With the Wargaming League APAC Finals all wrapped up, Wargaming is closing out its 2017 competition. The Australasia Cup is the last of this years local esports, but it’s also the start of a new focus according to Jini Jun – a move to more country based support for World of Tanks.

In the lead up to the WGL APAC finals and new Australasian Cup, I chatted with Jini, Head of Competitive Gaming APAC, and James Kozanecki, Player Experience Manager, about these competitions and 2017 in review.

To get started, how do you feel about the place of Wargaming, and World of Tanks specifically, in the 2017 esports market?

Jini: We’ve been running WoT for around 4-5 years now. I think we’re still in the middle of space as an esport. Right now for us at Wargaming on World of Tanks, we’re always trying to find a better format or gameplay way for our esports audience to enjoy more. If you see what we’re doing around the last couple of years, we’re trying to change the format of our esports, and that will continue into the next year.”

How about here in Australia? By the looks of things the opening of a new office, as well as infrastructure, servers and tournaments is helping develop the scene.

Jini: We have Team Efficiency who were in the league in 2014 and have continued to do so until now. They were the start, then early this year we started to focus more on country based than doing tournaments regionally, and Australia/New Zealand is a major one of them. We’ve just announced we’re going to hold a country cup, the Australasian cup, for only Australian and New Zealand players for the casual players. With that and the more famous pro team, I think it’s definitely growing here.

Speaking of, the APAC finals are just about to kick off, and we have Australians Team Efficiency competing. Do you see this team’s success as a product of the investment in the APAC region?

Jini: It’s only team Efficiency from Australia, and all the other finals teams are from China and Asia. We tried to be more focused on Team Efficiency for the Australian audience and scene – they’re really the face of the WGL here. They’ve been here from the get go.A smaller, Australasian cup tournament was announced recently. Having more close to home tournaments for the growing community seems to be a good move – could you speak to some of the goals for this and the Australian scene going forward?

Jini: While I can’t share any final plans, early next year we’re looking to have a training camp alongside our player gathering. It started three years ago, first in Taiwan then Japan and Korea, and what the training camp is is we can invite pro players – one or two from Team Efficiency probably – and we ask them to do some short lectures on how to play better, how to get started in tournaments and leagues.

Feedback from other countries suggested it was a really fun event that players really loved – I’m looking forward to seeing how the Australian and New Zealand audience reacts. We’ll definitely be doing more country based tournaments as well next year.

Australian servers have been deployed, and also extended. What’s the reception from the players been like?

James: The servers launched last week and we saw enough of a response that warranted extension. It wasn’t by a huge amount but overall uptake has been positive and people are coming back to the game, which is really important. From a fan’s perspective, they’ve been really happy with it – servers were the number one request and we’re giving them what they’re after.

Finally, Jumping to a larger scale, what do you see as the biggest competitive moment for World of Tanks in 2017, and what the goals are moving into next year?

Jini: The biggest for 2017 would be the season finals in Taiwan. It was really the first time gathering with all the players, over 500 people, and could experience the games together. It’s probably the biggest thing I have in mind this year as a highlight.

Other than that, opening up to our country specific plans. Until now we were mostly doing it with tournaments and competitions focused on Asian servers, but this year we’ve started to go on with focusing on countries. Going forward with this for both casual and esports is what we want to do more of next year.