Few people have the dedication Eirik Holdal has. Trackmania‘s best-known journalist tells us about himself, the latest cheating scandal and gigantic events yet to come.
Photo Credit: Eirik Holdal
Many people have a passion for video games. They connect like-minded people all over the world. For many, that passion even turns into something that brings joy to the community around them. Whether it’s video pieces or creating art. Creativity knows no bounds.
Eirik Holdal is one of these people who have found a passion. He is a lone wolf in the world of Trackmania journalism and is loved for his dedication, which is yet to be matched. With over 4000 tweets a year revolving around Trackmania, he is easily one of the most knowledgeable people from the scene. OverTake got a chance to talk to him about his work and the outlook for Trackmania.
OverTake: How is the Trackmania year going for you?
The past year is easy to sum up. In July 2020, the new Trackmania came out. The game release was a success in terms of its attention, but not a win in terms of the game itself. The then newly released Trackmania didn’t look or feel finished at all. I have heard that from pro players and fans. Even though the gameplay was the best it ever was.
So I wished they figured the game out back then because all the big streamers like XQC or Sodapoppin played it when it was fresh, and many new eyes get on the product. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best time.
OverTake: Did that change over time?
So when I talked to people around New Year’s, they felt that the hype around Trackmania gradually went down, and some people even considered quitting entirely. Even I asked myself if I wanted to continue with a game that doesn’t grow, but stagnates. But then, for some reason, from January/February, a shift happened, and people suddenly started to look at Trackmania differently.
A big part of that was Ubisoft Nadeo starting to listen to the community. We have asked for matchmaking; they gave us matchmaking. We asked for more to do; they gave us Cup of the Day and a Battle Royal game mode. It boils down to that even if you are not a Trackmania pro player, you will now have something to do on the game, which is excellent for these big streamers who may check out the game again.
OverTake: Where do you think that change of heart comes from?
I think the community is a huge factor. Without them, the game would be dead by now. The user-generated content around Trackmania is the best it’s ever been, with content creators such as ‘Wirtual’ (popular YouTuber, solely focusing on Trackmania) starting to rise in popularity massively over the past months. The dedication of the Trackmania fans is undeniable, and I think the developers just needed to listen, which luckily they did.
A big event in the Trackmania community was the returning Trackmania Grand League – World Cup. For three years, no such thing has taken place, and now we finally got to see fights for the most prestigious Trackmania title of them all. The winner was now four-time champion Carl-Antoni ‘CarlJr.’ Cloutier. We asked Eirik his thoughts on the matter.
It is the highest honor you can have in Trackmania. There is the Trackmania Grand League: Winter 2021, but for everyone who looks at Trackmania, maybe even from the outside, the world champion is the best player for sure.
If you take that into account, there is no question who the G.O.A.T of Trackmania is now. Carl-Antoni ‘CarlJr.’ Cloutier is, without the shadow of the doubt, the greatest to ever do it. Just to give you a perspective: No other player in Trackmania history has won the World Cup more than once and he has won it four times. Out of the seven total events, he was on the podium for every single one of them. He is completely on another level in terms of consistency. And he is a great ambassador for esports. He is a very humble guy, not cocky, and tries to spread his knowledge wherever he can.
OverTake: If you look at where Trackmania comes from, do you sometimes feel like you contributed a great deal to it?
In the big picture, I think Trackmania would have been where it is without me. But on a smaller scale, with the dedicated community, I would say that I have played a big part. The sole foundation of me doing this was because I was a Trackmania fan. But I wanted more. I wanted secondary content, where people speak about the game in a more detached manner. So I said to myself: why not do it yourself? I just don’t have an extensive reach, so it is only for the hardest of the hardcore. But if I am honest, I don’t think many people in this game have tried to promote this game more than I have.
OverTake: Do you feel like people are grateful for your efforts?
The community has always stood behind me. They voted me as community person of the year twice in a row, and I get many messages from dedicated fans who appreciate what I do.
OverTake: How much time do you invest in Trackmania usually?
I mean it was all I did for a long time. Wake up: Trackmania, lunch break: Trackmania, free time: Trackmania. During this time, the average hours were higher, of course. It is hard to put a number on it nowadays, but I worked for 18 hours a day on some big events. In total, I probably did about 1000 hours a year besides my job. So it is a massive part of my life always. Last year I tried to cover everything that was going on. I know I can’t sustain this level anymore because I would be burned out eventually, but my dedication is still unbroken.
OverTake: What do you look out for this year?
Something I hope that still happens this year is that speaks about the allegation brought forward to him. It has been a hot topic of the community for a while now.
This part might need a bit of an explanation. A few weeks ago, a very successful Trackmania player in and holder of numerous world records, called Riolu, was accused of cheating on his runs. This scandal brought this to the public’s attention after a fellow content creator, donadingo, got a hold of Riolu’s replays and used a self-developed tool that depicts the player’s inputs on screen. As seen in a video from Trackmania‘s leading YouTuber, Wirtual, there is overwhelming evidence against Riolu, leaving the Trackmania community in shock.
I always try to assume the best in people. He’s been a top player for so long; why would he cheat, you know? But the sad part about it is that it is not just one year and one run, but ten years and hundreds of runs. And all of this in a game where we thought cheating would not exist on this large scale. Just to give you a perspective, he had 200 out of 200 world records on Trackmania Turbo. Imagine the implication if every one of them would be cheated.
OverTake: Where do you see Trackmania going in the following years?
If you ask me, Trackmania could be as big of an esports as possible. Because for example, I asked Medic, who casts League of Legends but was also part of the caster crew at the Trackmania this year, “why should people watch the Trackmania Grand League and World Cup?”. He said, basically because Trackmania is so easy to understand for non-fans. Everyone starts at the same time, and it is about who comes first. If I show this game to my mom, she will understand it.
So in the Olympics, you have curling, for example. Nobody follows curling, but still, it is relatively easy to understand. So I think it can become this kind of game that everybody understands.
OverTake: Lastly, what’s next for you personally?
As a Trackmania reporter, it would be to still cover the main events. Besides that, I will try to keep doing what I do now, because I don’t have a lot more time for it. But what I have planned is to host my own event in Norway for Trackmania in the future.
It is still in the early stages, but I am certain that it will be something big if it happens. In our own bubble, everything is big, but no mainstream media will report on Carl.Jr winning his fourth Trackmania title. I want to change that and organise something far bigger than what we have.
What did you always want to know about Trackmania? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!