the help. The same goes for trying a different strat for a particular match-up. And lastly, if you’re playing with people you know, do try to avoid burning bridges in the process, it’s not worth the heartache. If it’s too much hassle in the current season for one reason or another, there’s always the next one.

One last note: Everyone has their own expectations for what a Gladiator is capable of. Here’s the fact of the matter though, regardless of what expectations a player has, Gladiator is a mark of mastery on a specific class on a during a specific season. This means that anyone that has earned Gladiator should only really be expected to play at the same level if their spec hasn’t changed much from season to season. A Spriest Gladiator from WoD is very different from a Spriest Gladiator from BFA season 1 in terms of playstyle. A RDruid Gladiator from MoP that knew how to used Symbiosis wouldn’t necessarily be used to the playstyle of an RDruid during Legion. If someone bugs you because you didn’t play perfectly despite having a Gladiator mount, tell ’em to pound sand and ignore them.

11. Going Further Beyond

If you do manage to get to 2400 CR and get your Gladiator rewards, there’s only two more mountains left to climb in that bracket.
First, there’s a separate achieve for hitting 2700 in the rated 2v2 or 3v3 bracket. That alone is difficult to do since you’re very likely to keep running into the same teams, and there are very few teams playing at that level, which is both annoying and painful since they’re also very good.
Finally, if you wish to obtain the permanent title for the season, in this case the ‘Corrupted Gladiator’ title, you would need to win 150 games on your current faction on that character AND end the current season at, not just reach, the top 0.1% of the 3v3 rated arena ladder. This will give the title and the Feat of Strength: ‘Corrupted Gladiator: Battle for Azeroth Season 4’.

A similar season-and-faction-specific Feat of Strength exists for the rated Battleground ladder, Hero of the Horde: Corrupted and Hero of the Alliance Corrupted, which is given to the top 0.5% of the rated BG bracket, but does not appear to give a title. The achievement version of Hero of the Horde/Alliance does give the corresponding permanent title though.

Conclusion

tl;dr: Try to give yourself every advantage possible from a gear standpoint, time allowing. Practice your rotation and crowd control to be extremely consistent. Make sure to take breaks often and avoid pushing too hard, too fast to avoid burn-out. Play with the same folks if possible. Acquire the knowledge for specific match-ups and win conditions. Take time to analyze why teams lost/won. Stay cool, calm and collected.

At this point, you should have all of the information needed to not only set yourself up for success, but also how to improve yourself of your own accord. It’s obviously a lot of information, and not everyone will learn as much by reading as they will by doing. So this leaves the most important thing to you, the reader. It’ll be up to you to have the drive necessary to push yourself and your team(s) as far as you can go. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely a worthwhile challenge with tangible rewards. So keep going, do your best and go get ’em, champ.

Obligatory
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1Rk2OFddZs – It’s ok to be yourself

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxGRhd_iWuE – Inspirational Video

 

Sources:

“The state of WoW PVP (8.3)” YouTube, uploaded by fronk on 09 Mar, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POYWpc2FSro

“Matsuoka Shuzo [松岡修造 ] – あきらめかけているあなた (NEVER GIVE UP!!) [English]” YouTube,

uploaded by Ryuujin131 on 25 Jun, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxGRhd_iWuE

“It’s ok to be yourself” Youtube, uploaded by Tofupupper on 22 Oct, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RahYj4xs_dU