Who are the big pumpers in Shadowlands arena? We're going to take a separate look at this data in 2v2 and 3v3. For the current article, we're looking at 2v2. We'll be calculating damage per second averaged over the duration of the match, and we constrain the analysis to games played at 1800+ in both brackets. Since both the meta and gear has changed over the season, we consider only games played from the 1st of February onwards. This gives us data from 80,000 2v2 matches. Note that we are here looking at the average DPS of a spec. Not all specs that are strong produce huge amounts of damage over the course of their fights. Specs such as Fire Mages produce immense burst during their Combustion windows, but do very little outside these windows. These specs can nevertheless be incredibly strong in rated PvP.
Taking the throne as the unrivalled kings of raw damage in 2v2 are Frost DKs. Far from being the most common spec in 2v2, they nevertheless perform very well into a number of meta 2v2 comps, such as Fire Mage/Sub Rogue and Arms Warrior/Healer. Indeed, Holy Paladin/Frost DK is one of the few counters to Arms Warriors in the current meta. Coming in on third place are Unholy DKs. While not commonly seen in the arena, they are a dominating DPS spec in PvE, and can certainly bring the pump in 2v2 as well.
Close to the top of the list, we find everyone's favourite glass cannons - Havoc Demon Hunters and Windwalker Monks. Windwalker Monks have seen some pretty significant nerfs (or a bug fix) to their burst. Simultaneously, they have also received a versatility buff (or a bug fix) to their pet damage, so it will be interesting to track how their performance changes going into 9.0.5. Despite being very poor performers in 2v2 this season, DHs can still pump, even outside The Hunt. This is perhaps not a huge surprise to the three people who have queued into Havoc DHs this expansion. Rather, it seems that the many nerfs to the survivability of the spec entering into BfA (such as the removal of Blade Dance dodge) has clearly been the major debilitating factor for Havoc DH viability in Shadowlands arena.
Tied with their Arms brethren, we find find Fury Warriors. It should be noted that damage was never really the issue with Fury - instead, it's the lack of a Mortal Strike effect and strong defensives such as Die by the Sword and Defensive Stance that is making the spec lacking in arena. We have to go all the way down to number six on the melee list before we find arguably the strongest 2v2 DPS at the moment: Arms Warriors. Arms Warrior damage is itself relatively middle-of-the-pack, and so what makes Arms such a strong PvP spec currently is not just their medium-to-high damage output, but also their extensive utility and support toolkit, excellent tankiness, and decent mobility.
Towards the bottom of the melee list we find the CC-heavy melee specs. Survival Hunters, Feral Druids, and all Rogue specs. Notably, Subtlety is the spec with the least damage of all melee specs, but also arguably the spec with the most control. Despite their low output, Subtlety Rogues remain one of the most played melee on the ladder, and have a very significant representation at high rating in 2v2.
Affliction Warlocks can pump out a huge amount of sustained damage spread across multiple targets. Unfortunately, outside their cooldowns, Affliction Warlock damage is generally very healable, meaning that they are currently not as strong as we'd probably want them to be in a broadly balanced meta. Being multi-target specialists, Affliction Warlocks are also disadvantaged by the fact that there are only two enemy targets in 2v2. Nevertheless, they are among the top pumpers in 2v2, and stand out from the rest of the ranged DPS. Following Affliction Warlocks, we see their Destruction brethren. Destruction was a meta-defining spec last season, but has fallen out of favour as of late. A big challenge for Destruction Warlocks is setting up their damage without getting their hefty Chaos Bolts interrupted, stunned, or reflected. But as we can see, Destruction Warlocks are still able to let those Bolts fly.
Balance Druids have been the focus of a great deal of lament this season, with the design of Russian Roulette Convoke the Spirits leaving much to be desired. Due to the unreliability of this spell, many higher rated Balance Druids run as Kyrian instead, which affords an on-use damage increase. Overall, Balance Druid damage is performant for ranged DPS, but is generally lower than that of most melee DPS. Elemental Shamans are one of the most performant specs in the game, despite their low popularity. Interestingly, however, their overall damage output is on the lower end. This is probably because the strength of Elemental Shamans comes from playing around major offensive cooldowns such as Lightning Lasso, Skyfury Totem, and Stormkeeper.
Shadow Priests are one of the stronger ranged specs in 3v3, and while they are less commonly seen in 2v2, they have a range of comps available to them. They are generally paired with a Holy Paladin or a Restoration Shaman as a healer or with a Fire Mage or Subtlety Rogue as a DPS. Though arguably not the strongest caster for 2v2, they are nevertheless pretty versatile, with excellent survivability through Greater Fade, Dispersion, and powerful off-healing to make up for their lack of high sustained damage.
Towards the bottom of the list, we find all Mage specs. This is not terribly surprising. Mage is incredibly go-based and not a generator of sustained pressure, with Fire Mages perhaps being the most extreme example of a go-based spec in the game. Fire Mage is one of the strongest specs in 2v2 this season, with a number of comps available to them in 2v2 (Fire Mage/Sub Rogue, Fire Mage/SP, or Fire Mage/Healer). The low performance of Mages on the average DPS output is probably in part due to the comps they play: Mage/Rogue and other double DPS setups will focus on generating high spikes of damage rather than sustained burst. It is likely that Fire Mages would have more sustained damage when playing with a healer than with a Subtlety Rogue, but it is important to note that even in healer comps, Fire Mages generally try to win by forcing a trinket and setting up a HoJ/Chastise + Combust go.
We have included Protection Paladins as honorary healers, and their overall damage output is just touching the bottom end of the DPS tier. They are largely a niche healer, which is mostly seen with Arms Warriors or other melee. With an average of 640 DPS, they are 120 DPS below the average damage of a Subtlety Rogue, and only 40 DPS below the average damage of an Arcane Mage.
Next on the list are Holy Priests and Discipline Priests. In the most recent State of the Ladder, we reported a major increase in the number of Holy Priests being played. Holy Priests have incredibly hard-hitting Mindgames, and can complement many DPS specs with stun-fear setups. Interestingly, both Priest specs are the top pure healer damage dealers in 2v2. Holy Paladins come in at number four (three if we exclude Protection Paladins), followed by Restoration Shamans and Restoration Druids that are tied for fifth place. At the bottom of our list, we find the healer that is at the bottom of every list these days: Mistweaver Monks.