Shadowlands Tank Rankings: A Sanctum of Domination Tier List (Patch 9.1.5)
World of Warcraft has never been perfectly balanced, and Shadowlands is no exception. Some classes are better than others at the high end for raiding, and inevitably, a meta will exist. This ranking is based on the viability and strength of the various tank specializations for the new raid in Patch 9.1, Sanctum of Domination.
About the Tier List
November 6 update: With the launch of patch 9.1.5, not much has actually changed inside the raid. Most of the major updates this patch were to systems and other parts of the game that do not affect your performance inside raid. Even the AoE target cap removals are targeted more towards Mythic+, as there are very few places inside the raid where the removed AoE caps will have any noticeable impact.
This RAIDING tier list is CONSTANTLY EVOLVING — It CHANGES and IS UPDATED as often as necessary to account for tuning and balance changes.
Hello! I am Impakt, an officer in the North American guild "BDGG", or Big Dumb Golden Guardians. We finished Castle Nathria as the second best guild in North America, and at World 9th. We are prepping hard for the new raid tiers in Shadowlands, and this list reflects how we are currently feeling about the various classes and specializations for progressing the new raid tier in patch 9.1, Sanctum of Domination. In addition to our own experience, this list was created and will continue to be update in consultation with raiders of other top guilds.
This tier list is entirely based on tank viability for the raid in Patch 9.1.5 of Shadowlands, Sanctum of Domination. The main things you want to look for in tank choice are damage dealt, ability to handle or recover from incoming damage of all types, cooldowns, and utility.
A Final Warning
It is incredibly important to emphasize that just because a tank is low in the tier list, it does not mean that you should ignore it completely. For the vast majority of cases, you should choose to bring the better player, not the better class. That does not mean you never need to think about your raid composition, just that most of the time player skill will be more important than the difference between classes, assuming you already have the required raid buffs. All being lower tier means is that, all else being equal, those specs will be less desirable for the raid based on current tuning.
Shadowlands Tank Tier List for Sanctum of Domination
Below is a quick summary of the full rankings that we have detailed on this page. While this gives a good outline of the standings of specializations in comparison to one another, we recommend reading the full rankings to understand why certain specializations are ranked as they are.
Work in progress Last update on Nov 06, 2021
DPS and Healer Class Rankings
Full Tank Class Rankings
One major difference in this 9.1 tier list is what separates the tanks. Tanks are much closer together when it comes to defensive power than in Castle Nathria — every tank is perfectly viable in terms of defensive power for clearing the raid on mythic. The major differences between the tanks are damage output, utility, and unique buffs that they bring to the raid. In other words, most raids could go in with any combination of tanks and do just fine in Sanctum of Domination.
August 4 update: With how Ashen Hallow is, Protection Paladins have been outstanding in Sanctum of Domination. The on-demand healing and damage boost helps carry you through difficult parts of encounters, and Paladins specifically are doing extraordinary damage compared to any other tank and healer. Additionally, Blessing of Spellwarding has proven invaluable on several encounters and helps immensely. Paladin's damage and utility is substantial enough to warrant a bump straight into the S-tier.
Protection Paladins have solid damage mitigation actives with many powerful cooldowns, making them decently durable and one of the best scaling tanks in 9.1. Shield of the Righteous has quite a high up-time in 9.1, and they still have cooldowns such as Ardent Defender or Guardian of Ancient Kings available during downtime. However, Paladin's main strengths come from their damage output and utility. Paladins are still one of the best tanks to bring for the damage and utility, which is a very real need on some encounters. Paladins have a personal immunity, an immunity they can place on a raid member, high single-target damage comparatively, and access to Ashen Hallow as an exceptional raid healing and damage cooldown.
Protection Warriors bring several important abilities that provide insane utility to the group. Battle Shout gives 5% AP to the raid, Rallying Cry is an exceptional raid cooldown, and Necrolord Warriors also bring Conqueror's Banner. Banner was changed in Patch 9.0.5, and now allows you to buff two other players with 400 mastery and 30% movement speed for 15 seconds on a 2-minute cooldown. Banner provides a huge boost in damage for some classes during their burst windows, which makes Protection Warrior one the best tanks to bring both in terms of overall raid DPS and defensive utility.
Protection Warriors are solid defensively, but their offensive and defensive utility is what makes them S-tier. Ignore Pain and Spell Reflection fills the need for magic damage mitigation, while their array of cooldowns helps them in high damage situations. Demoralizing Shout, Shield Wall, Last Stand, along with some other strong talent options provide Warriors with multiple ways to deal with damage of any sort.
