The eSports finale was held at the recent ADAC Rallye Deutchland, with several gamers battling it out for the world title on the most recent WRC game - WRC 7. Extensive television coverage on WRC All Live made it easy for people to see what the fuss was about, and I've got to admit it was surprisingly interesting. British rally driver, Jon Armstrong, became the eventual World Champion, funnily after being a competitor at the same WRC round in 2017. Armstrong finished 14th in WRC2 in Germany last year in a DMack backed Fiesta, but picked up an even bigger prize this year - a brand new Hyundai i20 Coupe. Yes, drivers drove virtual cars with the hope of winning a real one. As an outsider, it may be said that there is not much attraction to driving cars on simulators when you could be out doing the real thing.

British rally driver, Jon Armstrong, is the eSports World Champion.

Price, obviously, is the number one factor, but there is still an adrenaline aspect to eSports, which could be seen on the finalists who were sweating it out in Germany. I’ve had my fair share of time in front of TV playing all of the WRC games right back to the early WRC Arcade and Colin McRae games, and even I wouldn’t be able to keep within sight of these stars. The level is just as astonishing on the simulator as it was on the stages. If you'd have told your elders that you could win a brand new car from winning a rally, you'd be dismissed swiftly. The game and competition is booming - as is the entire eSports world. So what's next for the WRC E-Sports? A new game is the first step. Yes, there’s improvements to be made in areas, but it definitely holds its own. There’s been plenty worse.

Jon Armstrong is congratulated on his victory by his rivals.

It has the opportunity to bring a whole new breed of fans to the WRC and rallying in general. The astounding feats on the game simply replicate what is done on the real stages - the real life heroes in fast cars doing amazing things. That’s what’s going to bring people to rallying. For drivers like Jon Armstong, however, it’s a great way to raise the profile and also keep driving something, even if budget does not allow otherwise. The WRC has a good thing going, and building on its momentum and using the tools provided, like All Live, it can reach new heights. Yes, the virtual age is upon us. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but good luck ignoring it in the next 10-20 years. It’s only going to get bigger.


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