Possibly one of the most unique Esports events in gaming, the World of Warcraft Mythic Dungeon International (MDI), started on Friday February 17th. Unlike basically all other Esports where teams are pitted against each other and duel to win the game (aka PvP), MDI is at its core a player verse environment (PvE) Esport. Five-man teams run prearranged dungeons and compete by trying to complete these dungeons in the least amount of time.

From an outside view, one may wonder where the difficulty and skill expression from individual players and teams comes from. The difficulty comes from the dungeon itself; players are put into a mythic keystone of +20 or above. This means the dungeon is scaled to be upwards of 500% more difficult than the regular version of those mythic dungeons. On top of this, the dungeons have 4 affixes that make the dungeons harder in different ways; one example of an affix is Tyrannical: each boss in the dungeon deals 30% more damage and has 30% more health on top of the 500% that is already applied to them.

The skill comes from how fast each team can do these dungeons with all of the added difficulty. Many of these teams employ unique strategies and bring different classes to deal with it all. Putting this into perspective, only around the top 5% of players in WOW will even attempt a +20 or higher mythic keystone and they will complete them with in 25 to 40 minutes depending on the dungeon. The MDI teams will complete those same dungeons in less than 20 minutes and some of the fastest teams can do them in as little as 11 minutes.

Even though the description above is complex, how the competition works is actually pretty simple. At the beginning of February, hundreds of five-man teams that applied for the MDI were invited to a test realm for time trials. In this realm, they were given the optimal gear for their classes and ran several dungeons. The top 24 teams with the best times were then invited to participate in MDI and drawn into three 8-team brackets. The weekend of February 17th is the start, and first bracket is being played in a double elimination style over three days where the top 2 teams will advance. The subsequent two weekends will hold the other two brackets. In mid-March, the final 6 teams will play against each other, and MDI winner will be awarded the trophy and the $300,000 cash prize.

While MDI and competitively doing dungeons has been around in WOW for about 6 years now, it is one of the newest forms of Esports out there. No other game or franchise has been able to successfully replicate a PvE-type esport, allowing WOW to create a niche that is both popular and unrivalled. World of Warcraft has been in the competitive scene since the early 2000s but only for its traditional 3-man team PvP. Despite the recency of the competitive dungeons, MDI has actually overtaken WOW PvP in popularity, bringing in thousands of additional viewers that don’t normally engage with competitive WOW content.

What’s different about this MDI is it’s the first in Dragonflight, the newest WOW expansion, out of the likely four MDIs as it has been in the last two expansions. With the new expansion, it means there are new dungeons for these teams to fight through and new strategies will come out. For any WOW players out there, it is well worth your while to watch these expert dungeoneers play because you could discover new and interesting strategies that could be useful for you to employ in your own dungeons.