We've written about World of Tanks before. The massive mulitplayer online PC video game is an international phenomenon with over 110 million registered players worldwide. Its free-to-play model helped make the game a cultural phenomenon in Russia, Germany and throughout Eastern Europe. They've also carved out a large following in Asia. Game creator Wargaming (founded in Belarus, now located in Cyprus) has successfully launched sequel World of Warplanes in 2013 and World of Warships is set to follow later this year, but World of Tanks is still their #1 property.
Wargaming will hold the World of Tanks Grand Finals in Warsaw, Poland on April 25th and 26th. Twelve teams from around the globe will compete at Warsaw's Expo XXI arena in front of a crowd of well over 12,000 people. That sounds like a big crowd, but the real action is online: over 4.3 million viewers watch the Grand Finals last year and Wargaming is expecting that number to grow this year. I'm traveling to Warsaw to check out the competition live and interview Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi about the future of the game.
The competition will include two teams from North America: eLevate and RUlette, but the rest of the field is made of up teams from Europe and Asia. The guys who play for eLevate (they're all guys, right?) have names that indicate a diverse array of national backgrounds but the RUlette team (whose logo is an open revolver chamber loaded with only one bullet) seems to be made up of guys with a Russian heritage. It's not surprising, since World of Tanks has such a strong following in Russia. More to come on both teams once we all get to Poland.
We've been talking a lot about eSports in the (virtual) office here at Miltary.com lately and we wrote about the Call of Duty Championships, held last month in Los Angeles. Most of you baseball and NFL fans over 30 don't want to hear it, but watching live video game action online is a rapidly growing phenomenon. Amazon paid almost a billion dollars last year for game streaming site Twitch and there are budding careers for professional gamers and for the people who cover and produce the live events.
If your already a fan or you're just curious, you can log in or create an ID at Wargaming.net to get details on the event. The matches will stream live on Twitch (main stage activities here and backstage activities here). You can watch Twitch via your web browser and it's also available as an app for iOS and Android. Big screens are better here and Amazon Fire console and stick users can install an app that will let them use Twitch on a TV. You can also stream to an Apple TV via AirPlay from the iOS app and it works with Chromecast sticks as well.
More to follow. Check back this weekend for updates and get ready for the event by watching eLevate's victory in the North American Season 5 finals last month.