Shadowlands Tank Rankings: A Sepulcher of the First Ones Tier List (Patch 9.2.5)
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 9.2, Sepulcher of the First Ones.
About the Tier List
June 23 update: Just a check-in to ensure everything still looks accurate. No rankings have been changed at this time.
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, the raid leader of the North American guild "BDGG", or Big Dumb Golden Guardians. We finished Sanctum of Domination as the second-best guild in North America, and at World 4th. 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 9.2, Sepulcher of the First Ones. 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 9.2 of Shadowlands, Sepulcher of the First Ones. 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.
In Patch 9.2.5, class balance is going to be incredibly dependent on the state of your characters. For this tier list, we will assume that you have 2 Legendary items and 4 pieces of your tier set equipped. Even though it will take at least two weeks to unlock the pieces, the vast majority of guilds will be progressing the most difficult raid encounters with this setup.
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 Sepulcher of the First Ones
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 Jun 23, 2022
DPS and Healer Class Rankings
Full Tank Class Rankings
Tanks are much closer together when it comes to defensive power than earlier in Shadowlands— 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 Sepulcher of the First Ones.
Blood Death Knight
April 25 update: Thanks to a late buff to their 4-set, DKs now do exceptional damage, and are overall the best tank for Mythic progression.
Blood Death Knight has a large toolkit to make use of, including Vampiric Blood, Dancing Rune Weapon, Anti-Magic Shell, Icebound Fortitude, Rune Tap, and more. Defensively they are quite strong, particularly when it comes to magic damage compared to other tanks. For utility, DKs most notably have Death Grip and Gorefiend's Grasp. Grips are the signature, unique Death Knight ability that can be vital for any raid encounter with adds that need to be grouped or controlled.
There are two reasons that DK is in the S-tier. The first is damage: DKs were doing the least damage. but after a major buff to their tier set they now have the highest damage output out of any tank. The second reason is utility. Grips are an extremely hit or miss type of utility, where it is either completely useless or vital to the encounter. Most encounters in Sepulcher of the First Ones will not require grips at all in Patch 9.2, but there are a couple of key places where having a Blood DK at your disposal to group adds could be extremely important in early Mythic progression. Finally, Blood DK still has Anti-Magic Zone, which is one of the strongest possible raid cooldowns that a non-healer can bring.
Thanks to a particularly potent tier set, Brewmaster Monk is looking to be an excellent choice going into Patch 9.2. Their high health pool, incredible self-healing, and ability to mitigate large amounts of damage through Stagger and their other cooldowns actually make them the strongest choice defensively going into 9.2. They do not do quite as much damage as Protection Paladins, but they are still one of the strongest picks in terms of damage output out of any other tank. As a Monk, Brewmasters also bring a 5% Physical damage buff to the raid. Other Monk specs can provide this as well, but if you do not have a Mistweaver right now then Brewmaster is going to be your best choice for getting the debuff in the Sepulcher of the First Ones.
April 25 update: After a late nerf to their 4-set tier bonus, Protection Paladins are no longer doing the most damage, which reduces their appeal a bit. They are still an excellent choice, but have fallen from the S-tier.
Protection Paladins have two primary reasons for being at the top of the A-tier: damage output and utility, specifically with immunities. Ashen Hallow is still exceptionally strong, and will still have exceptional use-cases in the new Sepulcher of the First Ones raid. The on-demand healing and damage boost helps carry you through difficult parts of encounters, and Paladins specifically are doing excellent damage compared to most tanks. Additionally, Blessing of Spellwarding should once again prove to be incredibly valuable on several encounters.
Protection Paladins have solid damage mitigation actives with many powerful cooldowns, making them decently durable and one of the best scaling tanks in at the moment. Shield of the Righteous has quite a high uptime, 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 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.
Guardian Druids are still one of the tankiest of tanks going into Patch 9.2. Thanks to their damage mitigation passives, talents, and the high uptime on Ironfur, Guardian is still one of the best choices defensively. 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 do need the extra movement spell, however, Guardian is an exceptional tanking choice.
Vengeance Demon Hunter
Vengeance Demon Hunters have a strong all-around toolkit that combines top-tier damage mitigation with strong self-healing. Demon Hunters offer a very strong passive reduction against magic damage when combining Demonic Wards with the Viscous Ink Conduit. 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. Vengeance is specifically looking to be incredibly strong for AoE tanking in Patch 9.2 thanks to their new tier set bonuses, but unfortunately it will not be nearly as useful in the Sepulcher of the First Ones raid as it will be in Mythic+. Vengeance is by no means a weak tank, but while it is a solid all-around tank there are generally better options for either offensive, defensive, or utility roles depending on what your raid needs.
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.
Protection Warriors bring several important abilities that provide some solid utility to the group. Battle Shout gives 5% Attack Power to the raid, Rallying Cry is an exceptional raid cooldown, and Necrolord Warriors also bring Conqueror's Banner. Banner provides a huge boost in damage for some classes during their burst windows.
Protection Warriors are decent defensively, but their utility becomes a bit more lacking when you account for how strong Fury Warriors are looking going into Patch 9.2. If a raid already has multiple DPS Warriors at their disposal, Protection does not bring all the much to the raid. There are better defensive tank options, there are better utility options, and there are better offensive options if you do not need the Warrior buff.
- 23 Jun. 2022: Check-in since last update.
- 25 Apr. 2022: Updated after first few weeks of Mythic.
- 18 Feb. 2022: Updated for patch 9.2.
- 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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