Big Brain Strats from the MDI Global Cup #3

After a short break from the MDI for Blizzconline, the competition has returned! This past weekend was the third of four total Cups, so we’re getting into the latter half of the Season, and things are getting exciting!. We saw a new team on broadcast this Cup, Sloth, who managed to squeak out an 8th place finish in Time Trials by beating out Reload Fulcrum by less than 2 minutes overall time. This was actually a surprising upset, as Reload Fulcrum managed to get the second best Time Trial time in Mists of Tirna Scithe (with a Holy Paladin no less!), beating out powerhouse teams such as Echo and Golden Guardians.

As usual, we are here to bring you some highlights from this latest Cup, showcasing the Big Brain Strats from these incredible teams. As we get deeper into the Season, we typically don’t expect much innovation or change in strategies and routes, but the players continue to surprise us by improving on their strats each and every week! We especially don’t expect to see a shift in the meta at this point in the competition, but we saw a number of teams shift over to using a Holy Paladin in Mists of Tirna Scithe and De Other Side. We discuss this shift in the meta and all of the new Big Brain Strats from MDI Cup 3 below!

And remember, you can check out the brackets and re-watch this past week's matches by clicking here

Let There Be Light!

In the first Cup of this Season, we saw Discipline Priest used in the healer role in every single game other than 3 maps where The Pitu’s Angels brought out a Holy Paladin. Unfortunately, they lost all 3 of those maps, so the benefits of the Holy Paladin did not really shine through, and none of the top teams decided to copy the composition in the following Cup.

In Cup 2, we saw the Holy Paladin used only once in total, in De Other Side by Reload Fulcrum. They did end up losing that game, but it was a very close match-up against MDI staple Obey Alliance. Reload Fulcrum really showcased the damage potential of the Venthyr Hpal in this dungeon, and other teams started to take notice.

However, if we were to pinpoint a moment where the composition meta really began to shift from Discipline Priest to Holy Paladin (in DoS and Mists), it would be during the third Time Trials leading up to this past weekend’s cup. As mentioned above, Reload Fulcrum did not end up qualifying for the Cup, but they managed to post the second best Time Trial time in Mists of Tirna Scithe. As you can see, they were the only team to use a Holy Paladin in the top 8. Seeing a newer team put up a sub-15 minute Mists time during the Time Trials certainly opened some eyes, and we saw most of the top teams adopt this new composition during this past Cup!

Holy Paladin Pros and Cons

What does the Holy Paladin bring that is causing teams to make this composition change in the second half of the MDI Season? Damage, damage, and more damage! The damage potential of the Holy Paladin is astronomical by virtue of the Venthyr covenant ability Ashen Hallow. When coupled with the Mad Paragon Legendary, we saw some incredible single target burst DPS from the Holy Paladins this past weekend, often beating the actual Damage specs on boss fights!

If Venthyr Paladins bring so much damage, why did it take until Cup 3 for teams to adopt this composition? The main answer is because Night Elves cannot be Paladins, so in order to bring one, you lose the ability for your entire team to make use of the Night Elf racial ability: Shadowmeld. Since early BFA, MDI teams have employed Shadowmeld across the board, designing routes specifically around the ability to drop combat group-wide. The damage potential of the Venthyr Holy Paladin is something the top teams have been aware of from the beginning, but the general assumption was that the added damage was not worth losing the Shadowmeld on the entire group.

Reload Fulcrum’s Time Trial time proved that to not be the case in Mists of Tirna Scithe, and the top teams certainly took note. In Cup 3 we saw Holy Paladin used by every team other than Perplexedin Mists of Tirna Scithe and De Other Side. In fact, PI ME beat Perplexed in Mists on Day 2, sending Perplexed to the lower bracket. PI ME had a 14:04 time, beating Perplexed’s Rank 1 Time Trial time by almost 20 seconds.

When we saw teams opt to swap out the Discipline Priest for a Holy Paladin, they also changed up their DPS comps by adding a Shadow Priest. This means the teams still have access to the Power Infusion buff that priests bring. In fact, some teams were choosing to use Power Infusion on their Holy Paladins during their single target burst! We love to see it!

