It's been over a fortnight since the WGL APAC-Asia finals are held. The entire event was an exciting ride from start to finish, so much so that we had to spend a little time choosing the best moments and photos to highlight for our recap. Now that it's done however, we're ready to show you what happened in Seoul during 24th and 25th October 2014 - behind the scenes and the match recaps as well!
As the finals were spread out over the course of two days, we have seperated them into their own individual sections. To choose a particular day, simply click on the corresponding title below:
The first day of the finals was held at I'Park Mall in Seoul. A gigantic shopping mall located next to one of Seoul's major train stations, it also houses the legendary Yongsan eSports Stadium on the 9th floor. This particular arena has played host to numerous eSports tournaments since it was open to the public, including but not limited to World of Tanks!
The three teams in the finals - ELong, Charlotte Tiger and ARETE - arrived at the eSports Stadium about three in the afternoon and promptly began setting up the terminals. As a professional World of Tanks player, every advantage counts... and that means optimising your seat position as best as you can. As any tank commander knows, the slightest change in mouse sensitivity, monitor brightness or even keyboard positioning can mean the difference between victory or defeat.
One might think that setting up an event like this only requires a little over an hour to complete, but that's nowhere near the truth. The lighting, seating, sound systems, stage and the all important player booths must be checked and rechecked to make sure that everything works. The final touches made on the last day alone actually began on the morning of Day 1, well before the teams ever stepped into the Stadium.
But there's only so much preparation one can make before the real thing happens. About an hour or two before the finals began, the doors were finally open for the spectators. They began filing in, slowly filling up the place. The stream of visitors would not stop until the matches were well under way.
At almost 7:00 PM, the lights dimmed and the commentators walked on stage to the sound of applause and cheers: the event has finally begun!
The presenters of the semi-final opened the event with some light banter about the teams and the event of the day, entertaining the crowd as the teams made the final adjustments to their equipment. The enthusiasm of the commentators, combined with the eagerness of the crowd to see some great games practically energised the whole venue and got everyone hyped up for the matches. By this time, the venue was so packed with people that the chairs had run out for late arrivals, but amazingly enough, nobody minded standing up to watch.
Finally, the main screen flashed the names of the teams in the first match amidst renewed cheers. The finals are starting now: may the best team win!
|Match 1: ELong vs Charlotte Tiger|
At the very beginning of the first match, we saw both sides rushing out to the center of Prokhorovka for a frantic brawl. Long story short, Charlotte Tiger emerged out of the fight with 4 tanks remaining, earning them a victory. Incidentally, they were running a T49 on their team to accompany their Spähpanzer Ru 251s while Elong was running a pure RU 251 lineup.
Game 2 was played on Himmelsdorf and was just as fast paced as game number 1. Taking to a highly aggressive style of play, Charlotte Tiger consequently lost all of their tanks while only successfully destroying a single tier VIII from ELONG.
Game number 3 was played on Steppes, which is, statistically speaking, the least played map. That being said, we still saw an equally fast paced game that did not end in favor of Charlotte Tiger.
The fourth game of this set was played on Ruinberg, and in this game we saw a brief turnaround from the Japanese Tigers. By playing conservatively they were able to reduce ELong down to a single AMX 13 90. Through initiating a capture, they forced him out in the open and took him down to secure a draw.
The final game of this set was put on Mines. Charlotte Tiger took possession of the middle hill area, just before Mubesi was taken down. This was the beginning of the end for Charlotte Tiger; the team lost their final AMX 50 by the time the 4 minute mark hit, giving ELong the win for this set.
Match 1 Winner
|Match 2: ELong vs. ARETE|
Game number 1 was played on Mines. Surprisingly enough it ended in a draw with both sides only losing their T1 Cunninghams, despite the high level of play expected from the teams in this match-up. However, the next game would soon prove to be anything but anti-climatic.
In Game number 2 on Cliffs, we saw both sides rush for the center of the map, exchanging fire and trading casualties. A T49 eventually escaped from ARETE and tried to drag out the game for another draw... an unlikely scenario, considering that 4 minutes remain on the clock. ELong finally baited out a capture using their last two tanks, winning the game with the use of this trap.
Game number 3 was played on Ensk, with a very standard loadout from both sides. After a definitive tank fight that ARETE emerged victorious in the southern end of the map, a single AMX 50 100 belonging to ELong remained in the north. The tank from ELong didn't survive long in the ensuing 1 vs 4 scenario, carefully orchestrated and played by ARETE.
