Formula 1 has announced its plans for the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series, with the series starting their qualifying process on the 8 April with a $500,000 prize fund up to grabs.
Last year was a success for the series with the introduction of teams, with nine of the official F1 teams entering the series and a prize pool for the teams to win. Now for the 2019 season, that prize fund is expanded to a staggering $500,000, more than double from last year’s prize pool.
Brendon Leigh retained his Esports crown last year with Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports in dominant fashion, ahead of team-mate Daniel Bereznay and Toro Rosso Esports driver Frederik Rasmussen.
The qualifying procedure, Pro Draft and Pro Series has expanded on from last year, making it the most ambitious series yet with more chances for gamers and the best Esports drivers in the world to earn their spot in the series.
The first round of qualifying begins on 8 April on F1 2018, open to all three consoles on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The event takes place around China, Shanghai and runs for two weeks before another chance to qualify opens. On the 27-29 May, a race-off between the drivers who qualified from the events will take place to earn a spot within the Pro Draft.
The Pro Draft once again will fall on July and will take place over two days, allowing the teams to select drivers onto their roster for the upcoming season. Day 1 will see a number of race-offs to help identify the best drivers from the selection pool. The slowest drivers will be eliminated, whilst the fastest drivers enter the final pool in Day 2, where the teams will make their picks.
The expansion of the series will also see four lives shows taking place between September and December. The races taking place in those rounds will determine the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series Teams’ and Drivers’ World Champions and the prize of $500,000.
F1’s Managing Director Of Commercial Operations and the Commissioner of the F1 Esports Series, Sean Bratches says the expansion of the series allows the series to further its’ profile and engage with the next generation of Motorsport fans.
“Last season was a decisive year for F1 Esports with the inclusion of the first official teams and record audience figures. As we move into this 2019 season, F1 will remain at the forefront of this explosive industry,” said Bratches.
“The potential within this space is extremely exciting both as a commercial opportunity, but importantly, as a way for the sport to engage with the next generation of motorsport fans. We are committed to exponential growth in the world of esports, and as a result the 2019 season is going to be even bigger and better.
“Having more than doubled the prize fund, we plan to attract even more talent to the series and to continue the upward trajectory we are on.”
Codemasters Studios’ will once again provide the game for the gamers to compete on for the upcoming series, with the third championship set to take place on the F1 2019 game, which is set to be released on the 28 June.
“The F1 New Balance Esports Series creates exciting opportunities for Codemasters to further engage with our core community and develop experiences for fans with a passion for both virtual and real-world racing,” said CEO of Codemasters, Frank Sagnier.
“We’re always investigating ways to better integrate esports into our F1 games, as this will encourage more players to test their race skills against the top professionals, and we look forward to welcoming the new talent who will emerge this season.”
The new series will also see a rule change, following the steps of real-life Formula 1 by now awarding an additional point to the driver who sets the fastest lap in the race.
GFinity are on board once again to support the series and aim to create more entertainment and action for season three of the series.
“F1 New Balance Esports Series has captured the imagination of the global gaming community. It delivers incredible racing and through entertaining content, such as the draft show, gives fans a reason to care about the drivers,” commented GFinity Executive Chairman, Garry Cook.
“Esports fans want it all. They want the back stories, the drivers’ journeys to greatness, the emotion of being chosen to represent an F1 team. And they want to experience daring manoeuvres on the track.
“F1 New Balance Esports Series delivers this. That is why a new and younger audience is embracing the F1 story. Series 3 is going to be bigger, bolder and more entertaining than ever.”
You can sign up for the qualification of the series through their website: https://f1esports.com/