Tire smoke, loud engines and close on-track battles are what makes motorsport so exciting to its fans. If you asked any racing fan what their favorite battle was between two drivers, they’ll probably refer to multi-corner – sometimes even multi-lap – side-by-side action, with each driver using as much of the track as they can without hitting each other.
Unbeknownst to some, there exists a competition format where this type of driving is not only encouraged, but required to perform well.
Drifting competitions are the excitement of racing boiled down to its barest elements. Naturally, this attracts a significant crowd of people from the simulation racing scene who want to replicate this style of driving virtually.
The Esports Drifting Association is – as one could surmise from the name of the organization – a drifting esports organizing body with an extensive history of hosting competitive tandem and team drift competitions.
The organization came to fruition during the early years of the Forza Motorsport franchise and continued to host their competitions on Microsoft’s track racing games until their 2021 season when they made the switch to Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa.
Immediately after this switch, the organizing body found themselves swarmed with more driver entries than ever and a ravenous audience ready to watch some of the best competitive drifting anyone had seen before. Now, with ESDA’s partnership with Traxion.GG, the esports drifting community will get the legitimacy it so thoroughly deserves.
ESDA’s previous season did not disappoint. Competitors from both Forza and Assetto Corsa drifting scenes entered the competition. As the first ESDA event since the platform change drew near, some fans were concerned the drivers who did well in the Forza franchise may struggle to compete on AC.
As it turns out, the Forza drivers did more than impress; they dominated. Frequent flyers in previous ESDA competitions like Brandon Patrick and Zack O’Sullivan found themselves on top after the 32-driver single elimination bracket event taking place at the last sector of the virtual Long Beach street course.
This dominance extended into the championship knockout event, where Brandon Patrick took the top prize in his replica of a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano driven by Federico Sceriffo in the real-world Formula Drift events. Darren Baker will also return to ESDA competition this season, achieving notoriety during competition with his goofy pre-run antics in his Nissan GT-R.
The platform change saw new faces added to the mix including Nico Stelea, an impressive prodigy in the esports drifting scene. His abilities behind the wheel of a virtual competition-style drift car belie his age of 11 years, making him the youngest driver on the field by a wide margin.
The Ostreika brothers, Martynas and Darius, also found themselves qualifying for bracket eliminations during the 2021 season, with Darius finishing second in the playoffs.
The upcoming string of ESDA competitions will see heat from more than just the tires. ESDA’s new partnership with Traxion.GG provides this underappreciated esport more exposure to the rest of the virtual motorsports world.
“I feel great about this opportunity,” ESDA founder Harold Mckinney said about the new partnership.
“This is the push that esports drifting needs.”
Mckinney, known also as Initial Dai during the early years of ESDA competition, plays an active role in the organization. After writing the rulebook for the new season and validating the heavily customized car files submitted by the drivers, he heads down to the virtual judging booth during qualifying and the bracket competition.
Drivers are also looking forward to the new season of competition, but none are more motivated than defending champion Brandon Patrick.
“The [quality] of driving last season was insane and the bar is only going to be higher this season,” Patrick said when asked about his expectations for the upcoming ESDA season.
“It’s nice getting to run the number one on my car, but I know keeping it is going to be a very hard task. I’m looking forward to the challenge!”
The 2022 season of ESDA competition will take place at the virtual third sector of Long Beach, beginning with qualifying on Friday, June 17th, 2022. Drivers are given two runs down the course on their own, pushing their cars to the brink in the hope of impressing the judges and achieving a top seed into the bracket elimination tournament the following day, 18th June.
Qualifying and bracket eliminations will be live-streamed on Traxion.GG’s Twitch channel, while the opening round’s eliminations will also be live on the Traxion.GG YouTube channel. Commentary will be from Keenan Kusan aka Aero and Joe Piro aka teknotheviking.
Qualifying starts at 5 pm ET / 2 pm PT / 11 pm CET / 10 pm BST on the 17th ahead of the bracket elimination live broadcast at 12 pm EST / 9 am PST / 6 pm CEST / 5 pm BST on the 18th.
While the locations for the full ESDA 2022 season have yet to be announced, the dates for each competition are as follows:
ESDA 2022 season calendar
ROUND ONE: 17th-18th June
ROUND TWO: 8th-9th July
ROUND THREE: 29th-30th July
ROUND FOUR: 19th-20th August
ROUND FIVE: 9th-10th September
ROUND SIX: 30th September-1st October
ROUND SEVEN: 21st-22nd October