The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016

April 12, 2016 | 10:02

Tags: #world-of-tanks #world-of-warships

Companies: #esports #wargaming #wargamingnet

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016

The weekend just gone saw the return of the biggest event in the World of Tanks and Wargaming.net esports calendars as the Grand Finals 2016 took place in Warsaw, Poland. This was the third event of its kind – Wargaming's history in esports is a short one, with the Wargaming.net League having only been established in 2013.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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That said, we've reported a few times on Wargaming's growing interest in and pursuit of esports – it's definitely something the developer and publisher is taking seriously, as shown by the continued investment in it. This appears to be paying off somewhat, as this year was the event's biggest, with it moving to a larger venue, specifically Torwar Hall, after last year's Grand Finals left hundreds of fans outside after the EXPO XXI hall quickly filled up. The finals also moved to a Friday/Saturday schedule instead of a Saturday/Sunday one. This year's sponsors included Intel, Razer, PayPal and SanDisk.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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'Grand Finals is getting bigger and better each year,' said Mo Fadl, Head of Competitive Gaming at Wargaming. 'It’s a great venue for us to share our eSports passion with the world. The teams gave their all this year, and we’re really proud of them. We hold the Wargaming.net League and ourselves to really high standards, and are always striving to provide top quality entertainment for our fans.'

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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Another obvious change was the increased level of secondary entertainment and community engagement aside from the main stage battles. For example, there was a free-to-play zone with 28 gaming stations letting fans battle one another in World of Tanks and World of Warships. Beyond this there was a tank-based VR experience, masterclasses with a pro player and, in traditional Wargaming style, some real-life tanks on display for people to marvel at and pose with.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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As before, the Grand Finals 2016 was a free entry event, but eager beavers could register their attendance to receive an in-game gift, and Wargaming also introduced paid-for VIP tickets for the first time, granting purchasers early entry, fast track queuing and a dedicated, front-row premium seat as well as a number of in-game treats. Contests were also run during the event in order to generate interest, both on-site as well as through social media channels.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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By and large, the event structure remained the same as last year, with 12 teams competing for a total prize pool of $300,000. These teams, representing the winners from the various regional Wargaming.net League servers as well as a few Wild Card entries, were first put into four groups to determine quarter final positions, after which it was a standard knockout competition. The game type was the same Attack/Defence mode as last year and that Wargaming developed specifically for esports, though one new element was the ability to use Tier X tanks, the most powerful in the game. There was no major overhaul of the rules or structure, however, with Wargaming seemingly happy with the current approach.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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The group stages saw a number of crushing defeats, with multiple 5:0 victories as the day progressed. Fan favourites and 2014 champions Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) and last year's winners HellRaisers, both from the CIS region, had little trouble dispatching with GOLD BASS, the APAC team unlucky enough to be drawn in the same group as these two. Wombats on Tanks, the current EU champions and formerly known as Virtus.PRO, dominated their group, conceding only 1 point in two games. Ultimately, GOLD BASS, eClipse, Red Canids and EL Gaming (last year's runners-up) were all eliminated at this early stage and missed out entirely on the prize pool.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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In the quarters, there were some close games, with NSS defeating the last remaining North American team, SIMP, 5:4 and HellRaisers scoring the same against EU contenders Tornado Rox. There were also some not so close games, as Na'Vi and Wombats on Tanks both sailed to 5:0 victories against Kazna Kru and Yato Gaming respectively. This left all three CIS teams still in the running by the semi-finals, with Wombats on Tanks left representing the EU and all other regions eliminated. Sadly, Wombats lost to Na'Vi, but they managed to avoid it being a CIS-only podium by defeating NSS in the playoff, snagging $35K in the process.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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Before the grand finale, Wargaming had one more trick up its sleeve, namely a World of Warships 7 vs. 7 exhibition match featuring a number of popular World of Tanks and World of Warships streamers. The company has expressed interest in taking Warships into esports before, so this is hardly a huge surprise and the company is seemingly testing the waters (sorry) with this event to scope out (not sorry) community reactions.



Anyone hoping for an exciting final certainly wouldn't have been disappointed. Na'Vi were the fan favourites and had been extremely dominant through the event. They also won the very first Grand Finals in 2014. HellRaisers, meanwhile, were last year's victors, so one team desperately wanted to retain the title while the other desired nothing more than reclaiming it.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
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This made for a very heated and close battle which came right down to the wire and had to be settled by tiebreaker after a 6:6 draw was reached. In the final round, HellRaisers found themselves in a 2v1 situation, but a moment of panic from its star player AppleWow, who had earlier come back from a three against one situation to win a game, saw his tank reverse off a cliff and become completely stuck amongst the rocks, giving Na'Vi member Inspirer the time he needed to snatch victory and the $150,000 prize pool, leaving $75K for HellRaisers.

The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals 2016
Click to enlarge

While the biggest esports titles now speak of their viewer counts and prize pools in millions instead of thousands, Wargaming is very young in this scene and continues to grow. It will certainly be interesting to see how this growth plays out and develops in the coming years and what the company will end up doing with World of Warships.
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