McLaren announces new eSports ‘Shadow Project’

McLaren has announced a new competition which will see the winner take a spot in the Formula 1 squad’s eSports team in 2019.

The McLaren Shadow Project is a follow-up to last year’s successful World’s Fastest Gamer contest. That was won by 26-year-old online gamer Rudy van Buren from the Netherlands, who successfully fought off competition from 30,000 other applicants across 78 countries.

Van Buren went on to beat Lando Norris, Joel Eriksson and Timo Bernhard in the heats of the Race of Champions eSports event in Saudi Arabia.

This year, McLaren wants to extend competition across “more casual games” which will include Forza Motorsport on Xbox One, and iRacing and rFactor 2 on PC. Also included are mobile game Real Racing 3 and rFactor 2 on HTC Vive VR.

The new name comes from the way is will ‘shadow’ the real-life Formula 1 team.

“Last year’s competition proved that the skills learned as a racing gamer are transferable to the real world,” commented Ben Payne, McLaren’s director of eSports.

“In World’s Faster Gamer the simulator was the star,” Payne commented. “The Shadow Project has broadened the entire programme out.

“[It] will be the most open and inclusive racing esports competition on the planet,” he continued. “We are looking for the most talented virtual racers from all countries and backgrounds.

“To make this possible we have partnered with the biggest racing game brands in the world,” he said. “For McLaren, the inclusion of more casual games such as Real Racing 3 is crucial.

“Last year’s finalist Henrik Drue, a surgeon from Denmark, reached the finals despite never having played a racing game on console or PC. He went on to out-perform most of the other finalists in the rigorous cognitive tests set by the McLaren team, and more than held his own on the track.”

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McLaren F1’s chief executive Zak Brown was on hand to promote the launch of the team’s new eSports initiative.

“Season one proved that eSports are a new talent frontier for motorsport,” said Brown. “After pioneering the programme in 2017, McLaren plans to develop the concept to generate greater global reach and engagement in season two.

“A strong, diverse esports programme has a direct benefit to McLaren’s innovative ambitions, bringing in new audiences, partners and talent to motorsport.

“By ramping up over multiple platforms across the online world, it will establish McLaren as an important brand in the motorsport esports community.”

Global online qualification heats start in August and run throughout the summer, with qualification open to anyone aged over 18.

The semi-finals will take place at McLaren Technology Centre in Woking. The finals will be held in January 2019. Selected qualifiers, semi-finals and finals will be live streamed by McLaren..

As well as taking a spot on McLaren’s eSports team in 2019, the winner will have access to the McLaren eSports development programme, as well as what is described as “an enviable stash of goodies.”

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