This weekend sees the culmination of a full season of VCO’s flagship multi-platform Esports Racing League. Twelve teams will compete across three sim racing titles to net the biggest share of $50,000. Here is all you need to know!
Image credit: VCO Esports
Back in January 2022, the first ever Esports Racing World Cup took place with teams fielding five drivers to compete across Assetto Corsa Competizione, rFactor 2 and iRacing. The ever dominant Team Redline came out on top,. What followed was three seasons of the Esports Racing League.
The top twelve teams after all season’s standings were tallied up would qualify for the second rendition of the World Cup. It was meant to be held live at Rcadia, Hamburg with all drivers onsite. However, due to unforseen circumstances, it had to revert back to being an online event. Nevertheless, it will once again provide some exciting and action packed racing.
When VCO was creating this event, their aim was to answer the question “Who are the best drivers and teams in all of sim racing?”. To do that, they had to branch out beyond their niches and specialist platforms. But, with a year of ERL under their belts, many of the drivers have improved immensely on sims they weren’t too familiar with before. Extra reason to expect this edition of the ERWC to be even more competitive, then.
What can we expect from the Esports Racing World Cup?
ERWC 2023 Format
In the ERWC, teams are made up of five drivers, with three running per individual event. Some drivers may only run on one platform, some juggle two, and a few will attempt to compete on all three.
Each day takes place on a different platform, starting with a heat race where all teams run with all their drivers. That’s 36 drivers sharing the one track. A team’s two best placed drivers contribute to their score, with their finishing position being the number of points they score (first gets 1 point, second gets 2 points etc.) The aim is to score as little points as possible.
Teams can incur penalty points depending on the severity of their driver’s actions which contribute to the score. After the heat race, the top six teams progress to the Upper Quarter Final and the bottom six teams go to the Lower Quarter Final.
In the Upper Quarter Final, the best three scoring teams gain passage straight to the Final whilst the other three go into the Semi Final. There, they will face the top three teams from the Lower Quarter Final. Meanwhile, the bottom three teams they faced in the Lower Quarter Final are eliminated.
The top three from the Semi Final progress into the Final. Then those six teams will battle it out to be one of the two that make it to the Showdown. Then, it’s a Best-of-3 to see which of those two teams come out on top on that particular day.
There is a prize pool of $50,000 up for grabs across all three days. Teams are able to win a maximum of $2,250 per day, should they come out on top. The driver who collects the most podiums across all three days collects $500 for being the Most Valuable Driver. Finally, the team that collects the most points combined from all three days earns $10,000.
Who is Racing?
Redline accumulated the most points across the ERL and were even Summer champions on rFactor 2. Unlike most of the other teams, they never had to shift their line-up to suit the Masters platform across all three seasons. This is because they have the ever versatile Enzo Bonito who competed in every event and was often untouchable on every sim. Predictably, he will be seen on all three days and will be a favourite for the MVD award.
Alongside Bonito on ACC and rF2 are Kevin Siggy and Jeffrey Rietveld, whilst on iRacing it will be Chris Lulham. Patrik Holzmann will no longer represent Redline, as he has since moved to MOUZ. Instead, the vacant iRacing slot will be taken by reigning Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Diogo Pinto.
Romain Grosjean’s R8G team were second in the ERL standings. Rather interestingly, they’re fielding Haas F1 Esports racer Thomas Ronhaar. The Pro Championship third place finisher will compete on ACC and iRacing, and has raced on other platforms before. For instance, he fought for the win in the Sim Formula Europe final last month.
ERWC and ERL have always prided themselves on mirroring the structure of mainstream esports championships. That’s why it’s perhaps fitting that it features a team from that side of the competitive gaming world. Unicorns of Love were the first team to win in the ERWC, and were also the first to be crowned ERL champions.
Their line-up is predictably ACC-strong, with likes of Tobias Gronewald, Bastian Richter and Michi Tauscher. They have also been loaned Michael Janney from the Apex Racing Team to help out on iRacing. Apex themselves had the help of Richter in the ACC rounds from the Summer and Fall Cups, having only ever been an iRacing team prior to the ERWC/ERL.
Versatility is Key
Apex are proof enough of what the aim of the ERWC/ERL is meant to do: forcing the teams to adapt and branch out beyond their specialties. After not making it to the Spring Masters, they went into the Summer Masters as best placed team and won the Fall Masters on iRacing to become Fall Cup champions.
They may be a bit compromised heading into this weekend though, as a lot of the drivers who competed in the ERL such as Jamie Fluke, Yohann Harth and Peter Berryman are having to prioritise ESL R1 and other iRacing events, such as the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. Therefore, Apex will have Alejandro Sánchez, Luke McKeown and Salva Talens representing them, some of whom have never raced on ACC and rF2 but if any team’s drivers can adapt, it will be Apex.
Another team who won’t have their ERL aces up their sleeve are Veloce. Going up against Unicorns of Love on ACC in both the ERWC and ERL Spring Masters, they had James Baldwin racing for them both times but he’s now moved on to Mercedes in ESL R1. They do have George Boothby as part of the team and he starred for sister team YAS HEAT when they won the ACC Fall Cup round, but he isn’t in the ERWC as part of either team. But Veloce do have a very strong ACC driver.
Luke Whitehead was part of the GTWR Esports squad that won the Summer Cup ACC round, the team having now disbanded so watch out for Whitehead to pick up where Baldwin left off. Alongside Whitehead are Marko Pejic, Gianmarco Fiduci, Isaac Gillissen and even our very own Emily Jones.
To see the rest of the entry list, feel free to view the spreadsheet here.
How To Follow the ERWC in 2023
Tune in to the VCO Esports Twitch and YouTube channels everyday from 24-26 February at 7pm CET. Keep an eye on VCO’s Twitter on all three days as there will be a public vote to decide which tracks will be used, with the choice coming down to two tracks per day.
Day 1 will be on Assetto Corsa Competizione with all drivers competing in the Maserati GranTurismo GT4. Day 2 takes place on rFactor 2 and the car that will be raced is the Infiniti Q50 British Touring Car. Finally, the champions will be decided on Day 3 when the drivers take to iRacing in the Lotus 79 historic Grand Prix car.
Tune in to see which team can definitively call themselves the best team across all of sim racing.
Which team do you believe will be Esports Racing World Cup champions? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!