MDI The Great Push: What to Expect

It’s been 5 months since Blizzard announced their plans for the 2021 World of Warcraft Esports program. At that time, there was brief mention about plans for “one-off” events that would be taking place under the MDI umbrella, but separate from the MDI season itself. When we first heard this, our thoughts immediately went to “ooh what if it’s a high-key pushing tournament!?” To our delight, Blizzard confirmed our suspicions when they announced The Great Push (TGP) as the first of these separate competitions. We have been eagerly awaiting this event, and now it is finally here! To get ready for this weekend, let’s recap what happened during the qualifiers and look at the 6 teams that made it through!

TGP: How it Works

As mentioned, TGP is the first of Blizzard’s much-anticipated “MDI One-Off” events. Instead of a competition centered purely around the speed in which a team can clear a dungeon, TGP is focused primarily on how high a keystone level a team can clear. We just saw the Proving Grounds (PG) qualifier weekend finish up, so let’s go over how those worked and what we saw!

Teams had been signing up for TGP for the last few weeks, and were getting access to the Tournament Realm to practice and create their characters. This past Friday, May 21st, the PG officially opened at 9pm PST. As TGP is open to all regions, including China, this somewhat unorthodox starting time was chosen to best accommodate all players. With the ringing of that PG opening bell, the WoW Esports team announced the two qualifying dungeons and their affix combinations.

For the next 48 hours, teams hoping to qualify for TGP had to push The Necrotic Wake and Spires of Ascension as high as they possibly could. Scores were calculated first based on keystone level, and then if there were any ties, highest key and then total time would be the tiebreakers. The 6 teams with the highest combined scores at the end of the 48 hour period qualified for TGP.

The PG turned out to be much closer and more exciting than we could have anticipated! We saw over 1300 runs completed on the Tournament Realm between the two dungeons over the 48 hour period. The keystone levels climbed very quickly as well - in fact we saw the first +28 in The Necrotic Wake cleared within the first 24 hours! The competition was certainly stiff, to the point that every team that qualified cleared at least one key on a +27 or higher. If your highest key was a +26, that just did not make the cut!

We’ll have 6 teams to watch this coming weekend during TGP, and they come from all over. The final teams include one team from China (Skyline), 2 teams from North America (Ambition and does the bear stream?) and 3 teams from Europe (Echo, SHEESH, and YEP). There are a lot of recognizable names amongst these teams, both from the MDI and the Raider.IO top keystone leaderboards. Let’s take a look at the 6 squads and what they were able to accomplish during the PG this past weekend.

Skyline (1st Seed)

Skyline is the only team from China to qualify for TGP. The other Chinese favourite squad, Team D, just barely missed qualification. In fact, they tied with the 6th seed team, YEP, in terms of overall points at 52, but YEP managed to secure the last qualification spot as their highest key cleared was a +27, and Team D’s was a +26. Skyline is an absolute powerhouse of a team. In fact, they were the only team over the PG to clear a +29. The team was reassembled for this event from the top players in China and sponsored by Skyline for TGP and future events.

Having finished the PG in the top seed, and the only team to complete a +29, Skyline are definitely going into TGP as the team to beat. We here at Raider.IO were fortunate enough that we got the chance to interview the players of Skyline to learn more about them and their team. Make sure you keep your eyes out for that coming in the next day or two!

The massively impressive +29 clear of The Necrotic Wake was uploaded to YouTube, so you can check out the video yourself and watch the Skyline boys in action!

Echo (2nd Seed)

A familiar name in the Race to World First and the MDI, the team from the Echo Esports organization is coming off their back-to-back-to-back MDI global championship win to join TGP and try their hands at pushing keys as high as they can as opposed to as fast as they can. The team roster is the same as their MDI championship roster, with the exception of Maystine stepping in to fill Meeres’ spot in the lineup. Maystine is joined by MDI champs Naowh, Gingi, Fragnance and Zaelia.

While known primarily for their MDI prowess and multiple RWF wins under their belts, the Echo team is not often referred to as a group of high key pushers. However, when they are not busy competing on the Tournament Realm, the Echo players are certainly no slouches when it comes to performing on the live realm leaderboards. On their live characters, the players currently have Raider.IO scores between 2382 and 3040 going into this event!

As for their performance during the PG, they had many attempts at timing The Necrotic Wake on +28 that resulted in unfortunate mishaps. Fortunately, the team managed to pull together at the end of their dungeon spree and clear it with over 3 minutes to spare. That dungeon combined with their swift +26 Spires of Ascension earned them the 2nd seed going into this weekend’s competition. We are excited to see what the boys from Echo bring to the table!

Here’s an example of one of those unfortunate attempts at the +28 before they managed to clear it. This one is just a heartbreaker:

SHEESH (3rd Seed)

The second team hailing from Europe, the members of SHEESH are no strangers to the high end Mythic+ community. The team has some MDI experience in the form of Andybrew, but the other members are known more for their Mythic+ achievements on live servers, and their exceptional performance on the World First raiding scene. Three of the team’s members, Andy, Hippo and Wildi are all part of the World 3rd guild, Pieces. They have been pushing keys on live servers with their teammates Speed and Thaner for quite awhile now, so the team has a lot of experience playing together. All 5 of them are coming into this competition with over 3400 Raider.IO score on live servers, so they are well-versed when it comes to pushing those high keys. With access to the best possible gear and the ability to make the most optimal compositions for each dungeon, we are keeping our eyes on the boys of SHEESH to see what they’re able to accomplish this weekend.

