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Shadowlands Pre-patch Week 5 DPS Raid Rankings and Expansion Analysis

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We're changing things up a little this week, as our analysis of the state of the specs will be focusing on Shadowlands instead of the pre-patch. But worry not, the actual numbers are still here and still indicating who's the top dog, as Affliction is really pulling ahead and, as Motoko clarifies, will remain one of the stronger specs in SL as well. Also, the usual disclaimer: some of the results may not be quite as they seem, due to under-representation, and you should check out our article on the reliability of the logs to get a better perspective on them and their relevance.

*The below rankings are for this past week, before today's class tuning.

The 95th percentile Affliction has pulled ahead once more after last week's fall to Arcane, as Elemental pushes through just behind SP, passing by Unholy and Fire.

Data by Warcraft Logs.

In the overall chart Affliction is actually ahead by a much bigger margin, as Beast Mastery retains its 4th place and Unholy pushes past Fire.

Data by Warcraft Logs.

The spec representation for this week, as Survival, Enhancement, Frost DK and more really didn't see much play at all.

Data by Warcraft Logs.

And now we have our guide writers tell us about what the specs can look forward to in Shadowlands, as we take a look at the top and bottom, with even more specs getting covered next week.

Affliction Warlock by Motoko:


In the last week of BfA the situation has, to nobody surprise, solidified with Affliction being a top performer with a well rounded and versatile kit sporting no weaknesses, unlike Destruction which lacks single target and Demonology that has plenty of it but severely lacks spread multitarget capabilities.

So what can we expect from Shadowlands release? Essences going away means Affliction will lose a certain degree of burst, especially AoE on a 1.5 minutes timer with Blood of the Enemy Blood of the Enemy. The new borrowed power system, Conduits, Soulbinds and Legedaries will not take over and augment the spec burst, but instead will provide the spec with increased execute potential, or stacked cleave depending on what the player will choose. In general the spec will turn its damage profile in a less burst oriented, higher sustained output variant, with a more balanced damage breakdown.

In Shadowlands, Affliction looks to be THE benchmark spec for all the casters, being able to tackle any kind of content competitively. It has a highly mobile toolkit that has no weakness, short of those situations like normal or heroic dungeons where targets outside of bosses will be dead before DoTs and Malefic Rapture Malefic Rapture can start outputting damage.

Arcane Mage by Dutchmagoz:


Arcane is currently the top performing Mage spec in Ny'alotha. This has been caused by a combination of various pre-patch things coming together. A big reason is the fight lengths in Ny'alotha (during pre-patch), which are very short, or have downtime during which Arcane can regenerate mana, allowing Arcane to effectively only use Arcane Missiles Arcane Missiles without risk of running out of mana. This combined with the better knowledge gained by the playerbase on how to effectively play the Arcane Missiles build and the strength of the Azerite traitArcane Pummeling Arcane Pummeling has made Arcane very strong.

In Shadowlands, the fights won't be this short (for a long time, at least) and the Arcane Pummeling trait will no longer exist, which means the Arcane Missiles only spam is most likely not going to be a thing in Shadowlands, even with conduits buffing an Arcane Missiles focused rotation.

Early simulations and raid testing suggest that Arcane is most likely still going to be the best Mage spec on pure single target, although Fire is getting very close in that department as well due to having access to a very strong legendary compared to Arcane. Where it falls off is going to be on cleave.

How exactly this will all end up working out still remains to be seen, but we are not expecting Arcane to be as ahead as it is right now.

Shadow Priest by Publik:


Shadow Priest has excelled in the pre-patch environment in no small part due to the amazing synergy of the old Azerite Traits with the new Shadow Priest rework. As we head into Shadowlands you can expect some of these changes to have effects on talent diversity and overall options with the spec, as we are less reliant on an Azerite Traits to synergize our damage around.

Specifically, in Shadowlands we will have access to somewhat lackluster Covenant abilities, but more importantly we will get Power Infusion Power Infusion back as a 2 minute Haste cooldown. This will give Shadow Priests an amazing amount of burst damage for that first Voidform Voidform, especially if this lines up with Bloodlust where we can use Voidform, Shadowfiend, Power Infusion, our Covenant ability, and one of the many on-use Trinkets in Shadowlands for a large damage boost on the opener. Pair this with an incredibly diversified talent tree and we will have options for several common patterns of damage required to defeat bosses in Castle Nathria or Mythic+ dungeons.

Elemental Shaman by Stormy:


Coming into Shadowlands, Elemental's place is looking to remain fairly close to what it was in the pre-patch. Elemental's newly acquired utility and mobility, especially combined with the Covenant signature abilities, allows it to close the gap with more universally strong specs, keeping its versatility and significantly bolstering its toolkit.

While it is unlikely to be top tier in raids, Elemental may well be very strong in a few select fights, and is unlikely to be bad in any situation. Elemental will be significantly stronger in solo play in Shadowlands, and although diminished from early beta, should be a formidable spec in Mythic+ and PvP. The ideal legendary powers might not be quick to acquire unfortunately, unless world bosses end up guaranteeing drops. As for Covenants, most are somewhat close in power and all are viable, although Blizzard's (sensible) decision to break the interaction between Echoing Shock Echoing Shock and Chain Harvest Chain Harvest likely made Venthyr go from a top choice to the worst covenant.

Beast Master Hunter by Azortharion:


Beast Mastery is currently in a pretty average position on the predicted single-target DPS of Castle Nathria, but as usual it is expected to make up for this with its completely unlimited mobility to some extent. It is one of the specs that has changed the least from BFA to Shadowlands in general, so if you enjoyed how it played and performed before, you likely won't be disappointed going into Shadowlands.

According to current simulations, it has been somewhat usurped by Marksmanship as the best of the Ranged Hunter Specs, being about 5-10% worse in terms of single-target DPS potential, and a bit worse for AoE situations like Mythic+ where Marksmanship's burst AoE puts it ahead.

And finally let's more towards the bottom of the current standings.

Windwalker Monk by Babylonius:


Windwalker should be reasonably decent in raids at the start of the expansion, probably upper middle of the pack. It suffers from no utility if you have a Brewmaster, but damage should be just fine. With the discovery of Invoker's Delight IconInvoker's Delight as the strongest legendary, combined with Xuen and the Kyrian covenant, Windwalkers will have very larger burst windows of 20-30 seconds every two minutes.

Being a melee continues to hurt WW, but anything will be better than where it is finishing BfA at. The position in BfA is largely due to absolutely awful scaling, which won’t be a problem at the start of Shadowlands. Historically Windwalker does quite well in the first tier then falls off later as gear improves, unless Blizzard buffs to compensate. This happened regularly in Legion, and almost not at all in BfA, which is what led to the current situation. It’s impossible to perfectly predict where Windwalker will be in Shadowlands, but most signs point to upper-middle of the pack.

We'll cover even more specs in the final entry next week as well. Meanwhile, you can check out even more details on the specs in the pre-patch by checking out our class guides, and you can also check out last week's DPS rankings where we took a look at the recent class tuning effects.

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16 hours ago, Xclnt said:

Images are gone?

Hmmm no idea what happened there, must've been an imgur issue. Remade them now, thanks for the heads up!

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