The Nürburgring has proven itself to be a staple in motorsports events, and this past weekend was no different as its virtual representation played host to the Esports Drift Association’s third round of their championship.
Friday’s Round Three Qualifying proved the tight spread of skill between every ESDA driver seen in last round’s qualifying session, with another high minimum qualification score of 87.5.
Vitaliy Isaev, a driver from CarX Drift Racing Online championship Virtual Drift Series, thoroughly impressed viewers with a top qualifying score of 96 in his first appearance in ESDA competition. Fan favourite Adriel Machado made too many mistakes and was unable to qualify, stunning fans into silence.
Bracket Eliminations began the next day with Isaev cutting down Jack Lai and Vakaris Aliūkas on his way to conquer the top spot of Next Level Racing Group One. DeSean Hack continued his strong form from Round Two to meet Isaev in the Great 8.
Both drivers gave the judges much to consider, but after five minutes of deliberation Hack was given the win. Isaev was not to be overshadowed, however, as his efforts put every ESDA driver on notice.
Competition continued with MOZA Racing Group Two with Saudi driver Abdulrhman Alshetwi making quick work of reserve driver Oliver Epinger and sliding his way past last round’s third place finisher Robert Kwieciński.
Austin Zalewski charged the field from his end of the bracket, beating Cameron Mustard and Alexander Jägard to make his way into the Great 8. Alshetwi and Zalewski had a stiff fight for the Final Four, with Alshetwi’s fluidity and consistency awarding him the win.
Big Duck Club Group Three mostly consisted of drivers who had yet to see the Final Four. The slugfest that ensued showed just how badly the drivers wanted the points for a podium finish. Darius Ostreika, driving from the second seed, was eliminated in the Top 16 by 15th Qualifier Roy Munoz.
On the other side of the group, Vadim Abramov knocked out the seventh place qualifier Kazuki Fukushi, then continued his warpath through Olivier Blais who qualified 11th. Abramov then knocked out Roy Munoz to take the top spot in the group and move into the Final Four, despite sitting in the 26th seed.
Top 32 Eliminations concluded in 3DRAP Group Four. Alexander Element was once again – pardon the pun – in his element by easily swiping his way through the group from the third seed.
Ernestas Jakubėlis would meet Element in the Great 8, but Element would prove to be the unstoppable force as he claimed the win and advanced into the Final Four.
The stage was set for the Traxion Final Four in Germany’s famed Nurburgring GP-Strecke. Hack and Alshetwi battled hard for a spot in the First Place Battle. Alshetwi battled hard, but Hack’s proximity was too impressive to overcome.
On the other side of the bracket, Abramov and Element would literally collide. Element was unable to initiate before the indicated line on the track and crashed into Abramov. After some consideration, the judges deemed Element to be at fault for the incident, giving Abramov the win.
Element would now have to face Alshetwi for the lowest step on the podium. Alshetwi was calm under the pressure, but Element’s determination didn’t falter. Element once again proved to be a valiant, consistent competitor as he once again finishes well during Bracket Eliminations with a third place finish.
The event started with 32 drivers, but there were now two left to take the top spot. Abramov’s Toyota Altezza was dwarfed in size by Hack’s large Nissan GT-R, but the little Toyota found more speed on the track than Hack could overcome.
With Abramov slipping further away from Hack’s grasp, so too did the top spot of the podium as Abramov would ultimately win the battle, and the top spot of Round Three.
The location for Round Four will be announced Monday, 8th August on the Traxion.GG Twitch channel. Qualifying is set for Friday, 19th August at 5:00 p.m. ET, also on the Traxion.GG Twitch channel. Bracket Elims will go off on Saturday, 20th August 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.
Images courtesy of Apex Action Photography
ESDA 2022 SEASON CALENDAR
ROUND ONE: 17th-18th June ROUND TWO: 8th-9th July ROUND THREE: 29th-30th JulyROUND FOUR: 19th-20th August
ROUND FIVE: 9th-10th September
ROUND SIX: 30th September-1st October
ROUND SEVEN: 21st-22nd October