A Mercedes-AMG GT3 taking the first part of the Bus Stop chicane at Spa-Francorchamps with an ESL R1 logo behind.

Did Rennsport Reveal too Early?


Listen to this article:

The unreleased Rennsport platform hosted the ESL R1 opener back in February. But it must be asked, were Competition Company ready to reveal Rennsport that early?

Image credit: Competition Company

Anyone tuning in to follow the ESL R1 rounds is no doubt intrigued to see what developments have been made for the yet-to-be-released Rennsport sim.

Rennsport is set to be releasing as a closed beta very soon. But up until now, almost all of the marketing has been through ESL R1. Therefore, it’s important that what is shown can win people over.

All competitors have been racing GT3 cars, which we have touched upon previously. With the game not being available to the public yet, a lot of sim racers were drawing conclusions from what they were seeing in R1. This meant that many felt that Rennsport was just going to be another GT3 focused sim, something we have already in abundance.

But now we’re more than halfway through the Spring Season, and a new issue has arisen. An issue that has us asking, “Did Rennsport reveal itself too early?” Why? That’s what we’re here to discuss.

Repetitive Environment

For those who perhaps haven’t been keeping tabs with ESL R1 since the opening event, there are six rounds which take place online following the opener. After that, the best 24 drivers will compete in the R1 Major where the champion will be crowned.

The first round after the opening races in Katowice – which were on Spa-Francorchamps and Hockenheimring – took place on a new track, Nürburgring GP. So which tracks were to follow?

So after Round 3, what tracks are hosting Rounds 4 and 5? Oh, it’s Spa-Francorchamps and Hockenheimring again. In all fairness, there’s some difference. After all, the drivers were racing onsite the first time round, whereas this time they’re racing online, so we’ll let Competition Company off. The devs probably needed some time to refine the new tracks, anyway.

Those rounds come and go, let’s get all excited to see what Rennsport has on offer, what tracks will they be showing before the R1 Major? Let’s look at the document for the rulebook on the ESL R1 website, cleverly hidden away but not completely obscured, and see for ourselves.

A list detailing ESL R1 Rounds 6, 7 and 8 on the Nürburgring GP, Spa-Francorchamps and Hockenheimring.
ESL R1’s final three rounds of the Spring season are on the same three tracks. Image credit: ESLR1.com

Surprise surprise! It’s Nürburgring GP, Spa-Francorchamps and Hockenheimring again. Not bad tracks by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s getting a little repetitive.

We’ve spoken at length before about how the same selection of tracks on rotation can really impact competitions as a whole. This can sometimes be unavoidable in real world racing, where traveling to different tracks can increase the costs. But the same issue has also occurred in a sim racing competition; the V10 R-League.

In this series, teams were given a pool of five tracks (Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, Mugello and Yas Marina) to choose from. Over the successive weeks of seeing the same five tracks on repeat over and over, it quickly became repetitive.

Why so Few Tracks?

In the V10 R-League, the game which is used is Assetto Corsa. That title has been available to the public since 2014. Therefore, the AC devs had many years to get a huge selection of tracks into the game. Incidentally, whilst the majority of the tracks used in the V10 R-League are in the base game, Yas Marina isn’t, and thus the organisers had the track modded in.

It would be rather easy to become frustrated with the Rennsport devs who have been hard at work for the last few years building this game from the ground up. The truth is that creating tracks for racing games are a lengthy process, and unless one has worked in video game development or made a mod, they shouldn’t kick up a fuss about it. Developing these games and the content for them is a thankless task.

With that being said, it’s not a case of the Rennsport devs not doing enough. Rather, were they thrust into the fire before they were ready? Having the same four cars is forgivable enough, but the same three tracks for an eight round season before the Major must have rung some alarm bells at both Competition Company and ESL.

An explanation of Finalist Mode for Day 2 of the ESL R1 Major, saying a driver has to get to a certain points threshold and once they do, they just have to win a race in order to be champion.
With just three tracks, will the Finalist Mode format come back to haunt them? Image credit: ESLR1.com

That’s not even factoring in the format that ESL have adopted for the R1 Major. For the final day of the event, the best twelve drivers are given an allotted amount of points based on the number they scored during the main season. Then they’re tasked with getting their total to a set amount.

Once a driver does that, they enter into Finalist Mode which means all they have to do is win a race, and they are the R1 season champion. This is a format that hasn’t been used in a sim racing competition before, but will be familiar to those who follow Trackmania esports.

This already sounds like a mouth-watering prospect if the platform being used had a wide variety of tracks. iRacing, rFactor 2, Gran Turismo 7, RaceRoom, the F1 games can all boast significant track pools. Even Assetto Corsa Competizione, which the sim racing community decries for having so few tracks, now sits at 23 after adding Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

Can the Major honestly make do with constantly rotating between Spa-Francorchamps, Hockenheimring, and Nürburgring GP on repeat? Incidentally, there is another track that is on Rennsport, the Goodwood Hillclimb, but that isn’t suited for close quarters racing.

With that being said, sources from within the ESL R1 field suggest that Monza is set to be the next track available on the platform. But even if that’s ready for the Major, there will still only be four suitable tracks.

The best case scenario is the top driver in the standings on Day 2 gets to the points threshold in as few races as possible, and then immediately wins in Finalist Mode. The worst case scenario? It could be 25 races or more. Of course, that seems very unlikely, but it’s not entirely impossible.

Were they Rushed?

It could be argued that in other forms of esports, there are a small number of different maps. CS: GO has seven active maps, League of Legends only has one, why is sim racing having such few environment options an issue? However, in those types of esports, the dynamics of the game are based around the players interacting with the environment and each other. As such, there are plenty of chances for variety. Whereas in racing, there’s only really one optimal racing line and no real variety.

So, as in the V10 R-League, the limit on the number of tracks doesn’t work. ESL may have organised some sim racing championships in the past, but they don’t seem to understand the impact of a limited map pool on racing over most other esports. Once more, it’s not the Rennsport dev team’s fault that ESL R1 is having to resort to the same three tracks over and over again.

Hopefully once Rennsport is released, R1 can have a lot more variety like racing championships should.

Do you think Rennsport revealed too early? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

Biggest esports racing fan in the world.