There's never been a better time to be into e-motorsports - with the pandemic going on, people are getting their fix of high-speed racing virtually and there's another tournament to join the fray. Adrenaline Impact, Vertex Esports, Galeri Kereta, Reiber Racing and Android King have recently announced a new racing series: Asian Touring Car Series (ATCS) that will be played on Assetto Corsa, a highly immersive racing sim.
The qualifiers ended last week, and starting this Friday, 10 September, the ATCS will have 20 drivers face off in weekly races on 4 different courses throughout the course of the tournament. If this sounds like your kind of jam, do tune in for the Qualifying Post Show tonight, at 7 pm on the Adrenaline Impact Facebook Page or YouTube channel to find out more about the event. The ATCS will run until 1st October, with a series post show on 4th October. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
The E1 Championship has been going on for the past few weeks, and while it's been exciting to watch the races, we were thinking to ourselves - would it be more exciting if we were the ones behind the wheel? Since we weren't hardcore racing game fans, we decided to give it a shot to see what makes this genre so appealing to millions of people worldwide.
Firstly, a disclaimer from the writer of this piece - I am terrible at racing games, let alone racing simulators. In the past, I have been engrossed in arcade racers like Need For Speed: Underground, Initial D, and the ever-popular Daytona USA. The only game I ever considered myself good at was Mario Kart on the NDS, and it has been aeons since I picked up a racing game seriously. For me trying out RaceRoom Racing Experience, it was a whole new world.
On the surface, racing games seem simple enough. You choose your car, your track, and you start racing. In that regard, RaceRoom does the job magnificently. There are no frills or difficult menus to navigate - starting a race can be done in a matter of clicks, which I appreciated. After all, if racing is what you want, this is what you get. There are plenty of options for you to go through to customize your controls and racing experience (that is another story), but if you're happy with default settings - it's easy peasy.
Visually, the game isn't breathtaking - understandable since it came out in 2013, and graphics have improved a lot since then. However, what it makes up for the lack of style is performance. Running the game at full HD, highest settings, I was able to get a consistent 144 fps, which I appreciated. After all, in these games, speed is everything. Not to say that it is a bad looking game - there's just nothing mind-blowing about it. There weren't any graphical issues and I didn't encounter any visual bugs. And while I haven't visited these race tracks in person, they look similar enough to photos and videos I've seen before.
Sonically, the game performs great - from the roar of the engine to the tyres on different surfaces and your gears changing - you'll be able to tell everything that is going on from sound alone. I can only assume that's what it sounds like behind the wheel of a real car when you're on a track (just that the real thing probably sounds way louder), but for what it's worth, I was very impressed. Never thought I would say that about a racing game!
RaceRoom's controls were top notch. I expected this because it was a simulation, but I didn't think they would be that tight. My experience with racing games in the past has always been me sliding all over the place or constantly over and/or under-steering. In this game, pressing left or right turned the car enough just enough for me - and I didn't even have to tweak my steering settings. Shifting gears was responsive, and so was braking. This didn't mean I was any better at racing than in other games, but it did make me feel that all mistakes were my own and not because of my car or the game's physics. I didn't have a steering wheel setup (which probably would have been more enjoyable) but playing the game with a keyboard or gamepad was fulfilling.
Customizability - from the amount of controls available, to all the ways you can tweak your vehicle's performance, this game has everything (I think) an enthusiast would want in a racing sim. There's so many settings to adjust, I don't even know where to begin. I stuck with the defaults for everything during my first playthrough. But speaking as someone from a hobby that's all about customizing (mechanical keyboards), I can see the appeal of such features in a game.
I'm terrible at driving games (not so bad in real life), but this game has made me realize how bad I truly am. Would it be fair to call it the Dark Souls of racing games? Maybe, if you're as bad as me. And if this is what real-life racers have to go through without the safety net of knowing that this is virtual, playing this game has made me appreciate their skills even more.
You see, this game is a simulation, so cars are supposed to handle like how their physical counterparts do. Sure, we don't experience the g-forces against our bodies, the rumble of the vehicle, and all the other sensory experiences behind a real vehicle. But simulations are supposed to be as close as you can get. Granted, I don't drive cars at this speed (or even close to) during my daily commute, but if I ever did, I know I've probably done something very wrong to be in such a situation.
I tried starting the game with all assists off and manual transmission to give myself a truly immersive experience (fun fact, the racers in the E1 Championship have to disable all assistance for the tournament) - the game was hell. I found myself forgetting to shift up or down, not braking enough, crashing into walls, running myself out of the track, and making countless other mistakes.
