‘World of Dance’ finale recap: Who won the World Final for the million dollar grand prize? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

After 12 weeks and 5 rounds of competition, the “World of Dance” season 3 finale took place on Sunday night, May 5, with the million dollar grand prize up for grabs. So who won the World Final, and who fell short? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happened.

Last week’s Divisional Final decided the four acts that would face off in the finale: The Kings (Upper Team Division), Briar Nolet (Upper Division), VPeepz (Junior Team Division) and Ellie and Ava (Junior Division). But that might not have been all. It was announced during the Divisional Final that the judges would have the option to select one eliminated contestant to send through to the World Final as a wild card pick. That wild card (if there was one) wasn’t revealed during that episode, so fans had to wait until tonight to find out who else made it through.

No matter the judges’ decision, though, the challenge was the same: to find some way to beat The Kings, the most dominant contestants in “World of Dance” history, averaging more than 98 points out of 100 when you combine all of their routines this season. Going up against them has proven deadly every step of the way, but it’s also dangerous to be the front-runner. The judges saw so many death-defying feats from The Kings that the Indian hip-hop crew had the unenviable task of trying to outdo themselves, or else risk disappointing the judges and opening the door for another contestant to upset.

Do you think the right dancer (or dancers) won the show? And did the judges make the right call about the wild card? Find out below starting at 8:00 (times listed are Eastern).

8:00pm — Unsurprisingly, the show opens with the announcement that Unity LA are the wild card dancers for the World Final, so they’re going against The Kings, VPeepz, Briar Nolet, and Ellie and Ava. The announced it so abruptly at the beginning of the show that I really don’t know why they didn’t just reveal it at the end of the Divisional Final.

8:04pm — Great intro with all the finalists dancing together for a big group number. Love all these unique styles married into one number.

Derek Hough Performs with Michael Dameski and Charity and Andres

8:11pm — I love seeing some familiar faces return to the show, but I hope it won’t take away from the official competition performance tonight. We’ve got to get through 10 dances, you guys, and I want to see all of them. That said, I’d pay good money for a Derek Hough/Michael Dameski/Charity and Andres live show.

Ne-Yo Performs with Ian Eastwood and Sean and Kaycee

8:20pm — Ian Eastwood from season one and Sean and Kaycee from season two are taking the stage for a performance with Ne-Yo. He spotlights how good they are as fresh young choreographers. However, we’re almost a half hour into the show, and still no performances from this year’s actual finalists. I hope they have time for them all without cutting any of them down. Maybe there will only be one dance for each finalist instead of two like in the past two seasons.

8:25pm — It is genuinely great to see Eastwood, as well as Sean and Kaycee. They’re dynamite, as always. You don’t get enough opportunities to see dancing like that outside of these dance competition shows.

Tribute to Jennifer Lopez by The Lab

8:31pm — Another special performance. The Lab have a “crazy set” planned for J. Lo, who told them last year that they would change the world the night they won their million dollar grand prize last season.

8:33pm — As they move through “I’m Real” and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” Jennifer beams — plus, she’s getting ideas for her next tour. These kids are still pretty outstanding. “You’re so amazing,” Jennifer tells them.

8:40pm — Time for the actual competition. There indeed will be only one performance from each finalist from the sound of it. We’re getting things started with opening clip packages of every finalist showcasting their journeys to get to this point.

8:45pm — Everyone here has had much to overcome, from financial challenges (The Kings) to health issues (epileptic Briar Nolet). Briar feels like she has rediscovered herself by coming on this showw. She’s a truly deserving finalist, and I’m thrilled that she made it this far. But still no performances from the finalists.

Briar Nolet

8:52pm — “I want to show that one woman can do this thing,” says Briar as she begins her mentoring session with the three judges. Derek thinks she needs more rawness. Jennifer and Ne-Yo think there are so many tricks and moves that there’s no emotional connection to the song. That’s the same criticism they’ve had for her before. I hope they don’t lead her astray because her technical abilities are astounding.

8:54pm — Briar begins by climbing the set like this is “American Ninja Warrior.” And she’s going back to Britney Spears with an eerie version of “Toxic.” She definitely brought the ferocity and intensity to the music, and she didn’t sacrifice her technical prowess. That might have been her best performance. The judges are applauding, and Ne-Yo is screaming, but no standing ovation. Bad sign?

JUDGES — Ne-Yo thinks Briar is a “superhero” who can definitely “defend us from Thanos” — she came, she saw, she conquered. Jennifer thinks there’s a “layer of danger” to her performance, but the intention behind her movements got a little muddy by the end of the routine. Derek was “jolted” when she released her big emotional scream in the middle of the routine. He tells her she should be proud of herself for getting this far.

8:58pm — Those critiques make me think she’s going to get an excellent score, but if the other acts perform at their usual level, it won’t be enough.

VPeepz

8:59pm — Derek says they’re “laser sharp” with intricate choreography, but they need to take it to the next level after seeing their work in progress. Jennifer thinks they lose their intensity halfway through. They ask Jennifer if they can really beat The Kings, and Jennifer reminds them that The Lab took down everybody last year.

