Mercedes has officially launched its Formula One esports division, and the team will be housed and train in the same facilities as its professional Formula One team.
The facility, located in Brackley, England, will soon be home to a center that’s entirely dedicated to esports training. It’s set to begin construction in the next few weeks. The remolded area will be located in the same building as the Driver-In-Loop Simulator. This simulator is where the F1 drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, provide feedback to engineers on a virtual model of the car. This feedback is then used when constructing the actual automobile used in the F1 races.
Photo Credit: Autosport
By sharing this area, the esports team will also have access to the Driver-In-Loop Simulator as well as the benefit of seeing how the real-world drivers set about optimizing and improving their car in the virtual world. The esports team will also have access to the driver’s nutrition specialists and physical conditioning coaches.
“The new facility will enable the gamers to work on their gaming performance on multiple platforms and further improve their skills,” according to a statement from Mercedes. “The programme also focuses on human performance and will give the esports team members access to the on-site Performance Centre covering the core areas of nutrition, physical conditioning, and wellbeing that support the gamers in reaching their full potential.”
Mercedes has announced its roster for the 2018 team:
- Harry Jacks – 2017 McLaren World’s Fastest Gamer finalist
- Patryk Krutyi – multiple-Polish sim racing champion
- Dani Bereznay – selected in July’s Pro Draft
- Brendon Leigh – champion of the inaugural 2017 Formula One Esports tournament
It’s a talented team, and, likely, the signing of 19-year-old Leigh is making the biggest splash.
Leigh pulled off the win last year in dramatic fashion. The Grand Final took place across three tracks with 20 players in competition. The first track was the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Canada, which Leigh won and earned 25 points. The next track was the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium where Leigh placed eighth and only received four points.
Photo Credit: Autosport
The final track was Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi where the points doubled. Fabrizio Donoso Delgado from Chile was in the lead going into the final lap. If he could hang on, he would be the champion. Leigh, however, faked an outside move, which Delgado fell for giving Leigh just enough room to pass on the inside. As Delgado tried to keep pace, he was forced off the track and lost ground to Leigh. Leigh held on to win (by six points) and even became a bit of an internet sensation after video and images of him shaking his finger at Delgado (as the player drove across the run-off area) went viral.
The finals were held in Abu Dhabi, which was the first time that Leigh had traveled abroad – in fact, it was the first time the he had been on a plane.
At the time, Leigh told the Daily Mail that, if given the chance, he would like to become an esports professional. “I’ll 100 percent go for it. Currently, I’m a kitchen manager, but if the chance came where I could make money from this, I’d drop that in a heartbeat.”
Now he’s getting his chance. However, the makeup of the F1 Esports Series is not without some controversy. In March of 2018, the league made a decision that surprised many in the esports industry.
It was announced that, going forward, the format of the F1 Esports Series will be teams that are connected to real-world F1 racing teams (this is similar to the structure of the NBA2K League, where every esports team is managed by an actual NBA team). In fact, with the exception of Ferrari, every F1 team is going to be a part of the 2018 F1 Esports Series season.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports
However, the Series is not allowing players who are committed to an existing esports organization to participate. It also is not allowing organizations that competed in the inaugural season, such as Redline, G2 Esports, and Esports+Cars, to take part. In fact, if any player from those teams wanted to compete, they needed to leave their current organization to join the F1 Esports Series.
This was likely done as a way to increase both brand recognition and fan engagement. Someone who is a supporter of the real-world Mercedes team is likely to become a supporter of the esports team, as well.
Player selection for the F1 Esports Series occurred in two phases. The first was an online competition where players battled to qualify for a spot in the Pro Draft. The top 40 players became eligible for the draft. The remaining spots on the teams were filled in by recruiting high-ranking players.
Now the stage is set for the nine F1 Esports Series teams to compete against each other in three live events, to crown a champion this October. The purse for the top team is said to be at least $200,000.
Leigh, for his part, seems pretty revved up about the future of F1 Esports Series.
“I think it’s going to grow immensely,” he said. “Esports is growing already, so it’s just going to get better and better and as more people understand it, the bigger it’s going to get. I think a lot of people who tuned into Sky Sports would have been like, ‘what is this?’. “But after a while they would have understood it and thought, this is pretty much F1 on a game. I think it’s going to grow massively.”
For more info on building an esports training facility or sponsoring a burgeoning team, give one of our eGency Global pros a call at 972-323-6354.