As the Arena World Championship (AWC) moves into its third Cup of the Spring Season—live now and throughout the weekend on Twitch, see the full schedule for broadcast times—we think it’s about time you got to know the competitors a little better. Throughout the AWC, we’ll be bringing you a series of profiles of the gladiators who grace your screens week to week. To kick things off, allow us to introduce you to a North American favorite.
“I started back in Burning Crusade, actually,” said Nick “Smexxin” DalSoglio, recalling his first experience with World of Warcraft. “I watched my neighbor play all throughout Vanilla and up until BC. I saw him raid Gruul’s Lair and watched him do Arenas, and I knew instantly that I had to start playing.”
Smexxin, who now plays for North American team The Boys in the AWC, was initially swept up in dungeons, raids and quests. It wasn’t until Wrath of the Lich King that he dipped his toes into the PvP aspects of the game “I just wanted to test myself,” he explained, “It was so cool seeing all the people outside Durotar dueling, and I started doing that and doing pretty well. I was like ‘Oh, I’m going to try Arena now!’ I had a bunch of friends what were really good at Arena too, and it just took off.”
Becoming great is a process, and Smexxin remembers the challenge of that process well. “Tunnel-visioning all the time on my Warrior and not paying attention to anything,” he said, laughing, “I was overextending all the time when I first started playing—that’s a pretty common thing.” He explained that the key initially is to become comfortable with your own character, learning how to execute your skills in a PvP environment, practicing until they become second nature. When you reach that milestone, Arena becomes more about coordination and strategy. “I think your awareness starts to naturally look towards everything else that’s happening.”
A professional Arena player since 2015, Smexxin is playing in the North American Spring AWC season alongside Ryan “Gorecki” Hannan, Michael “Thugonomics” Negley and Xavier “Chunli” Rowell in a team called The Boys. Although that team name initially seems throwaway, Smexxin explained it’s more about the friendship they all share. “It’s just kind of like…we’re just The Boys!” he said, laughing. “We’re a group of friends that play together, grinding it out together.”
Smexxin has great things to say about every one of his teammates, all of whom he’s known a long time. He says Thugonomics is a funny guy, “always lightens the mood of everybody and is fun to be around.” Chunli, Smexxin says, is very similar to himself. “I almost feel like he is the younger version of me in a lot of aspects, so there’s a natural synergy between us,” he said. Finally, he describes Gorecki as the “bedrock of the team,” someone whom he always has confidence in.
It’s a theme that comes up a lot while we talk, the concept of fun and friendship. “We all enjoy playing together more than anything else, and it just translates,” he said, referring to their second-placing in NA Cup 1 and first place in NA Cup 2. When I ask him if his goal is to make it to the global finals this year, Smexxin very quickly lets me know that it’s about much more than that. He said it’s more about feeling improvement individually and as a group, and keeping what’s important in focus. “I want to just constantly feel like we’re getting better, that’s my one big thing,” he said, “Make sure I’m balancing my personal life and balancing our friendships so that we’re always have fun together and never getting stale or tense.”
For those of you out there who are thinking of maybe dabbling in Arena but find it a bit intimidating, Smexxin has this advice: “Right now is the best time ever to get into Arena,” he said, “Information-wise, all the different outlets that you can learn from—I know back when I started, we didn’t have streaming, we didn’t have different websites to look at for all the best possible talents and builds and things. But right now, you can go to Twitch, you can go to websites, you can go to the forums—there’s so many different ways to learn how to play the game.”
Coming into his fourth year of professional Arena play, Smexxin loves PvP, and is not going anywhere any time soon. “Honestly, I just love this game. It’s really fun to play for me,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of different games, and of course enjoyed a lot of different ones, but there’s just something very unique about World of Warcraft PvP. The community is amazing. I’ve made so many good friends in this game, which is a very big part as well. It always brings me back.”
Be sure to follow Smexxin on Twitter and Twitch to let him know you’re cheering for The Boys, and join in the chat during the AWC broadcast this weekend. Let us know which player you want to hear from next in the comments below!