A Closer Look at Melee in Shadowlands Season 1 PvP - Team Comps and Specialization Strengths
12/02/2021 à 13:32
Shadowlands Season 1 is shaping up to become one of the greatest, possibly the greatest first season of an expansion (especially for melee) in a long time. It’s a great time to be a PvPer!
Shadowlands Season 1: A Breath of Fresh Air
Gearing via Conquest is deterministic again, with players participating in Mythic+ and Mythic Raiding having an advantage in terms of how quickly they can gear. As a PvPer, after a few months you’ll have a full set of 226 gear at 2100 rating, and a 232 weapon if you’re able to reach 2400 rating. This is more attainable than ever because of the high amount of participation on the ladder right now. Rating inflation is very high for the first season of an expansion! I would not be surprised if we saw 3500+ rated players by the end of the season.
Learn More With Our Shadowlands Gear Guide
As far as pacing goes it is very fast - reminiscent of Wrath of the Lich King 100-0 pacing with a more wholesome approach to core class design. Games with multiple casters tend to be longer if defensive play is perfected, especially at higher ratings. We saw a few games go up to 60%+ dampening during the AWC!
Shadowland’s Covenant system has shaken up PvP. For some players and specializations, this has allowed for versatility and customization with how they play. For others, it feels like you’re forced to choose what’s best (or what’s “Flavor of the Month”), otherwise you’re playing suboptimally. Overall, I believe Covenants are working out better than how they were initially perceived, but there are no doubt areas that could definitely use some attention and work.
The Legendary system has been working out great overall but just like with Covenants, there are clear outliers for certain classes and specializations. This can impact your choice in terms of what you want to play versus what’s optimal or overtuned.
So, how are the specs doing?
Arms Warrior Windwalker Monk
Subtlety Rogue Marksmanship Hunter
Havoc DH Frost DK
Enhancement Shaman Feral Druid Protection Paladin
Assassination Rogue Survival Hunter Unholy DK Outlaw Rogue Beast Mastery Hunter
- Rarely Seen
Protection Warrior Vengeance DH Brewmaster Monk Guardian Druid Blood DK
* Ranged spec included to compare with Survival melee spec.
Below is a short breakdown of the team compositions we're getting the most out of this season.
Popular in Cup 1 of the 2021 Arena World Championship,
has shaped up to be one of the strongest compositions in the game. Retribution can make use of
which improves mobility, one of the few weaknesses this comp has. Adding a Restoration Shaman for their ranged disruption and
best complements the sMorc duo, but this comp can also be played with a
One of the best double melee compositions is Windwalker DK (as demonstrated by Cdew, Mes, and Trill during the 2021 AWC Qualifiers), but we’ve also seen Retribution/Windwalker and even Warrior/Windwalker performing well.
Frost Death Knight
Poigne de la mort
Balayement de jambe
. With this, you’re able to set up bursts on multiple targets simultaneously. Throw in a
, and you’re going to be durable enough to take down just about anything.
The meta is fast and the games are bursty. This is a perfect environment for
is a long enough CC-chain to kill almost anything with plenty of cross-CC left over to create 3v1 situations with
Flèche de dispersion
We saw a couple of teams run Jungle in the 2021 AWC, being mained by Europe's Ad Hoc Gaming and NA’s Justin Time. If Warriors and Holy Paladins weren’t so strong, we’d likely see more dominance from Jungle Cleaves.
Marksmanship Hunter certainly isn’t a melee specialization, but Survival is. Unfortunately, Survival is nowhere to be found on the ladder thanks to a 4-second cast on their pet resurrect, and because Marksmanship is simply performing better. More on Survival later on!
are very squishy if they’re put into a situation that counters their off-healing such as a Priest’s
, a Warrior's
Affûtage de lame
, or getting caught in a stunlock; playing with a
is key to surviving thanks to
We've provided a breakdown of the melee specs we're seeing the most of in PvP this season.
is one of our meta-defining melee specializations. You can toss just about any other specialization in with them and you’re going to have a strong composition. This is thanks to their very high damage and pressure with
Affûtage de lame
, plus their utility which can dismantle opponents when played correctly. Well-timed use of
Bannière de guerre
is a straight path to Gladiator. They also have some versatility when choosing a Covenant, with Kyrian’s
Lance du Bastion
bringing more control and Venthyr’s
bringing Magic damage to deal with high-armor targets.
is our other meta-defining specialization and similar to Warrior, you can throw just about any other spec in with a Windwalker and you’ll have a strong composition. This is thanks to their high mobility, strong utility with
Anneau de paix
, and overwhelming damage with
Tempête, Terre et Feu
Invocation de Xuen, le Tigre blanc
up. The most popular Windwalker comp during the 2021 AWC is Windwalker/Fire Mage which established dominance for Method EU, but we’re not here to talk about Wizards!
provide very strong utility, burst, and healing. With how fast the meta is right now, almost every S-tier comp has at least one Paladin whether it be Retribution or Holy thanks to their core toolkit becoming universal across all specs. Tools like
Bénédiction de protection
Bénédiction de sacrifice
are a sure measure to negate kill attempts. Retribution brings
burst to the table with the Kyrian covenant, combining
with the conduit
Mot de gloire
can also heal for an enormous amount at low HP thanks to the talent,
Mains de médication
can play double melee comps such as Ret/Rogue to high ratings, they’re best paired with casters such as Fire Mages and Shadow Priests. Since the Kyrian Ability
was nerfed in PvP, many Rogues have opted to choose Night Fae for their Covenant, favoring the extra survivability from
over the burst Kyrian brings. The
ability from the Dreamweaver soulbind has saved Rogues multiple times during the 2021 AWC Cup 1, which is important to note because we often see Rogues as the main kill target for many compositions. Subtlety also has unique utility with
, and once again brings
Havoc Demon Hunter
Havoc Demon Hunters
don’t have a staple composition to run right now. On the ladder we’ve seen high-rated Demon Hunters running with Ret Paladins, Windwalkers, Warriors, Death Knights, and some casters. The new comp diversity is thanks to the addition of
. As for Covenants, there’s a reason we’ve only seen Night Fae Demon Hunters on the ladder -
can hit for 20k+ easily and you can 100-0 people in stuns with a well set-up
Tempête de glaives
combo. We don’t see Demon Hunters utilizing Mana Burn much anymore with how fast the meta is. Demon Hunters' main weakness is how squishy they are, with most of them opting to use
L’heure la plus sombre
, the auto-darkness legendary.
