RWF: What is Split Running?

We’ve entered and escaped the Maw. We’ve campaigned through Bastion, Maldraxxus, Ardenweald and Revendreth. We’ve made new allies and reconnected with old ones. In other words, we’re level what??

The first raid of Shadowlands is about to open up, which means the Race to World First (RWF) for Castle Nathria is upon us! As your home for all things RWF, we here at Raider.IO want to make sure this RWF is the biggest and best yet!

Our team is dedicated to making the RWF an event for all members of the Warcraft community, so we are excited to release a short series of articles aimed at explaining aspects of the game that you are unlikely to see outside of the RWF. The first of this RWF series will focus on the preparation strategy known as Split Running.

What is Split Running?

The last couple of expansions have shown us that the typical RWF lasts 7-10 days. This means that the guilds competing for World First will get at the very most two not-even-full clears of the raid’s worth of gear. In order to get the competitive edge, these guilds have to maximize the gear they can get outside of the Mythic raid itself. This is where Split Running comes in.

Every raid releases on Normal and Heroic difficulty one week prior to its release on Mythic. Mythic + dungeons release at the same time as Heroic raid, but often the item level of the gear is capped - not to mention this expansion, Mythic + loot is lower item level than Heroic raid! Up until the day Mythic Nathria launches, the guilds will have to maximize their gear through Mythic dungeons, world quests, crafting, and most importantly: Heroic raid.

In order to get the most bang for the buck in Heroic difficulty, top guilds have long been utilizing Split Running. To break the concept down, let’s assume a guild has a roster of 25 main raiders. Instead of doing the raid one time on Heroic with all 25 main characters, they will “split” those players up into multiple raid groups. For easy numbers, we’ll break this roster of 25 into 5 separate raid groups of 30 people, with 5 main characters per group.

Instead of 25 main characters competing over 3 pieces of loot per boss, you now have only 5 main characters. This increases the number of pieces of gear each main character is likely to receive from one week of Heroic raid.

To further maximize the loot gain, these groups will be painstakingly organized based on armor and gear type, grouping together characters of the same armor type to make use of the ability to trade loot. Split Running has led to the common practice of describing these groups by armor type, since top guilds organize their raid into plate, mail, leather and cloth splits to prepare for Mythic week.

As the number of pieces of loot each boss drops is determined by how many people are in the raid, it is important for guilds to ensure that each split has (if possible) a full 30 people. Over the years, the world’s top guilds have adopted two strategies for this: 1) alts, alts, and more alts, and 2) outside helpers.

Alts and Supporting Cast Members

In order to raid in a WF competing guild, players are typically required to have a number of alt characters for a couple of reasons, one of which is to help fill up split runs. Unfortunately, that still leaves a number of slots that need to be filled, especially if the available alts do not neatly fill the required armor types. This is where the split runners from outside of the guild come in. This practice has been used by top guilds for a handful of years now, and is becoming more of a standard practice amidst the RWF.

For example, Complexity-Limit affectionately refers to these players as “Limit Lackeys”, and has them sign up to help many weeks before the race. The guild officers then put in many hours to organize all of the helpers and their available characters into split runs with their raiders in order to maximize loot gain for their main raiding roster. We can only imagine the multitude of spreadsheets involved!

As you’re watching the RWF events, you’re likely going to hear a lot about the split runs from the previous week. You might also get to watch some as well! Most guilds will continue to do split runs of Heroic during the Mythic raid for more gear. The standard approach is to go into Mythic right away, and then when they get to a boss that is proving difficult, they can spend some time back in Heroic splits to see if some more gear is the answer. This second week of Heroic splits is also usually when they will target specific gear items or work on gearing up specific main characters in their roster.

Outside of these split runs, many guilds will still rely on some assistance from outside helpers for Mythic + dungeons. The raiders on the bench may need someone to fill their groups while everyone else is in raid, or they may need specific keystones to target some important gear. When Ny'alotha was released, for example, there were many calls for Underrot keys for the Demon Hunters trying to get Crawg-tusks with corruption, or Waycrest Manor keys for Mage trinkets.

Photo Credit: Complexity Gaming

As the Race to World First becomes increasingly competitive, more guilds are adopting strategies like split running and making use of outside help. For those of us who follow the race, or a guild in particular, this is also a great way to get involved! Look on twitter or in guild Discords for calls to help with splits, and be a part of the Race! There’s a feeling of pride when your “home team” wins, especially if you know that you actually helped them get there.

Is there anything else about the RWF you’d like to learn more on? Send us a tweet over at @RaiderIO_WoW and let us know. Your idea might just be our next installment in our RWF series!

Keep your browser open to Raider.IO for all things RWF including news, progression, live global coverage, insights from our experts, and a guide to all of the RWF Events!

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About the Author

Hulahoops has been playing WoW since Vanilla. If she’s not leading her Mythic Progression guild TBD through raids, she’s probably practicing for the MDI with her team Angry Toast. Hulahoops is a Holy Paladin in every sense of the term: she moderates the Hammer of Wrath Paladin Class Discord, and she was a practicing Lawyer for the last 7 years. Judgment isn’t just a spell! Hulahoops recently decided to put the law books away and follow her passion for esports by joining the team at RaiderIO as the Events and Community Coordinator. She is also passionate about making Azeroth an inclusive, welcoming space for all gamers and is a proud co-founder of the Defias Sisterhood community.