There is no denying that Shadowlands PvP has became very stale. With barely any balance changes, people figure out the best comps, and arenas will eventually only present you with a small variety of setups. For example, in 2s right now at 2k+ rating, according to check-pvp.fr, 43,6% of players play a combination of Arms, Rsham, Disc, Rdruid, Hpriest, Beastmaster and WW monk. This majority overly represents the current ladder right now, basically any time you queue for a game, there won’t be a session where you won’t see a massive warrior or hunter representation with a combination of the aforementioned healers (with most commonly, Warriors going with Shamans, and Hunters going with Rdruids and Priests). In 3s, the same % of players as before is a combination of Arms, Disc, Rsham, SP, Retri and Fire Mage. Every time you queue 3s, you can basically expect to queue into a variation of an Arms warrior comp, with all the 3 DPS classes mentioned before being the most common Warrior teammates.
One thing to note here is how dominantly Priest and Warrior represents both ladders (the two classes together make up 30% of both 2s and 3s). While Priests happen to have all 3 of their specs played due to how good they are, Warrior is only played as Arms, and they still make up a dominant force in Arenas. In fact, even if you take the rating filter lower and lower (or higher even), Arms stays as the most represented class in 2s and 3s at any rating. The reason is very simple: Arms has it all right now. Big burst, big sustain, big mortal strikes, big defensives, big team utility, big personal utility, big tankiness, and basically all of their covenants (with the potential exception of Night Fae) being fantastic, allowing players to customize themselves to their liking.
Arms is so good right now that you can basically que any 2dps1heal team and Arms will straight up just be an excellent choice, in some cases carrying the team. Arms Ret for example is one of the most represented comps in 3s, and the reason why it’s so good is that the Warrior enables the Ret to do their burst either through Kyrian Spear or Necro Banner while keeping them alive with Intervene Parry, and Ret gives the Warrior the required uptime to make use of their massive uptime performance. The comp is so potent that you can easily burst through several big cooldowns at once (trinkets, PI, Barrier and Rapture is honestly super easy to fish up just by doing a normal burst).
So where should Warrior change? The balance team has already attempted a variant with Hunter – keep nerfing BM and keep buffing MM to try to increase diversity. While not entirely successful (BM is still the most played by far while MM has became a sleeper spec, capable of easily oneshotting anything, while Survival has also became a sleeper), it is a route that can be possibly taken, making Fury overall more viable while hitting Arms at some of their strongest points, such as Intervene Parry turning 2 people into invincible brick walls (aka: make intervene only redirect 1-2-3 attacks in PvP only to keep PvE viability).
On a personal level, I would give Parry to Fury as well, but change back Enraged Regen to how it used to be in the old days, where it’s a simple %health regen based on Fury Mastery on a 1-2-3 min cooldown. That way Fury will have the required toughness that they’re missing while removing the ability to turn themselves AND other teammates at the same time into invincible machines through intervene parry.
Damage tunings are always easy to do. But ALWAYS do it small. There have been too many big changes recently, and it’s the result of poor testing and design choices. Who buffs Flagellation by 400% in the middle of an expansion? Why do you nerf Twilight Devastation by 50% during a live patch? Why do you need to nerf Prot Pala healing by 80%? If you meant them not to be a healer, why not do it at expansion launch?
However, these issues need to be recognized and acknowledged by the dev team publically. With radio silence, it feels like nothing’s being done to mix up the diversity of the ladder. The last time you decided to come out with a set of balance changes, it was a totally sudden destruction of the Prot Pala healer spec. The issue is, – from our perspective, with no offense given – it feels like all you did was accidentally click on the forums, saw a post about the throughput of Prot Pala, and decided to nerf it with no prior knowledge of how Prot plays out in a PvP setting.
Prot was OP in 9.0, and you justly nerfed Steed to no longer grant full CC immunity. 9.1 saw no buffs or nerfs, but rather one important new element: Covenant legendaries. Blessing of Summer right now is so busted that people are queing prot-healer-dps that can oneshot comps simply because the damage scaling is out of this world – with Prot-WW-Disc in particular being played at 2.7k(!) cr. Prot has no gamebreaking issues on its own – Paladin has an issue with Night Fae being too busted ((1) Mes’ Ret Paladin one shots 7 people : worldofpvp (reddit.com)). Even if you nerf Prot – which was a mistake, as now there will be less healers participating in PvP, and RBGs will continue to exclusively feature Guardian druids – you still did not fix Night Fae, all we have to do is swap back to Holy and we will still enable people to oneshot.
To stop beating around the bush, it is imperative that you acknowledge issues that players have in devblogs, and discuss it with them. There will be a variety of perspectives, and some people will straight up offer misguided information due to not having enough game knowledge, but the risk is worth the reward.
That leads me into having more PvP seasons. For how much I disliked Legion, having 7 PvP seasons was the best thing ever. It kept ladders fresh, it stopped people from AFKing at rank1 ratings, participation was overall higher since people were constantly trying to get their rating goals (and thus, either gear or cosmetic rewards), and the ladder stayed constantly fresh because of frequent balance changes. Legion seasons lasted from 11 to 17 weeks, while S1 of shadowlands lasted 28(!), and currently, season2 is on its 23rd week! And since the holidays are coming, and the fact that a lot of work is being done for 9.2, we can easily expect it to cross the 30th week! The ladder is by no means dead, but it’s not fully alive either.
Shorter seasons would mean that the gear reward loop would have to be reworked (starting with removing the weekly box), but trust me when I say that it’s totally worth spending the resources. Once you develop a good progression loop, it will not need to be changed, allowing you to spend resources elsewhere. Close down ilvl gaps, keep pvp gear being higher ilvl in pvp, nerf those honor costs, increase conquest cap based on your highest CR at the end of each reset, add natural sockets to pvp gear (or an option to buy sockets with Honor), fix conduit and legendary ILVL at a set value (I’d say 239 for conduits and 262 for legendaries right now would be the best in this season), voila, you need not change the entire thing till the next expansion, where you’ll just have to make small changes, such as removing conduits and legendaries from the equation.