Blessing or Curse? How do the Top Guilds REALLY Feel about the RWF Launch Date?

With yesterday’s announcement on the Shadowlands release date, there is a lot of buzz about what this will mean for the upcoming Race to World First of Castle Nathria beginning on December 15th.

We reached out to several competitive guilds from each region to get their thoughts on how this December raid race may impact their raid team.

Special thanks to NasDa for helping us reach out to the top guilds in China! We appreciate your expert translations as always.

Raider.IO: What is your (or your guild's) reaction to the announced Shadowlands and Castle Nathria release date, considering the timing of the RWF and the holidays? What are the implications for you?


Justwait - Echo: Most of the guild still thinks the expansion is being released too soon, but we will be ready for the raid release and hopefully we can celebrate the holidays with our families after clearing the raid and corona actually allows us to leave the house!

Rogerbrown - Echo: No one from the guild actually expected this release date. We were making bets as to when the expansion would release and when the raid would unlock, but the general idea amongst us was that the raid would be released in January. Therefore we were quite shocked to see the dates, but at the same time we had been preparing for an October release to begin with so it doesn't really affect our preparation too much.

Alveona - Exorsus: I would say that in terms of timing, this was the only option apart from a January release which would be a disaster for a company. So even though it's not the best way for us, there's nothing to blame Blizzard for in this case. They did their best.

Bastu - Pieces: For all of our members, it's pretty much the worst Mythic release date available; the only worse alternative would have been the week after (the 22nd/23rd). Regarding our players' reactions, it’s honestly fairly sour. People aren't looking forward to having to choose between their family engagements and the Race to World First. In general, any raid date will always cause problems for some part of the team, but this one causes problems for our team in its entirety.

North America
Siory - Complexity-Limit: I can't speak for the entire guild obviously, but generally the response has been less positive/negative and more cautiously relieved that we finally have a release date we can plan around. We were all already expecting to voluntarily self-isolate to play video games pretty much non stop for 3-4 weeks around the launch, whenever it was. For me personally, the overlap with the holidays isn't as big of a point of tension as it might have been in prior years. Because of the pandemic, I already wasn't planning on traveling to any large family gatherings or parties, nor were many such gatherings even planned. It also makes it easier to take time off of work for both the race and the preceding power-up period because of the inclusion of US Federal holidays.

Glade - BDGG: There's a lot of frustration because we have a lot of working professionals on our team who had to give their vacation days back and getting 2 weeks off leading into Christmas with 3 weeks notice is not looking great. I think the entire wow community was already expecting a January release and had no problem with that.

Impakt - BDGG: To add to Glade’s answer, we'll need to do a full head count once people re-ask for their PTO again, but we'll definitely be losing some raiders this tier just because they will not be able to get the time off. This is not their fault of course, but just poor timing for the tier and not nearly enough notice.

Lozy - BDGG: From our perspective, there seemed to exist a perfectly good option to have done this in 2021, so the fact that Blizzard put the release date in November leads me to believe that the raid tier had to be done within the year from Blizzard’s end. Especially with how they’ve avoided the holidays before with N’yalotha, it seems apparent that they had to push the expansion date as late as possible in 2020 and this is just a consequence of that. Keep in mind though that a 1 week tier is perfectly feasible in theory. Uldir lasted 8 days.

Fridays - Lazarus Imperative: When they announced the initial delay, I think a lot of us expected to wait an additional month and that's exactly what ended up happening. I know we spoke about whether or not Blizzard would actually commit to a raid release near the holidays and how good or bad that would be for some of us. At the end of the day, it happened in Cataclysm so why not again, you know? It's pretty unfortunate that we'll start raiding the week before Christmas, especially because so many of us expected to be done with the raid by that time, but we'll do what we've done in the past. We'll fully commit on the first week and do what works best for us after that. That's all any guild really can do when put in this situation.

Zzr - 佶天鸿 JTH: The newly announced release date of Shadowlands is one week later than we expected. The long-awaited 9.0 indeed created some difficulty for our guild, but I guess the new released date is still acceptable. This "Christmas raid" is nothing compared to those previous tiers when we had to raid on Chinese New Years. Thanks Blizzard!

Erxi - 阿尔法 Alpha: In my opinion, the delay of Shadowlands has been a bit too long. It's been quite boring for us due to no new content. The Christmas holiday doesn't mean as much to us as it does to Western players, so having the Mythic progression around the Christmas holiday basically has little to no impact on us. After all, we were kind of used to raiding during Chinese New Year...

Melody - 天涯 Skyline: My first impression was, “Thank God it finally comes!” The delay wasn't too bad for us, but it surely messed up our previous plan a little bit. Since the Covid situation in China has been pretty much under control for a couple of months now, we were planning to bring most of our players to an offline bootcamp for this tier, so we have already booked hotels in advance. Because of the delay, we have to make some re-arrangements. Christmas holiday has pretty much no impact on our guild since it's not a traditional Chinese holiday anyway, but for myself it does because it's my birthday. Hopefully I can celebrate my birthday with my friends and guildmates after we have finished the race!

