AWC Spotlight: Lava Lava

The World of Warcraft 2024 Esports Season has officially begun! Last weekend kicked things off with the Arena World Championship (AWC), where we saw teams from North America and Europe battle for Region supremacy in 3v3 Arena. With Cup 1 of the AWC officially in the books, everyone is now turning to Cup 2 in order to qualify for the Mid-Season Clash.

If you had a chance to watch Cup 1 last weekend, you may have seen an incredible story unfold over on the European side. The Grand Finals matchup took place on Sunday between two teams that are brand new to the AWC - Lava Lava and Hoolibang…and incredibly enough, both teams had to defeat Echo in order to make it to the Championship match. Echo are the reigning AWC Champions, who won every single Cup last season as well as the Grand Championship. Prior to signing with Echo, the main roster had not lost since Cup 1 of Dragonflight Season 1, so to say they are an AWC powerhouse is a bit of an understatement.

For two teams to beat Echo this past weekend is in and of itself an accomplishment, but for both of those teams to be brand new players to the AWC is something else entirely. We got a chance to speak with the Team Captains of both Lava Lava and Hoolibang to learn a bit more about what their expectations were going into Cup 1, and what was going through their heads as they found themselves in the Grand Finals!

Read on to learn more about Lava Lava, who came 2nd place in AWC Europe Cup 1…and be sure to tune in this weekend to cheer them on in Cup 2, starting at 10am PST on Friday, February 9th over on the Official Warcraft Twitch and YouTube Channels!

Check out our LIVE AWC Coverage for updates, highlights,
clips and more for every match, all weekend long!

Table of Contents

“I can’t say we applied with big plans, but now after the AWC Cup 1 we are flirting with the idea of having a solid run.” - Karijes

Q-1: Hello Lava Lava! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about the Arena World Championship! Can you start off with introducing yourselves and your team please?

Dex: Hello there! I’m Dex, the Captain of Lava Lava. First I want to say thanks for giving us the opportunity to do this interview. I have played PvP on and off since TBC, when I was 13 years old, achieving Gladiator in many seasons. I have always watched AWC/Blizzcon arena events over the last few years, though I never thought of participating myself. But in Shadowlands, something changed. I met Karijes, and we started playing together more and improving a lot, stepping up from being Gladiator players to Rank 1 players. We achieved Rank 1 in both Season 1 and Season 2 of Dragonflight, last season finishing almost top 20 in the ladder, so we thought this could be a good moment to give AWC a try. But we needed two more. A mutual friend introduced us to Guzz, who we knew had been an insane Elemental Shaman for many years, and Guzz knew Coffey, so we decided to give it a try for fun.

Karijes: Hey there! I’m Karijes from the team Lava Lava. Thanks for giving us the chance to speak publicly. The team is a fresh roster formed around New Year’s. Dex and I have been playing together for a few years now, and we knew Coffey/Guzz from facing them on the ladder. We talked a bit and somehow the AWC idea surfaced. I can’t say we applied with big plans, but now after the AWC Cup 1 we are flirting with the idea of having a solid run. Overall, all the players on my team are top tier on their specs, and more importantly, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed.

Q-2: You are a new team who has already made big waves during this past AWC Cup. How did you all meet, and how did you prepare for this tournament?

Dex: Since we decided that we wanted to participate in AWC, around 1 month ago, we have been playing almost every night as much as possible, facing the best teams on a daily basis just trying to improve; we’ve been creating team chemistry and most importantly, having fun.

Karijes: Like I said, Dex and I have been close friends for a few years now, but it was Guzz who suggested Coffey join the team, and he has been contributing immensely. We have been playing, but I can’t say it's rigorous by any stretch of the imagination. Echo reached out to us for war games on the Tournament Realm a few days before the tournament, and we agreed. Playing against a team of that caliber will open your eyes to a lot of things so to speak. You can’t really have better practice than that.

