Timing is everything in life.
Even when deciding to join the ever-growing sim racing community, MOUZ Chief Operating Officer René Lannte says the move had to be an authentic one.
“We had our eyes on it for a couple of years already, because of my background and Stefan’s background. When we were in the office, every day we watched some racing streams.
“We always thought, ‘How can we build a team?’ Because whatever we do we want to do it authentically.”
Like many of us, Lannte began playing racing games at a young age in the joystick era. When he finally got his first wheel, it was a dream. From there, his love for gaming expanded into Counter-Strike and other first-person shooters.
But the wheel was always calling his name.
“I dusted off my wheel a couple of times throughout the years. I think it was Microsoft SideWinder with this lousy feedback thing…it was super awkward. And I tried Live for Speed and a few other games, but it wasn’t really much fun because the wheel was just so bad.”
Eventually, a friend introduced Lannte to iRacing and he became lost in it. So much so, that the intrigue for sim racing lay dormant in him until the right opportunity would present itself later in life.
He’s now the COO of MOUZ, and while the German team has won over 400 titles in 36+ games, Lannte and CEO Stefan Wendt––who’s been an active driver for over 15 years and even competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup and GT Masters––felt a void.
“I think we always were missing the last element to really get into sim racing. We have a fully functional race track at hand, as both MOUZ and the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben share the same owner, so we do have some good opportunities with motorsport.
“So, when we heard about this project of ESL and Rennsport, that was kind of like the last puzzle piece we needed to believe in [sim racing].”
MOUZ had been working alongside ESL for decades, of course, and Lannte admires their ability to build large-scale events with incredible stages and an unparalleled atmosphere for their in-person audience.
With Rennsport the newcomer in the sim scene, the COO was a bit sceptical.
“Once you get to know the guys, you really see how passionate and dedicated they are to build this sim. One of the good things is they actually listen to what the top teams and drivers have to say.
“That really encouraged us to say this is the final encouragement we needed to make this work.”
However, don’t get it twisted: MOUZ isn’t purely an ESL team. The move into sim racing wasn’t just about ESL R1 or Rennsport.
“We wanted to do sim racing in the first place, so we decided to really stress that we want to compete on different sims, like Rennsport, iRacing, rFactor 2, Asetto Cora Competizione…you name it,” said Lannte.
“And also, different tournaments, because we don’t want to limit ourselves to just one event.”
MOUZ recently announced their driver line-up, including three-time ADAC GT Masters Esports champion Moritz Löhner, Yuri Kasdorp, Patrik Holzmann and Maximillian Benecke, and it’s the latter who made the team’s sim racing debut, by competing in the 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup starting this past weekend.
Signing the squad meant finding drivers who have a variety of experience and will give them a competitive edge instantly.
“We want to win. Right from the start. And we have to get drivers who have the ability and the technical skills to adapt very quickly.”
He believes the success of ESL R1 will inevitably come down to showcasing the drivers on a bigger stage and telling their stories, too.
Content is crucial for growth, and it’s something ESL already does phenomenally with esports as a whole.
“The event organizer ESL is very good at these things. And also, the teams that we have in ESL R1––the traditional esports teams––are very good and experienced in creating the storyline for content.
“That’s one of the things that sim racing teams will quickly adapt to and jump on to because it’s the only way we can really make it bigger in the end.”
So many pieces make up the greater picture of sim racing. It’s a never-ending puzzle, really. One that has captured more attention than ever before.
Will MOUZ establish itself as one of the best teams behind a sim? Only time will tell.
The first round of ESL R1 takes place on 11th February 2023 at the IEM Expo Katowice, Poland. If you cannot attend the live event, there will be coverage on the newly formed ESL R1 YouTube channel, Twitch and TikTok.