I'm not ashamed to say: I quickly gave up on hard mode, switched to easy, and with all the help enabled, I could finally have fun in the game. Don't get me wrong, it was still a difficult game, but these 'training wheels' enabled me to drive my car around like a normal person.
However, if you intend on becoming better at the game, you can't rely on this assistance. The braking and transmission assist tends to slow you down more than necessary, so you tend to lose a lot of speed when taking corners and sharp turns. You'll need to be able to do all that on your own in the future if you want to set any records. Maybe I'll eventually become good enough at the game to turn up the realism, but for what it's worth this is how I'm having fun for now.
A lot of games have been stigmatized for being free to play, and for a good reason (no thanks to unscrupulous game developers that have flooded the marketplace), and I am pleased to report that RaceRoom doesn't fall into that category. For a game this polished, it's amazing that they didn't charge any money upfront to it. Besides the occasional screen advertising offers, there's nothing predatory at work here.
RaceRoom might be almost 7-years-old at this point but it has a healthy-enough player base which makes it easy to find multiplayer servers to race in. If you're content with racing against AI or yourself, that's not even going to be an issue!
The base game gives you a handful of cars and five tracks with multiple layouts each. Additional cars and tracks will cost you 4-5 Euros, though you can buy packs of them as DLC content at a discounted price. For first-timers who know nothing about racing, I would say that this would be a good starting point to get into racing sims. If you're experienced and know what you want, you can easily buy what you need without breaking the bank. However, if you're someone who wants every piece of content for the game, it's not going to be cheap.
What started as an hour long-trial turned into many hours more of racing because it was so enjoyable. I never expected to have this much fun from a game branded as a simulator. You can be sure I'll be spending many more hours on the virtual racetracks. Who knows, maybe you'll see me in the next season of E1 Championship (I kid, I don't stand a chance).
With RaceRoom being the first racing simulation that I have ever played, I can safely say that other racing simulations will have a lot to live up to! The fact that the game is free-to-play, makes it even better. If you've been thinking of getting into racing games and want a title to try out, you've got nothing to lose. RaceRoom is available on Steam now.
And to answer the question we were asking ourselves at the beginning of the article - yes, racing is more exciting when you're behind the wheel. However, if you don't have the driving skills to match the vehicle you're handling, it's best to leave it to the pros and watch the action from afar.
Be sure to catch all the action of the E1 Championship, live on eGG Network, 17 December, at 10pm (+8 GMT)!
Article was edited on 26 Nov 2020 to reflect point adjustments that were previously unaccounted for
Missed out on Round 1 of the E1 Championship? Here’s a handy summary and recap of the races that took place last week in Sepang, Malaysia. Fans will be up to speed in no time to enjoy Round 2 tomorrow!
In Round 1, the drivers had a field day at Sepang, where Team Safehouse’s Mikko Nassi finished in first place earning himself 25 points. Close behind were GT Radial Eurasia’s Inigo Anton and Resurgence’s Mika Hakimi, each bagging 20 and 16 points respectively.
In case you need a refresher on how points are tallied here’s a quick summary:
Drivers earn Race Points based on their placements (the higher the better), earning additional points for achieving the fastest lap time. In the final round of the championship, double points will be on offer for drivers. Fans can check out this handy article should you want to know more about the drivers, rules and format of the race.
In Race 2, Resurgence’s Ayman Aqeem pulled off an exceptional run, bagging not only a position 1 finish but being the fastest lap achiever too. He sat comfortably at the top with 27 points, while Stratos Motorsports’s Naquib Azlan and Team Safehouse’s Mikko Nassi finished 2nd and 3rd with 20 and 16 points respectively.
Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore have put themselves on the board comfortably after their bout in Sepang. Resurgence and Team Safehouse each managed to find a position 1 finish to sit comfortably at the top 3 table position alongside GT Radial Eurasia. Viewers should also keep an eye on Stratos Motorsports as they have been consistently finding top 5 finishes in both races.
But that’s just Round 1 ladies and gents! Round 2 will see teams compete in Shanghai, China next! Be sure to catch all the drivers in action tomorrow at 10PM (GMT+8) LIVE on eGG Network TV (CH800). Fans can opt for eGG Network’s Facebook for the live stream too if that's your jam.
Viewers can also check out the full VOD of Round 1 right here if you want to relive the action!