Q-3: What role do you think Solo Shuffle has had in changing the overall PvP landscape, and more specifically the AWC?

Dex: I personally think Solo Shuffle has really good things and really bad things. The good things are that you can just play more or less whenever you want, the spec you want, allowing you to practice any spec at any time. What I don’t like about Solo Shuffle is that it killed the 2v2/3v3 ladders a bit, because so many players prefer to play the solo mode since it’s hard to find people to play with. I usually enjoy 3v3 much more than Solo Shuffle.

Karijes: I don't think Solo Shuffle really impacts AWC to any extent. It’s drastically different from playing actual 3v3 arena, as Dampening ramps up a lot faster and the overall dynamic of the game is different in 3s. On the other hand, if people want to learn a new spec, especially healers, it’s nice to spam queue Solo Shuffle and get some practice. The 3v3 bracket somewhat suffers from Solo Shuffle as well, but overall I think it’s not a bad feature in the game.

“Honestly I think (the series vs Echo) is the series that our team was the least nervous for. We went into it with the mentality of, ‘OK boys we made it here! They’re the kings of AWC and we have nothing to lose, so let’s do our best and if we win, we win, otherwise we already did a good job.’” - Dex

Q-4: You beat the powerhouse team – and reigning AWC EU Champs – Echo, during your journey to the Grand Finals. For many viewers, this was surprising and unexpected. Were you nervous before the series started? What was your strategy to beat them, and what was going through your heads leading into that intense Game 5 for the reverse sweep?

Dex: Honestly I think that series is the series that our team was the least nervous for. We went into it with the mentality of, “OK boys we made it here! They’re the kings of AWC and we have nothing to lose, so let’s do our best and if we win, we win, otherwise we already did a good job.” That’s part of the reason I picked Resto Shaman for the first game, as we wanted to surprise them a bit, but it didn’t work. After the 0-2 our thoughts shifted a bit to, “OK boys, maybe we should start to think about the lower bracket”, but after we managed to win one game, our confidence levels increased massively and we thought we could make it if we played insane. We noticed later that Raiku had a bit of lag during those series so it was not a 100% fair matchup; we can’t wait to face them again in the AWC.

Karijes: To me personally there weren’t really a lot of nerves. I’ve done competitive sports in my life, and when you are facing the best, you just go in with nothing to lose. So if anything, the pressure is on them to not lose to the newcomer underdogs. Going into Game 5, confidence was definitely in our favor I’d say. We will keep the strategy to ourselves till the end of the Cups, but we can say that RMD wasn’t the scariest pick in our minds at the time.

Q-5: You were one of the only teams over the entire weekend that didn’t play a Rogue in any of their matches. Is that a class you have available to you on your roster, and if not, do you think that could hurt you in the long run?

Dex: We don’t have Rogue compositions but we already told Coffey to start leveling Outlaw (laugh). I think with our compositions we can deal pretty decently with Rogue teams and if we play good enough it should be fine to not have a Rogue in our roster.

Did you miss it? Check out the EU Cup 1 Bracket to see all of last weekend’s matchups, including wins/losses, rosters, and timestamped VoDs of each game!

Karijes: Rogues are unironically one of the tankiest classes in the game right now.
They’re bringing 2 Vanishes, Cloak of Shadows (which is an immunity), Evasion under a 1 min cooldown, the ability to control the entire enemy team…and let’s not forget Cheat Death and Shadowmeld while I’m at it. Overall they’re super obnoxious to face, even as an Arms Warrior, which is traditionally a good pick vs Rogues. Of course it can hurt us in the long run not having Rogue because of the above mentioned.

Q-6: Can you give us some insight into the strategies and discussions that take place in between matches? What drives the decisions behind which maps to pick, and whether or not to make roster and composition swaps?

Dex: Here there is not much more than our instincts. We talk about the comps and maps through the series and we play what we feel comfortable with in that moment. We try to not force weird strats and we just play what we know can work for us.

