Before The Race

This was one of the craziest preparations for a world first race that I’ve been a part of.

It was essentially a full-time job.

At the start, it was just a few hours a day, but by the time the raid was about to release, most days were a minimum of eight, sometimes going as high as 12+. 

Thankfully for me, I’m currently taking some time off work to see if I can build up my stream, so I was going to be playing games all day anyway!

It’s the people who have full-time jobs that I felt bad for, it was really tough on them. We had people waking up at 6AM, going to work, getting home at 7PM, and playing all the way through to midnight or 1 AM to make it work.

We started relatively quickly after the last tier because our preparation for Uldir actually wasn’t very good and we didn’t want to fall behind the other guilds. It was only a couple of weeks after we killed G’Huun that we were already starting our plans for Battle For Dazar’alor (BoD).

We started by doing every single world quest on the map for every bit of Azerite Power we could get. As well as funnelling all the mythic Uldir gear onto our main characters through split runs.

Initially, it was just two or three splits per week, but when we got to just a couple of weeks before the new raid we were up to probably 10 splits per week. We haven’t even gotten into Titan Residdum yet, which was the resource recently added to the game.

For anyone who doesn’t know, you get Titan Residuum every time you scrap a piece of gear from any difficulty of the raid, so we were doing viewer runs and community runs with the stipulation that any gear that could be scrapped for residuum is traded to us. 

Finally, we wanted level 42 Heart of Azeroth on every main in the raid, and at least 38 on alts before the raid opened. Before you start doing the maths in your head, I’ll just tell you: that’s around 600-700 island expeditions for each player. Fleks, or as we call him, “The Hydra”, got level 43 on three different characters. 2,500 island expeditions.

The removal of master loot was a big reason why the preparation for BoD was so tough. I think I can speak for everyone in Method when I say that taking out master loot is one of the most frustrating changes we’ve had to deal with from Blizzard.

We had to buy out three servers of profession materials just to circumvent personal loot. You level up a profession, craft the big item at max level, equip it, and then delete the profession so you can do it again with other gear.

The way the game works is that it scans whatever level of gear you have in your character slots. So if I make an item level 400+ piece of gear for my ring slot, the game now registers that I have 400 item level rings. That means I can now trade that level of gear to the people who really need it.

We did that on all of our main and alt characters. As you may have heard, we were in a lot of gold debt, partially because of that.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty normal for Blizzard to ignore the competitive PvE aspect of the game, or at least the raids. Most of the “esports” stuff is focused on PvP and on the new Mythic Dungeon Invitational. The best we get is maybe a tweet from the @warcraft account when we finally kill the boss.

For this reason, it became apparent to most people in the guild that if we ever wanted to have any real benefits from competing in the race, we would have to take the initiative ourselves. It was okay back in the day because you didn’t need to grind BEFORE the raid as much, but now you’re spending more time preparing for the raid than actually doing it.

The plan to stream the race has been in “storage” for quite some time, but it was only when we felt pretty comfortable as the best guild in the world that we decided it was time to take the risk. We did that in Uldir, and it paid off. The number of people that tuned in was such a shock to all of us, and that’s what allowed us to label the experiment a success.

We didn’t even really talk about it as a guild for Dazar’Alor, the conversation immediately jumped to “so who is going to the Red Bull Gaming Sphere for the race this time?”.

I think most people understand the effect that streaming has on your chances of winning the race. Obviously, other guilds will be able to see literally everything you are doing in the encounter. There are some aspects we can hide away, like our voice communication and any external documents, but it’s still an obvious disadvantage.

In terms of how we benefited from the streaming of the race, it pretty much exclusively came from our individual streams. On the Method stream, with the commentators and the analysts, all donations went to charity. I think we raised almost $20,000 this time, which is incredible. We don’t touch a single penny of that money.

One of the strangest things about playing at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere is the fact that you are being monitored for basically the entire day. I imagine most people wouldn’t put that high on their list of “downsides” but it was really noticeable to me.

When you’re used to just playing from your bedroom or wherever, it’s a little jarring to suddenly have to think about everything you’re doing, so you don’t accidentally make yourself look like an idiot on the stream!

Whether it be that, distractions from commentators and event staff walking around, playing on an unfamiliar setup, not sleeping in your usual bed – I definitely did not play as well as I usually do in this tier.

It wasn’t all bad though. For someone like me who is very talkative and interactive with my guildmates, it was really good to have a bunch of us in the same room. It helped keep our spirits up for sure.

I know there are some guild members who don’t want to do it, and I can completely respect their decision in that regard.

But if I get the chance I would do it again every time.

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