After a seemingly stable start to online multiplayer on F1 22, leagues are starting up soon and hopefully the issues presented to them in the past are absent. None more so than the top F1 league over the past 18 months, which gets underway with another star-studded Esports cast on 6th July.
Jarno Opmeer has dominated Premier Sim Gaming League’s top PC division in its first three seasons – taking every Driver’s Championship. Bari Boroumand was the closest to denying the Flying Dutchman the title back in its inaugural season on F1 2020 in a tense season finale.
Since then, no one has got close to the two-time F1 Esports Series Pro champion, taking both championships with races to spare. With a more competitive grid, even by PSGL’s high standards, no one can afford an off race, or it could be detrimental to their title aspirations.
Who will provide the greatest threat to Opmeer’s crown? Let’s start with the reigning PSGL Constructors Champions, Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows has a new pairing for S31, but one that is familiar to fans of F1 Esports. Jake Benham makes way for Dani Moreno, who missed all but one race back in S30, and his partner in the W13 needs little introduction. The Spaniard partners with Opmeer, and the reigning F1 Esports Constructors Champions will be hoping to secure both titles once again.
The Dutchman had a difficult start to his title defence in S30 after failing to win any of the first four races, including a controversial French Grand Prix that saw Opmeer cross the line first, but he picked up a post-race five-second penalty through a pit-lane entry infringement.
It seemingly lit a fire under the two-time PSGL champion, taking five wins in a row to secure the title with two races to spare. Moreno will hope to challenge his teammate for the title, but Opmeer heads into the season as the favourite for the PSGL PC title and his fifth PSGL top-tier title.
It is a fresh look at Red Bull from S30. Nicolas Longuet and Liam Parnell depart with Red Bull Racing Esports’s main two F1 Esports drivers, Marcel Kiefer and Frede Rasmussen, filling the two seats vacated by their former driver and current third driver.
Kiefer initially signed up for S30 but did not race, meaning it is his first season competing in PSGL, whereas his Danish teammate raced in the early stages of F1 2021. Rasmussen won in France back in S29 and started competitive racing on F1 22 with second place in the recent Esports Invitational.
After losing out on the F1 Esports Pro Series Constructors title last year, the Red Bull duo will certainly take league racing seriously to try and regain the title they won back in 2020.
“League racing was not a priority for us before, but we will make sure to be on it from the first race this year to get as much data as possible,” explained third driver Liam Parnell.
“It allows us to work on strategies which I felt we were missing out on last year, so hopefully, this will benefit us for this upcoming F1 Esports season.”
Additionally, Rasmussen hopes to unlock slightly more performance that can take him to the Drivers title after finishing second in the last three years.
Ferrari’s new signing Fabrizio Donoso goes straight into the team alongside his former F1 Esports title rival in 2017 and two-time F1 Esports Champion Brendon Leigh. The Chilean moves from Race Clutch and the Alpine team to replace Leigh’s former Mercedes teammate, Dani Bereznay.
The pairing is one of five to have both taken a PSGL PC victory highlighting how strong the partnership is. Leigh took two wins last season and ended Opmeer’s winning run with a dominant drive at Singapore before following it up with a gutsy defensive drive at Imola in the penultimate round of S30.
His teammate Donoso arguably took victory in the race that featured the most controversial moment in PSGL history when he overtook the two Mercedes drivers on the final lap at Austria after they collided at Turn 3.
The Chilean was comfortably leading the Esports Invitational last Wednesday before a pit-lane glitch cost him over five seconds, meaning he finished directly behind his teammate in fifth.
With Ferrari’s only F1 Esports champion so far, David Tonniza, absent from the grid, it is an opportunity for Donoso to stake his claim for a regular spot on the Esports grid this season ahead of the two World Champions in the pecking order. Leigh will want to continue his end-of-season form on F1 2021 and is certainly one that could challenge Opmeer’s crown in S31.
McLaren also has a slight change to their driver pairing from S30 with McLaren Shadow’s Academy Driver Wilson Hughes replacing Josh Idowu and joining their main driver Bari Boroumand on the grid.
