World Of Tanks Grand Finals 2015 Battle Report: Day One Main Stage Winners And Losers From Warsaw

By Steve Buja , Updated Apr 25, 2015 12:20 PM EDT

The second annual League Grand Finals are happening in Warsaw, Poland. Twelve of the best World of Tanks teams on the planet have fought hard to get here, and they have their eyes on a $150,000 grand prize, a "mythic trophy" and the most sweetest prize of all: the right to call yourself the best.

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The first day of the tournament has been filled with pomp and circumstance, and not a little bit of technical difficulties during the first two matches. World of Tanks has, by all accounts, arrived. This year's tournament is taking place in the new Expo XXI Centre in Warsaw. The venue is huge, yet strangely intimate. Fans from around the world shuffle close to one another, a dozen dialects clamor in the din. The main stage looms large in the view, with screens all over the arena. The atmosphere is charged with anticipation. If you've never been to an eSports event and stumbled onto this one, you'd swear you were watching a larger than life actual sporting event or world-class rock band. It's intoxicating.

Currently, the twelve teams - two from each of the allotted five regions, plus two wild cards - are engaged in group play. They've been divided into four groups of three and while the majority of the play happens away from the prying eye, watching what games make it onto the Main Stage is a true delight. You don't even have to know what's happening in order to feel the rush and excitement of the room. The crowd cheers for every successful kill, for every cunning move and when there's the inevitable rush of a dogfight, the people are rapturous.

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The first three matches - best of nine affairs in the newly revamped Attack/Defend tournament setup - have had their share of thrills, but they have hardly been a competition. The first match, between the European wild card Kazna Kru and the South Korean APAC team Arete was a one-sided slaughter almost from the first. Despite their wild card status - or perhaps because of it - Kaza Kru dominated the criminally outgunned Arete, taking the first four rounds on the Murovanka. After quickly dispatching Arete with some strategic Attack play, they continued their winning streak on Defense - a notable achievement, considering Arete had never lost on Attack on that map during the tournament season.

Technical issues hit during the fifth round about a minute into play. It looked as if Kazna was going to run away with this one again, but the game crash may have proved a valuable advantage to Arete, who rallied after the issue was resolved and went straight for the throat. This was the match we came here for. It was a dogfight, with each team racing towards one another, guns blazing. It was anyone's game, but Arete's aggressive maneuver surprised Kaza and they couldn't rally in time, despite putting up one hell of a defense.

But the rally was short lived; round six began and ended in much the same way: an epic dogfight between the two teams. Kazna took the victory. When asked later what they thought about the crash, a player on the team commented that it "should have been 5-0".

But a victory is a victory all the same.

The second match of the day featured an intra-Chinese scrum between EL Gaming and RG Razer, and it was no contest. Whether they were barreling down the middle and simply annihilating the enemy, as they did in round 3 (despite being on Defense), or managing the first, and as of now, only two captures of the day, it was all EL Gaming all the time. The battle can best be described with one single word: clinical.

The third match of the day was between EU representative Schoolbus, an appropriate name for the baby-faced players. Just don't let their appearance fool you; these kids are as precise and professional as any team out there. Even if they may not be able to enjoy the afterparty. Their opponent was the battle tested Yato Gaming, representing Korea who paid little attention to the meaning of 'capture the base' and went straight for the throat almost from the get-go.

The first round, on the map Prokhorov, was a brawl from the first second. Yato pounced early, taking Schoolbus off guard and decimating them completely. It looked like we were on our way to another rout, but Schoolbus - true to their name, learned a thing or two - and Yato failed to adapt their strategy for the next three matches, and Schoolbus managed to divide the Korean forces handily. The first four matches were over with in a matter of two minutes, and while Yato almost pulled out a victory in round four when it came down to two Schoolbus tankers and a lone blue Korean, the bus rolled on. Almost doesn't count here, either.

Yato failed to adapt their tactics in Round 5, Murovanka, and we ended up with a highly cinematic forest fight within the first minute of the battle. Schoolbus easily picked Yato apart.

But perhaps that was Yato's plan all along: lull the opponent into a false sense of security. Round 6, with Schollbus on attack, was like watching a completely different team. This time, a more conservative Yato Gaming was able to divide the Schoolbus forces in what can best be described as 'The Flying V'. Schoolbus didn't stand a chance as they were hunted down one by one like wild dogs. 4-2, Schoolbus.

The rally was short lived. In the longest round of the match, both teams were playing it safe. Hardly a shot was fired during the first two minutes, with Yato hanging behind the main hill on the map. But more than Schoolbus, the clock was the Korean's enemy this time. With time running out, and skirmishes flaring up all over, Yato nearly had the cap - and the precious win - but were foiled at nearly the last second by the bulk of the remaining Schoolbus force. The capture timer reset, and the rest was quick and inevitable. Schoolbus takes the match, 5 wins to 2.

We'll have more from the main stage of the League Grand Finals as the weekend rolls on.

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