Echo Post-RWF Interview

The recent Race to World First (RWF) of Sanctum Domination was certainly one of the most exciting races of all time. We are happy to present our exclusive interview with world champions Scripe, Rogerbrown, Nnoggie, and Fleks of Echo. Here is a deep dive on Sanctum of Domination with the Echo boys, covering everything from the race events and fan hype/interaction, the differences and/or advantages between the two top guilds, the best and worst mechanics of the raid, sleep issues on that final day, and much more!

Table of Contents

“Even though the core roster of the guild has not really changed... this time the progression felt somehow different and special. You could feel more than ever that the team was working towards one goal and giving it their all.” —Nnoggie

Q: Sanctum of Domination was technically your first ever raid win as “Echo”. How did it compare to any past World First wins you’ve experienced? How did it feel to take the World First as a newly-formed org, and what does this mean for the future of Echo?

Scripe: It was by far the best World First ever. We’ve been putting in crazy amounts of effort since a year for this moment, so getting the victory after all the effort felt amazing — especially while also being at a LAN event. The future of Echo is looking very bright and full of potential.

Rogerbrown: It definitely felt a bit different, since this time around it felt like we had more to prove to ourselves and the community. This tier, we had to show whether or not we could challenge Limit and beat them after they started dominating in Ny’alotha. It also feels way better to win after losing the previous tier, as it gives a huge morale boost to the whole team that all the effort and preparation we put in, fixing prior mistakes and improving on them, actually paid off. As for the future of Echo, this win definitely solidified us in the eyes of the community as a team that is “here to stay”, and that is what we are planning to do. We of course will be celebrating this win for a while, but we need to not get complacent — Limit will surely come back stronger next time, and we need to stay on top of our game if we want to keep the #1 spot.

Fleks: I don’t think any prep we have ever done comes even remotely close to what kind of work we’ve done this time around, and it feels great that the hard work ended up paying off. As a result, this will hopefully end up in us refining the process and being even better prepared going forward.

Nnoggie: Sanctum of Domination was probably one of the hardest fought races that I have experienced so far in the history of RWF. Both our guild but also Limit have improved massively in the last 1-2 years and taking this win felt amazing. Even though the core roster of the guild has not really changed ever since the days of Rapid Eye Movement in Hellfire Citadel, this time the progression felt somehow different and special. You could feel more than ever that the team was working towards one goal and giving it their all. I think a big reason for this was that we made our own org even though we could have gone an easier route and joined an established gaming organization. The atmosphere within the guild during and leading up to this race was very pleasant and, as Roger put it in a heartfelt message in our Discord: “We never felt more like a family than now”. I hope that we can continue this trend into the future and win more World Firsts!

Q: Tell us about your experience with the preparation for this RWF. How did it compare to previous tiers? What do you think the major prep differences were between you and Complexity-Limit?

Scripe: It was by far the most prep we have ever done and, honestly, we probably will do even more next time…The Shards of Domination system definitely favored mirror classes a lot; however, we weren’t sure of how it would work exactly up until we played the game. We weren't too afraid of getting unlucky with shards since, on PTR, they dropped in LFR and you could trade them. Our splits approach was just to be as efficient as possible and not worry about every single item too much. Also, the timing of the splits was very important and we tried to do them before we showed any of our strats on hard bosses. I am not sure how Complexity-Limit prepares for tiers, so I can't determine much about our differences.

Rogerbrown: The preparation this tier was by far the best we have ever had, and also the most time intensive. But then again, it feels like this is a thing that we say every time we finish a new tier. The new game systems in 9.1 were a bit weird for sure. For example, the shard system we didn’t know how it would work out until Normal mode was released. We tried adapting to the systems as much as we could and, luckily since we had a decent amount of “copy” characters (I had 2 Hunters, Xerwo had 3 Warlocks, etc.), we managed to not get too affected by the randomness of the system. We still had a few unfortunate situations like Perfecto and Fragnance that didn’t get a set of shards on their characters, but overall, we had it better than other guilds. Apart from that, I think our boss strategy preparation, our efficiency in our splits and our “outside team” (Scripe RLing, Chrispotter healing RLing, analysts) are the three factors where we improved the most compared to Castle Nathria.