Blood Death Knight
November 6 update: Anti-Magic Zone on a Blood DK has proven to be exceptionally strong in Sanctum, which warrants bumping them up into the S-tier.
The best word to describe Blood Death Knight is every tank's favorite word: agency. As a Blood Death Knight, you have more control over your ability to survive than any other tank out there, which makes this a great tank for players looking to flex their personal skill in high end content. Death Strike is still the powerhouse of self healing that it has always been, which is one of the biggest strengths for Death Knights. They have a large array of tools at their disposal, including Vampiric Blood, Dancing Rune Weapon, Anti-Magic Shell, Icebound Fortitude, Rune Tap, and more. Finally, DKs have Death Grip and Gorefiend's Grasp. Grips are the signature, unique Death Knight ability that can be vital for any raid encounters with adds, although they are not particularly useful in Sanctum of Domination.
There are two reasons that DK is in the B-tier. The first is damage: DKs do the least damage out of any tank. Damage output has been the primary issue for Blood DKs for quite some time, and even after some minor buffs in Patch 9.1 they have not really improved. The second major issue is raid utility. Grips are not necessary in any of the more difficult encounters, and their previously-strong raid cooldown Anti-Magic Zone was nerfed substantially in Patch 9.1. While still decent, it is a bit weaker than it was previously, but less so for Blood compared to the other DK DPS specializations. Every tank is viable defensively, however, which means that to be in the A-tier or S-tier they would need to bring something more. All of the other tanks above bring a required raid buff, more damage, or better raid cooldowns.
Guardians are still the tankiest of tanks going into Sanctum of Domination. Thanks to their damage mitigation passives, talents, and the high up-time on Ironfur, Guardian take less damage overall than any other tank class on any encounter. Survival Instincts is still one of the highest damage reductions for any tank, but is only 6 seconds and more for targeted used. Bears also have Barkskin and Frenzied Regeneration, but their primary active mitigation comes from Ironfur. Currently their main problem is that they lack any real raid utility apart from a 1-minute Stampeding Roar, and they do not bring any required raid buff. If you want your tanks to just stay alive, Guardian is the best choice. It is also worth noting, though, that Guardian actually does high-tier damage output and is a decent choice offensively for the raid if you can look past the lack of utility.
August 4 update: Brewmaster's incredible mobility and solid single-target damage has proven to be incredibly useful on Sylvanas, and warrants bumping them into the A-tier. As such, we have scrapped the B-tier entirely.
Brewmaster is unfortunately is one of the least durable tanks going into Sanctum of Domination, but only slightly so. While Stagger as a mechanic was better in Castle Nathria where tank damage was exceptionally high, other classes are performing comparatively better defensively than they were early on in Shadowlands. Brewmasters require more healing than most tanks to be kept alive since they do not actually mitigate as much damage. In a situation where all of the tanks are defensively viable to clear the raid, Brewmaster is one of the worst choices defensively because it will require the most external help to stay alive, especially since Brewmaster has one of the weaker cooldown toolkits out of any tank. That being said, Brewmaster still does solid damage output, has excellent mobility, and does bring a required raid buff which could be a reason to consider running a Brewmaster. As a Monk, Brewmasters also bring a 5% Physical damage buff to the raid. Windwalker and Mistweaver Monks can also bring it however, and Windwalkers are more commonly found in raid in Shadowlands. However, Brewmaster is an easy way to grab it if you cannot reliably field another Monk specialization.
Vengeance Demon Hunter
Demon Hunters have a strong all-around toolkit that combines top-tier damage mitigation with decent self-healing. Demon Hunters offer a very strong passive reduction against magic damage when combining Demonic Wards with Viscous Ink. Metamorphosis is still an incredibly powerful defensive cooldown, which along with Fiery Brand and Fel Devastation gives them decent options for dealing with high damage periods. Demon Hunters specifically also get the talent Last Resort that allows them to cheat death, which is beyond invaluable for tanking at a progression level. Finally Demon Hunters are still one of the most mobile classes in the game, which is of course incredibly useful to have as a tank.
It is also worth mentioning that similar to Monks, Demon Hunters have a 5% magic buff that they bring to the raid. However, Havoc Demon Hunters are actually one of the more common DPS found in raids, making it likely most raids will have one anyway. At least one Vengeance Demon Hunter is almost required if your raid does not have a Havoc Demon Hunter.
- 06 Nov. 2021: Updated for patch 9.1.5.
- 04 Aug. 2021: Updated for first couple of Mythic weeks.
- 13 Jul. 2021: Updated after Heroic week.
- 24 Jun. 2021: Page added.
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