Alright, so since I've been a part of WoTLabs for so long I thought I'd share my story on how I got here. About WoT, going pro, being the best and the wonderful and not so great times I've had because of it. This is just a personal story, for some it can be entirely pointless but some people might enjoy it.
(This is purely my experiences that made me the player I am today,, so if you're not interested in that type of thing this probably isn't for you.)
Let's start off at the very beginning. I was 12 or 13, my uncle introduced me to this game. After an hour of playing or so I got kind of hooked, but as I was kind of underdeveloped in some areas at the time I started focusing on very different things than what my reasoning now will never see. I got a code with a T2 Light Tank, and it made money! Great, I could spam the OP round day in day out and earn credits along the way. T18 was also a stupidly strong tier 2 so I kept myself to playing those two. I liked being in charge, dictating the game. 2K games later (yes you heard that right) I got bored of the T2 gameplay, and decided to try something a little higher tier.
I made my first forum post on the official forums frustrated about players rolling me over, and I was lucky enough to have Poltto (old EU Legend) answer me there. He gave me some great advice on how to think about the game that I still carry with me. Being sure and confident in your ability aids you just as much as perfect mechanics will. That belief had some sort of value. I am diagnosed with autism, so I found this very soothing. Then I looked at Poltto's stats and was amazed. How in the actual fuck? At the time I had just gotten my first tier 9 (M46 Patton) with about half his outputs in everything.
I got curious about player skill, something I hadn't really considered as games weren't competition to me. Now they were. It felt like I had figured it out, getting to enjoy the satisfaction of improvement. I started off by watching various streamers (not RU streamers though as their meta lets them get away with way too much stupid shit) to both find openings and rotations mostly, I always liked low armoured assassin champions. I picked up Shaco in League and climbed pretty high in the first season, getting into the real mindset of the drive you need to actually improve to the point you want. Taking this process into WoT wasn’t really difficult, it almost came naturally.
Fast forward about 6 months:
I found WN8 and WoTLabs from two OM guys that just crushed my entire team and frustrated as I was, flamed in all chat. They told me to look up WotLabs and the Elitist+Stronk Pluton channels in game to meet some stronger players.. I looked at it, and the metric seemed pretty good. I thought... is this what people use to measure their strength in? Probably not. I saw myself on that ladder, very far down. I played ranked solo queue in League where people try harder, so I improve. II had the same feeling for tanks, I needed to go up the tiers. Once I felt improvement, I couldn't stop. That was it. The urge, and while I had a career in music production right off the bat in high school.. This was what I really wanted to do..
I started looking into the numbers, who the great players were; emu87, zzlzxzzlzx, espanol and unknwn comes to mind. You are not there yet, but you can be if you improve is what I told myself.. At this point I had about 2 years of playtime, not doing anything else but s3alclubbing in game every game I played since higher tiers were going so poorly. 1 year later I decided to move up the tier trees again for another try. I wanted to become good at the game. It felt like a good challenge, and I like a good challenge.
I also started platooning with some better players, Draz_H from S3AL in particular had a 6K game in his Type 59 on Kharkov the very first game we played together so I was just blown away. He offered to give me some pointers and explained that preserving HP and a good opening is normally enough to have a good game. The trick to this according to him was reading the line up according to the map state. I never really figured this concept out until then. Time to find more information to build my gameplay upon.
(Now about at 1500-1600 WN8)
Here comes the next contender: Hellcat (pre-nerf).
I watched EJ play it in an interesting way I’d never seen before.. Concepts like vision and kiting were easier to put together as parts of the game's inner workings while watching someone else.
I was 1500 WN8 56%WR at the time (s3alclubbing buffed my WR, as I said.). of this happening.. I grew something inside of me, I wanted to improve. And today, that desire still hasn’t gone away, It’s fueled much, but also caused much frustration along the way. I was learning now, reviewing my own retardation in replays for months to get a better sense of right and wrong and I finally felt some clarity. A long and dark path, probably lonely too. Perfect for me. I am going to be the best at this video game. Period. I decided this in high school. Hellcat spamming was a great teaching tool for understanding vision that I still appreciate today, even if I refuse to play anything below tier 9.
My high school years were spent producing beats and sampling old disco songs into EDM, honestly a very simple thing to do if music theory is something you master. I was really going my own way and already carving it out before adulthood. However, this game. World of Tanks… Something about it made me always want to play.. Eventually I started playing over composing in my free time instead of balancing the two. Seeing one’s work come to life is something truly special - but WoT filled another void within me that I honestly liked better. I had fun, was confident and started to make sense of it all.
Streams like EJs and advice from the many players on here (X3N4, _KT, Patient0, Poltto, Kewei + plenty of other of you) really helped me grasp the more difficult parts of the game and as such, I started improving rapidly. My period as Unicum before Super Unicum was the shortest between the cutoffs on the spectrum, and I really started liking the game. I played well, got into some stronger clans at the time (KITTY and S3AL) where I could regularly play with players of the same caliber and continue evolving.
Then WoT introduced Marks of Excellence. I was still on a shitty MacBook Pro using a Wine wrapper that couldn’t load 4 maps at all and crashed every 3rd game, but I managed to 3mark the E 50. That was a very big milestone for me, but I felt that my PC really kept holding me back. My parents were nice enough to support me in gaming as my diagnoses hadn’t been discovered yet (although they were most definitely there and parents were aware) and that doing something I simply genuinely enjoy might be worth spending some money on. My parents were musicians growing up so they always supported that path. Gaming was new and something my mom especially had trouble seeing as anything more than a time-sink until I got good and showed her my Paypal after 2 months of non-stop boosting later on .I’m jumping forward in time here but I don’t think family stuff has a place here, but I’ll at least say that this was eventually resolved.
I got a decent PC, a GTX 970 which was brand new at the time and other fairly solid components making the game suddenly run very smoothly on high quality. It took me a few days but past that? What an improvement. I went from barely being able to mark the “easy” marks to doing moderately hard ones in 75 games or less. The jump in DPG went from scratching the 2K region to reliably hitting the 2500-2800s in tier 8s. I felt ready to move up to tier 10 and get good there now. I spent most of my time with tier 8 as it was so much easier, and I liked marking premium tanks for their income during the challenge. I was never much for skirmishes until I actually joined S3AL a while later. During this time I had just left KITTY to join WaterWar’s clan LAVA and this is probably where I had the most personal growth as a player, KITTY’s Commander (GetLucky) was also swedish and liked playing with me a lot, as he was a 4k player and I was hovering at 3k wn8, I paid a lot of attention to his play. He played very passively to my surprise but eventually explained that patience tends to lead to better decisions as long as you don’t take too long. In LAVA I started playing Ranked TBs and skirmishes as they were so good for credits, and I also got the hang of organized play. Randoms were still the thing I enjoyed most until I joined S3AL after LAVA died and we were doing T6 fastbois. So much banter, soundboards and genuine fun on the TS that included a social aspect of the game I didn’t really experience until very late in my career. I found it fun, but randoms were still my jam. We had tons of fun with T-22 memery, tons of top clans coming together to.. Uh… complete missions, and all that stuff.
At this point in time I was very much a platoon player, me and Constie (remember him?) pretty much played everything together. but 3 man platoons always felt like cheating to me.
As I was now drowning in credits, I could finally buy and play tier 10s without issues. I really liked the BatChat, and spammed it until I 3marked it (1700 games.. lol) until I moved to the next. I realised that mostly what I was searching for was a challenge, more particularly one that fell in line with something I’d taken interest in. The 3MoE hunting ensued. After having done one tier 10, I believed I could do them all. That’s what I set my goal as, the DPG hunt got pushed aside in favour of marks.
I think this would be late 2016, as I started topping DPG charts on tier 8s and finally hit the 7k combined recent/overall cutoff FAME had to get into the clan. I asked X3N4 and he sent me an invite. I felt like I made it first time I joined FAME, best clan in the world so I am one of the best players. It wasn’t until here I discovered ESL and found that super interesting. After a few months in FAME I got a Whatsapp message from Knäckebröd asking me to try-out for their team mid-season as genghiswolves had been accepted to his uni and couldn’t play anymore.
