In a dramatic climax to the F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series, Brendon Leigh has secured yesterday night at the Gfinity Arena in London his second Drivers’ Championship title in a row after the 2017 success in Abu Dhabi. His clear dominance of the Series, combined with teammate Daniel Bereznay’s second place, also propelled Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports to victory in the Teams’ Championship.
Having dominated Formula 1 in both the real and virtual worlds, Mercedes had yet few more trophies to take home this season. Emulating Lewis Hamilton’s recent victory, Brendon Leigh also demonstrated he is a force to be reckoned with in the virtual world, having controlled much of the racing across the Series to secure his second title with one race to go.
On the Hockenheim circuit Salih Saltunc gave Sauber F1 Esports Team their first success in the Pro Series, with Leigh and Joni Tormala (Red Bull Racing Esports Team) respectively on the 2nd and 3rd steps of the podium. Singapore’s Marina Bay track saw another success for Leigh, who dominated the race, finishing with a 3.8s margin over Williams Esports’ Alvaro Carreton. Marcel Kiefer (Hype Energy eForce India) completed the podium. By the end of rounds seven and eight, Leigh was leading the driver standings with 171 points, followed by teammate Bereznay and Toro Rosso’s Frederik Rasmussen in third.
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, USA was the stage for a penalty filled penultimate race. However, Leigh remained dominant from pole to finish, crossing the line comfortably in the lead to secure his second title. He was followed by teammate Bereznay to seal a one two for Mercedes, inching the team closer to the Teams’ title. Scuderia Toro Rosso Esports Team’s Patrick Holzmann rounded out the podium in third.
The final, adrenaline fuelled race of the Series took place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. With double points on offer and a cut of the $200,000 prize fund at stake, there was all to fight for in the Teams’ Championship. A dramatic penultimate lap saw a three-car battle between Leigh, Bereznay and Rasmussen emerge, which eventually resulted in Leigh being given a penalty for exceeding the track limits. McLaren Shadow’s Bono Huis used the battle to his advantage, catching up with the leading pack on the final lap. In a nail-biting finish to a hard-fought race Bereznay secured first place in the final race of the Series, followed by Huis and Rasmussen in third.
Asked about how he felt after securing the drivers’ title with a 50 point margin over the runner-up, Leigh said, “I can’t say where my head is at, I’m feeling very emotional. I just want to say thank you to Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports, we’ve put in hours of practice. I spent the last few laps enjoying it, you can never relax, but I was enjoying the moment.”
Christian Dixon of Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports added, “To win the first F1 Esports Teams’ Championship in our inaugural season is a great result for Mercedes - and it really shows how much work everyone put into this. Winning the team title by finishing one-two in the Drivers’ Championship is testimony to the outstanding skills of both Brendon, Dani and the whole team behind them. They’ve been super committed in the preparation, pushing each other to continuously raise the bar. It’s been really rewarding to watch the hard work from the entire team be converted into great results on track.”
The final Pro Series event was streamed live via Facebook and broadcast globally on selected TV networks. Viewing figures for the whole Series are expected to be strong, with the first live event accumulating 23m impressions and 3.2m views on social media, bringing the excitement and exhilaration of Formula 1 to a new generation of fans across the globe.
The F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series has brought together the most talented motorsport gamers in the world for the second year in a row. This year, the drivers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race with the backing of some of the most prestigious names in motor racing following an intensive selection process.
The Pro Series comprised of three live events held at London’s Gfinity Esports Arena, with drivers competing for the coveted prize fund of $200,000 – allocated to the teams based on their positions in the team standings.
The Pro Series is the exciting finale of the award-winning F1 New Balance Esports Series, which saw 66,000 players compete over four online qualifying rounds earlier in the year to secure a coveted place in the inaugural F1 Esports Pro Draft in July. At which they completed 1.1 million laps in F1 2017, the official game of the FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™ on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X and PC. The Pro Series is the first time that the competing drivers have raced on F1 2018, which was released on 24th August 2018.
BRENDON LEIGH Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports 216
DANIEL BEREZNAY Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports 166
FREDERIK RASMUSSEN Scuderia Toro Rosso Esports Team 127
SALIH SALTUNC Sauber F1 Esports Team 83
MARCEL KIEFER Hype Energy eForce India 65
Mercedes AMG-Petronas Esports 382
Scuderia Toro Rosso Esports Team 210
Sauber F1 Esports Team 119
McLaren Shadow 101
Hype Energy eForce India 99
Julian Tan, Head of Growth & F1 Esports at Formula 1 said:
“Over 66,000 players competed in this year’s F1 New Balance Esports Series, and tonight’s final saw the best of the very best race as part of their real F1 teams. We’d like to congratulate Brendon Leigh and Mercedes on their championship titles, and all the teams and drivers for making this such an exciting Series. By its very nature esports delivers thrilling racing, thanks to the equalised cars and the willingness of drivers to take risks – but, the skill and talent demonstrated has also been incredible. Hours of dedicated practice by the drivers and the investment in training made by the Formula 1 teams has fuelled some extremely exciting on-track drama. Millions of fans around the world have watched the white-knuckle ride that was this year’s Series unfold, bringing the exhilaration of Formula 1 to a new generation of fans across the globe.”
Paul Jeal, F1 Franchise Director at Codemasters said:
“The F1 Esports Series 2018 has been a huge success. A breath-taking spectacle of racing and a fantastic showcase for our F1 2018 game. It was great to see several different winners over the course of the season, from several different teams – helped by the drivers racing with equal car performance. Ultimately though, as in the real world of F1, it’s a huge congratulations to Mercedes for winning the first ever F1 Esports Teams Championship in comprehensive fashion, and to both of their drivers Brendon Leigh and Daniel Bereznay. Special congratulations go out to Brendon, who is now an F1 Esports Double Champion, with some fantastic drives and hugely consistent performances throughout. We cannot wait for the next Series to begin.”
Mark Brittain, Chief Commercial Officer at Gfinity said:
“The 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Series saved the best to last and delivered an adrenaline-fueled experience that had everyone at the Gfinity Arena and the millions watching around the world out of their seats. As the real and digital sporting landscapes continue to converge, the final weekend demonstrated perfectly the opportunities that exist to sports rights holders and brands wishing to enter the exciting esports sector. The younger generation has truly embraced the F1 Esports Series and the competition is creating the F1 fan of the future.”
The F1 New Balance Esports Series is operated in partnership with Codemasters, the developer and publisher of the official Formula 1 video game franchise and Gfinity, one of the world’s leading esports companies. New Balance was recently named the title sponsor of the competition, joining the established sponsors DHL and Fanatec.