Player Spotlight: Сафенко (Safenko)

Hello everyone! Welcome to the tenth RaiderIO Player Spotlight. My name is Samantha aka Vitaminpee and with this series, I am aiming to highlight the amazing players of World of Warcraft regardless of their chosen class, spec, language, and/or region. I hope to bring you valuable information and help you learn more about your favorite top players or discover new ones from around the world that you may not yet know.

This week, I had the privilege of speaking with Russian Protection Warrior Сафенкo (Safenko). Сафенкo is currently one of the top ranked Protection Warriors in the world and he can often be found streaming many of his world-first Mythic+ keys live on his Twitch channel.

“Believe in yourself, trust your teammates, and don't turn your character’s back to mobs.”

VitaminP: Hi Сафенкo! Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?

Сафенкo: Hello! My real name is Kirill (Cyril) but for English-speaking friends, I'm just Bob. I am 28 years old and I am from Moscow, Russia. I’ve devoted practically all of my life to sports, namely skiing and archery. I trained and competed in both sports until I was 25 years old. At the moment, I am mostly focused on streaming. I started playing WoW at the beginning of the legion, but I only played for about half a year and decided to return with the release of BFA. After a long break, I played for a while as a DPS, but in November I decided to tank instead. I didn’t even think that I would be pushing high keys so soon, but I met good players in December and started pushing keys with them. I love tanking high keys as Protection Warrior, but I sometimes do keys on my Guardian Druid too for fun since it feels good for the soul.

VitaminP: What makes Protection Warrior such a competitive class in Mythic+? What does it bring to your group that makes it a better choice than another tanking class?

Сафенкo: The most important feature of a Protection Warrior is DPS, which I think is no secret to anyone. However, they also have very strong mobility and defensive abilities for both personal survivability and even allies, such as Intercept and Rallying Cry. With Intercept, Warriors can choose to charge towards enemies or use it as an external cooldown for allies. Furthermore, you can talent into Safeguard, which then transfers 30% of an ally’s damage taken to you for 6 seconds when you Intercept them. I especially want to mention the ability Spell Reflection, but I’ll elaborate on this later. Finally, the new seasonal affix is also much easier with the warrior, since you can quickly gain aggro and help clean up reaping with the insane amount of AoE damage that you bring.

VitaminP: What are your go-to Azerite gear traits and talent builds that you run with? What variations might you make for different keys?

Сафенкo: Let's start with talents. My talents are always the same for me and there is only one exception. My go-to build is:

When you want to further protect allies (i.e. for the first and third bosses in Kings’ Rest):

My required Azerite traits are a minimum of: 1x and 1x .

Deafening Crash helps maintains Demoralizing Shout for as long as possible. In combination with the Booming Voice talent, we can deal even more damage and have more survivability. Bastion of Might increases the damage we deal during Avatar and instantly gives a free Ignore Pain. When you combine all of this with the talent Anger Management, this effect can be used very often. The Azerite trait called Blood Rite is also very good for dungeons because you can refresh its duration very often, especially on the Reaping mobs due to how many of them can die every moment to further refresh this buff. Deafening Crash and Bastion of Might can be stacked several times for maximum damage, but do not forget that you are a tank, so you should still focus on your survivability first.

For keys that have both difficult bosses and trash use these Azerite traits:
, , and .

The best trait in the third ring of Azerite items is: .

The best traits in the defensive ring of Azerite traits are: , , (for big pulls), and (a trait in the Engineering-only Azerite helm).

VitaminP: What is the hardest dungeon to tank at a high level on a Prot Warrior? Which dungeon do you think is the easiest on Prot Warrior?

Сафенкo: Perhaps the most difficult dungeon for a Protection Warrior is The MOTHERLODE!! since there may be some difficulties with robots and a lot of casters. Shrine of the Storm is also very difficult due to grouping up and mitigating the damage of numerous caster mobs. In my opinion, these dungeons are probably easier for a Brewmaster Monk or a Blood Death Knight because they can push/pull mobs more closely together. The dungeons where Warriors shine the most are probably Freehold (BIG PULLS = more fun), Waycrest Manor, and The Underrot.

VitaminP: Are there any especially cool tricks you can tell us about Protection Warrior in high keys? For example, I found this clip of you Spell Reflecting the damage of Cyclone Strike on the first boss in Temple of Sethraliss. Can you tell us a little more about how this works?

