Mercedes win Esports Drivers’ and Teams’ title double in dramatic Grand Final of 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco
Mercedes’ Jarno Opmeer clinched a second consecutive F1 Esports Series Pro Championship title to cap another year of incredible performances from the Dutchman. His victory completes a double this season for Mercedes, who came out on top in the Teams’ Championship, and take home the lion’s share of the huge $750,000 prize pot. Despite having a completely new lead driver pairing, the Mercedes team has worked incredibly well together this year, and have been a formidable force on the grid.
Opmeer fought off Red Bull’s Frede Rasmussen, who pushed him all the way, in this week’s Grand Final to retain his crown, whilst Lucas Blakeley, who also went into the final three races in contention for the title, was unable to capitalise on his brilliant form this season for Aston Martin and fell just short.
Former World Champion David Tonizza took the win in Wednesday’s first race as the Pro Championship visited Imola for the first time in a hugely dramatic encounter, as Opmeer and Rasmussen took home crucial points in second and third respectively, with the Red Bull driver putting in an amazing performance after qualifying in P15. McLaren rookie Josh Idowu looked set to take his maiden win after starting on pole, before a last lap spin took him out of contention, while Blakeley saw his title chances slip after dropping several places across two laps towards the end after picking up damage, only securing a solitary point.
Opmeer went on to secure his fourth win of the season later in the day in Mexico City, following a tactical masterclass going into the finals laps of the race. The Dutchman, who started in third place behind Rasmussen and Bari Boroumand respectively, jumped into the lead after a three-way battle down the long first straight, with a sweeping move down the inside into the first corner. The trio continued to jostle for positions throughout the race before Opmeer, who was leading on the penultimate lap purposely let his Red Bull rival past as they went into the final corner to cross the line for the last lap, meaning he could then take back P1 going down the long pit straight. He continued to lead from the front and put the title within touching distance, while Rasmussen, who crossed the line in P2, dropped to third after a time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. A fifth-placed finish for Dani Moreno meant Mercedes secured the Teams’ title for the first time since 2018, when they also won both titles.
This meant Opmeer headed into Thursday’s season finale 21 points clear, and whilst Rasmussen stormed to victory at Interlagos, the Mercedes’ man drove to a comfortable fourth placed finish and secure his second title in as many years. Red Bull’s Rasmussen gave it everything he had, and after starting from tenth he went longer on his medium tyres than all the frontrunners, and built up a commanding lead, but was made to work for his win after coming out of the pits in P15, but the fresh tyres were no match for those in his way. Blakeley ended the season on a high finishing in P2, and there was a well-deserved maiden podium finish for AlphaTauri’s Sebastian Job after an impressive debut season which has earnt him Rookie of the Year.
Drivers are continuing to race remotely from their homes or team facilities, as they did in the 2020 season, but the hugely popular competition continues to broadcast from the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. Following the same Event format as recent campaigns, teams battle it out on the official F1 2021 video game, developed by Codemasters, with the live shows are streamed online via official channels of Formula 1 on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya, as well as broadcast on television via select international broadcast partners.
F1 Esports events have achieved over 40 million views across TV and digital, in the last 18 months, and this popularity led to a record number of people attempting to be a part of this year’s Pro Exhibition, with almost half a million taking part in qualification. If you would like to find out more information on how to take part in the F1 Esports Series and for more information on the Pro Championship presented by Aramco, visit www.f1esports.com.
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO, Formula 1®, said:
“In what has been a record-breaking year for the F1 Esports Series presented by Aramco, I wanted to thank all the teams and individuals that made this season’s championship possible. It has been an incredible fight from start to finish with some brilliant racing, and I wanted to congratulate the winners, Mercedes and Jarno Opmeer. Wishing everyone a great festive season, and we look forward to an even more exciting year for F1 Esports in 2022!”
