Back in the simpler days of World of Warcraft when you only had to worry about how many boars you had to kill and how many miles you had to run to get to your next quest, there was no such thing as Race to World First. Guilds had humble beginnings and simply witnessing the greatness of Kel’Thuzad or C’Thun was enough of a reward; to be there and to see these iconic faces in person was plenty—loot was just a bonus. In Battle for Azeroth, Race to World First became the race we know today: a highly anticipated and adrenaline-fueled event streamed for all WoW players where guilds race to clear the new raid the fastest.
Over time, three guilds rose to prominence and continued to be the top contenders of every Race to World First: Echo, Method, and Liquid. Founded at the inception of WoW in 2005 by Scott “Sco” McMillan, Method took the game to another level with its innovative approach and passion for progress. Method first appeared in the race in Cataclysm raid Blackwing Descent in December 2010, and since then, the guild has participated in almost every Race to World First.
Today, Method is swamped with preparation for the Aberrus, the Shadowed Crucible Race to World First, which officially starts on May 10. And there’s a lot that goes into the preparation before the race.
Victory loves preparation, but boy is it boring
For Method and other guilds who participate in Race to World First, the grind never stops. Even when one race comes to an end, another race is already beginning as all members of the guild have up to 10 characters they have to keep up to date. The preparation, however, intensifies as we approach the release of a new patch, Patch 10.1 in this case. All members of the guild watchfully study the patch notes, theorize with pen and paper, and stock up on necessary goodies for the raid.
Kina is an officer with Method. He’s a healer who manages and updates his nine characters and has to balance between management and playing, theorycrafting, and breaking down the new content for other players.
When it comes to race prep, repeating the same content is “not fun,” Kina told Dot Esports. Weeks and days before the race, you’ll see officers Nate, Kina, and Danwarr running Vault of the Incarnates and Mythic+ dungeons on not-so-geared characters to bring them up to speed for the race. Preparation mainly boils down to a never-ending grind of gearing up characters and making sure they have all the necessary enchants, sockets, and similar bonuses.
Although Method does try out boss fights on the PTR, the testing period is rather short, normally lasting just an hour or two. The majority of the preparation boils down to pen-and-paper work, theorycrafting, and running the same old content to keep their sea of characters up to date. Despite this part of the preparation being highly dynamic and you won’t know exactly what you’re waking up to every day, this is universally the most hated part of the race for all Method players.
While grinding, Kina and the other officers are busy with the big-picture preparation.
“Our job as officers is to steer the ship and compartmentalize as well,” Kina said. “For example, I organize a lot of sales… A lot of people come to us having just bought tokens and I think there are a lot of dad gamers out there who just want to see the Mythic bosses, just see them once. Or they want a certain rating because they want the transmog. There’s a lot of grassroots stuff there. But there are some big-ticket buyers who have endless amounts of gold and just want to support us.”
Progress is carnage, chaos
From the moment the race starts to the moment the final boss is defeated, the race on Method’s side is pure chaos as they often face unexpected problems like Blizzard Entertainment balance changes and players losing connection.
“Progress is a blur, it’s carnage,” Kina said. “It’s chaos from day one. There’s no boredom in the race at all because there’s always something to be done… It’s nice to have a breather, but I think we’re addicted to the chaos.”
There is, however, planning and strategizing during the race and it includes a multitude of little tasks that need to be completed: personal plans and strategies, mid-race strategy that is being built upon that depends on your position in the race, integrating analysts’ suggestions, and pivoting to alternate plans if necessary.
“It’s very heartbeat specific,” Kina said. ”The approach that we have is making sure we’re making the right decisions across the board, and have systems in place that help us make those decisions.”
In Aberrus Race to World First, Method will once again meet their rivals Echo and Liquid, who snagged the title of World First in the last couple of races. Danwarr, a DPS in Method, outlined that these two guilds normally find more success than Method thanks to their wealth of experience, a strong analyst team, and the players themselves being well-prepared and armed to their teeth. Method, on the other hand, can struggle with fully understanding and perfecting the encounter. In the end, Method plan to at least make Echo and Liquid sweat for the title.
Blizzard isn’t making the race any easier
Vault of the Incarnates Race to World First in December 2022 was one of the most unique races in the history of WoW. Blizzard released all three raid difficulties at the same time. Aberrus, the Shadowed Crucible will follow this same pattern and Method unanimously agree this has toned down the excitement and the thrill of the race since the viewers spend a lot of time watching item splits and gearing up.
“But in terms of the viewers, I’m not sure what’s the worse experience,” said Nate, a trial tank in Method. “I’m not sure whether it’s worse knowing that Mythic is open for all of us and seeing us not going to it, because we have to get the splits out of the way first and nobody likes watching splits.”
Method and other guilds participating in the race in Aberrus, the Shadowed Crucible will have yet another obstacle ahead of them: Blizzard has made major changes to raid loot, increasing the time period during which you can trade, but making the timer continue to count down when you’re offline. Although Method believe this will help the wider WoW community, this will slow down the gearing process for all progressing guilds as they often log out of the characters, save the gear, and swap it around later. The only real complaint Method had about this is the late implementation of this change as guilds have to make last-minute tweaks to their original strategy.
Method will stand their ground and fight
Although this iteration of Method has only been around for a little less than three years and they don’t have a wealth of experience like Echo or Liquid, they are determined to fight and agree there’s no room for complacency. They won’t simply relax and follow in the footsteps of big-time guilds. Instead, they want to take the lead, be the guild that will be followed, and eventually be equal to the titans of Race to World First.
Method, of course, have a long and thorny road ahead of them. But there’s nothing like good old-fashioned hope to keep that spark alive and drive them to the very top of the Aberrus race that officially starts on May 10.