McLaren launches Shadow Project esports programme

McLaren has today announced the launch of the McLaren Shadow Project, supported by Logitech G, HTC Vive, Sparco Gaming and Alienware.

Coming off the back of the Mclaren World’s Fastest Gamer competition in 2017, won by Rudy van Buren, who is now simulator test driver for McLaren F1 – McLaren is set to dip their toes back into esports in a big way with their new esports initiative, Shadow Project. This new global sim racing event will feature players across multiple games, including Xbox One title Forza Motorsport, Real Racing 3 on mobile, iRacing and rFactor 2 on the PC.

Qualification is open to anyone aged over 18, with heats kicking off in August 2018 and run throughout the summer. The final of the competition will take place in January 2019 with the winner being crowned McLaren’s esports champion.

Ben Payne, Mclaren Director of esports, had this to say on the news: “Last year’s competition proved that the skills learned as a racing gamer are transferable to the real
world. This is unique to the racing genre. We believe that esports and real-world racing have much to learn and give to each other and last year’s competition was just the start.”

The winner of Shadow Project 2018 will win a place on the new McLaren esports team and represent the team across the world. The winner will also have access to Mclaren’s esports development programme, as well as receiving an ‘enviable stash of goodies’.

Payne continued: “McLaren Shadow Project will be the most open and inclusive racing esports competition on the planet. 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 – Real Racing 3 on mobile, Forza Motorsport on Xbox, PC racing sims iRacing and rFactor 2”

McLaren also noted the inclusion of more casual titles such as Real Racing 3 was a key decision. Last year featured finalist and surgeon, Henrik Drue who reached the finals despite never playing racing games on a console or PC before. He out-performed most of the other finalists in the rigorous cognitive tests while also holding his own on the track.

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, had this to say: “Season one proved that esports are a new talent frontier for motorsport and 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.”

McLaren is set for a busy few months in esports, not only is Shadow Project launching, they will also be involved in next weeks Formula 1 Esports Pro Draft, taking place in London on the 9th of July.

Esports Insider says: This is great news for sim racing, the scene has been one of the slowest gaming genres to adapt to esports, with F1 the biggest player in racing it was always going to be F1 that made sim racing esports big. With the second F1 esports season starting soon and Mclaren now starting their own project, which surprisingly does not feature an F1 game as an event, the future is looking bright for sim racing as an esport.