Player Skill in PvP: Vanilla vs Classic

Player ability and competency has increased considerably since Vanilla, right?

Vanilla legends like Pat, Vurtne, Grim, Drakedog, and Unbreakable are all names that are easily associated with the top end of Vanilla PvP. In retail we see names like Pika, Cdew, Whazz, Gorecki, Snutz, and others that consistently appear in the Arena Tournaments.

But who is objectively better or more skilled?

Wayne Gretzky vs Sidney Crosby

Michael Jordan vs LeBron James

Pelé vs Cristiano Ronaldo

2000s Tiger Woods vs 2019 Tiger woods

Every sport has legends of time and these known names are compared against the current crop of players, both the new talent entering the professional scene and current top names the fans know and (hate) love. The sports themselves may see relatively unremarkable change, if any, over the years, but the best players of now perform considerably more impressive feats than the previous best players.

Records are broken, statistics are passed, and the whole dynamic of the sport changes because of the evolution of a few players.

Those who argue that Gretzky was the greatest hockey player to ever live are sometimes met with a rebuttal consisting of “He was small and wouldn’t survive today’s hockey! Michael Jordan’s iconic Slam Dunk from the 80s was on basketball kids bedroom walls across the world (and still is for many), but would he make it passed the defense of Jimmy Butler?

The glaring difference can be whittled down to a term most gamers have heard in any competitive scene: metagaming.

Metagaming (meta) is is any approach to a that transcends or operates outside of the prescribed rules of the game; uses external factors to affect the game; or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. In short, the meta can come down to players interpretation of what is good or bad in a game.

Take a look at Grim – Path of Blood or Grim – Total Annihilation and you will see a rogue using “clever use of game mechanics”, skill, and gear, against both competent and incompetent opponents. Without a doubt you are able to see why Grim was a threatening name to see in the world and why he is a legend of the time.


Now take what you saw above and contrast this against a rogue by the name of Perplexity. The below video was filmed in 2019 but on a Vanilla Private Server Tournament Realm.

It looks like Perplexity is playing an entirely different game than Grim.


Although there exist differences and limitations between the actual Blizzard Vanilla server and this private server (latency, accessible gear, macros, scripting), the most significant difference is in the games meta.

  • Players have been practicing for years.
  • The team dynamic is entirely different.
  • Tricks that the old school legends used are commonplace and expected.
  • Gear is (objectively) easier to obtain and min/max.

Are current PvP players more skilled than old school PvP players?
Probably. But that is an extremely loaded question with no definitive answer. The way the game is played has changed, and so have the players, because of the players.

All the reading of Vanilla PvP guides and Classic PvP Preparation video’s won’t prepare you for the fact that Classic PvP is simply not going to be what you expect.


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