Just seven points cover the top three gamers – AndrewZh, trastevere73 and Cristianmm17 – after two rounds and four dramatic races of the 2019 Global Series. But the quality of the rookie players Wimp (sixth overall), Mereja (eighth) and MrTftw (twelfth) as challengers has also been notable.
Hailing from three different continents, each one has impressed on different occasions, a feat that is all the more impressive when considering their lack of experience with the MotoGP games.
Wimp had a sensational second round, scoring fourth place in race one at Sepang before claiming a memorable third place at Aragon in the following encounter.
Mereja meanwhile scored a surprise third place in the very first round, finishing just five seconds back of the winner in race two at the Red Bull Ring. And despite his lack of experience, MrTftw has closed the gap to series’ leading names as the championship has progressed.
So let’s find out more about the rookies in the 2019 MotoGP™ eSport Championship.
In real life, Wimp goes by the name of Wim Gubbelmans from Belgium who has always been a huge MotoGP and motorsports fan. Running in Red Bull KTM Tech 3 colours in the Global Series, Wimp built his own computer and from there began
“I’ve been following MotoGP since the days of the 500cc bikes. I got it from my father. In terms of gaming, I played the MotoGP games on the Playstation 2 when I was younger. I didn’t play it for a long time because I had a laptop that was only for school, rather than for gaming.
“Last year I built my own computer and it was good enough for gaming. I saw the advert for eSports on Facebook and thought, ‘Let’s see how far I can get.’ I’ve always played racing games. I tried to get into the Pro Draft and just practiced and practiced on the relevant circuits. I probably did around 16 hours on one track but was still surprised to qualify.
“When I heard I’d qualified for the Global Series I was so excited. I just had to find a way to get some time off work so I could come here!
“In terms of the level of gaming, it’s incredible. When you’re at home you go to a track and see a world record. You think I can do that. But then you go online and suddenly someone goes six tenths quicker! You really need to practice at least five hours on one track to get up to speed and find every little trick of the track. The level is even faster than you’d expect.”
Mereja is the gaming name of Lucas Mereja, Brazil’s first entry in the MotoGP™ eSport Championship finals. The story of Pramac Ducati’s entry in the Global Series is all the more incredible when his inexperience is taken into account.
Mereja admits he didn’t know a great deal about with MotoGP or the eSport Global Series until a friend told him about the opportunity. He then bought an Xbox specifically to train for the Online Challenges and his natural ability saw him qualify for the Pro Draft then the Global Series.
“At first I didn’t know much about MotoGP,” he said. “A friend of mine told me about eSports after seeing an advert on Facebook. I liked the idea of the series so I bought an Xbox, mainly to play the MotoGP game.
“Once I bought the game I just practiced, practiced and practiced! At first I didn’t know how to play at all. It was really hard for me in the beginning, adapting to the new tracks and new bikes.
“I spent many hours trying to get through the Pro Draft. I practiced every day for three to four hours. I managed to get through the Pro Draft and here I am!
“Meeting and chatting with the team, the riders, it was a completely new experience. I was so pleased to play the game with Pecco [Francesco Bagnaia] wearing the Pramac Ducati shirt. I had the chance to look at the bikes, speak to the mechanics. It was really cool!”
Like Mereja, MrTftw, who goes by the name of Christopher Telep in real life, had no experience with the MotoGP computer game before this year. Hailing from Australia, only found out about the eSports Championship when he bought the MotoGP19 game earlier this year.
As soon as he got the hang of the playing characteristics of the game, he set about posting fast times in the Online Challenges with the kind of dedication and positive thinking that would impress an actual MotoGP racer. He was as surprised as anyone to qualify for the Global Series, where he is competing for Avintia Ducati.
“I’ve always watched MotoGP races so I had that urge to play the game,” he said. “When I bought it I saw ‘eSports’ mentioned on the loading screen. I clicked on it, registered and did some of the Online Challenges. I had experience with other racing games in the past, but MotoGP19 was the first ever two-wheel game I played.
“My only goal was to get into the Pro Draft and make a Youtube video about it. I just kept thinking positively. It was the belief concept, telling myself I could do it. This is my first time and Europe.
“I was fortunate to meet Tito Rabat and get a tour of the box. There was a great connection with the team personnel. They gave me a lot of good advice. It was really helpful. That they’d take the time to come and watch the eSports races was amazing.”