Big Brain Strats from the MDI Global Cup #1

The long-awaited Mythic Dungeon International (MDI) is back! The PVE arm of Blizzard’s WoW esports lineup, the MDI is an exciting competition where two teams of 5 players are pitted against each other, racing through the same dungeon simultaneously. As they battle to beat the other team to the finish line, these incredibly talented competitors showcase some of the most innovative strategies to be found in the World of Warcraft.

One of the unique aspects of the MDI is that the players race against another team, but the encounters they are actually engaging are all scripted PVE content. Unlike the Arena World Championship (AWC), or the majority of esports generally where you react to what the other team does, in the MDI the competitors work to determine the fastest route through the dungeon. This leads to some incredibly creative strategies for routes, mob pulls, and more. Now that the first Cup of the first season of the Shadowlands MDI is over, we go back and explore some of these “Big Brain Strats”.

Click here to see the brackets and re-watch the matches!

Yoda Snaps the Necropolis in Necrotic Wake

Day 1 of the Cup gave us a couple of great strategies, including one which made use of mob “snapping” technology. After we saw a mind-boggling number of ways to snap mobs in BFA dungeons, Blizzard made changes to how dungeon mobs behave in Shadowlands to essentially remove most snapping in the game. The Golden Guardians managed to find their way around this and develop a big time-saving pull in The Necrotic Wake using snapping.

In this clip, the Golden Guardians have just downed the second boss of the dungeon, Amarth. After this boss dies, Kyrian angels descend to carry the team up to the Necropolis where you then fight a bunch of trash and the third boss, Surgeon Stitchflesh. Instead of the entirety of the team taking the Kyrian angels, only Yoda, playing Rogue, goes. Right before activating his "AngelUber", Yoda puts Tricks of the Trade on the tank Lightee. When he enters the Necropolis above, he engages the trash and then once he is in combat with it all, he lets the trash kill him. Due to the threat transference of Tricks and Yoda dying, the mobs are now in combat with Lightee, who is still below where the team initially fought Amarth. Unable to find a logical path to Lightee, the mobs in the Necropolis then snap right on top of him. This strategy coming out from Golden Guardians making use of the snapping technology saves an incredible amount of time and definitely qualifies as Big Brain!

Plague Bombs? Not for Perplexed!

In Plaguefall, the second boss encounter is Doctor Ickus. Periodically throughout the fight, Doctor Ickus will spawn a Plague Bomb, which casts Virulent Explosion. This cast is 30 seconds long, and at the end of it, the Bomb will explode for what is essentially party-wide wipe damage. During this Cup, the affixes we saw in Plaguefall included Tyrannical. This means that the Plague Bomb has a significant amount of health, and the Virulent Explosion hits extremely hard. The Cup 1 Champions, Perplexed, had a risky but rewarding strategy where, instead of devoting 20-30 seconds of their damage to the Plague Bomb, they completely ignored it and instead focused on Doctor Ickus himself. Just as the Virulent Explosion was about to hit, the team made use of the Death Knight’s Anti-Magic Zone, and Power Word: Barrier from their Discipline Priest Rycn to survive the otherwise deadly damage. They use this combination to live through the second Plague Bomb explosion in order to get ahead enough on damage to ignore the final Plague Bomb on the last platform as well, thus committing their offensive cooldowns to Doctor Ickus and finishing the fight in a flash.

Echo Lights the Lantern in Sanguine Depths

Day 2 of the Cup showcased even more fantastic Big Brain strategies from multiple teams! In Sanguine Depths, often considered the most difficult dungeon so far of Shadowlands, the team of Echo came up with an intuitive way to make use of the Venthyr covenant buff in the dungeon, while avoiding a nasty patrol pack in the hallways before the second boss. As they were racing through the dungeon on Fortified, the trash is extremely dangerous and that pack specifically is pretty inefficient. Check out this clip to see how they activated a lantern and were able to gain the buff through a wall. Keep your eye on Fragnance activating it while Naowh pulls everything into the other room!