The Scotsman is a two-time PSGL champion from his days on PlayStation and is looking for a consistent run of races and results after missing much of last season due to preparing for Challengers Series on PC – where he finished in sixth place overall. Hughes is yet to take victory in the league since moving to PC, and he will certainly want to change that as he hopes to become a three-time PSGL champion.
His teammate Boroumand re-joins PSGL after the controversial conclusion to the S30 US Grand Prix and will be one of the favourites to break Opmeer’s dominance. The Iranian took a brilliant victory in the recent Esports Invitational at Silverstone after a bold strategy call to start on the mediums.
Boroumand won the S30 pre-season race in China, and he went on to take victory in the opening race at Portugal – his last in PSGL. He will be hoping history repeats itself on Wednesday.
The second fresh line-up for S31 is at Alpine with two PSGL PC race winners replacing the outgoing Simon Weigang and Donoso: Race Clutch’s Patrik Sipos and Veloce’s new acquisition Lucas Blakeley.
Sipos took victory at Silverstone back in S29, with Blakeley taking a win in the final race of S30 at Bahrain from last on the grid. After one season of Esports under his belt, the Hungarian will want to add more consistent results in PSGL that he can take into his second campaign with Alpine.
After two wins with Aston Martin, Blakeley finished in third place in the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro and will want to continue the momentum with a strong PSGL campaign. The Scotsman will be one of Opmeer’s biggest threats for his title next season after a series of unfortunate circumstances denied him a shot at the S29 title.
“It’s going to feel pretty cool, racing against everyone again and I reckon it will very quickly feel normal,” explained Blakeley.
“I can’t wait to get stuck into this new game properly and get the new season underway.”
Heading into the second half of the grid, the Alpha Tauri duo of Sebastian Job and Joni Tormula return to the grid after pairing up for S30: the latter taking an impressive win at Zandvoort in mixed conditions. Job missed out last season, but he takes the seat of Hughes after his move to McLaren for S31.
The Italian team’s main two drivers for the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro finished in fourth place in the Constructors Standings back in S29 and were just two points off Aston Martin’s duo of Blakeley and Daniele Haddad in second place.
With a year under their belts, expect Tormula and Job to threaten those near the front as they prepare for the 2022 F1 Esports Pro Series.
A brand-new line-up for Aston Martin after Haddad and Shanaka Clay departed to Williams. The newly announced Simon Weigang and John Evans, who finished fourth in the F1 Esports Challengers Series on PC, will take the wheel of the Aston Martin in S31.
Evans, previously of R8G Esports, had an impressive rise in F1 2021 after being initially placed in the second tier of PSGL: finishing second to Race Clutch’s Samuel Bean. The Englishman is good friends with his German teammate off the track and Evans said that will only benefit them to score good results ahead of their first season.
“Having the relationship off track means we can help each other on it through better strategies and good communication allowing us to work better as a team.”
One of Williams’ new signings joins one of the most experienced drivers on the F1 Esports grid, Alvaro Carreton, for S31 replacing Michael Romanidis. Clay impressed in the early stages of S30 and was in the championship lead after four races – with a second place in the opening race and a victory in a topsy turvy race in his home race at Silverstone.
Ultimately, his championship hopes slipped away thanks to Opmeer’s run of five successive wins, but it highlights the talent Williams signed for the 2022 F1 Esports Pro Series. After limited races at Aston Martin, Clay will want to return to that form in the bid to race on a more consistent basis in F1 Esports this season.
Carreton will accompany his teammate in the Williams, and the Spaniard has been impressive in the early stages of F1 22 – taking a brilliant pole position in the Esports Invitational. He is the only driver to have remained with one team since F1 teams joined the Esports Pro Championship in 2018, and he will be looking to secure his first win in the series.