Nnoggie: Preparations for Patch 9.1 started only weeks after Castle Nathria ended. This time around, we focused a lot on what worked and what did not work during progress and tried to learn from our mistakes. A big factor was logistics for split runs during Heroic and Mythic week and delegating more mundane work to raiders or members of our support team to free up our officers to do other more important work during that time. For example, raiders were tasked with taking charge of our mirrored normal split runs, taking on responsibilities like raidleading through raidwarnings Kungen-TBC-Style, managing loot, and generally making sure the raids were going smoothly.

We had Grim and Misery completely smashing it with finding players who wanted to help out and trade us loot via Discord and the Group Finder, and organizing every single split raid. This was an insanely big help, as splits were one of the things we did really badly during Nathria progression, whereas this time it was something that contributed massively to us being able to kill Sylvanas in week 1.

It was clear to me that Enhancement Shaman was going to be a big possibility this patch, as it received some bugfixes regarding Windfury Totem and it was scaling very well with classes that we perceived to be very strong leading up to the patch. My initial Windfury group consisted of 2x Arms Warrior and 2x Rogues, but we ended up having 3x Arms Warrior and 1x Demon Hunter as our Rogues were not lucky sadly. We may have undervalued Demon Hunter a little bit in the single-target department, but the call to go Enhance was correct.

“The energy level of all the players is always high and has been even before the RWF was streamed at all. So in terms of self motivation/hype, it hasn’t changed much. What has changed compared to the past is that, due to streaming, we know exactly how close the other teams are to killing the Bosses.” —Rogerbrown

Q: From a viewer perspective, this was one of the most exciting RWF events since they became a streamed event. The race itself was tighter, and the excitement was palpable across all of the streams and social media. As a player, does this energy from the viewers and fans manage to filter through to you or are you fairly isolated from it? How does the energy/excitement from the viewers affect your play and your experience as a RWF competitor?

Scripe: I personally have rarely had the chance to look at my chat or how many viewers I have. However, I can tell that a lot of people were supporting us, which feels great. This includes viewers as well as mods, our families, our staff, and many more. Sometimes, this can create some pressure too, like when we spend a lot of time doing splits and the fans disagree with us. Generally though, it's what makes the whole thing great.

Rogerbrown: The energy level of all the players is always high and has been even before the RWF was streamed at all. So in terms of self motivation/hype, it hasn’t changed much. What has changed compared to the past is that, due to streaming, we know exactly how close the other teams are to killing the Bosses. Also, since Limit and us are very similar guilds in terms of strength, I am certain that there will not be any landslide victories in the future. Both our guild and Limit can catch up very quickly by adapting our strats if we are behind. These factors make it more exciting for us compared to the past when there was usually a clearly superior team (think of the Paragon times) and we also had no clue how close they were to a kill.

Nnoggie: Even though we have some strict rules within our guild that we follow during the race that make it so we do not get distracted by Twitch chat during raid times, you still read things and see clips of what is happening around you during breaks or after waking up. It definitely showed how invested the viewers were when I read stories about one of my viewers who missed our kill because he watched Limit until 5am, hoping they would not kill Sylvanas before we woke up. Sadge. It definitely makes me push even stronger when I see how many people are supporting us and want to see us win!

Q: Which would you say were the biggest differences and your biggest “wins/losses” in terms of boss strategies over Complexity-Limit? What do you think were your biggest raid comp and/or strategy advantages on Sylvanas specifically?

Scripe: Honestly, I am not sure if there were that many different strategies on the kills. It felt like Limit was pushing their mechanical skill quite a lot on Painsmith which seemed unnecessary. Aside from that, I felt like we were a lot better prepared on Kel’Thuzad with different strategies planned for each possible scenario. Setup wise, I think Night Fae Druid was better than Venthyr, but I'm not fully convinced myself. Outside of that, having 3 Warriors felt really good. Limit matched our Death Knight with their Demon Hunter, both providing a raid cooldown. However, they had to bring a Shadow Priest instead of a 3rd Warrior, which didn't look as optimal. Also, to clarify all of the things I'm saying here, these are just my impressions from the outside. It’s very hard to tell what happens within a guild without looking at it very in depth.

“Going to bed at 3am and thinking to myself ‘yea Limit needs over 3% on the boss, it’s all good’. Then, checking Thd's stream and seeing a 45.8% wipe was easily the worst feeling. Needless to say, sleep did not happen that night.” —Fleks

Q: What were some of the best and worst moments of the race?

