‘World of Dance’: The Lab were ‘warriors of light’ during this routine, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house [WATCH]

World of Dancefront-runners The Lab took a big risk during their second and final performance in the World Final. The Junior Team Division winners are a hip-hop crew known for delivering bangers — their first performance of the night was to “Work It” by Missy Elliott — so they took their mentor Ne-Yo and the rest of the judges by surprise by picking a more contemplative song for a more emotionally resonant piece: “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer. It wasn’t your typical showstopper. Watch it above.

After the first round of performances The Lab were on top of the judges’ leaderboard, so it all came down to them at the end of the night. During their mentoring session Ne-Yo let them know tat emotion was going to be the name of the game if their last performance was going to be such a significant artistic departure. As always on this show, while technique is crucially important, it’s the emotions that often make the difference between winning and losing, especially in a close race. And they delivered, creating a mature routine that touched on the theme of soldiers leaving for war and coming home again.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, not least of all at the judges table. “With everything going on right now, and how kids are fighting for their lives, it’s your generation — you guys are going to change the world,” said Jennifer Lopez.

“You make me proud of your generation,” Derek Hough added. “You guys are warriors of light.” And Ne-Yo concluded by saying, “I wish my kids were here to see that just now. I want my children to be inspired by this, and I know that they will.” Don’t worry, Ne-Yo, I’m pretty sure they got it on tape.

Given the waterworks at the judges’ table and the unbridled enthusiasm of their comments, it was a little surprising that The Lab didn’t get straight 100s across the board for their performance. They had to settle for an average of a “mere” 98. But that was more than enough to clinch the win for the young hip-hop crew. It was a close competition from top to bottom, but their final average of 97.5 was enough to overtake Upper Division champion Michael Dameski‘s 96.

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