With less than three weeks before the eight international teams meet on the water in Bermuda for the league’s return to racing, SailGP today launched the 2021 eSailGP Championship.
Building on the success of the inaugural season, which saw more than 146,000 unique players take part across 55,783 individual races, fans will have a chance to test their skills piloting one of the most innovative race boats in the world in a virtual environment on new courses and with new-look boats.
The Championship winner will be rewarded with an all-inclusive package to a SailGP event in 2022 and a place in the 2021 eSailing World Championship Final.
In partnership with World Sailing and Virtual Regatta, the championship will feature six qualification events over the course of the first half of the season, with a spot in the eSailGP Grand Final on October 15 up for grabs for the winners. The eSailGP Grand Final will see the two gamers with the highest points after three fleet races face off in a single winner-takes-all match race.
Two wildcard berths will also be available at the final for a female player and a youth player, who will be selected by a panel of judges. This initiative is in line with SailGP’s immediate focus on the advancement of gender equity and its program to fast-track the training and development of female athletes for participation in SailGP.
eSailGP Season 1 amassed 753,000 views on SailGP’s social platforms and the league has been working to further bring the live shows to life for players and followers, including enhanced graphics, explainer videos and a reinforced expert commentary team. Shay Thompson will return for her first full season as host and she is no stranger to the world of gaming. She is currently the host of McClaren’s Shadowcast, streams for Xbox Interactive, presents panels and podcasts for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and is the founder of Level Up Link Up, an event aimed to make the games industry a more diverse place.
She’ll be joined by Olympic champion and Japan SailGP Team helm Nathan Outteridge, who will transfer his expertise from the racecourse to the eSailGP commentary team for the first time, alongside his teammate and flight controller Leo Takahashi.
SailGP Head of Content Jose Garnes said: “As an organisation, we strive to be at the forefront of innovation and we aim to make our sport as accessible and inclusive as possible. Our revamped eSailGP championship is an opportunity for fans to engage with SailGP in a new way, while introducing a new audience of gamers to the sport and diversifying our fan base. We’ve seen there is a big appetite for this type of gaming, particularly over the last year with many live sports fans and athletes turning to esports in lieu of real-life action, and we’re excited to use this platform to introduce more people to our sport.”
British eSailor Mike O’Donovan won the inaugural season after seven months of hard-fought virtual battles. To launch the 2021 eSailGP Championship, he joined some of the game’s top players, including French player Peptio from the MCES esport team and Andrea Emone who was a participant in the Spain SailGP Team women’s invitational camp earlier this year, for the ultimate invitational event.
eSailGP races are 5-6 minutes long and feature up to 10 players per game. The championship is integrated into the Virtual Regatta Inshore platform, the largest sailing community in the world with more than 1.6 million players.
Training opens for each eSailGP qualification event a few days before the real-life racing kicks off, and the courses mimic the iconic venues where the global championship is hosting races at the respective time. The first event of the season kicks off with the Bermuda eSailGP, April 17-18.
eSailGP can be played on Desktop, iOS and Android. Watch the eSailGP invitation #3 at 8pm BST, March 31 here.
2021 eSailGP Championship Schedule
Qualifier | April 17-18
Qualifier Semi Final | April 19
Qualifier Final | April 21
Qualifier | May 29-30
Qualifier Semi Final | May 31
Qualifier Final | June 2
Qualifier | July 10-11
Qualifier Semi Final | July 12
Qualifier Final | July 14
Qualifier | Aug 14-15
Qualifier Semi Final | Aug 16
Qualifier Final | Aug 18
Qualifier | Sep 4-5
Qualifier Semi Final | Sep 6
Qualifier Final | Sep 8
eSailGP Cádiz – Andalusia
Qualifier | Oct 2-3
Qualifier Semi Final | Oct 4
Qualifier Final | Oct 6
eSailGP Grand Final | Oct 15