Wolfdisco Earns His PHD

In the very first game of the Cup, we witnessed a great strategy to quickly and efficiently manage the trash packs in the Necropolis in Necrotic Wake. We first saw teams use snapping technology to deal with the Necropolis, having a Rogue go up solo and use Tricks of the Trade to snap the trash down to the tank. That strategy, while incredible and exciting to watch, had its downsides. It required the Rogue to die, adding 5 seconds to the timer, and the time spent going up and down was not fantastic.

This weekend we saw Perplexed adopt a new strategy to pull all of the trash in the Necropolis and group it together for max efficiency. With the rest of his team standing aside staying out of combat, Wolfdisco gets in combat with all of the trash, runs to the middle of the room, and uses Ice Block. While in the immunity of the Ice Block, none of the caster mobs can cast spells, so all of the trash run directly to Wolfdisco, grouping them up nicely for his team to AoE them down. This strategy doesn’t require any waiting on going up and down, and also doesn’t require a death added to the counter. This is incredibly efficient and very Big Brain!

No Fooling You!

As we discussed above, most of the teams made the change to the Venthyr Holy Paladin in both Mists of Tirna Scithe and De Other Side. We saw the benefits of this added single target damage in Mists of Tirna Scithe on the second boss of the dungeon, Mistcaller. When Mistcaller casts the ability Guessing Game, it spawns 4 clones. You have to kill the proper clone, and until you do, Mistcaller takes 99% reduced damage. Each Guessing Game phase adds roughly 15-20 seconds to your overall time in the dungeon. This ability is cast 3 times during the fight, when Mistcaller reaches 70, 40 and 10 percent health. While the teams were not always successful, what we saw this past Cup was a great strategy where they tried to burn the last 10% of the boss before the Guessing Game cast went off, completely avoiding the clone phase. In order to do this, the Balance Druid had to hold onto Celestial Alignment and Convoke the Spirits, and pop those for huge single target burst, while the rest of the team also did as much single target damage as possible. Check out the clip of this Big Brain Strat where PI ME successfully avoids having to deal with the final clone phase!

Putting Those Gargoyles to Work!

Every Cup during the MDI, the affix combinations for each dungeon change. This time around, Halls of Atonement had Tyrannical, Raging, Necrotic, and Prideful. What we were able to see this past weekend from a few teams was a neat trick where they used the Raging affix in their favour. As is standard in Halls of Atonement, at least one team member is part of the Venthyr covenant, giving them the ability to mind control various Stoneborn Gargoyles, who then use their Stone Breath damage ability on your enemies. This ability does a significant amount of damage. What we saw this past weekend was various teams making a point of DPS’ing the Gargoyles to 30% health before using the Venthyr mind control ability. This way, the Gargoyles became buffed by the Raging affix, which does not fall off when they become friendly. This increases the Gargoyle’s damage immensely, and is a fantastic way to make an affix work in your favour!

This Cup also saw a new use of the Stoneborn Gargoyles, and a clever one that you can also use on live servers! Many of the teams made use of the Gargoyles this weekend to be able to burn down Inquisitor Sigar before he was able to cast Dark Communion and heal. Watch this clip to watch as Obey Alliance and Does Gargoyle Stream bring a Gargoyle through the mirror and make great use of its Stone Breath ability (with Raging!).

Drjay and the Wonder Years

Something we saw emerge in Cup 2, but was really showcased during this past Cup 3, is using the ability to spellsteal the Wonder Grow buff off of the Fungalmancer mobs in Plaguefall. The effect stacks, so to truly make efficient use of this damage buff, we saw teams crowd control the Fungalmancer and essentially bring it with them for the first half of the dungeon. It is important to note that the Fungalmancer can still apply Wonder Grow to itself while CC’d. The best example of this that we saw this past weekend was from PI ME in their Plaguefall match against Perplexed on Day 3. Keep an eye on Drjay during the first part of the dungeon. Every time he spellsteals Wonder Grow, he gets physically bigger and greener...but more importantly, take a look at the damage meters!

Look at the Numbers, Grom!

Divinefield was built for tanking, just look at the numbers!

The fourth and final Cup of this first MDI Season starts on Friday, March 12th. Will we see even more Big Brain Strats? Make sure to tune in to the broadcast to find out, and follow our live brackets to stay in the action!


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.