Didn't see it on the front page yet. Blizzard has announced the 2011 ATR!
"Registration for the 2011 World of Warcraft Arena Pass is now open. Remember, this year all participants in the Arena Pass have a chance to earn the exclusive Armored Murloc pet as well as the exclusive “Vanquisher” title, so get your team together and be ready for fierce competition.
What is the Arena Pass?
We invite the most dedicated and skilled Arena combatants around the world to enter the new World of Warcraft Arena Pass! Your glorious victories in the Arena Pass will not only grant renown and recognition for your prowess, but will also grant you a chance to earn exclusive rewards only available to Arena Pass participants. Within a structured format comprised of one online qualifier, players will battle on special Arena Pass realms purely dedicated to the competitive format of 3v3 Arena matches. The characters used in these realms are new level 85s that you create and customize, packed with PvP armor and weapons.
Arena Pass registration is open to any active World of Warcraft account upgraded through the World of Warcraft: Cataclsym expansion. Registration costs one payment of $20.00, which grants one eligible World of Warcraft account access to the Arena Pass realms for the duration of the eight-week service. Players will be able to create up to three new fully customizable level-85 characters on these realms and deck them out with a full set of epic gear. Then form your new 3v3 team and enter the Arenas, where a whole new level of competitive play awaits you. Good luck!
Players who participate in the service can earn both the exclusive Armored Murloc in-game pet, and the “Vanquisher” title on their live characters by meeting certain eligibility criteria.
Character and Team Creation
Ever wanted to try a particular race and class combo in Arena? The Arena Pass gives you the chance to make your ideal gladiator. With your three available character slots, you can freely experiment with different combinations – and coordinate with others to craft a “dream team.”
When you create a new character on an Arena Pass realm, it will automatically be leveled to level 85, be fitted with a basic set of gear, be given a tidy sum of gold and appear in one of the designated starting areas. Handy NPCs in the vicinity include skill trainers, gear and item vendors, and Arena battlemasters. Everything you need to prepare for the Arena Pass battles ahead is conveniently located right in your starting area.
The currency you need to pay for training (and respecs) and purchase items is freely obtainable from an NPC. New characters are loaded with gold immediately upon entering the world. With money being no object, the characters you created for the Arena Pass are free to carry as much gear as they can hold, and you can respec and re-itemize as often as you wish.
Characters have access to full sets of Arena armor and weapons, as well as items normally purchased with Honor, such as the PvP trinkets. In addition, a selection of raid epics with the same approximate power level as the Arena gear will be available. View the complete list of purchasable items.
Once you create and outfit your new gladiator, it's time to join or create a new 3v3 Arena team. As on the live realms, the 3v3 teams can have up to six players total on their roster. Each of the Arena Pass characters you play (up to three) can be on separate teams.
The 3v3 Arena battles on the Arena Pass realms are exactly the same as they are on the live realms - the same maps, winning conditions, and rules apply. However, there is one important distinction from the live realms -- the playing field is level in terms of gear and class availability. Since most players will be equipped in similar sets of class-specific PvP gear, more emphasis is placed on executing a winning strategy based on teamwork and individual skill.
Entering matches is also handled the same way -- by queuing up for a rated match on your PvP tab.
The Arena Pass realms are running the same version of World of Warcraft as the live realms. Thus, there should be no disparity in game balance between the two realm types. Any patches or hotfixes that may affect the live realms after the Arena Pass begins will also be applied to the Arena Pass realms.
The Game World
On Arena Pass realms, you can roam free on the original continents of Azeroth and Kalimdor. However, instance portals leading to dungeons are deactivated, as is the Dark Portal -- Outland is not accessible on Arena Pass realms. There are also no computer-controlled enemies anywhere in the world.
Besides the occasional change of scenery, the only reason you'd wish to travel outside your starting area may be to engage in some duels with your fellow players. The dueling action you may encounter near the familiar "hotspots" of the world can serve as a fun diversion between matches. Beyond duels, however, there is no specific "world PvP" as the Arena Pass realms are dedicated to structured PvP combat.
Arena Pass Structure
The Arena Pass service will run for eight weeks. The first four weeks are designated for practice -- giving players a chance to meet, form teams, gain experience working together as a team, and to experiment with different lineups and strategies. During this time period, matches will not count, although your rating will change as normal. After the practice period, all team ratings reset to 0. During the next two weeks, there will be a -150 team rating penalty for any new player additions to your team. Player rosters will be locked down during the final two weeks of the Arena Pass, and no changes may be made to your team during that time. The rating and ranking system functions in the same way as it does on the live realms, including personal ratings."