With the recent announcement of Team Pandemic branching out into World of Warcraft, by recruiting the Tichondrius Arena team "Power Trip" into their growing e-Sports team, the new members of Team Pandemic were gracious enough to sit down with us and chat about their past, the Arena system, and what the future may hold for competitive gaming. The transcript of this chat is below.
<Nimloth> i suppose we can start with what we have here then. First allow me to introduce us all formally.
<Nimloth> Most of you know me, I'm Christopher with Curse - responsible for Public Relations.
<Kody> I'm Kevin, also known as Kody on Curse - World of Warcraft Community Manager
<Pandemic-iamvhell> that was the owner of our team
<Nimloth> feel free to include him in here
<Nimloth> We're glad to have you here for an interview today. Kevin will be handling all the questions, and then after that we will do some on and off the record talks.
<Nimloth> Perhaps at that point, you will have something you want to add, etc
<Nimloth> Before i let Kevin go nuts with his questions, could you all introduce yourself formally?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> My name's Jared Coulston, I play a dwarf priest named Iamvhell for Team Pandemic
<Pandemic-Kintt> I'm Nathan Quinn, I play a lolhuman priest, Kintt, for Team Pandemic
<Pandemic-nitraNa> Mason Groendal, I a play night elf rogue named Nitrana for Team Pandemic
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I'm Joseph Romano or better known as "Noktyn" the gnome warrior, currently playing for Team Pandemic on the Bloodlust cluster.
<Pandemic-Reznap> This is Chris Pacini, My in game name is 'Reznap' a Night elf hunter of Team Pandemic
<Nimloth> We're glad to have you here after your official announcement of becoming the first sponsored professional WoW team. Congratulations on that.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> thank you
<Pandemic-nitraNa> Thanks thanks
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I prefer Joe and thanks!
<Nimloth> From here, Kevin will be leading the questionnaire, so with that said, have at it Kevin.
Table of Contents
- 1 <Kody> What kind of experience do you have previous to World of Warcraft in regards to competitive PvP?
- 2 <Kody> How long have you been playing World of Warcraft?
- 3 <Kody> So you've all spent quite a bit of time playing and learning how to master the game. If you were to give an average, how much time (daily) would you say that you have put into WoW so far?
- 4 <Kody> Would you say the Arena System is a good step toward true, competitive, skill-based PvP? Or are there still major issues that need to be corrected going forward?
- 5 <Kody> If there was one aspect of the Arena System you'd like to see changed, what would that be?
- 6 <Kody> What is your opinion of the Bloodlust Battlegroup? In the past I've seen comments like "Bloodlust is where the true PvP is." Do you feel that holds true, now that the Arena Season is underway?
- 7 <Kody> You've received a sponsorship from Team Pandemic; do you think this is a good step forward for competitive gaming in World of Warcraft?
- 8 <Kody> Is this sponsorship going to change your day-to-day activities in the game at all?
- 9 <Kody> What was the process like to get this sponsorship, did you have to contact them, or did they contact you?
- 10 <Kody> DirecTV is hosting the Gaming Championships; do you think there's a future in competitive gaming at a professional level, above what it's at now?
- 11 <Kody> How about televised gaming tournaments, is that something you think has a future outside of pay-per-view?
- 12 <Kody> What is your opinion of a sponsorship of PvE guilds. Do you think there will ever be major sponsorships for them as there are for PvP teams? For example, Nihilum has a sponsor on their website, also Insurrection now has a sponsor; do you think this will become more mainstream?
- 13 <Nimloth> This sponsorship that you have gotten with Team Pandemic, how exactly does it work, and is it something you can replace an existing job with?
- 14 <Nimloth> so what are the benefits for you as a team, besides the publicity, in being sponsored?
- 15 <Nimloth> How do you rate your chances at winning the official blizzard tournament? Do you think Europe or Asia will bring some tough competition to the table?
<Kody> What kind of experience do you have previous to World of Warcraft in regards to competitive PvP?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I've played just about every MMO since UO beta, and my main focus in each (except for everquest) has been Support classes in PvP.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I haven't taken them as seriously though, WoW has been the first game that I've dedicated a lot of time and effort into
<Pandemic-Noktyn> My first MMO was Everquest and I was more into PvE back then but after picking up WoW and getting a little taste of DAOC PvP I became addicted - damage classes, especially melee types have been my favorites. Before getting into MMOs though I'd play Quake I and II in my spare time, not competitively or anything though.
<Pandemic-Kintt> The only other competitive PvP I've taken part in was a small amount of SWG when the game was first released. Other then that I've just casually played a few other MMO's and played a lot of console games.
