Hitting the skill cap

I'm still having a blast in rated battlegrounds, but lately there's been some trouble in paradise. Basically, we seem to have hit our current skill cap as a group. We've been hovering around 1800 rating for weeks, sometimes a bit above and sometimes a bit below, but nobody has been able to hit Centurion yet. We've developed a pretty stable roster by now, so it's not newbies holding us back or anything, it's just us.

In principle, this shouldn't be a problem. Isn't that what a ranking system is all about, finding the "sweet spot" for everyone where they win and lose their games in roughly equal amounts? Only the best of the best can hope to simply work their way to the top and beat most opponents that they meet on the way, everyone else will always win some and lose some. There are two problems though.

Firstly, people have different levels of ambition. Myself, I'm honestly pretty damn happy that I got as high as Legionnaire. I'm not saying that I have no interest in improving my play any further, but I'm also pretty happy with what I've already got, because I was never really that amazing at PvP so having made it as far as we have already feels like quite an achievement to me. On the other hand we also have at least one member who has talked about how we really need to leave this "kindergarten" bracket of less than 2000 rating behind. That's quite a difference in attitude, to put it mildly.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see this kind of discussion arise, as everyone who's spent a significant amount of time raiding is likely familiar with conflicts of this kind. "Can we kick this guy already? That's the fifth time he's failed to the same mechanic, he's just holding us all back!" vs. "Can you tell Mr Righteous to chill the hell out? We're all learning, it takes some time, and we're progressing, even if it takes time!" I just didn't expect to encounter this kind of thing in PvP as well.

The other issue we have lies in the way we win and lose. Back when we had just started out and were constantly getting matched against teams with way higher ratings, I talked about how frustrating it is to just get steamrolled. The opposite applies as well though, there's comparatively little satisfaction in repeatedly beating opponents that don't put up much of a fight.

In principle it's okay to win some and to lose some, as long as you always feel that you stood a chance and that it was a close call because your enemy fought hard. Somehow that rarely seems to be the case for us though. It's got nothing to do with rating now either... it's about base-capping battlegrounds vs. flag-carrying ones.

For some reason we completely rock the house when it comes to base-capping. Whenever we get Battle of Gilneas, someone will chuckle and joke about how we've got this one in the bag already. According to my armoury page (which isn't entirely accurate, but it's got the gist of it), I've got a 73% win rate for Gilneas. Twin Peaks on the other hand I've only won 31% of the time. Ouch!

Flag-carrying battlegrounds are the complete opposite for us in performance. People groan as soon as they see the Twin Peaks loading screen in particular. We'll usually put up a decent fight until both sides have managed to grab the flag, but then the other team always manages to return theirs first and after that things just keep going downhill.

It's been a bit of a mystery to us. Obviously different kinds of battlegrounds require different tactics, but at the heart of it it's still all PvP, and it doesn't quite make sense that we are that much better at it in one environment than in another. And this is what makes it so frustrating, not being able to figure out what's wrong. When I wrote my big ode to rated battlegrounds, I praised them for their larger numbers putting less pressure on the individual to execute every single move correctly. Now it looks like this is exactly what's becoming our problem though, because with how many factors there are to consider, we can't quite figure out what it is that's holding us back. One person not blowing their cooldowns at the right time? On the wrong target? CC not being coordinated enough? Maybe a little bit of all of it, but how do you pinpoint these things in the middle of a crazy melee?

For now our battleground leader has ordered us to be more active in arena in hopes of encouraging better coordination on a smaller scale. I don't think that's a bad way to go about it, but it still leaves me a bit weary. I have actually taken up 2v2 arena again recently, but it's a crap combo that I play with a friend mostly for fun. If a minimum arena rating actually becomes a requirement to remain on the battleground team, I might just find myself getting booted soon.

And well, there's also the issue of time. Currently some of our members pretty much do nothing but PvP in game, so I guess for them spending a certain amount of time on arena is pretty normal. But for me PvP is just one part of my gametime parcel, as I also raid and like to dither around on alts. If it starts to require more than two to three nights a week of my time then I think I'll simply start to feel burnt out. I can't help but be reminded of the whole valour point capping debate, and the frustration people expressed at the thought of having to invest so much time into non-raiding activities just to keep raiding. Again this is something that I didn't expect to find in PvP, but being required to do X arena games just to stay in the rated battleground game is pretty similar really.

We'll see how it pans out I guess. I really want to keep going and improve, but after having become a lot more casual in my approach to raiding, I have no interest in becoming hardcore about PvP instead.


  1. My experiences in Rated BGs pretty much led me to believe that Arenas were a requirement for Rateds. You needed the gear from Arenas to compete; right now the Vicious set is probably the absolute minimum for running a Rated, and you'd still get steamrolled by a team with the latest Arena gear.

    Like anything else in WoW, if you want to get really good at it, you have to practice constantly. Some people look at Rateds as much a challenge as raiding, and their scores reflect that.

    I don't mind trying Rateds again now that I've got two toons with Vicious gear, but I'd be going in with eyes wide open, knowing that I don't have the time or dedication to get really good at it.

  2. From the outside, it sounds like you have a working strategy for base games, but haven't found a good strategy for flag games. More than individual performance being your weakness.

    I don't do rated BGs, but maybe that would be a better line of attack than Arenas.

  3. @Redbeard: The idea that you need to gear up from arenas to do rateds doesn't really add up. That's like saying you need to have tier 12 gear to do Firelands. They are the same tier, and you'll face opponents in the same kind of gear, depending on rating. If you are getting steamrolled by players in much better kit, then that just means that you're up against teams who've been playing for longer than you this season and that you're possibly being matched against groups with a rating that's too high compared to yours - but that exact same thing can happen to you in arenas too and has nothing to do with the format.

    @Rohan: Maybe, but the basic strategy for capture the flag is actually not that complicated even in rateds. Kill the enemy flag carrier, keep your own alive. Whatever is causing us to fail there might not be a specific person's fault, but it's still happening at a level of detail that's hard to analyse without being able to replay your own matches so you can see what exactly everyone is doing at each point in time.