Scripe: From Soulrender progression until the Painsmith kill, I was quite tensed up. We kept throwing good tries very randomly whenever we were close to getting ahead. After the Painsmith kill, this feeling vanished completely, which also was the 2nd best moment of the race. The splits were also a point where we felt constant pressure, but Limit not performing well enough kept us calm. The other critical points were when we had the first sub 50% wipe and our bridge skipping tactic got hotfixed. I wasn't sure if it was killable anymore within that reset and going to next reset meant that we would lose the first kill 100%

Rogerbrown: The two times that felt most intense for me were:

  • When Limit caught up to us really fast by killing Kel’Thuzad and then reaching a similar % on Sylvanas. They were progressing at a really fast pace p1 and p2, which got us worried.
  • When we went to bed on Monday after our 46.4% try, hoping that Limit would not kill it until we woke up. Then in the middle of the night, I woke up to check my phone and saw they had a 45.6% wipe. Try sleeping after that lol.

Fleks: Easy. Going to bed at 3am and thinking to myself “yea Limit needs over 3% on the boss, it’s all good”. Then, checking Thd's stream and seeing a 45.8% wipe was easily the worst feeling. Needless to say, sleep did not happen that night.

The best part of the race was probably a combination of managing to pull through on Painsmith and getting ahead relatively early plus having our Kel’Thuzad approach work out perfectly in execution and saving lots of time there. Also, our timing of the splits in Mythic week.

Nnoggie: We had an insane streak of pulls on Sylvanas on the Saturday of Mythic week where we pushed her five times deep into p3 in the span of less than two hours. I have never experienced something like this before; the progress that we made in that night was magical. Everyone was on top of their game and the mood in Teamspeak was almost scarily focused.

On Soulrender, we made the mistake of not going for the Normal run early to finish many shard sets for the DPS, which would have definitely helped with killing this boss faster. We had a 7% wipe on our fifth pull, which could have been a lucky kill with the shard sets. Fatescribe and Kel'thuzad were definitely one of our strong points during progression — our prep for these bosses was really good and we had a very low amount of wipes on these bosses.

Q: Let’s talk a little about the overall difficulty curve — Painsmith in particular. What do you think about the boss, its position in the raid, and the difficulty of the bosses that came after him?

Scripe: Painsmith was an amazing boss, one of my favourite bosses by far. I think up until Painsmith, the difficulty curve is great. Perhaps Soulrender could be slightly easier. However, there was a huge difficulty gap between Painsmith and Sylvanas, which was quite sad to see. Those were very well-designed bosses, especially the incredibly high potential on Fatescribe, which in my eyes went to waste.

Rogerbrown: I think Painsmith is one of the best middle-of-the-raid bosses Blizzard has made. It gave me a similar feeling to Thogar and Siegecrafter. I loved progressing on this boss because it is 90% about strategy and you never feel like you are stuck due to gear; there is so much room for improvement. It was also challenging in terms of playing the mechanics, which is not the case for many fights. Usually, it is all about WeakAuras and maximizing DPS, but in this fight, you just had to focus on movement a lot, which felt refreshing. I hope to see more of these bosses in the future!

Fleks: The boss in itself was perfection for week 1 and I was a huge fan of it. The problem of Painsmith’s position in the raid was more of a thorn in my eye due to the tuning of the following bosses, but not Painsmith in itself. The raid up to boss #6 was one of the best starts to a raid ever, followed by probably one of the biggest let downs after such high hopes.

Q: Which boss was the most disappointing for you and why? For example, we’ve heard that raiders were unhappy with Kel’Thuzad due to the impact of the cheat death trinket and the “waiting”. What would you change to improve your most disappointing boss?

Rogerbrown: I was not disappointed about Kel’thuzad as much as others seem to be. The reason is that we talked and prepared the strategy that we used for so long. So in a sense, it felt really rewarding to see our plan work out so flawlessly when we reached the boss. I do agree that the boss fight itself isn’t as exciting to play, especially due to the DPS stops. So overall it was a very enjoyable puzzle for us to solve in our preparation, but not a fun fight to play. Also, the cheat death trinket part is 100% overblown by the community. It did of course make the fight a bit easier, but it was in no way necessary for the kill. We were stopping DPS on the boss for so long anyway, so we would easily be able to kill one extra wave of adds (look at Limit’s and our reclears of the boss after the hotfix). Intentionally suiciding players to avoid mechanics also has been done many times before (Archimonde p2 tank add for example) and we were thinking of also bringing our Resto Shaman in if this didn’t work to use Ankh totems instead.

