After six months of international competition, the search for the World’s Fastest Gamer comes down to 12 players and one week.
The finalists are the winners from over 30,000 players who entered the contest across a number of different platforms, along with drivers selected by an expert panel. They all meet for the first time this week for a series of challenges at the headquarters of McLaren in Woking.
They’re competing for an unusual prize: a one-year contract with McLaren as a simulator driver. This will mean working with engineers in Woking, to deliver data that will be used by the team’s F1 drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, as they race the McLaren-Renault in 2018.
An expert panel selected six of the drivers, based on their history in esports. This panel includes: Dom Duhan, head of Team Redline esports Racing Team; Davide Brivio, head of esports at Sparco; Andreas Schicker, head of esports Business Development at Logitech; and Wolfgang Reip, GT Academy Winner and professional racing driver.
Meanwhile six other finalists had to come through online competitions in a variety of games. This not only included PC simulators like iRacing and rFactor 2, but less traditional platforms like Forza Motorsport 6 and mobile game Gear.Club.
Together the 12 drivers have racked up more than 100 international online racing titles over more than a decade. They are:
Henrik Drue (Denmark) – 34, qualifier (Gear.Club)
David Hoch (USA) – 23, qualifier (Forza Motorsport 6)
Bono Huis (Netherlands) – 23, panel selection
Greger Huttu (Finland) – 37, panel selection
Harry Jacks (UK) – 22, panel selection
David Le Garff (France) – 40, panel selection
Yordi Maldonado (Mexico) – 20, qualifier (Forza Motorsport 6)
Aurélien Mohammedi-Mallet (France) – 23, panel selection
Ryan Moore (USA) – 22, panel selection
Isaac Price (UK) – 22, qualifier (Forza Motorsport 6)
Freek Schothorst (Netherlands) – 20, qualifier (iRacing)
Rudy Van Buren (Netherlands) – 25, qualifier (rFactor)
There’s quite a spread of ages and experience in the final twelve too. The dozen includes a racing game designer, an avid karter, a driver with ten years’ racing experience… and a doctor specializing in radiology.
If some of the names sound familiar, they should: you’ve probably heard them in other esports news over the past twelve months. Huis won sim racing’s biggest cash prize at the start of the year in the Visa Vegas eRace. Huttu was there too, and has five iRacing World Championships to his name. Meanwhile, Mohammedi-Mallet picked up a Focus RS and a hefty cash prize after winning two seasons of Forza RC. Moore is one of GTPlanet’s own, winning two categories in 2015’s GTP Endurance Series.
But this final test won’t just cover their real and virtual driving skills. They’ll have to impress a panel of experts that include McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown, the head of human performance at the company Michael Collier, and Mark Temple, the race engineer for Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
You can follow all of the action in the World’s Fastest Gamer week on McLaren’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram channels, and here’s a quick preview of what to expect: