Forza Racing Championship

Forza Driver ‘Europa’ Discusses The Balance Between Forza Esports with University

Article By 
Alan Walsh
July 25, 2018
Forza Racing Championship

Forza Driver ‘Europa’ Discusses The Balance Between Forza Esports with University

Article By 
Alan Walsh
July 25, 2018

Forza driver Callum ‘Europa’ Rogers began to make a name for himself in the Forza esports scene with his participation in the 2018 season of the Forza Racing Championship. He started playing Forza when he was either 13 or 14 years old with the release of Forza Motorsport 3 in 2009. Whilst his motivations for playing back then were simply for fun, it wouldn’t be long until he’d begin to start playing with a more competitive flare.

“I didn’t really have any idea of what esports was back then, but I began to move from an upper tier casual player to someone who could actually challenge #1 times on some leaderboards back on Forza 4 and that’s what really got me into league racing,” Callum says.
However, it took Callum quite some time before he’d start competing in Microsoft’s official racing esports series – the ForzaRC. “I’ve not always been the biggest fan of the ruleset and driving stock production cars in game, but after two memorable experiences in Seattle – 100% the effort to improve in those type of cars is worth it,” he says.

Callum had his first taste of an offline LAN event with the ForzaRC Pre-Season Invitational Presented by IMSA, which took place in March earlier this year. Alien Motorsport, who he formerly drove for, was invited to compete in the Team Competition – an all-new experimental aspect of the ForzaRC competition that Microsoft was trialling at its home turf in Seattle, WA. After an internal competition to decide who would represent the team there and join ForzaRC Season 3 Champion Michael ‘RoadRunner’ Coyne in The Emerald City for the Invitational, Callum was picked alongside another former teammate in Ryan ‘McQueen’ Ries.

“That was actually my first LAN experience,” Callum says about the Invitational. “I didn’t drive particularly well that event, but I feel it prepared me for the Series 1 Playoffs a lot, and that was the big positive I took way from the event.”

Alongside his efforts in the Forza esports scene, Callum is also currently midway through a 4-year MSci degree studying Astrophysics at Queen Mary University of London. This is in fact where his Gamertag originates from, as Europa is a moon of the planet Jupiter. “Naturally that takes up a lot of my time as I have around 20 hours of lectures a week along with 25 hours or so of work I have to complete to hand in the next week,” he says.

The 21-year-old balances his studies with the ForzaRC and his social life, which as you can imagine, is certainly a challenge. “Sometimes it really is a struggle to find the right balance for time distribution between Forza, studying and just general socialising,” he continues. “Ultimately, at the minute my education has to take priority and so if I have extra work for university that needs doing, that can cause a lack of practice sometimes and my performances can occasionally suffer because of it.”

Callum also doesn’t let his Forza esports aspirations get in the way of his social life either. It’s easy to become burned out overtime with continued non-strop practise, and he feels that if it affected his social life, it would have a negative result on his performance in the ForzaRC rather than that of a positive one. “If there’s a social event or invite to go out or even just spend some time at my Uni bar with friends, I never let playing Forza affect that because whilst being dedicated to the cause can assist performance, I feel becoming too obsessed to the point where it affected my social life would probably have a negative influence on my overall mindset.”

Additionally, Callum also doesn’t let his time on Xbox be fully dedicated to Forza either, and often enjoys relaxing with other games such as Fortnite, Rocket League, and first-person shooters. “I use other games as a relaxing tool, just to cool off and take a break; even though I’m nowhere near as good at them as I am Forza, I feel keep my hand eye coordination at good speeds that I can use in Forza especially in racing situations,” he explains.

As well as the ForzaRC Pre-Season Invitational, Callum managed to achieve an invite to the Series 1 Playoffs last month, which were also hosted in Seattle. However, this one wasn’t so smooth as he didn’t manage to qualify for a position to have his costs covered. When you consider how expensive University life is, especially in the likes of London, it meant Callum had a difficult decision on his hands to make.

“Yeah that one stung a little,” he recalls when discussing the Series 1 Playoffs. “I was in the top 24 for the first 3 weeks and dropped out in the final week due to a poor performance in week 4 and missing the races in week 2. It was a tough one to take and I was on the fence for a while whether or not to go or not because the prize pool distribution wasn’t announced until just a couple of weeks before the playoffs were due to start.”
“Ordinarily I wouldn’t have had the funds to travel, but I still had some money that I had saved left over from my trip to Seattle for the Invitational, so I put that towards a flight I booked,” he continues. “Shout out to TPR Zermatt for the help with the travel app.”

