arena (WoW)  

Arenas are areas in which teams of players can compete against each other in deathmatch-style PvP.

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Arena System Breakdown

Instead of objective-based PvP, such as Alterac Valley or Warsong Gulch, arenas offer players a small battleground designed around a team's ability to destroy the other team. This new system matches teams of equal strength to increase fairness and make advancement to the highest tiers more difficult and more rewarding. The arena is currently designed to allow 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 teams but your team may have up to double the amount required for one fight (i.e. a 2v2 team can have four people in it). Unlike regular PvP battlegrounds, the arena system also allows intra-faction competition, similar to the old honor system.

There are currently three different Arenas available at the following locations:

Only level 80 player characters can gain a Team Rating, Personal Rating or Arena Points.

Characters under level 80 can still participate in arena matches, albeit only practice matches at this time. All teams require an Arena Team Charter in order to create an official team.

Arena Points are used similar to honor points to purchase Arena Gear, which are considered to be on par with some of the mid-to high level PvE rewards.

Arena Terminology

The Arena uses its own terms and lingo and it can be a bit confusing for the newcomers, so here's a list of some common terms.

Rank- How your team compares to other teams. If you are "rank 1", you are the best team in your battlegroup.

Team Rating- Your team's "score". If you have a rating of 1, your team is the worst team on the server (and ever created). Team Rating is what the Queuing system uses to match teams. The team rating of a new team always starts at 1500.

Personal Rating- Added in patch 2.4.2, personal rating is your own rating within the team. Your personal rating must be at a certain level in order for you to purchase arena gear. Your personal rating resets to 1500 whenver you join a new team.

Arena Points- The points you earn to buy things from the arena vendor. These are NOT accumulated the same way as honor: kills or wins don't matter. They are converted straight from your rating during maintenance.

The Battle

Once the queuing finds a team for you to fight, you will be prompted to go to the Arena, upon doing so you will be put in the small room. While in that room, you will have the Arena Preparation buff (Which makes all abilities cost 0 mana/rage/energy) for 1 minute. This minute is meant to be used to cast Buffs and get ready.

After this grace period, the doors open and both teams are released in the Arena. The battle ends when all members of a team die or leave. When a player dies, he can leave the Arena or stay and view the rest of the battle as a ghost. Since Resurrection is sometime possible, it is wise to remain as a ghost if your team still has active player capable of resurrecting.

Consumables cannot be used in the Arena, with the exception of Star's Tears and consumable items created by class abilities (such as Healthstones). Abilities with a cooldown longer then 15 minutes are also unusable while in Arena.

After the game is over, a scoreboard showing killing blows, damage done, healing done and - if the game is a rated game - the point fluctuation to each team's Team Rating is shown.

Types of Game

You can queue up for a Rated game or a Skirmish.

Skirmish - Those games do not require you to have a team and you can even Queue solo, letting the matchmaking system find partners for you. Skirmishes are a good place to practice.

Rated - Where the real games happen. Only registered teams can fight rated games and you must be in a party with your teammates to queue.

Players fight against other players in 2v2, 3v3 or 5v5 brackets. The team who wins has its rating go up, while the team who loses has theirs go down.

Winning and Losing Team Rating

The rating calculation is based on the ELO Rating System, used in Chess, which calculate the odds of winning based off the socre of both team. As a result, a strong team losing to a weak team will lose a lot of points.

Example of a match rating calculation:

Team A's Current Score: 1500pt

Team B's Current Score: 1580pt

Team A's Chance of Winning: 1 / (1+10(1580 - 1500)/400) = 0.38686

Team B's Chance of Winning: 1 / (1+10(1500 - 1580)/400) = 0.61314

Now Let's say Team A won the battle then

Team A's New Score: 1500 + 32*(1 - 0.38686) = 1500 + 19.62 = 1519.62

Team B's New Score: 1580 + 32*(0 - 0.61314) = 1580 + (-19.62) = 1560.38

Now Let's say Team B won the battle then

Team A's New Score: 1500 + 32*(0 - 0.38686) = 1500 + (-12.38) = 1487.62

Team B's New Score: 1580 + 32*(1 - 0.61314) = 1580 + 12.38 = 1592.38

The K value used by Blizzard is 32. So each match, the maximum rating gain/loss will be 32pts. And if you play with a team with the same rating, you will gain/lose exactly 16pts.

Allakhazam credits this article at WoWWiki for The Elo Rating example.
Licensed under the GFDL.

Personal Rating vs Team Rating

Personal rating was added in patch 2.4.2 in order to deter team switching as well as make it harder for people to abuse the system and trivialize the rating requirement on certain pieces of gear.

In order to buy Arena gear that requires a certain rating, you must have both your personal and team rating at the proper level.

When you leave a team and join a new one, your personal rating resets to 1500, regardless of the team's rating.

If any of the team's members currently playing has a personal rating that is 150 points higher or lower then the Team Rating, then the matchmaking system averages the personal rating of all those playing and queues the team based on this new value.

Example: A 3v3 Team has a Team Rating of 2,000. They get a new member in and play some games. The new member's Personal Rating is 1500, way below the 150 range. The Average rating is 1833.33 ((2000+2000+1500)/3) - so the team will be Queued against teams in that average ranking.

