Events in July 2020 set into motion what would become the VCO Esports Racing World Cup. Here’s how I played the smallest of parts in the ERWC coming to life.
Image credit: VCO Esports
Back in early 2020, I began writing about racing for fun as part of a website called ThePitCrewOnline. I specifically focused on virtual motorsport, which came at just the right time considering the influx of esports racing events that took place due to the onset of a worldwide pandemic.
The plethora of events that resulted brought immense entertainment to so many of us in that trying time, and it was so cool to see so many drivers participating who we knew mainly from their real world racing. But with the crazy amount of racing taking place, I began to ponder the question of which one would one consider to be the most prestigious?
So I started to wonder, what would that hypothetical one quintessential ‘esports racing championship’ be? To work out what it would look like, I had to think about what makes esports racing different from its real world counterpart. All those answers came to me on the weekend of 26 July 2020.
The first-ever VCO Cup of Nations is on!#vcomotorsports #vcocupofnations @iRacing @Acronis @UNICEF @RaceSpotTV pic.twitter.com/4R0bEd4arO— VCO 🕹🏎 (@vcoesports) July 25, 2020
A moment of inspiration
Before the world came to a grinding halt, I had intended to go to London to watch the Formula E races that weekend but that never ended up happening. So instead, I decided to tune in to this esports racing event called the Cup of Nations that I had seen on my Twitter feed, and it intrigued me. I’m not really patriotic anymore but it’s always great to see country-based racing, so I tuned in and what I saw I found inspirational.
You had drivers having to race Australian Supercars, GT cars, Rallycross, NASCAR, single seaters and so on, all extremely different types of cars and each one on a different circuit whether it be a typical road course, an oval or a dirt track. It was watching this that made me realise what gives esports racing an edge over its real world counterpart.
Some naysayers say video game racing is bad because there’s no physicality to it compared to real racing, since there are no g-forces when you turn, accelerate and brake. That’s undeniable, but what it lacks in physical demand it can more than make up for in the mental aspect, something demonstrated remarkably well in the 2019 Le Mans Esports Super Final.
A few people asking about our race schedule for today’s #LMES #SuperFinal— Le Mans Virtual (@LeMansVirtual) June 14, 2019
Watch it all live on https://t.co/isnHbFVo0h
– https://t.co/txuHPHRlDh pic.twitter.com/CzqZUMUbk8
The organisers of the LMES Super Final could have played it safe and gone with just one 24 hour race and it would have been perfectly legitimate. But what they did instead really flipped the concept on its head. They ran nine races with varying types of cars on many different tracks. The advantage of having these cars and tracks at the press of a button as opposed to having to buy the real thing and ship it off to a racetrack in another country, means you can afford to switch it up and test how versatile the drivers are.
So I saw the Cup of Nations with its vastly differing sets of cars and tracks, it was truly the drivers who could master all of them that were set apart from the rest. There are real world drivers who are able to master so many different types of cars, sim racers do that way more frequently since they never have to leave the comfort of their own sim rig.
How was I involved?
After the event, I reached out to VCO. In my initial correspondence, I implored them to consider taking the concept of the Cup of Nations and turning it into a fully fledged championship. One with the biggest teams and drivers in all of esports racing, testing drivers in the way only esports racing can do, and I got a reply back from VCO’s Florian Haasper.
My original vision for this was perhaps rather tame. I pictured it as having eight rounds set from April to October, all taking place on iRacing and ending with an on-site event at the SimRacing Expo. Fast forward to March 2021, and that’s when it gets real.
WANTED: THE BEST ESPORTS RACING ORGANISATION IN THE WORLD. 🌎🌍— VCO 🕹🏎 (@vcoesports) March 31, 2021
3 PLATFORMS. 30 TEAMS. 1 TOURNAMENT. 🏆🏆
ERWC I. 21-30 JANUARY 2022. WATCH THIS SPACE. #vcoesports #erwcI@iRacing @rFactor2 @AC_assettocorsa @RaceSpotTV @sim_grid @rccoworldex @FundRazr pic.twitter.com/SbudicCxNl
It’s the final round of the VCO ProSIM Series’ first season and I’ve gone out of my way to watch it. Before the last race of the broadcast, VCO makes an announcement, I begin seeing the Dallara iR-01 from iRacing and then the eX ZERO that’s exclusively on rFactor 2 which made me sit up in my seat. Is this what I think it is?
Then the title card comes up, the Esports Racing World Cup, teams from the sim racing world doing battle on iRacing, rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione. I was amazed! I listen in to what Florian is saying on the broadcast and I’m thinking to myself, “This is it! This will be that quintessential esports racing event that encapsulates the brilliance of esports racing!” and I sent an email to Florian thanking him. He gets back to me immediately to say that I was the one to have inspired him to come up with it.
Obviously I am not trying to take full credit here. I merely millimetrically turned the metaphorical door handle, but Florian and his team were the ones to burst through the door and rip it off its hinges. They’re the magicians who took my very basic suggestion and turned it into something much greater, I’m just an esports racing fan who is just happy it’s happening.
Thanks for having me, @SimRacingExpo! And thanks for making me look acceptable on stage, @m3lly!— Florian Haasper (@vcofh) September 18, 2021
Our latest project, the Esports Racing League (ERL) is underway!#vcoesports #vcoerl pic.twitter.com/Fu1uezv3KT
In addition to that, they announced at the SimRacing Expo last September that the Esports Racing World Cup will also be joined by the Esports Racing League. As a result, there will be multi-platform racing action all across the year so I’m not twiddling my thumbs until the last few days in January.
Also during that announcement, Florian mentioned me and called me the biggest esports racing fan in the world. Just really cool stuff, and it feels so great to have played a part in the ERWC coming to life.
How to watch
The VCO Esports Racing World Cup will take place from 28-30 January. Day one will be on Assetto Corsa Competizione with all teams racing the Mercedes-AMG GT3, day two on rFactor 2 in the Formula Pro and day three will be on iRacing with the Holden V8 Supercar.
Three platforms. Three cars. Three challenges 🏆🏆🏆— VCO 🕹🏎 (@vcoesports) January 12, 2022
The Esports Racing World Cup is coming.#vcoesports #vcoerl #erwcI @AC_assettocorsa @iRacing @rFactor2 @amgmotorsport @supercars pic.twitter.com/odfTWOLoG1
You can tune in to VCO’s official YouTube and Twitch to follow all the action, and see the question ‘who are the best esports team and drivers?’ answered definitively.
Will you be tuning in to the Esports Racing World Cup? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!