With only two weeks to go before Draft Day (April 1st), over 180 teams have already registered for the LGCS & NCS and competition is looking fierce.
Amongst the big names are familiar faces from the 2015 season, top drivers already competing in the ESL Weekly Cups, teams moving over to Project CARS from other sim-racing leagues, and emerging names with a few surprises up their sleeves.
Here are our picks for the ones to watch this season...
We are pleased to confirm that the ESL Weekly Go4 Cups will now feature 12-player racing on all platforms.
Larger grids for the ESL races have been the most-requested feature from the community since these events began in October 2015, so we’re very pleased that we can now deliver on this feedback. These changes have been thoroughly tested on the PC platform and will now be used on PS4 & XB1 as well, starting with the next event, Go4 Weekly Cup #26.
To take part in this new format, drivers still need to sign-up and check-in as normal. Once the event begins, the 12-player races will then be organized by ESL staff via the ESL Forums.
Depending on the number of players checked in, the new bracket format will be as follows...
The maximum amount of players per group will be 12, but there can also be fewer than 12 players in a group, depending on the amount of confirmed participants. ESL will always qualify enough players from the first stages to have 24 players in the Semi-Finals and 12 players in the Finals.
The location used will still be selected by the community, but each stage of the competition will now have a different number of laps - starting with shorter races in the Qualifiers before increasing a little in the Semis and the Final round.
As soon as a Weekly Cup is over, ESL will publish all the results divided into stages on the relevant page, when clicking on the bracket button, exactly like they did in the recent tests of this new format which used only the PC Cups. View an example here.
If you have any questions about these changes, please contact ESL via this thread in its forums.
This week’s ESL Project CARS Esports action provided a serious challenge for both driver and car. The GT4 class was the weapon of choice one more, but this time at one of the most fearsome circuits in all the world, Mount Panorama, better known as Bathurst.
A tight, narrow course, surrounded by close concrete walls, with blind corners, blind crests, high-speed straights and mind-boggling elevation change. Bathurst’s rollercoaster layout is not for the faint-hearted. Of course, our drivers are the best in the world and we couldn’t wait to see them take on this titanic challenge.
The ESL Go4 Cups also require the drivers to use a fixed setup for their cars, making the Bathurst competition even tougher. The circuit usually requires a very unique setup to enable the cars to manage the bumps, speed and elevation change in a comfortable manner. With no setup changes allowed, the drivers had to rely on pure skill to survive the race and keep their cars out of the walls.
The Project CARS Esports teams were back in action once again this week, with ESL Go4 Cup 24. GT4 cars were the weapons of choice as March’s battle for championship points continued. We had some new faces on the podiums in this week’s races, but with some familiar names on the top steps.
Fixed setups and the drivers’ increasing knowledge of the GT4 class is making for some intense rivalries and some very close racing. Small mistakes can now have a big impact on how far each driver progresses through the Cup bracket each week, putting them under extra pressure in the fight for weekly prize money and a place in this month’s Final.
For Cup 24, the drivers voted to race at Circuit Zolder, a classic Belgian track which may not have the reputation of it’s big brother, Spa, but still offers it’s own particular challenges. Zolder has a lot of blind crests and apexes which require total commitment from the drivers to maximise their speed around the lap. It also has several very tight chicanes where you can really attack the curbs to carry momentum through the corner. Attack too much though, and you’ll likely find yourself pointing the wrong way in a cloud of tyre smoke.
The big headline this week is that ESL tested a larger 12-player format for the races for the first time. Up to now, ESL Project CARS Cups have been organised in a bracket format, with drivers facing off head-to-head before the winner moves on to the next round in the bracket. The larger grid format proposed by ESL sees the drivers compete in 12 player heats with the top 6 finishers in each one moving on to the next round. This will make for more cars on track and reduce the time needed to complete each Cup.
In the world of sim racing, teams don’t get much bigger than Team Redline, arguably the most successful outfit in the world. Now Redline has joined the action in the Project CARS Esports scene for the first time.
Having seen the rewards and exposure offered by the SMS-R Driver Network Championship in 2015 and ESL Project CARS events, Team Redline’s management, along with some of its top drivers, decided to give Slightly Mad Studios’ simulation a try. Less than two weeks after picking up the game for the first time, they already had their first ESL Go4 Cup victory with Aleksi Uusi-Jaakola behind the wheel. There’s no question about the ability and experience of this team.
We sat down with Team Manager, Dom Duhan, and drivers - Olli Pahkala, Aleksi Uusi-Jaakola & Bono Huis - to talk Project CARS and all things sim racing.