The penultimate team of S31 has two F1 Esports Teams Champions in their ranks – last season’s PSGL runner-up Dani Berenzay and one of Veloce’s newest signings Nicolas Longuet. Bereznay finished second in the Drivers in 2018 but won the Constructors alongside his two-time champion Brendon Leigh, whilst Longuet was part of the Red Bull team that won their first Teams championship the following year in 2019.
The Hungarian ended the season in brilliant form, including a first PSGL win at Brazil that elevated him ahead of Benham and Boroumand in the standings. After a difficult F1 Esports season with zero points compared to his usual high standards, the Hungarian will seek to impress in the early stages of S31 and recapture his form of old that earned him four F1 Esports victories.
His teammate returns to PSGL after being involved in a controversial ending at COTA – that saw the Frenchman leave the league. In his time away from the league, Longuet secured the World Online Racing PC title after a dramatic title finale involving Carreton and Tomek Poradzisz as well as competing in F4 at Paul Ricard in May. The two-time F1 Esports winner will be fired up ahead of the new season and join the likes of Moreno, Leigh, Blakeley, and Boroumand as the favourites to break the Dutchman’s dominance.
The final team of PSGL S30 sees the all-star Jake Benham join America’s F1 team alongside Haas’ Esports driver Matthijs Van Erven – who narrowly missed out on a maiden PSGL title back in S26.
Benham finished in the top four in the Driver’s Standings in the past two PSGL seasons through some incredible consistency. The Englishman took one win, and it was in the steward’s room at his teammates’ expense after Opmeer extended the pitlane entry at France last season. After a full year of PC racing under his belt, the Veloce driver will want to show his talent and fight for wins on a more consistent basis to truly challenge for the title.
His Dutch teammate Van Erven scored Haas’ only points in F1 Esports last season and will be looking to carry some momentum into his second season. Regarding PSGL, Van Erven is a veteran in the league who has risen through the ranks on PlayStation and moved over to PC after finishing fourth in the 2021 PlayStation Challenger Series.
“League racing is very important especially before F1 Esports as it is the same grid you will be racing against during the season,” highlighted Van Erven
“You can improve and learn small things but the full focus will be on F1 Esports as that is where it counts.”
The reserves begin with two former PlayStation drivers, Louis Welch and Valentin Bruffer: the latter winning the 2021 PlayStation Challengers title resulting in a move to Veloce Esports. Welch is well-known within the community as one of the best drivers on the controller. With the pad seemingly not as competitive in the early stages of F1 22, it will be interesting to see whether the ‘pad-man’ can adapt and still compete with the elite.
Two of the next three reserves showcase the depth in the tier, with the 2022 PC Challengers Champion and runner-up, Tomek Poradzisz and Piotr Stachulec, only making the reserve list. The Polish drivers will surely be on the F1 Esports grid next season after taking nine wins between them from the 12 races – Poradzisz taking six of those wins.
The last reserve in the first half is Williams’ other new signing Daniele Haddad. The Italian moved from Aston Martin to the British team during the off-season and will be hoping that when he does get his way onto the grid, he will showcase the skills that made Williams sign Haddad from Aston Martin.
Continuing into the second half of the reserves, Thomas Ronhaar has made an impact since moving to PC – taking an impressive fourth place on his PSGL PC debut and a couple of wins in WOR. The Dutchman was snapped up by Veloce and qualified for the Pro Exhibition through the Time Trial route on Xbox.
Three of the remaining four reserves featured in F1 Esports last season: starting with the impressive Josh Idowu. The McLaren Shadow graduate impressed in his debut F1 Esports season, securing a brilliant pole at Imola, only for the win to be snatched away from the Welshman on the final lap. Additionally, Idowu got into Q3 in four of his five races and incidentally, secured his only points of the season when he did not make it into the third part of qualifying.
Two PSGL PC race winners, Filip Presnajder and Thijmen Schutte are yet to confirm with teams after departing from Alfa Romeo earlier this year. The Slovakian, who won at Spa in S28 will hope to pick up a seat on the grid next season, and it seems something could be in the works after tweeting a contract GIF just two weeks ago.