Moving forward, those who qualify for offline events in the 2018 season of the ForzaRC will have their travel and expenses covered. In response to participant feedback, the number of invitations sent to drivers will be reduced to the Top 36 competitors for Series 2. Those 36 invitees will receive the same travel and expenses support from the ForzaRC team that was given to the Top 24 drivers in Series 1. That’s great news for the likes of Callum, and it does increase his chances of having his costs covered for the Series 2 Playoffs taking place in Mexico City this September. It means he can compete with additional levels of confidence in his ability than before, whilst also prioritizing his financials towards covering university and other life costs.

However, with the current layout of the ForzaRC tournament structure, Callum believes it’s very difficult to make it into the final top 12 within the playoff events due to how stacked the lobbies are – and in turn, how difficult it is to pass out other drivers. These are the best of the best when it comes to the Forza esports scene, and the top drivers with the highest skill levels are always represented. Unless you start at the front of the pack in lobbies or close to that position, it’s certainly a challenge to climb the ranks.

“In that respect I was happy with my performance because I came into the event ranked 27th globally and I believe I came 21st in the playoffs which was an improvement on my starting position, so I was reasonably satisfied,” Callum says when I asked about his performance at the Series 1 Playoffs.
“I’ve had a rocky start to the first round of Series 2, internet issues and track/car combos not suiting me too well has put me on the back foot a little, however my goal is the same,” he says about his hopes for Series 2 and the upcoming Forza Racing World Championship finals in London, England this October. “Top 24 is where I’d need to be to feel like I’ve done a job which correctly represents my ability as a player, anything less and I’d be quite disappointed.”

I asked Callum if he aspires to make Forza esports into a fulltime career for himself, and he said whilst it would be an incredible achievement, he won’t be relying on it either. His focus remains on education – after all, his degree will certainly be nothing less than exceptional, but if the right opportunity comes up for Callum to become a full-time professional ForzaRC athlete, it’s something he wouldn’t turn down.

“Travelling the world to play a franchise you’ve grown up with as a professional player would be an awesome goal to achieve but I’m not relying on Forza esports to become a fulltime career just yet,” he tells me. “The promise is there, but currently I don’t feel that it’s possible for more than 5 or so players to actually make it their career right now. I’m just going to keep focus on my education, but if there’s an opportunity to make it a fulltime job of course that would be incredible – right now it’s not a viable choice for me to dedicate 100% of my time to.”

There’s always room for expansion in the Forza Racing Championship in terms of competitors. Microsoft has often dubbed the ForzaRC as the most inclusive racing esports series, and it’s open to anyone to compete in. However, the level of skill required to compete effectively is intense, and depending on your region, the competition out on the track can be fierce. Callum believes that those who have the raw natural talent for Forza esports with the necessary mindset should compete in the ForzaRC today – even if they feel they won’t make it to the offline events.

“If someone has the raw natural talent, then get into the ForzaRC now, even if they don’t think they have a chance or think it’s too late to join,” he says. “Competing regularly against the top players in their region forces everyone to push their limits and improve and by the time next season comes around they’ll be well prepared to deal with the pressure when it’s on and they have a chance to secure a LAN place.”

I asked Callum who he’d say his biggest rival is out on the track, but he didn’t reveal any names. “I wouldn’t say anyone in particular,” he says. “When the tournaments come around, despite people being friends or teammates – when it’s time to race I’m there to try and beat as many people as I can.”

As for the future, Callum hopes to continue increasing his skill on Forza Motorsport 7 and improving his performance in the ForzaRC competitions series on series. He recently became a free agent after departing Alien Motorsport, and his goals are set towards the future as he aims to further establish his name in the Forza esports scene and push himself closer to the top of the game.

“Esports is an ever-growing scene, and the ForzaRC is becoming an increasingly popular and has a growing audience, so who knows where it takes me, hopefully to many more places around the world!”

Thanks to Callum ‘Europa’ Rogers for taking the time to do an interview with FullThrottle Media. You can follow him today on Twitter to stay up to date with his progress in the ForzaRC. He also livestreams from time to time over on Mixer.

Alan Walsh

Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.