Placing wasn’t great either as they were already so behind that we couldn’t get back into the league despite having a positive record past my joining. In this environment I was still pretty new, everyone was a better player than I was used to so the tricks to beating bad ones didn’t work since they wouldn’t fall for them. Cohesive gameplay and real time strategy became the big thing to focus on as flawless mechanics should be a no-brainer here. Boosting became a thing and I really went in for it to provide some extra value to my team, we were 8 and 7 people could play so as the new guy I’d have to fight for my spot if I didn’t do well. Luckily I never had to. But the boosting (climbing) times, me, Xaneleon and Failware (all on Knäckebröd, now Xane works for WG and Failware is considered FAME 1st team and one of the best players in the world in organised play) we all spent 20+ hours on Steppes and Mines to figure out new stuff for strats for the map.
I really liked FAME. The motto of “it’s not personal, you’re out if you don’t have what it takes.” really groomed me. I wound meeting some of them in Katowice during the -16 EU playoffs, had a great time and I think there’s still some legendary clips from Dakis stream from when we were there. I graduated high school around this time, and started boosting on my free time. WGL training + boosting was basically what I spent my day on, earning enough to get by and fund my music stuff (studio time isn’t cheap) and we set our eyes on playoffs in KB that’d mean a decent piece of prize money. We trained 3 times a week, sometimes against EU or RU teams in 3 hour blocks of perfecting strats, after they had their turn trying their strat - we had ours. Sometimes the team would want us to adjust strats to counter to see if we could beat it and sometimes they just wanted a standard defense to fight against so in general the training varied heavily from team to team. The russian teams always went full yolo every single game no matter what so you barely gained anything from the games if you didn’t just crush them in fighting them before they started applying any sort of strategy, funnily enough the EU silver league was MUCH better training partners than the russian ones, even some RU WGL teams were a complete mess to talk and organize with. We weren’t a top team even if KB placed 5th the season before so we mostly got practice times with EU teams and silver RU/EU teams as the top EU teams trained vs eachother and russian top teams most of the time. As I joined, the relegation was already dangling over our heads so I could pretty much play without pressure.
I really liked the 7v7 7/68, the attack defense + boosts made it all about strategy and very little about RNG as the better team actually won most of the time compared to randoms.
My very first ESL game was against KAZNA, the #2 team considered by pretty much everyone as DiNG was stomping most teams. I played out of my mind, and we were up 4-2. Sadly they were prepared for our Ghost Town strats (4th map) and we found ourselves in a tiebreaker, here the stakes were insane. We were expected to lose this match and even had a W/L route planned to remain in the WGL if we did and we went in kinda uncoordinated as I had only been practicing the game-mode for a week and was pretty fresh. If we won this match we would surpass The Lucky Bunch, putting us outside the relegation risk zone. KAZNA sadly had a better Cliff strat than we did and won the game 4-5. As my first WGL game, the comeback really made a dent in my confidence. After that loss, the team sort of lost its charisma and the rest of the season was depressing. After the relegation there was a major league in between silver and WGL where we played, but most players moved on after KB got relegated. I focused on streaming after this point. 3MoE hunting was my jam, and I was getting good at it. Aim_Drol eventually released a spreadsheet of the top 100 markers on the servers and I found myself on the top 10. I decided to mark every tier 10. That was my goal. So I did. It was a long grind, the STB-1 especially almost broke me. Once I had hit that, I felt completed. What now? I was already good at the game, with Daki and Jostra shaping me competitively and much of the WGL training made me a much more consistent player.
However, I didn’t really know what to do. Quit playing? I have completed what I set out to, but I’m too good at this to quit. Then I remembered; I want to be the best. I looked at my service record and saw the demise that the play4fun me caused before I started taking the game seriously - so I sent a ticket in and resetted the account. I got to keep all rewards so I had a 260, 907, T-55A and all my premiums along with enough 907 ammo/consumables for 1K games.
