McLaren to crown winner of Shadow Project Esports contest

Esports | January 17th, 2019

The winner of McLaren’s latest Esports competition will be crowned tonight in an online race held at the McLaren’s Formula 1 HQ in Woking.

In total, 500,000 gaming enthusiasts applied to take part in the McLaren Shadow Project, the successor to last year’s World’s Fastest Gamer.

Over the past six months, qualifying rounds and heats have whittled down the competition to the final seven virtual gamers who are vying for outright victory.

The winner will join McLaren’s Esports development programme and will work with the Formula 1 team.

Over the past three days the final, seven competitors have undergone a series of human performance tests, analysing their physical and mental resilience in both the McLaren simulator and the gym. And their real-world driving skills have been tested during a track day at Dunsfold in a McLaren 570S GT4 car.

Last night, McLaren held five races for their drivers to compete against each other on five different games and platforms on gaming rigs based at their Woking HQ. The games they raced were iRacing, Forza Motorsport 7, Real Racing 3, Project Cars 2 and rFactor 2, using venues such as Indianapolis, Barcelona, Hockenheim, Austin and Silverstone.

The results from each race, plus scores from their aptitude on the simulator and on the real-world track, saw four out of seven contenders eliminated.

The three finalists – Brazilian Igor Fraga, Spaniard Miguel Ballester and Portugal’s Nuno Pinto – will race head-to-head on Thursday evening.

Last year McLaren’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition was entered by 30,000 Esports enthusiasts and the winner was former karter Rudy van Buren, who became the F1 team’s official simulator driver and took part in the Race of Champions.

“Last year’s competition proved that the skills learned as a racing gamer are transferable to the real world,” said McLaren’s director of Esports, Ben Payne. “McLaren Shadow Project is this year’s virtual racing programme to find the brightest and best Esports racing talent. We’ve been blown away by the number of talented gamers who have taken part in the competition this year.

“We’ve created the most open and inclusive racing Esports tournament on the planet, with players competing on multiple platforms on the biggest games.”

One of the finalists, Igor Fraga, has had success in both the real and virtual world. He was fourth in the 2018 USF2000 championship, which supports the IndyCar series, and was also crowned the FIA GT Nations Cup champion on Gran Turismo.

Tonight’s grand final to determine the winner will be broadcast from 19:00 GMT on McLaren’s YouTube channel.