The E1 Championship is just around the corner, with Season Zero commencing this 19 November. Before its official flag-off, we managed to spend time with some of the prolific drivers that will be participating in the inaugural e-racing championship.
Introducing Daniel Rein Ooi and Kalen Chin from BlackWolf Racing!
The two drivers hail from Singapore and Australia and are aged 42 and 14 respectively. The dynamic duo make up a potent yin-yang composition: a seasoned IRL on-track driver complementing a prospective up and coming talent.
Daniel has seen his fair share of motorsports IRL since 2012, prior to encountering e-racing in 2016. “I only used it for practising tracks initially,” said Daniel. “Only recently due to the COVID pandemic that my eyes were opened to this growing phenomenon that is sim racing.” It was only during these past few months that Daniel really deep dived into the world of e-racing.
Kalen on the other hand has been behind a wheel prior to getting his actual drivers license! The young driver gave us some backstory of how motorsports came into his life, “I started driving for the very first time when I was 3 or 4, messing around on a wheel and rig setup my dad had at home.” This led to Kalen entering the world of go-karting, with him eventually starting sim racing at the age of 12. “My dad was the one that got me into sim racing. I honestly can’t recall how it all came to be, but he must’ve done something to get me into it haha.”
Both Daniel and Kalen met each other when they were in the karting scene. Fun fact: Kalen’s father used to be a fan of Daniel during his motorsports days when Kalen was much younger. The two would have friendly exchanges from time to time. "Over the last couple of months, I've actually been keeping a close eye on Kalen's progress in his e-racing activities, and realized that he has much promise and potential as a driver," said Daniel. BlackWolf Racing also conveniently has an academy to groom racers like Kalen to transition to IRL racing on the big tracks.
Kalen on the other hand, did do some research on BlackWolf Racing and found that the organization has focused efforts to transition drivers from karts to cars. "Seeing as my dad knew Daniel for a long time, and we've watched him in other races too, it just sounded like a great opportunity to race alongside together," said Kalen.
“Kalen was racing really well too at the time during the eRacing Grand Pix,” said Daniel. “When the E1 Championship popped up, the first thing that came to mind was Kalen.” Upon displaying an interest in participating, he got in contact with Kalen and his father and the rest was history. It was as if everything just seamlessly clicked into place
To be competing at such a young age, Kalen shared that leading a double-life as a student required finesse manoeuvring both on and off the track. “That’s a tough question. Between the two, I did focus a little bit more on my studies due to the lack of go-karting events this year. But normally I wouldn’t be that focused on studies I’d say haha.”
Daniel also has many obligations to juggle between to maintain this lifestyle. As the BlackWolf Racing team owner, he oversees day-to-day running and operations of its training academy and racing teams. Most of Daniel’s day would have already been taken up at this point, with barely any spare time to train on the simulator. He added that “I would maybe only be able to practise 1 to 2 hours a day on the sim tracks.” Daniel jokingly mentioned that his wife would give him an earful should he spend any time longer behind the wheel. Kalen cheekily added “I’m the complete opposite of Daniel haha. When school’s over, I’d come home, eat lunch and just get on the sim (racing rig) and just drive for the rest of the day.”
Just like any other craft, e-racing is something that requires continual routine practice. As such, there are times where drivers would want to step away from the track to rest and recharge. Daniel shared that he would disconnect from the driving wheel and spend time accompanying his wife shopping. Spending family time was a much-welcomed avenue to relax, not worrying about the next intricate corner to manoeuvre around.
Kalen, on the other hand, just can’t seem to step away from the track. He expressed that “I don’t really do anything else besides driving to be honest. Maybe I do watch some Netflix shows or YouTube videos from time to time, but other than that, I pretty much still spend my free time on the sim.”
“I am really inspired by Daniel Ricciardo,” said Kalen. “He’s Australian, I’m Australian, that feeling to be able to represent your country in motorsports is really something I want to do in the future. He’s a really good driver and an overall great guy. He’s always cheerful and never lets himself get down by setbacks.”
“For me, I used to follow the MotoGP scene a lot more back in the day,” said Daniel. It was only much later when he encountered the world of Formula 1. Upon watching various documentaries, Daniel encountered the legendary Brazillian driver, Ayrton Senna. “I unfortunately only came to know of Senna after his passing. I went on to watch his races and have actually watched his documentaries several times over. It still inspires me till today. I was really moved by his racing philosophies.”