Account was resetted, and I wanted to wait for the right time to start playing randoms on it. I grinded regular TBs and Skirmishes to get a good enough crew for the 907 in randoms. I had already marked it twice before so I wasn’t too worried, but I need at least 3-4+ skill crew if I want to challenge the top DPG players. On this account, every game mattered. I could not autopilot or not take it seriously, so I invested very heavily into performing. I was streaming most of this and it grew a bit, and the 907 grind was kinda funny. Reserves or FL didn’t exist then so you had to actually grind the crew you wanted from scratch, otherwise I had to complete the first set of Stug missions to get a female crew - which would require playing random battles. I wound up starting my 907 grind with a 100% crew at 80% on BiA in randoms once the reserves came as 50 games let me hit 3 skills if I used x5s and boosters right. Still, the first 150 games got me to 94% on the mark. I thought to myself that hmm.. Maybe it’s just really OP?
But then I had 1k games straight of bullshit where I fluctuated between 80-90 and just couldn’t get a good enough streak of games to complete it. But I wouldn’t give up. I was the number one 907 player on Hall of Fame 4 months in a row, without the third mark completed. That really frustrated me. I was the fucking best player of the tank, how can I not get it? The mark req was at it’s peak (6600) and I was playing out of my mind. There were like 2 players on the server at the time with a higher DPG and they didn’t have anywhere near the battle count (100 vs 1K) so I couldn’t fathom how I couldn’t get it. I decided to put it off after hitting 1k games and started playing other stuff and really saw how much that I’ve improved. I had gone from a typical 3k 50B player to topping the DPG chart with zero time on it in between, and the same applied for many other tanks. Tier 10s were getting marked before 100 games. I was really peaking. At least I thought so.
Carbon was basically the only guy who reliably beat my DPGs at this time and as Luna (not Wotlabs Luna) knows Carbon, and me being in the same clan as Luna both in S3AL and FAME, I got some advice and replays to learn from. I inspected them very closely and learned a lot. Carbon’s greatest strength that I gathered from his replays was that he always knew what was going to happen and positioned in time, in every tank. Timing and gameflow became something I inspected more closely and I really developed in consistency even if my median game went down slightly, my average went up because of the insane carries coming more consistently once I had Carbon’s mindset down - coupled with my own. This is also when I started boosting a lot. I had been boosting 2016-2018 and faired well, but when I really competed for the top is when I got a lot of offers. I made a living out of boosting after having rerolled, some stream donations and the boosting money was enough to pay for the crucial stuff. I didn’t mind gaming all day, I still liked the game. I still do. This meant that I drifted away from music, lost touch with a lot of my friends in the business as I dove into gaming. I wanted to be number 1. This account was a fresh start and I was going to make sure of it. At 5K games it would show up on the leaderboard, so I needed a 5500WN8 overall to take the spot. I didn’t want to cheat my way there by abusing light tanks, or cheat WN8 by the tier average bug so I went straight for the tier 10 DPG tryharding again.
I watched some movie, can’t remember which (sorry), as I was trying to fall asleep but couldn’t. The day before was awful as I had gone from 93 to 82 on the 907 mark. Something there just really inspired me. I went for a walk at 4:30 in the morning for about an hour and then just got to it. I decided that this is it. I’m completing this right now. I turned on the stream, feeling torn if I should stream it (I always play like 5-10% worse on stream, never been able to shake it) or just grind without viewers over my shoulder. I decided to stream it, and my god if that wasn’t the best session I ever had. 7,2k average combined across 25 games. The most tilting thing happened though, as the game that shaved off before apparently was a big one meaning I had to do 7.8k to get mark from a 94.95 across the finish line. This was the third time I had the mark in the 94,9X range, and I wasn’t going to choke this time around. Incoming triple arty full tier 10 Karelia. I was so tilted as it’s one of the worst maps to get the REALLY high results on even if it’s decent at getting adequate ones - especially the three arties. Luckily the enemy team just runs into my gun and my team doesn’t do much but take damage for me. The mark mod told me I was across the finish line, at 8AM I could finally let this challenge go. The rest of the game I played out perfectly with the pressure gone, wound up turning it into a 95,7 percentage once the mark actually completed. With it, I also went over 5K games and finally took first place on the WoTLabs WN8 leaderboard as the only 6K WN8 player on any server at the time.
