The pros made drifting look easy this past weekend as Esports Drift Association (ESDA) returned to the virtual Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello for another round of championship tandem drifting competition.
The rolling hills of the Italian countryside created an extremely tight qualifying round on Friday, with the top score of 96.7 being achieved by Conner Christiansen and his Nissan S14. The 32nd qualifier Martynas Ostreika was less than seven points behind him.
Formula Drift pro drifter Ryan Litteral also qualified for brackets with a 90.7 in his first outing in ESDA this season, proving definitively that sim and physical drifting aren’t as different as one might think!
Bracket eliminations took place the next day on the Traxion.GG YouTube and Twitch channels, with Litteral stacked up against his own Formula Drift spotter Zack O’Sullivan in Next Level Racing Group One. Litteral put down a remarkable lead run, but in the chase made crucial mistakes that led to his crewmate taking the win into the Top 16 run-offs.
O’Sullivan’s run would end there with Artem Chulkov advancing to Top 8. Number one qualifier Conner Christiansen would battle it out with Chulkov for the final spot into the podium eliminations, with Christiansen proving his qualifying run wasn’t just a fluke by winning the group.
Moza Racing Group Two proved to be difficult for the judges with many battles in the group requiring a One More Time run-back from the judges to determine a winner. The winner of Round 2 at Interlagos,
Mustafa Amine, diced his way through the competition to meet Grigoriy Andreev in the Top 8. Andreev’s 599XX was ferocious on track with an extreme amount of speed throughout the course, but with a split decision Amine was given the win for his extreme aggression on proximity in his chase run.
The judges’ days didn’t get any easier with Big Duck Club Group Three. Austin Zalewski ripped his way through Robert Kwiecinski, who is currently fifth in the championship standings, and continued his warpath to the top eight where he was eliminated by Daniel Andrejev.
With that performance, however, Zalewski surged himself past Kwiecinski in the points and now holds fourth position in the points.
The final group commenced with 3DRAP Group Four, as Round Three top qualifier Joachim Hauge torched his tires against Sami Saastamoinen and Vakaris Aliukas. Piotr Polinkiewicz tore through his side of the bracket, eliminating Ernestas Jakubelis in the Top 32 and the paddock goofball Jack Lai.
Polinkiewicz’s E30 wagon gathered a unanimous decision from the judges to advance into the Traxion Final Four, with a performance that puts him into the 10th spot in championship points.
The Traxion Final Four was set. Christiansen and Amine would battle first as the winners of group one and two respectively. Amine’s RX-8 had an aggressive chase, refusing to drop less than six feet away from Christiansen’s S14.
Christiansen tried to battle back as hard as he could in his chase, but Amine’s raw consistency in the previous run was too much, resulting in another unanimous decision from the judges.
On the other side of the bracket, Polinkiewicz and Andrejev would throw down a gauntlet of tandem battles, going the full distance of two OMT calls from the judges before a decision was forced to be made in the third run-back. Polinkiewicz would endure through the onslaught and take the win, putting him up against Amine who was seeking to capture gold once again in the season.
Before that battle could occur, Christiansen and Andrejev battled for third place. Andrejev made a huge mistake on the initiation and made contact with Christiansen, sending the purple S14 into the grass. The judges determined Andrejev was too far inside in the initiation zone and therefore was at fault for the contact, giving Christiansen third place in the event and 15th in the championship standings.
It was now down to Round Two winner Mustafa Amine in his RX8 versus Piotr Polinkiewicz in his E30. Once again, a collision between drivers would take the decision out of the judges’ hands as Amine’s shallow angle on the initiation caused him to surge into Polinkiewicz’s front quarter panel. Polinkiewicz was crowned the champion of Round Four, but Amine’s exceptional performance pushed him into third in the championship points.
The location for Round Five has yet to be announced. However, qualifying is set to take place on Friday 9th September at 5:00 p.m. ET, on the Traxion.GG Twitch channel. Bracket Elims will go off on Saturday, 10th September on Traxion.GG’s YouTube and Twitch channels at 12 p.m. ET.
If you can’t wait to get your slide on, you can download the official 2022 ESDA track layouts from this round and all previous rounds from VOSAN.CO here.
ESDA 2022 Pro Points Standing
- Alexander Element, 278 points
- DeSean Hack, 240 points
- Mustafa Amine, 224 points
- Austin Zalewski, 196 points
- Robert Kwiecinski,184 points
- Brandon Gardner, 178 points
- Joachim Hauge, 178 points
- Daniel Andrejev, 172 points
- Samuel Kuti, 170 points
- Piotr Polinkiewicz, 150 points
Images courtesy of Apex Action Photography
ESDA 2022 SCHEDULE:
Round 1: June 17-18 Round 2: July 8-9 Round 3: July 29-30 Round 4: August 19-20
- Round 5: Sep 9-10
- Round 6: Sep 30-Oct 1
- Round 7: Oct -21-22