I expect to see a rise in Demon Hunter comps as adjustments are made and as the expansion matures because their toolkit is still very strong with
Inversion de la magie
. They’re also highly disruptive with
Nova du chaos
Frost Death Knight
Death Knights are weak into teams that deal physical damage which is holding them back in this meta, especially with how popular Warriors and Windwalkers are right now. Most of their tools help against Magic damage like
Frost Death Knight
burst is very high on multiple targets thanks to
burst is scary thanks to combining Venthyr’s
Moisson en chaîne
with their other offensive cooldowns. Off-healing is very strong for Enhancement and they bring strong utility and disruption with
Cisaille de vent
Totem de glèbe
Totem de séisme
is available from a PvP talent which will amplify your Warrior’s damage, and as mentioned before, you’re going to want to play with one.
After one month of the Shadowlands PvP Season 1 being started, we have started to see
become more prominent in the PvP scene. They are able to play A to S-tier compositions in arena, while also being strongly versatile in other forms of PvP content. This is due to new baseline abilities, legendaries, and covenant choices. For example,
now being baseline offers more depth to Feral Druid and allows them to be more than pure damage dealers. This means they are able to have more of an impact within a game. Legendaries allow Ferals to adapt more easily to certain matchups and situations. If you want pure burst, play
Œil de symétrie effroyable
. If you need more defense, play
Volonté de l’ordre naturel
Covenant choices are huge for Ferals, much like other classes. The choices presented at the moment are Kyrian and Night Fae. Kyrian offers
Flasque de sérénité
which are both reliable tools. Night Fae gives you
Convoquer les esprits
. These are flashy cooldowns but are very powerful if used correctly. At the moment there are a fair share of Kyrian and Night Fae Feral Druids who are high-rated, so both are viable if played correctly.
Ultimately, Feral Druids seem to be in a solid spot in terms of damage, flexibility, and support due to the baseline abilities and new Shadowlands systems!
Feral brings strong burst, control, and off-healing but they are very susceptible to dying in stuns if caught outside of
. Pairing up with a Mage or Warlock is also an option for Ferals, which is what we often see from Beanslayer (Feral/Fire Mage) and it’s what we saw from Zev (Feral/Destruction Warlock) during the 2021 AWC.
Protection Paladin Vengeance DH
Most of us aren’t fans of tank specializations in competitive PvP, so you’ll be happy to know they aren’t well represented.
The one exception to this is
as they are able to fill the role of a healer in arena. This is mostly seen in 2v2 paired with a DPS, although they’re still capable of high ratings in 3v3 making use of
to consistently generate Holy Power to cast
Mot de gloire
. Prot Paladins also have the strongest defensive cooldown kit in the game, with bonus cooldowns like
Gardien de la reine oubliée
gained through PvP talents.
We do not see any other tank specializations commonly show up on the ladder except for
Vengeance Demon Hunters
carrying flags in RBGs.
Outlaw & Assassination Rogue
Outlaw Rogue Assassination Rogue
Simply put, Subtlety is the preferred spec for most competitive Rogues.
can still deal huge
can reduce the cooldown on
, creating kill windows unique to Outlaw. They aren’t useless, we just don’t see many of them. I’d describe the specs as suboptimal for Rated PvP, but if you’re skilled they can certainly still work.
Survival & Beast Mastery Hunter
Survival Hunter Beast Mastery Hunter
The 4 second pet resurrect and the fact that Marksmanship is more bursty and works better for Jungle right now means that we don’t see
very often in rated PvP, but we do see Survival occasionally in 2v2.
Unholy Death Knight
Although we see
in 2v2, Frost is in general better and more well represented in 3v3 thanks to the higher bust damage and how fast games can be.
has some decent self-healing through
, so Fury ends up taking a back seat with how dominant Arms Warriors are right now. We don’t see many people with two 232 item level 2-handed weapons right now to use with
Poigne du titan
, so we’ll have to see if that changes anything later on in the season.
Wowhead's Featured Shadowlands PvP Guides
About the Authors
Aveng was the author of the majority of this piece.
has been playing WoW since Vanilla, first PvPing and obtaining Gladiator titles in Wrath of the Lich King. He started competing in tournaments in Mists of Pandaria, making it to his first LAN tournament in 2014.
To this day, Avengelyne has obtained 10 Rank 1 titles across his characters. He has also participated in 3 Regional LAN tournaments and competed at BlizzCon in 2017. Although he is a Paladin player, he can also play a Demon Hunter at tournament level. You can find him here:
Syfoxy was the author of the Feral Druid section of this piece.
has been playing World of Warcraft since the Burning Crusade on and off, but took PvP seriously starting in Mists of Pandaria. Receiving 8 Rank 1 titles since Warlords of Draenor, he has played in multiple online and LAN tournaments, most notably the 2017 Arena Championship at BlizzCon (where he placed 7th). Find him here:
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