Total Performance Racing was one of the first esports teams
to compete on the Forza Motorsport franchise. Established in 2008, around 8-10
months after the release of Forza Motorsport 2, this was a team playing Forza
competitively almost a decade before the incarnation of the Forza Racing
Championship – Microsoft’s premier esports racing series that begun in 2016
on Forza Motorsport 6.
“Forza was a different animal back then and ‘success’ was
different to winning the ForzaRC we have in place now,” says TPR’s Matt ‘Zermatt’ Kennedy, who I had the
opportunity catch up with recently to speak about the team’s return to competitive
Forza play and its refocus on the ForzaRC. “Time trial leaderboards were where
teams fought for pride rather than prizes and TPR quickly gained a reputation
for the team to beat.”
As time passed, the team eventually grew to about 15 players
and these included a lot of household names – some of who are still around in
the Forza esports scene today, such as ‘Craviator’
and ‘Rayzer’ of Japspeed Racing, as well as Vitality ASIX – who joined the team
briefly for a few months. Like JSR, TPR isn’t built like other usual racing or
“The team is built on trust and friendship as we have all
known each other for over a decade, speak every day, and have shared some
awesome experiences,” Kennedy says.
Eventually, the TPR name started to fizzle out as the team
got older and the Forza franchise made its leap from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. All the
current members have full time jobs and some even have fiancés and kids, and
this made finding the time to race together and organize the team a little
challenging. However, the TPR name has made its return on Forza
Motorsport 7 to compliment the 2018 season
of the ForzaRC, and with Series 2
having just begun, they felt it was the perfect time for a rebrand –
something its members have been discussing on and off for some time now.
“A number of racers and spectators alike probably don’t know
about TPR, so it’s time to reintroduce a brand that’s been a mainstay for
almost all of the Forza games to the current generation,” Matt says. In
addition, the ForzaRC is also expected to double-down on team racing in the
future – and this can be seen from the recent trials it has done at the Pre-Season
Invitational in Seattle last March as well as a pre-playoffs Team Exhibition livestream last month.
“With the introduction of the first team races just before
the Seattle Playoffs, even if it was a slight experimentation with cars and
tracks, we feel this could be a route Gfinity and ForzaRC want to explore
further which I think we should be prepared for,” Kennedy adds.
Outside of the ForzaRC, TPR will also participate in various
TORA and ORL-organized league races as they have done in various guises in the
past – which should lead to some interesting competition out on the track.
And whilst the team don’t have any specific plans to recruit
other drivers just yet because of its focus on trust and friendship, it has
signed one familiar name to coincide with the rebrand and its efforts on the ForzaRC
– and that’s Jay ‘Amarth’ Sherlock.
“He’s raced against and with the squad for a number of years
now and has become a great friend to the team,” Matt says. “We thought it was a
matter of perfect timing when Amarth decided to come out of retirement for Series
2 to coincide with our relaunch.”
Other drivers on the roster include 2x Forza Motorsport World
Champion David ‘Daveyskills’ Kelly
and GT Academy 2011 National Finalist and 2012 European Finalist Dan ‘Dantastic’ Glover, as well as Alex
‘ChemicaL’ Harrison and of
course, Matt ‘Zermatt’ Kennedy.
You can find the full roster of drivers below in their official team line-up graphic.
Since TPR started on Forza Motorsport 2, you’ll notice their
official team graphics deploy a colour scheme that’s reminiscent of the classic
2007 racer they poured hundreds of hours into on Xbox 360. It’s a nice nod to
their heritage and background, as well as their past drivers and experiences.
These graphics were made by the team’s official media person Alex ‘ABGraphics’ Banks – and as you can
see, he’s done a cracking job of them. He’s also behind their official liveries
in Forza Motorsport 7 – available for anyone to download in-game.
Overall, TPR currently has a solid line-up of drivers at
this moment in time, and its future initiatives will vary based on the tournament
formation of the ForzaRC. Because it operates differently to most teams, TPR
are hoping to build out and expand its brand to attract sponsors who are keen
to support such a unique team and what is essentially a household name in the
Forza racing esports community.
“We are also looking to give something back to the community
and are pursuing a few options on this,” Kennedy revealed, adding that the team
are open to ideas. One of the examples he shared with me were
the possibility of fundraisers to raise money for various charity organizations.
We’ll have to see what happens in the future, but TPR are hoping to contribute
and assist in various initiatives where they can. Those interested
in collaborating with TPR on such projects can find the team’s contact details on their Twitter.
Given the team’s legacy on the Forza franchise, I was curious
to hear Matt’s thoughts on how Microsoft and Gfinity have been handling the
ForzaRC, including how he feels about the current state of the racing esports
series and where he’d like to see it headed in the future.
“ForzaRC has come a long way since its first incarnation but
it’s still got a long, long way to go,” he says. “Viewers need a reason to root
for certain teams and drivers, so I think getting to know the teams and drivers
more intimately would really go a long way to help with viewership and
“We have started to see it, but team interviews and profiles
would be welcome,” he adds. “Drivers come and go over time, but if the essence
of teams can be captured that’s extremely important for supporters and the game
Multiple TPR drivers qualified for the ForzaRC
Series 1 Playoffs in Seattle, WA last month, and whilst this is an
incredible feat, only one member managed to qualify for the final on Sunday
with David ‘Daveyskills’ Kelly.
“It’s difficult to judge [our success], none of us have a lot of time to
practice and play so while we didn’t reach our potential, I don’t think we did
ourselves a disservice at all,” Matt says regarding the team’s performance in
Seattle – adding that two other drivers were extremely close to making it, including
himself and Alex ‘ChemicaL’
“Part of ForzaRC for TPR is meeting up as a team as well as
the competing and we certainly made the most of that opportunity!”
When I asked about their aspirations leading into Series 2,
the Mexico Playoffs and the Forza Racing World Championship finals in London,
England this October, Matt said the team hopes to have at least 3 or 4 drivers
in Mexico with at least one making it to the finals. “That’s definitely
achievable,” he says. “As for London, I think we should aim for three drivers
to make it to London, all from the UK, so hopefully some home advantage should
come into play during the pressure moments!”
TPR is hoping to achieve this whilst continuing to build
their brand after their recent relaunch. Combined with their goals and
aspirations for the rest of this year’s competitive racing season, Matt
believes that would be a successful 2018 for the team – and it would set them
up for the world stage as ForzaRC continues to evolve in 2019 and beyond.
There’s always room for expansion though – and that certainly
applies in the Forza esports scene, in which new drivers and talent are always
welcome. “Get training,” Matt responded when I asked what advice he’d share for
those aspiring to build their skill and aim for a potential career in Forza
esports. “Start watching replays, learning lines in different classes, joining
races with faster people – you won’t get faster by winning the whole time.
These are things we still do to this day, it’s invaluable.”
Thanks to Matt ‘Zermatt’ Kennedy for taking the time
to speak to us about TPR’s background, its rebrand and aspirations. You can
follow the team’s newly-relaunched
Twitter account to stay up-to-date with everything Total Performance Racing
and its drivers achieve in the ForzaRC and beyond.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.