From ingame rewards to a job with Formula 1: Esports racing is rather unique when it comes to prizes.
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The highest cash prize pools in esports racing
Of course, esports racing offers the classic cash prize pools. The special rFactor 2 Las Vegas eRace tournament in 2017 steals the show when it comes to traditional prize money: a total of $1,000,000 were awarded at this event. Dutch driver Bono Huis managed to get the lion’s share of the cake with $225,000.
- $1,000,000: 2017 Las Vegas eRace (rFactor 2)
- $500,000: 2019 Formula 1 New Balance Esports Pro Series
- $500,000: 2013 Turbo Racing League
- $300,000: 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Series
- $230,000: 2019 ForzaRC Invitational Series (Forza Motorsport 7)
- $207,000: 2008 Championship Gaming Series Season (Forza Motorsport 2)
- $200,000: 2018 F1 Esports Series
- $200,000: 2020 Porsche Esports Supercup (iRacing)
Special non-cash prizes
But it’s not always all about money, esports racing offers a variety of non-cash prizes that sometimes are even more valuable. Not every tournament is big enough to provide the most expensive race cars as a prize, so small winnings should be appreciated as well. A common reward are ingame gifts, such as being able to keep the car that participants used during the tournament. The F1 Esports Series 2017 implemented the winner as a non-driver character in the official F1 2018 game.
Another charming prize was reserved to the NEO Endurance Series champion. The winner of the event was granted a drawing of their car by a professional artist.
Upgrades for your esports racing setup
Ingame prizes are great, but getting your hands onto something real as well. Tournament organizers often cooperate with hardware manufactures. Winning an event is often rewarded with new equipment to upgrade your setup. Whether it’s a new seat, steering wheel, pedals, laptop, computer hardware or a complete new racing setup, non-cash prizes are quite common in esports racing.
YouTuber and racing personality Jimmy Broadbent recently hosted the iRacing VCOJimmerChallenge where community drivers could race against him. Maksim Bunevich was not only able to beat Broadbent, he was also faster than nearly 900 other competitiors. With his victory, Bunevich won a complete set by Fanatec which is worth over $1,800.
Drive in a supercar
We all love to go full speed and while simulations try to be as close to the real experience as possible, racing in a real supercar is still a different ball game. That’s why tournament organizers offer test drives in dream cars. For example, Matt Stone Racing recently launched an iRacing eSeries which is open to everyone. The top drivers in their Junior division get to ride as front-seat passengers hot laps in a supercar. Racers over the age of 18 have the chance to win the major prize: a supercars drive on their own.
The rFactor 2 World’s Fastest Gamer 2018 event offered an even more impressive prize. The winner of the tournament was awarded to practice and drive in a real race car, worth over $1,000,000, for an entire season.
Real top cars and motorbikes
Test drives in a supercar are exciting, but owning a top car is even more lucrative. Several tournaments award their winners various vehicles. For example, this year’s MotoGP eSport Championship offers a brand new BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé for its champion. And since the tournament is all about motorbikes, the runner-up wins an Aprilia RS 125 GP Replica.
The tradition to win cars or other vehicles goes back over ten years of esports racing history. As German racer Danny “Husky” Engels explained in Nitro Nights, he won a new BMW in one of the first German esports racing tournaments. An important prize for him, as the discipline was often not taken seriously outside of the scene. Winning a car marked a turning point for him and proved that virtual racing can be a viable career.
The ultimate prize: a profession as Formula 1 simulation driver
Dutch racer Rudy van Buren was awarded the most unique prize imaginable: a fulltime job as one of the F1 team’s official simulator drivers. In 2017, van Buren won McLaren’s competition World’s Fastest Gamer and with that, he claimed his spot at McLaren. He is not only busy testing for his team and practice sim racing. He also has to complete a fitness workout together with regular McLaren drivers.
His new job is not only a dream come true for van Buren. It also opened doors and hopes for other esports drivers. Many drivers and fans see his success as a huge step towards more appreciation for esports racing and more chances to get involved in professional teams.