Choosing Your Target in Arenas

In the vast majority of arena PvP,  the winner is decided by whichever team gets the first kill.  There are certainly exceptions (especially as hunters we all have great stories about 1v2ing down a double DPS team*) but in general, being able to choose a target you can kill quickly is the biggest thing you can do to improve your rating.  I've been spend some time studying the various methods of choosing, and thought I'd go over them here, from the hunter perspective.

1.  Healers Have to Die
This is a common mantra, and to some extent it's logical.  If you hit someone, and they just get healed, then your hit wasn't worth much.  From that it follows that you should kill the Healer first.

This, however, can cause a lot of problems, especially for hunters.  For one, if you're in an all DPS team, it leaves you open to getting wailed on while focusing their healer.  And most importantly, as a hunter, your CC is dispellable by the healer, making your scatter/trap nearly useless against anyone but the healer unless you can burst them down fast enough (PHDk, perhaps) that they can't spare a single GCD for dispelling.   

2. Kill the Squishiest Target
If your goal is to turn it into a lopsided fight (either 3v2, 5v4 or 2v1) by killing one of their players first,  just pick the squishiest target and unload.  This often turns into simply: "Kill the Frost DK".

The downside here, is if you can't keep their healer CC'ed, it won't matter, and if they have a team with much utility, it's not too hard to counter.  In my experience, this works best at low rating levels,  when you're with a team that doesn't know eachother too well, because it's relies more on individual work (in bursting and keeping the non-target players CC'ed) than on teamwork.

3.  Kill Whoever is Going to Kill You
This is the one that makes the most logical sense to me.  If you take out their most powerful player,  then you don't have to worry about getting yourself killed.  See that warrior?  He wants to smash your face.  I don't want to have my face smashed. So I'll smash his face, instead.

This seems especially applicable to really bursty classes.  If they're having to use their defensive CDs it means they aren't bursting on you.   And often if you can ruin their burst, they'll be off enough for the rest of the fight that you can get the kill.

4.  Kill Whoever Can Give You the Most Trouble
I think everyone in the world will agree with me that warlocks and magi are the most annoying classes ever.  Not that they're particularly OP for PvP,  but they're definitely annoying.   So why not take them out first?

Unlike hunter CC, a mage can spam Polymorph until DR has turned it to nothing.  If you let them set up and free cast, they'll keep on of your players completely occupied, by doing a crazy amount of burst.   If, on the other hand, you can keep them on the run from the start,  they're likely to never have a chance to get a good burst/CC chain going.

5. Kill Whatever You Can See
At the beginning of the fight, a lot of what determines who you can hit is who's visible.   If the other team's druid is prowling, hit something that's visible.  As the fight goes on this turns into thinking about line of sight issues as well.  If someone just ran around a pillar and LoS'ed their healer,  it might be time to hit them with some roots and snares to get them down before while they're healer can't get to them.

As hunters this one isn't going to be as important to us.   For one, our heightened senses allow us to see most enemies who are stealthed.  When going against a druid or a cloaked rogue team, it can be worth it to take glyph of camo and spend some time looking for your target, then getting a flare on them to start off.

The positioning issue, on the other hand, is huge for us. With good use of disengage, or glyphing our ice trap, we can move around pretty quick to get in some hits while their healer is LoS'ed.

Choosing to Win
Of course there isn't one single best way to choose who you target first.   It'll depend a lot on the other players on your team, and the comp you're up against.

As a hunter, targeting the burstiest opponent, or the opponent with the best CC seems to work the best for me.  If I can help it, I never want to target a healer because I don't want the healer dispelling my CC, and overall hunters are just much more effective at ruining bursts or CC chains.  However, with certain comps, focusing a healer, even at the cost of your CC, might be the better option.

One logical trap a lot of people have problems with is after, for example, training that mage for a while and watching them never die, you notice that just 2 shots to the priest's face brought them down to 50% health.  So then we think to ourselves, "oh, I should have focused the priest".  When in reality, had you focused the priest it would have been healing and building a shield on itself instead of that pesky mage.  While I do always like to think about any fights I lose (or win) and try to analyze where I could have done better,  I can't really know what would have happened had I tried something else; could be we would have lost even worse.   And that's just something we all have to deal with.

I'm curious if anyone has other qualifications they use to decide who to target?   Ever target the guy with the most annoying name?   Or how about always killing the elf first; because then even if you lose, you still got to kill an elf?

*oh man, I remember this one time I was running 2s with a resto druid friend against a Rogue/Frost DK team,  and they managed to get down my healer, somehow.  So I focused on keeping the rogue trapped while kiting down the DK,  finally get the kill on the DK while I'm still above 50% health,  then the rogue and I start going at it,  and we both have just enough heals, and just enough skill that it goes on for several minutes, on trading blows and CC.   Finally, we're both down below 25% and I get an Aimed Shot proc right as my Chim shot comes off CD,  but then he vanishes, and all the sudden I'm stunned and the rogue starts unloading on me!  So I trinket, disengage (webbing him), my health is dropping with the bleeds he got up, so I race to hit my free Aimed Shot,  Chim shot,  Kill Shot, Kill Shot and as he's sprinting toward me, unable to vanish again, I finish him off with an Arcane to the face, my health just above 1%.   

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