The biggest disappointment for me was Fatescribe, mainly due to the fact that the innovative mechanic they had on this boss (runes) was very easy to handle and it was the only cool thing about the fight. We had prepared a lot for this boss, and even though it took us roughly the same amount of tries as KT, it somehow felt way less rewarding. We didn’t feel like we had to play good to defeat the boss, it kind of just flopped. It would have been way better if the intermissions gave you less time to fix the runes, which would force you to go counter-clockwise and drastically make the coordination required much higher.

Nnoggie: The cheat death trinkets on Kel’Thuzad had a very small impact on netting us the kill and actually were the cause of a few wipes. Not playing the tank adds was a small bonus. Surviving the Glacial Spikes and playing the intermissions properly were way more important.

Fleks: Whilst Kel’Thuzad may have looked boring, there was at least a lot of work and thinking that went into it and actually was used. Fatescribe and Guardian on the other hand were just sad compared to what we expected, so I have to give it to those 2. Guardian being tuned as tight as Sludgefist would be a fix. Fatescribe would be the other most disappointing boss due to being able to just go clockwise always in intermissions 1 & 2.

Q: What was the weirdest/worst mechanic in the entire raid? Were there some well-designed bosses in Sanctum that could have perhaps been even worthy end-bosses with some more iteration on their mechanics and tuning?

Scripe: The weirdest mechanic was probably Kel'Thuzad's cast pause at low hp, but it wasn't horrible. The rest of the raid was very good. I think Painsmith, Guardian, and Fatescribe were incredibly well designed bosses. Sylvanas Mythic was also much more enjoyable than Heroic, since p2 being shorter made the fight have a lot less downtime. The last phase was also very exciting to raid lead.

Fleks: Not a mechanic, but nothing was as bad as the looting of Domination Shards.

Q: Can you please elaborate on how you felt when you got Sylvanas down under 50% the first time, realizing that the endpoint of the fight was most likely 45%?

Scripe: On one hand, we played the best that day by far than we ever have, which was incredible to be part of. On the other hand, I wasn't sure anymore if Sylvanas was killable within the reset, which was a horrible feeling. Complete emotional rollercoaster.

Rogerbrown: Well… I genuinely thought that the boss died at 50%, so as you saw I was literally shocked when that didn’t happen. It was very frustrating when that happened, but I am glad that it did. It gave us a chance to fully min-max everything in the fight and push the DPS, which always feels great to do at an endboss. Also, my face memes were worth the frustration by themselves :D

“After last tier, we made the decision to not get influenced by the time difference and, no matter what, stick to the most promising plan regardless of if we lose the first kill or not.” —Scripe

Q: When Complexity-Limit had their 0.6% wipes while you were sleeping, was there anyone in charge of checking on them and potentially even waking you up or similar? How did it feel waking up and watching their incredibly close pulls at the end? Was there any discussion about going all night the night before the kill?

Scripe: After last tier, we made the decision to not get influenced by the time difference and, no matter what, stick to the most promising plan regardless of if we lose the first kill or not. Also, I honestly did not expect Limit to get that close to the kill. I got many messages and heard from many raiders that they couldn't sleep properly. I stuck to the plan and slept like a baby. I was definitely worried that they might kill it, but panicking would have only led to more problems, so I'm glad we didn't panic.

Lastly, as they went to bed, Naowh said on voice comms that Limit was “done” and that we could focus on our own thing now. I was already doing that, so I wasn't aware they were done with the day and assumed along with a few others that they killed Sylvanas and were done with the tier. I was quite sad for a few minutes until I realized that they went to sleep, which was the biggest relief of the race. It meant we won.

Fleks: I personally did not sleep that night and watched the race instead, but there was no plan of waking the team up or similar. I do think a conversation about not going to sleep could have been a topic in retrospect, but that's about it.

Q: Tell us about the initial strat change where you had Naowh solo the Colossus add. What happened during the pull where you learned that it was hotfixed? What was your reaction at that moment and how do you feel about the hotfix now?

Scripe: Naowh died much earlier than usual and we were tilted that the tactic wasn't consistent. Then we saw the enrage buff on the add. I am surprised they fixed it, but at the same time, I'm glad we killed it with no shenanigans. It definitely would have felt unfair if the DPS check wasn't possible in week 1 though.