Сафенкo: Spell Reflection is an incredibly strong ability both defensively and offensively. Not only does it reduce the magical damage you take by 20% for 5 seconds, but you can also reflect an impressive amount of damage on the following bosses: the various casts on Heartsbane Triad and the Wasting Strike on Lord and Lady Waycrest in Waycrest Manor, the Lightning Bolts on The Council of Tribes in Kings’ Rest, the Choking Brine on Aqu’sirr and the Void Bolt on Lord Stormsong in Shrine of the Storm, the Chemical Burn debuff on Rixxa Fluxflame and the Alpha Cannon autoattack on Mogul Razdunk in The Motherlode. Separately, I want to mention the first boss in The Underrot because you can Spell Reflect the Blood Bolt cast by both Elder Leaxa and her Blood Effigies, but it is most effective against her Blood Effigies. On a 20+ key on Fortified weeks, I can do about 580k damage to the Blood Effigy with one Spell Reflect, which can kill outright one-shot it and allow the DPS players to focus on killing the boss. As you mentioned in the clip you shared, you can indeed Spell Reflect the Cyclone Strike on the first boss in Temple of Sethraliss! However, this is only possible if the boss is targeting any other player but you. If it’s targeting you and you try to Spell Reflect the Cyclone Strike, you will likely get killed and not reflect any damage. Also, keep in mind that the more cyclones you can catch with your reflect, the more damage it will do to the boss.

VitaminP: What are you preferred classes to run with in Mythic+ groups and why? What utility do you find essential to high keys?

Сафенкo: I think that the best healers to bring to high Mythic+ are Druids and Monks right now. I believe it is very important to bring utility abilities such as Vortex, Ring of Peace, and Typhoon while also having both good mobility and healing output. As for DPS, I always bring a Rogue because of their high damage output combined with their large number of crowd-control abilities such as Sap and Blind, Gouge, and Kidney Shot or Between the Eyes, and Shroud of Concealment for group skips. I also like to bring a Havoc Demon Hunter as a second melee because they have good survivability and can avoid so many complex mechanics on both trash and bosses with Blade Dance to help if necessary. My favorite ranged class to run with is probably Frost Mage due to the sheer amount of slows it brings, which allows mobs to stay really well-grouped if you need to kite.

VitaminP: I see that you have quite a few rank 1 and rank 2 world scores in keys. What key are you most proud of completing so far this season?

Сафенкo: I am most proud of our world-first 24 key which was Tol Dagor, and our 23 Atal Dazar, but I am also proud of our 22 Temple of Sethraliss and our 20 Kings’ Rest.

VitaminP: What is one of your funniest moments in a Mythic+ key so far this season?

Сафенкo: Last week, we had a funny moment when we were trying to do a sneaky skip with no Shroud on the last bridge in Shrine of the Storm and our Elemental Shaman Érebaws walked off the edge to his death.

“As a tank, it is imperative to see and control your own level of health and the timings of your defensive abilities, but it is also important to know the cooldowns on the abilities of your allies too.”

VitaminP: What advice would you give to players trying to tank in high Mythic+? Are there any essential addons/Weakauras/macros that you recommend?

Сафенкo: As a tank, it is imperative to see and control your own level of health and the timings of your defensive abilities, but it is also important to know the cooldowns on the abilities of your allies too (stuns, knockbacks, CC’s, etc). I use the addon called Exorsus Raid Tools, which allows me to see the cooldowns of my allies and our number of combat resurrection charges. It is also a convenient addon for me to use when I put markers on mobs for interrupts as well as raid markers on the ground.

Another important addon is WeakAuras. The WeakAuras I use are a BFA Dungeon Debuffs tracker, a Block Tracker, and an Ignore Pain tracker.

In terms of macros, the only one I use that is specific to Protection Warrior is a macro that combines the use of Avatar and the Orc Racial Ability simultaneously. I also use a simple pull timer macro:
/dbm pull 3
However, if there is a Paladin in the party, it’s also required to have a macro to cancel the aura from Blessing of Protection:
/cancelaura blessing of protection

Last but not least, believe in yourself, trust your teammates, and don't turn your character’s back to mobs!


About the Author

Vitaminpee mains a Brewmaster and loves to do competitive Mythic+. She is the Social Media Manager for Big Dumb Gaming and a partnered Twitch streamer who plays all tanks at max level and is excited to have more time now to push for the next MDI with her team: Synecdoche, Oddy, Sham, and Comfykins.