9:06pm — Another great performance from VPeepz with definitely their busiest staging: lots of barrels as props and fire. Another excellent, clean performance. Derek is out of his chair, though I don’t know if it’ll be enough to beat The Kings.

JUDGES — Derek thought it was an “amazing final routine.” Ne-Yo thought they moved very fast. Jennifer thought their energy was “off the charts,” so they took the judges’ advice during mentoring. Ne-Yo and Jennifer both rave about the group’s precision, but Jennifer wanted a few more transitions towards the end and Ne-Yo thought the choreography might be a little too busy — Derek looks at him like he’s crazy.

9:10pm — Again, a few nitpicky critiques from the judges. The performance was stellar, but if you’re going to beat The Kings tonight, your performance needs to be lights-out, never-seen-anything-like-it-before brilliant. So far I don’t think we’ve seen that quite yet.

Unity LA

9:16pm — Time for the wild card team! But even though they’re the wild card, they may actually be the ones with the best shot to beat The Kings. They had the second best season-long judges’ score, behind only The Kings. Jennifer doesn’t think their work in progress routine quite has a story as clear as they did during the Divisional Final. They need to stick to their strengths instead of trying to outdo their high-flying competitors,

9:18pm — When this group is in sync, they’re outstanding. Their positions are so sharp and beautiful that it’s a thrill to look at. They definitely brought that with this routine, but I’m not sure it’s their best. The emotions behind it weren’t always as clear as they have been before. But they get a standing O from Derek.

JUDGES — Derek thought it was an “absolute work of art … It was like a Monet.” Jennifer felt it was beautifully conceived, and an artful piece. At times there was something missing in their past performances, and this time they brought the joy she hadn’t quite seem from them before. Ne-Yo calls them “the total package.”

9:23pm — I think the judges were a little more wowed by that than I was. I still think it’s going to have trouble holding up to The Kings, assuming The Kings are at their usual standard. Going to commercial break the show teased the possibility that the front-runners were under-prepared for their mentoring. But the editing on this show tried to build suspense in a similar way during the Divisional Final, and The Kings still killed it. We’ll see.

The Kings

9:27pm — The front-runners are next, so Ellie and Ava will know what they have to when they perform at the end of the night. The Kings only had about 30 seconds of choreography to show the judges during their mentoring session. “Have they peaked too soon?” Derek wonders. Jennifer tells them it needs to feel bigger and better than they ever have been before. They need to outdo themselves. Derek says they should think cinematic. They need to go all “Avengers: Endgame” on this to justify their million dollar title.

9:30pm — They’re dressed as gladiators, so I guess they’re going more “Spartacus” than “Avengers” for their grand finale. Giant twisting flip right off the bat, and then another huge trick. And then a battle in actual slow-motion. They presented a slow motion illusion that was better than the visual effects in “300.” Wow, just wow.  The judges are on their feet. Derek’s mouth is hanging open. Sorry, Ellie and Ava, but this was undoubtedly the million dollar performance.

JUDGES — Ne-Yo thought it was “the greatest action film” he ever watched in his entire life. Derek felt like they “altered reality,” and they even had more dancing than they have had before.  Jennifer thought they surprised her, which she didn’t think was possible. She was impressed by the fact that they came with a new story.

9:35pm — The judges are going to lock in their scores, and I smell perfect 100s across the board for the crowning moment. I don’t envy Ellie and Ava.

Ellie and Ava

9:41pm — It might take a literal miracle for Ellie and Ava to follow that performance by The Kings, but you go get it, girls! Derek has been impressed by their journey through the season, but Jennifer thinks the routine they’re putting together needs stronger musicality. They can’t hold anything back. They might have to be shot out of a cannon to compare to that last performance: bring it on.

9:44pm — A beautiful, emotionally connected, physically impressive routine. Some of the best work I’ve seen from them and a standing ovation from the judges, but I’m afraid this is just a race for second place. Any other year that could have been a winner.

JUDGES — Ne-Yo thought they had a synchronicity you can only get from family. Jennifer thought they’re one of the most beautiful duets she has seen on the show; together they make magic, and they had beautiful synchronization in the turns. Derek was moved by them all season, and he can’t wait to see their future because their future is “so bright.” Silver medal maybe?

Results

1. THE KINGS SCORES: Ne-Yo (100), Jennifer (100), Derek (100) — Average: 100

2. UNITY LA SCORES: Ne-Yo (95), Jennifer (94), Derek (98) — Average: 95.7

3. ELLIE AND AVA SCORES: Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (95), Derek (96) — Average: 95.0

4. VPEEPZ SCORES: Ne-Yo (94), Jennifer (91), Derek (96) — Average: 93.7

5. BRAIR NOLET SCORES: Ne-Yo (92), Jennifer (92), Derek (94) — Average: 92.7

9:59pm — I called it! The Kings got their first perfect score for their final performance. I still wish the World Finals gave us two performances from each act instead of just one. This was ultimately a great final, but I wanted to see more of the competitors themselves and fewer tributes and clip packages.

10:00pm — This victory for The Kings means that hip-hop is still undefeated in “World of Dance.” Les Twins (season one), The Lab (season two) and The Kings (season three) are all hip-hop acts.

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