Csincsik wins €45,000 and inaugural ESL R1 title

Thomas Harrison-Lord
After a tense finale with an alternative take on sim racing competition and a brand new platform, Marcell Csincsik won the first-ever ESL R1 title.
Csincsik wins €45,000 and inaugural ESL R1 title

A new sim racing concept with the might of esports stalwarts EFG (ESL FACEIT Group) behind it and using an as-yet-released platform, Rennsport, ESL R1’s aim is to create a form of virtual motorsport that reaches a more youthful audience.

The final, or ‘major’ in esports parlance, was held in Munich (4th June) with an in-person LAN set-up and 24 drivers. The teams’ championship was previously determined during earlier online rounds, awarded to Team Redline.

For the last day, an inimitable points format was implemented featuring continuous sprint races until set conditions were met. First, competitors aimed to achieve 160 points (25 for a win) to unlock ‘finalist mode’. The first to be in finalist mode and then win another race would become champion. Until that point, however, the racing continued back to back.

It meant the event could have finished within four races, or it could have continued until the early hours of the morning.

Ultimately, R8G Esports’ Csincsik reached the milestone to clinch the crown, and the €45,000 prize, after eight races.

Earlier on, however, it was a Mercedes-AMG one-two, with Williams Esports’ Dáire McCormack leading Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ James Baldwin at Monza. McCormack would follow that up in the second race, this time at Hockenheim, but points leader heading into the main event (earlier results were still factored into the standings) Csincsik finished second to extend the gap at the top of the table.

As the racing continued, McCormack received a slowdown penalty during qualifying – a track limits violation – and would start the Nürburgring race at the back. Manufacturer sibling Baldwin snaged pole and he was never topped, taking the victory with consummate ease.

Dáire McCormack ESL R1 spring 2023
Dáire McCormack ESL R1 spring 2023

However, Csincsik was on the podium once again. Onto Spa-Francorchamps, and a third-place finish ensured the Hungarian would be the first to achieve finalist mode status. Now, a win in the next race for the former Formula Pro competitor would secure the title.

But the victory fell to Baldwin, easing past the R8G competitor on the final lap and also enabling finalist mode after Kevin Siggy and McCormack collided when battling for the lead.

Back at the Nürburgring again, Baldwin was on pole with title rival Csincsik in second. All race, the AMG led the Audi until the NGK Chicane on the final lap. The R8 driver tried to go around the outside of the multiple GT World Challenge Esports champion but cut across the corner. In the kerfuffle, fellow R8G driver Erhan Jajovski tapped Baldwin into a spin.

James Baldwin, ESL R1 2023 sim racing
James Baldwin, ESL R1 2023 sim racing

Macedonian Jajovski took the win, Csincsik down in fourth and Baldwin backwards in the gravel, a lowly 12th. The drivers huddled around race control like a Premier League referee. The verdict – play on.

In this instance at Hockenheim, with the same two drivers who could win the title in this race at this stage. McCormack was resurgent, taking the early lead, only to be hunted down by Baldwin. The scrap, however, slowed down the dueling AMGs with the latter dropping to fifth by the chequered flag.

The result meant that now Luke Bennet, McCormack and Josh Rogers also unlocked finalist mode. Five entrants now had the chance to take the title.

Marcell Csincsik wins at Monza for R8G Esports, ESL R1 spring major 2023

It all came down to Monza, and Csincsik delivered. Pole position and disappearing off into the distance, becoming the ESL R1 spring major victor.

“When I realised that I could win this championship, which I think is probably one of the biggest of the year in sim racing, I couldn’t really control myself,” said Csincsik to Traxion.GG.

“I’m not sure I can sleep now, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”

ESL R1 spring major 2023 standings

  1. Marcell Csincsik
  2. Luke Bennett
  3. James Baldwin
  4. Joshua Rogers
  5. Dáire McCormack
  6. Erhan Jajovski
  7. Kevin Siggy
  8. Moritz Löhner
  9. Jiri Toman
  10. Enzo Bonito
  11. Joni Törmälä
  12. Marko Pejic
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