After a busy 2022 in the Esports world, 2023 is set to be bigger and better than before, with more series and more live events across more platforms than ever.
While most series are yet to announce their full schedules and plans for 2023, almost all of the major events have signalled intent to stage their usual events this season.
Of course, one of the biggest in the genre is F1 Esports, the official Esports series of Formula One. All ten of the F1 teams field driver squads for the event, with McLaren coming out on top in 2022 for the first time in the six-year history of the series. McLaren’s Lucas Blakeley also secured his first championship title in the final race of the 12-round season.
Following in-game qualifiers in the F1 22 game, the best drivers on each of the three supported platforms – PC, PlayStation and Xbox – will face off in the Challenger Series which gets underway this month. They’ll race across 12 rounds for a spot in the Pro Exhibition in the summer, which will see them try to win drives for the official teams in the main Pro Series.
Although the calendar for this has yet to be announced, its traditional spot is right at the end of the year, with the final rounds coming in December. Notably, after three seasons away from in-person events, we may see a return to live races from the Gfinity Esports Arena in London.
Another series looking to return to in-person competition is the Gran Turismo World Series. After previously holding live events at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, New York, Paris, Sydney, and Tokyo, the series was forced – like so many others – into online-only competition for the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons.
However, it was able to stage a live final in Monaco in 2022, and the organisers announced an intent to return to the live events for the 2023 season. We won’t know a full schedule until it is announced, but the curtain-raiser in previous years has taken place in late February/early March, with the online qualifying competition running from May to October.
Porsche’s Esports Supercup will also return for its traditional early season calendar that will see the 30-car grid – made up of the top 15 from last season’s PESC and the best 15 drivers from the Contender Series held in late 2022 – race from February through to June.
The ten-race calendar has already been revealed, save for the third round on where a community vote will decide the circuit:
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
Circuit of the Americas
Red Bull Ring
Circuit de la Sarthe
As usual, the Porsche Esports Carrera Cup GB is set to run alongside the PESC, although dates for this series haven’t been announced yet.
While the Fanatec GT World Challenge hasn’t revealed its full Esports plans for its third season in 2023, the calendar for the Esports GT Pro event – the series where pro drivers take part in hour-long virtual races for real championship points – is already known.
As with previous seasons, the event will run concurrently with the Endurance Cup events, at live “Fan Zone” stages within the paddock. Each team with a full season entry is required to enter one of its registered drivers for each class for the event, and they’ll win points – up to five for each race win in 2022 – towards the overall GT World Challenge championship.
The full Esports series, which in 2022 consisted of three, five-round sprint series on each of the three continents, and a five-round intercontinental endurance series, will be announced at a later date but will likely get underway in April.
One series we weren’t expecting to see on the calendar, given a long absence and its real-world sibling having ended, is Esports WTCR.
This five-round series will run from January to March, with a 32-car grid made up of the best 20 qualifiers from the 2022 Shootout and 12 drivers through qualifying for each round. There’s a €10,000 prize pool, and it’s going to be worth tuning in just to watch a very rare esports appearance from Macau’s notorious Circuito de Guia.
Fans of NASCAR can look forward to eNASCAR returning again in 2023. Although the schedule has yet to be announced, it’s likely to start in its regular February slot and run across most of the year.
However, IndyCar might miss out on an Esports event this season, as the licensing rights for the series have passed from iRacing to Motorsport Games, resulting in the cancellation of events like the iRacing Indy 500. The MG-developed iRacing title is yet to appear, so this one remains up in the air.
The future of the Esports WRC event is also in a similar situation, with WRC’s licensing rights passing from KT Racing/NACON to Codemasters/EA. As we’re yet to see the first WRC title from Codemasters, it’s not clear if the series – which ordinarily begins in late January or early February – will run in 2023.