One of the top esports organisations in the world FaZe Clan announced their surprise entry into sim racing through ESL R1. But an even bigger surprise came when they announced that a Call of Duty champion would compete for them.
Image credit: FaZe Clan
This weekend is the inaugural round of ESL R1, an esports racing championship being held on the unreleased Rennsport sim which boasts a year-round prize pool of €500,000. Twelve teams of four drivers each will compete in GT3 cars. It has garnered interest from not only established racing teams, but also organisations from the world of gaming.
ESL R1 will see the first ventures into competitive sim racing for big name mainstream organisations like MOUZ, Heroic, FURIA and, most prominently, FaZe Clan. The American esports giant have won 37 championships across the entire gaming sphere since 2010, and they’ve caused quite the stir with their R1 roster.
Time To Race Up
For FaZe Clan’s first pro esports racers, they have picked up drivers from other established sim racing teams. Starting off, we have Ulaş Özyıldırım who has proven quick on many games including iRacing, rFactor 2 and the Codemasters F1 titles. The Turkish racer competed in F1 Esports Challengers on PC where he just missed out on a spot in the Pro Exhibition.
Özyıldırım has been part of R8G Esports, the team of former F1 racer Romain Grosjean who he shared driving duties with in two rounds of the Le Mans Virtual Series. R8G also operate Haas’ F1 Esports efforts and he was one of their many development drivers. Unfortunately, there was no space for Özyıldırım on R8G’s R1 team so he was free to compete for FaZe.
Next up are Lucas Müller and Tim Jarschel who both come from Dörr Esports. Müller was runner-up in the 2020 Formula E Race at Home Challenge just losing out to Kevin Siggy, whilst Jarschel was runner-up in the 2020 DTM Esports championship. Overall, three very proven drivers who could deliver some great results for FaZe Clan in ESL R1.
From Clutching to Dropping the Clutch
Without a doubt though, the biggest shock from their line-up reveal was their final driver. Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter. His is a name that may not be familiar to simracing fans. However, for those aware of the competitive FPS scene, it’s a different matter entirely.
Crimsix is a former professional Halo and Call of Duty player and is referred to by many as the GOAT of all pro COD. He holds the most LAN wins in the entire history of competitive Call of Duty with 38 Major tournament victories, and is also a three-time COD League world champion.
He has since established himself as a content creator after putting his competitive days behind him in 2022. Porter has amassed 615,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel along with 474,000 followers on Twitch. As well as streaming and creating videos on the games he’s known most for, he also indulges in his affinity of performance cars and driving with his full sim racing setup.
Pushing the Boundaries
It’s certainly not a conventional move to select someone more known for a vastly different form of esports. Many other legends of their respective sports have made big switches, like Michael Jordan going from basketball to baseball and Valentino Rossi swapping MotoGP for GT3 cars.
There’s even a sim racing champion who was also a champion on a vastly different game. George Boothby was part of Veloce’s championship winning effort in the SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge Esports series on Assetto Corsa Competizione last year. Rewind back to 2008 though, and he was champion in the World Cyber Games on Guitar Hero III.
While it’s not an exact comparison, Boothby had much more professional sim racing experience after all, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Crimsix could end up in the mix for a good result. His competition will certainly be fierce though, with established sim racers like Enzo Bonito, Josh Rogers and James Baldwin all involved.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Crimsix will take to the world of competitive sim racing after his long and illustrious career in first person shooters. You can follow all the racing this weekend from the Intel Extreme Masters Expo in Katowice, Poland via ESL R1’s Twitch and YouTube channels.
What do you make of Crimsix’s move from Call of Duty to sim racing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!