This was also during the time I boosted 3MoEs for days on end, getting into it eventually lead me to just watching movies on a second monitor and autocompleting everything non-tier 10.
The last thing I did was join Majstoras silver team FAME 7x7 where we literally crushed everyone and still stomped WGL teams in the qualifier - but as Majstora (our FC and a WoT mastermind) was moving to England with his brother Maresca (also on our team) our team started falling apart. We still had the WGL slot, and some players decided to stay and formed a new team, Savage Squad. I decided to leave because without Majstora I didn’t think we would compete with the top teams. We were scrimming them and going evenly, but doing some trainings without voicecoms (training personal decision making - it’s a trick to make players better on initiative so the FC has to micromanage them less and can focus more on big picture)
Now I felt burned out, that grind really took a while and our effort into the ESL kinda was the last I had in me. 6month hiatus ensued where I got back into music again as it’s a hobby I felt I had neglected for so long. I quit boosting too so I could distance myself from the game.
Coming back to WoT casually afterwards, the game changed a lot. Maps were remodeled much to my dismay and so many gimmicky things made the game harder to play. Coming back I definitely felt washed. Playing on cygaN_’s account as I didn’t have my own, a great polish friend of mine from S3AL. I also used User’s account for some challenges, like the ISU-130 (also almost broke me) and the T-44-122 to complete some of the rarer marks in the game that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
After that, cygaN_ gave me an account from a great friend to play on. Wujaszek, an account that had ground out everything, 500mil credits and about as much invested into consumables. He said that he was done with randoms and that I was free to use the acc as I wanted as long as I just don’t log in when he’s online playing FL or skrims (having to check the clan website page before logging basically). I was really happy he’d just give me the freedom to use his acc for whatever I wanted. I missed out on all the ranked stuff but he didn’t, so I had 4 full sets of improved equipment I could put on. I also had every tank in the game available outside of the low tier premiums, and nothing was 3marked. This felt like a really nice time-sink, but the game changed so much that I had to relearn much of what I already knew. Tempo sped up a lot and lights were figuring out better bushes and I had to adjust. For very long I wasn’t anything special, I could still 3mark any tier 10 with ease but the reward tanks kept giving me trouble. 121B wasn’t more than 100 games to do after the buff, but the rest took a while. It was my first M60 attempt and while I had the M48 playstyle down the mobility really changed the way to play the tank. 800 games later I took it and wound up really liking the M60. High mobility, high pen and a strong gun felt like the perfect combination to me. I wanted to repay him for letting me use his account, but as I’m marking pretty much everything I play - he considers that enjoyment enough since he can only play on weekends anyway. Great guy, we can’t communicate very well as he’s polish and can’t speak english but nevertheless he is one of my best internet friends anyway.
This meant I had to change the way I played the game, from a more aggressive approach to map control to a mistake-capitalising once. Surprisingly this came very naturally, and once able to combine the two I really started having pop-off sessions like never before. 4K+ing tier 9s, nearing 4500. At this point I kept feeling burnouts after 2-3 weeks of playing the game, realising the fun only lasted for a week or two. So I modeled my gameplay after this. I decided to play casually, but well. Plenty of breaks in between, playing mostly once every other week if at all but I was still able to showcase some good gameplay.
I started the engineering programme at uni at this time, so now I had studies, WoT and music to juggle. WoT just fell short of the other two at this point my life, so I barely played at all during 2019. Studies came first and music was finally going well again, started doing live shows (DJing) and having fun without gaming. WoT slipped further and further away. Whenever I wanted to waste time, League was my choice of game - or I’d go back and speedrun Mirror’s Edge (still top 20 on two maps xD) rather than having to learn the changes of WoT.
But every now and then, I pick WoT back up - generally for a challenge to see if I still got it. This is how I play the game now. I spam games under a short time period and put it off afterwards, it works for me but I’ll definitely admit that playing WoT is freshware, you need regular exposure or you’ll drop in skill.