The final game was played out on Himmelsdorf. ELong began by entrenching themselves in defensive positions at the northern end of the map, not far from their spawn point. Sensing no incoming attacks, they then moved out and went on the offensive. Unfortunately for them, ARETE learned about their intensions and immediately switched to a defensive stance, allowing ELong to invite themselves into Arete’s position unawares. The final engagement was bloody and frantic, culminating in a single key mistake by ELong: bringing their T1 Cunninghams along for the fight. As it turned out, ARETE had already lost both of their T1 Cunninghams, meaning that if ELong wanted to gamble with a scenario such as this, they could still potentially get a draw if they had a T1 hiding as the clock hit 00:00. Instead, at 00:20, ELONG was defeated with ARETE still in possession of two functioning tanks. With that mistake, the set goes to ARETE.
Match 2 Winner
|Match 3: ARETE vs. Charlotte Tiger|
Game number 1 was played on Himmelsdorf. Charlotte Tiger initially had a very defensive setup , with a 4 vs 5 scenario that just did not end tastefully for Charlotte Tiger. This would repeat itself again in game number 2, where ARETE rushed the eastern side of the map on Cliffs and used the element of surprise to get the jump on the Tigers, who proceeded to be hunted down and taken out of the game one by one.
In game number 3 on Mines, we saw the beginning of a turnaround. Although Charlotte Tiger had lost both of their T1 Cunninghams in the early game, they managed to retain control of the center hill and thus could see just about everything on the map with little trouble. Taking advantage of the terrain and their superior vision, they were able to take down ARETE one by one, securing their first victory of the set.
The miraculous comeback became even more pronounced In game number 4 on Prokhorovka, which lasted less than 60 seconds. Right from the start, Charlotte Tiger began a rush straight up the middle of the map and knocked their opponents out in a methodical manner, quickly securing a victory.
But their fortune did not persist. In the final game on Steppes, Charlotte Tiger quickly lost both of their T1s in the first two minutes of the game, thus prompting them to take defensive positions. ARETE counter-played very well by rushing with the knowledge of just a handful of tanks remaining, going in and decimating Charlotte Tiger's forces one solid block at a time.
As a result of this loss, Charlotte Tiger would start with the lowest seed in Day 2 of WGL APAC-Asia S2's finals. ELong would begin in second seed and ARETE as first, having been guaranteed to win at least 20,000 USD for the tournament.
Match 3 Winner
As great as Yongsan eSports Stadium is, we sadly have to leave it behind for a larger venue: Bluesquare.
This modern building plays host to theatre troupes and entertains its guests with musicals and plays every week of the year. On 25th October however, a part of it has been reserved to present the Grand Final of the biggest World of Tanks tournament in Asia.
Similar to yesterday's turn of events, the teams arrived at the venue several hours before the matches were slated to begin, having to test out their equipment and customise their setups. Unlike the Semi-final held the day before however, a line was already forming up in front of the main entrance; the spectators were already waiting to go in!
Luckily for the growing crowd of people patiently waiting outside the door, there was plenty of entertainment to go around. The Tank girls were already out in force, hosting mini contests where participants could win free premiums. If all else fails, one could always be contented with a couple rounds of Blitz on their mobile devices.
Eventually, the doors were flung wide open, accepting the spectators who were now swarming the once quiet corridors of the building.
Upon entering the hall where the grand final would be held shortly, one could tell that this was a much larger affair than it was yesterday: rows upon rows of seats lined up before a massive stage, enough to accommodate a few hundred Tank fans easily. Decorations adorned the stage that supported two player booths carefully marked out in red and blue lighting. An immense screen sat behind them, bearing the logo of the tournament.
The fans slowly filled the seats over the next hour or so. Once again, there were so many people that the first floor of the hall couldn't accommodate them all. Luckily, there was a balcony section on the second level available, which was swiftly converted to house the rest. This time, no one would be left standing.
At exactly two in the afternoon, the lights began to dim. The spotlights that illuminated the (otherwise dimly-lit) hall blazed with neon colours as the emcee of the event walked out to the stage, cheered wildly by the crowd. The whole thing almost resembled a rock concert of sorts.
It wasn't long before the emcee introduced the three teams that would be battling for the title of champion: ELong, Charlotte Tiger and ARETE. The teams came out on stage together to introduce themselves before assuming their positions: ELong on the booth to the left and Charlotte Tiger to the right, while ARETE disappeared behind the curtains.
The huge display on the stage suddenly flickered to life, segmenting itself into three sections. The logos for ELong and Charlotte appeared on both sides of the screen (this would change accordingly depending on the teams using the booths) and a series of short films began to play, introducing each of the three teams that made it to the finals.
