Gurubashi Arena is an old standing relic of the once-mighty Gurubashi Empire. Located in the Cape of Stranglethorn in the south of the Eastern Kingdoms, it is still used for various types of fighting matches and gambling.
Gurubashi Arena as seen in World of Warcraft
The Gurubashi Empire was once one of the most powerful forces on Azeroth. Named after the tribe of jungle trolls that founded it after the centuries-long Aqir and Troll War. Without war to hold them together, the previously united troll factions grew more distant and founded their own cities and territories, with the Gurubashi dominating much of the south from their capital of Zul’Gurub.
The Troll Empires after the Aqir and Troll War
After the War of the Ancients and The Great Shattering of Kalimdor into the many smaller continents, the Gurubashi lost much of their power. Driven to desperation after many hard centuries, they eventually turned to the Blood loa, Hakkar, the Soulflayer. Hakkar would protect them and give them great power in exchange for blood and soul sacrifices. Eventually, the loa grew impatient and demanded to be summoned into the physical world. While some radical cultists did as Hakkar asked, most rose up in rebellion, destroying Hakkar’s avatar and hunting down the cultists. A few survived though, and built a secret temple to Hakkar in the Swamp of Sorrows.
Hearthstone Cards relating directly to the Gurubashi
Centuries later, the human kingdom of Stormwind attempted to expand its territory into Stranglethorn, resulting in skirmishes with the Gurubashi tribes. The king of Stormwind, Barathen, refused to launch a full invasion into Stranglethorn. This promted his impatient son Llain, along with Llain’s friends, Anduin Lothar and Medivh, to secretly launch their own expedition. The expedition ended with the three being outmatched by Jok’non, a Gurubashi warlord empowered by Hakkar’s blood magic. The three escaped thanks to an uncontrolled burst of Medivh’s magic that destroyed every Gurubashi in the area. In retaliation, the trolls invaded Stormwind, with Medivh again having to use is great power to destroy them and end the threat.
The Gurubashi of Stranglethorn
The Gurubashi lived in relative peace for a while, adapting an isolationist policy that kept them out of fighting and only attacking when invaded. This ended when the cultists of Hakkar succeeded in resurrecting the Blood Loa and convinced the rest of the Gurubashi that they would return to the former glory of the old troll empires. They were stopped by champions recruited by King Rastakan of the Zandalari trolls when he learned that the Gurubashi had enthralled Zandalari priests, including High Priest Thekal and High Priestess Jeklik. Hakkar was defeated and the priests slain, leaving leadership of the Gurubasahi to a troll named Jin’do.
After the Cataclysm, and prompted by the dark troll prophet Zul, Jin’do decided that the Gurubashi should try the “summon Hakkar so he will lead us to glory” plan again, only this time he would wrestle the loa into submission and hold it with spirit chains to siphon the power to himself. Members of the Alliance and Horde were warned of the plot by Vol'jin and his Darkspear trolls, who were far more friendly to the other races than rest of the troll tribes. Adventurers and faction champions once again ventured into Zul’Gurub and broke the spirit chains, stopping the ritual that bound Hakkar. The Blood Loa consumed Jin’do for daring to restrain him and promised to return and deal with the adventurers one day, meaning he is currently free in an unknown location.
Jin'do summoning Hakkar
While all attempts to resurrect the Gurubashi Empire have thus far failed, the Gurubashi arena remains active in modern times. Several times a day, the Gurubashi Arena Booty Run is held by the Bloodsail pirates, the most notorious and bloodthirsty pirate band in the seas.
A chest with precious booty is placed in the middle of the arena by a pirate captain every three hours, kicking off a free-for-all fight for the treasure.
According to stories told around the Hearthstone Tavern, the trolls haven’t forgotten the Arena either. Once a generation, trolls from tribes and kingdoms all over Azeroth journey to Stranglethorn Vale to test their mettle in a no-holds-barred gladiatorial contest. For the last two-hundred years, under the rule of the Zandalari King, Rastakan, it has been known as Rastakan’s Rumble. The Rumble consists of nine teams, each one devoted to, and empowered by, a loa patron, who send their champions out to fight for the glory and honor of being crowned the Champion of the Arena for their generation.
An Arena fight between Akali's Rhinos and Shirvallah's Tigers in Rastakan's Rumble
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Several images in this post were sourced from Gamepedia.