It is pretty interesting to take a look at the dungeon-specific progression of each team, showing each successive higher key they were able to complete, and at which point (if any) they ran into some trouble. Here’s a look at SHEESH’s progression through their Necrotic Wake keys:

Ambition (4th Seed)

If you spend any time following the high-end Mythic+ scene, you are likely well aware of Ambition and their accomplishments on the Raider.IO leaderboards this season. MDI veteran Nerf helms this extremely talented North American team of Ellesmere, Asuna, Onezy and Jpc. While we here at Raider.IO choose to not get involved in any commentary floating around, we would be remiss to not draw attention to the fact that a pretty healthy rivalry seems to be emerging around Ambition’s participation in this event. On one side, we have the boys of Ambition, representing both the NA Region and a section of the high-end Mythic+ community that seems to intentionally separate itself from the MDI, speed-running, and to an extent World First Raiding. On the other side, we have Echo bearing the flags of the EU and the MDI/RWF. Many jabs have been thrown on both sides on social media and on streams, so we are looking forward to seeing how this plays out during the competition!

While Echo may have earned a slightly higher seed going into TGP, Ambition has clearly been establishing themselves on the live realm leaderboards. Going into this event, they have the highest Team Score in the entire world at 3614, and each individual player is currently sitting in the number 1 position worldwide for their respective class and spec. They have certainly shown that they are masters at what they do, and now they’ll get the opportunity to do so on the official WoW Esports stage.

Despite spending many stressful hours working hard during the PG to earn their spot in the top 6, the members of Ambition are still able to have fun with each other, especially when an untimely Mind Control cast ends up killing a certain Holy Paladin:

does the bear stream? (5th Seed)

The second team hoisting the NA flag into battle this weekend is ‘does the bear stream?’. MDI fans will recognize Yoda, the DPS-turned-tank for the Golden Guardians. Yoda started out this expansion on the other side of the pond, having swapped to EU servers to raid with Pieces. However, it would appear that this was a round-trip as he is back on NA servers and currently in one of the longest-standing top raiding guilds, Midwinter. Since his return to the western hemisphere, Yoda has been joining forces to push keys on live servers with his TGP teammates Dorki, Chow, Junkrat, and Yumytv aka Growl aka Grom.

This is another group well-known for their exceptional performance on the live server leaderboards. Each member other than Yoda is coming into TGP with a Raider.IO score around 3500. Dorki, the bear tank of ‘does the bear stream?’ is currently the number 1 Guardian Druid in the entire world. This is a group well-versed in what it takes to push their characters to the maximum potential. Time to see what they can bring to the party with access to the Tournament Realm and all of its benefits!

We have an example of the big brain strats this team is likely to bring to TGP this weekend in a clip from their PG runs that has been making the rounds:

YEP (6th Seed)

The team that managed to secure that 6th and final spot for TGP is full of recognizable names from both the MDI and the Raider.IO leaderboards. The last of the EU teams, most of YEP’s members are also a part of the Echo esports organization. With the exception of Drjay, who joined Method last month, the other four players - Rads, Jeath, Clickz and Canexx - are all part of the Echo raid team.

Most of the members of YEP, despite having to spend inordinate amounts of time practicing and competing in the MDI this season, have managed to secure over 3000 Raider.IO score on live realms. This is no easy feat and just further showcases the skill of these players, as if their many MDI and World First Raiding accolades weren’t enough.

As this season has progressed, we have seen the emergence of the Holy Paladin meta in both the MDI and the high-key ladders. YEP is one of two teams whose healer is not playing Holy Paladin just to fit into the meta, but has mained the class for a very long time; in fact, Jeath has long been recognized as one of the best Holy Paladins in the world in the PVE community. It is going to be exciting to watch him in his element healing (and likely out-dps’ing!) his team this weekend.

Despite all of the players in TGP making these high dungeons look easy, it’s important to remind ourselves that the feats they are accomplishing are out of this world. Here’s a quick clip from YEP’s PG runs to show just how devastating missing even a single kick can be at this level:

TGP: What to Expect

The event itself kicks off at 10am PST on Friday, May 28th. The broadcast will take place on the official Warcraft YouTube channel as well as their Twitch, and individual players are also allowed to stream their perspectives to their own channels. While the PG contained only 2 dungeons, the competition itself includes the full catalogue of the remaining 6 Shadowlands dungeons, and the teams will have a specific amount of time to push each dungeon as high as they can. The winners will be determined by overall combined score! The affixes for each dungeon will be revealed at the start of the event, and each dungeon will begin at level 24. The teams will have 5 hours each of the 3 days to push their keys.

In order to make our predictions, we consulted the Official Raider.IO Magic 8 Ball* on who is going to win this weekend, and unfortunately it kept coming back with “Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later.” Clearly we’re going to have to wait and see, but if we absolutely had to make a guess, we’d probably expect to see Skyline come out on top. However, the scores and times from the PG were all so close that it is really anybody’s game. Each one of the top 6 teams has a shot at being the champions!

The nature of the event will have all 6 teams playing simultaneously, so to make sure you’re able to keep up with all the action, Raider.IO will be hosting the leaderboards:

Click here to check out each individual team’s dungeon progress.
Click here to keep up to date with the official standings!

*this does not actually exist


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 and is now working as the Production Manager. 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.