ESL and Rennsport, the brand-new virtual racing platform created by games publisher Competition Company, have partnered together to launch the ESL R1 virtual racing tournament, which will see esports giants and factory teams face off for the first time–and compete for a prize pool of $500,000.
Promising to “set a whole new standard for virtual racing,” ESL R1 will kick off its inaugural 2023 Spring Season at IEM Expo, forming a focal part of Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice, between February 10 and 12. It will also serve as the grandest showcase for the nascent Rennsport platform, which plans to run a closed beta for its followers in the coming months.
In this debut ESL R1 championship, 48 drivers–four drivers per team–will compete against one another across eight rounds. Each round includes four quarter-finals, two semi-finals, and a final, and every race will be preceded by a qualifying session to decide the order on the grid. Following its launch in Katowice, each round will be held online on Fridays and Mondays.
To reflect ESL’s desire for accessibility among competitors, wild card teams will be involved, and the first line-up of eight partner teams and four wild cards shows plenty of potential for the tournament’s premiere.
ESL R1 Season One teams
- Apex Racing Team
- BMW M Team BS+COMPETITION
- FaZe Clan
- G2 Esports
- Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Esports Team
- Mercedes-AMG Team Williams Esports
- Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team
- R8G eSports
- Team Redline
ESL R1 2023 Spring Season dates
- ESL R1 2023 Spring Season launch: February 11-12, 2023 (IEM Expo, Katowice, Poland)
- ESL R1 2023 Spring Major: May 27-28, 2023 (RENNSPORT Summit, Munich, Germany)
ESL R1 2023 Fall Season dates
- ESL R1 2023 Fall Season launch: August 2023 (online)
- ESL R1 2023 Fall Major: November 23-25, 2023 (DreamHack Winter, Jönköping, Sweden)
Speaking of the newest addition to his organization’s stable of esports competitions, Roger Lodewick, president of sports games at ESL FACEIT Group, said: “The sim racing space is one of the key esports verticals in the sports gaming field, [and] with ESL R1, we’re taking our first major steps into this exhilarating world.
“Doing this together with our ambitious partner Rennsport, as well as with renowned esports and traditional racing brands is a unique opportunity. We’re thrilled to serve the sim racing community in our usual bold and spectacular way.”
Morris Hebecker, CEO of Competition Company, added: “Esports is the world’s fastest-growing media and entertainment segment with a young and digital-oriented fan base. That’s why EFG is an important partner for us, in order to jointly anchor the fascination of racing in the virtual world as well as to position ourselves in the existing world of esports in the long run.”
Keep up to date with the new league at the official ESL R1 website.