<Pandemic-nitraNa> I played Socom I and II for the PS2. I was consistently high on the 8v8 and 2v2 ladder. Other than that, this is the first game I put enough effort into being the best.
<Kody> How long have you been playing World of Warcraft?
<Pandemic-Kintt> I've played since December of 2004
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I've been playing (Priest incidentally) since early Alpha Test of WoW
<Pandemic-Noktyn> The first time I played was an early beta before the open beta, but I started really getting into the game and trying it out during the open beta.
<Pandemic-nitraNa> Ecilam and I actually purchased the game together at Wal-mart the day it was released, but I didn't have a computer to play it on. I believe i started playing in February.
<Kody> So you've all spent quite a bit of time playing and learning how to master the game. If you were to give an average, how much time (daily) would you say that you have put into WoW so far?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> in the competitive season, I play about 5 hours a day
<Pandemic-nitraNa> 5 sounds about right
<Pandemic-iamvhell> of course we all hardcore'd it to 70
<Pandemic-iamvhell> and I won't give exact numbers, but the red bull helped
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I've played about 215-230 days since the game came out between both my undead warrior and my gnome, and generally I play (on average) about 5 or more hours a day, it really depends on the day and what's going on.
<Kody> Yeah I think most people can atest to spending a lot of time the first week or so of the expansion playing
<Kody> Would you say the Arena System is a good step toward true, competitive, skill-based PvP? Or are there still major issues that need to be corrected going forward?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I believe it is, they've taken a lot of the timesink aspects out of the PvP sytem
<Pandemic-nitraNa> Tornadoes ruin Nagrand arena. Disconnects, and class balance issues in terms of pure 5v5 arena still need to be addressed.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> farming consumables, etc'
<Pandemic-Kintt> It's definently a step in the right direction. I think most of the issues now involve balancing a few more classes who aren't strong enough for arena play.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> The best part of the arena is we can get 5 people on and queue up and get in almost instantly
<Pandemic-iamvhell> and after that's done we just queue right back up
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I think that alot of people feel the game isn't a competitive and skill-based game because you need to gear out your character, not just PvP with it. It's a shame because alot of them don't get to experience high-end geared arena teams going at it at a very competitive level. In my opinion, ignoring disconnects, bugs, and some class imbalances, this is the biggest problem for people and the arena being competitive.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> no need to wait on cooldowns/rebuffing like we did when we ran our own 5v5 events
<Pandemic-Noktyn> The solution, in my opinion, would have to be the arena system being almost a complete seperate entity from the game itself - seperate from the PvE and whatnot, a standalone game almost.
<Kody> Agreed, and that leads into the next question fairly well actually...
<Kody> If there was one aspect of the Arena System you'd like to see changed, what would that be?
<Pandemic-nitraNa> Pots~ lolz
<Pandemic-iamvhell> that was a joke (i hope)
<Pandemic-iamvhell> removing racials to be honest
<Pandemic-nitraNa> ooh, that's a good one
<Pandemic-iamvhell> It's hard to not feel sorry for people who chose the race the first day they started and didn't know that two years down the road it would actually matter
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I'd like it to be setup exactly like this: you get your team together and each person selects their gear, talent specs, etc. and you queue in for the arena. Make the gear only usable in the "arena" for WoW and not anywhere else in the game. There is only one major flaw I see with this though, and that is Blizzard not properly itemizing the arena gear. Maybe give people some room for customization, but not too much room.
<Pandemic-Noktyn> For example, put a cap on the amount of +damage or +attack power or even +crit they can get total from the sets
<Pandemic-Noktyn> Things like that, don't pigeonhole them into wearing a premade set, allow customization, just put stat caps in
<Pandemic-Noktyn> If arena was setup like that it would bring WoW to a very competitive level and give no excuse for people losing other than class composition. There would be more skill-based gameplay.
<Kody> What is your opinion of the Bloodlust Battlegroup? In the past I've seen comments like "Bloodlust is where the true PvP is." Do you feel that holds true, now that the Arena Season is underway?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I love that we have a lot of competition, teams that will queue up over and over against you win or loss.
<Pandemic-nitraNa> If you want true competitive pvp, the best place to get it is bg9
<Pandemic-Noktyn> Bloodlust has alot of top name guilds from various servers and backgrounds in the WoW PvP scene, I definitely think it lives up to its hype.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I mean even CQ's on there :)
<Pandemic-Kintt> I came to this battlegroup because of its reputation, and I haven't been disappointed. I'm really greatful that we are able to practice against some quality teams.
<Kody> You've received a sponsorship from Team Pandemic; do you think this is a good step forward for competitive gaming in World of Warcraft?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I think this shows promoters/sponsors and especially Blizzard that we're taking is seriously
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I think its a huge step forward and possibly a sign that the competitive gaming scene for World of Warcraft is going to take off - I'm sure Blizzard is eyeing up things like this and thinking of the competitive potential for the game.
