ESL R1 is set to return for a second year to showcase the ‘sporting’ capabilities of Rennsport but with some ‘upgrades’.
Since its debut last year – which included not one but two seasons of competition, a €500,000 prize pool and in-person finales in both Germany and Sweden – we’ve been anticipating news of ESL R1’s return.
Used as a springboard to promote the embryonic sim racing platform, the then-new championship began last February with an in-person LAN event at the (ESL) Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) in Katowice.
However, this year’s Polish event has already been and gone (9th-12th February) with no mention of R1. At the same time, no less than 16 2023 R1 entrants have qualified for the RaceRoom-utilising DTM Esports Pro championship, running between March and April.
With F1 Sim Racing, also under the stewardship of ESL, currently in alleged contractual turmoil, the Furia team formally leaving the structure and the retirement from full-time sim racing of Heroic competitor Tommy Østgaard, questions about the viability of Rennsport’s signature event were being asked.
However, Rennsport has confirmed to OverTake.gg that it aims to continue with the series in 2024, with plans currently being formalised.
“This is a unique product, and we are fully committed to sporting and ESL R1,” said Head of Marketing at Rennsport, Alex Emmer to OverTake.
“With the learnings we made during the first sporting year, there are some upgrades in the pipeline regarding R1, but they need some time to get sorted and formed in a way so everything makes sense.”
Despite at least one team withdrawing, several are still aiming to participate in the revised structure and new entrants are expected. Emmer confirmed that Rennsport aims to keep the same grid size:
“There are ongoing discussions with teams so [the lineup is also] not finalized yet, who will continue and who we will see as a new addition.”
From the outset, R1 was designed to be a tentpole sim racing competition for full-time professional drivers and teams, preceding a publicly available version of the nascent Rennsport platform.
The aim is to provide an online ranking system, allowing drivers to work their way up a ladder. While ranked races are available within Rennsport, the Competition Company’s project remains in the closed beta phase and behind initial roadmap expectations.
“We are planning to have a pyramid system into the platform… having the possibility to get a kind of ranking and system to go up to the highest sports events we are planning to do with ESL and other partners,” said CEO Morris Hebecker at the 2022 summit event.
“[The] final puzzle pieces need to come together before we go for an announcement about what’s going on in Season 2024 and beyond,” summarised Emmer.
R8G Esports’ Marcell Csincsik won the first-ever ESL R1 season last year in Germany, followed up by Porsche Coanda Esports’ Joshua Rogers in the Fall Season.
Rennsport is also used for other championships, such as the Saudi Arabian Gamers8 event where Maximilian Benecke won $100,000 last July. That event has now been renamed the ‘Esports World Cup’ and is expected to return ‘summer 2024’, but it is not confirmed if the sim racing segment will be part of the line-up.
The Porsche Esports Carrera Cup Deutschland also uses the title and will see the competition debut for the Assetto Corsa mod adaptation, Orchard Road, later this month.
What did you make of the first two ESL R1 seasons? Let us know in the comments below or via X, @OverTake_gg.