The race for world first.
The battle has been ongoing for over 12 years, and won’t end until the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft shuts its doors. The players don’t compete for money, but for bragging rights, and the respect of the community.
Thousands of players line up with their guilds when Blizzard releases new end-game content, with many taking time off from work or school to accommodate the gruelling schedule that accompanies the race. Top end guilds will often battle for 16+ hours a day in their quest to become a part of WoW history, and claim the title of “World first”.
Names like Paragon, Method, Limit, and Exorsus are worshipped by hardcore and casual players alike. All of whom dream to one day join their ranks as some of the greatest players of all-time.
Raider.IO is a service built for that community. The website and in-game addon were designed to be the cutting edge when it comes to tracking the progress of the top guilds in the game. A live and continually updated leaderboard displays which of the thousands of guilds is in the lead.
We spoke to Raider.IO founders Jah and Beth.
“When we started RaiderIO we built it with raids as the basis. We offered a new way to view the World First Race with our timeline graphic providing a glimpse into how many guilds are at each point of progression in the race.”
As well as a leaderboard, the site also displays what classes, talent specializations, and gear were used for the kill. A goldmine for guilds that aren’t quite at the top level, and could use a little help at figuring out the best way to tackle the tough encounters.
“We also provide a few Discord Webhooks that send alerts to Discord channels of your choosing whenever a guild downs a new boss in the World First Race, in your own Realm’s Race, or even just for your own guild’s regular progression.”
“That said, we do still have a lot we want to add to our raiding features. To name a few: Guild’s Twitch streamers visible on their page, Guild Rank Permissions, and a full-fledged Guild Recruitment System.”
It’s not just restricted to the top level. Even the most casual guilds can use the software to upload their own progress, using it as a tool to improve their own performance, often alongside other services like WarcraftLogs, which tracks various statistics for each encounter, like damage and healing done by each individual player in the group.
It’s another layer to what has become one of the largest competitions in the video game industry. The race for world first may not have the production, infrastructure, or prize pool of a Counter-Strike Major or a DOTA 2 International, but it certainly has the participants.
It’s not Jah and Beth’s first foray into the competitive raiding scene in World of Warcraft. 11 years ago, during WoW’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade, they opened up the first automated guild tracker, which was named “WowJutsu”.
“Our guild, Ludicrous Speed, had just downed Gruul, and I’d had the thought “What rank are we on our server now?” The Armory had just come out right around this time, and we devised a way to automatically determine a guild’s progression by using the Armory to cross-reference gear players were wearing with the bosses that drop those pieces of loot.”
“Unfortunately, we had to stop working on WowJutsu far earlier than we wanted due to restrictions at the company that Jah worked at the time. So, we had to sadly let things go, but we never stopped thinking about it, and all the things we still wanted to do.”
A service like Raider.IO was never going to have an issue finding its place in the raiding community.
“We’ve really looked at RaiderIO as our chance to build a new version of what we had started with WowJutsu. You can even look at old screenshots of WowJutsu and see that there are many similarities to how we present data on RaiderIO (though we go with a simpler aesthetic now). This speaks to one of our key philosophies: Usability matters. We want everything on the site to make sense for our target audience of World of Warcraft Raiders and Mythic+ Players.”
From gems and enchants, to talents, to rotations. WoW players are always looking to innovate and discover even the smallest of advantages that might give them the cutting edge when it comes to defeating bosses as fast as possible.
At the highest level, popular streamers who are a part of these competing guilds will often close up shop until the race is over, refusing to disclose their strategies to rivals. Raider.IO offers a small insight into how certain guilds may have set up for the fight but reveals nothing about the actual encounter.
This year, Method has changed the game. The guild will be live streaming their progress through Uldir on Twitch.TV, though their voice communication will be hidden. The guild-turned-esports brand has brought in experts to discuss and commentate over the action. It’s a controversial decision that may serve to work against them, but that remains to be seen.
— Method (@Methodgg) September 6, 2018
Method is the current world first holders. The guild, formed by popular streamer Sco, took down “Argus The Unmaker” in the final raid of WoW’s last expansion, “Legion”. But the guild will be forced to defend their title when the race kicks off again this week.
“Battle For Azeroth” is the latest instalment in World of Warcraft, and the new raid “Uldir” features eight bosses that will need to be defeated in order to claim the crown. High-end guilds will often be given early access to these encounters before they make it to live servers, in order to perform testing at the highest difficulty level.
Its likely strategies have already been prepared and the majority of the race will come down to which guild can execute their strategy better, and faster. To keep things interesting, Blizzard will often throw a spanner in the works, with a secret final section or “phase” to the last boss of the raid.
This is something only internal Blizzard staff will have seen, and means on the spot improvisation will be required. Despite only being a small portion in one of the multiple encounters, this is often the longest period of the race.
It’s impossible to tell who will take the crown, or even when that may take place. Races often vary in length, with some lasting weeks, while others only take a few days. The usual suspects will be fighting amongst themselves undoubtedly, but the beauty of the race for world first, is that anyone could take it.
The best place to track the standings, and follow one of the longest-running competitions in video game history, is at Raider.IO
“We still have a lot of plans for the future, so we’re excited to keep building on top of RaiderIO. This is just the beginning for us.”