F1 just launched a 2017 eSports World Championship

eSports is everywhere nowadays, but it’s nothing new for racing game fans. For the past few years, racing sim enthusiasts have gone head to head on games such as Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, rFactor and more – but now more mainstream titles want in on the act. Earlier this year, GT Sport announced its own FIA-approved racing league, and now F1 2017 – the official game of Formula 1 – will have an eSports league, too.

Today Codemasters announced a new F1 eSports World Championship, and said it would be run in partnership with GFinity. As expected, the first season of the new eSports league will kick off in September to coincide with the launch of the new F1 2017 game, and there’ll be a test to select the 40 quickest drivers.

After that, the top 40 will be sent to live semi-finals taking place in London on 10-11 October, and then the top 20 from that will race in a triple header in Abu Dhabi in November. This means that the F1 eSports champion will be crowned at the same time as the real champion.

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“This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans,” said F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches. “Of course as we do in Formula 1, we’ll continue to evolve and innovate in the way we run this virtual counterpart to the F1 Championship to ensure we provide the most exciting and enjoyable experience we can for our fans.”

“eSports is one of the fastest-growing sectors of gaming, already attracting audiences in the tens of millions,” added Codemasters CEO Frank Saigner.

“We are delighted to be announcing this incredible racing series with Formula 1 for our upcoming F1 2017 game. The highly competitive nature and high-speed spectacle of the sport combined with the authenticity of our game will provide a thrilling experience for players and viewers across the world.”

F1 in 2017

For the past few months, I’ve written about the ways in which Formula 1 is attempting to connect with fans – and this looks like a great example of that trend. Just a few weeks ago, I spoke to Ross Brawn about the way gamers can be integrated into F1, and he suggested it won’t just stop at eSports.

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Brawn outlined a scenario in which gamers could race in virtual races that take place in parallel to real ones. Data from real-life races could affect the conditions in the virtual ones, giving gamers the same drama and unpredictability as the real race. And while an eSports league for F1 is amazing, one that works in parallel with real-life races would be even better.

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