<Kody> Is this sponsorship going to change your day-to-day activities in the game at all?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> Yea, it means I have to level Jewelcrafting :(
<Pandemic-nitraNa> We'll probably have to respond to more tells
<Pandemic-Noktyn> Well, we're all hardcore arena players, keeping up to date on current strategies and making sure we stay on top of our game. I think we're just going to keep on doing what we're doing, it's obviously working out as you can see through Bloodlust's armory :).
<Pandemic-Kintt> And probablly not the best idea to ignore all those Level 1s anymore
<Pandemic-iamvhell> To flesh out my answer a bit more, it means I need to put a bit more effort into rounding out my gear.
<Kody> What was the process like to get this sponsorship, did you have to contact them, or did they contact you?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> They came to us, but I was hoping they would. Their reputation is pretty impressive in the e-sports world.
<Kody> DirecTV is hosting the Gaming Championships; do you think there's a future in competitive gaming at a professional level, above what it's at now?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> It's taken a while for it to reach TV coverage, so it's hard to know exactly where it's headed after this.
<Pandemic-Kintt> I definently think that it can get even bigger. Just as gaming has become more and more popular over the years, I think competitive gaming will do the same.
<Pandemic-Noktyn> The potential is always there in my eyes, competitive gaming is still fairly new to people and it can only get more popular or less popular, but hopefully more ;).
<Kody> How about televised gaming tournaments, is that something you think has a future outside of pay-per-view?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> Hopefully WoW can push it into that world. With 8.5 million people playing worldwide, it's almost a household name at this point.
<Pandemic-Noktyn> As long as it becomes popular with more and more people, then yes I think so.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> Blizzard has to polish their game a bit more, and make it easier to watch.
<Kody> Yeah that was one thing I was thinking about, Arena matches would be interesting to televise
<Pandemic-iamvhell> If that means more defined spell effects for each spell/ability, they should take care of it
<Pandemic-Kintt> I think it might. MLG aired some of their Halo 2 tournaments last season if I'm not mistaken. It's all about getting people familiar with whatever game they might televise though.
<Pandemic-nitraNa> There's a lot going on in arenas, I don't know how many people will be able to follow along with the match's progress.
<Pandemic-Reznap> I Would watch wow, cs or halo tournaments on spike if it was on for sure
<Pandemic-Noktyn> Yes, maybe not in the near future, but definitely sometime in my lifetime I would think.
<Kody> What is your opinion of a sponsorship of PvE guilds. Do you think there will ever be major sponsorships for them as there are for PvP teams? For example, Nihilum has a sponsor on their website, also Insurrection now has a sponsor; do you think this will become more mainstream?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> casual sponsors, yes
<Pandemic-iamvhell> performance based? not quite sure
<Pandemic-Noktyn> I feel the same as Jared, I'm not sure about performance-based sponsors, but casual sponsors I could definitely see.
<Pandemic-Kintt> I think the sponsorships available for PvE guilds are going to be limited to the top 2-3 guilds racing for world firsts
<Nimloth> This sponsorship that you have gotten with Team Pandemic, how exactly does it work, and is it something you can replace an existing job with?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> Not yet, but we're not sure what the future holds
<Nimloth> so what are the benefits for you as a team, besides the publicity, in being sponsored?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> Iif the tournaments become a monthly thing, I'll probably end up trying to get a job in the gaming sector (websites/etc)
<Pandemic-iamvhell> If competitive WoW becomes a viable competitive platform to where live LAN events are held, we will receive full travel, lodging and registration to all events. We also receive product support from their current sponsors.
<Nimloth> How do you rate your chances at winning the official blizzard tournament? Do you think Europe or Asia will bring some tough competition to the table?
<Pandemic-iamvhell> The armory allows us to keep tabs on teams
<Pandemic-iamvhell> So we've been trying to figure out playstyle based on that, but of course just stats/gear don't reveal everything
<Pandemic-Kintt> It's kinda hard to say at the moment. The armory is nice, but it doesn't let us see exactly how teams play.
<Pandemic-iamvhell> I try to talk to as many top teams as I can, I idle in a ton of irc channels for that reason.
<Kody> Alright, I guess that's it for the questions then. Thanks for coming for the interview.
<Pandemic-nitraNa> no worries, thanks for the chat
<Pandemic-Reznap> thanks for interviewing us!
<Pandemic-iamvhell> We'd like to thank our sponsors Plantronics, Subway, GoDaddy.com and NationVoice.com for their continued support of the the team.