Formula One bets big on eSports with first official series

Formula 1 set to host first official eSports series

Formula One is launching its first official eSports series as part of growing trend among sports brands to align themselves with the online medium as it gains momentum worldwide.

The Formula One eSports Series will be run as a partnership between F1, game developer Codemasters, and eSports specialist Gfinity.

The first season of the World Championship league will kick off in September to coincide with the launch of the new F1 2017 game.

A qualification system will run through the month to determine the 40 quickest drivers. Those drivers will be invited to the live semi-finals, which will be held at the Gfinity Arena in London on 10 and 11 October. The top 20 from the semis will qualify for the finals, which will take place as part of the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

A three-race event will see the first-ever F1 eSports World Champion crowned on the same weekend as Formula 1 World Champion proper.

F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches said: “This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans. First, it’s a growing category with tremendous fan engagement that we’re entering in a big way; and we are proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride.

“Of course as we do in Formula One, 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.”

In February the NBA created a professional eSports league with videogame developer Take-Two Interactive.

Last week Melbourne City FC made history in Australia when it became the first club in the A.League to sign an official Fifa eSports player. It follows similar moves from Manchester City and New York City FC who were among the first football clubs to snap up eSports players in Kieran Brown and Christopher Holly respectively.

Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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