I stumbled upon this post a few minutes ago, and most of the content brought back so many memories.
Classic (Level 60):
Arcanite Reaper Warrior
While many powerful weapons came out during the 60′s, the arcanite reaper was one status symbol every warrior remembered. It was simply a huge gap over all other items with its incredible 3.8 speed and a whopping 53.9 DPS. While warrior was never a top 1v1 class, anyone on the receiving end of this in world PVP / BGs knew its power. A warrior could 2-3 shot just about anyone with ease and when backed with healer (either paladin for cleanse/freedom or shaman for wind fury), they had no equal in battle. The weapon was incredibly expensive at the time and not everyone could afford it. So it wasn’t until Alterac Valley’s Unstoppable Force before average joe’s could experience the joy of a 3.8 epic weapon that came with a knock down proc on top of mace stun. The power of this weapon ultimately forced Blizzard to normalize weapon speed for special attacks.
Dual Death Striker Undead Rogue
Ah, the one and only Shurrik who had two of these before their names changed to Felstrikers! 3 seconds of 100% crits on a proc, wow! It was the World of Roguecraft, and the PVP trinket was nowhere in sight. Rogues with these could stunlock anyone from 100-0, and they could drop most classes in 4 seconds with cheap shot -> backstab -> thistle tea -> backstab -> cold blood eviscerate with either 31/8/12 or 21/8/22. Eviscerate hit like a truck in these early days and Undead’s WOTF was the best racial. Less fortunate rogues could still dominate the field with Krol Blade or Dal’Rend’s, thanks to Yojack’s 21/2/28 which offered even better stunlocks with a slight loss in burst power. Barman shanker from Blackrock Depth was also readily available and the ultimate welcome-to-60 prize for fellow rogues.
The rogue class would steadily decline in strength as PVP trinkets were introduced to the game, and health pool was greatly increased. Even with the powerful renataki trinket’s 60 energy bursts, we could not compete with other top classes until the class revamp in 2.0. CB/prep/hemo in the hands of a full T3 rogue with Thunderfury could beat anyone, but it was still not nearly as lopsided as the early 60 days.
Dual Trinket Arcane Mage
Toward the second half of the 60′s, Blizzard introduced a ton of on-use spell power trinkets but Talisman of Ephemeral Power was what made mages ran 40-men Molten Core raids. Add any other spell power trinket, and POM pyro was instant death for just about anyone without an invulnerability. The power of this combo forced Blizzard to add shared cooldowns to on-use items, and it is in effect even today.
Rank 14 Undead Shadow Priest
The only priest with devouring plague which put them on a whole new level against anyone else. Not only this gave them an incredibly potent DOT on top of what the damage they already had, it also provided a lot of healing when stacked with vampiric embrace. If I got caught in the open by an Undead Shadow Priest, all he has to do is put up his DOTs in 2-3 globals, dance, and I would die. And this was the fate for just about any class they fought. I rank them ahead of soul link warlocks during the 60′s.
The Burning Crusade (Level 70):
Mace Warrior (Season 1-2)
Crafted weapons again dominated early TBC and warriors with mace stun on top of stun proc was the most dominant class in season 1. With pre-nerf windfury totems and holy paladin at its peak power, they dominated every bracket. As resilience picked up, warriors continued to perform well with lock/druid, winning Blizzcon in season 2 gear. 2345/2346 were also the dominant 5v5 comps at the time. Their dominance forced rogue heroes like Inactive/Dahis to switch classes, and it wasn’t until season 3/4 before rogues could compete with them with Euro-Comp and subtlety buffs.
Soullink/Siphon Life Warlock (Season 2-3)
Warlocks struggled out of the gate in a low resilience environment. They were trained by every team and killed very quickly, and SL/SL was invented. With the damage protection offered by soullink on top of siphon life, coupled with high resilience, warlocks were virtually unkillable. Put up some DOTs, mana drain the healer, and fear away. The spec eventually faded away as affliction took over as the top spec. But lock/lock/druid was literally the only XXY comp that could hit rank 1 on tournament realm.
Restoration Druid (Season 2-4)
With the exception of RMP, I can’t think of a single top comp that you could play without a druid in TBC. The double healer teams all require a druid as the combination of cyclone + roots + feral charge/bash was just too much CC for a healer who doesn’t need to cast. Instant HOTs also allowed them to line of sight better than any other healer, on top of being able to shift out of sheeps and having nearly infinite mana thanks to Serennia-sama’s restokin spec. Shaman/paladin had one very tough TBC and druid is exactly why. Druids dominated 2v2/5v5, and followed it up with Euro-comp in 5v5.
4+4+2 Rogue (Season 3-4)
Rogues struggled out of the gate as both combat/mutilate were very weak in the beginning. Blizzard came to the rescue with double adrenaline rush and 125% weapon damage hemorrhage’s, but it lasted a month on live servers at best befoer preparation started its long string of nerfs. Like the 60′s, rogues were strongest at the end of TBC when they had access to the best gears in the game. 4 piece season 4 + 4 piece tier 6 + warglaives, throw in a PVE trinket to boost your crit chance to over 40%, and you were an unstoppable killing machine. Even without warglaives, S4 weapons with PVE pieces was potent enough. Cheat death also allowed rogues to put on an absurd amount of PVE gear. Mutilate heroes XOM and Boozt also introduced RMPLD, the euro-comp into the mix to rejuvenate rogues in 5v5. Beating 2345/2346 as a rogue at long last was so much fun!
Wrath Of The Lich King (Level 80):
Death Knight (Season 5-6)
The conspiracy theory was Blizzard wanted everyone to try the hero class. So many things that shouldn’t have escaped the QA process, did. For most of season 5, death knights made warriors/rogues completely obsolete with its unfair combination of damage, control, and utility. Retribution paladins were also doing ridiculous damage at the time but it was still limited to single target. The one button Icy Touch spam spec in 3.3.3 sealed their fate as Blizzard finally went in with heavy nerfs, turning the class from top of SK-100 to the very bottom by season 7/8.
Protection Warrior (Season 7)
While protection paladins were also dominant during that era, protection warriors were a league of their own with their unfair combination of damage, survivability, mobility and AOE stuns. It was possible to play with literally zero resilience given how difficult it was to kill a protection warrior, and coupled with hunter/paladin, it was enough to take home the coveted BG9 rank 1 title. Alloraan and company ultimately forced star players like Reckful to transfer elsewhere for their rank 1 titles, and he did it with such an amazing win rate. In return, Blizzard made sure protection will never be relevant in arena again with Cataclysm, thanks to the core talent tree changes.
Elemental Shaman (Season
While it is unfair to lay the blame on a single class for the dominance of wizard cleaves that plagued season 8, I feel this was the one class that took it over the top. Compared to lock/mage or lock/shadow priest wizard cleaves which at least required some coordination, LSD and Talbadar’s shadow priest / elemental shaman variants made it a little too easy. Players were literally spamming lightning bolts ahead of purge in 5v5 because that is how much damage they did. Lava burst during trinket proc could one shot anyone. You literally could not do 5v5 without an elemental shaman because of their easy damage. And elemental shaman still provided great off heals when needed. During the infamous grand finals of Blizzard, as good as Snutz/Venruki were, the LSD was dishing out more pressure with a fraction of the effort."