Before F1 Esports began properly, the competitive racing scene on the F1 game was already very strong. You can see some of the very best drivers competing in a variety of different top level championships in what is referred to by the community as 'league racing'.
League racing is on pretty much every week. Whether you want to watch the top F1 Esports level talent or you're looking to compete yourself and have your family watch, there is a league out there for you. League racing has been a consistent presence in the world of F1 gaming for years.
Examples of leagues that boasted some of the best Esports level talent over the years include the likes of Apex Online Racing and, more recently, Online Racing League. Now that baton belongs to Premier Sim Gaming Leagues, as they have just announced their top split's driver lineup for the upcoming season and it's bursting with talent.
#PSGL | BATTLE THE BEST - TRAILER@jarno_opmeer vs. @speedbari was an epic battle to the death in #PSGLS28— PSGL (@PremierSimGL) July 28, 2021
Our look back at that titanic fight comes out Friday on the PSGL YouTube channel
🎥 @CcbrainF1 pic.twitter.com/SyLItY77GW
An incredible set of drivers
In the Mercedes team, it's no surprise to find their two Pro Series drivers, reigning F1 Esports champion Jarno Opmeer and rising star Dani Moreno who was the best rookie in the 2020 Pro Series. Opmeer is also the champion of the most recent PSGL season on PC, and these two will make for an immensely strong pair who will be hard to bet against.
Many Esports teams are using their Pro Series lineups from last year such as Alpine with 2020 Pro Series race winner Nicolas Longuet and 2017 runner-up Fabrizio Donoso Delgado. There's also Aston Martin with their highly-rated pair of Lucas Blakeley and Shanaka Clay, and Williams Esports have their drivers Alvaro Carreton and Michael Romanidis competing too. This indicates that these lineups aren't set to change for the upcoming 2021 Pro Series.
#PSGLS29 | PC Invitational - 🇧🇪— PSGL (@PremierSimGL) July 29, 2021
He’s done it again! @LucasBlakeley01 dominates from pole at Spa 👏 @DaniMorenoF1 shows his class with second ahead of @speedbari on his return to PSGL 🔥
Pre-season is done and dusted!
Thanks to @georgemorgantv & @manuelllos for 🎙 pic.twitter.com/vSWEb53J8n
Red Bull are placing their drivers in their two outfits, with perennial F1 Esports runner-up and Formula E: Accelerate champion Frede Rasmussen competing in the league with the hopes of preparing to finally win the Pro Series title this year.
Alpha Tauri are housing Rasmussen's former Pro Series teammate Joni Törmälä and also former Porsche Esports SuperCup champion Sebastian Job. Having found immense success in many sim racing championships, this is Job's first time venturing into the F1 Esports scene so keep an eye on him to see how he measures up with F1 game specialists.
Rasmussen's teammate in PSGL will be highly rated Polish youngster Tomek Poradzisz, who isn't affiliated with Red Bull. In fact, he is a McLaren Shadow Academy driver. The reason he isn't driving a McLaren is because their cars are already occupied by two drivers who will probably be competing for them in the Pro Series.
Bardia Boroumand and Josh Idowu are two extremely highly rated drivers who have been competing in the McLaren Shadow cars in many recent league racing events. Boroumand burst onto the scene when he took pole in the Pro Exhibition support race for the Virtual Spanish Grand Prix, and has been the one able to hold a candle to Opmeer across many league racing championships on F1 2020.
As for Idowu, he's been a top driver for some time and now looks set to finally get his chance in the Pro Series, and PSGL will serve as a great benchmark for him going into this year's esports competition.
There was plenty of hype surrounding who would drive for Ferrari in PSGL, as the team rarely gets involved in league racing. As their Pro Series lineup, Ferrari have two-time champion Brendon Leigh and 2019 champion David Tonizza and there was a chance they were potentially going to compete, fuelled even more so by Tonizza competing in one of the social races.
However whilst it could happen later on down the line, the Ferrari cars as of now will be driven by Nicolás Mateo and Domenico Lovece who are certainly no slouches. Mateo and Lovece were both third overall in the F1 Esports Challengers Series on PC and PlayStation respectively.
Alfa Romeo will be represented by two drivers who are expected to also compete in the Pro Series for them. The pair are former Renault Vitality and Haas F1 Esports Pro Series racer Simon Weigang and Filip Presnajder who did the one race in the Pro Series for Ferrari. Finally there's Haas who have their 2020 driver Cedric Thomé and a highly rated former Xbox racer Jake Benham, a driver who has seemingly come out of nowhere in recent months and is up there already with the best on PC.
How do we watch?
PSGL's upcoming season begins next Thursday, with each event consisting of full knockout-style qualifying and a 50% distance of a typical F1 Grand Prix race. Each round will take place pretty much every week, with twelve races in thirteen weeks.
R1: Bahrain - 12 August
R2: France - 19 August
R3: Belgium - 26 August
R4: Netherlands - 2 September
R5: Italy - 9 September
R6: Britain - 16 September
R7: Austria - 23 September
R8: China - 30 September
R9: Japan - 7 October
R10: Mexico - 21 October
R11: United States - 28 October
R12: Brazil - 4 November
UPDATE: 24/09/2021 After the Austrian round, the schedule was amended to conclude on 7 October with the Japan round being replaced by a round on the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit. This will only apply to PC Tier 1 as the week afterwards will be the first round of the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship that a strong majority of the drivers taking part in PSGL will be doing instead.
You can watch all the action with commentary from George Morgan and Jack Cunnane at 8pm CEST on the Premier Sim Gaming Leagues YouTube channel.
Be sure to tune in to the top PC tier but you aren't exactly starved of action as not only can you watch that, but also other lower tiers on PC and even the many tiers of PlayStation players. We are truly in a golden age of top level league racing where we can watch the best of the best in the F1 gaming world.
Will you be tuning in to watch PSGL's first round? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!