With World of Warcraft: Classic finally launched worldwide, the popularity of the fifteen-year old game has been surprising to most, with players having wait hours to simply log into the game on the busiest servers. While the initial success of the game is not indicative of how popular the game will be in a few months, it does still raise the question of what, if any, competitive PvP might arise for the esports scene.
The Current PvP Scene In WoW Still Thrives
In the current expansion, Battle for Azeroth, PvP is alive and well, but looks like an entirely different creature compared to WoW: Classic. Today we have Seasons for PvP, where players compete towards attaining account-wide Honor and Prestige, fight in Epic Battlegrounds, Island expeditions, Arena, War Mode, and more. Along with these, PvP Talents exist solely for competitive fights, and are separate from PvE content.
Is there PvP in WoW Classic?
Yes, and no. Much like everything else in the game, fifteen years of ongoing development have resulted in an entirely different game. PvP as we know it today is non-existent in WoW: Classic. However, that does not mean that players cannot engage in PvP, they simply need to be creative about it.
For now, Dueling is the name of the game, whereby players meet in a central location, often outside of the gates of Orgimmar, Stormwind, or the only open-PvP area in the game, Gurubashi Arena, and formally challenged each other by clicking on a player portrait and requesting a duel. After a brief timer, the players are free to attack one another. Neither player dies, and instead once “killed” the duel is over and one player is victorious. There is nothing to gain from doing so at this stage in the game, only practice and reputation among other duelists.
World PvP is also an option, whereby Alliance and Horde can square off in large groups to fight, however this is more organized and often happens in places that are popular questing areas among both factions, such as Hillsbrad.
Formal PvP will be a part of WoW: Classic, but not until the roll out of Phase Two, which will introduce the Honor System which includes Dishonorable Kills and PvP Rank Rewards. Phase Three will later introduce Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley as battlegrounds, and Phase Four will bring Arathi Basin. Phase Six will bring World PvP objectives inside of Silithus and the Eastern Plaguelands.
What About Arena?
Unfortunately, we are not likely to see any form of Arena within WoW: Classic, as it was not formally a part of the game until the first expansion was released, The Burning Crusade. As Arena has not been mentioned among any rollout of content in Phases One through Six, there is no reason to believe it will magically appear.
However, given the success of the game so far, and assuming it has some kind of staying power, Blizzard has stated in the past that they would consider a continuation of the Classic game with the release of expansions over time. This would mean that The Burning Crusade would be next, and we could then see the development of Arena style esports. With that said, it might be too niche, and already competing with the PvP of contemporary Battle for Azeroth.
What About Twinking In Classic?
Many players may not recall, but for some, Twinking was the real PvP endgame in Vanilla World of Warcraft. For the unfamiliar, this would refer to making a character as overpowered as possible at the lowest level brackets, generally at level 19 and 29. Since Battlegrounds did not award and experience, they would have level 60 allies run them through specific content to acquire the best in slot armor and weapons, and spend hundreds of gold on enchantments meant for level 60 raiding, all on a level 19 or 29 character.
This would result in normal players being instantly killed, and was frustrating to play against, but also a sight to behold. As with most of World of Warcraft, this was eventually changed so as to not affect normal players with the introduction of experience gains through battlegrounds. Those who wished to not gain experience could do so but would only be placed into matches with other players who have made the same decision.
Assuming that Blizzard maintains no experience gains in Battlegrounds, we are sure to see a resurgence in this kind of PvP.
For now, it would appear that most players are simply enjoying the old leveling process of WoW: Classic. While there may be a demand for PvP esports in this mode of the game, there is little evidence to suggest that any accommodations will be made outside of the proposed rollout of phases.