I like WoT now. Wheelies and arty can still suck a dick but I am having fun playing this way, trying hard enough I am definitely able to keep up, but there are no stakes - I have other things I should be doing if WoT goes poorly, so I can quit without anger and move on to the next thing right away.
I managed to 3mark the Chieftain which was the last very, very hard reward to do for me. I enjoyed the grind, even though it was 300 games long between 85-90 until the 90-95 happened right away with perfect maps and not a single game drop. Past that I also felt it left some void, DPGs on this account doesn't matter because these tanks have all been played by someone before me so it’s not something to shoot for, but I think that’s a good thing. No pressure. I can play the game, have fun and not care if things don’t work out. I am very willing to admit that I am washed up from my prime (I’m a 4800 player now, not a 6k player) and recent CWs with FAME have shown that I really got more to learn. I missed Daki flaming me in some weird way so feels good to be back in something recognisable.
3 weeks ago however I broke my hand, initially it looked very very bad. Right hand too so no mouse use. This also meant I’d miss the campaign which I only joined because there’s just so few things to do in Sweden during COVID that I found it to be something I might enjoy. I missed the FAME guys anyway after meeting them in Katowice. (70% of the WGLEU was FAME, and all playoffs teams had at least majority FAME players + one or two russians so it really was just like meeting the best players of the best clan). Most of them are really nice, Barry and Skarium especially were super fun to meet and hang out with.
We did a smaller S3AL meetup in CPH a while back too, but it quickly turned into a who can beat Fosco in a drinking contest that the weekend is a bit of a blur
Luckily my hand is healing well, I played again yesterday and with a brace I can use a mouse to about 90% accuracy which is enough for WoT. Also had my first tier 9 10k game, super rusty.. Oh the irony. Now I just play to perform, and when I don’t.. I just quit. I feel like I’ve escaped the clutches of this game's addictive lure. I’m really happy I can still perform, and I’ll keep trying until that’s no longer an option I think. But now I am in charge, not the game. There is no “go next” after dying early, that is an ALT F4 and I can leave WoT behind without dwelling on it.
This may just be pointless rambling, but I thought I’d write it up. As I said, there is absolutely zero gameplay advice here, simply my story on how I got to where I am right now. I’m still not peaking I believe, as I’m reaching higher highs than when I literally played this game for a living well over a year tryharding my ass off. Development really is a fickle thing and I really do think peace of mind and critical thinking is a bigger part of improvement at the top than anything else.
I’m going to end this on a more sombre note. I was genuinely addicted to WoT. I never got help, but I valued games over things like sleep, food and socialising. That was a big mistake I made, and the one bit of advice I’ll give in this thread is to not let the game take you over. Yeah, you will likely be great if WoT is all you ever think about - but then the game is really just playing you. Improvement is slow but concentrating it into shorter timeframes really doesn’t do you any favours. Taking things from past games is what helps you improve, and a replay review will give at least 10x the information than just “going next” will in that game.
Today I like WoT, I have fun playing on my own terms and I can look back on my WoT days as something I enjoyed. There’s no hatred, but the game really didn’t do me any favours outside of the game. I have many regrets and going down this path is honestly one of them, even if I achieved what I wanted in the game I think pursuing other goals outside of it would have made me happier. I’ve accepted this though and it’s not bothering me.
I don’t know where I would be without WoT though, it really ignited the grinding and improvement spark that I think can be well put to use if you find something interesting enough to keep it alive. I haven’t found that IRL yet, but I’m gonna keep looking. It also showed me how an elitist attitude necessarily isn’t a bad thing, and that competition means making hard decisions and having a strong mental. There are definitely things I can take with me to help me in other areas. The strive for being the best, actually getting there and feeling the relief of completion is honestly astounding. When that endless drive is fueling you, why pump the brakes? Take your shot. I’m conflicted about what happened when I did mine, but talent/hard work pays off if you lean into it so I think it’s a good idea to shoot your shot when you finally see an opening. I'm especially thankful for knowing that I am able to power through no matter how bad things feel, the 907 really had me in shambles but sheer will is enough to set things straight sometimes.