McLaren Launches ‘Shadow Project’ Esports Series
- McLaren is launching a sequel to last year’s World Fastest Gamer tournament called “Shadow Project.”
- The winner will earn a spot on McLaren’s new esports racing team.
- Last year’s partners Logitech G and Sparco Gaming return, alongside HTC Vive and Dell’s Alienware brand.
British sports car manufacturer McLaren has launched an esports series called “Shadow Project,” an expansion of last year’s World’s Fastest Gamer (WFG) tournament. The winner of Shadow Project will earn a spot on McLaren’s new esports racing team, and potentially on the F1 team as a simulation driver as well, as was the case with WFG champion Rudy van Buren.
A key change this time is that the Shadow Project will be an inclusive approach to finding the world’s best simulation driver. Alongside traditional racing sim titles such as Forza Motorsport (Xbox One), iRacing, and rFactor 2 (PC), the initiative will also involve more casual racing titles, such as Real Racing 3 (mobile).
McClaren’s esports team will compete against eight other Formula 1 “constructors” in this year’s F1 Esports Series.
“In World’s Faster Gamer the simulator was the star,” says McLaren director of esports Ban Payne. “The Shadow Project has broadened the entire programme out, so there are more ways to get involved… The end output of it is we’ll have additional talent for our esports team, and more people to bring into our esports development programme across McLaren as a group.”
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Whereas WFG was run in partnership with Ideas+Cars, the Shadow Project is entirely owned by McLaren. This marks a transition in McLaren’s esports involvement, primarily in waking up to the marketing potential and branding opportunity.
“A strong, diverse esports programme has a direct benefit to McLaren’s innovative ambitions, bringing in new audiences, partners and talent to motorsport,” says McLaren CEO Zak Brown. “By ramping up over multiple platforms across the online world, it will establish McLaren as an important brand in the motorsport esports community.”
McLaren has welcomed back last year’s partners Logitech G and Sparco, as well as new partners HTC Vive and Dell’s Alienware brand. McClaren’s esports team will compete against eight other Formula 1 “constructors” in this year’s F1 Esports Series—and will bring aboard its first driver through the competition’s Pro Draft on July 9.
McLarne is working hard with its established partners like EA and Microsoft to further its real-world goals. The established racing brand sees esports’ mainstream movement as a positive, both on the track (in the form of talented simulation drivers) and off (marketing & branding). This is a great example of how esports can integrate into mainstream movements, and though sim racing has its own USPs (including a wide range of peripherals), it will be curious to see whether other established professional competitive sports will integrate esports in this way.
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