Rogerbrown: Similarly to the 50% reaction, it was frustrating when it happened, but I am glad they did hotfix it, and they did it quickly so that we don’t waste too much time on the strategy. I do believe that it falls under the “clever use of game mechanics” category, as there have been many fights in the past where off-tanking/kiting some adds until the intermission was fine (Blackhand p2 tanks, Garrosh p3 small adds). It would have trivialized the DPS check though, and I understand that Blizzard has to hotfix these kinds of things fast. Otherwise, if a guild kills the boss using this strategy, then they have to let it be in order to be fair to every other guild.

Fleks: I think most reactions to the hotfix were heat of the moment kind of reactions and I don't think quickly hotfixing that is unacceptable. We tried, they didn't want it, that's it, go find the damage elsewhere!

Q: How would you rate the entirety of the Sanctum of Domination and Sylvanas in particular?

Scripe: If Guardian, Fatescribe and Kel'Thuzad were properly tuned, I think this would've been the best raid i've ever played. Like this, I'm not sure, but it was still a pretty good raid. Then again, I love almost every raid! Sylvanas Mythic had huge improvements and was a pretty good boss, sadly not perfect though :D

Rogerbrown: Overall, I would give this tier an 7.5/10. With the exceptions of Guardian (too low hp), Fatescribe (too easy intermission), Kel’Thuzad (undertuned), the rest of the bosses I think were really good. Sylvanas I would give an 8/10, but that is only because we managed to defeat her in week 1. If we had gone to week 2 with the extra gear, the boss would have flopped really fast (Limit 1-shot her after reclearing). So in a sense, Sylvanas gets a high score, but a big contributing factor was that the previous bosses were undertuned, which gave us enough time to progress and defeat the fight in week 1.

Fleks: Best start to a raid in a very long time, but super disappointing after boss 6.
Sylvanas was an okay to good fight (especially compared to Heroic) but I wouldn't go higher than rating the overall raid 6/10. I'd say that's generous, given that the latter bosses being good is way more impactful than earlier ones.

Q: Now that you have won and we have managed to avoid a potential drama-filled “x hour advantage” discussion, what are your thoughts on a global raid release and how do you think it should (or could) work?

Scripe: Why global release? I think EU should start 16h earlier.

Jokes aside, we should have global release no doubt. I don't think there is a fix that makes everyone happy but, as long as we all compromise slightly, we can come up with a much better system than this. The RWF is one of the biggest events on Twitch, so anyone saying that “only 40 people care about it” is ridiculous at this point.

Rogerbrown: If we didn’t manage to win on Tuesday, this would have 100% been a hot topic. So our stance is still the same, that it is only a matter of time until this happens and we are just delaying the inevitable drama. I am not sure of how exactly it should be implemented, but an example might be to create an EU server that has the US weekly lockout times. That way we can transfer over to that server and progress at the same time as Limit.

Fleks: Us winning this tier doesn't erase how obvious it was what impact a non-global release can have, and it would have been the deciding factor this time if we didn't kill it Sylvanas on Tuesday. Limit would've most likely done a Heroic clear for shards after looting their vaults and one shot the boss, end of story. I don't know what the perfect solution for a global release would be; I can just speak for myself that I wouldn't care about having to play at "weird times", and I'm positive that both guilds want a global release.

Nnoggie: I think Blizzard needs to recognize the RWF as one of their main events next to AWC and the MDI and thus make it fair — as in release the raid globally at the same time for everyone. If they can do it for Molten Core in Classic WoW, I think they can do it for Retail Raids. I don’t think changing the weekly/daily reset time to be on a Tuesday afternoon for EU is a big inconvenience for anyone.

“My number one piece of advice for other guilds is to use a dedicated Teamspeak server for voice comms. It is far better than Discord for raiding and it also makes your nerd screams not sound like a gang of robots.” —Nnoggie

Q: Although the RWF is over, many Mythic guilds are still progressing on the tier. What is some advice you can offer them? What are the things you think currently require the most attention in the game for Mythic raiders?

Scripe: Even if it costs raiding time, spend time looking at your tactics together and try to be on the same page on every single pull you do. It will save a lot of time.

Fleks: Literally play your best players and don't bandwagon copy comps unless it is very specific needs (e.g. 1 Warlock for a gate). Just have fun!

Nnoggie: My number one piece of advice for other guilds is to use a dedicated Teamspeak server for voice comms. It is far better than Discord for raiding and it also makes your nerd screams not sound like a gang of robots.


About the Authors

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.

Vitaminpee specializes in tanking classes in WoW and other MMORPGs and loves doing competitive Mythic+. She is the Editor and Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer and Discord Partner. Feel free to message her via Twitter for any business-related inquiries.