When McLaren announced their World’s Fastest Gamer contest earlier this year there was a combination of excitement and intrigue across both the Motorsport and eSport communities. WFG offered gamers from across the globe a chance to battle it out against others from different gaming platforms and titles for the incredible prize of becoming the McLaren F1 Team‘s official simulator driver for 2018.
“We are proud that McLaren is the first F1 team to launch in esports.” said McLaren Technology Group Executive Director, Zak Brown, “World’s Fastest Gamer is an exciting platform for us to bring motorsport and the sport of Formula 1 to a whole new audience, as well as traditional fans. The results have shown our instincts were right. Furthermore, with simulation now a well-established feature of modern racing operations, it is an interesting exercise in understanding the potential for esports to unearth future motorsport talent.”
Over 30,000 people entered the numerous qualifying events. After months of competition, hundreds and thousands of miles of racing and hours of coverage that was witnessed by approximately 10-million viewers, twelve finalists have been determined. Six drivers emerge from the qualifiers with a place in the final, with a further six being given places by a panel of judges based on their eSports achievements in the past.
Of the twelve finalists, there are a number of drivers you may have heard about before. Bono Huis of the Netherlands made headlines last year when he won the Formula E Visa Vegas eRace; earning him a $200,000 prize. Greger Huttu has long been considered one of the world’s fastest gamers having won the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series five times.
Harry Jacks is also a well-known name. Perhaps more recognisable by his handle Noble 2909, he has won numerous championships across the Codemasters Formula One games and is also a popular YouTube creator. These three drivers are among the six pre-selected finalists along with Forza Motorsport series champion Aurélien Mohammedi-Mallet, Project Cars specialist and multiple ESL series champion David Le Garff and 2015 GTPES champion Ryan Moore; who demonstrates incredible speed on both Gran Turismo and iRacing despite having limited use of his right hand.
Of the six drivers who raced their way into the finals, David Hoch was one the first to bag a spot. Hoch, who also goes by his handle CAR Harmonic, qualified for the WFG finals by winning the CJ Wilson Racing 570 challenge on Forza Motorsport 6; an event hosted by The Online Racing Association. He was soon joined by Rudy van Buren, a former Dutch Karting champion who qualified for the finals by winning the rFactor 2 qualifying event at Silverstone.
Yordi Maldonado, also known as HatchedHarp, beat out 600 other entrants in the Latin America WFG qualifying events, held on Forza Motorsport 6, to earn one of the twelve spaces in the final. Two iRacing drivers also join Maldonado in the final. Isaac Price won the iRacing Blancpain GT world championship before recently reaching the semi-finals of the F1 eSports series. He also competed in the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix series alongside the aforementioned Greger Huttu and fellow qualifier Freek Schothorst; who has also won twice in the iRacing Formula Renault series prior to qualifying for the World’s Fastest Gamer competition.
The final spot in the finals goes to perhaps a wildcard entry. One of the more interesting parts of the WFG qualifying events was that the competition wasn’t open to gamers only on computers and consoles, but also on mobile games. Henrik Drue, a radiologist from Denmark, earned a spot via the GearClub app after beating 26,000 other players. His winning margin over second place was a scarcely believable 4.8 seconds.
These twelve drivers will meet for the first time this Saturday (November 11th), where they will begin the Finals Week. They will be put through numerous physical and mental tests both on the real track and the virtual track. Speed isn’t the only factor, as they’ll also have to demonstrate team-working abilities as well as engineering knowledge if they want to earn to the top prize, a one year contract to become the McLaren F1 Team’s official simulator driver.
The McLaren World’s Fastest Gamer Finals Week will have coverage from McLaren’s numerous social media channels. With the qualifying events getting viewed over 10 million times, there’s a very real chance that Finals Week could become one of the most watched eSports events of all time.