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Interview: Fins_FinsT
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The first large-scale racing championship, “Formula War Thunder”, has come to an end.. The leaderboard changed from stage to stage, but the leading position in it remained the same, held in a death grip by one of the most driven pilots, Fins_FinsT. We couldn't miss the opportunity to find out the secrets of such truly impressive results, and to have a chat with the player who was at the very core of this fierce battle for speed.

Eugene: Hi! Throughout the entire championship, thousands of players watched the leaderboards attentively and naturally asked the question: “how?”. After all, the Elo rating system depends more on score than on the number of flights, which means a player who manages to consistently remain in first place is truly the envy of all pilots.

Such a score is really incredible, and the time has come to talk about the path to achieving it, which surely wouldn't have been possible without the most important factor – a desire to win!

And you definitely had this – I remember a PM: “I'm still at work, but I'd like to know – have I been overtaken yet?” :)

Fins_FinsT: The score is, of course, impressive (to me too), but it's important to understand something here.

I was not and am not “better” than other good pilots. I just noticeably outdistanced them in terms of time. If you took me in the first race and put me straight into the fourth, I wouldn't have won.

That is to say, I developed my skills throughout, and others did too. I was noticeably ahead because I began with WT races from the very beginning. With time, I'll hit the limit of my abilities and others will reach the same level. I don't have any illusions; it's unlikely this success will be repeated in the future in such a pronounced way.

Eugene: So you consider that the head-start you managed to get by starting to practice before other players was the only reason you outperformed them by such a large margin? It wasn't a miracle?!

Fins_FinsT: Not the only reason, but one of the main reasons – definitely!

Before “Formula War Thunder”, there was the Halloween event. I flew a lot then. I learned ‘mousejoy’ controls, which I hadn't used before. And I saw a lot of potential in myself for improving my aerobatics, and that was after I'd already won a biplane race. In addition, “Formula War Thunder” was announced long before it started. I already realized back then that I might have an overwhelming advantage in the first Formula event – when almost everyone else was relaxing, I was testing and leveling up rank 3 planes, learning aerobatics, not fanatically – there was time – but almost every day. But practice in itself is far from everything. A lot of other things came in handy which “added” speed and reliability, without them I couldn't have succeeded. There are dozens of them.

Eugene: Did any other racing experience enter into your practice?

Not necessarily in War Thunder, and generally, what was it about the idea of races in WT that got you interested? After all, it takes more than just a desire to achieve a prize-winning place to motivate someone to put in all that time and effort and strive for such a result!

Fins_FinsT: In real life, I have no racing experience. In games I do. I played “Racing Driver: Grid” for several years, multiplayer. Before this, I flew a lot in the Russian game Echelon: Wind Warriors. This is a futuristic flying machine simulator with all six degrees of freedom (the average airplane has four).

A prize-winning place wasn't my goal. Prizes are nice of course, and I wouldn't refuse them ‘just because’. But I would have raced even without them. Just for fun and to be the first. I'm a veteran PC gamer – I've had my own ‘rig’ since 1993. I love racing and love flying. This mode in WT combines both of them. Apart from that, I like taking risks.

Eugene: Risks? Did you let a rival pass you so you could overtake him again? :)

Fins_FinsT: Let someone pass deliberately? No way! :) There was risk in the fact that, for example, I often knew that it would be better not to attack a pilot on the first lap if he was flying the lap just two or three seconds slower than I was capable of. I knew it'd be better to delay my attack until the second or third lap – he might make a mistake, and also, if you collide on the first, you end up in the crowd, but if it happens on the second or third, there's already a separation and you can get there before the crowd. My brain told me: “play it safe, keep your one and a half seconds of separation”. But risk often won, and I attacked when I saw the slightest opportunity. Sometimes I lost (fourth place or lower) precisely because of this, crashing into the pilot I overtook.

But far more often, I succeeded. Like in any race, a good, clean overtake is awesome…

Eugene: Cold-blooded premeditation. It's a strategy too, and as we can see, it turned out pretty effective.

While we're on the subject: your opponents naturally didn't know about the amount of practice you had, so they'd have taken you as an ordinary ‘random’ rival (well, at least until the second stage) and fought ‘to the bitter end’. Were there opponents who particularly stood out for their tactical maneuvers or just their level of piloting?

Fins_FinsT: There were, absolutely. But all in good time. There's a range of pilots who knew me and flew with me even before the F-WT event. Ceaseless – my main opponent in the biplane race. Kruggly – it was very hard to beat his rating in the first weekend of the F-WT event. Oreva of course. No doubt a few other pilots also knew that I was no “ordinary random”, and they probably explained that to others.

In terms of standing out for tactical maneuvers, definitely Kruggly first and foremost. He's probably the most tactically skilled pilot I've fought against in serious competition.

In the first race, Kruggly certainly fought for his rating to the bitter end. And the difference in rating was very small, 15 at the most. We already knew each other pretty well by then.

But he piloted the XP-50 “bus”, which is noticeably outperformed by the fastest rank 3 planes on the track – the Cobras, the Ki-84, even the Yak-3, and to a very small extent, the La-5FN. He told me he might come back to race mode in earnest in the future, and I don't think he'll be flying the “bus” next time.

In terms of piloting level, many pilots stood out of course. Particularly because when you're overtaking, turbulence from the plane ahead of you causes problems, and you often won't pass a plane that easily even if you're a little faster than it – you have to pick other trajectories, choose your moment, use minor mistakes to get ahead. Rider2 absolutely deserved second place – he was fast in the beginning and got faster every race. Bjarven was very fast, and on the whole very reliable. I respect that. r_b_l stepped it up a lot in the last race, he's going to be a tough opponent in the future!

There were many other challenging opponents who I couldn't always overtake – Oreva, Ivanof, VikingNinja, JiyuBanzai, VanDamn – these are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

Eugene: That is to say, we already have a fully formed group of leading players who new players will have to contest with in future races? Or is it not all so clear-cut as it seems at first glance?

Fins_FinsT: I'd say the process is constant. Each race brought new pilots who you had to take seriously. Other pilots left, like Kruggly. I think this a continually developing process. There's no constant “group”; to some extent the core of leading players will be similar from race to race, but over time, it'll change completely.

As for new players, I'm convinced that above all, the mode needs to become a lot friendlier to new players. I wrote six requests to the developers in my topic “Fins’ hangar” (a dual-language topic) on the English forum, right after I uploaded my replays from all four stages of the F-WT event. And as the winner, I hope they will listen to me and consider all six. Believe me, I thought long and hard before writing each of them! :))

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