Formula 1 has announced that the third instalment of the F1 New Balance Esports 2019 Series will kick off on 8 April 2019, with a $500,000 (£380,000) prize pool up for grabs.
Similar to 2018, the F1 New Balance Esports 2019 season will be split into three stages, qualifying, a Pro Draft and the Pro Series. The Pro Draft will take place over two days in July and is where the official F1 teams will select the drivers they want to add to their roster to represent them in the Pro Series. The expanded season means official F1 teams and their drivers will now compete in four live events, compared to just three events last year, between September and December 2019.
The Pro Series will also follow the World Championship rule change and award the driver of the Fastest Lap a point. DHL will once again reward the overall winner of the Fastest Lap with an award, plus to celebrate their 50th anniversary, DHL are working with F1 to deliver the time-trial invitational event ahead of the Pro Draft.
Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1, said: “Last season was a decisive year for F1 Esports with the inclusion of the first official teams and record audience figures. As we move into this 2019 season, F1 will remain at the forefront of this explosive industry. The potential within this space is extremely exciting both as a commercial opportunity, but importantly, as a way for the sport to engage with the next generation of motorsport fans. We are committed to exponential growth in the world of esports, and as a result, the 2019 season is going to be even bigger and better. Having more than doubled the prize fund, we plan to attract even more talent to the series and to continue the upward trajectory we are on.”
F1 has renewed its partnership with Codemasters and Gfinity for the 2019 F1 New Balance Esports Series. New Balance will also remain as Title Partner and will be fully integrated into the Series, with all drivers wearing New Balance socks and shoes while racing in the Pro Series. Elsewhere, Fanatec will remain on board as Official Sponsor, supplying the championship with elite and advanced equipment.
Frank Sagnier, CEO at Codemasters, said, “The F1 New Balance Esports Series creates exciting opportunities for Codemasters to further engage with our core community and develop experiences for fans with a passion for both virtual and real-world racing. We’re always investigating ways to integrate esports into our F1 games better, as this will encourage more players to test their race skills against the top professionals, and we look forward to welcoming the new talent who will emerge this season.”
A new and exclusive agreement with Juss Intellisport Co. Ltd will also bring F1 Esports to China for the first time. The F1 New Balance Esports Series – China Championship will launch in the late summer of 2019. A special event will take place at the Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix 2019 ahead of the full launch of the China Championship later in the year. The China Championship will give a select number of the fastest and most skilled Chinese gamers automatic entry into the prestigious Pro Draft in 2020.
Esports Insider says: It’s really exciting to see that Formula 1 has stepped up its game for its third season. With having doubled its prize pool, there is no doubt that the esports will see a plethora of emerging talent. It’s all set up for F1 New Balance Esports 2019 to be the biggest season yet.