John Clarke, CEO at Gfinity, said:
“It’s very encouraging to see the ever-increasing number of fans that tune in to the series. 2022 has been a championship of non-stop excitement and the amount of engagement is a true testament to the skills of the drivers. Gfinity is proud to host a series which provides such exciting content for racing and gaming fans alike.”
Paul Jeal, F1 Senior Franchise Director at Codemasters, said:
“The F1 Esports Championship has kept pace with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, delivering more action, overtakes, and drama than ever before. Huge congratulations to Jarno Opmeer on retaining his F1 Driver’s crown and joining Brendon Leigh as a double world champion. Mercedes and Red Bull carried their real-world rivalry in the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco, and it was Mercedes who came out on top as worthy winners.”
Cybeart signs a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products as their official home and consumer electronics partner in India
Cybeart, a leading manufacturer of comfortable and premium high-quality products across Canada, India and the Middle East, has signed a multi-year licensing deal with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products as their official Home & Consumer Electronics partner in India. This strategic partnership aims to bring the strength of Warner Bros. Discovery’s brands to Indian consumers through a range of cutting-edge technology products including but not limited to Gaming chairs, keyboards and Mouse Pads.
Cybeart will utilize its expertise in design to manufacture state-of-the-art home and consumer electronics products that feature iconic Warner Bros. Discovery IPs. By integrating IPs such as DC, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Lord of the Rings, and Rick and Morty in the products, Cybeart aims to deliver a comfortable, premium experience to its fans and users.
Krutik Patel, Founder and CEO of Cybeart said, “After recently renewing a three-year agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products as the official Home & Consumer Electronics partner in Canada and the Middle East, Cybeart will leverage this partnership to strengthen our presence in the India market with a range of licensed products in the category. At Cybeart, we have always been driven by our passion for innovation and creativity, and through this partnership, we would like to bring these iconic franchises closer to their fans.”
Having established a strong presence in India with high-profile associations with Revenant Esports, Orangutan Esports, Mumbai Indians, and Gujarat Titans recently, Cybeart is aiming to transcend the Esports and sporting landscapes to become a household name in the country through this partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products.
With new momentum into the second esport season: Ski Challenge plans Nations Cup
Ski Challenge, the fast-paced esports game by Greentube, has become one of the most popular sports games just a few months after its official launch. For the second season, the developers of NOVOMATIC Digital Gaming and Entertainment Division, in close cooperation with ski associations and co-shareholders from Austria (ÖSV), Switzerland (Swiss-Ski), and Germany (DSV), are planning an attractive innovation for all ski and game enthusiasts: the Nations Cup, starting in autumn 2023.
Developed as a tribute to Greentube’s first published game, Ski Challenge has had an extremely successful first season with over half a million downloads on iOS and Android since its release in October 2022. The game is not only popular among players but has also established itself as an attractive platform for high-profile global brand partnerships.
Thanks to continuous and extensive updates that enhance the competitive nature of Ski Challenge, Greentube and the three successful ski associations, ÖSV, Swiss-Ski, and DSV, have now joined forces as shareholders to create an exciting new tournament series: the Ski Challenge Nations Cup.
This thrilling competition invites players to represent their countries and compete for honor, glory, and attractive prizes in multiple qualifying rounds and the tournament phase. But that’s not all. Ski Challenge players who qualify for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland will now compete as official national teams for their respective ski associations.
The tournament events will take place parallel to the actual Ski World Cup events. With this expansion, Ski Challenge aims to further strengthen its esports concept and transfer the enthusiasm of skiing into the virtual world.
Michael Bauer, Greentube’s CFO/CGO, said: “We are thrilled to be able to add a number of new teams to the game as part of our Ski Challenge Nations Cup update. These federations are staples of the sport and give the game another level of legitimacy. We firmly believe our highly dedicated and loyal player base will be delighted with these upcoming additions as Ski Challenge continues to grow as a premier esports title.”
