Pitted in an epic struggle, two teams enter the arena not knowing who their opponents might be. Their opponents may be the counter-composition to their team, at this point there is no way to tell. The team talks strategies briefly while buffing up for the fight to come. They say things like "if it's pr, then focus the priest and I'll try my best to cc the rogue after CloS" to try and calm their nerves while, at the same time, enhancing their senses for the battle. This team is dedicated, they are ready to try and vie for glory as they do their 10 matches for the week, hoping to improve their barely-over-break-even record by a margin better than 6-4. They grit their teeth as a thick silence falls. Their hearts beat faster, and the familiar sound of cast-iron gates swinging open rings in their ears, revealing an empty battle field and the faces of enemies.

Every week, this is the feeling as we start our matches. Every week, it seems that we find only the counter-comp teams. Every week, we do our best, and occassionally beat a team that should have beaten us, and we often lose to the cookie-cutter makeups that tend to win against non-cookie-cutters.

Why do we continue? Why do we strive for what seems to be unattainable to us? Why do we put ourselves through this toil and struggle for what seems like little-to-no gain, especially when considering that the next season will force us to get fewer pieces of gear and stockpile arena points that we will never end up using? We do it because we enjoy the struggle. We enjoy facing a team of equals who will pit their best against ours. We want to win, but we know that it is not such a reality. We keep coming back because we have a desire to be the best, even though that is essentially impossible.

We are self-masochistic.

Let me speak plainly, for a moment. What makes the best teams the best? Arguably, at the top of the ladder, there are teams who will end up facing each other 50 times a week. That one warrior+resto is going to play that warlock+resto 50 times in their week of trying to get to the number one spot. They do not have the same options that we have. At the 2300 rating, there are only a handful of teams (let alone comps) one team will be pitted against, and so they only need to have strategies for those few teams. At our level of competition, there are at least 15 compositions in the 2s bracket, and 10 of those are counter-comps to our teams. Of course, everything becomes much simpler when we break down into "rogue+healer" as opposed to the four different permutations possible, yet there are times when these generalizations are purposeful.

On our warlock+spriest team, going against rogue+healer is almost always a loss. This is because rogues are impervious to death against casters, but most especially against dotters. Additionally, we are counter-comp to most healer+warrior variants, so we tend to ignore the specifics. However, we also face a slew of teams that will never get above an 1850 rating based on their composition, but we are one of the teams that they can beat. For instance, rogue+rogue will never be a top contender, but they will beat our team every single time if they are both undead, and they will win 75% of the time if they are not. Additionally, it does not matter which team we are on, warlock+healer will essentially always beat both our teams, even though the top-level contender version of our warrior+druid team will always beat it.

Maybe there is something to be said about this. Maybe there is a method to the madness that is arena matching. Before the 2.4.2 patch, it seemed that we would face more comparably geared opponents reliably. Sure, the matches took 10 minutes to pop, but now it seems as if there used to be some match-making module that would take gear into account, and now it seems to be missing, possibly accounting for the quick match-up times. Perhaps, since it is so easy to get matched up against a team, we should look into hedging our bets, so to speak.

We play, mostly, on Wednesday nights at around 9 P.M. server time. This, while not strictly peak hours, is a high-point in server activity amongst hardcore PvPers. We have been farmed at this time on more than one occasion. Perhaps we should start looking into different times to play, or at least, try to come up with some data as for when certain opponents play, and when we can best avoid them. I do not think that we continually play against the same teams; we do not continually get Jim and Bob from ServerX in our battle group 3-4 times a week, but we do get a few repeats. My brother is constantly of the view "queue again, right now!" However, I find myself wondering if this is the best strategy.

Obviously, if we face one team that beats us, queuing against immediately is not the wrong answer as the likelihood of us facing the same team immediately should be slim. However, when we face the same druid+warlock team 3 times in a row, I have to wonder if we should not step back and say "let's wait a half hour and see if we cannot get a new opponent." Furthermore, I am starting to think that we should change the dates and times that we do arena, if we see the same teams as the same times weekly (and I am not saying that such is the case, as I have not been documenting our opponents... though I am strongly considering it now). Could there be a "golden time" for each composition on each realm?

Could it be that a hunter+priest team will do better on ServerX if they queue at 10:00 A.M. server time, rather than 9 P.M. server time, simply because the players who constantly play at that time on that battle group are counter-comped by the hunter+priest team? On the corollary, could it be that warlock+healer simply gets to face the teams that they are the counter-comp for at 9 P.M. server time for BattlegroupX? Perhaps we are simply playing into the hands of lucky players; concerning luck, I would almost say that it is a certainty that we are unluckily paired against our counter-comps at our current play times/dates.

With this season drawing to a close, the amazingly improved queue times, and the fact that my brother and I no longer have nightly obligations (read: school-work), I will likely be recreating our second 2s team so that each team can play more than 10 games without destroying the chance for the other to get points and personal rating. Additionally, I want to broaden our sample-size of times that we do arenas to see if such a statistic matters. Sadly, our warrior+druid team will likely be losing their titles for next season, as they have not played 10% of the games played on the spriest+warlock's team, and were I to recreate the other 2s team, they would not likely have enough time to get to a rating that would give any title besides "Challenger".

Perhaps with my, and my brother's, knowledge of lua scripting, we could write a light-weight plugin that will capture the name, server, class, and races of our opponents in a file that we could later parse to see what we play against most at what times. This would certainly allow us to best chose when to play to gain the most ground when doing arena, should the data point to a statistically significant segregation in team compositions. While I am intrigued by this, it would take a wider adoption to truly get the data needed to compose such a document.

I like this idea, I will be putting some effort into writing such an add-on in the next few days to see if I cannot hammer one out rather quickly, and try to get it adopted by a larger number of players to see if there is not a way that such teams can better organize their play-times.