Match Report - May GvG Championship
Round six: Virtual Dragons [vD] versus Cry For Eternity [Cry]
Special note: Each Match Report presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.
The first month of automated tournaments has come to an end, culminating in a Saturday showdown of Swiss competition. Although originally designed for single elimination, this monthly championship of six Swiss rounds yielded five teams finishing with the same 5 and 1 record: Heart of Ashes and Dust [HAnD], Cry for Eternity [Cry], Virtual Dragons [vD], Kefi Pallhkari [PAL], and Storm Bearers [SB]. Of these, [HAnD] wound up with the best score in the Swiss results and emerged victorious. Looking down the list of games available on Observer Mode at the time, I saw that [vD] and [Cry] had a match in the last round. Because they were ranked 1 and 2 on the ladder, I decided it might be an interesting game to take in.
"Go for the Eyes!"
"Go for the Eyes!"
paragon/Command - Shout
Shout. For 10 seconds, the next time each ally within earshot makes an attack, that attack has an additional 30..75% chance to critical.
After five rounds, the sixth round cycled back to the first map in rotation: Burning Isle. Seeing this hinted right away that there might be some sort of gimmick build at play, and sure enough I was not disappointed: [Cry] was running 5 Paragon primaries and 3 Monk primaries—a pretty nasty Paragon spike. All of the Paragons had Aggressive Refrain as an attack speed boost, which basically would stay up non-stop with so many Paragons using Shouts. Most of the Paragons had Spear of Lightning and Vicious Attack, with Vicious Attack being especially potent when coupled with the three sets of "Go For the Eyes!" that the team carried. One of the Paragons also had Wild Throw. Another carried Anthem of Guidance to help ensure the spike would get to the target, and for good measure there was also a copy of Mirror of Disenchantment for dealing with Aegis. Offensively, this team was loaded for bear. But what makes Paragon spike builds so scary is not so much the offensive firepower they pack, but all the defenses that can be stacked on the already heavily armored Paragons.
Defensively [Cry] looked to have every contingency covered: two sets of Expel Hexes, two copies of "Shields Up!", two copies of "Stand Your Ground!", Bladeturn Refrain, "Fallback!", Song of Purification, Web of Disruption, and "Watch Yourself!"—all on the Paragons. In addition to these active defensive measures, one of the Paragons also had Blood is Power. The two main Monks were Restore Condition and Light of Deliverance/Infuse—both with a Warrior secondary in order to carry Soldier's Defense and Disciplined Stance. And to top off the defense was a Monk/Elementalist flag runner with Shield of Regeneration. Clearly this team had all the bases covered defensively, as well as nice synergy between the offense and defense. I was expecting a quick game, unless of course the opposition brought something equally difficult to match up with.
Defensive Anthem [Elite]
paragon/Leadership - Chant
Chant. For 4..10 seconds, each party member within earshot has a 50% chance to block incoming attacks. This Chant ends if that party member hits with an attack Skill.
In contrast to the [Cry] team, [vD] brought a fairly conventional build to the table with five of the individual builds very common in the current metagame. They had an Avatar of Melandru Dervish, an Eviscerate/Shock Axe Warrior, a Burning Arrow Ranger, a Mantra of Recovery Mesmer with Shame and Diversion, and a Restore Condition Monk with Aegis. The remaining three characters were slightly different from what is most common in the metagame now. One was a Paragon/Warrior with "Shields Up!", "Watch Yourself!", and Defensive Anthem. They also had an old school Elementalist/Monk flag runner with Ether Prodigy, Heal Party, and water Hexes. Finally, they had a Monk/Elementalist with Aegis, but I never saw his elite used. Based on the presence of the old school Heal Party runner, I deduced that the second Monk probably carried Divert Hexes. But since [Cry] ran not a single Hex on their build, this skill never saw use.
Blood is Power
Blood is Power [Elite]
Necromancer - Blood Magic - Enchantment Spell
Enchantment Spell. Sacrifice 33% maximum Health. For 10 seconds, target other ally gains +3..6 Energy regeneration.
Both teams pushed aggressively to the stand at the start of the match and, sure enough, one minute into the match, [Cry] spiked down a Warrior. Less than a minute later, they attempted a second spike on the Warrior, but this one was not successful. For the next two to three minutes, [vD] was under heavy pressure, with often three to four of their Health bars dropping down near 50%. But just after six minutes into the match, without a death, [Cry] retreated from the flag stand towards their base. Although [vD] had not scored a kill, clearly their offense was pressuring [Cry]. Most likely the Monks were running low on Energy because the main two had no form of active Energy management and relied heavily on Blood is Power from the Paragon. This was especially evident after the retreat when [Cry] sent their flag runner to capture the stand and he was easily killed before getting close. At this point [Cry] was forced to fall all the way back to their Guild Lord and never regained the flag stand again.
Over the next several minutes [vD] scored several kills, and by minute 16 [Cry] had only one archer remaining out of all their NPCs. [vD] killed Monks repeatedly, but each time one of the Paragons would bring it back up with Signet of Return.
Just before Victory or Death [vD] pulled back to the flagstand to ensure the safety of their NPCs. [Cry] followed and attempted to whittle down some of the [vD] NPC advantage, but had little success before a couple of deaths forced them to retreat. At 23:30 [Cry] pushed out the back through the lava towards the [vD] base, but a speedy defensive response forced them back. With high death penalty and no NPCs left, [Cry] was forced to escort their Guild Lord to the stand. They managed to kill off a couple more NPCs, but soon the pressure took its toll as all of their Monks were down at minute 28 and the match was over shortly after.
The Post Game
So what happened? How did a fairly balanced build take down this offensive and defensive juggernaut with such relative ease? Most of it can be attributed to good play on the part of [vD], and some of it can be attributed to a miscalculation in "Build Wars."
[Cry] accomplished very few clean spikes. The combination of an Aegis chain, "Shields Up!", Defensive Anthem, and "Watch Yourself!" was enough to blunt the spike in nearly all cases. In addition, choosing such a spike build for Burning Isle may actually have worked against [Cry], even though this map tends to force eight-versus-eight confrontations, normally ideal for spike teams. Burning Isle has many elevation changes that serve as obstructions to line-of-sight. [vD] took advantage of these with their positioning, further disrupting [Cry]'s spiking ability. Also, although [vD] didn't have a traditional Infuser, they did have Imbue Health on their Dervish, as well as two copies of Gift of Health. These, plus good "pre-protting" on the part of [vD], seemed to be enough to catch the spikes when added to active defense and sound positional awareness. On top of that, the constant Heal Party of the flag runner helped stave off the pressure of the Paragons.
On the other hand, [vD] heavily pressured the [Cry] Monks, even through the gauntlet of defensive Paragon skills. A key reason was that [vD] had numerous interrupts at their disposal, while [Cry] had very few. Both teams seemed to have builds geared towards dealing with the heavy Hex teams that seem so prevalent in the current metagame, perhaps with an eye looking out specifically for [HAnD] and their three Hexer build. As such, both teams brought a lot of Hex removal that played little or no role in this match. In this case, [vD] still maintained considerable versatility in their build that seemed to be somewhat lacking in the one [Cry] used.
Billiard is a Senior Moderator at GuildWarsGuru.com and long time guild leader of Xen of Onslaught [XoO], one of the largest and most active PvP guilds in the world. Billiard can be reached in game as Billiard The Bold, or by private message at the [XoO] website.