In lieu of the upcoming E1 Championship, the two also shared their thoughts on the inaugural competition. Daniel expressed, “I look forward to keeping up with the young and fast racers as I’m not young myself haha. I’ll try to improve myself in terms of e-racing and try to have fun at the same time.” Kalen expressed his aim of finishing top 3 in the championship. “I also look forward to the E1 Championship growing bigger, to become a big part and staple competition in Asia sim racing.”
Like any other race, there are several worries and challenges that participants face during their journey to the finish line. “I feel that one of the most challenging parts of the E1 Championship would be learning more about e-racing in general,” said Daniel. “It really boils down to getting accustomed to the car, setup and so on.” As for Kalen, he felt that the biggest challenge would be his very own self. “I would sometimes not practise for something that I dislike, like a non-preferred map such as the Shanghai circuit for example,” said Kalen. “I am aware that I have to get in the right shape and mentality to practise for this.”
The dynamic duo had interesting rivals in their sights for this championship. “I look most forward to facing Daniel actually haha,” said Kalen. “It’s cool to be able to race against Daniel and have him as a teammate too. There’s also Yevan David from Stratos Motorsports, one of my closest friends, whose really quick in karting and sim racing. His teammate Naquib Azlan is also really quick and having them both in this championship is going to be exciting.” Daniel had reciprocated feelings, stating that “right now it would only be Kalen haha. I look up to him as my role model and the ideal person to challenge. Am actually really looking forward to both of us learning from each other in this championship.”
Like Daniel and Kalen, there are probably many others out there who wish to get behind the wheel one day themselves. The world of e-racing may require potent cornering but fret not as here are some words of advice they’d like to share.
“If you are new and starting out, focus on just getting used to the car and taking things slow at first,” said Kalen. “Once you’re confident with how that car handles, you can slowly push yourself to gradually improve from there.”
“As someone who is quite new to the scene as well, I’d say it would be best to start off with a slower car haha,” explained Daniel. “I personally made a mistake sticking to only driving cars I’ve touched in real life. When e-racing started taking off, I wasn’t used to the cars used then as I was much more accustomed to a slower speed. I would definitely suggest newcomers to explore everything and be versatile in whatever race and car thrown at them.”
Daniel expressed his heartfelt appreciation for his wife’s support throughout this entire motorsports journey. “She wasn’t very supportive initially due to the dangers that came with motorsports. But knowing that it was my passion, she still continued to support me. Am also thankful for my staff that helped me a lot when I wasn’t around during work tending to other urgent matters. Not too sure how many fans I have out there haha, but thank you for supporting us and the local motorsports scene.”
Kalen also expressed his immense gratitude towards his parents. “I would like to thank my father and mother for everything. They’ve sacrificed a lot of me, and I wouldn’t be here right now without their support. They have truly been my number one supporters. I would also like to thank those who tune in to watch my races when I stream them online!”
Be sure to catch BlackWolf Racing in action this 19 November onwards during the E1 Championship!
Real-life motorsports racers and virtual racers may seem like they're racing in very different racetracks, but according to the upcoming E1 Championship, there's no line that divides the two - everyone can race, as long as you're fast.
The E1 Championship Season Zero is an Asia Pacific premier sim racing tournament that utilises PC racing simulator RaceRoom, which marks the beginning of the RaceRoom Racing Experience series that's slated to begin next year. 12 top racing teams across 16 countries will be racing off against each other over the US$15,000 prize pool, as well as bragging rights as the best virtual racer in the Asia Pacific. The virtual racing championship is kept regional to prevent latency issues.
The E1 Championship may not be the first racing simulator series, but Alex Yoong, founder of Axle Esports, mentioned that the format for E1 will be different from the rest. This includes, but not limited to, switching between reversed-grid races as well as the standard format. "We want E1 to be a top-notch sporting league that's exciting for drivers, but we also want it to be entertaining for our viewers," Alex said, adding that sports - or esports, in this case - is another form of entertainment.
"eGG Network is five years old now, and we've done many content and events locally and across the region," said Lee Choong Khay, Head of Sports at Astro. "As a one-stop platform for everything esports, we're always looking to expand our genre of esports, with E1 adding more e-racing content into our portfolio."
For those who prefer to be spectators instead of sitting in the driver's seat, the E1 Championship Season Zero will be broadcast LIVE on eGG Network (CH 800). The entire competition spans eight weekly matches, happening every Thursday from 19 November onwards.
E1 Championship Season Zero is organised by eGG Network (woah, who's that?), Axle Esports and Astro, in partnership with RaceRoom and eRacing GP. Be sure to follow the official E1 Championship FB page for more timely updates on the tournament.