State of the Game—December 11, 2007
2008 RAWR Cup Title Series Inaugural Tournament
Special note: Each State of the Game presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each State of the Game article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.
Third Party Sponsored Competition Comes to Guild Wars!
Up until now, the major international PvP competitions in Guild Wars were all sponsored by ArenaNet, while smaller, mostly regional competitions were for the most part player-run and sponsored. ArenaNet began with the Guild Wars World Championship and the Guild Wars Factions Championship, and eventually switched over to the automated Guild Wars $100,000 Tournament Series to make competing in tournaments more accessible and distribute prizes to more players.
While the monthly automated tournaments (ATs) in this latter series do allow more guilds to compete, the actual number that regularly participate remains relatively small, due in part to the guild membership requirements and the qualifying process for monthly ATs.
This month though, things have changed, possibly ushering in a new era for Guild Wars tournament play. On December 1, Rebel Rising [rawr], in conjunction with GuildCafe, kicked off the 2008 RAWR Cup Title Series. The inaugural tournament of the RAWR Cup ran much like the monthly ATs, with ArenaNet essentially adapting the AT system to accommodate and automate the RAWR Cup.
Similar to the monthly ATs, the RAWR Cup offered significant real world prizes to the winners. These included Acer 22" widescreen LCD monitors, Logitech G9 Laser Gaming Mice, and special edition Rawr Cup t-shirts. RAWR Cup matches were made available on Observer Mode, and tournament reward points were awarded.
The RAWR Cup did introduce some significant innovations that departed from the usual monthly ATs to make the tournaments more accessible and enjoyable for players. These included offering liberal tournament qualification and breaking the field into divisions, as well as offering "live" coverage of the event.
The qualifying requirements for the RAWR Cup were simple. Members for teams were required to register on GuildCafe, and once six or more signed up, the registration form for the tournament appeared on their GuildCafe guild page. There was no cost to enter the tournament and no need to earn tournament qualifying points. This made it much easier for teams to sign up for the RAWR Cup than for the usual Guild Wars monthly ATs. After registering for the tournament, guild leaders were sent a special access key via GuildCafe private message so they could obtain the token required to enter the tournament using the Guild Wars AT system.
The RAWR Cup divided the participating guilds into three divisions, depending on their current rank on the Guild Wars Ladder. Guilds ranked 100 or lower were in the Dragon Division, guilds ranked between 100 and 500 were in the Phoenix Division, and guilds ranked higher than 500 were in the Titan Division. This change from the normal AT system of pitting all participating guilds against one another regardless of ranking made the RAWR Cup more appealing to a broader PvP audience. In the RAWR Cup, less experienced players were more likely to get paired against similar level opponents, even in the initial Swiss rounds.
In all, 72 guilds registered online for the RAWR Cup. This included 18 teams in the Dragon Division, 21 teams in Phoenix, and 33 teams in Titan. Competing teams ranged from the number one team on the guild ladder, Delta Formation [DF], to several teams outside the 10,000 rank level.
Teams were allowed to self-select into the division of their choice, though the tournament sponsors did step in at least once when a team accidentally opted into a division two levels below their ranking. Of note, though, two finalists in the Phoenix Division were in fact well within the top 100, yet were not required to register and compete in the Dragon Division.
The Titan Division final featured two European guilds ranked in the 600 range, Charr in my [Car] and Mundane Fabulous Guard [MfG], fighting on the Isle of Solitude. Both guilds ran relatively balanced builds with Energy Surge Mesmers, Crippling Shot Rangers, and flag stand Elementalists. [Car], however, ran a dedicated 5/3 split with a Warrior, Ranger, and Monk splitting off towards the back door of [MfG] at the start of the match. The match see-sawed back and forth until VoD, where [MfG] took out [Car]'s NPCs with Splinter Weapon and eventually out pressured [Car] and killed their Guild Lord.
Ritualist - Channeling Magic - Weapon Spell
Weapon Spell. For 20 seconds, target ally has a Splinter Weapon. Target ally's next 1..5 attack deal 5..50 damage to all adjacent foes.
The Phoenix Division final saw the North American guild Xxx The Final Thrust Xxx [RIP] face off against the European guild Die Keller Kinder [KK] on Burning Isle. At the time, [RIP] was ranked 15th on the ladder, while [KK] was ranked 85th, surprising given the fact that both were in a division designed for rank 100-500 guilds. In the case of [RIP], it was apparently allowed because the guild is a popular North American guild for experienced players to play in as guests. Much of the guild's rating was obtained while using these guests, who were not available as per the RAWR Cup rules.
