We all love big ‘crits.’ In fact, back in the day of season 6, the reason I ventured into the Elemental specialization is because of all the DAMAGE. After playing Enhancement for about two years, I figured it was a time for change. All through Wrath of the Lich King, Elemental was the spec. The cream and butter, all the top shamans were Elemental and Restoration shamans were rare; actually rare to see.
However, when Cataclysm came out… Elemental Shamans hit a brick wall.
Season 9 was the worst for Elemental and that’s when people started to quit and reroll. Although there were a few shamans who did achieve high ratings in season 9, they were the top notch players.
One main problem for Elemental in season 9 was that Blizzard took Bloodlust/Heroism out of arena.
While this was a reasonable change, since the fact that any composition with a mage in it was dominating(thanks to Time-Warp), it left shamans in the dirt. Enhancement and Elemental were forgotten instantly. They buffed Restoration to compensate with the loss to Bloodlust/Heroism. And Wa-La, Restoration became the #1 shaman specialization with more Resto shamans getting higher rated than EVER before.
Fun fact: Did you know that Shamans were actually created to be a main-spec healer?
Season 10 however… they brought Elemental back. Glyph of Unleashed Lightning allowed lightning bolt to be CAST WHILE MOVING. This was one of the biggest buffs that Elemental Shaman received. This simple glyph made any Elemental shaman an unstoppable force. No longer the days of the ‘turreting’ lightning bolts and spells, now are the days of a mobile ‘H-Bomb.’
Elemental Shaman has always been known for one thing; DAMAGE, putting it on ‘wheels,’ well… that speaks for itself. If any arena season in Cataclysm was the best season for Elemental, it was definitely season 10.
However… season 11, the current season, has seen an unfortunate turn for Elemental. With rogues and warlocks being extremely powerful, looking in trade chat for a team as an Elemental shaman is basically a joke. RLS (rogue/lock/shaman) is the powerhouse now, and any shaman looking to do arena that isn’t Resto is taken as a joke.
(I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been invited to RBG’s and then kicked for not being Resto or having Resto gear.)
However, I don’t believe that Elemental is actually bad at all. In fact, it is extremely good. Elemental Shaman STILL has the most controlled burst in the game. This is everything for Elemental. Without damage, Elemental shamans would literally be nothing. In fact, all Elemental can do IS DAMAGE. And believe me, you can control an arena match with the damage you can put out.
In a typical 3v3 situation, an elemental shaman needs to be the one calling out the swaps and kills. This is due to the high amount of controlled burst an elemental shaman can put out at ANY time.
However an elemental shaman is almost worthless without heals. I like to consider them as a ‘steam-roller.’ They are powerful and effective, but only if they can STAY moving, or offensive. In order to stay offensive, Elemental shamans require to be healed more than anything else. With no real defensive cool-downs besides Stoneclaw totem (if glyphed) and relying heavily on Mail Armor, all an Elemental shaman needs is someone to assist them while they ‘do work,’ or their main role, damage to the opponent.
However, elemental shaman damage is not enough, by itself, to 1v1 a healer, which makes it not as strong. Elemental lacks control, but it has a bit more burst than other classes, even rogues. Where Elemental lacks control, it is made up by other classes in a 3v3 situation, like a Warlock or a Frost mage.
Personally, I think Elemental is a very strong specialization right now, maybe not as versatile as its counterpart, Restoration, but it is just as effective.