Karijes: Blind pick is most important so that’s the longest discussion we usually have. In between games, the talk is usually about what we have to pick first into the enemy team. In that case we kinda evaluate which comp is more favored to upset their counterpick. Also we try to not make super funky decisions and stick to our guns.

Q-7: Speaking of compositions, we loved when you brought out Thunder Cleave (Elemental Shaman, Warrior, Healer) in the Grand Finals against Hoolibang. What was the strategy there, and is that a composition you often practice on the Live Ladder?

Dex: We couldn’t practice Thunder a lot in ladder because, before the Resto Druid nerfs a few days before the Tournament started, Demon Hunter/Elemental and Demon Hunter/Warrior were overall better comps and we tried to play those as much as we could. We thought on that particular matchup that Thunder might work so we just tried it. We were not too far away from achieving victory as Thunder but I think the lack of practice on that comp was one of the keys for them to win (and playing insanely good from their side, of course).

Karijes: Jayti is a vital part of their setups when they play. Playing Warrior/Elemental Shaman essentially completely removes Priest Fear (Psychic Scream) from the game. On top of that, both classes offer a lot of disruption for the enemy team, while offering high consistent pressure. I can’t say we played that Finals very cleanly, so the deserving team won for sure.

Q-8: When was the spark ignited that made you want to be competitive? What inspired you?

Dex: Being able to get wins into the best teams on ladder for the last 2 Seasons of Dragonflight made us think, “if we can get wins here, why can’t we win in a Tournament as well?” So we just wanted to give it a try.

Karijes: I saw that Blizo wasn’t competing and someone had to make it rough for Whaazz. Jokes aside, we watched some AWCs up to a few years back, and we decided to play for fun.

Q-9: What are your goals for Cup 2 this weekend, and what do you envision for your team at the end of this full AWC Season (ending with the Grand Finals in Season 4)?

Dex: Honestly before the Tournament started, our goal was to make Top 8 and have our time on screen. After the last Cup, our goal is to try to make Top 3 so we can go to the Mid Season Clash Tournament directly without having to go through the Gauntlet, if possible.

Stay in the action! Check out the EU Cup 2 Bracket to see all of this coming weekend’s matchups, including wins/losses, rosters, and timestamped VoDs of each game!

Karijes: I’m taking it a step at a time and definitely not thinking about Grand Finals yet.
The idea is to have a solid performance next week and hopefully not have to face the Gauntlet.

“I...try to think ‘I’m just gonna play some arenas like I used to do for the last few years.’ Nerves are an important factor during a Tournament and you gotta stay chill, otherwise it’s much easier to make mistakes.” - Dex

Q-10: Do you have any “sacred” rituals or superstitions on your team that you always try to do before a match day?

Dex: I just try to stay calm, enjoy some music, take a good walk with my dogs the same day, relax, eat well, and try to think “I’m just gonna play some arenas like I used to do for the last few years.” Nerves are an important factor during a Tournament and you gotta stay chill, otherwise it’s much easier to make mistakes.

Karijes: It’s the first tournament for most of our roster. I just turn off my brain 5-10 mins before the series and try not to overthink it. At the end of the day we are playing a video game 😄!

Q-11: Are there any people you’d like to take the opportunity to give a shoutout to?

Dex: I want to shout out my girlfriend, my team, Blackfirez, and Mr F for keeping me motivated and for all the support they give.

Karijes: Shoutout to all the homies on Discord. You know who you are.


About the Authors

Hulahoops is the General Manager of Raider.IO and 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!

Picco is an old-fashioned WoW gamer that started back in Vanilla and has played ever since. She is a healer by heart and is currently maining Restoration Druid. She loves Mythic+ and has a great passion for events like the MDI and TGP. Picco is part of the KeystoneMasters team and enjoys jiggling around with ideas for fun new formats of community tournaments. She is also a Mod for several streamers and guilds, particularly during the RWF. Outside of WoW, Picco is a Sprout in FF14, where she explores with her Lala Summoner.