His former teammate Schutte, who produced a brilliant drive at Monaco in S30 to take the victory, will also be eyeing up some of the final seats on the grid and hopes for some impressive performances in PSGL to benefit his chances.
The last reserve also secured a spot in the Pro Exhibition after finishing in fifth place in the 2022 PC Challengers Series with two wins. Samuel Bean has a chance of being on the grid next season thanks to his recent announcement of joining Race Clutch, with the Spaniard looking to build on an impressive F1 2021 game cycle.
Once again, PSGL kicks off their first race of a brand-new game cycle under the lights of Bahrain. Opmeer took victory back in S29 to start his quest for a third PSGL title. PSGL also ended F1 2021 at Sakhir, with Lucas Blakeley taking a win from last on the grid in his first competitive race since F1 Esports.
There are two trips to the States on either side of a visit to Austria. The Circuit of Americas has had various strategic decisions in the past, including the dramatic race last season that saw undercuts, overcuts, and a dramatic conclusion in S28 and S30.
Likewise, Austria constantly sees drama at Turn 3 in PSGL. Back in the first season on F1 2021, Opmeer and Moreno clashed that handing a first PSGL victory to Donoso, whereas, in S30, Opmeer avenged his defeat from the year before after disconnecting and passing Benham and Boroumand after they collided in a similar fashion as the Mercedes teammates had the season before.
The inaugural race at Miami follows Austria and then a visit to the longest track on the F1 calendar: Spa-Francorchamps. The Flying Dutchman has an impressive record around Belgium in PSGL, taking two victories in mixed conditions. In S29, Opmeer held off Benham as the Englishmen closed in on the two-time F1 Esports champion on fresher tyres in the closing laps. He also beat another new upcoming star Simon Perigny to take his fourth win in a row in S30 with an easy pass on the final lap into Les Combes.
Another visit to North America for the first race in the second half of the season at Mexico City, where PSGL has not held an official round since S28 when Opmeer took victory ahead of Moreno and Boroumand. There was a round pencilled in for S30, but desync issues with the Formula 1 game turned it into a social race on a build aimed to solve desync issues: Wilson Hughes taking victory on the final lap.
The first trip to Asia for Round 7 as PSGL heads to Japan for the first time since S28. The Spaniards of Moreno and Carreton made it a Spanish 1-2, with Idowu completing the podium after title rivals, Opmeer and Boroumand missed the race.
Many fans of the F1 community know what happened the last time PSGL visited Monza with mass desync, causing an abrupt end to the race. In the only official race at the Temple of Speed, there was another Spanish 1-2, with Nicolas Mateo taking his first and only PSGL win from Carreton.
Round 9 and the penultimate round of S31 see the first visit to one of the new layouts in the F1 22 game, Abu Dhabi. Opmeer beat Boroumand back in S28, and the 2021 PC Challengers Champion, Alessio Di Capua joined them on the podium in third.
The season concludes at Brazil, where Opmeer has clinched titles in all PSGL’s previous visits to Interlagos. In S28, he beats Boroumand in a tense finale to win his second PSGL title and first on PC, and he won his fourth title despite finishing outside the points in S30.
Finally, the commentary team from the first two PSGL seasons returns with George Morgan and Jack Cunnane picking up the mic once again to commentate over the elite in league racing. Morgan, who has built up a brilliant reputation in the league racing community over the past four years, is delighted to be back alongside Cunnane for S31.
“I am buzzing to be back,” said Morgan, who has also been commentating during V10 R-League events and the International GT Open this year.
“Both Jack and I were fortunate to be part of the team that helped create the PSGL PC division, and to be part of that growth is an achievement I am very proud of.
“As always, I am chuffed to work alongside Jack again, and we are looking forward to taking PSGL to the next level.”
There we have it. Your Ultimate Guide to the new Premier Sim Gaming Leagues PC division, kicking off this Wednesday at 7 pm BST on YouTube. Who do you think will be the champion? Will someone end Opmeer’s dominance, or can he continue to show he is one, if not the best in the business? Let us know in the comments below.