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Raider.IO: With the Castle Nathria Race to World First starting on December 15th, will that impact your performance and player availability? Do you think that a release date this close to the holidays says anything about the potential raid difficulty?

Justwait - Echo: The Race to World First is on the 16th on EU, so yay for no global release. Our performance will not be affected by it, but we might have some people that need a few hours to be with their families for dinner, though the impact of this will be minimal. We do hope the raid will be difficult enough so that it will not be cleared in the first few days. Anything towards the end of the first reset is okay.

Rogerbrown - Echo: We of course can't know for sure how long it will take to clear the raid, but we will undoubtedly have some small issues if we haven't finished by the 24th (family dinners etc). Apart from that single day though I don't think there will be any other issues. I really hope that Blizzard doesn't go down the route of making the raid easy to clear because of this though, as we have been waiting for so long for the next race and would hate to have a repeat of Emerald Nightmare happening. In the end they did postpone the release of Shadowlands to make sure that it is properly polished, so it better be! Otherwise they could/should have postponed it even further (some of our players thought the expansion would even get released on December 29th). Regardless of the dates all of us will be putting our 100% to win, let's just pray that the raid itself lives up to our expectations.

Bastu - Pieces: Yes it will impact performance as some players won't be available. The answer to the raid difficulty is tough. On one hand, everyone wants to see a fun and challenging raid, but on the other hand, anything that goes past a week will cause real problems for most guilds rosters.

Alveona - Exorsus: No drastic impact suspected as of now. In terms of raid difficulty, my main concern is the quality of Mythic bosses and the number of possible over/under tuned bosses due to most of the Blizzard employees being on vacation. And this time around, I would prefer bosses to be undertuned rather than wasting a month+ on a single boss (Kil'jaeden says "hi").

North America
Siory - Complexity-Limit: The raid launch timing shouldn't affect my availability or performance in any substantive way. Like I said earlier, I already wasn't planning on doing much travel or attending many gatherings around the holidays due to the pandemic and I had already committed to closing out most of the outside world and playing video games extensively for about a month at some point. The implications for the raid itself are harder to judge. I don't think Blizzard wants to intentionally make the raid easy and "get it over with" before they take off for the holidays because that has implications for the longevity of the content, which is a valuable property with the pandemic making collaborative development more difficult.

What I'm concerned about instead is the availability of Blizzard designers for fixing bugs and addressing issues with the encounters, particularly the later ones. They don't have the best track record for releasing well-tuned and fully functional final Mythic bosses, as everyone saw in the highly publicized cases of Azshara and N'Zoth. Going back even further to the first tier of Cataclysm, which launched on Dec. 8th, there were several fights with egregious balance issues and equally egregious "exploit" solutions (e.g. Firemaw and Atramedes) that weren't addressed until Blizzard returned to the office after the new year. I think their plan is to take care of these things using the remote work systems they were forced to develop for working in a pandemic, but I am (I hope understandably) skeptical based on the track record and this is my biggest concern personally with the timing of the release.

Glade - BDGG: We're already out a few players that were previously committed. I do think this is an indication from Blizzard that they are confident they won't have to work over Christmas. So we’re thinking this is going to be a 5-9 day raid race for the top guilds. Though as a guild that used to raid competitively at a reduced schedule, there are so many guilds that are getting burned by this since they will likely raid through the holidays.

Fridays - Lazarus Imperative: It shouldn't impact anyone's performance. We expect everyone to be on their A-game starting Nov 23rd and the same applies for Mythic. Despite the delay and the holiday timing, we're all tired of BFA and want to dive into that new content. We've put in so much time into our preparation and a lot of us are hungry for a new raid. When Nathira comes out we'll be ready.

Zzr - 佶天鸿 JTH: I expect the RWF to be over in about 10 days at the most, top guilds like Complexity-Limit and Echo etc. should be able to finish the tier before Christmas.

Erxi - 阿尔法 Alpha: Based on several rounds of raid testings, I can say that the first tier seems to be quite easy, so I expect top guilds to finish it in about 2-3 days and then decent guilds (I reckon he meant top 20-50) should be finishing it in a week.

Melody - 天涯 Skyline: I don't think the race will be over in just one week. It shall be over most likely at the end of the 2nd week or the start of the 3rd week.

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About the Authors

Vitaminpee mains a Brewmaster and loves to do competitive Mythic+. She is the Community Manager for BDGG and is attending Graduate School to pursue her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer and Discord Partner specializing in tanking classes and loves pushing keys with her friends. Feel free to message her via Twitter for any business-related inquiries.

Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.