At the beginning of the match it appeared that [RIP] would have a significant build advantage at VoD because they were running two Melandru Dervishes and two Elementalist/Ritualists with Blinding Surge, Splinter Weapon, and Ancestors' Rage. The area of effect damage provided by these four, coupled with that of a Energy Surge Mesmer, seemed to point to a certain win at VoD, if not before. [KK] countered with a relatively balanced build that included two Warriors, a Defensive Anthem Paragon with "Shields Up!" and "Watch Yourself!", as well as a Mesmer and Elementalist/Ritualist that were similar to their counterparts on [RIP].
Ritualist - Channeling Magic - Spell
Spell. All foes adjacent to target ally are struck for 30..130 lightning damage. This Spell causes Exhaustion.
Both teams also had three Monks, with two on each team carrying Aegis, and the third constantly casting Heal Party. The match was fought primarily at the flag stand and, due to the heavy defense and relatively conservative offense played by both teams, no kills were recorded until nearly ten minutes. It did seem, however, that [RIP] was feeling much more pressure across their team than [KK] was experiencing. The teams fought nearly to a standstill until VoD, trading only a couple of deaths. At VoD both teams started playing more aggressively and trading more deaths. [RIP] used Death Pact Signet several times to bring up fallen players, which [KK] capitalized on to get dual kills, push [RIP] off the stand, and kill all of [RIP]'s NPCs. When the Guild Lords arrived at the stand, [RIP] folded under the pressure of [KK] and all of their NPCs.
Monk - Protection Prayers - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. For 5..11 seconds, all party members within earshot have a 50% chance to block attacks.
The Dragon Division featured two European guilds, Esoteric Warriors [EW] and Whats Going On [sup] fighting on Imperial Isle. [EW] ran an axe Warrior, a Melandru Dervish with Guiding Hands, a Defensive Anthem Paragon, an Energy Surge Mesmer, a Blinding Surge Elementalist/Ritualist, two Monks with Aegis, and a Healer's Boon Monk runner. [sup] ran two Warriors, a Crippling Shot Ranger, an Inspiration Mesmer, a Blinding Surge Elementalist with Ward against Melee, an SoD Monk with Aegis, a Healer's Boon Monk, and a Weapon of Remedy Ritualist with Splinter Weapon.
Healer's Boon [Elite]
Monk - Divine Favor - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. While you maintain this Enchantment, your next 10..30 Healing Prayers Spells cast 50% faster and heal for 50%% more Health.
Nearly the entire match was fought at the flag stand, with occasional pushes on flag runners as they came down their respective ramps to capture the stand. The first deaths did not occur until nearly 17 minutes into the match when [sup]'s flag runner and [EW]'s Warrior were killed. At VoD [EW] made a heavy push on [sup]'s NPCs with their Dervish covered by Splinter Weapon. [sup] took several deaths after VoD but eventually recovered, only to give up the first morale boost of the game just after 23 minutes. At this point [sup] could no longer withstand the pressure and eventually succumbed, making [EW] the Dragon Division winner. The match was lengthy and drawn out largely because both teams carried so much defense. In particular, both teams had a Healer's Boon Monk constantly casting Heal Party to offset the pressure being applied by the opposing team. The critical difference though was that [EW] had it on their runner, while [sup] had it on a flag stand Monk, making it more susceptible to disruption.
One of the best aspects of the RAWR Cup was the coverage provided by the sponsors via webcast at Uberguilds Radio. Scotty of [rawr] and Roxianna from GuildCafe hosted a live show on the day of the tournament, with several others helping out. During the Swiss Qualifying Rounds, Scotty and Roxianna watched matches as they came up on Observer Mode, addressing comments posted by players in IRC and observer chat, while also providing commentary on the match being observed.
As the single elimination matches began showing on observer mode, other well-known PvP players such as Yue, Three Pounds, Norad, Doji, and Asp called in to help provide commentary on matches involving their guilds, as well as those of other guilds. Asp in particular provided surprisingly exciting commentary on the Phoenix and Dragon Division finals, which were both relatively uneventful until nearly VoD.
The RAWR Cup has shown the great potential of third party sponsored events. It made a huge splash on the Guild Wars PvP scene and will hopefully motivate existing players to compete even more, and possibly attract ex-PvPers and new players to the PvP community.
Billiard is a Senior Moderator at GuildWarsGuru.com and former long time guild leader of Xen of Onslaught [XoO], one of the largest and most active PvP guilds in the world. Billiard can be reached in game as Billiard The Bold, or by private message at the [XoO] website.