Diego Züger, CEO Commercial Swiss-Ski: “This is a great opportunity for skiing. With the establishment of the Nations Cup and the entry into esports, we will inspire new target groups and further develop skiing as a whole. The successful cooperation with Ski Austria and the German Ski Association, as well as Greentube, shows that a lot is possible with good collaboration.”
Stefan Schwarzbach, Board of Communication, German Ski Association: “With the Nations Cup, we as associations want to establish a direct connection to real skiing and our top athletes. Ski Challenge is increasingly becoming an attractive communication platform to inspire children and young people for skiing. In the medium term, our clubs and ski clubs should also benefit from this.”
Christian Scherer, Secretary General, Austrian Ski Association: “We are incredibly excited to launch a virtual tournament series that will revolutionize the world of skiing and bring nations together. This initiative expands the reach and ignites the competitive spirit of skiers worldwide. It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting announcements of 2023 as we embark on this exciting journey to shape the future of skiing and create an unforgettable experience for all involved.”
DMCC Publishes Latest “Future of Trade” Report on Gaming and Esports
Gaming revenues are expected to almost double by 2027 from 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, reaching USD 6 billion, according to DMCC’s latest Future of Trade 2023 report titled “Gaming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Geared for growth”. A young and digital-savvy population, high levels of digital connectivity, and government support are driving the region’s emergence as a consumer and creator hub.
Gaming and esports are both fast growing consumer segments, benefiting from rapid advancements in technology as well as broader and more inclusive audiences. The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead the region, supported by high income levels, strong digital engagement, and public investment initiatives. Globally, Asia Pacific constitutes the largest market share and China, the US and Japan are the largest individual markets.
The report gathers contributions from key industry leaders to establish the critical drivers of the industry’s accelerated growth in the MENA region and beyond. It also examines the impact on gaming and esports from a technology, culture and business perspective, covering global consumer trends, the emergence of MENA as a gaming and esports hub, and the key challenges that the industry needs to address to increase revenues further.
Guiding the global industry’s accelerated growth from nearly USD 200 billion in revenues in 2021 to USD 340 billion in 2027, the report outlines a set of key recommendations for governments and businesses, namely:
- Diversify esports revenue streams from sponsorship to new direct-to-fan monetisation models – including digital merchandising, loyalty programmes and training platforms for amateur gamers – to boost revenues.
- Develop appropriate regulatory safeguards to ensure privacy, security and safety online in the digital gaming ecosystem and provide a business-friendly environment – including smoother visa systems to allow esports professionals and audiences to attend live events – to attract talent into the region and elevate it into a global industry leader.
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, said: “Gaming has come to the fore of entertainment globally, driving rapid growth especially in the MENA region, which now constitutes 15% of the global player base. The rise of gamification in areas such as education, healthcare, and other sectors has demonstrated gaming’s role in facilitating economic activity more broadly. Ensuring the accelerated growth of the gaming sector will have a measurable impact on the future of markets around the world, as well as the future of trade. As DMCC seeks to solidify Dubai’s reputation as a global trade and economic hub, efficiently activating opportunities within the gaming sector will prove essential.”
Among the most closely watched segments is esports, which is expected to post revenue growth of 23.3% between 2019 and 2024 in MENA. Fuelling this is the region’s young demographic, engagement from international broadcasters and sponsors, and government support. Tapping into this economic potential, DMCC partnered with YaLLa Esports, the Dubai-based professional esports organisation, to launch the DMCC Gaming Centre in December 2022. The Centre supports the growth of the industry in Dubai by providing gaming businesses with access to global capital, leading industry talent, and an ecosystem that allows them to operate efficiently and with confidence.
Due to the UAE’s strong business environment and infrastructure, as well as its status as a gateway to the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, various international gaming developers have set up their regional headquarters in the country. Ubisoft is based in Abu Dhabi, while the gaming giant Tencent set up its MENA HQ in Dubai along with Riot Games. In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom has included gaming as a core element of its Neom project and has already made investments worth over $1.7 billion on the gaming industry.
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