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World of Tanks is actually a gory and ruthless motorsport
It explains many of the stranger and surreal parts of the game. It explains why Panzers and T-34s are willing to fight on the same team, why there can be multiple models of experimental tanks that never left the drawing board, and multi-tank platoons involving tanks like the Maus and TOG II. The tier system can be compared to be like the Formula racing series, where the lower tiers are like Formula 2 and Formula 3, and the higher tiers are like F1, since they are expensive to participate in and the stakes are generally higher. Matchmaking is the game officials deciding which tank team fights who.
Alternatively, this game - along with counterparts Warplanes and Warships...
take place in a post-apocalyptic future. Nothing earth-shattering, but bad enough to dissolve the world's political and military powers and set technology back decades. Now, factions that control resources and territories vie for control, but not with proper militaries. Rather, they hire mercenaries - the players - who supply and maintain their own equipment, based on schematics and blueprints for WWI to Cold War era vehicles. This explains why one might be fighting from one side of the map in one battle, and from the opposite side in the next. These fighters have no real allegiance; they're only in it for the money. Naturally, these factions can afford to pay their mercenaries better if they succeed in taking control of a territory...
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