Shadow Priest PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Shadowlands / Patch 9.0.2)

Last updated on Oct 15, 2020 at 20:23 by Mysticall 8 comments

PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as a Shadow Priest, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.

This page is part of our Shadow Priest PvP Guide.

1.

Playstyle for Shadow Priests

The main role for a Shadow Priest is complex. A large majority of the time, you will just try to stay alive. You will be the focus for many teams. Make sure your partners can help peel for you, so you can get away and cast. Not only that, but you will also have to help your teammates survive if they are being focused. There are two main things you will focus on as a Shadow Priest has in Arena.

The first is keeping you and your team alive. This is a weird role to have as a DPS specialization. Most DPS classes will just focus on using crowd control and doing damage. Shadow Priests have unique utility that no other casters have, such as abilities like Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield, Leap of Faith Icon Leap of Faith and Void Shift Icon Void Shift that help you and your teammates when being focused.

The thing you will focus on is to always have spread pressure on the enemy team. This can be difficult when being focused, but it is crucial. Shadow Priest AoE pressure is unmatched. Always refresh your DoTs and enter Voidform Icon Voidform when there is an opportunity to free cast.

2.

Damage Rotations

2.1.

Generating and Spending Insanity

Understanding how to generate and spend Insanity is crucial for you to maximize damage with a Shadow Priest. There are numerous spells that will generate Insanity. Here are those abilities and when to use them:

  • Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain are your two primary DoTs that should be used on as many enemies as possible. These are both the primary abilities that will generate your Insanity. You can use abilities, such as Unfurling Darkness Icon Unfurling Darkness, to instantly place these DoTs after a healer dispels them.
  • Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast is cast and generates Insanity. This should be used when you have multiple enemies with your DoTs on them to take advantage of the passive Shadowy Apparitions Icon Shadowy Apparitions.
  • Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay generates Insanity over the duration it is channeled. This is a filler spell that should be used when you have DoTs on all enemies and Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast is on cooldown.
  • Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend generate Insanity each time the Shadowfiend attacks. This has a long cooldown, but can be used in times you cannot cast to get DoTs on enemies. This can be used with Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption to increase your burst damage.
  • Mind Sear Icon Mind Sear is not an ability that is used often, but does generate Insanity for each enemy it hits. This ability is primarily used to get enemies out of stealth at the beginning of an arena.
  • Hallucinations Icon Hallucinations is a passive ability. This makes it so your Dispel Magic Icon Dispel Magic, Mass Dispel Icon Mass Dispel, Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace, and Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield all generate Insanity when they are successful.

Now that you know how to generate Insanity, there is only one ability that you have that spends all of the Insanity you are generating, Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague. This costs 50 Insanity, deals a large amount of damage over 6 seconds, and heals you for 50% of the damage dealt. This should be used after the enemy healer dispels or is in crowd control.

2.2.

Before Gates Open

Before the gates open, know exactly who you will be using crowd control (Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream and Silence Icon Silence) on. Another ability to coordinate is Void Shift Icon Void Shift; make sure not to overlap it with other defensive cooldowns. Make sure to use Power Word: Fortitude Icon Power Word: Fortitude on your teammates. It can be dispelled by abilities like Purge Icon Purge or Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal, so be prepared to apply it often. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Most teams will focus you, so be prepared to cast spells as soon as you get the chance.
  • Try to "juke" enemies into wasting their interrupts. This means to begin casting a spell and canceling it to get the enemy team to use their interrupts on nothing.
  • Always keep your DoTs (Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain) on all enemies.
2.3.

The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. With a ranged Stun and Silence, Shadow Priests no longer have to overextend to get crowd control on enemies. This helps with survivability and damage output.

Likewise, if an enemy DPS uses their trinket, you can crowd control the healer and stun the DPS without a trinket. This means they can be burst down in a stun and possibly killed.

When opening do the following:

  1. Make sure you are in Shadowform Icon Shadowform.
  2. Cast Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch on your main target.
  3. Use the instant Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch on any other enemy around you.
  4. Cast Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast on the main target once you get DoTs on as many enemies as you can.
  5. Use Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash if you are using this talent and the target is stunned or cannot move.
  6. Cast Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay as a filler.
  7. From here, you will constantly be refreshing your DoTs on all enemies.
  8. Use Damnation Icon Damnation if the enemy healer dispels your DoTs or if they are in crowd control.
  9. After your burst, perform your sustained damage rotation until your burst cooldowns are available.
2.4.

Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage. To use your crowd control, simply cast Mind Bomb Icon Mind Bomb or Psychic Scream Icon Psychic Scream on the enemy healer. Once it expires, use Silence Icon Silence. If your team does not have a stun for the healer, follow this up with Psychic Horror Icon Psychic Horror if you are talented into it.

  1. Before entering Voidform Icon Voidform, make sure you have your DoTs on as many enemies as possible.
  2. Use Psyfiend Icon Psyfiend on your kill target.
  3. Cast Void Eruption Icon Void Eruption to enter Voidform Icon Voidform.
  4. Use Mindgames Icon Mindgames on the kill target.
  5. Use Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion on yourself.
  6. Use Psychic Horror Icon Psychic Horror on the kill target. If you are playing with a class that also has a stun you should use this after the stun. At the same time you should Silence Icon Silence the enemy healer.
  7. Use Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt to extend the duration of you Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch's and Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pains.
  8. Use Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash if you are using this talent and the target is stunned or cannot move.
  9. Cast Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague on your kill target.
    • At any point during this rotation, if the enemy healer dispels your DoTs, instantly reapply them using Damnation Icon Damnation.
  10. Cast Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast.
  11. Use Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt to extend the duration of your Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain.
  12. Cast Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast.
  13. Cast Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague on your kill target.
  14. If Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain are close to expiring, start refreshing them by casting Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch.
  15. Use Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay as a filler.
  16. Use Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death if the enemy is at low enough health.

Make sure to refresh your DoTs by using Void Bolt Icon Void Bolt. This will drastically increase your damage output and lets you use more important spells. This also generates Insanity quickly.

2.5.

Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Cast Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch on your main target.
  2. Use Damnation Icon Damnation if the enemy healer dispels your DoTs or is in crowd control. This will instantly apply all of your DoTs to the target.
  3. Cast Mind Blast Icon Mind Blast when multiple enemies have your DoTs on them.
  4. Cast Devouring Plague Icon Devouring Plague on your kill target when you have 50 Insanity.
  5. Use Shadow Crash Icon Shadow Crash if you are using this talent and the target is stunned or cannot move.
  6. Cast Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay as a filler and to gain the Haste buff if you are using the PvP talent Mind Trauma Icon Mind Trauma.
  7. Refresh Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word: Pain Icon Shadow Word: Pain.
  8. If you get interrupted use Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield.
  9. Use Shadow Word: Death Icon Shadow Word: Death if the enemy is at low enough health.
3.

Cooldowns/Defensives

Dispersion Icon Dispersion is the main defensive cooldown for Shadow Priests. This reduces all damage done to you by 60%, but you cannot use any abilities while it is active.

Void Shift Icon Void Shift is another great defensive cooldown. With a 5-minute cooldown it is likely to only be used once a game, but can help stabilize your team instantly. This cooldown needs to be coordinated with your healer so there is no overlap with other cooldowns. Use this when being focused and swap your health with a teammate at higher health. Alternatively, you can use it on a teammate that is at low health. Keep all of this in mind when you are choosing your third PvP talent.

Vampiric Embrace Icon Vampiric Embrace is a defensive ability that, when used properly, can stabilize your team quickly. When you or your teammate is taking heavy damage and you have time to free cast, use this ability. Abilities like Vampiric Touch Icon Vampiric Touch and Mind Flay Icon Mind Flay can completely heal your team.

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield is a versatile spell that helps your team. You can also use it to generate Insanity if you get interrupted on Shadow abilities.

Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend is a direct heal that can be used on teammates. This is a great ability when you are trying to get the enemy team to interrupt you or if there are no more interrupts left. Although it does not do a substantial amount of healing, it can help your healer if they are in crowd control.

Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer increases your health by 25% for 10 seconds, and instantly heals you for that amount. This is great for when you get interrupted on Shadow Mend Icon Shadow Mend and need an instant heal.

Fade Icon Fade/Mind Soothe Icon Mind Soothe. In PvP, these abilities do the same thing: they reduce the range at which attacks can be made to you. This is great versus teams with ranged classes on them. This will either force them to wait or make them overextend to deal damage/crowd control you.

4.

Macros

It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.

5.

Changelog

  • 05 Oct. 2020: Updated all Damage rotations.
  • 15 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch (9.0.1)
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