Esports racing should be for anyone, no matter what social status, gender or which region you are from. While this concept works when it comes to playing racing games casually on your own, is it also true in the competitive scene? Or are there regional disparities in regards to the support of esports racers? What possibilities exist for them to compete against each other in official tournaments?
Our Asia Pacific experts:
We at OverTake invited two talented drivers from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region to discuss the current state of the competitive scene, if the Porsche Asia Pacific Forza Cup could help the region to flourish and how the tournament can improve to support drivers even more in the future.
Chris "Craviator" Farkas from Australia managed to reach the podium in the Porsche Cup and ended up on third place. He is well known in the APAC Forza scene, as he not only competes himself, but also works as a coach for Williams Esports.
His fellow Australian Geoff "Roy" Newton claimed the silver trophy at the event. Only one point separated the experienced esports racer from the champion.
The current state of the APAC esports racing scene
Chris explains that the competitive scene in the APAC region is small and lacks tournaments compared to the Northern hemisphere. Geoff adds that it has been growing during the pandemic which is apparent, since local stores have run out of quality sim racing wheels.
Most tournaments take place in Gran Turismo Sport, F1 and iRacing, where drivers are often already pre-selected. Unlike other traditional esports, there is not much prize money to grab for drivers, especially in the APAC region. Organizers mostly offer non-monetary prizes such as hot laps in real supercars or paid trips to locations that are connected with traditional motorsports.
The lack of tournaments means that drivers often have to look for events overseas. However, it can be difficult to participate on a transregional level due to differing time zones and internet connection issues. Both of our interviewed guests were part of this year's Le Mans Esports Series Super Final 2020. As the event lasted for 24 hours, there was a time frame when APAC racers could take over the wheel.
However, Chris recounts some difficulties: "I would stay up until 5 AM and compete until 8 or 9 AM in the morning, which isn't the most ideal for someone trying to compete at a high level." He also faced internet issues and lag, which meant he had to adjust his style of racing to compensate.
What an amazing first night of racing. We’ve still gotta put in the hard yards in the next few nights (especially myself), let’s get it! #LMES #SuperFinal #ApexHunters @aSirLagALot @SevenSenshu https://t.co/sta7CO2n9K— Geoff “Roy” Newton (@LSEM_Newton) September 15, 2020
How tournament organizers can support the region
As a result, there needs to be a broader offer for esports drivers in APAC to participate in regional tournaments. To keep the scene healthy and expanding, these competitions require professional organizations to guarantee an enjoyable experience for the drivers. But what makes a tournament successful and how can esports racing grow?
Once a tournament is over, the focus is usually on the champion and their performance at the event. While it is definitely important to put the well-deserved limelight onto the winner, one gets little to hear from other participants and how they enjoyed the tournament. It is important for a competitive scene that competitors actually have a great time racing in these challenges, as esports racing can only grow and become professional if a certain standard is adhered to.
So what did our racers think of the Porsche Cup? Both of them really enjoyed their experience. Chris showed his approval for the format of the qualifiers, as everyone had a chance to make it to the main event. The qualifiers consisted of three weeks with a hot-lap challenge each, where racers had to try and get the fastest time possible. All residents of the Asia Pacific region were eligible to partcipate.
As the scene is proud for their unofficial slogan "esports racing is for everyone", this mantra definitely needs to be true in every part of a good tournament. Geoff's statement backs up this sentiment: "I loved the fact that car setups were fixed. This ensured that it was an equal playing field on the virtual racetrack". Equal chances for everybody, as well as a fair format to support experienced racers and newcomers alike are crucial for a successful event.
Geoff also commended the cup for its management and operations. He explains that the communication between admins and drivers was exceptional for him. The driver further appreciated that the admins ran practice races for everyone the night before the event. Therefore, professionalism and accessible open communication are an important key factor as well.
Room for improvement
Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows, there is always room for criticism and improvement. For the Porsche Cup, Geoff pointed out that turning off the damage in-game was actually counterproductive for the event. As he elaborates, anyone could get away with unrealistic divebomb attempts as long as the game didn't give them penalties. Chris supports this statement, as he had to deal with the impact directly. Several opponents pushed him around in the reverse grid race. He even received a penalty as they forced him off track.
Well, that was worse than a public lobby. Seriously, @Craviator does not deserve a 4 second penalty for getting sent off track by multiple cars. The driving standards were atrocious. Well done @aSirLagALot, enjoy the trip.— Geoff “Roy” Newton (@LSEM_Newton) October 31, 2020
Chris also hopes for a different format regarding the slots for participants: "I think for more upcoming Porsche tournaments we need to focus on the Top 16 of the whole entire region instead of the Top 3 of each country. There were a lot of fast drivers who were not able to race who qualified in the Top 16 overall and thus missed out on the chance to compete. The field of racing would be much closer as we would have the best drivers from the region." The racer would also remove the FRR penalty system and have much longer races. Seven laps per race were too short, so the competitor.
The future of esports racing
Overall, both talents think the event helped the esports racing scene in the Asia Pacific region. It supported the drivers and the region itself, and it showed that Porsche is still committed to Forza Motorsport 7, despite it being a 3-year-old game. For future competitions, Porsche could promote the event even more agressively on all social media channels of each eligible country, as Geoff states. He has hope that the next Porsche Asia Pacific Forza Cup will be a lot bigger once the new Forza Motorsport game arrives.
For the future of the esports racing scene in general, both drivers wish that tournaments receive more support. Chris would like a larger platform for more aspiring drivers to make an appearance in larger tournaments. He also hopes to see more renowned corporations having interest in sponsoring tournaments. Not only should prize pools be more attractive, Geoff also appreciates other rewards: "I also hope sim racing still offers once in a lifetime prizes such as track days, trips overseas and real life racing contracts for many years to come."
Esports racing could be on the right track to improve in the competitive field, even in regions that lack tournaments and opportunities for talents to show their skill. While there is still room for improvement, the foundation for a scene that could be soon living on the fast line has already been built.
What can help the esports racing scene to expand further? Tell us on Twitter at @overtake_gg!