When you hear the words ‘MotoGP’ you probably think of fast bikes, break-neck speeds and edge-of-your-seat racing.
What doesn’t instantly spring to mind is 200 people in a room screaming on 12 young men playing a video game for the first place prize of a 2018 BMW.
Attitudes are changing.
Dorna Sports, the owners of MotoGP, have clocked this and are moving into new markets that will not only bring in a much younger audience but reach more people across the UK and the USA.
The MotoGP eSport championships took place recently at the MotoGP test in Valencia. A fitting venue for the most prestigious event in Motorbike racing esports.
Having previously hosted two qualifying tournaments, 12 pros from across Europe made it to the grand finals in Valencia.
Unlike what we are beginning to expect from gaming competitions, the prize for first place was not a lump sum of money but a 2018 BMW, with second place receiving a KTM bike and third place a custom PC.
The lack of money up for grabs didn’t dissuade the second place competitor eleGhost555 when we spoke to him prior to the race.
“Since I was little I loved playing video games and I have always been playing the MotoGP games since about 2003,” he said.
“Now with the arrival of the MotoGP esports championships in 2017, I got interested in participating, and then this year I managed to qualify.”
It wasn’t about the money for eleGhost555, for him it was about the enjoyment of the game.
“We don’t have sponsors and don’t particularly want them right now, it restricts what you can do,” he said.
Despite this, a number of the players were emblazoned with iconic logos from various well-known motorcycle manufacturers including Ducati and Suzuki.
It seems to be the first step to full-on sponsorship of the esports championship as the series gains in popularity.
However, there are some issues that need to be resolved before the esport can truly reach the masses.
This sits with both the developers of the game and with the players.
“This is the second year of the championships, I feel like if they improve the format a little, the people who are watching will be much happier” eleGhost555 explained.
“We want a bit of a better game because we can’t train in our houses due to the online servers being too hard. Especially on Xbox its impossible to practice!”
With the majority of competitive players coming from rural parts of Spain and Italy, the main cause for concern is having a stable internet connection.
“The servers are too laggy, the bikes are flying around in the sky, crashes with other riders happen all the time when you aren’t even touching,” he added.
When speaking with both the first (Trastevere73) and second (eleGhost555) place winner, neither were active on Twitch or YouTube, although eleGhost555 expressed his interest in launching his social media career.
“I really want to start streaming once the championships end,” he said.
“The reason I haven’t is because of rivals watching my stream and looking at my tactics, it’s a big disadvantage.”
Once the biggest competitors hop online and start building themselves as players and as a brand, there is no doubt the sport will rise to new levels.
The support of MotoGP legends Mark Marques and Jorge Lorenzo also brings a level of mainstream approval.
Watch this space.