Esports accelerates into the spotlight as conventional Motorsport takes a backseat
As the industry and globe faced the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent that the demand for televised sport, more specifically Motorsport, was huge.
The season openers for the Formula 1, Indy Car and support series were cancelled so the focus turned towards Esports, which is currently the most accessible form of Motorsport.
The two events took place last Sunday (15th March), the first was ‘The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle’, the second, Veloce Sports ‘Not The Aus GP’. The last-minute nature was a true testament to the tenacity of the drivers, managers and senior figures within the sport. The attraction of motorsport giants such as Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Stoffel Vandoorne, Jean-Éric Vergne and Felix Rosenqvist to name a handful, showed the global scale of this awesome and opportunistic idea.
This will be far from a one-off event and as the world slips into self-isolation, events such as these may become more and more common in the coming months. A two-month pause on the majority of Motorsport across the globe puts Esports front and centre. An audience that may have previously dismissed Esports as simply a video game, can now can see a tangible example of the hype. The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle was viewed by a total audience of more than a million, greater than the viewing figures of a Formula One race on Sky TV in the UK. McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris hauled in more than 100,000 viewers to the ‘Not The Aus GP’ live on Twitch – the most-viewed stream ever on the platform. In just 72 hours, an arena was created for Motorsport enthusiasts worldwide.
The attraction of many high-level international racing drivers was the hook for casual fans to check out both events; barriers to entry were low, the stakes were high and the competition were able to demonstrate their skills on equal equipment.
Could this be the future of Motorsport or a supplement to conventional racing? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain Esports has had its glow-up and the speed at which it’s gathering momentum doesn’t look to be slowing down.