George Morgan: ESL R1 has broken the sim racing mould

Commentator George Morgan is excited. Not only is he commentating on a brave new world, ESL R1 on Rennsport, but the first round showcased the potential of the new format.
George Morgan - ESL R1 has broken the sim racing mould

By John Munro and Thomas Harrison-Lord

When the first-ever final for an ESL R1 round came to a close, team-mates bumped fists, the production crew handed out hugs and round-winner Maximillian Benecke started to cry.

It meant a lot to everyone – running a virtual motorsport event at a live, in-person, event using a driving platform still in development. That was a massive risk. Still is.

But the sense of relief displayed by both the competitors and the creators when the chequered flag flew was palpable.

Spare a thought for the commentators, though.

George Morgan, ESL R1, Round 1 2023 with Lewis McGlade

They were also thrown under the spotlight, involved in a brave new world where €500,000 is up for grabs across the year, where new-to-sim-racing teams enter the fold and a whole new knock-out format is in use.

Also, two rounds, back-to-back over the weekend, 14 hours of broadcasting in total, that’s no easy task.

“I love the adrenaline,” explained host George Morgan, who shared the booth with Lewis McGlade for the round-decided nine-lap race at the end of the first day.

“I was buzzing from start to finish, and bear in mind, we were live for a long time.”

“The team has worked so hard to put this on and it’s been a sensational show. Everyone deserves a pat on the back for this.”

While Rennsport isn’t expected to release until early 2024 for the general public, it has touted that the ESL R1 competition is a way to gather feedback from drivers and viewers alike.

Risto Kappet races in ESL R1, Rennsport

While clearly still in the nascent stages, it does bring new technology to the sim racing and esports market, with the implementation of new-age game engine technology. The visual fidelity of the cars and track certainly seemed more detailed than several existing, and now somewhat aged, sim racing platforms.

“It was just the perfect cocktail,” enthused Morgan.

“I said it during the broadcast when you have a game that has revolutionised the system with the way it does qualifying and then combines that with Unreal Engine 5, I think is going to cause a stir in the marketplace.

“I think a lot of other platforms are going to have to up their game now.

“I’ve been doing esports commentary for five years now, and I’ll be I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this.”

George Morgan commentator, ESL R1 IEM

But, it doesn’t stop there. The second round happens later today, so while everyone on the ground in Poland shared a sense of satisfaction yesterday, there’s no let-up.

“Maybe I’ll have one drink tonight, but I think we’ve started as we mean to go on,” highlighted Morgan

“The drivers put everything into it, credit to Benecke for delivering a clinical performance.

“What has been achieved here today I think has broken the mould. I genuinely think that it’s not just the future for the ESL and for Rennsport, but this is a really bright spark for sim racing in general.”

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