The second running of the World’s Fastest Gamer competition has kicked off in California this weekend, with ten gamers from across the world converging on the state to determine which of them has the right skills to become a real-world racing driver.
The competition should be fierce. The contestants come from a broad array of virtual racing backgrounds, with the usual iRacing, Assetto Corsa and rFactor alumni being mixed in with gamers of more casual-friendly titles like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo. One gamer even listed the mobile-only game Gear.Club as their favoured racing title – it’ll be interesting to see whether experience on a mobile racing game can translate well into the real world.
Judging them will be none other than Indycar champion Juan Pablo Montoya, while the field will be split into two teams mentored by Jann Mardenborough - winner of Sony’s GT Academy program and a current driver in Japan’s Super GT championship - and Rudy van Buren, the winner of the inaugural World’s Fastest Gamer competition.
And the prize will be a significant one – a seat in an Aston Martin in the 2020 season of the FIA GT4 category. Unlike bigger e-sports competitions whose prize pools can stretch into eight-figure territory, the World’s Fastest Gamer winner won’t walk away with a big cash handout, but rather a real-world springboard into a professional motorsport career.
Even so, the prize still has significant value, with a full-time stint in a GT4 race car valued around US$1 million (AU$1.46 million) per season. As the field of e-sports racing grows stronger - Ford Europe has decided to dip its well-financed toes in the water with its own e-sports - we'd expect prize pools to get proportionally fatter.
Like Sony’s GT Academy, which was the first major experiment in turning virtual racers into actual race car drivers, the World’s Fastest Gamer contestants will be subjected to a number of tests – both on the track and on simulators. Laguna Seca in Northern California will be one such setting for their on-track excursions, as will The Thermal Club outside of Los Angeles and Las Vegas Speedway.
The competition will unfold over the next twelve days – expect the winner to be announced in a couple of weeks.