WARNING: Long post incoming, but I feel it's necessary to present my case properly.
Before I get into this, I should probably tell a little bit about myself because you don't want to be taking advice from a bad player. I am Striker0301. I play on the NA server, and I have about 3200 recent WN8 and about 61% recent win rate. I'm not an insanely good player, but I feel that I know my way around the game pretty well.
I'm making this post because it annoys me when I see how much people argue about aiming, gold ammo, weakspots etc, when in reality how well you aim and what ammo you're shooting has a much smaller impact on how well you perform than players seem to think.
Now, on to the content of this post. Why do I make this bold claim that aiming is one of the least important aspects of the game? The main reason is that there are simply so many other parts of World of Tanks gameplay that make a bigger difference in the long run. However, I'm not saying that aiming is useless. It's how you deal damage and kill enemies, but aiming itself is not what enables you to do damage.
Positioning is what gets you damage and kills. It's no secret that you should know where to go on the map and that if you're camping behind your arty with a Maus you're doing it wrong. However, positioning is much more complicated than just where you go at the beginning of the battle. Most players have their "default" position on every map where they like to go. Usually if they're playing a heavy they go to the typical heavy line, with a medium they go to the medium line, etc. Then, they don't move from that position until they've either killed everything in front of them or died to everything in front of them.
Technically, there's nothing wrong with this as a strategy, but it generally gives you only one option, which isn't a good thing. The beautiful thing about World of Tanks, and what keeps me coming back to the game, is that every battle is different. You get different enemies and different teammates every game who are going to play differently every time. This seemingly common knowledge is actually the key to truly learning how to play the game well.
Now that's great and all, but how does it have anything to do with aiming? To explain that I need to give some specific examples. Let's say you spawn on Lakeville with your IS-7 or any other heavy, it doesn't really matter. Also we're assuming that there's 3 arty on the enemy team. Knowing most players, your favorite spot for a heavy is most likely the city. But what if only one other teammate is going there with you, and your scout just ran up the mid road and spotted at least 7 enemies going to that flank. Now in this situation, you have two real options. You can fight 2 vs. 7 in the city and certainly die, or you can accept that the city is lost. Let's say you've made the right decision to stay away from the city. Now the only thing left to do is push the valley, right? Nope, wrong again. Remember when I said there's 3 arty? With arty support, the enemy can hold the valley for a very long time even if they're outnumbered. So if you can't push either flank, what should you do? The answer is to camp base and snipe. With your heavy.
Please put down your pitchforks and let me explain. If you decided to go to the city, you could be using aimbot with full gold ammo and you still wouldn't be able to fight a swarm of enemies while so heavily outnumbered. Same goes for the valley. Gold ammo and aiming can't save you from arty. So the best play is to do what keeps your gun in the game for the longest, giving you the most time to put your aiming and shooting to use. From either base, you can shoot into the valley, and you can also shoot at the enemies pushing in from the city that your team abandoned. This is how good players increase their winrates and still perform well in bad situations. In this situation, playing safe gives you the most time to get kills and damage, and greatly improves your chance to win the game because you are still alive and can continue to contribute to your team.
I'm not saying that you should always camp, far from it, but if the situation calls for it and there's no better option, camping is sometimes the only thing left to do. Sometimes making an aggressive play is the best option. Let's go over another example to get a look at that.
Let's say you're in your Object 140 or another medium on Himmelsdorf. You take a look down the 8 line and see a T110E3 staring right at you. Now you could start spamming HEAT at him and trading shots, but if you've ever tried this you probably know that it's unlikely to end well unless the E3 is a total idiot. Most people would say the obvious move would be to flank the E3, but what if the enemies have tanks watching through the mid windows preventing you from getting around him? The next step would be to take a good look at the map and find where the enemy is weakest. Could your team win the hill easily if you came to help? If so, climb up and help win the brawl. Maybe they're weak on the 1-2 line. If they are, kill whatever is there and use the map control you gained to out-position the E3 and shoot him from behind.
The situation will be different every time, and if I went through every hypothetical battle possible I'd be writing this for years. What I want you to understand is that in both of these situations, aiming perfectly but choosing the wrong position would lead to certain death and a bad result. However positioning yourself properly but missing or bouncing a few shots guarantees much higher damage and kill count, and gives you a much better chance to win the game.
Wrapping things up, I know that I focused on positioning a lot, but for good reason because it's the single most important part of World of Tanks. There are other aspects that I consider to be more important than aiming. Some examples include armor angling or playing hull down, use of bushes and camouflage, knowing when it's safe to peek a corner, and capitalizing on the many mistakes the enemy team will make throughout the battle. I rate all of these above aiming in terms of importance because they all help you to stay alive longer, enabling you to keep dishing out damage and being a threat to the enemy team.
I congratulate you if you got this far through my ridiculously long post. The main thing I want you to take away from this post is to shift your focus away from aiming and what's happening directly in front of you and instead focus on the big picture of the entire battle. If you are aware of what's happening outside of you're tank's position and look for opportunities to make a bigger difference, you're sure to start improving very soon.
I hope that this post will help you or someone else become a better player. If you have any questions or if you disagree, feel free to leave a comment, PM me or message me in game.