RWF: What Are "Splits"?
With each new Raid that gets released, comes the excitement and intense competition of the Race to World First (RWF). It is one of the most-watched events on Twitch, and certainly the most popular for World of Warcraft. With so many viewers flocking to the various broadcasts, we often take for granted that there are many who don’t know all of the intricacies or the ins and outs of how the RWF works. Something that has become integral to the Race, but is also fairly unique to it, is Splits…and we often see viewers asking “What are Splits?”
We’re here to answer that question! “Splits” or “Split Running” is a preparation strategy used by most (if not all) of the top Race to World First competitors. While at its core it is a fairly simple concept, it can get complicated quickly.
Read on to learn more about what Splits are, how they function, and why the RWF guilds spend so much time doing them!
Table of Contents
What is Split Running?
Outside of anomalies such as Emerald Nightmare and Sepulcher of the First Ones, the RWF typically lasts around 7-10 days. This means that the guilds competing for World First will get, at the very most, two semi-full clears of the raid’s gear. To gain a competitive edge, RWF guilds must maximize the gear they can obtain outside of the Mythic raid itself. This is where Split Running comes into play.
Each guild is allowed only one kill of each boss on Mythic difficulty each week. During progression, it is unlikely that guilds kill every boss in the first week, so RWF guilds must maximize their gear through all other available avenues, such as Mythic+ dungeons, world quests, killing rares, crafting/professions, and most importantly: Normal and Heroic difficulties of the raid.
To get the most bang for their buck in Normal and Heroic difficulties of the raid, top guilds have long been utilizing Split Running as a strategy. As the number of pieces of loot each boss drops is determined by how many people are in the raid, it is important for guilds to ensure that each split run through Normal and/or Heroic difficulty has (if possible) a full 30 raiders.
Let’s assume that a guild has a roster of 25 main raiders. Instead of clearing the raid one time on Heroic and one time on Normal with all 25 main characters, they will “split” those players up into multiple raid groups. For example, a roster of 25 raiders may be broken down into 5 separate raid groups and allot 5 main characters per group, with the rest of the members of each raid being alt characters or outside “helpers”. Even for non-RWF guilds, depending on a guild’s advertised raiding hours, it is common for players to maintain additional characters to use in split runs to balance efficiency of loot drops, time investment, and the guild’s advertised hours. This minimizes loot competition and maximizes the loot funneled into key characters of main raiders.
For RWF guilds in particular, outside helpers are a crucial component to the Split Running process. Helpers are people that are not part of the main-raiding force, who voluntarily give up their own ability to acquire gear. While having many alts helps plan and organize splits, volunteers are the bread and butter of modern-day Split Running.
Why is Split Running Worth It?
If you’re new to the RWF, or just a casual viewer, you’re going to notice that the top guilds do a lot of Splits. We mean a lot of Splits. Every minute spent in Normal and Heroic Splits is a minute not spent progressing in Mythic, so it may seem that it’s a waste of time. But trust us, it is actually worth it for the RWF guilds to do Splits for literal days on end.
As mentioned above, Split Running allows a guild to maximize the number of loot pieces they can get, and strategically increase the chances that those loot pieces go to crucial or key characters. Obviously the reason behind Split Running can be boiled down to “more gear = more pew pew = dead bosses” but at the RWF level, there’s a little bit more to it.
At the top levels of RWF competition, the players are all incredible. These guilds vying for the top spots are all filled by players in the highest echelon of skill, talent, and experience. Since the RWF is truly a team esport, the overall skill disparities between guilds are so small that every possible advantage makes a big difference. One of the biggest and most obvious advantages in an MMORPG like World of Warcraft is individual player power, which comes from gear. This is one of the reasons why so much time and effort is spent on Split Running.
Additionally, typically speaking, new Raids are not tuned to be killed within the first couple of weeks. For the playerbase at large, there is an expectation that it will take time to progress through the Raid, and gear acquired throughout that progression over many weeks will be essential to facilitate the killing of more bosses. Therefore, the RWF guilds are essentially trying to kill these bosses before they are supposed to be able to. Their skill level, their time commitment, and their effort is what makes it possible - but you had better believe it isn’t easy. Spending so much time on Split Running speeds up the process of that gear acquisition that is normally considered necessary to kill subsequent bosses.
To raid in a RWF guild, players are typically required to have a large number of alt characters for a couple of reasons, one of which is to help fill up Split runs. Unfortunately, that still leaves a number of slots that need to be filled. This is where bringing in Split raiders from outside of the guild comes in. This strategy has been employed by top guilds for a handful of years now, and has swiftly become standard practice.
Guilds such as Liquid, Echo, Method, and others advertise weeks prior to the RWF to recruit those who are willing to join their cause and donate their time and loot lockouts. Many guilds will also recruit help to provide assistance in Mythic+ dungeons. Raiders on the bench may need helpers to fill groups or to provide specific keystones to target some important gear pieces.
Splits are planned and tracked through elaborate spreadsheets to organize all the volunteers, and more importantly, all the gold they are owed for their time! That’s right – community helpers who attend split runs to aid RWF guilds get compensated for their time and sacrifice of passing loot.
Ultimately, this makes splits using helpers prohibitively expensive to any guild not competing at the highest level, and represents a substantial portion of the cost RWF guilds spend each raid tier.
If you are a fan of the RWF, or of any of the competing guilds in particular, participating in Splits is a fantastic way to get involved! Look out for posts on Twitter, in guild Discord servers, and in event streams for info on how to sign up for Splits. You can be a part of the RWF, get a little extra gold in your pocket, and feel the pride of your “home team” winning, knowing that you helped them get there.
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About the Author
Hulahoops has been playing WoW since Vanilla. She has recently shelved Retail to go back and re-experience WotLK in all its glory, but will one day make her way back to the Dragon Isles. In her hey-day, Hulahoops could be found raid-leading in Mythic Progression, or competing in 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 7 years. Judgment isn't just a spell! Hulahoops decided to put the law books away and follow her passion for gaming and esports by joining the team at Raider.IO. In her capacity as General Manager, Hulahoops oversees events, content, and more!