Perplexed Shows Us How to Ascend in SoA

Perplexed continued to show off their very big brains during the last half of their Spires of Ascension run. This was the first time we saw this dungeon during the Cup, and we were blown away by the creative and efficient ways this team dealt with the third boss Oryphrion (and some of the trash around him), the three Forsworn mini-bosses Lakesis, Klotos, and Astronos, and finally a fun little trick they employed on the final boss of the dungeon, Devos! We’ve included all of this in one clip, so these are the things to look out for:

  • Throughout Spires of Ascension, there are two Spears of Destiny that Kyrian covenant players can pick up and use. Once a player grabs one, they can throw it at a location on the ground, stunning all enemies within 8 yards and increasing their damage taken by 20%. On live, these are typically used for some particularly nasty trash packs, but Perplexed held onto their first Spear of Destiny for a very big brain use! After engaging Oryphrion and pushing him to his intermission phase, where he casts Drained and takes 100% bonus damage, they pull a bunch of trash on top of him, and use the Spear of Destiny! This increases the bonus damage taken by the boss, as well as makes killing that trash (needed for count) incredibly efficient. Watch as Oryphrion’s health melts!

  • Prior to engaging Oryphrion, Perplexed hit the 80% trash mark, spawning their third Manifestation of Pride mob. They used Shadowmeld (a key ability in MDI strategies!) to exit combat with the mob, leaving it on the other side of the fountain. After Oryphrion dies, Divinefield pulls the Manifestation of Pride and drags it over to the "AngelUbers" that the team is about to jump on to get to the final platform and battle Devos. Keeping this mob available for this moment was an integral part of their strategy, as they then had the last ~30 seconds of that Prideful buff available, which combined with Bloodlust and that final Spear of Destiny, gave them the ability to power through all 3 of the mini-bosses prior to Devos. These 3 Forsworn, Lakesis, Klotos, and Astronos, are incredibly dangerous mobs, but are also very time consuming if done one at a time. Important to note, when you pull more than one at a time, if one of them dies, the other(s) heal to full. It is imperative that they all die at the same time to avoid this, so this pull (and doing it cleanly) by Perplexed is amazing!

  • After the three mini bosses are dead, you can watch as every member of Perplexed runs into the corner to force the spawn of the Manifestation of Pride in that area, giving them the ability to run/blink away and Shadowmeld it off. The Prideful buff is not very useful on Devos, so killing that mob would be a waste of time. What nobody was expecting, however, was seeing the healer Rycn suddenly jump off of the platform as soon as they engaged Devos! You can listen to Xyronic explain the tech behind this move in the clip, which we didn’t even know existed!

Jeath Takes (Mind) Control of the Situation

Yet another Big Brain strategy was showcased on Day 2 of this past Cup, this time by the team known as ????? in Mists of Tirna Scithe. Throughout the entirety of this Cup, we saw an overwhelming majority of Discipline Priests. This was mostly due to their ability to buff one of their teammates with Power Infusion, and their flexibility when it comes to covenants doesn't hurt. However, Team ????? decided to see just how much use they could get out of their Discipline Priest and came to play with a great strategy using Dominant Mind!

In this clip, you can see the team has engaged the first boss of the dungeon, Ingra Maloch. Once the players get the captive Droman Oulfarran to low health, he casts Droman’s Wrath on Ingra Maloch, increasing the damage the boss takes by 300% for 12 seconds. This is the burn phase where you ideally want to kill the boss before he then puts his Death Shroud back up, taking reduced damage and forcing you to DPS the Droman again. If a team can beat this Death Shroud cast, it will save them an immense amount of time. Before ????? debuted this impressive strategy shown in the clip, we saw other groups either fail to beat this damage check, or just barely get it but losing time by having to continue DPS’ing the boss without that 300% damage increase. Just as ????? is about to get Droman low enough to cast Droman’s Wrath, the team’s Priest, Jeath, runs back to a Drust Soulcleaver that is CC’d just behind the players. He breaks the CC and casts Mind Control on the mob, and forces it to cast Soul Split onto Ingra Maloch, which further increases the boss’s damage taken! Watch as the boss evaporates with the huge damage ????? is able to generate with this big brain strategy!


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.