As soon as the last video finished, the voice of the commentators filled the air and the spotlights dimmed. The grand final has finally begun!
|Semi-finals Match 4: ELong vs. Charlotte Tiger|
Game number 1 of the last Semi-finals match was played on Himmelsdorf. With the way they spread out their tanks initially, Charlotte Tiger almost looked as if they were opting for a draw. They did send an AMX 50 100 to the eastern hill to attempt a few snipes, however.
It is worth noting that Charlotte Tiger lost both of their T1 Cunninghams before the 3:30 mark, after which ELong decided to make their move to engage their opponent. At the end of that firefight, there were only five tanks remaining: three for ELONG, two for Charlotte Tiger. Despite being slightly outnumbered, Charlotte Tiger sent a single AMX 50 100 to reset the capture initiated by ELong, achieving a draw.
Game number 2 was played on Ruinberg, where both sides made a rush for the eastern village. Nightmare was the first Tier VIII tank to fall in the game. The exchanges between the two teams were neck and neck, but the key shots were dealt by the only T49 present on Charlotte Tiger. Claiming the upper hand, Charlotte Tiger puts themselves up 2:1.
Game number 3 was played on Cliffs. Given that ELONG is primarily a team that loves to rush aggressively, this was an excellent map to play in. Packing two T49s with their speedy light tanks, they were gradually outplaying Charlotte Tiger after occupying the center hill. Before long, ELong brings the set to a tied 2:2.
The final game was played on Prokhorovka. Charlotte Tiger initially made the choice to rush up the center of the map with their tank loadout, but ELong instead went out to the eastern side of the map, entering the village and effectively lighting up the broadside of the team from Japan. With that, ELong gained the right to compete in the grand final.
Semi-final Match 4 Winner
|Grand Final: ELong vs. ARETE|
This is it; the deciding match to determine who walks away with 60,000 USD!
The first game was played on Ruinberg, a battle that neither side was willing to initiate. Because of the passive play seen on both sides, it ended on a draw with ARETE only dropping two T1 Cunninghams for the whole of the game, once at the beginning and the other as it dragged on.
Game number 2 was played on Mines. Initially, it seemed that the game might end in a draw as well, but when ELong saw a small opening in the near-indestructible defensive play of ARETE, they took the opportunity to abuse that mistake and put themselves in the lead in this series. The Season 1 Champions were now one point behind.
Game number 3 on Himmelsdorf soon came around, which saw ARETE moving with purpose right away; a draw at this point would be disastrous as it would push their opponent closer to ultimate victory. On the other hand, ELong elected to sit and wait for their enemies to pile-in on one direction - a gamble that did not pay off in the slightest. With one and a half minutes left on the clock, it looked like almost anyone’s game, but ARETE managed to pull of a solid counter-play that managed to bring their score back to 2:2.
The fourth game was played on Cliffs. It was clear from the get-go that ELong was not getting the better end of the exchange that occurred soon after it began. With three tanks still on the field, ARETE won and finally took the lead at 3:2.
Game number 5 was played on Steppes, perhaps the least-practiced map of all time. However, it was apparent right from the beginning that ARETE had a plan. All of their tanks were RU 251s, and their goal was simply avoiding contact with ELong for as long as possible.
After what seemed like ages, ELong finally rushed into a fight that was as even as it was ever going to get; individual skill, not tactics would decide the outcome of this battle.
At the end of it all, two tanks remained on the field, both belonging to ARETE. The Korean team thus became the champions of WGL APAC-Asia S2.
Grand Final Winner
The cheers were deafening as the final shot ripped through the last remaining tank from ELong. Many of the spectators were unabashedly ARETE fans, but who can blame them? In Korea, eSports players are similar to star athletes or sportsmen in terms of status.
But that's not to say that ELong and Charlotte Tiger were met with silence when they came up on stage to greet the crowd again; on the contrary, the ovation that they received was as generous as the one given to ARETE.
The tournament finals are now officially over, but what's next? A celebration, of course!
Later that evening, the three teams gathered again for dinner somewhere in Gangnam District. First, they ate their fill...
Then the team members began mingling with each other, trading facts about themselves and tips on the art of tank battles...
And then they progressed to several rounds of darts. Although they were no longer aiming at tanks, one could tell that the spirit of competition was still alive and well!
We would love to tell you what the score was at the end of the mini tournament held that night, but to be honest, nobody cared that much. There's a time and place for everything, and at that point, being buddies with one another was the most important matter in their minds.
But all good things must come to an end. After an extended goodbye consisting of many well wishes and 'see-you-next-season' jokes, the players began leaving one by one. Whether or not the teams will have the good fortune to meet again, one thing is certain: the bonds that were made between ELong, Charlotte Tiger and ARETE (each based in seperate countries no less - China, Japan and Korea) will not be easily forgotten.