Back to top Statistics Part 3: Which is the Best Race?

11.07.18 | David 9146


Which is the strongest race in Warcraft 3? This question is often asked by new and old players alike. The answer depends on how you're defining 'strong'. In this article I will analyze data gathered from to see which race is played most often and who is winning the most games on Northrend.


Firstly, we need to establish some context. It is often assumed that each race is played by an equal amount of players. Let me be clear about one thing: Races are NOT distributed equally. Some races are played way more often than others.

Percentage of 1on1 games played by race on Northrend


Human was the most played race, closely followed by Orc. The release of 1.29 has brought new and different players to which led to Orc being the most played one but the overall distribution is similar. There have been relatively more 1on1 games with Undead in 1.29 but it still remains the least played race along with Nightelf. 

The amount of games played per race is directly related to the amount of players by race. This means that race choice does not seem to affect the amount of games that someone plays. Therefore the pie charts also represent the relative number of players by race (excluding random players who make up about 19% of all 1on1 players).

There's a very interesting implication of this unequal distribution: On average, a Human player on Northrend will get mirror matches way more often than Undead players (86% more often before patch 1.29 and 36% more often after the release). Poor guys!


Which Race is winning most often?

Even though the mean is probably the most interesting metric when it comes to win rates, I thought it would also make a lot of sense to look at the general distribution. I calculated the win rate for each player from the sample and plotted the data for every player who has played at least 10 1on1 games.


Comparing 1on1 win rate distributions on Northrend between 1.28 and 1.29


In patch 1.28, about 27,5% of all 1on1 players who played at least 10 games had a win rate between 47.5% and 52.5%. Since the release of 1.29, the distribution has become a bit more 'extreme'. There are relatively more players who achieve low and high win rates.

Originally, I wanted to show such graphs for each race. However, the graphs didn't turn out to be very interesting since it's difficult to judge small differences by the eye. Instead of that I have calculated the mean, median and standard deviation to describe the distributions for each race. I have done this for every player who has played at least 10 games which is why the average is slightly higher than 50%.

Let's take a look at the data for Patch 1.28:


Before patch 1.29 was released, the power ranking in terms of games won on Northrend was Undead > Night Elf > Human > Random (!) > Orc. Random players actually performed slightly better than Orc players! Did these numbers change with 1.29 and all the new players that came to Let's take a look:



In the 1.29 era, Undead players are still on top in terms of win rate but the other races are generally closer to each other. Furthermore, Random players perform the worst which is what I would actually expect since it is quite difficult to master all four races.

But wait - there's more. With Blizzard working on the server again and improving Ping and Anti-Cheating, a new breed of player is emerging. This can be underlined by comparing the stats of 'old players' who have been active before 1.29 was released with the stats of new players who came back from inactivity or from W3Arena motivated by the new changes.



On average, players who have started playing on with the release of patch 1.29 are winning about 11,7% more often than players who have played on before the patch came out. They appear to be playing a different meta. While 'old' humans are taking a beating with only 44,75% win rates, the new ones are runner ups with 52,99%. The emergence of these players seems to explain most of the changes in win percentages that we saw in the comparison between both patches.


Win Rates by Match Up

Let's get to the part that most people probably came for. Which Race wins most often in each match up?

Before we get to that, I'd like to point out one thing: Of course there is always a certain variance but our sample size is very large in most cases. For your convenience, I will provide the confidence interval for each table. If the percentage exceeds the boundaries of the confidence interval, we can say with a confidence of 99% that the match up is not centered around 50% (all of the confidence intervals in this article will be at 99% level). In the following example that means that any match ups that are below 49% or above 51% are not equally distributed around 50%.

So let us start by comparing the win rates for the sample before patch 1.28 was released and after the release:


Confidence Interval: [49% ; 51%]


In patch 1.28, there were two match ups that were significantly 'imbalanced': Night Elf vs. Human and Undead vs. Human. In both match ups, Humans come out on the short end.

Note: By saying 'imbalanced' I am not making a statement about the actual fairness or skill involved in the match up. I am merely making observations about the numbers.


Confidence Interval: [49,2% ; 50,8%]


It seems that the release of 1.29 has triggered more match ups to become 'imbalanced'. However, since the changes of the patch were not that big in terms of balance, the shift might rather be caused by the influx of new players to the server. I took the liberty of calculating the win rates for games between new players (who haven't played on before 1.29) as well:


Confidence Interval: [48,7% ; 51,3%]


We can see that Undead vs Human and Undead vs Night Elf seem to be pain points for both groups but it's distributed a bit more equally for new players.

I have made similar calculations to see if there are interesting differences between players that are either above or below a 50% win rate. There were no major differences.


Win Rates by Map

Some people complain about the map pool on and claim that it favors certain races. I am not an expert on maps but I got the numbers. Since there are so many tables, I will keep it short:


Confidence Interval: [47,4% ; 52,6%]


Confidence Interval: [48% ; 52%]


Confidence Interval: [45% ; 55%]


Confidence Interval: [47,6% ; 52,4%]


Confidence Interval: [46,6% ; 53,4%]


Confidence Interval: [46,6% ; 53,4%]


Confidence Interval: [47,6% ; 52,4%]


Confidence Interval: [46,2% ; 53,8%]


Confidence Interval: [47,6% ; 52,4%]


Confidence Interval: [47,6% ; 52,4%]


Confidence Interval: [47,1% ; 52,9%]



What you make out of all these win rates is up to you. Some will appreciate them for what they are, others may get angry. Here are the things that I will take away from this: Firstly, the new players who joined with patch 1.29 are considerably more successful than old players. Secondly, players on Northrend are definitely struggling in some match ups. Undead vs Human seems to be the biggest pain point for Human players. It will be interesting to see how patch 1.30 affects this match up. Thirdly, Undead does generally win more often than other races on Northrend in 1on1. At the same time it is the least played race. How does that fit together?

In part 4 of this series, I will analyze team games. Statistics Part 1: How many active players are there in 2018? Statistics Part 2: Did Patch 1.29 change the Warcraft 3 Meta?



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