The Virgin Australia Supercars set to launch esports motorsport series
Supercars announced in March this year they would be launching an esports series that will take place alongside the current V8 Supercars series. I caught up with some of the guys from Supercars at the Sydney SuperNight 300 to chat about esports.
Esports isn’t about finding the fastest driver
When motorsport companies launch esports series they often use it as a way find untapped talent. Last year, McLaren ran the “world’s fastest gamer” competition. Rudy van Buren from the Netherlands was crowned champion and now drives as the official McLaren sim racer.
Whilst this can be a great way to scout talent, esports events are often much more than that. Jamie Black from Supercars says in their case they “aren’t looking for the next Jamie Whincup.” Instead, they are looking to celebrate esports drivers:
“It’s about celebrating those drivers, the skills they have and their commitment to their sport.”
Celebration of motorsport
Black further commented on the similarities between esport and motorsport. Whilst games like League of Legends or Overwatch don’t have any physical world counterparts, motorsport by comparison does. In addition, motorsport – the physical world of motorsport – has such high barriers to entry that it isn’t accessible to everyone. “Racing games are fairly cheap,” says Black. “You can grab a setup for a few hundred dollars” and almost everyone has a console or something similar in their home. The barriers to Supercars are so high only a select few drivers are able to pursue their passion. Supercars believes through esports, they can open up the world of motorsport to many more people.
Additionally, Black spoke about the huge expense that comes with motorsport:
“It’s very expensive to get into motorsport, and there’s a huge barrier to entry there. Esports on the other hand is for everyone. It’s fairly cheap and this is something we can provide and really open up our sport to everyone.”
By having an esports racing series alongside the physical-world races, it brings legitimacy to esports as well as opening motorsport to more fans. Whilst the esports racing community is fairly small, it is a dedicated community.
Esports and motorsport working together
In one of my previous articles, I spoke about what traditional sporting events and esports can learn from one another. This is something Supercars wish to work towards. We’re seeing growth in both esports and motorsports in Australia. And companies are capitalising! Supercars have teamed up with ESL Australia. The esports expertise of ESL will bring new elements to the motorsport world. They will also help ensure the best of both worlds are achieved. ESL have worked with Supercars in the past on their pilot event.
At last year’s Bathurst 1000, Supercars ran a small esports series, dubbed the “Harvey Norman Forza Challenge.” Great success was seen from the event and is helping to drive the series forward. Black commented on the partnership with great excitement:
“There’s a lot esports and motorsport can learn from one another and we’re really looking forward to working with ESL again on this.”
Last year’s pilot event also saw a mixture of esports and motorsport commentators. I’m sure we’ll see more of this collaboration at future events.
Supercars esports series
Whilst details for the series are yet to be finalised, here’s what we already know.
Similar to the F1 Mercedes series, the Supercars esports series will likely feature both online and offline events. Offline events are likely to take place at both live motorsport events and live esport events. It’s speculated that national esports events like Melbourne Esports Open seems to be a good fit for such an event. Motorsport events like the Bathurst 1000 seem to be great places to hold such a series. None of the these events however have been confirmed.
There are plans for a six- to eight-round series running over the course of the current Supercars Championships. At this stage Forza is the platform of choice due to the selection of cars and tracks available.
One thing is definitely clear. I, along with many others, am excited to see what Supercars has in store for the Australian racing and esports communities.
Keep an eye out for my next article on Supercars, where I speak to some of the drivers and team owners to get their thoughts on esports.