The world’s biggest Esports event organiser ESL will stage a brand-new sim-racing series in 2023, ESL R1, using the as-yet unreleased Rennsport platform.
Rennsport is an entirely new simulator, currently still in development. Announced by Competition Company GmBH only last year and given a public debut at the 2022 Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, the title won’t be available commercially until December 2023.
However, that won’t stop it from being used as the basis for the tournament, with the invitation-only ESL R1 getting underway at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) event in Katowice, Poland, on 11th February.
ESL, now known as EFG (ESL FACEIT Group) following its acquisition by Savvy Games Group – part of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – hosts some of the largest Esports events in the world, commonly for popular shooting, strategy, and multiplayer battle titles like Counter-Strike Global Offensive and Starcraft II, which can see seven-figure prizes on offer to the winners.
IEM Katowice will host two in-person rounds of the ESL R1 Spring Season, which will see 48 drivers from a mixture of well-known racing Esports teams and some of ESL’s biggest teams from other disciplines racing against one another in teams of four.
That will bring global Esports brands like FaZe in alongside outfits such as Team Redline, R8G, Apex Racing, Williams, and Porsche Coanda.
Following the two live events, there’ll be six further online rounds before the top 24 qualifiers meet up again for the “Major” final at the Rennsport Summit in Munich, Germany, in May to crown one overall winner. A second “Fall” season will then take place, with another final at ESL’s DreamHack Winter in Jonkoping, Sweden, in November.
Overall there’s a total prize pot of €500,000 (£438,000) on offer for the two seasons, with the prize breakdown yet to be announced. As Rennsport becomes available to the public in late 2023, a 2024 season should see wider participation.
Newly crowned F1 Esports champion Lucas Blakeley and Williams racer Michael Romanidis have beaten an outstanding field of Esports racers to win a place at the 2023 Race of Champions in Pite Havsbad, Sweden.
Sixteen drivers qualified for the eRace of Champions event, with a grid that included world champions in Gran Turismo’s Nations Cup, Esports WRC, WorldRX Esports, Porsche Esports Supercup, DTM Esports, and eTCR, as they raced in off in the classic head-to-head special stage format of ROC on the ice.
With two spots on offer for the real-world equivalent, one for the online qualifiers and one for an invitational field, the finalists quickly thinned out with several surprises on the cards in the quarter-finals.
Dominic Blajer, best known for his GT World Challenge exploits, defeated rally specialist Killian Dall’Olmo in their quarter-final, while 2022 Gran Turismo winner Coque Lopez eliminated multi-disciplinarian Kevin Siggy over three legs. The biggest surprise may have been Romanidis’s own victory, coming from behind to beat real-world RallyX Nordic racer Tommi Hallman.
Romanidis was one of the fastest drivers of all on his way to a semi-final showdown with Blajer, but had to go to three races to earn a final head-to-head with Kamil Pawlowski who had earlier breezed past Lucas Wollering and Aston Martin racer/sim-racer Manual Biancolilla.
Blakeley meanwhile had come through both his matches with 2-0 wins – over Bence Banki and Enzo Bonito respectively – as he raced to a final head-to-head with surprise package Lopez; the Spaniard defeated Erhan Jajovski almost without challenge.
However Blakeley, who’d famously raced and beaten Sebastian Vettel in the real 2020 Race of Champions, proved far too much for Lopez as he too was brushed aside 2-0. The qualifier final of Romanidis and Pawlowski also ended 2-0, with Romanidis coming out victorious in both lanes.
Blakeley and Romanidis will join 2022 eROC champion Jarno Opmeer and local finalist Martin Palm for an on-site event which will see two of the four drivers qualify for the ROC Nations Cup against top real-world racing drivers – including Vettel, who will no doubt be keen for some revenge!
The first iRacing special event of 2023 ran this weekend, with the 24 Hours of Daytona, and it got off to an extremely controversial start.
Although not caught on the official stream, the #1 Williams Esports car ran below the yellow lines and on the apron – an area of the track ordinarily forbidden to drive on – during qualifying to take overall pole position by two tenths of a second from the sibling BS+Competition machine.
The lap was allowed to stand, and Williams survived a first-hour scare – following a collision with a GTD class car that saw it fall down the order – to take the win after 921 laps with Matt Farrow, Arthur Lehouck, and Alxander Spetz at the wheel.
Apex Racing swept the LMP2 and GTD classes, with Owen Caryl, Michele Constantini, Stanley Deslandes, Elvis Rankin securing the LMP2 class win in the #199 car by over a lap, and Jamie Fluke, Yoann Harth, Michele Janney, Salva Talens winning GTD by a similar margin in the #99.
Welcome to FOS Future Lab where we report on the latest visions of future technology. We'll be boldly covering flying cars, hoverboards, jetpacks and spaceships with plenty of down to earth topics in between.