1) Yes. Kavos, Harcpp and Shelby are the three devs responsible for the reverse engineering of the new patches and expansions. If we're always first on a new expansion, It's because of them.
Last year for WoD we didn't have Kavos, yet, so it's going to be even faster. But we only put Kavos, on it for now since Hardcpp and Shelby have a lot of work to do on WoD currently. Sovak's only job was always to do some reverse engineering for new patches or expansions, he's not a spell developer or anything else, so nothing change for the WoD development.
2) We're still discussing this internally. Even If Blizzard has been really nice with us during all these years, we never tried to release a game before they do, and something tells me that they might not like it. Might.. So we don't know yet, we might send few invitations to our current players and open an alpha realm.
3) Forwarded to Kavos, he should answer here soon.