Tanks “steered” from Poland have conquered the world! Viewers have spent 9 million hours watching online matches

Poland is a bright spot on the global e-sport map, but you'll be surprised to learn what follows. A year and a half ago at the offices of creators of one of the most popular e-sport games in the world—World of Tanks—a decision was made—a decision, which allowed last year's league's matches to beat all historic records. An ambitious and experienced ESL's e-sport experts operating from Katowice started one of the most important missions in their career—they undertook the challenge of organisation and handling of WoT matches around the globe.

The capital of Upper Silesia became the command centre for the world of tanks during league’s season 2016/17. This applied to all planning and match handling areas: from the concept and implementation of websites used to organise skirmishes and enable communication with gamers, through support and preparation of offline events, during which the best teams competed for millions of zloty.

Operations in various parts of the globe as well as cultural and regional diversity that comes with it required assembling an ESL team composed of more than 20 people such as experienced experts from the Polish branch and contracted specialists in the e-sport market from around the world to handle the league.

The project was conducted under the command of three global project leaders—Rafał Ławniczak, Steve Neale and Oliver Maxfield, who managed a group of project managers handling WoT matches in North America (NA), Europe (EU), countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Asia-Pacific region (APAC).

The team from Katowice suggested a range of changes and new elements which have consequently resulted in the desired goal being achieved—all records of the world league of “tank drivers” have been beaten. What enabled their success?

Rafał Ławniczak lists key components: “We have started changes from building a user-friendly platform for communication with players. The creation of a new website for WoT matches, which became a centre of information connected with the tournament, was a very important novelty introduced at Katowice team’s request. The unification of transmission and centralisation of operations enabled more efficient planning of messages addressed to e-sport fans”.

Additionally, Oliver Maxfield emphasises importance changes made to all aspects of the product: “Unifying processes across the globe including in scheduling, broadcasting, events and more helped deliver a high-quality product with better efficiency. We hope above all else that the fans and players enjoyed the seasons and events this past year and will continue doing so for many years to come”.

From regional finals to the organisation of The Grand Finals in Moscow

Apart from matches themselves, the ESL team has also been involved in handling WGL finals. In April this year there were two Wargaming League finals held at the ESL Arena in Katowice—for EU and CIS regions. Subsequent two have been organised in ESL Studio Burbank (NA finals) and in Taipei (APAC region finals). The culmination of that incredible year was the organisation of The Grand Finals 2017 tournament in Moscow, which was prepared by the team from Katowice in collaboration with Wargaming’s branch in Minsk. Twelve best e-sport teams from around the world came to Russia to fight for honour and glory and 300,000 dollars which comprised the tournament’s prize pool. The final of the event was at VTB Ice Palace—a modern sport facility which may accommodate over a dozen thousands of fans of electronic entertainment.

10 million sessions for the first time

Considering the success in light of viewing figures for such games as CS:GO, League of Legends or Dota 2, one could think that other e-sport titles are going to be hidden in their shadow. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. As the last year of league matches showed, the interest in World of Tanks matches has grown exponentially and exceeded all previously assumed goals. The Grand Finals 2017 tournament—the great finale for all battles within the league—was held in Moscow.

The viewers have generated over 10 million sessions as they were following matches using channels broadcasting them, such as Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, etc. This was recorded as a 60% increase in the number of views compared to last year’s finals. Additionally, this year’s Grand Finals have also registered a significant increase in the number of spectators—the event in Moscow was visited over the Internet by as many as 3.5 million unique users, which constitutes a 75% increase compared to the year 2016. The most prestigious World of Tanks event is also a success in terms of the time spent on following matches. The greatest level of competition ensured that WoT fans spent more time and more eagerly watching match broadcasts. The time during which tank battles have been watched extended by 81% compared to last year!

The greatest popularity was enjoyed by encounters of CIS and EU regions, for which the increased viewing figures amounted to 150% (CIS) and 57% (EU), respectively.

What attracts people to World of Tanks?

What is the mysterious phenomenon behind tank drivers’ matches? World of Tanks is a free MMO game based on the free to play model. It is available for consoles, mobile devices and PCs. It was produced and released in 2011 by The game is focused on armoured battles between players involving PvP interactions and using battle tanks. Players can choose from over 450 vehicles. The game was entered in Guinness World Records under the “Most players online simultaneously on one MOG server” category. league constitutes the very centre of World of Tanks contests. Each region organises its own Bronze, Silver and Gold series. Bronze series games can be joined by all players who have registered an account on the European server and are at least 16. The system is very simple. A good game in the Bronze Series ensures teams’ advancement to the Silver Series. By the end of the season, Silver Series teams have a chance of transfer to the Gold Series.