The final moments of the 2016 World of Tanks Grand Finals were tense, but in the end only one can be Champion.
This was the way it was always meant to be at the Season 3 World of Tanks Grand Final; the champions of Season 2 – Hellraisers – defending their title against the champions of Season 1 – Natus “Navi” Vincere. Two proud teams looking to prove they could win yet another title, but one team looking to win back-to-back and the other looking for revenge for last season.
Both teams blazed through their respective groups winning well-fought battles in each of the earlier rounds. Hellraisers took an early lead in their semi-final against NSS, winning the first three rounds and four of the first five. NSS made it a fight in the end by following that up with two straight wins, pulling back within one game, but ultimately Hellraisers pulled off a confident 5-3 victory.
Navi managed an even more convincing win during the semi-finals. Wombats on Tanks started off winning two of the first three rounds against the significantly favored Na’Vi, but that was where it would end. Na’Vi brought their best the rest of the way, winning four straight rounds to close it out in seven. However all wasn’t lost for Wombats on Tanks, as they managed to defeat NSS 5-3 for a third place standing in the finals, earning a tepid $35,000 for their efforts.
In the end, we got our showdown between two seemingly evenly matched teams. Despite being the defending champions, Hellraisers struggled for consistency this season and came into the tournament considered underdogs. That didn’t seem deserved early on, with Hellraisers taking the first two rounds and looking incredibly strong, putting Navi back on their heels. However it didn’t last, with Navi responding similarly as against Wombats on Tanks; winning four straight and taking a 4-2 lead. Unlike the Wombats, however, Hellraisers didn’t break; coming back with three straight wins of their own to retake the lead. It suddenly seemed like it could be one for the ages, and the ending didn’t disappoint. Navi took back-to-back rounds in response before Hellraisers managed a hard-fought twelfth round win in the first-to-seven finals. With the game tied after twelve and margins this close, it was always going to be heartbreaking for someone; overtime was fast approaching and only one team could come out on top.
Navi took an early lead in tank kills while being down in HP. With the extra guns it seemed likely they would eventually close that difference, but it didn’t happen. Hellraisers played great offense to close the gap, and it came down to a 2v1 in favor of Hellraisers, with Applewow having nearly full HP and Grifon still in the game. It seemed almost impossible for Navi to claim victory, but their final tank (Inspirer) was aggressive and Applewow made a damning mistake; backing off a cliff and lodging himself between the cliff and a rock. With Navi on defense and Grifon close-by, Inspirer disengaged, leading to a tense exchange between himself and Grifon ending in Navi’s favor. With Applewow literally unable to do anything, time expired giving Navi the championship 7-6 and $150,000 in prize money.
One mistake took almost certain victory and turned it into defeat for Hellraisers, and Na’vi are now the two-time World of Tanks Champions. With these Finals coming down to the smallest of margins and a single costly mistake in overtime, at least Hellraisers can take comfort in knowing they can still compete with anyone, not to mention $75,000. There’s no reason they can’t come back stronger next year, ready to take back the title, but that likely won’t make up for the $75,000 less they take home for their mistake.