The effect of this is that while the lower member's Personal Rating will go up/down at a normal rate, the Team Rating and Personal Rating of the rest of the team will go down/up at a much different rate. A 2000 team losing to a 1800 team loses a lot of points, while winning is worth almost nothing.

In this way, Blizzard tries to discourage constant team switching and people joining a team simply to be "carried" to a certain threshold.


The personal rating is often regarded as a flawed initiative. While it has made abusing the system more difficult, it has not eliminated the abuse. The increased difficulty and rarity of people capable of "rating boosting" have also made the price asked by the abusers sky rocket - making the abusers even richer in the process.

It has also caused quite a lot of grief to legitimate players who must now fight High Rated Teams who "reform" at an increased rate.

Points Earned

Points are acquired at the end of the week during maintenance and are based on your team rating (see above).

In order to gain points, you need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • The team must have played a minimum of 10 games this week.
  • You must have played a minimum of 30% of those games.

Points are NOT summated from bracket to bracket (i.e., if you're in three active arena teams -one for each division- your points are only taken from the team that would earn the most points).

The Arena point 'cap' is set at 5,000.

The formula for a 5v5 team is the following:

If X>1500: Y = 1511.26/(1+1639.28*Power(2.71828, -0.00412*X)) Else: Y = 0.22*X+14


2v2 teams earn 76% of the points of a 5v5 team with the same rating 3v3 teams earn 88% of the points of a 5v5 team with the same rating

There are several points calculators on the Internet, including Blizzard's


Seasons are like baseball seasons, except instead of just bringing about new rounds of competition they also bring out new pvp rewards. These are Blizzard's way of being able to reward newer prizes as the game progresses, always providing more and more incentive to go into the arena.

Season are called 'S' for short... so S1 means Season 1. Arena gear is often referred to by its season, as follows:

So "S2 Gear" would mean Season 2 gear, or Merciless Gladiator Gear in this case.

Blizzard usually gives a 2 weeks warning when a season is about to end. Titles are awarded at the end of the season.

It is considered wise to cap your Arena Points to 5,000 before the beginning of a new season, so to get a leg up on the competition by buying new gear. Personal Rating makes this a bit more complicated however.

Current Season

The current season is season 5 (S5) and started on December 16 2008.

Past Seasons

  • Season 1 started on January 30th 2007 and ended on June 19th, with the release of Patch 2.1.2. It lasted 20 weeks.
  • Season 2 started on June 20th and ended on November 26 on US realms, November 27 on EU realms, two weeks after Patch 2.3. It lasted 23 weeks.
  • Season 3 started on November 27 on the US realms and November 28 on the European realms. It lasted 29 weeks.
  • Season 4 started on June 24, 2008 and ended on October 14, 2008, lasting 17 Weeks.


The short term reward for Arena is Arena Gear. You can trade in your arena points for some truly powerful pvp gear.

Wrath of the Lich King has introduced several change to Arena Gear.

For starter, there's 3 effective 'Tier' of pvp gear.

  • Savage Gladiator Tier: Blue Quality. Can be bought with Honor points from the faction pvp vendor or Honor and Arena Points from the Arena Vendor. Those for all intent and purpose, Honor Reward that can now also be bought with Arena Points. It can also be bought with Emblem of Heroism.
  • Hateful Gladiator Tier: Epic Quality. You need both Honor and Arena point to buy the 5 main pieces, but honor alone will suffice for the off-pieces. Many of those also require a certain Arena Rating. It can also be bought with Emblem of Valor.
  • Deadly Gladiator Tier: Epic Quality. The 5 main piece can only be bought with Arena points, although the off piece can be bought with honor. Those all need a certain arena rating. The Deadly Tier also includes weapon.

Hateful and Deadly Gear can also randomly drop from Arcahvon the Stone Watcher a raid boss available when your faction control Wintergrasps.

The Tier are set to mimic pve progression - Savage represent gear that you can earn from Heroic, Hateful from 10 man raid instance and Deadly from 25 man instances.

Another change is the merge between Honor System, Arena System and PVE instances. Aside from the last Tier of Arena Gear, everything else can be bought with Honor currency or pve (emblem) currency and you can even get pvp gear to drop from a raid boss, giving people more option in the way they go about gearing themselves.

In previous season, old gear was usually moved down a tier, making it easier to obtain. While Blizzard has said they would still do this, it's unknown how it will be implemented.

Titles and Flying Mounts

At the end of a season, the system takes the final ranking of every active arena player and awards the team a title if they made the cut. To be considered active, you need to have played 20% of your team's game and have a personal rating within 100 of the team's rating.

  • Challenger = Top 35%
  • Rival = Top 10%
  • Duelist = Top 3%
  • Gladiator = Top .5%

On top of this, Gladiator also wins the prized Swift Nether Drake which flies at 310%, the fastest available mount speed currently in the game.

The team who earns Ranking 1 in every format also get a 'Season Suffix' Gladiator title (So the team that got Ranking 1 in S2 earned the Merciless Gladiator title). All titles earned before the end of season 3 will be removed in season 4.

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This page last modified 2009-03-16 10:00:33.